Friday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while getting the order right.

All told, Mike Burns wasn't terrible in his first major league start yesterday, but he certainly wasn't excellent either. I'd say it's possible he pitched well enough to earn another shot, especially considering the fact that he held the Twins hitless through their first trip through the order. Hopefully, Burns' time as a Brewer will be more memorable than his brief stint with the Red Sox: Sully Baseball forgot he was ever there.

Prince Fielder hit an impressive home run yesterday, made all the more impressive by the fact that he couldn't see the ball because of the afternoon shadows at Miller Park. The Brewers hit two home runs in the sixth inning off Scott Baker: imagine what they could have done if they could see the ball.

The shadows worked out for Mitch Stetter, though: Stetter recorded his first out via strikeout yesterday, his fifteenth consecutive out recorded that way. The Elias Sports Bureau is working on it but still doesn't know if anyone has ever managed to duplicate that feat.

The NL Central race got a little tighter yesterday, as wins by the Astros, Pirates and Reds and losses by the Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs brought the entire division within six games. MLB Playoff Odds has the Brewers at 20.4% to win the Central, and 28.7% to make the playoffs. Two teams (the Cardinals and Cubs) are given a better shot at the division, and six teams (the Giants, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals and Rockies) are given a better shot at the Wild Card.

Bill Hall was held out of the lineup yesterday to make room for Casey McGehee, but Ken Macha says that move should not be seen as the end of a platoon at third base. With Hall's batting average under .200 and his OBP well under .300, one has to assume the end is coming soon.

But, the Brewers do still appear to have some payroll flexibility. Mark Attanasio told reporters yesterday that the Brewers could be buyers in the trade market. Until they make a move, Seth McClung will have to continue carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Not that long ago, this would have been nearly unthinkable: Three of the four segments on this week's episode of This Week in Baseball will focus on the Brewers.

Around the minors:

How many Brewers should play in the actual All Star game? Around the Majors has posted the ballots for position players from its six contributors, and Ryan Braun was a unanimous choice, with Prince Fielder also appearing on two ballots.

Braun might need the All Star break to move: He recently purchased a foreclosed home in Malibu for $4.25 million.

The Brewers dropped from fourth to seventh in Yahoo Sports' Power Rankings.

Around the majors:

Braves: Placed Jeff Bennett on the DL with a broken hand.
D-Backs: Placed Eric Byrnes on the DL with a broken hand.
Mariners: Placed Yuniesky Betancourt on the DL with a hamstring strain.
Pirates: In a rare, perhaps even unprecedented, move, Ian Snell asked for and received a demotion to AAA.
Yankees: Casey Fossum, who had been pitching in AAA, exercised a clause in his contract allowing him to become a free agent.

Joe Mauer finished yesterday's game 2-for-5, and left the series with the Brewers batting .395. Baseball Musings now gives him a 1-in-265 shot at batting .400.

Sticking with the Twins, the one player, nine positions gimmick pops up from time to time, where a utility player ties a record by playing every position in a game. Michael Cuddyer, though, might be looking to break that record by starting a game at DH, allowing him to play ten positions.

Of all the members of the 3000 hit club, how many were born in Venezuela? I was surprised to discover the answer, which is zero. Omar Vizquel passed Luis Aparicio last night to become the all time hit leader among Venezuelan born players, with 2678.

Fans often boo pickoff throws as just another delay in a game that's frequently accused of being too slow. The Hardball Cooperative wonders if pickoff throws are actually effective, and doesn't find much in terms of concrete evidence that they are.

What would you do with a $220,000 after-tax income? If I gave it to you today, would you complain about not having more? Bart Given of Inside the Majors looks at the major league minimum salary, and confronts the argument that it's not enough.

This was probably a predictable turn of events: After a week spent getting publicity by being canceled and having the script leaked to the public, the Moneyball movie is back on. The studio should have a line in their PR budget dedicated to buying thank you gifts for everyone who read the script and/or wrote about it this week.

Oh, and happy birthday to Jason Kendall, who turns 35 today. Maybe he should celebrate by taking the day off. Or the rest of June. Or 2009.

Drink up.

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