Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for April 2013

Milwaukee Brewers Roster Moves: Narveson to 15-day DL, Hart Moved to 60-day DL and Lalli Brought up from AAA

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Folks, after the Milwaukee Brewers barely held off the Chicago Cubs in Chicago’s home opener yesterday, 7-4 (the Cubs left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth), I knew the Brewers would have to finally make a roster move or two.

However, I didn’t necessarily expect these moves.

First, left-hander Chris Narveson was placed on the 15-day DL with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.  Narveson will probably be on the DL for longer than 15 days, and could be there as long as six weeks.

Second, the Brewers brought up the man I suggested a few days ago that they might want to take a look at — catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli.  Lalli’s much more familiar with the contemporary pitching staff than either of the two incumbent catchers, Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado — and the way things have gone with the injury bug, the Brewers have had to play both catchers at the same time (Lucroy has caught, while Maldonado has played first base).

This way, the Brewers will always have at least one catcher on the bench into the late innings of every game.  That’s a move I applaud.

The main reason, though, I’m only cautiously optimistic that these moves will help is this — to get Lalli on the 40-man roster, the Brewers had to transfer Corey Hart to the 60-day DL.  The other choices to go to the 60-day DL were Aramis Ramirez, Mark Rodgers, Jeff Bianchi, and Taylor Green.  The Brewers hope to have all of those players back by mid-May, particularly Ramirez.

However, there has been no really good news in the saga of Taylor Green.  He has a problem with the labrum in his left hip, which he sustained in Spring Training.  He’s been on the DL since March 22, and it’s unlikely he’ll play much before mid-May, if at all.

Everyone else — yes, even Rodgers — can be expected to come back well before that time.  But with Green’s vexing injury, if I’d been Doug Melvin, I’d have been interested in putting Green on the DL instead.

Consider, please, that Green is a marginal player at this point, while Hart is a solid contributor with two past All-Star appearances to his credit.  (Mind you, Green could still well improve, does play multiple positions, and is usually a solid defender.)  That hip labrum will need a good amount of time and rest to improve, considering surgery does not seem to be in the cards.  And injuries like this can nag you all season long if not properly treated to begin with . . . which is why with a known “fast healer” like Hart on the roster, I’d have been much happier with moving Green to the 60-day DL instead.

I am pleased that Lalli has come up, because I think he has tons of potential and it’s a very good thing to have another catcher on the roster.  I’m not happy that Narveson has sustained this odd injury, but maybe it’s for the best that he’s been put on the DL.  And, of course, I’m quite displeased that the Brewers moved Hart to the 60-day DL rather than Green under the circumstances.

But as the moves have been made, there’s nothing to be done about it.

Just Reviewed K.E. Kimbriel’s Excellent “Fire Sanctuary” at SBR

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Folks, if you’ve looking for a very good, entertaining, interesting and thought-provoking novel of the far future, look no further than Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s FIRE SANCTUARY, which I just reviewed over at Shiny Book Review (SBR).  FIRE SANCTUARY deals with cross-cultural romance, a brewing interplanetary war between the Axis and the Fewhas (with Nuala stuck in the middle), the difficulties of living on a planet that endures much radiation and much, much more.

Again, as with Ms. Kimbriel’s THE FIRES OF NUALA (that “the” may be optional, but I keep typing it over here and not at SBR; weird, huh?), there’s much action, intrigue, drama, and romance.  But the stars of the show are the characters, including Braan and Ronuviel of the Atare clan, Moran and Lyte (Axis officers), and Teloa, a planter (a farmer by any other name).  And even the minor characters are brimming with life and desires and goals and dreams . . . just a winning effort, all the way around, for Ms. Kimbriel.

As I’ve said before, I believe more people need to read Ms. Kimbriel’s writing.  So if you haven’t given her books a try yet, why not do so today?  (You’ll be glad you did.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Milwaukee Brewers 2013: A Dreadful First Week

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The Milwaukee Brewers 2013 season is well underway, and there’s only one thing any observant writer can say: The Brewers look dreadful in just about every respect.

While there are some good things happening — Norichika Aoki’s four hits today (during his promotional bobblehead day), a clutch Sunday double by rookie OF-3B Josh Prince, the strong six innings pitched by Kyle Lohse on Friday, and the two good relief appearances by Jim Henderson among them — there are many more extremely frustrating things going on, which befits a team with a woeful 1-5 record.

First, and worst: The Brewers have faced many injuries already this season.  Consider that half the Brewers starting infield is currently on the disabled list (DL) — first baseman Corey Hart, of course, had knee surgery back in February, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez tweaked his knee while sliding into second base on Friday evening.  In addition, both prospective utility infielders, Taylor Green and Jeff Bianchi, are on the DL along with backup first baseman-outfielder Mat Gamel (out for the year), while Brewers rookie starting shortstop Jean Segura sustained a bruised left thigh on Sunday and is now considered “day-to-day.”

But the most frustrating injury is to Brewers’ MVP Ryan Braun, who is out with neck spasms.  While not on the DL, he’s unable to play — the closest he’s come to actually getting in a game since Friday was standing in the on-deck circle earlier today — and that means that the Brewers three best hitters are currently unavailable.

That doesn’t mean the Brewers aren’t trying in the hitting department.  They certainly are.  Players like Aoki, Prince, the recently signed Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez are all doing their best to score runs.

Second, many players are playing out of position due to injury.  Betancourt and Gonzalez between them, shortstops by trade, have played every position except second base, while Prince, an outfielder, played third base for the first time since AA ball on Sunday due to a lack of bench players.

Third, while the Brewers are carrying eight relief pitchers, half of them aren’t doing well.  The worst of the lot has been closer John Axford, who has an ERA of 20.25 and a record of 0-1 (being the pitcher of record this afternoon in an eleven-inning loss) with one blown save, four home runs, and six earned runs given up in 2 and 2/3 innings pitched.

Now, it is still early, so Axford’s extremely depressing ERA is misleading.  But giving up six earned runs — with four of ’em being HRs — in less than three innings worth of work is extremely concerning.  Worse yet, Axford has not looked sharp; his “three up, three down” tenth inning today is also, and quite unfortunately, misleading in that Axford gave up two fly ball outs that went to the wall (one in the deepest part of left center, the other to left) before striking out the third batter only after throwing a pitch wildly over the umpire’s head on a 1-2 count.

So, Axford has not looked good.  Mike Gonzalez (13.50 ERA), who came in today in relief of Axford, has had a good appearance and at least two bad ones.  And aside from Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Alfredo Figaro and Chris Narveson, every other reliever has had at least one bad outing amidst a good outing or two.

Fourth, the starters, as a group, have also looked awful.  A bad relief pitching corps could be circumvented if the starters were up to snuff.  Unfortunately, the only starter who’s actually looked good to date is Lohse (with a sparkling 1.50 ERA).  Gallardo (5.73 ERA) has looked, at best, serviceable.  Estrada (7.20 ERA) looked awful against Arizona.  Mike Fiers (10.80 ERA) had a forgettable start.  Peralta (6.70 ERA) has looked overmatched since spring training.

As to who is available among starting pitchers?  Well, former Brewers lefty Chris Capuano (12-12, 3.72 ERA in 2012) is a forgotten man in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen, and is a better pitcher than Estrada, Fiers or Peralta.  Narveson, who is in the bullpen probably because the Brewers are afraid of re-injuring his surgically repaired left shoulder, is also a better pitcher than Estrada, Fiers or Peralta.   Those two pitchers would give the Brewers two lefties on the starting staff, and would at least make it harder for opposing teams to tee off on Brewers pitchers.

Also, Aaron Harang (10-10, 3.61 ERA) has already been designated for assignment by his new team, the Colorado Rockies.  Harang, too, is a much better pitcher than Fiers or Peralta, and is probably better than Estrada.  So if I were the Brewers, I’d certainly be willing to give Harang a look-see.

There are also two quality relievers currently without teams.  One, Francisco Rodriguez, is well-known to the Brewers and is unlikely to be signed due to his 2012 struggles with the team.  But the other, Brian Wilson, would be an intriguing choice — while Wilson would undoubtedly need time in Arizona in extended spring training before getting some rehab appearances in the minors, at least the Brewers would know that help would eventually be on the way.

My advice is as follows:

  • Send Axford to a sports psychiatrist (if Axford isn’t already seeing one), as that may help.
  • Sign Wilson, which would give Axford some competition, as Axford seems to do better when someone is seriously competing with him for the job.
  • Trade for Capuano (and maybe even Harang).
  • Send Peralta down, as it appears he needs more time in AAA ball, and think seriously about sending Fiers back down as well.
  • And, last but not least, put Segura on the DL and call up Blake Lalli.  The Brewers need a third catcher badly, and Lalli worked with the Brewers staff extensively in spring training due to both Lucroy and Martin Maldonado playing for Teams USA and Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.  Lalli also hit well in the spring, and certainly cannot hurt the Brewers any at this point.

The last move is necessary because the Brewers are unwilling to put Braun on the DL and obviously cannot handle having only three healthy bench players.  In Sunday’s eleven-inning game, the Brewers actually had to use Lohse, the best hitter of the available starting pitchers, as a pinch hitter because that was the only move left for manager Ron Roenicke.  But Lohse struck out to end the game (of course).

As it stands, though, I feel sorry for Axford.  I’m sure he’s trying his best, as is everyone else on the team — you don’t get into professional sports if you aren’t interested in doing well for yourself and your team, after all.  But it’s obvious that something is still not right with Axford, and my guess is that whatever is it has more to do with his head than his mechanics or his will.

I just hope he can sort it out, and get back to pitching the way Brewers fans know he can.  Or it’s likely to be another long, frustrating season for the Brewers in 2013.

Quick Tuesday Ill Health Update

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Today is April 2, 2013.  The day after April Fool’s Day . . . the second game of the major league baseball season (my favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, faces off against the Colorado Rockies in less than an hour).

And it’s another day that I’d rather forget, because I woke up sick with a very sore throat.  I had so little energy that I had no interest in eating (yet it wasn’t a migraine — with a migraine, I’d at least understand this), and ended up going right back to bed at a time I normally am awake and alert.

(Of course, then I slept for three more hours.)

Now, I’m awake again, and I hope to be able to watch the Brewers game.  But I’m unsure I can do that.  I’m also unsure I’m going to be able to do much of anything at all the rest of the week, which is why I’m writing this particular blog . . . even though it’s not something I enjoy doing, and believe it might actually be detrimental to my overall chances of employment down the line.

Still.  A friend of mine on Facebook had suggested a while back that if people were more honest about how they were feeling, maybe we’d see less artifice and strife in the world.  I didn’t entirely follow what he’d said, mind you — though I agree that people should be more honest and far less artificial — but in his clarifying notes, he said that what he wanted was to know that other people actually did get sick, did suffer when losing a loved one, did recover from illness and somehow dealt with their grief . . . all things our contemporary society tries to kick under the rug because these are not things that our society prefers to dwell upon.

Oh, no.  We’re supposed to be perfectly healthy.  Thin.  Never grieve the loss of a loved one.  Always be happy, even when we’re miserable.  “Fake it ’til we make it.”

That sort of thing.

And even though I’d love to be perfectly healthy (this after possibly the worst year, health-wise, I’ve ever had), certainly would like to be thinner and in better shape than I am, not be grieving for my beloved husband and my excellent best friend, etc., it’s not going to happen.

I’d rather embrace who I am, even if I’m not where I’d hoped I’d be by this time in my life.  I prefer to remember the people who’ve graced my life with fondness, bare minimum . . . everything I’ve gone through has made me who I am today.  And really, as I refuse to be one of these people who “puts behind them” the people they care about, or the memories they most treasure because society doesn’t like to dwell upon them, I need to continue to be my truest self.

Even if that means, like today, all I can do is rest, read a little bit (I’m too tired to read, which is how I know I’m really ill), and hope I can watch a baseball game (when normally nothing would keep me from at least listening to it).  And try to get back after it tomorrow, somehow.

Or at worst, the day after that.

My intention remains the same as before: stay alive long enough to get my book, ELFY, out there into the marketplace in the hopes that people I don’t know will enjoy the book.  And in the process, get every other scrap of writing I’ve worked on, or that Michael worked on, or that the two of us together worked on, into print as well.

That’s why I need to rest and get my sore throat to calm down a little bit.

Anyway, for the time being, there are other good blogs out there to keep you busy.  I suggest Jason Cordova’s blog, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog, and Chris Nuttall’s blog “the Chrishanger” to get you started.   (All links are available on the side of my blog page.)

As for me, I will try to get a new blog up by the weekend.  But I have a big edit to complete, and a rehearsal to try to get to (even if all I can do is pick up the music and go home again), and lots of other stuff to do that’s too mundane to mention.

So do me a favor, and until then, contemplate this quote by Walt Disney:

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”

— From Peter’s Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter (via Wikiquotes).

Because this is not only the reason I read . . . it’s also the reason I write.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm