Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while choosing your companions wisely.

With Prince Fielder's eighth inning home run and Hells Bells blaring, the Brewers looked well on their way to their 23rd consecutive home win over the Pirates last night, but that all changed in a hurry when Trevor Hoffman allowed five earned runs and turned a save situation for the Brewers into a non-save situation for the Pirates.

With the loss, Hoffman now has three blown saves and just three converted saves, and #600 seems infinitely far away. Adam McCalvy says the Brewers will stick with Hoffman, but notes that the organization is looking into his pitch selection. Hoffman has been using his changeup less than usual in the early going.

After last night's loss, the internet was abuzz with reaction to Hoffman's blown save:

Before I say what I'm about to say, let me go ahead and acknowledge that I'm not usually the guy who says things like this. With that said, I think everyone needs to take a deep breath.

I cursed as loudly as anyone when Hoffman allowed two home runs last night. If you've been reading the Mug, you'll recall that I expressed concerns about Hoffman's preparation weeks ago, after his second spring training appearance. But at this point I think the sample size is a little too small to reach a full conclusion on whether or not he's done. He's pitched eight innings. They're eight high-profile innings, but they're still just eight innings.

Certainly, there are some merits to questions about Hoffman's pitch selection, but I'd caution the sample size on that too. Hoffman has thrown 153 pitches this season, and roughly 18% have been changeups, down from 30% last season. That's approximately 18 changeups he hasn't thrown, or slightly more than two per outing. To me, it's too early to get worked up over that. And for what it's worth, his fastball velocity is holding steady at 85.5 mph, same as it was last year and higher than it was from 2005-2007.

I'm not saying Hoffman's leash should be infinitely long. He's a 42-year-old pitcher and he obviously will regress eventually. But i don't think it's time to start building a crossbow out of office supplies just yet.

Other notes from the field:

Meanwhile, Hoffman's rough outing wasn't yesterday's biggest (or even worst) news. In a sudden development yesterday afternoon, the team announced that Bob Uecker will have surgery on Friday to repair a leaking aortic valve in his heart and will be out for the next 10-12 weeks (FanShot). The surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Alfred Nicolosi at Froedtert Hospital, has been described as a "routine procedure."

In the day since the announcement, Uecker has received well wishes from all over baseball and a standing ovation before last night's game at Miller Park. He was still with the team last night and will call today's series finale against the Pirates before the Brewers leave for the west coast. After today's game, Davey Nelson will join Cory Provus in the booth on an interim basis, with Provus doing all nine innings of play by play and Nelson adding commentary (FanShot).

Speaking of today's game, we're only a couple of hours away from first pitch and the 2010 starting debut of Chris Narveson. Tyler Barnes has today's lineup, with Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart getting the start in the outfield.

I don't know why I'm so optimistic today. If you're not, here's a link for you: Ed Price of MLB FanHouse has some quotes from an unidentified scout saying the Brewers are in trouble, and noting a lack of velocity from Dave Bush.

Meanwhile, no one is questioning Yovani Gallardo, at least at the plate: With a three RBI performance Monday, Gallardo became just the second pitcher ever to drive in three runs three times in his first 59 appearances.

So Bless You Boys has crunched the numbers and ranked Gregg Zaun as baseball's sixth worst defensive catcher over the 2002-2009 seasons. That doesn't smell right to me: Zaun hasn't exactly been outstanding defensively as a Brewer, but he looks better than "historically bad," at least to my eyes.

We're talking about the possibility of a Prince Fielder trade a lot lately, but the question of where he might go remains unanswered. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune raises the possibility that the White Sox could be interested, and could have some pieces the Brewers might be interested in.

In the minors:

  • Chris Capuano took a nice first step in his return to action, throwing five scoreless innings for Brevard County last night. He allowed just three hits, no walks and struck out five.
  • Wisconsin Sports Tap has a great look around the Brewer farm system, with notes on 25 potential impact players.
  • Baseball Intellect has released their list of baseball's top 100 prospects, with Brett Lawrie #37, Eric Arnett and Jonathan Lucroy honorably mentioned, and Jake Odorizzi listed as a player to watch. The Brewers are one of just four teams with only one player in the top 100.
  • Andy Seiler of MLB Bonus Baby has a new mock draft, and has the Brewers selecting Florida high school righty A.J. Cole with the 14th pick.

Power Rankings and whatnot:

  • SB Nation has the Brewers 17th, up three spots from last week.
  • Bloguin has the Brewers at 20th in their rankings.
  • Vegas Watch has the Brewers at 13.8 or 16.8% to make the playoffs. I can't tell what I'm looking at there.

Yesterday I mentioned an incident in Monday's game where a young boy was hit in the head by Alcides Escobar's broken bat. You might be happy to know that young Jackson Beltoya, the boy in question, is fine. You might be disappointed to discover that he's a Cubs fan.

Around baseball:

Athletics: Placed pitcher Brett Anderson on the DL with a forearm strain and elbow irritation.
Cardinals: Signed infielder Aaron Miles to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Designated reliever Wilfrido Perez for assignment.
Rangers: Placed outfielder Nelson Cruz on the DL with a hamstring strain.
Rays: Catcher Dioner Navarro has been suspended for two games for making contact with an umpire on Friday.
Rockies: Designated pitcher Al Albuquerque for assignment.

With all of this week's contract extension discussion, here's something to consider: The Book Blog has a look at the premise that players retained by their original team tend to age and develop better. In theory it makes sense: A player's original team knows more about the player's health issues and abilities, so they're in a better position to make the right decision.

If you're in or near Detroit today and you hear an audible "thud," it might be Justin Verlander's arm falling off. Verlander threw 121 pitches last night (in just six innings), marking the second consecutive start where he's thrown at least 120. Jason Beck notes that he's only the fifth pitcher ever to throw 120 or more and last six or fewer innings in back to back starts. So far this season there have been nine games where a pitcher threw at least 120 pitches: Verlander (and Ubaldo Jimenez) have two of them.

By the way, Randy Wolf's 116 pitches thrown last night were the 20th most thrown in a game this season.

As time goes by, it's becoming increasingly clear that some leagues get the value of social media, but Major League Baseball is not one of them. MLB.com has banned their writers from using their Twitter accounts for non-baseball topics.

Today's story that has nothing to do with anything but fascinated me anyway is about Roy Oswalt, who spent the last few days cleaning up after a tornado destroyed his family's home in Mississippi.

I'm not a big NFL guy, but I'm still captivated by the incredible work done by NFL Films. Follow this link for some songs that will be stuck in your head all day.

On this day in 1961, Warren Spahn pitched a no-hitter against the Giants, winning 1-0. It was Spahn's 290th career win.

And one year ago on this day, Trevor Hoffman saved his first game as a Brewer, career save #555.

I struck out on birthdays today.

With the afternoon game today, you might have some free time tonight. If you're not doing anything else, maybe you should try making a 9x13 Snickers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to file an amendment.

Drink up.

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