Some things to read while tuning out the squeaking.
Yovani Gallardo had another poor inning last night and, as you might expect, it's led to a fair amount of gnashing of teeth this morning. Last time I checked, 64% of JS Online voters are ready to panic. If you're one of them, you really should go read Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker's assessment of last night's start. If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, here's the money quote:
Although the walks hurt, the sixth inning was largely an exercise in why we use defense-independent statistics to evaluate pitchers.
Gallardo has an essentially perfect batted ball distribution on Monday night — 7 grounders to only one line drive and one fly ball. Unfortunately, the results were just as poor as before: a .615 BABIP.
Think about it for a second: Opposing batters hit .615 on balls in play against Gallardo last night...and he still held the Braves to just one run in the first five innings. Obviously the final result isn't what we were hoping for, but it's not time to freak out yet.
Wil Nieves caught Gallardo last night, with Jonathan Lucroy getting the day off. Breaking Down The Brewers has some interesting numbers showing how various pitchers have performed with and without Lucroy behind the plate.
The fact that people are panicking about Yovani Gallardo and praising Yuniesky Betancourt on the same day is just bizarre. Betancourt had arguably his best game as a Brewer last night, going 2-for-3 with a triple, and this morning Tom Haudricourt is using fielding percentage to suggest Betancourt had a good April defensively.
I don't know how many times or how loudly this needs to be shouted before it sinks in, but fielding percentage is not a good standalone stat to measure defense. The fact that Betancourt is doing a marginally better job of converting balls he touches into outs (roughly one more play per 100) is nice, but it doesn't change the fact that his range is poor at best. FanGraphs has Betancourt on pace for -12.8 UZR per 150 games in 2011, which is actually worse than he was in 2008 and 2010 defensively.
When you combine Betancourt's lack of range with his poor batting line (.265/.299/.378 as of this morning) FanGraphs estimates his value at 0.1 WAR this season, and B-Ref has him at 0.3. That's still better than many of us expected, but having a few fingertips above replacement level is hardly praiseworthy.
Other notes from the field:
- Ryan Braun singled in the fourth inning to extend his season-opening streak to 28 games reaching base safely.
- Yuniesky Betancourt, Jair Jurrjens and Alex Gonzalez are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- Last night's game drew just 14,126 fans to Turner Field, the second smallest crowd in that park's history.
The two teams meet again tonight, with Marco Estrada taking the mound against Tommy Hanson. Arden Zwelling of MLB.com has the preview.
The Brewers will most likely make a roster move before today's game, as Nyjer Morgan is eligible to be activated off the DL. We had previously suspected that one of the extra pitchers would be the one to go, but Ron Roenicke told reporters yesterday that that won't be the case. If a bench player has to go it'll almost certainly be Brandon Boggs, who has made just ten plate appearances since being called up. Boggs is still out of options so he'd have to clear waivers and accept a minor league assignment again to be sent back to Nashville. He told Guy Curtright of MLB.com he wants to stay.
Once Morgan is back, Carlos Gomez can hopefully get some time off in center field. He went 1-for-3 last night to raise his batting line to .236/.278/.311, and Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar is asking if he's the worst #2 hitter in the NL. Tom Oates of Madison.com says Gomez is the center of the Brewers' problems.
At least the Brewers have gotten pretty good months from Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf. Marcum, who was named the Brewers' Pitcher of the Month for April, also received this week's El Super at Hang With 'Em Brewers.
Here's a quick note on Ryan Braun's new deal: Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the present-day average annual value of Braun's deal, including the deferments, is less than the value of Carl Crawford's deal with the Red Sox.
Braun's contract (along with Corey Hart and Zack Greinke's injuries) was a topic of discussion in The Ghost Of Moonlight Graham's list of ten things we learned in April.
While Nyjer Morgan and Zack Greinke will rejoin the Brewers during the Braves series, two more injured players aren't as close. Erick Almonte is eligible to come off the DL today but is not close to being ready to return. Manny Parra is expected to make one more rehab appearance for Nashville, then could be activated by the end of the week.
In the minors:
- The Brewers have acquired 1B/OF Jordan Brown from the Indians for cash considerations. Brown, who is 27, was playing in AAA this season and hitting .278/.373/.472 after posting a .298/.341/.462 line at the same level last season.
- Mark Rogers got some bad news yesterday: The Brewers have placed him on the minor league DL with bilateral carpal tunnel related to a viral infection.
- The affiliates went 1-3 yesterday, with Wisconsin pitchers combining to strike out 18 in a 4-3 win over Quad Cities. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Six of those strikeouts came from reliever Tyler Cravy, which is pretty impressive when you consider he only pitched 1.2 innings.
- Brewersprospects.com has named their minor league players of the month.
- Wisconsin needs your help selecting 2011's Fans Choice Bobblehead.
I'm hoping this is the only time this week we discuss or reference Osama Bin Laden on this site: Now that he's gone, Miller Park Drunk has an updated terrorist watch list for Miller Park.
In power rankings:
- Daniel Moroz of Beyond the Box Score has the Brewers seventh.
- Paul Swydan of FanGraphs ranks the Brewers ninth.
- ESPN has the Brewers 11th, up one spot.
USA Today has the Brewers holding steady at 13.
If you haven't yet, please take a moment this morning to vote in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. It will remain open until the first pitch tonight and results will be posted tomorrow.
Marlins: Placed infielder Donnie Murphy on the DL with right wrist inflammation.
Today in former Brewers:
- Doug Davis will make his first minor league start for the Cubs this week.
- Carlos Lee rejoined the Astros and is day-to-day with the rib injury he suffered on Sunday.
You already knew about Lee if you read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central. If you haven't yet, you should go do it now.
Ever wondered how important it is to get ahead in the count? Beyond the Box Score has a chart detailing how batters fare following every count, using data collected over the last nine seasons. It's well worth a look and possibly a bookmark.
Here's a quick note demonstrating the importance of the roof on Miller Park: Since Opening Day 2000, five teams (the Mets, Pirates, Yankees, Indians and Phillies) have all been rained out 20 times or more.
If your arm hurts this morning, it might be sympathy pain for Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. He threw 127 pitches last night, the second most a major leaguer has thrown this season. Roy Halladay threw 130 on April 24.
Some day a future civilization will unearth the remains of Twitter and have no idea what any of us were talking about: Carson Cistulli of NotGraphs has another look at great moments in Peter Gammons' pocket tweets.
Also at NotGraphs, Carson has an excellent look at how to speak sabermetrics to very specific audiences.
Earlier this morning I posted Today in Brewer History, with a quick look at the career of Red Ruffing and what Yovani Gallardo would have to do to pass him as the greatest hitting pitcher of all time. As it turns out I missed some interesting anniversaries, but thankfully Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times picked up the slack:
- On this day in 1975 the Brewers set a DH-era AL record by sac bunting six times in a game.
- On this day in 1984 Mark Brouhard went 3-for-4 with a home run and compiled +1.027 WPA in a win over the Royals, the Brewers' highest single-game total of all time.
- On this day in 1990 Robin Yount hit his sixth career inside-the-park home run, giving him at least one in the 1970's, '80's and 90's.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to address my problem.