(Photo: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports Images)
As of this writing, the Brewers are 2-7 after nine games—or as I like to think of it, just five games under .500. On Wednesday, esteemed Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt did one of his online chats, noting at the end, “Looks like most participants are at DefCon 1 with the Brewers. That didn't take long, did it?”
For fun, let’s have a look at Haudricourt’s first chat of the 2011 season when the Brewers were 1-4 and no one knew the best season in club history was afoot. Most of the questions were measured compared to this week’s, but there were a few that are worth reconsidering with the benefit of hindsight.
If John Axford falters in the closer role, who do you see moving into that spot?
That hits a little close to home right now, but Axford went on to convert 46 straight save opportunities in 2011.
The Brewers are a terrible matchup with a team like the Reds who are their main competitor.
Brewers ended up recovering and went 8-8 against the Reds. Not great, but not terrible.
Do you trade Zack Greinke at mid-season if this season continues the way it has started?
The season didn’t continue that way. You never know.
Can you expect to score runs w/ so many weak batters like Nieves, Gomez, Betancourt, and Kotsay in your lineup?
Although Gomez and Betancourt did not set the world on fire that year, Lucroy ended up replacing Nieves, and Kotsay was very productive coming off the bench. As a team, the 2011 Brewers ranked 5th in the NL in runs scored, 3rd in batting average, and 1st in slugging.
Very early in the season but is Prince putting too much pressure on himself to produce so he can get that massive contract?
Fielder pressured himself to 120 RBI, a .299 batting average, and .981 OPS.
Do you see Morgan replacing Gomez at center field if Gomez continues in his slump?
All right, that’s a question you can still imagine being asked, except insert Logan Schafer.
Anything can happen but stacked up against the rest of the Central division, where do you see the Brewers realistically? When this team gets going they should be fun to watch but I'm not sure how they measure up to the competition yet.
August 2011 was fun to watch indeed.
Few would argue the 2013 Brewers are in the same league as the 2011 Brewers. But it’s good to keep in mind that the things fans worry about early in the season may end up being much ado about nothing.
Of course, if the Brewers get swept by the Cardinals this weekend, I'll be jumping on the "Save us Hunter Morris!" bandwagon.no comments
‘Innovation’ is a buzzword tossed around precariously at times, but when one truly sees innovation before the eyes it’s often shocking. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, they have an exhibit that chronicles the technological advances in recorded music. Starting with the monstrous, cumbersome machines of the early days, the visitor is entranced as the devices get smaller and smaller and more electronic. Similarly, the game of baseball has evolved in regards to its associated equipment. While the rules of the game are similar as back in the 19th century, the tools with which players play have come a long way. That evolution is on display on Milwaukee’s lakefront via a Discovery World exhibit called: Baseball – Innovations That Changed The Game, which runs through May 19.
The exhibit opened on April 1, the same day the Brewers opened the season with an extra-inning win over the Rockies. The point is that this exhibit has been open to the public for nearly two weeks now, but I thought I would take time to mention it not only because it’s fascinating for any baseball fan, but also because I appreciate special opportunities like this to see innovation firsthand and to see baseball history come to life beyond a computer or movie screen. I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the history of baseball equipment’s evolution before in various forms, but this is a really cool way to highlight how much the game’s equipment has changed from the days in which fielders didn’t wear gloves, or wore ones with no finger padding, catchers wore rudimentary contraptions and the baseball itself was manufactured in various fashions and could be considered ‘lively’ ‘medium’ or ‘dead’ based on its construction. According to a wonderful compilation on the evolution of the game by Eric Miklich, the bats at one point were allowed to be flat on one side. The story of baseball is incomplete without knowing that its fundamental equipment would go through philosophical debates, extreme permutations and technological breakthroughs before it would become recognizable as the game we watch in 2013.
(Photo: 19cbaseball.com)no comments
Coming off a plain old bad start to the season and most recently a disappointing 1-1 split with the Chicago Cubs and a rainout of the rubber game, the Brewers are looking to bounce back with a series win this weekend in St. Louis. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are once again a force in the NL Central and the Brewers will have their hands full this weekend as they face Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia.
To get a better handle on what’s up with the Cardinals these days, I posed some questions to Daniel Shoptaw of C70 At The Bat (Twitter: @C70). I want to thank Daniel for helping us preview the season’s first matchup with the Cards. I also had the pleasure of answering some of his questions about the Brewers, and you can find that here. Please check that out, but just a warning: you may want to shield your eyes from the ad on that page offering the chance to ‘relive all the greatest moments of the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals’. Without further heightened fuss or concern:
TBB: Kyle Lohse has been one of the Brewers' best pitchers, but that isn't saying much. What will his return vs. the Cards be like for fans?
C70: For the fans, I think it'll be nice to see an old friend. Lohse should get a good ovation when he takes the mound and possibly his first time at-bat. There's no ill will toward him at all--there were some that wanted the Cardinals to sign him, even though there wasn't room for him--and while it'll be a bit weird to see him in the road grays in Busch, it'll be good to check in on him. Wouldn't mind him losing a 2-0 game or something of that nature, in other words.
TBB: What is the biggest strength and weakness for the Cards right now?
C70: The biggest strength so far has been the starting rotation, which has combined for a 2.50 ERA (roughly) in their first nine starts. The Brewers will see Shelby Miller, who was very effective against the World Champion Giants this past weekend, Adam Wainwright, who looked like the Cy Young-caliber pitcher he is his last time out and still hasn't walked a batter in 2013, and Jaime Garcia, who is always very effective on the road and should be 2-0 right now.
The weakness is the bullpen. Jason Motte is out until at least May 1 and in all actuality is probably done for the year. Mitchell Boggs has had some missteps in the closer role and could be walking a thin line to keep that job. The most obvious person to take over is flamethrowing rookie Trevor Rosenthal, but he's been unable to hold a couple of leads in his relief outings as well. I'm still not completely sold on Randy Choate as a left-handed specialist either. While it's not cover your eyes when any one of these guys comes out of the 'pen, the anxiety level does go up a couple of notches.
TBB: It's early, but do you see the Cards as a division winner?
C70: I do think the Cardinals have the potential to win the division. Cincinnati is going to be their toughest competition and they just took two of three from them, though they've won the season series against the Reds before when the Reds have taken the title. If the bullpen gets sorted out, this team has a top-notch rotation, a lineup that--if Pete Kozma really is what we are seeing now--can go eight deep without the pitcher getting a break, a bench that always has at least one bopper and a couple of good hitters on it no matter who is starting, and the pieces in the minors to fill in or make a deal. I don't see why the Cards can't be in this race until the very end.
TBB: The Brewers look like garbage so far. Is this what you expected from them?
C70: I didn't expect the Brewers to be sitting in last place when we first met, if that's what you mean. I did think the Brewers might finish fourth and have around a .500 record, but I don't think any of us expected John Axford to blow up quite like he has and for the Brewers to catch the injury bug early. I don't think they are going to challenge for the division, but I think they and Pittsburgh could have an interesting battle for third.
TBB: What's something Brewers fans should know about the Cards but probably don't (could be anything)?
C70: That's an interesting question. Being in a bubble it's sometimes hard to know what we know locally versus what is known nationally. I think probably I'd say that you should keep an eye on Matt Adams. Sure, his average is going to come down from the .650 he's hitting now, but he belongs in the big leagues and is in scoring position every time he steps to the plate. If the tying run is on second when he pinch-hits, I'd get pretty nervous. On the flip side, if Ty Wigginton is the pinch hitter, you can probably relax a significant bit.
TBB: How are ya rating Pujols these days? Is Freese now 'the Man' in the 'Lou?
C70: I think a lot of the dislike and disdain for Pujols has faded in the community with the fact that the Cards put together a strong run last year and Pujols seems to be showing his age a bit in Anaheim. He's never going to reach the heights that he once did, but I think if he came back to Busch he'd probably get more cheers than boos, something that wouldn't have been the case this time last year. As for who has replaced him, Freese definitely has the story to do it, but I think Adam Wainwright's on that level as well. Taking a hometown discount and being so open about how much he loves St. Louis has endeared him to a lot of the fan base. Of course, it helps that he's pretty good as well.no comments
(Photo: Ben Rouse)
The Brewers win on Monday got pretty hairy in the ninth inning, when the Cubs scored two runs and ultimately stranded the bases loaded. Alfonso Soriano scored the first run, and was in scoring position thanks to defensive indifference by the Brewers with nobody out. In hindsight, it seems like the Brewers might have saved themselves (and their fans) a little stress by holding the runner at first.
It made me wonder if anyone has done a cost-benefit analysis of defensive indifference. I came across this data from Baseball Prospectus that shows defensive indifference sharply increased from the mid-90’s to the mid-00’s.
Surely, teams would not practice defensive indifference if they thought it could cost them a game, but it contributed to the Brewers nearly giving up the lead on Monday. At the very least, defensive indifference with no outs would appear to notably reduce the likelihood of a win in certain circumstances.
The best info I have been able to find with some cursory online searching is in this 2011 blog post by author and statistician Tom Tango. He says if a team is down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth with one out, with a runner on second base, the chance of a win is .129. In the same situation but with two outs, the win expectancy is .052. Tango’s conclusion: “So, defensive indifference with 2 outs is fine. With 1 out? Not really.”
With no outs and a five-run lead? Based on Monday’s outcome, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to say defensive indifference in that case was imprudent.no comments