Some things to read while having a good day.
It feels like we say this every day lately, but did anyone see this coming from Corey Hart? Hart hit his second walkoff home run of the season (and his career) to propel the Brewers to a 6-5 victory and a sweep of the Pirates yesterday. All told, the Brewers followed up a rough week with a very good weekend. Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker is suggesting that Friday's game might have been the best of the season, and the Crew picked up two more one-run wins after that. This weekend's series was the cure for what ailed @notkenmacha.
Prince Fielder played first base yesterday and went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. It was his 274th consecutive game played, tying Robin Yount's franchise record. He'll break the record against the Braves on Thursday, assuming he's in the lineup.
Jonathan Lucroy is nursing a sore right hand, so the Brewers decided to give him a few days off before the All Star break to get him a full week of rest. With Lucroy out, George Kottaras has started the last four games and picked up a hit each day, raising his average to .207. He also hit his seventh home run yesterday. Kottaras finished the first half with more extra base hits (17) and walks (27) than singles (11). He's also on pace to become the first Brewer with a sub-.210 batting average and .330+ OBP since John Jaha in 1998.
Other notes from the field:
- Alcides Escobar was back in the lineup yesterday after getting the day off on Saturday and went 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
- Craig Counsell took Escobar's place on Saturday and went 0-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly. He's now up to 43 consecutive games without an extra base hit, the seventh longest streak in franchise history and the longest since 1989. Howie Magner noted that we might be witnessing his last season.
- Speaking of streaks: Corey Hart's walkoff home run yesterday gave him a hit in five straight games, the Brewers' longest active streak. He also has hits in 25 of his last 26 games.
- Hart, Ryan Braun and Jim Edmonds are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
CoolStandings has the Brewer playoff odds at .9%.
Here are the MLB.com video highlights.
- Todd Coffey retired the side in the order in the seventh inning and is sporting a new, cleanshaven look.
- Looking back a couple of days, Rickie Weeks both tied and broke the Miller Park HBP record this weekend with plunkings in Friday and Saturday's games. Follow those links for much more from Plunk Everyone.
The walkoff home run wasn't the only good news for Hart yesterday, as he was also officially named to the NL All Star team's starting outfield, replacing Jason Heyward. Jordan Schelling notes that Braun and Hart will give the Brewers two position players in the All Star starting lineup for the first time since 1983, when Robin Yount and Ted Simmons did it. After yesterday's game, Braun wondered aloud if he deserved the honor.
Meanwhile, Hart is having a little fun at his teammate's expense. When asked about tonight's Home Run Derby, he told Jordan Schelling he just wants to "hit more than Brauny." Braun hit 14 home runs over two rounds in the 2008 derby.
Another day, another dose of trade rumors and rumblings:
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reports the Rays are "getting serious" about acquiring Corey Hart, and notes that they have pitching available to deal. Tommy Rancel of DRaysBay is considering the possibilities.
- Buster Olney is reporting the Brewers are listening to offers for Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, but are not interested in dealing Rickie Weeks.
- Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse reported that the Brewers have Fielder, Hart and Weeks on the table.
- In-Between Hops is suggesting that Ryan Braun could be moved to first base if Fielder is dealt.
The news is all good on the injury front for Yovani Gallardo: He played catch for ten minutes on Friday and reported no problems. When he's ready to pitch again, the Brewers will employ a six-man rotation. So apparently we haven't seen the last of Chris Narveson in the rotation after all.
Don't look now, but Dave Bush has been much better lately, lowering his season ERA to 4.14 with a streak of five straight starts of at least six innings with two runs or fewer allowed. Bush has averaged just 96.8 pitches per start over that stretch, and Jaymes Langrehr of Brewers Bar is giving credit to Ken Macha for pulling Bush early and keeping him effective.
LaTroy Hawkins continues to take steps toward an eventual return. He'll start a rehab assignment in Arizona on Thursday. If all continues to progress as planned he could be back in the bullpen by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Geoff Jenkins is working on a different kind of comeback: He told reporters he'd like to remain in baseball in some capacity, and Doug Melvin told him he'll get back to him at the end of the season about a possible coaching or front office job for 2011.
Prince Fielder is hot lately, hitting .274/.410/.653 over his last 27 games with ten home runs. That made it the perfect time for Wezen-ball to unveil a shirt in his honor. Go check it out: It'll look nice next to "The Ax" in your closet.
The Brewer bullpen got quite a workout this weekend, with John Axford pitching in three straight games (picking up two wins and a save) and Zach Braddock logging two hitless innings (he's now scoreless in nine straight outings). Axford's surprising rise through the organization and Braddock's occasional dominance were the subject of two of Jordan Schelling's stories.
Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew used the run Axford allowed in the ninth yesterday as an example of a situation where ERA can be misleading.
In the minors:
- It wasn't the best of days for Brett Lawrie or the World team in the MLB Futures Game yesterday. Lawrie, batting leadoff and starting at second base, went 0-for-3 as the World lost 9-1. Lawrie was ranked the #15 prospect in all of baseball in Baseball America's Midseason Update (FanShot).
Lawrie is also #1 in Bernie's Crew's revision of their Top 30 prospect list. Here's a photo of him being interviewed by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. He told Mayo he's hoping to be a September callup. He also talked with Ian Browne about being one of the youngest players in AA and learning to play second base. Maybe Lawrie should have spent more time hitting and less chatting: John Manuel of Baseball America said he wasn't impressed with Lawrie's BP.
Elsewhere on the field, the affiliates went 2-3 yesterday. One of those two wins belonged to Wisconsin, where Jake Odorizzi pitched seven shutout innings and Khris Davis hit two home runs (he now has 15 on the year) en route to a 4-1 victory. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Cecil Cooper was in Grand Chute for yesterday's Timber Rattlers game, and talked to Brett Christopherson of the Appleton Post Crescent about the biggest hit in Brewer history.
- The Post Crescent also has a profile of Wisconsin third baseman Cutter Dykstra.
- The Brewers have agreed to terms with 11th round pick RHP Greg Holle, who will report to Arizona. Holle's father Gary was also a Brewer minor leaguer at one point. With Holle under contract, the Brewers have reached agreements with nine of their first 12 picks, and 32 picks overall.
- The Brewers' 2009 11th round pick, Andre Lamontagne, is quickly climbing through the system. He started the season in Wisconsin but has been promoted twice since then, and pitched two hitless innings for the save in his first outing for Huntsville on Saturday.
- MLB Bonus Baby updated the projected 2011 draft order on Friday, and has the Brewers drafting seventh.
- Tom Haudricourt has the Brewers' Midseason Report at Baseball America, but it's subscriber-only.
Mike Woods of the Post Crescent used Cecil Cooper's appearance yesteray to spark an interesting debate: He makes the case for the Brewers to retire Coop's number.
There's an epidemic out there, folks, and we all need to pitch in and do our parts to stop it. As John Steinmiller noted, the volume of beach balls at Miller Park this weekend was ridiculous. If someone can give me a good idea for how to hold and judge the contest, I'd be willing to give away a BCB t-shirt to one lucky reader for documenting their efforts to end this scourge.
If you weren't around this weekend you might have missed Noah's Weekend Mug, with midseason grades for every Brewer. Take a moment to take a look, if you haven't already.
It was a surprisingly quiet weekend around baseball:
Indians: Designated catcher Mike Redmond for assignment.
Phillies: Designated catcher Dane Sardinha for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired pitchers Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe and cash from the Mariners for first baseman Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers.
Reds: Placed catcher Ramon Hernandez on the DL with a left knee injury.
Yankees: Signed infielder Chad Tracy to a minor league deal.
With all the scouts out there and all the legwork done in preparation for trades, it's surprising something like this can go unnoticed. The Mariners were unaware of the fact that pitcher Josh Lueke, one of the prospects acquired in the Lee deal, served 40 days in jail after pleading no contest to a charge of false imprisonment with violence against a woman two years ago. The Mariners have a zero tolerance policy on violence towards women.
The Pirates are expected to be looking to sell this trading season, but you might not have known that MLB teams aren't the only ones calling: They're reportedly working on a deal to send AAA pitcher Hayden Penn to Japan's Chiba Lotte Marines.
This wasn't the best weekend for former Brewers:
- The Astros fired hitting coach (and 1999-2000 Brewer) Sean Berry and replaced him with Jeff Bagwell.
- Pirates assistant pitching coach (and 1984-1986 Brewer) Ray Searage was hit in the face by a ball during BP. Dejan Kovacevic reports he's fine.
Elsewhere in former Brewer notes: The B-Ref blog notes that Steve Woodard was one of just four pitchers to start and produce a game score of 90 or more in their major league debut. Woodard performed that feat in July of 1997 against Roger Clemens and the Blue Jays.
If you're looking to plan your vacation early, get out your calendar. Reports are suggesting that the 2011 major league schedule will open on a Thursday.
On All Star notes:
- Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young will be the NL's final representative in tonight's Home Run Derby.
- He'll be joined by Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, who was chosen over AL home run leader Jose Bautista.
- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is replacing Jose Reyes for the NL.
- Felix Hernandez was passed over as a possible alternate for the AL squad after throwing 126 pitches on Saturday.
- Braves closer Billy Wagner was invited to join the NL squad as an alternate, but declined. Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo will take his place.
Speaking of Wagner, he struck out one batter in an outing against the Mets yesterday, and is now just 22 K's behind 1992-94 Brewer Jesse Orosco for the all time lead among left-handed relievers.
Here's an unfortunate draft story: Multiple outlets are reporting that the Diamondbacks will not sign #6 overall pick Barret Loux after he failed his physical this week. That's a tough break.
It's hard to tell if this story is better or worse: Reds 28th round pick Chad Rogers was bitten on the foot by a shark while surfing.
If you've ever been to a rain delayed game and wondered why teams are reluctant to play in light rain or less-than-ideal conditions, here you go: Catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Felix Pie both had to leave Friday night's Orioles game after slipping on a wet field. Neither player is expected to go on the DL, but both missed the rest of the weekend series.
Maybe no one cares about stuff like this as much as I do, but if you do care you might be interested in this story at Biz of Baseball about Congressman Anthony Weiner's legislation to provide more transparency in ticket fees.
Here's a historical note that slipped through the cracks last week: Friday was the seventh anniversary of Randall Simon hitting one of the Racing Sausages with a bat at Miller Park. The Brewers are 69-49 against the Pirates since that incident.
On this day in 1953, Eddie Mathews hit the first grand slam in Milwaukee Braves history, and the Braves swept a doubleheader against the Cardinals.
Happy birthday to:
- Nashville Sound Sam Narron, who turns 29 today.
- 2003 Indianapolis Indian Lee Stevens, who turned 43 on Saturday.
Now, if you'll excuse me, the pizza is getting away.