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(Enter Wild cats and house cats, via knuckleball)
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Pictures taken at the Milwaukee County Zoo a few months back. I'd never seen bears get in an argument like that, before.
Baseball picture & drawings of cats of all sizes badly photoshopped/combined from my knuckleball practice video screenshot at Hamlin Park (Chicago) and a comic involving cats on a baseball.
**Also, I take full responsibility for all of this, so you can blame me, and not the rest of The Brewers Bar staff.no comments
(Image: Allison Rhoades/MiLB.com)
Even as someone who follows the Brewers pretty closely, I don’t know much about the state of the minor leagues. Other than spring training and September call ups, I only know the names of a few players in Milwaukee’s farm system (I hear this Hunter Morris guy has a lot of upside).
I am aware that the Brewers supposedly depleted their farm system over the years to trade for guys like CC Sabathia, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Greinke. Since trades like those helped the Brewers end their long playoff drought, the idea that the team might pay a price down the road for a weak farm system has not been a major concern for this fan.
As of this writing the Brewers just dropped two of three to the Astros, another last place team. A crazy wild card run like 2012 seems unlikely. It’s easy to start thinking about the future. It turns out that pundits believe the future of the Brewers is not bright.
Following the 2013 draft, Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells ranks the Brewers minor league system dead bloody last out of 30 MLB organizations. The loss of a first round pick due to the Kyle Lohse trade put them in a tough spot, but they were not in a strong position to begin with. Prior to spring training, another Bleacher Report writer, Mike Rosenbaum, ranked the Brewers 27th. In Rosenbaum’s view, “very few of their prospects project favorably in the major leagues, except for possibly Wily Peralta.” That would be the guy with an ERA over 6.00.
These unfavorable rankings were hard for me to take, so I tried to find evidence that they are outliers. Another spring training ranking of the Brewers at Baseball Prospectus also put them at 27th. Oof. In February, SB Nation’s Minor League Ball blog had Milwaukee at 23rd. Well, that’s not…not 27th, that’s for sure.
One year ago, FanGraphs ranked the Brewers at 29th. That’s also not 27th. Sheesh.
At MLB.com, “draft and prospect expert” Jonathan Mayo has ranked the top 100 prospects in the current MLB pipeline. The only Brewer on that list is Tyler Thornburg, at #100.
As someone who has not paid much attention to the minor leagues, the fact that the Brewers are considered solidly in the lowest third – and frequently the bottom three or four – is pretty tough to swallow. What makes it worse is that the Cardinals are regularly ranked in the top three. It could be a long decade. At least some folks think relatively highly of Miller Park.no comments
I received an email recently from a guy named Brandt who’s been an ‘avid baseball fan for nearly a decade’. He has recently ‘flirted’ with fandom of teams like the Red Sox and Dodgers but really wanted to find the ideal team to follow for the remainder of his years. So he contacted The Brewers Bar because, interestingly, the Brewers were on his shortlist of finalists. Brandt requested strong pillars of persuasion for supporting the Milwaukee Brewers. My reaction is below. If you have any good arguments, please include them in the comments.
First of all, you have made the right choice to include the Brewers on your shortlist of teams who may or may not deserve your eternal fandom and adoration. While being a Brewers fan is tough sledding at the moment, you may get to see a playoff appearance every quarter century or so. All half-kidding aside, the Brewers play in Milwaukee, which is the smallest market in MLB. In other words, the Brewers can always use some new fans because their market is limited by many factors (hey, Chicago!). Brewers fans are a hearty bunch, many of whom like to drink beer or other alcoholic beverages. If you’re a drinker, there are really few teams to compete with the Brewers in terms of beer + baseball = satisfaction. Plus, you may need that firm supply of beer to drown your sorrows as you reflect upon the Brewers’ play. If you’re into grilling food, the tailgate scene Brewers fans proudly reproduce at every home game rivals, nay, beats the tailgating scene at Lambeau Field and most stadiums around the country.
The current Brewers franchise has been in Brew City since 1970 when used-car salesman and entrepreneur Buddy Selig bought the bankrupt Seattle Pilots. The Brewers have an AL pennant, an NL Wild Card and one NL Central crown, and that’s about it. The biggest and most haunting season was 1982, when the Brewers crashed and burned and coughed up the Suds Series to the hated redbirds of St. Louis. While the Brewers of MLB don’t have a storied history you can hang your hat on, Milwaukee does have a great legacy of baseball traditions that includes the Milwaukee Braves (World Series winners in ’57), the Milwaukee Bears, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Grays, Milwaukee Chicks and others. The Brewers also have Bernie Brewer, who’s pretty damn cool, and Owgust the Barrel Man, who is ‘the toppermost of the poppermost’ as John Lennon might say. The Brewers have the Ball And Glove logo, which is one of the best logos in sports history. Let’s not forget Bob Uecker, one of the great thinkers of the game’s history.
Brandt, to be honest, we have a lot of great things going, but we can’t match the histories of franchises that have been around for a century. But I think you may understand that already, because as you noted in your message, you have ‘become disenchanted with the way [the Red Sox and Dodgers] so easily lose their identity in the greedy and expensive pursuit of success’. You nailed it, Brandt. With the Brewers, it’s a major miracle that the club was able to approach a $100MM payroll the last few years, let alone get swallowed up by the despair and ravenous appetites of greed and the almighty dollar. We’re just trying not to LOSE money here in Milwaukee.
Baseball is a game, Brandt. It’s a diversion, a distraction, a comedy of errors. Especially true this is in the Brewers’ case. You will find that if you bestow your fandom on the Milwaukee franchise, you will grow beyond belief your faculties for humility, tolerance and sense of humor. You will learn that no matter which way the overthrow sails, into center field or over the first baseman’s head, baseball is just something to let your mind wander…to relieve you of the stress and ills of real life.
Enter the Brewers community and you will not be a fashionable gentleman; you will receive few accolades on a national scale for your selection. However, you will belong to a special tribe that values its fellow members more than most, due to their relative scarcity. Whether you live in Hawaii or Anchorage, Ames, Iowa or San Diego, if you’re a Brewers fan you will be saluted by other Brewers fans because Brewers fans support one another and know that with the Brewers, it’s US against THEM. The odds are long and not in our favor. You may die without a World Series championship for your favorite team should you tread on the ice of the Milwaukee franchise, but enter into the Milwaukee family not lightly, but with a solemn vow that you will forgo all easy thrills of another St. Louis NL Central crown and trip to the NLCS, all romantic tales of chain-smoking Yankees greats, all bizarre curses and conundrums of Wrigley Field. The path will not be effortless, fluid or without sacrifice. It may be formidable as lifting a half-barrel of beer with your pinky finger. But dammit, Brandt, one thing it won’t involve is bandwagons, clichés, endless greed and empty allegiances. Please stand with us, Brandt, and make Brewers Nation one person stronger. We’re gonna need it.
Ball And Glove creator Tom Meindelno comments
In 163 major league starts - (so far, just a bit over 1,000 IP) - Yovani Gallardo has never had any history of arm-related injuries. The Milwaukee Brewers 27-year-old right hander has surpassed the 200 IP mark in each of his last 2011 & 2012 seasons. If you recall, he was shut down in 2009 due to a worry about his workload during his age 23 season, and, in 2010, he missed a couple of starts after having endured an oblique strain on July 4th against the Cardinals. He came back on July 22nd.
He's always been an effectively wild starter, averaging 43.9% of pitches thrown in the strike zone. But he's always struck out batters at a nice clip, a batter an inning over his career, and is always good for a mid-3.00s ERA, year in and year out. He hadn't been his normal self, for the majority of the current season so far, something that might be explained by a lower fastball velocity and a much, much lower K% than his normal career 23.6% In fact, at 18.6%, it is currently below league average (which is 18.9% for NL starters), as well as his 7.08 K/9 (Lg avg is 7.15 K/9).
It certainly does look like he's trying some things out, this season, by using some pitches differently, maybe due to his level of confidence with his regular fastball. I found it really interesting when I looked at his four-seamer, yesterday, and saw that he's getting a 52.4% GB% with that pitch. That is, by far, the highest of his career. In fact, it's only topped 40% once, in 2011). With that pitch, hitters are managing a .315 wOBA, which is the lowest it's been in his career. Last night, as my friend and friend of this site, Jerry Eldred (who writes for The Book of Gorman Blog)* suggested, it's also "accompanied by a career high line drive rate as well." At 28.6%, that is much higher than anyone would want to see! The last time it was close was in 2010, at 27.6 %.
*Just want to quickly add, Jerry was nice enough to ask me to do some artwork for the blog (upper LH corner), and I'm still flattered by that!
But, that troublesome LD%, in general (with all his pitches) has improved back down to 16.7% in June, so far, whereas, in the months of April & May, he had 26.4% and 33.3% line drive percentages!
As for velocity, he hit the 94 mph with the four-seamer and averaged 91.62 on the pitch in his most recent start against the Cincinnati Reds The start prior to that (against Miami) start before that, averaged a little over 92 mph, and also was up to as high as just under 94 mph with the pitch. Milwaukee pitching coach, Rick Kranitz, worked with Yovani on increasing the length of his stride before his start in Miami, too. A longer stride is something that can help a pitcher's power in his delivery, with the result being greater velocity.
Where strikeouts are concerned, Gallardo, in his last 5 starts, has collected 26 Ks in 29.2 IP. More "Yo-like"... or Gallardian?* In addition he's at a nice K/BB 3.25 in June.
* forgive me. I think "Yo-like" is probably better. The latter seems like some sort of group traveling the high seas, centuries-upon-centuries ago...The Gallardians!
There was also the two-seam fastball he was using quite a bit through the majority of this season, which is something I brought up a few weeks ago as being a pitch that wasn't getting him the results he was probably looking for. In general this season, he's not getting as many swings & misses, a total that's dropped somewhat drastically from 9.0% to 7.8%, and now down to 6.9% for this season. But that pitch might be contributing to the downward trend.
In any case, I don't think we're going to see an ineffective starter in Gallardo. I'm only going by a few recent starts, but, I believe his track record helps make a case that we'll probably still see a pitcher who can strike out almost a batter per inning.
The reason I'd hope the Brewers and Gallardo/his agent could work out an extension is because, as I'd mentioned at the beginning, a starter who can throw 200 innings a season without a track record for arm injuries is very valuable for this team. They've got plenty of other candidates in the system, still, who could prove to be decent 3, 4 & 5 starters. But, there's no guarantee any of them would be able to give Milwaukee that many innings. He's a nice starter with a career 3.70 ERA / 3.65 FIP / 3.64 SIERA, and the Brewers pretty much know what they have with him.
And, who can forget that 2010 season at the plate, where went .254 / .329 / .508 with the bat, .364 wOBA with 4 HRs? He's a career 2.8 fWAR hitter. I'll just completely admit my favorite thing about a Gallardo outing is waiting for his turn in the lineup to hit!
If he can be a 2-2.5 WAR pitcher over a handful of years, into his early 30's -and I'll base this on a 2.5 fWAR salary, for now, with 1 WAR = $4.5 m. You'd have a base of $56.25 million over 5 years, starting in 2015, when Gallardo can become a FA (although he also holds a team option of $13M that year), the Brewers would have a nice starter for his age 29-33 seasons to keep the rotation afloat. It's probably unlikely to be easy to do a ~ $60m multi-year extension, considering the exorbitant amounts of money SPs have been and will likely be able to command on the free agent market from some teams -especially, when they are still in their late 20's, as Gallardo would be. But, who knows? Maybe he would be willing. If it would take a few more theme songs, I'd consider devoting an entire album of composed material to the cause. So, work something out, you guys!
Image of Gallardo pitching at Miller Park from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons BY - SA licenseno comments