Tag:Brewers
Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 11:24 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Milwaukee Brewers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 96-66, 1st place in NL Central. Defeated Arizona 3-2 in NLDS, lost NLCS 4-2 to St. Louis.
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Best hitter: Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 11 RBI, 33 SB, 38 2B, 6 3B
Best pitcher: Yovani Gallardo -- 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 207 K in 207 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Brewers' offseason in 2010 was playoffs or bust -- and they made it. Despite early injuries to Zack Greinke and Corey Hart, the Brewers were able to stick around the top of the standings for the first half of the season and then took the lead for good after winning on July 27. From July 26 to Aug. 28, Milwaukee went 27-5 to go from a half-game back in the division to 10 1/2 games up. Braun and Prince Fielder both put up MVP-type numbers, and while their new starters, Greinke and Shaun Marcum, didn't challenge for the Cy Young, they were good enough and very good at times (at least in the regular season).

2012 AUDIT

Well, there's one big question mark. A really, really big question mark in Prince Fielder. Even though it's not much of a question, most expect him to leave Milwaukee, including Fielder. But Fielder's not the only free agent the Brewers have to deal with in the offseason. The team has seven free agents, plus a club option on Yuniesky Betancourt. That said, none of the others on the list come close to leaving a void anywhere near the one Fielder will leave. However, the team will have to seriously look at improving its infield.

FREE AGENTS

1B Prince Fielder
RHP Francisco Rodriguez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt ($6 million option)
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr.
RHP Takashi Saito
UTIL Craig Counsell
OF/1B Mark Kotsay

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sign Albert Pujols. No, I'm kidding. The Brewers are unlikely to be able to afford to keep Fielder around, much less sign Pujols. Make a goodwill offer to Fielder and let him turn it down to get every last dollar, that way you can tell your fans you tried and it wasn't up to you. If that's not enough to let you sleep at night, go see Moneyball and look into signing Scott Hatteberg -- it worked when the A's lost Jason Giambi. Mat Gamel is the internal option if you stand pat at first.
  • Decline Betancourt's option -- it costs you $2 million, but that's a small price to pay not to have Yuniesky Betancourt be your shortstop. Last offseason it cost the Royals Greinke, so consider yourself lucky. The replacement at shortstop doesn't need to be Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, just someone who can field the position. If the Red Sox get rid of Marco Scutaro, he could be available for below sticker price -- see if he's interested in returning to the Brewers, who developed him.
  • How about signing Aramis Ramirez to play third base? He'll be costly, but nowhere in the Fielder-Pujols range. He also adds to the offense and helps give Ryan Braun some protection. Casey McGehee hasn't proven himself to be worthy of a spot in the everyday lineup. And if Ramirez regresses any more defensively, he can shift to first base. Ramirez has remarked about just how much he likes Chicago, and Milwaukee is close enough.
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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
 

Eye on Photos: Cardinals take out Brewers in NLCS



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals have continued their Cinderella story, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, four games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Prince Fielder came through with a huge home run in Game 1, a Milwaukee victory. (Getty Images)
Despite the loss, Game 1 was when David Freese set the tone for a huge series, here with a three-run homer. (Getty Images)
After a lackluster Game 1, Albert Pujols broke through with a monster Game 2, pictured here with a two-run shot in the first inning. (Getty Images)
All kinds of awesome here, but my favorite part is that the umpire looks like he's shoving Yadier Molina out of the way. Pujols was safe, and the Cardinals went on to win 12-3. (Getty Images)
In Game 3, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided to go with Mark Kotsay in center. It did not go well in the first inning. (Getty Images)
In a matchup of aces, Yovani Gallardo coughed up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. The Brewers would lose 4-3. (Getty Images)
Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, did just enough to get the game to the bullpen with a lead. (Getty Images)
Yadier Molina with what appears to be his answer to the Brewers' "Beast Mode." (Getty Images)
Jerry Hairston's incredible slide helped propel the Brewers to victory in Game 4. (Getty Images)
St. Louis loves this one, right? (Getty Images)
Maybe they're talking about how much money combined they're gonna haul in this offseason. (Getty Images)
The Brewers' needed a huge performance out of starting pitcher Randy Wolf in Game 4 and he provided it, even gathering a double with his bat. (Getty Images)
Matt Holliday had struggled this postseason until this swing resulted in a wind-aided homer in Game 4. He'd start swinging the bat well after that. (Getty Images)
It wasn't necessarily why the Brewers lost the series, but there were far too many pictures like this. (Getty Images)
Octavio Dotel has been a major piece for the Cardinals this postseason. (Getty Images)
The squirrel. Nothing more needs to be said. (Getty Images)
An underrated piece for the Cardinals was Marc Rzepczynski, who twice came on to strikeout Prince Fielder in big spots, like here in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Jaime Garcia got what many thought was an early hook in Game 5, but the Cardinals bullpen would throw 4 1/3 shutout innings. (Getty Images)
Rough NLCS for Zack Greinke. (Getty Images)
Huge out here, as the Brewers had two on and nobody out for Ryan Braun, who grounded into this fielder's choice. It was close, too. (Getty Images)
This guy again? Freese's first-inning, three-run home run gave the Cardinals a big lead early in Game 6. (Getty Images)
Yes, that's Jonathan Lucroy on a home run trot. He cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. (Getty Images)
Things got so weird in Game 6, Lance Berkman made a diving catch. (Getty Images)
The Brewers had a big chance to carve into the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Corey Hart struck out to end the threat. (Getty Images)
That sound you heard was a collective gasp from the entire city of St. Louis. Pujols did stay in the game, though. (Getty Images)
Rafael Furcal gets a beer shower from teammates after the win. (Getty Images)


Up next for the Cardinals: The Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Cardinals are playing for their 11th World Series title, while the Rangers are playing for their first. St. Louis has homefield advantage despite having a worse regular-season record by virtue of the NL winning the All-Star Game. It's funny, too, that the deciding play in that game was a three-run homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Freese leads Cardinals to World Series

David Freese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals won their 18th National League pennant on the heels of a 12-6 pounding of the Brewers in Game 6 of the NLCS.

Hero: St. Louis third baseman David Freese wasn't exactly a household name coming into the NLCS, but he certainly made his mark in this series. Sunday he was 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. He batted .545/.600/1.091 for the series. His three-run homer in the first set the tone for the Cardinals. 

Goat: There are plenty of goats to go around in Milwaukee after Game 6, but the goat that started it all was Shaun Marcum, the Brewers starter who allowed four runs and was lifted after facing eight Cardinals in the first inning. Marcum, the first piece of Milwaukee's pitching makeover last offseason, made three starts in the postseason, allowing 16 earned runs and 17 hits in just 9 2/3 innings while recording an 0-3 record.

Turning point: Just when the Brewers gathered some momentum, scoring three runs in the second to pull within a run, Albert Pujols answered with a long homer to left off of Chris Narveson. It was the start of a four-run inning and Milwaukee would hardly challenge again.

It was over when … First base umpire Gary Darling called a sliding Ryan Braun out at first base for the first out of the fifth inning. Carlos Gomez scored on the play, making it 11-6, but the Brewers' shot at a big inning was dashed when Prince Fielder grounded out and Rickie Weeks struck out to end the inning. If Braun is correctly called safe, maybe things change there. But he wasn't, and what was already assumed to be over really was.

Next: The Cardinals will be searching or their 11th World Series title, taking yet another "happy flight" to St. Louis to prepare for the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers. Game 1 is Wednesday in St. Louis.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Marcum exits early in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Before Game 6 of the NLCS on Sunday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the decision to start a struggling Shaun Marcum was "the right decision."

And it was. For the Cardinals.

Marcum was booed as he walked off the mound in the first inning, giving up four runs before his team took a single swing of the bat.

Even before David Freese hit a three-run homer, Roenicke had LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen. It took two very good defensive plays (and a questionable call by home plate umpire Mike Winters) to get the first two outs of the inning, as Marcum gave up a single to Jon Jay, a walk to Albert Pujols, an RBI single to Lance Berkman and Freese's homer in a four-run first. Marcum needed 27 pitches to get out of the inning.

Yuniesky Betancourt made a good running play on a popup by leadoff man Rafael Furcal in short left to start the inning before giving up a single to Jay. Jay stole second, and then after Pujols walked, Berkman singled and took second when Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan overthrew his cutoff man in a futile attempt to get Pujols at third.

The Brewers seemed to get the break they needed when Holliday hit a weak grounder back to the mound and Marcum scooped the ball to catcher Jonathan Lucroy to get Pujols at the plate. While the throw beat Pujols (barely), Lucroy tagged his back leg after his front leg had crossed the plate.

There wasn't much time to dwell on that, as Freese hit the first pitch he saw from Marcum over the fence in left. To give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.

Left-hander Chris Narveson started the second with the Brewers trailing 4-1 (Milwaukee's run came on a Corey Hart leadoff homer).

In three postseason starts, Marcum is on the hook for his third loss and pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing 17 hits and 16 earned runs, good for a 14.90 ERA. 

"I really feel good about this decision," Roenicke said before the game. "Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ball club, it's the right decision. And I've had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.

"It doesn't mean that he's going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he's pitched the last couple of games. And I think he's going to have a good game today."

Roenicke was wrong, but his reasoning in sticking with Marcum was that he didn't want to go with Yovani Gallardo on short rest, and if he did, he had few other choices for a starter in Game 7.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Morgan's been 'Tony Hush' in NLCS

Nyjer MorganBy C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The beginning of the NLCS featured quite a bit of talk about Nyjer Morgan -- but once the games have startered, the most noise around him is the booing he got from Cardianls fans in St. Louis.

Morgan is hitting just .200/.333/.300 in the NLCS and .192/..300/.269 in the playoffs. The spark plug of the Brewers offense has misfired as much as he's sparked.

"He's been pressing a little bit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's trying to do too much. And I try to remind him that what he's done for us all year is what we need. We don't need him to be more than what he's been. We need him to be what he's done for us."

Morgan has been quiet in the press since the series moved to St. Louis, and hasn't Tweeted since Tuesday and hasn't had more than one tweet in a day since the Brewers finished off the Diamondbacks.

"I didn't tell him (to stay quiet)," Roenicke said. "We talked about it after we got into the series just a little bit. He needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about all the outside stuff that goes on once in a while with him."

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:20 am
 

Rangers are clear team to beat in World Series



By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- At this point, how can anyone pick against the Rangers to win the World Series?

It doesn't even matter whether St. Louis or Milwaukee comes away with a victory in the NLCS, because no one can stop the runaway train that is Texas. The Rangers' offense was in rare form during the ALCS, paced by Nelson Cruz's awe-inspiring feats. Even Michael Young, who couldn't hit his way out of a brown paper bag all postseason, got in on the fun in Games 5 and 6. Even with Milwaukee and St. Louis both gaining the ability to use a DH (but only the Cardinals benefiting from it, able to slot Allen Craig in the lineup), neither team can hope to out-slug the Rangers, who have Cruz batting No. 7, for crying out loud.

ALCS Coverage
Texas also has sensational defense and while its starting pitching wasn't quite up to snuff, the bullpen more than made up for the lack of any dominant performance by the rotation. When skipper Ron Washington can wave a wand and roll out Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz in relief, who cares if the starting pitcher can't go six strong? In addition, if the NLCS has shown anything, it's that the Cards and Brewers have their own problems with starting pitching. So then it becomes a battle of bullpens, and the Rangers have to be the heavy favorites there as well.

Momentum-wise, can anyone doubt that the Rangers hold the edge over whichever NLCS team advances? Not only did Texas handle Tampa Bay with relative ease, the ALCS versus Detroit seems to have come right out of Hollywood. A walkoff grand slam, a crucial throw at the plate, the bullpen coming up nails ... what more can you ask from this Rangers team to prove that they are the deepest, strongest and most confident team left in the playoffs?

Running a comparison of all three teams, the Rangers win the battle of the offense. They win the battle of pitching, too, off of their strong bullpen and the lack of any separation in the three teams' starting rotations. The fielding belongs to Texas, too. The confidence and momentum pendulum swings toward Texas as well. There is just nothing here to indicate that the Rangers aren't the heavily favored team to win the World Series, even without home-field advantage. Given the NL won the All-Star Game, that means that Texas will host Games 3, 4 and 5, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if the World Series was won in Texas.

This article has been one entire broken record. Texas this, Texas that. But there's a reason for that. For the Rangers will be left standing tall at the end as your 2011 world champions.

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Roenicke: No chance of Gallardo in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke reiterated his confidence in Shaun Marcum, his starter in Game 6, during Saturday's workout day news conference -- but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a backup plan in case Marcum's start goes south quickly.

Roenicke, of course, wouldn't share his break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan, but it did say it would not including throwing right-hander Yovani Gallardo on short rest.

"Yo is not an option," Roenicke said Saturday. "You know, really you guys talk about Yo and coming back on three days' rest. We have to win (Sunday) and the next day. You know, I don't know why I would bring back Yo to win (Sunday) when it would hurt us then for the next day and not being able to win. I don't know if there's a difference there. I think it makes sense to keep Yo on his basic rest. 

"You know, he wasn't that sharp the other day either. So to bring him back, if we had a chance if we were even up (Sunday), I would say yeah, Yo has a chance to be in our bullpen. But unfortunately we're not in that position."

As for Marcum, he said he never doubted that he'd be the choice if the series went six games.

"No, not at all. I know they had a lot of confidence in me and just talking with Ron and (pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz), and even guys in the clubhouse, you know, I think they felt that they're comfortable with me going out there, and you know, it's nice to have that kind of support."

Now it's his turn to show he can deliver and give Gallardo another chance to pitch this year.

"You know, I think I'm on the bandwagon with everybody in here, probably everybody in the country that wants to see Yo versus (Chris Carpenter) in Game 7," Marcum said. "So I'm going to try to get the ball to Yo." 

Roenicke also said he would stick by struggling second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has four errors this postseason and three in this series. Weeks is also hitting just .211/.250/.421 in the NLCS.

"I think you stick with him. You know, Rickie's a guy that our lineup depends on," Roenicke said. "We depend on him swinging the bat well. He protects Prince (Fielder). He's got the ability to if you get a couple of guys on base to drive the ball out of a ballpark. And we felt like coming into the playoffs that we needed Rickie, we needed his presence in there behind Prince. And I know his swings have gotten better. But I know there's still some things that he's not locked in there, both offensively and defensively."

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