Some things to read while getting more gum.
Some of you are probably reading this while waiting to get into a Miller Park parking lot. The Brewers and Braves open the 2011 schedule in a few short hours, and the last few days have given us more reason than usual to get good and drunk before the first pitch. Our friends from Talking Chop were nice enough to answer some questions for our series preview, and I returned the favor over at their place.
If you're headed out to Miller Park today, Adam McCalvy has everything you need to know to be ready for the experience.
When the Brewers take the field today, Nyjer Morgan will be in the starting lineup for the first time. Adam McCalvy speculated yesterday that someone else might get a shot if Mark Kotsay was still 0-for the season today, and he is.
Chris Narveson will also be making his first start today. He talked to Adam McCalvy and, while he seems to recognize the pressure of pitching the home opener, he said he's doing his best to remain calm.
Meanwhile, the Brewers might have dodged a bullet with the weather: John Steinmiller has video of the hailstorm at Miller Park yesterday. Obviously, the Brewers still could have closed the roof and played the game in those conditions, but it would have dealt a serious blow to a lot of people's tailgate plans.
For many of you, today will be your first chance to see the new scoreboard at Miller Park. MLB.com has a recap of the construction process for baseball's fourth largest video board. Not to be outdone, John Steinmiller says the press box dining room also has new carpet.
For those of you who Twitter, the suggested hashtag for today's festivities is #millerparkopener, but we're open to other non-Charlie Sheen related suggestions.
Speaking of Twitter, Jim Powell used it to say he's looking forward to coming back to Milwaukee this week.
Hopefully the Brewers will be looking forward instead of back today, because this weekend was awful. Our own Hangwith'em Rach attempted to put a positive spin on things, labeling the Brewer shortcomings as "areas for improvement." Rickie Weeks called the sweep in Cincinnati "a wake-up call."
Many of us predicted that Mark Kotsay and Yuniesky Betancourt would be pretty bad as Brewers, but I'm not sure any of us envisioned them being as bad as they were this weekend. The two of them combined to make five starts this weekend and go 0-for-18 while playing roughly the level of defense we expected. Keep Turning Up The Heat! asks if we've seen enough of Betancourt, Kotsay and Wil Nieves.
Looking back another day, Erick Almonte had one of the weekend's cooler moments. He got the start in right field and hit a home run in his Brewer debut Saturday, exactly eight years after his last (and only other) major league home run on April 3, 2003. Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus named it the home run of the day and timed Almonte's Tater Trot at 21.47 seconds. Tom Haudricourt has covered both of Almonte's home runs.
Other notes from the field:
- Rickie Weeks, who led off Thursday's game with a home run, did the same against Bronson Arroyo yesterday. The Reds estimated the distance for the second shot at 431 feet, into the second deck at Great American Ball Park.
- Shaun Marcum tied a career high with five walks in his Brewer debut on Saturday. Based on what he told Adam McCalvy, I wouldn't expect it to happen again.
- Bronson Arroyo hit Prince Fielder with a pitch yesterday: Plunk Everyone notes that it was Prince's 69th HBP, the fifth time he's been hit by the Reds and the second by Arroyo.
- Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker notes that the Brewer elimination number is down to 157.
- Vaughn's Valley has a review of the week.
Tom Haudricourt may have said it best: The Reds still own the Brewers. Since July 18, 2009, the Brewers are 3-18 against them.
As one might expect, the bad news continues to pour in for the fifth 0-3 team in Brewer history: David Schoenfield of ESPN noted that just one of the last 40 0-3 teams have gone on to make the playoffs (the 2007 Phillies). However, Howie Magner notes that the 2010 Reds also started 0-2.
Baseball In-Depth notes that there are only four winless teams left in all of baseball, and has a look at the last winless teams over the last nine seasons. Adam McCalvy notes that the last four Brewer managers (not counting Dale Sveum) have lost on their first Opening Day.
The Reds, meanwhile, are 3-0 for the first time since 2005. They haven't started 4-0 since 1990, when they led wire-to-wire and won the World Series.
At least if the Brewers do continue to collapse, a fair portion of the carnage won't be televised. FS Wisconsin bumped the first Saturday game of the season over to WMLW and broadcasted a Bucks game instead, and they're doing the same thing on Tuesday. In addition, Thursday's game will not be televised.
Tuesday's game will be the second of 15 WMLW broadcasts this season. Re-plan your schedules accordingly.
While the Brewers were getting blown out yesterday, John Axford was given an opportunity to pitch the eighth inning and see if he could put Thursday's outing behind him. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish the inning and didn't do much to assuage his doubters. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar noted that Axford threw no curves and just four sliders during his 19 pitch appearance, and allowed two hits while recording two outs. Meanwhile, Josh Wussow of Inside Wisconsin Sports says Ron Roenicke's decision to lift Axford early was the right decision.
Axford has gotten a fair amount of attention for his Opening Day lapse, but it's worth noting that he wasn't alone: Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus noted that four NL Central closers had save opportunities on Opening Day, and only one (Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates) successfully converted.
It's still too early to start thinking about this, but Breaking Down The Brewers is listing Kameron Loe and Takashi Saito as the best candidates to take over the closer role if Axford continues to struggle.
New Brewer pitching coach Rick Kranitz is still looking for his first win with the team, but at least his players are saying nice things about him. Randy Wolf complimented Kranitz and seemed to take a subtle swipe at Rick Peterson in his pregame interview on FS Wisconsin yesterday.
This is not how the Brewers were supposed to draw national attention: Scott Miller of CBS Sports has a look at how things unraveled this weekend.
I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but the Brewers won't face Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens this week. He's been placed on the DL with an oblique strain, and top prospect Mike Minor will start in his place on Wednesday. To the best of my knowledge, the Brewers still haven't announced who they're starting against him.
Meanwhile, Zack Greinke continues to make strides in his rehab. He could throw off a mound this week, which would allow the Brewers to start to plan the schedule for his return.
In the minors:
- The Brewers played their first ever Rising Stars game on Saturday, a pitching-dominated contest won 2-0 by the White team. Andy Call of MLB.com has a recap.
- The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have announced their Opening Day roster, and are expected to give 2010 8th round pick Austin Ross the ball on Opening Day Thursday.
We still have a handful of Brewer predictions and assorted nonsense today:
- The Sporting Hippeaux is picking the Brewers to win 93 games and the Wild Card.
- Baseball by Paul has the Brewers winning 81 games and finishing third.
- Christina Kahrl of ESPN says the Cardinals are still the NL Central favorites.
- Austin's Astros 290 Blog says the Brewers are still better than the Astros.
If you're in the Madison area or near a computer and looking for something to do after the game today, you can hear me on The Big 1070 with Mike Heller around 5:25. Hopefully I'll have good news to discuss.
If you're checking in late this morning, you might've missed several posts. In addition to the aforementioned Braves series preview, this week's BCB Tracking Poll and Today in Brewer History are also up for your perusal.
Looking for something to make for a tailgate this week? My Beer, Brat and Butterkase Mac & Cheese recipe is up at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese site.
Speaking of food, two new Food Network-branded steak sandwiches will debut at Miller Park today. If you get a chance to try the Milwaukee sandwich or the Red, White & Blue steak sandwich today, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. I tried the poutine for the first time at the Rising Stars game on Saturday and was a little underwhelmed with the execution.
Blue Jays: Declined second baseman Aaron Hill's club option for 2012-14.
Orioles: Placed pitcher Brian Matusz on the DL with an intercostal strain.
Rays: Designated pitcher Mike Ekstrom for assignment and placed third baseman Evan Longoria on the DL with an oblique strain.
A note on the Blue Jays transaction above: Hill's contract also has club options for just 2012 and 2012-13, either of which could be exercised following this season.
Given the outrage over Zack Greinke's basketball injuries, I feel like a few of us would have a coronary if a Brewer did this: Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey and Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey plan to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January.
Speaking of weird injury notes: The Cardinals have yet to place Matt Holliday on the DL, and seem to think he'll recover from his appendectomy quickly enough to rejoin to the team in less than 15 days. Corey Hart missed more than a month following his surgery in 2009.
By the way, with Holliday on the shelf the Cardinals became 2011's first team to bat the pitcher eighth.
Today in former Brewers:
- Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun lead the Brewers with two home runs, but both still have a fair amount of work to do if they're going to approach this mark: Jeromy Burnitz is one of just 21 players who have hit five homers in their team's first six games. He did it in 2000.
- Jim Edmonds may be retired, but he's not going away. The 2010 Brewer did a radio interview in St. Louis over the weekend and had some strong words regarding the Reds' training staff, who he says mishandled his injuries (FanShot).
- The Rays have called up Felipe Lopez to take Evan Longoria's roster spot.
I mentioned above that Rickie Weeks has led off two of this season's three games with a home run. Ian Kinsler of the Rangers one-upped him, though: He became the first player ever to start a season with leadoff homers in each of his team's first two games.
We've talked about the weather more or less every day for a while now, and it did successfully claim one victim this weekend: Yesterday's Rockies-Diamondbacks game was snowed out in Denver.
It didn't take long for 2011's first Wrigley Field beer-related incident: A moron in the stands spilled beer on Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones over the weekend.
The Brewer defense was pretty poor this weekend, but at least no one made a chalk outline of them in the outfield.
Life in the press box is always fun. Over the weekend new JS Brewer beat reporter Todd Rosiak got to watch a colleague ruin a laptop with a Diet Coke.
Now that the season has started, Joe West probably doesn't have as much time for adventures. He still took the opportunity to challenge a bat boy to a duel, though.
If you're going to Miller Park today, do me a favor: DON'T START THE WAVE. If someone near you starts the wave, Heaven and Helton has a guide to stopping it.
I mentioned earlier that Today in Brewer history is up, but somehow I missed this: Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times noted that Ryan Braun is 10,000 days old today.