Thursday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while following the experts' lead.

Let's start off with today's best news: Bob Uecker told Colin Fly yesterday that he's planning on returning for his 42nd season in 2012. Sadly, this is more of less today's only positive note.

Three years ago today I sat down to write one of the gloomier Mugs I've ever written. The Brewers were playing awful and their playoff chances were fading. It's fitting, then, that this morning I feel the same way. The Brewers are showing little to no signs of life down the stretch and, while their playoff chances are still pretty good, they appear to be a strong candidate for a very early exit. Even before last night's loss, 60% of BCB Tracking Poll voters admitted to being concerned by the team's recent struggles.

This day in 2008 was the turning point for the Brewer season, though, as they fired Ned Yost and mounted the charge that led them to the postseason. Maybe today can be 2011's turning point as well. The team likely won't fire Ron Roenicke today, but A Simple Kind of Fan has a look at how he could help this team going forward.

Other notes from the field:

While the Brewers were losing on the field last night, distractions started to mount away from it. Francisco Rodriguez is apparently unhappy with his eighth inning role, and has complained to reporters each of the last two days about not getting save opportunities (FanShot). That'll happen when you're on the depth chart behind a guy who hasn't blown a save since April. Rodriguez would have been the closer last night if a save situation had come up.

Elsewhere, Prince Fielder acknowledged to Brian Anderson that this is "probably his last year" in Milwaukee. Adam McCalvy downplayed the comments. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar says both players' comments are non-stories, but the timing remains curious.

Meanwhile, Nyjer Morgan has been uncharacteristically quiet since his incident with Chris Carpenter at the end of the Cardinals series a week ago. Last night he told Howie Magner not to worry, but both Trenni Kusnierek and @korn01us say Tony Plush needs to come back.

Maybe he's just too worried about being mean. Morgan (ninth) and Prince Fielder (13th) made Sports Illustrated's list of baseball's meanest players, as determined by player voting. Miller Park Drunk has the appropriate reaction.

Mike Bauman of MLB.com says the Brewers have nothing to worry about, and are still going to make the playoffs. I think he's missing the point. @Simplekindoffan sums up my current feelings pretty nicely:

I haven't been this pessimistic about the #brewers since December 19th. I can't see them even winning a game in playoffs with Yuni & McGehee

J-Doug of Beyond the Box Score says the Brewers would have just a 33.3% chance of beating the Phillies in the NLDS if the season ended today. Howie Magner has the opposing view: He says the Brewers are going to win the World Series. Cory Provus compares them to the 2010 Giants.

The Brewers will get their first chance to bounce back tomorrow as they open a series in Cincinnati against the Reds, who were eliminated from the NL Central race Tuesday. Nate Mink of MLB.com has the preview.

Jonathan Lucroy batted eighth and went 0-for-4 last night. Joshua Parrott of The Lafayette Daily Advertiser has another story about him, including this great quote from Bob Uecker:

"I know what it's like to be back there and get your nuts knocked up into your stomach, and that's why I can appreciate what he does."

LaTroy Hawkins is the Brewer nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually to "a player who best represents the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their clubs." Hawkins idolizes Clemente, so it's a pretty big deal for him.

If this season does end early, at least one Brewer has a good fallback position: Kameron Loe made Jeff Zimmerman of NotGraphs' All Porn-Name Team.

I'm not ready to start thinking about 2012 yet but if you are, the schedule was released yesterday (FanShot). The Brewers open the season at home on April 6 against the Cardinals and face the Twins, Royals, White Sox and Blue Jays in interleague play.

And at least the fan fiction market is booming: Brewers in 11 has their fourth episode of Around the Infield.

In the minors:

Around baseball:

Cardinals: Designated pitcher Francisco Samuel for assignment.
Giants: CEO Bill Neukom is expected to resign following the season.
Indians: Designated pitcher Jason Rice for assignment.
Pirates: Claimed catcher Matt Pagnozzi off waivers from the Rockies.
Rays
: Released pitcher Jay Buente.
Red Sox: Designated infielder/outfielder Nate Spears for assignment.
Rockies: Catcher Eliezer Alfonzo has been suspended 100 games after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

The Cardinals are already facing long odds to make the postseason, but their chances took another hit yesterday: Matt Holliday will miss this weekend's series in Philadelphia with a strained tendon in his hand. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

Here's today's "it could always be worse:" The Pirates clinched their 19th straight losing season and the Astros lost their 98th game yesterday.

In former Brewers:

The Arizona Fall League opens play on October 4 and is the subject of today's coolest graphic: Flip Flop Fly Ball has a look at the history of the AFL and other American winter leagues. Elsewhere in winter leagues, the Puerto Rican league has dropped to four teams.

Elsewhere in unusual visuals: Follow this link for video of sparks shooting off Tigers catcher Alex Avila's mask following a foul tip. (h/t BBTF)

Joe Mauer has had a pretty poor and injury-riddled season for the Twins, and now he's starting to draw some backlash for his near-constant stream of TV commercials. Mauer has appeared in just 82 games this season and is hitting .287/.360/.368. He's due to earn $161 million over the next seven seasons. (h/t Baseball Musings)

File this under things we're going to have to get used to: The Florida Marlins will become the "Miami Marlins" when they move into their new ballpark next season.

I've already mentioned the anniversary of the Yost firing a couple of times today, but Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the 40th anniversary of the one game major league career of Robin Yount's brother Larry, who was injured throwing warmup pitches and left without facing a batter. It's also the eighth anniversary of Rickie Weeks' major league debut, and the fourth anniversary of Prince Fielder's franchise record-setting 46th home run.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for breakfast.

Drink up.

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