This has to be the most awkward hug you'll see today.
Some things to read while not going too far.
The Brewers got this week's road trip off to a rough start, losing 1-0 last night to one of the NL's worst teams. After the game a lot of attention focused on Ron Roenicke, who probably deserves a fair share of the blame for the loss. Roenicke started Mark Kotsay (playing center field and batting second), Yuniesky Betancourt and Wil Nieves in the same lineup yesterday, drew some heat for his bullpen management and then fanned the flames with some postgame comments that sounded a lot like Ned Yost.
One of the primary points of contention last night was the decision to leave Kameron Loe in to face Carlos Pena, a lefty who matches up very well against him, in a scoreless game in the eighth inning. Pena doubled off the wall in left (although Ryan Braun probably should have made the play), and the game's only run scored one batter later. Here's some reaction from around the web:
- Tom Haudricourt says Roenicke has left himself open to second guessing.
- Ryan Topp of Bernie's Crew says mismanagement hurt the Brewers' chances.
- Loe was pitching in his third straight game last night. In the FanPosts, -JP- has a look at the suggestion that sinkerball pitchers perform better on less rest.
- The Bucky Channel asks if we can end the Kameron Loe experiment.
- LaTroy Hawkins, who hasn't pitched since a week ago today, was available and isn't injured.
I'm having a hard time getting worked up over the Loe decision for two reasons: First of all, the fly ball he allowed to Pena should have been an out. If Braun makes the play, we're probably not having this conversation. Second of all, if the Brewers had been able to score two runs last night they would have won anyway.
Prince Fielder was the only Brewer to reach base more than once last night, going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. He's also racking up the awards: Yesterday he was named NL Player of the Week (FanShot), The Hardball Times' NL MVP for the week, and this week's El Super. In addition, Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus says Fielder hit the home run of the day on Sunday, and timed his trot at 24.24 seconds.
Maybe Fielder (and Scott Boras) can use that El Super to raise his asking price this winter. Jeff Passan of Yahoo says teams will line up to overpay for Fielder this offseason, but isn't optimistic about what they'll get in return.
Other notes from the field:
- Here's the full transcript of Ron Roenicke's postgame comments.
- Home plate umpire Brian O'Nora seemed to attempt to initiate a confrontation with Randy Wolf between innings. While Wolf was walking off the mound, O'Nora started to approach him and threw the baseball back to the mound near where Wolf was standing.
- As I mentioned above, Mark Kotsay started in center field and batted second last night for the second consecutive day. He went 0-for-4 and struck out three times.
- Ryan Dempster, Randy Wolf and Carlos Marmol are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
The two teams play the second game of their four game set tonight, with Yovani Gallardo taking on Randy Wells. Evan Drellich of MLB.com has the preview.
Speaking of previews, I shared some thoughts on the Brewers for the series preview at View From The Bleachers.
With Randy Wolf on the mound last night, Wil Nieves once again got a start at catcher and was once again held hitless. We discussed Nieves a fair amount in the comments last night but I'm not sure if this came up: Since the Brewers lift Nieves in favor of Jonathan Lucroy once Wolf is out of the game, Lucroy isn't actually getting the full days off a regular catcher would typically get.
As you've likely heard, the Brewers entered play yesterday in sole possession of first place in the Central. You never know when moments like that will come again, so Miller Park Drunk took the opportunity to say everything he's been meaning to say to his favorite Brewers. Winning also drew the attention of Babes Love Baseball.
Here's something you may not have known: even after last night's loss, the Brewers have still gone 36 games without losing two in a row. That's the longest such streak in franchise history.
In the minors:
- The Brewers made a somewhat interesting roster move yesterday, bumping lefty Daniel Meadows up from AA to Nashville. He was a 49th round pick in 2008 and had posted a 1.70 ERA in 19 relief outings for Huntsville. He made his AAA debut last night and allowed a run in two innings.
- Elsewhere in roster moves, the team announced 14 draft pick signings yesterday (FanShot). The most notable names were ninth round pick Malcolm Dowell and tenth round pick Michael Strong.
- Another one of those signees was Fond du Lac native and UW-Milwaukee pitcher Chad Pierce.
- Brock Kjeldgaard is still on fire: He's the Florida State League Player of the Week for the third consecutive week. He hit .400/.538/1.000 this week with three home runs, six runs scored and two stolen bases. He already has 17 home runs this season, leaving him one away from tying Brevard County's single season record.
- The Manatees, meanwhile, could use more help. They entered play Monday with a 24-39 record, the seventh worst in all of minor league baseball.
- The affiliates went 2-1 last night, with Mat Gamel and Taylor Green combining to go 5-for-8 and drive in six runs in Nashville's 7-6 win over Round Rock. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
This week's power rankings are nothing if not evenly distributed:
- The New York Daily News has the Brewers third, up nine spots.
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune has the Brewers fourth, up two spots.
- FanGraphs has the Brewers fifth, up two spots.
- Beyond the Box Score has the Brewers sixth.
- ESPN has the Brewers holding steady at seven.
Angels: Placed reliever Fernando Rodney on the DL with a back strain.
Cubs: Placed reliever Kerry Wood on the DL with a blister on his right index finger.
Marlins: Placed outfielder Scott Cousins on the DL with a back strain.
White Sox: Claimed pitcher Leyson Septimo off waivers from the Diamondbacks.
The Brewers lost ground to literally every other team in the division last night as the Reds, Pirates, Cubs and Astros all won and the Cardinals were idle. You know this and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around The NL Central. As an added bonus today's post has the flavor of mint and berries, with a delicious crunch.
If you hadn't noticed, offense is down across baseball this season. Justin Bopp of Beyond the Box Score has some great graphics showing that hits are down across the board too.
Today in former Brewers:
- Claudio Vargas, who had been pitching in AAA for the Rockies, has decided to retire.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun says the Orioles plan on working on a contract extention for J.J. Hardy before the All Star Break. That could take one of the top shortstops off the trade market. (h/t Call to the Pen)
Matt Klaasen of FanGraphs suggests that Hardy may be cursed.
Today in realignment talk: There's still some conversation out there about the possibility of moving to two 15-team leagues, and today the Diamondbacks are being raised as a possibility to move to the AL. They're not interested. Meanwhile, Peter Gammons says the "no divisions" realignment idea is long dead.
If you still have some time to kill this morning, here's a Sporcle quiz to keep you occupied: I was able to name 64 of the 126 players who hit 30 home runs in a steroid-era season. (h/t Lone Star Ball)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have weeding to do.