Tuesday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while renegotiating your contract.

And the streak is at 22. Following last night's 17-3 win over the Pirates, the Brewers have now beaten Pittsburgh at home in 22 consecutive meetings, the third longest streak in modern history. It was also the Pirates' seventh straight loss overall. I'm starting to feel like I'm piling on, so I've grouped the rest of the "How bad are the Pirates?" stories into bullet points:

  • Baseball Musings notes that the Pirates' pythagorean winning percentage during their losing streak is 0.027, which projects out to four wins over a 162 game season.
  • Bucs Dugout notes that the Pirates' run differential is -82. The second worst team in all of baseball is the Orioles, who are 46 runs better at -36.
  • The Brewers won't see Charlie Morton this week, but he's allowed 18.9 hits per nine innings in his first four starts, posted a 16.20 ERA and lasted an average of 3.1 innings per start, and his spot in the rotation is safe.

Gregg Zaun was the unlikely hero last night, going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a walk, three runs scored and five RBI. The performance, which included his first two right-handed hits of the season, raised his OPS by 160 points, although it's still only .570. Of Zaun's 12 hits on the season, seven came in two games: His four hit performance last night and a three hit game against the Cubs on April 15.

Zaun's great day at the plate overshadowed a somewhat bizarre performance behind it. In a weird series of events that reminded Wezen-ball of Schroeder, Zaun missed badly on three consecutive throws back to the pitcher early in last night's game, airmailing Gallardo twice and spiking one into the ground in an overcorrection. Tom Haudricourt compared it to former Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, who apparently had trouble throwing the ball back.

It turns out, though, that the issue was more physical and less mental. Zaun is nursing a shoulder injury he suffered in his home plate collision with Ian Desmond back during the Nationals series, and received treatment on it between innings last night. Following the treatment, he showed no signs of issues for the rest of the game.

Prince Fielder was on base four times last night, with three hits and his seventh HBP of the season. Plunk Everyone notes that Fielder's HBP set a new franchise record for April, and has much more on it.

Elsewhere from the field:

  • Jeff Suppan made his first 2010 relief appearance, defending a 15 run lead in the ninth inning. He allowed a run on a hit and a wild pitch, and was booed pretty steadily for his ten pitch outing.
  • With the win, the Brewers improved to 37-12 against the Pirates since 2007, their best record against any opponent.
  • In 2010, the Brewers have outscored the Pirates by 49 runs, but have been outscored by 35 by all other opponents.
  • The Pirates had a copy of Monday's Journal Sentinel up on the bulletin board in the visitors' clubhouse. Given the way they've been playing lately, some of them might want to check the Help Wanted ads.
  • Zach Duke, last night's Pirates starter, had a 2.37 ERA after his first three starts, but has allowed 24 baserunners and 14 earned runs to the Brewers over nine innings in his last two outings.
  • Just 25,892 were in attendance to see it, and that number seems generous given the volume of empty seats on the field level.
  • Gregg Zaun, Yovani Gallardo and Akinori Iwamura (seriously, Iwamura?) are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game Voting. Voting is still open, if you'd like to go correct that.
  • CoolStandings has the Brewer playoff odds at 26.6%.

Also, best wishes go out today to the boy who was hit in the head by Alcides Escobar's broken bat. He left the game under his own power but was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Here's hoping he's ok and back at a game soon.

Dejan Kovacevic is reporting that the Pirates held a team meeting after the game. They've recalled Jeff Karstens from Indianapolis to start tonight's game, and that could be interesting: You might recall some bad blood between Karstens and the Brewers last season. In fact, Karstens was one of the pitchers involved in the infamous "Dave Kerwin" incident. (h/t Adam McCalvy) The Pirates designated outfielder and Rule 5 pick John Raynor for assignment to make room for Karstens on the roster.

Karstens, and every other major league pitcher, will have to be careful throwing fastballs over the plate to Ryan Braun. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs reports that Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin has been baseball's best fastball hitter so far this season, but Ryan Braun is second.

From a matchup that could lead to hostility to some imaginary hostility: Beyond the Box Score wants to know who would win a fight between Prince Fielder and Milton Bradley.

Behold the power (or lack of power) of the soft toss: Bernie's Crew notes that Brewer pitchers on average throw the major leagues' slowest fastball. Replacing Jeff Suppan with Chris Narveson might help a little: Suppan's average fastball velocity this season was 87 mph, Narveson's is at 89.3. If you were planning on asking, I'll save you the time: Manny Parra's is 93.2.

In the minors:

  • Brewerfan.net is reporting that Lorenzo Cain has been placed on the DL in Huntsville. Cain was removed from Sunday's game after suffering what appeared to be a hamstring strain.
  • Here's something that never would have happened a few years ago: Beyond the Box Score listed a Brewer affiliate (Brevard County) in their collection of impressive minor league rotations. The Manatees' current starting five is Wily Peralta, Michael Fiers, Cody Scarpetta, Dan Merklinger and Trey Watten. Chris Capuano is also expected to start for BC today.
  • Jonathan Lucroy made MLB Depth Charts' list of position players knocking down the door to the majors for this week. He's hitting .316/.350/.421 in five games since his promotion to AAA.

Apparently everybody gets one, but couldn't ours be something better than this? Wezen-ball notes that every team holds at least one major league record: The Brewers hold the record for most batters with 150 strikeouts (3, set in 2001 when Richie Sexson, Jose Hernandez and Jeromy Burnitz did it).

Go go Power Rankings!:

  • ESPN has the Brewers 21st, up from #22 last week.
  • MLB FanHouse moved the Brewers down from 20th to 24th.

If you haven't yet, there's still time to vote in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. As of this writing we have 247 votes. It'd be nice to be able to get into the 350-400 range. The poll will close at noon today and results will be posted at 7 am tomorrow.

Around baseball:

Blue Jays: Designated pitcher Merkin Valdez for assignment.
Cardinals: Placed Felipe Lopez on the DL with soreness in his right elbow.
Rockies: Are expected to place pitcher Jorge de la Rosa on the DL with a finger injury.
Royals: Claimed outfielder Jai Miller off waivers from the A's.

Reaction to Ryan Howard's new deal has been largely, but not entirely, negative:

  • Jayson Stark notes that Howard will have made more money over the first ten years of his career than any player in history.
  • Dave Cameron noticed a limited no-trade clause for Howard, but wonders if it was necessary.
  • Beyond the Box Score has a collection of smart people who think the deal was a bad decision.

There's also been a fair amount of conversation about what Howard's contract means for the Brewers' efforts to sign Prince Fielder to an extension. Doug Melvin isn't commenting at this point, but Adam McCalvy heard a report that the Brewers have "no ongoing negotiations" with Fielder. Disciples of Uecker cited the Howard deal as evidence that the Brewers should give up on re-signing Fielder, as his production won't live up to the kind of contract it would take to keep him around.

Given tonight's upcoming Ryan Braun-Jeff Karstens matchup, this seems especially relevant: Cybermetrics has determined that home run and HBP rates actually have a stronger correlation now than they did in the 1950s, 60s or 70's.

Along with lineup construction and fielding metrics, bullpen usage is one of the gifts that keeps on giving in internet baseball discussion: This morning, Jeff Passan of Yahoo revisits the concept of locked-in roles for relievers, using this spring's Twins upheaval as an example.

Each morning, it seems like I have one story that's relevant to nothing but worth your time anyway. This morning it's Faith and Fear in Flushing's story of going through a man he never knew's baseball cards.

On this day in 1994 the Brewers were no-hit by Scott Erickson and the Twins, losing 6-0. The Brewers drew four walks in the game (including two by Bill Spiers).

Happy birthday today to:

Oh, and today is a Woot-off day.

Drink up.

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