Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Fiers

Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Trade Aftermath: Situation…Bleak

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Folks, most of you know I’m a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club.

And most of you are aware that when good players like Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra, and Mike Fiers get traded for minor-league prospects, that usually indicates that the team in question (in this case, the Brewers) is undergoing a rebuilding phase.

As a fan, I don’t like seeing rebuilding phases. I know they’re necessary. But it’s frustrating all the same, because I like to see a team that competes hard and does its best every day.

Right now, the MIlwaukee Brewers cannot do that.

When you take a hitter like Carlos Gomez out of the lineup, you lose a great deal. Couple that with taking Gerardo Parra out of the lineup — Parra hitting better than he ever has, and playing solid defense at all three OF positions, and you have the recipe for a lineup with little pop and even less situational hitting.

Couple that with the earlier trade of Aramis Ramirez to the Pirates, and the hitting situation grows even more desperate.

Right now, the Brewers have only two hitters with any chance of doing well: Ryan Braun and Adam Lind. Both have had trouble with back spasms this season, and Braun has a lingering issue with his thumb that will almost certainly plague him from time to time for the remainder of his career. So these things have to be taken into account, health-wise; both players cannot play every day in the high heat and humidity, not if manager Craig Counsell expects to get a maximum return out of them.

The other hitters are not doing that well this season. Jonathan Lucroy hasn’t looked like himself all year. Khris Davis — he still strikes out too much, and he waves at pitches in the opposing batter’s box, too. So no one with any sense is going to throw Davis a fastball. And Hernan Perez?

Really?

Granted, Jean Segura has shown flashes of his old hitting style, and is playing reasonably decent defense in the field. But he’s not a guy the Brewers should be depending on for RBIs; he’s a table-setter, not a meat-and-potatoes type of guy.

Then we get to the starting pitching. And we see the void that the trade of Mike Fiers has left in the Brewers pitching staff.

Look. Taylor Jungmann has had a great ride thus far, and looks like a solid pitcher for 2016. But Kyle Lohse — much as i like the man, and much though I root for him, he looks like he’s at the end of the road. And Matt Garza’s been up and down, Jimmy Nelson is still overrated (he’s done well most of the time, but I still don’t trust that), and Wily Peralta is showing just why his 17-win season last year was such a fluke.

If the Brewers didn’t have excellent relief pitching, they’d probably be even worse off than they are. Neal Cotts has actually been good (I have to say this, as early on I said I wanted him gone). Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has been stellar, as always. Will Smith has been iffy lately — at about the same point he became iffy last year — but was very good at the start of the season. And Tyler Thornburg is back up and pitching well…Jeremy Jeffress looks solid…really, I have few complaints with the bullpen.

The Brewers are currently 44-62. They look like they probably won’t even win sixty games this year, the way they’re playing. So I understand, mentally, why GM Doug Melvin made the trades that he did.

Still. Right now, what the Brewers front office is doing is an exercise in narrative framing. They’re saying, “Hey, in a year or two, we’ll be really good. Look at all these prospects!” And trying to divert the long-time fan, who’s seen the Brewers be awful before (in my case, many times), into dreaming of the future…all while the present looks downright depressing.

The thing about prospects is this: It’s all speculative.

We knew that Carlos Gomez loved Milwaukee, would hit reasonably well, would play excellent defense most of the time, and make some baserunning mistakes while striking out a goodly percentage of the time. Because that’s who Gomez is.

But Gomez is a known commodity. Brewers fans knew exactly what we were getting in him.

Similarly, Fiers and Parra were also known commodities. I knew, as a fan, that Parra would be tenacious at the plate and have good situational-hitting skills, and I knew that Fiers would always try his hardest and be unsparing of himself in postgame commentary if he just didn’t have it.

But fortunately, Fiers mostly does have it.

Anyway, Doug Melvin took three very good players — one perhaps a superstar in Gomez — and traded them, when the Brewers are already having trouble with their offense. He got back some very solid prospects, some of which may develop into decent-to-better players (Phillips, which the Brewers received in the Houston trade, might even turn out to be a superstar himself down the line; but that day is not today).

But for now, the situation is bleak and getting worse.

What I want to see, as a fan, is for Doug Melvin to go out and get some hitters. Daniel Nava was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox last week — and Nava can hit. (Granted, he hasn’t hit well this year at all for Boston, but a change of scenery might really help him.) Plus, Nava has some speed and would play a better left field than Khris Davis, who really shouldn’t be in the field at all (why, oh why, hasn’t Davis been traded to the AL by now? He is a DH in the making; he’ll never make an outfielder.)

And the Brewers need to find other diamonds in the rough like Nava. Guys who can hit, who’ve proven they can hit, and who can do a little better than the Shane Petersons or (gasp! shudders! horrors!) the Hernan Perezes of the world.

So that’s where I’m at, as a fan. I think the aftermath of the Brewers trades of Parra, Gomez and Fiers is showing itself right now.

And if I had to bet, I’d probably say it’s very unlikely the Brewers will even win 60 games this year. Which is very, very sad.

So don’t believe the narrative hype, my friends. Know full well that the Brewers will be awful for the remainder of this year, with some flashes of solid playing by folks like K-Rod, Braun and probably Lind.

And hope that somehow, some way, we’ll get some people in the lineup who can hit, run, and field…because right now, they’re just not there.

Brewers Beat Marlins, 4-2, After Giancarlo Stanton Gets Hit in the Face

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The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t been playing well lately, to put it mildly. After losing more than they’ve won since the All-Star Break (with a record of 22-28 starting tonight’s action), the Brewers have needed wins in the worst way.

Enter starting pitcher Mike Fiers. Fiers has been brilliant since being brought up from AAA Nashville a month ago; he’s now won six games and lost only one, with an ERA of 1.74. More importantly still, Fiers has struck out 54 while walking only 10, and before tonight’s game had hit no batters. None.

What a difference one game makes.

With the Brewers up, 4-0, in the top of the 5th, Miami’s RF Giancarlo Stanton came up to the plate in a high-pressure situation. There were two outs and a runner stood on first; as Stanton leads the National League in both HRs (37) and RBI (105), he’s obviously someone Milwaukee — and Fiers — took very seriously.

Fiers was in an 0-1 count before he threw a pitch up and in to Stanton — the pitch that hit Stanton in the face, causing a nasty, gruesome injury with a great deal of facial bleeding. After several long, tension-filled minutes, Stanton was taken off the field in an ambulance cart, and the game resumed with an 0-2 count to emergency pinch hitter Reed Johnson.

Now, I’m a Brewers fan, but I honestly don’t understand why Stanton wasn’t awarded first base after getting hit in the face. Yes, he swung — a defensive swing, because his body was already in motion, trying to avoid the ball coming at his face — but the most important thing was that Stanton got hit in the face.

Everyone in the ballpark, much less every fan watching the Marlins-Brewers game, knows that.

Anyway, Johnson stepped into the batter’s box, and he, too, was hit by a pitch — this time on the hand. Again, there’s a defensive swing . . . again, the umps call a strike, and this time call it a strikeout due to a dead ball (the ball hitting Johnson’s hand, that is).

So even though the box score will not show that Fiers actually hit two batters, anyone with eyes knows good and well that Fiers first hit Stanton, a genuine MVP candidate for the NL, in the face. (Was it intentional? Of course not. But the fact remains that Fiers hit him.) Then, after the  umps did not award Stanton first base as they should’ve, Johnson stood in there against Fiers and Fiers threw it in more or less the same place — up and in — this time grazing Johnson on the hand.

The benches cleared after the second hit batsman, which is somewhat sensible. Former Brewer Casey McGehee, who knows Fiers, came out and yelled — either at the umps for not sending Stanton’s replacement to first base right off the bat, or for the umps perhaps crediting Fiers with the oddest “strikeout” I’ve ever seen . . . or maybe at Fiers**, who is known for being a control pitcher as his fastball tops out around 88 mph (which is very slow for MLB, these days). McGehee was ejected, as was Miami’s manager Mike Redmond, and everyone else was sent back to their respective dugouts to cool off.

I reiterate: I don’t believe Fiers was trying to hit Stanton. Nor, for the record, do I think Fiers was trying to hit Reed Johnson, either.

But the fact of the matter is, Fiers hit two guys on two successive pitches, one right after the other. And the umps didn’t send either one of them to first base.

Instead, both benches were warned that if anyone else was hit, the manager and pitcher would be concurrently ejected.

The Marlins did retaliate, of course, despite the umpire’s warning.

With two outs and no one on in the sixth, reliever Anthony DeSclafani promptly hit CF Carlos Gomez on the left elbow on the first pitch. And as expected, DeSclafani was immediately ejected, along with acting manager/bench coach Rob Leary.

The rest of the game was an afterthought, as it was obvious both teams were far more worried about Stanton’s injury than they were in finishing this game out. So while the Brewers did “win” this game, it didn’t really feel like one.

As for postgame reaction?

Both Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Fiers said during comments to the media as shown by Fox Sports Wisconsin during their “Brewers Live” postgame telecast that they both hope Stanton will be all right — and of course Fiers wasn’t trying to throw at Stanton (or Johnson, either).

Marlins manager Mike Redmond’s postgame comments were also shown by Fox Sports Wisconsin. Redmond said that anyone being upset at the Marlins for being angry that their MVP Stanton’s season has probably ended due to terrible hit to the face isn’t being honest with themselves, because any team would be upset under these circumstances. And that he, personally, was very upset that Fiers hit two guys in a row with two pitches, but neither Marlin was awarded first base.

I think Redmond’s comments are understandable. I hope he knows that Fiers would not hit Stanton in the face intentionally, because Fiers isn’t that type of guy at all — he’s worked too long and too hard to get back to the major leagues after his mother’s untimely passing last year due to complications from lupus. But losing your MVP to a freak thing like that? I’d be upset, too, especially considering how Fiers hit Johnson on the next pitch in the hand, with neither of them being called a HBP by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg.

Anyway, that was a very weird game, and a very odd victory that doesn’t at all feel like something the Brewers should celebrate.

Before I go, here’s the most current update on Stanton’s condition from MLB’s Joe Frisaro, one of the beat writers for the Miami Marlins. Frisaro Tweeted this in regards to Stanton’s injuries just a few minutes ago:

Giancarlo Stanton suffered a facial laceration requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures and dental damage

Obviously this is terrible news . . . certainly not the news I’d hoped to hear, especially considering the early news from the Marlins only said “facial laceration.” (Which, admittedly, seemed ludicrous. I suspected a broken orbital bone or possibly a broken cheekbone, considering, and “facial laceration” seemed remarkably light.) This will end Stanton’s season in a truly freakish way, something no one — not Mike Fiers, not the Brewers faithful, not anyone affiliated with the Marlins and certainly no one around MLB itself — wanted.

My hope now is that Stanton will make a quick recovery and be ready to go during Spring Training 2015.

———-

**Fiers looked wild all game. Perhaps the colder-than-average weather didn’t help, as it was 50 degrees at game time . . . yes, the Brewers have a domed stadium, and  the roof was closed, but that damp cold still seeps in and it does affect the pitchers.

##A personal update: I am recovering from surgery, and posts have been few and far between for the past week because of that. But I couldn’t let this one go by . . . really hope Stanton will be OK down the road, and had hoped that somehow he would escape serious injury.