Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while protecting your moneymaker.

Mike Burns earned his first major league win yesterday, defeating Johan Santana. He should probably send a thank you card to Ryan Braun, who powered the Brewer offense with three hits and four RBI. Braun is 7-for-12 in his career against Johan Santana, posting a 1.230 OPS. Among players who have faced Santana at least twelve times, Braun has the eleventh highest OPS. The highest belongs to Rickie Weeks (1.738). Jay Gibbons, Ray Durham and Junior Spivey are also ahead of Braun on that list.

Burns' solid performance last night might have reduced the Brewers' interest in looking outside the organization for replacement-level-at-best pitching help. Before yesterday's game, assistant GM Gord Ash said the Brewers would take a look at Brandon Backe, who was recently released by the Astros. Backe has also taken up residence in Rumorville.

After losing to Mike Burns last night, Mets manager Jerry Manuel called a 25-minute team meeting to discuss the Mets' struggles. One thing is for sure: all the Mets players are required to take the team bus to today's game.

Brewer pitchers continue to reap the benefits of improved defense: FanGraphs reports the Brewer team UZR is 25.3 runs better than last season. That's a huge improvement when you consider that all eight primary position players from 2008 are with the team in 2009. Mike Cameron probably deserves some of the credit, and his home run stealing catch over the weekend was SportsCenter's Play of the Month for June.

The Brewers are also continuing to reap the benefits of unexpected contributions from Casey McGehee. Between the Green Pillars notes that McGehee is probably getting a little lucky (.376 BABIP), but he's also hitting a ton of line drives (22.8%, higher than Prince Fielder). He also hit .429 during interleague play to lead all batters. Hardball Cooperative added McGehee to their Bargain Bin All Star squad.

McGehee's performance is also part of the reason the Brewers are considering returning Mat Gamel to AAA. He's sat out five of the last six games, and could benefit from consistent at bats and work in the field in Nashville.

J.J. Hardy is also getting hot: his 1-for-4 game last night raised his average to .233, up from .215 just six days ago. Hardy is hitting .340/.393/.560 in his last 13 games, raising his OPS from .610 to .676. Hardy has earned Ken Macha's respect by continuing to battle through his struggles.

Can a resurgent J.J. Hardy lead the Brewers back to the playoffs? Chuckie Hacks lists five reason why the Brewers will win the NL Central, including a reason he forgot, and a joke about bullies that I don't get.

In the minors:

Around the league:

Cardinals: Mark DeRosa left last night's game after suffering a wrist injury and will be reevaluated today.
Indians: Released Luis Vizcaino, who had earlier been designated for assignment.
Pirates: Traded Eric Hinske to the Yankees for former Brewer farmhand Eric Fryer, and traded Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Nationals for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.
Red Sox: Placed Mike Lowell on the DL with a hip issue.

Is the worst managing in baseball done in the NL Central? A recent poll conducted by Sports Illustrated had both Cubs manager Lou Piniella (26%) and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa (10%) in the top three in a poll asking major leaguers which manager they least want to play for. At the same time, Dusty Baker is once again being asked to explain why he isn't playing his best players in Cincinnati.

Oh, and happy birthday to former Brewer farmhand and likely AL All Star Nelson Cruz, who turns 29 today.

Drink up.

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