Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Brewers 2015

Milwaukee Brewers Shut Down Ryan Braun for the Rest of 2015

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Folks, this is how you know the Milwaukee Brewers have had a horrible year.

Ryan Braun has a back injury that he’s been playing through for most of the year. Recently, when he spent seven games without playing whatsoever, the team admitted that Braun will have surgery in the off-season to repair a herniated disc. So the assumption was that Braun would not play any more during 2015.

Then Braun played last night in St. Louis.

Now, the Brewers have returned to their original script with Braun. He’s been shut down for the remainder of the year, mostly because there’s no point to playing as the Brewers cannot affect the outcome of the regular season at all. Every playoff team in the National League is now set; three of them, the Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, come from the NL Central Division. And the only thing that could change between now and the end of the season is whether the Cardinals hold on to their NL Central lead, or if the Pirates manage to best them.

Everything else is set in stone, barring a major losing streak for the Pirates and a major winning streak for the Cubs — and all that will change is which team hosts the Wild Card game.

Look. I understand why the Brewers have shut Braun down. There is nothing for him to prove, and very little for him to gain. Braun could worsen his back if he plays, though that wasn’t a concern last night for some reason…and if Braun worsens his back injury, that may put part or all of 2016 in jeopardy.

I get all that.

But as a Brewers fan, I’m disheartened. There are very few stars on the Milwaukee baseball club right now. The team that started 2015 has been almost completely dismantled; Braun is out, Carlos Gomez got traded to the Astros (and has been in a hitting funk ever since, from what I can tell), Gerardo Parra got traded to the Orioles, Aramis Ramirez got traded to the Pirates (at least he’s going to the playoffs), Mike Fiers — possibly the Brewers most consistent starter during 2015 — got traded to the Astros and promptly threw a no-hitter.

As for those who remained?

  • Jean Segura had a nice bounce-back year on both offense and defense. He narrowly avoided a major injury a few weeks ago (more on that in a bit). But he’s not playing much right now, as the 2015 season is lost.
  • Jonathan Lucroy was out for nearly ten days with a concussion, though he’s back now (and limited to first base).
  • Jimmy Nelson got hit in the head by a batted ball and was shut down for the year with a concussion.
  • Wily Peralta was generally ineffective during 2015 and has been shut down, reason unknown or untold.
  • Matt Garza also was ineffective, and has been shut down since mid-September.
  • And poor Elian Herrera — he ran into Shane Peterson while trying to field a ball in “no man’s land” (behind third in shallow left field shading toward the foul line), and has been on crutches ever since with what’s been called a “thigh contusion.” Herrera was one of the few guys who’d stepped up after all the trades, and performed consistently both on offense and defense; his steady presence in the infield has been missed since he got injured. (As for Peterson, he’s pinch-hit a few times; he came away from that collision injured, but lightly so, compared to Herrera…who, of course, has also been shut down for the year.)

So who’s left?

Well, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has done well as the closer, and he’s still here. (He gets maybe two attempts a week to close a game, but that’s not his fault.) Lucroy is able to play a little at first base. Adam Lind’s back has been a little balky lately, but he’s played more games with the Brewers than he managed with the Blue Jays last year (at least, that’s what they keep saying) and he’s done better defensively at first base than I’d expected.

And then there are all the rookies. Only three have impressed me thus far: Zach Davies, who the Brewers got in the Parra trade, has shown some good flashes since getting the call to come to the big leagues. Catcher Nevin Ashley spent ten years in the minors, and reminds me a great deal of Vinny Rottino (my favorite player, also overlooked to my mind). And Domingo Santana has shown unusually good plate discipline and some real power, even though he’s been forced to play out of position most of the time in center field (he’s a corner outfielder).

The rest…meh.

For weeks, watching games has been like watching Spring Training, except these games count. Most of the guys seem eager, young, and want to make a good impression. But for me, as a fan, I feel fatigued; there have been 11 guys making their major league debut this year, with a twelfth coming today. I have a hard time keeping up with all these people, and while I’m glad all these young guys have managed to get call-ups (most especially Ashley), it’s hard to figure out what I’m watching.

Truly, these teams are like seeing a Triple-A version of the Brewers with a few stars sprinkled in. And that’s not what I’d expected for the 2015 season, even though I do think retiring General Manager Doug Melvin did the best he could with what he had (and received several strong players in return for our previously established stars).

So here we are: Braun won’t play again this year. The young, eager, Triple-A-like Brewers will continue to do their best to make some sort of impression.

And while I’ll continue to watch, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that this depleted Brewers club will win many more games.

Historic Moment for MLB: Brewers’ 1B Prospect David Denson Comes Out as Gay

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Folks, this year has been a historic year for organized baseball.

Earlier this year, Sean Conroy, a pitcher for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association, came out as gay.

And now, Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect David Denson, a first baseman currently playing for Helena in the Rookie League, has also come out as gay. Denson is the first person in organized baseball — major or minor leagues — to ever come out while still an active player.

Here’s a link to the story. Denson, quoted by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel baseball beat writer Tom Haudricourt, said this:

Before he knew it, Denson was making the emotional announcement he yearned to share, and the group around him expanded to the point that he soon was speaking to most of the team. Much to Denson’s relief, when the conversation ended he was greeted with outward support and understanding instead of condemnation.

“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” recalled Denson. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’

“That was a giant relief for me,” Denson said. “I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”

The more Denson thought about it, though, the more he came to realize that a clubhouse confession wasn’t going to be enough. Until he came out publicly as gay and released that burden, Denson didn’t think he could truly blossom and realize his potential on the field.

The Milwaukee Brewers have had a disappointing season in many respects. But they made up for it, at least in my eyes, when two players were quoted (again by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) as saying that Denson would be welcome in their clubhouse any time.

Both Ryan Braun and Scooter Gennett have publicly gone on the record as saying they would warmly welcome Denson. Here’s a few quotes for you from Haudricourt’s additional article:

“I think everybody is supportive,” said rightfielder Ryan Braun. “Overall, we realize it’s a courageous decision by him, to come out and embrace his true self.

“I’ve never met him but I hope baseball as a whole is at a point where we judge people by their ability and not their race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality. I can’t speak for everybody on our team but he would be accepted and supported by me. And I would hope all of my teammates feel the same way.”

Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett does know Denson and spent time in a team clubhouse with him. When Gennett was sent to Class A Wisconsin on minor-league rehab earlier this season while recovering from a hand injury, Denson was playing for the Timber Rattlers.

Denson, 20, a power-hitting first baseman, later was sent to the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena, Mont., and came out as gay to teammates there a month or so ago.

“He’s a great guy, an awesome guy,” said Gennett. “He has great tools. Now, he’ll be able to focus on playing and not focus on all the other stuff. This will be less clutter for him.

“I think it’s a great thing when people can clear their mind and just be honest with people around them. It’s an awesome thing. I think that will allow him to focus more on baseball and go out and have fun now.

“Would he be accepted here? Absolutely. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s a baseball player and a great guy. Anybody that goes out and plays hard every day is going to be accepted. Everybody has something to deal with. Baseball is such a mental sport. When you can just focus on the game, it’s amazing how much more fun it is.”

The Brewers as an organization are supportive of Denson, from GM Doug Melvin to manager Craig Counsell to the major league players on down. And that’s wonderful to see.

That said, I hope someday that it will not matter whatsoever what a person’s sexuality is — gay, lesbian, transgender, Martian, whatever.

Because a baseball player is simply that: a baseball player. Regardless of sexuality.

I’m glad the Milwaukee Brewers as an organization have figured this out.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 16, 2015 at 5:45 pm

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.

Milwaukee Brewers Chatter: Will Smith Gets an 8-Game Suspension

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Folks, I’ve been head-down in my final edit for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, so I am a bit behind-hand in discussing what’s going on with the Milwaukee Brewers lately.

Let’s rectify that.

A few days ago (on Thursday, May 21, 2015), Brewers reliever Will Smith came into a game against the Atlanta Braves and had something shiny on his forearm. This substance was something to help him better grip the ball on a cold and somewhat windy day, and many pitchers use it for exactly that. But they don’t put it openly on their arm; they attempt to conceal it.

Smith, because he did not conceal this substance, got thrown out of the baseball game after Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez complained. And Smith was irate.

After the game, Smith answered some questions from reporters (this was shown on Fox Sports Wisconsin’s postgame show). Smith said he’d put that substance (identified as a mix of sunscreen and rosin) on his arm in the bullpen to help with his grip. He said he wanted to wipe it off, but forgot…and then he got thrown out. Smith pointed out that many pitchers do this, and they do not get thrown out.

On Friday, Smith was suspended by Major League Baseball for eight games for using this illegal substance.

Of course Smith is appealing the suspension, because both Smith and the Brewers management think that eight games is too long, considering the cold weather and the fact that Smith is a relief pitcher. (Why does the last part matter? Well, a starter who’s suspended for 10 games misses two starts. But a reliever who misses eight games misses eight potential opportunities to pitch.)

Smith is allowed to keep pitching until his appeal is heard (probably sometime early next week).

What do I think of all this as a Brewers fan? I think Smith was at best absentminded, at worst incredibly foolish, to have that substance openly on his arm. But I don’t blame him for wanting to get a better grip on the ball considering the conditions, especially as the Brewers have had several players hit in the head this year — most notably Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.

(Of course, Smith hit a batter anyway. So I don’t know what good that substance actually did him. But I digress.)

Ultimately, I think the suspension is likely to be reduced on appeal. It’s possible MLB could reduce it by a couple of games, maybe even three…which will leave Smith with a five- or six-game suspension rather than the current length of eight games.

Let’s hope that Smith can use his impending time off wisely. (Maybe he’ll study up on just how to properly conceal the same substance so he’ll not get thrown out of the game next time. Or am I being too cynical?)

It’s Official: Craig Counsell Is the New Brewers Manager

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Folks, the Milwaukee Brewers and their managerial situation don’t matter much in the cosmic scheme of things.

But as I blogged about the possibilities I saw for a manager late last night, I thought I’d come back and say a few words about the selection of Craig Counsell as the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

I watched the press coverage, carried live by Channel 4 (WTMJ) in Milwaukee. Counsell spoke well, appears eager to take on the responsibility of managing, and pointed out that he’s always felt like a Brewer — that as he started coming to Brewers games and hanging out at old Milwaukee County Stadium around age ten, he knows that the Brewers logo means something.

Counsell, you see, is from Whitefish Bay. His father used to work for the Brewers, which is one reason Counsell hung out so often at the ballpark. (These are things I knew, but didn’t say in my previous post about Ron Roenicke being fired, as I didn’t think Counsell would be the pick.)

Note that Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin explained the odd timing in this way (my best paraphrase, as I do not have a transcript in front of me): Melvin said that since last September 1, the Brewers only won two games in a row three times (including this past weekend against the Cubs). And that’s not good enough.

But if that were the only reason for Roenicke to get fired, you’d still think it would’ve happened weeks ago.

And Melvin really had no answer for this; instead, he said that owner Mark Attanasio had called him on the Brewers off-day last Thursday and discussed the way the team was playing (poorly), and how neither of them liked it very much. Then, Melvin said, they slept on their decision for a few days.

Look. I’ve already laid out why I thought Counsell shouldn’t be the pick. My view had nothing to do with whether or not I think Counsell is qualified; of course he is. And it had nothing to do with whether or not I like Counsell; I liked him as a player, and figure if he’s as much of a straight shooter as a manager as he was as a player, I’m going to like him a whole lot more than I liked Ron Roenicke.

But I still don’t like the timing at all.

This sort of timing only would make sense if the Brewers had gone after one of the three men with ties to the Brewers organization who are currently working for other teams: Ted Simmons, Mike Maddux, and Dale Sveum. There, I could see where contractual issues would have to be dealt with, maybe compensation to the other team (definitely so in the case of Sveum and Maddux, as they are currently coaches for the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, respectively).

This situation, I really don’t fathom.

Counsell has been a special assistant to the GM for years. He could’ve been hired last year in October. He could’ve again been hired when the Brewers started the season off 2-13.

There was no need to hire him right now.

In that, I echo the words of Ron Roenicke, who was quoted by Adam McCalvy as saying, “I told Doug I wished it would have happened a week ago,” Roenicke said. “I would have understood it better then.”

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 4, 2015 at 11:14 am

Milwaukee Brewers Fire Manager Ron Roenicke, Successor Not Yet Named…

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Folks, as anyone who follows my blog knows, I’ve wanted the Milwaukee Brewers to fire manager Ron Roenicke for at least nine months. (Take a look at my most recent blog on the subject, dated April 20, 2015, for example.)

Tonight, it actually happened. Roenicke has been relieved of his managerial duties despite the Brewers finally winning a series against the Chicago Cubs…and winning two games in a row for the first time all season.

Granted, the team is still only 7-18. Many of the hitters, such as Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, aren’t doing well. Many of the pitchers have been inconsistent at best, downright awful at worst.

But the team was finally starting to look up. Which is why the timing of Roenicke’s firing looks so very, very odd.

All fans know thus far is that Roenicke is out, the coaching staff has apparently been asked to stay in place, and a new manager is on his way to Milwaukee right now. That person, whoever he may be, will be announced at 10:30 a.m. CDT on Monday.

Because I’ve listened to all of the various reports and studied what’s available online thus far, I can at least give you an idea of the candidates’ names who’ve been mentioned, and a few who haven’t been but seem like obvious choices.

Because this hiring appears to have been in the works for a while, it argues against any current Brewers coaches, much less anyone currently working in the front office (such as Craig Counsell). Any of them could’ve been named back when the Brewers were still 2-13, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that any of them would be named tomorrow morning.

Yet naming a new manager mid-season is often fraught with peril, which is why it’s likely that once a new manager has been named (with the caveat that all the current coaches are still in place), he will have some ties to the Brewers already.

Note that this list is purely speculative. I have no inside information whatsoever. All I know is what the rest of you know; I’ve read Tom Haudricourt’s article, Adam McCalvy’s article, and have heard various radio and TV reports in the Milwaukee area.

So, here we go — here are my seven most likely suspects for the Brewers managerial job:

  1. Ron Gardenhire, who formerly managed the Minnesota Twins, is currently on the unemployment line. He has a lifetime record of 1068-1039, is known as a manager who works well with young talent…but has past issues with three current Brewers players: Kyle Lohse, Carlos Gomez and Matt Garza. (But if Gardenhire is the pick, why wouldn’t he bring an entirely new bunch of coaches with him?)
  2. Former Brewer infielder Don Money managed at all levels of the Brewers minor league farm system and, perhaps more famously in Milwaukee, was an All-Star for the Brewers. Money is known as a player’s manager, like Roenicke, but has a bit more fire to him than Roenicke. Currently Money is a special instructor of player development for the Brewers, and may like that job better as he’s now 67 years of age. Could the Brewers have coaxed him to help them out as their manager for the big club?
  3. Former Brewer Cecil Cooper managed a few seasons with the Houston Astros and has a winning record. Like Money, Cooper was an All-Star and a member of the best team to ever play in Milwaukee, the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (winners of the American League pennant). Cooper is now 65 and has been out of baseball for a while…could the Brewers have coaxed him out of retirement?
  4. Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount has never managed. However, as perhaps the best player Milwaukee has ever had, Yount has always carried enormous clout with current-day players. Yount also was briefly a bench coach for the Brewers back in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired during the Brewers Wild Card playoff run…could the Brewers have talked Yount into managing, at long last?
  5. Former Brewer Ted Simmons was known in his time as a volatile competitor. He also was the Brewers bench coach during much of the 2010 season under Ken Macha. (Simmons, like Cooper, Yount, and Money, was a member of the 1982 Brewers squad.) Simmons is a viable “old-timer Hall of Fame” candidate as he has the hitting numbers to someday make the Hall. Lately, he’s been a special advisor to General Manager Jack Zduriencik of the Seattle Mariners, so perhaps it would’ve taken a bit of time to get everything contractually straightened out to hire the 65-year-old Simmons.
  6. Former Brewer infielder Dale Sveum has lately been the hitting coach at Kansas City, but once upon a time he was asked by the Brewers to finish up the 2008 season after Ned Yost was fired. Sveum has some big-league managerial experience beyond that as he managed the Chicago Cubs during 2012 and 2013. Sveum also managed in the Brewers minor-league system and is popular with the current players on the Brewers roster. Could the Brewers have managed to pry Sveum loose from the Royals?
  7. Mike Maddux is currently the pitching coach of the Texas Rangers. Word is, he wants to manage, and was under consideration for a few jobs last year. Maddux has ties to the Brewers as he was their pitching coach for six seasons. Could the Brewers have managed to pry Maddux loose from the Rangers?

So that’s it — those are my top seven speculative picks for the Brewers vacant managerial job.

My hunch is that the Brewers may have hired Ted Simmons. I am not quite sure why I think this as his name has not been mentioned once by any member of the Milwaukee media, whereas Craig Counsell’s name has been floated a great deal.

But as I said before, if Counsell is the pick, the Brewers could’ve hired him when they were 2-13.

Anyway, we will all know tomorrow as of 10:30 a.m. who the next manager of the Milwaukee Brewers is. Stay tuned.

* * * * * * Edited to Add:

Multiple sources are saying now that Craig Counsell is the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers (as of about 1:20 AM CDT). However, Greg Matzek of WTMJ-AM 620 radio in Milwaukee (the Brewers’ flagship station), has said there’s no official comment; the only thing he knows right now is that the new manager, whoever he may be, has been hired with a multi-year deal and will not be an interim manager.

Again, if the pick is Counsell, the Brewers could’ve hired him weeks ago without all this sturm und drang. It seems very unlikely to me that the Brewers would hire Counsell at this particular time, too, considering the man already works in the front office and that Roenicke had just managed the Brewers to their first winning series and first two-game winning streak all season long.

But I guess we will see what the Brewers will do later this morning.

You can be assured that if Counsell is the pick, though, I will not be happy about it, even though I do like Counsell. (I just do not think he can fix this team. Whereas any of the seven men I mentioned can.)

Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Season Starts at 2-11…When Will Changes Be Made?

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Folks, I’ve been waiting for the Milwaukee Brewers to actually win a few games before writing this blog. But as they only have two wins all season thus far, and eleven losses, I can’t delay this post any longer.

How long is it going to take for Brewers owner Mark Attanasio to realize that manager Ron Roenicke is not the answer?

I know, I know. Roenicke was given a quiet one-year contract extension in Spring Training. That will make it quite difficult to fire him.

But something has to be done. Whether it’s a new bench coach — is Robin Yount available? — or a new pitching coach (as Rick Kranitz doesn’t seem to be doing much), or better yet, getting rid of most of the coaches, something has to be done.

Last year, I wrote a blog about how ridiculous it was for the Brewers to get rid of first base coach Garth Iorg and hitting coach Johnny Narron when Roenicke still had a job. Here’s a few words from that post:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Which is why I find the Milwaukee Brewers’ refusal to fire manager Ron Roenicke after the Brewers’ historic collapse in September 2014 so troubling.

…firing Iorg made very little sense, as Iorg wasn’t to blame for Milwaukee’s players’ brain freezes on the basepaths or Mark Reynolds’ failure to remember how many outs there were in an inning or Carlos Gomez’s inability to lay off bad pitches or even Ryan Braun’s thumb injury.

While Roenicke wasn’t directly to blame for any of those things, either, someone has to be held accountable.

I mean, really. The Brewers were in first place for 150 days of the season. Then they went 9-22 over the last 31 games to miss the playoffs and finish 82-80.

And the person who usually is held accountable is — wait for it — the manager. Not the piddly first base coach.

I stand by my assessment that Roenicke should be fired for the team’s poor play since last July.

Why?

Roenicke is the wrong man to be leading this team. He’s not a bad guy, and he does know baseball. But he can’t motivate this team. They aren’t playing well in any aspect of the game right now — not hitting, where the team has a woeful .217 batting average according to ESPN’s stats page as of 4/20/2015; not pitching, where the Brewers have a combined ERA of 4.76; and while their combined fielding percentage of .973 is not abhorrent, it should be much better than it is.

That’s why Roenicke should go.

Here’s the main reason people are already talking about putting paper bags over their heads when they go out to Miller Park to watch the Brewers play:

Team Leaders as of 4/20/15

  • Home runs: Ryan Braun (1), Jean Segura (1), Carlos Gomez (1), Adam Lind (1)
  • Batting average: Adam Lind, .302
  • RBI: Carlos Gomez, 6
  • Hits: Jean Segura, 14

The only bright spot there is Segura, who appears to have regained his hitting form from his rookie year. He’s currently batting .292, and actually has hit one homer along with four RBI.

However, our RBI leader is Gomez, a man who is currently on the disabled list (DL) with a partial hamstring tear. The second-most RBIs on the team belong to Lind, with five; Braun has three.

As usual, Aramis Ramirez is not hitting this early. (It’s rare when Ramirez does hit in April, as he did last year. His entire career, he’s been a slow starter.) So I’m not worried about him, especially as Ramirez is playing excellent defense.

Scooter Gennett has not been hitting well, either, though his fielding hasn’t been abysmal. But Gennett is out right now, too, as he had an accident while showering in Pittsburgh after yesterday’s game; he had to have stitches in his left hand, and may be placed on the DL soon.

The guy I was most worried about — until tonight’s broken toe injury — was catcher Jonathan Lucroy. He has looked dreadful behind home plate; he’s made a couple of throwing errors, he’s had a passed ball, and he just hasn’t looked comfortable. (He was injured going into Spring Training, and my guess is that he tried hard to play too early.) Lucroy also hasn’t been hitting, batting only .156 with two RBI.

But now, he has joined Carlos Gomez on the DL. And the guy coming up to replace him, Juan Centeno, is not exactly a robust hitter…Centeno was hitting less than .200 at Triple-A in Colorado Springs (a place that’s notoriously hitter-friendly). He is, however, an excellent fielder with a strong arm, so the Brewers will at least have some stronger defense coming with Centeno spelling Martin Maldonado (also an excellent defensive catcher) now and again.

As for the pitching, we have a few guys with positive stats:

Team Leaders, Pitching, as of 4/20/2015

  • Jimmy Nelson has a win, 12 strikeouts (Ks), and a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings pitched (IP).
  • Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has one save and a 2.25 ERA in limited appearances (mostly because the Brewers have only had two winning efforts thus far; you don’t need a closer when you can’t get close enough to win a game). K-Rod has also taken one loss and has one blown save. (Three good games, and one bad thus far.)
  • Neal Cotts — a guy I didn’t even think should make the team, as he did so poorly in Spring Training — has seven Ks in 6 2/3 IP with a 1.59 ERA.
  • And Will Smith thus far has given up nothing in 4 1/3 IP and has six Ks.

(I don’t see much of a silver lining here, though I’ve tried mightily to find one.)

The Milwaukee Brewers are trying hard. They have pride in themselves and they assuredly don’t want to lose games in the same fashion as tonight’s 6-1 loss against the Reds. (The game was tied, 0-0, until the top of the 6th. Wily Peralta got rattled due to a number of factors, and gave up four runs. Then, for some reason, Roenicke trotted Peralta back out in the 7th and Peralta gave up two more runs.)

I see good defensive plays being made by guys like Lind, Ramirez, Braun, Segura and Gerardo Parra. I see better baserunning, for the most part, than last year, which means Roenicke has addressed that properly. I see true effort on the part of the Brewers — they aren’t just phoning it in.

But the team, as a whole, isn’t hitting, and almost no one is pitching well.

That is not a recipe for a winning season, much less a playoff contender.

Unless things turn around in this next homestand, I firmly believe Roenicke and the vast majority of his coaching staff should be fired. Because that way, at least the fans will know the owner holds himself accountable.

And don’t be surprised to see Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin on the chopping block, either. (As well he should be, if they cannot turn this mess around. Fast.)

Hot Stove Heats Up in Milwaukee — Will Gallardo be Traded?

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Sunday was a big sports day in Wisconsin. First, the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in overtime in the NFC Championship Game, 27-22. And next…the Milwaukee Brewers are considering trading starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to the Texas Rangers?

Really?

Apparently it’s true. This report from Yahoo’s “Big League Stew” column explains why a trade like this might take place. Gallardo was raised in Texas, so he’s familiar with the area. Texas’s pitching coach is Mike Maddux, and as longtime readers of this blog know, Maddux was the Brewers’ pitching coach before he left for Texas several years back — which means Maddux has known Gallardo for a long time. And in addition to all of that, this particular trade seems to make sense from a financial standpoint for both sides — that is, depending on who Texas is willing to send in return.

Now, just strongly considering the merits of a trade in this instance does not commit the Brewers to actually sending Gallardo to Texas or anywhere else. But it seems logical that the Brewers might do this for several reasons:

  • There currently are six potential good starting pitchers on Milwaukee’s staff, including Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, Gallardo, Matt Garza, Mike Fiers, and Jimmy Nelson. (Nelson is the most unproven of these starters.) Trading Gallardo would open a spot in the rotation for Nelson.
  • Gallardo never quite became the ace the Brewers faithful were hoping for. He’s more a solid number two starter, or a really good number three, not an ace. If he’s in Texas, behind Yu Darvish and Derek Holland (if the latter stays healthy), Gallardo would not have anywhere near as much pressure to deal with from the fans or from the media. (Not that the media is all that awful in Milwaukee, mind.)
  • Gallardo may wish for a fresh start, considering he got busted for a DUI last year.

Now, who might Texas want to trade to Milwaukee? Rumors are running rampant, from prospects like Joey Gallo to even potentially sending Prince Fielder back to Milwaukee (if all of the monetary stuff could somehow be worked out). Fielder is a particularly intriguing possibility because the Brewers have had a huge void at first base since he left (with the exception of Corey Hart for half a season).

And there are reasons for Fielder to want to come back to Milwaukee. He always did well here. The clubhouse’s family atmosphere also was appealing to Fielder and his sons. And the media in Milwaukee are, for the most part, far more forgiving than many other baseball markets.

That being said, most likely if Gallardo is traded, it’s going to be for several prospects and one utility infielder who can hit and play some occasional outfield (someone much like Tony Graffanino in his heyday with the Brewers). The Brewers need prospects. And they desperately need a MLB-capable utility player.

Personally, I’ll hate to see Gallardo go. I respect him, and I think he’s a quality pitcher.

But if he goes, I hope the Brewers will make the right trade — not simply trade him because he’s owed $13 million in 2015 and the Brewers don’t particularly want to pay.

So, what’ll it be, Brewers? Will we have a shake-up just in time for the Brewers On Deck event on Sunday?

Stay tuned.