Monday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while not voting.

Given the way the Brewers have struggled in Cincinnati lately, this was good to see: The Crew outscored the Reds 24-5 while completing a three game sweep and Tom Haudricourt says they "have some swagger back." This weekend's wins dropped the Brewer magic number to four to clinch the NL Central, and they've rebuilt a two game lead over the Diamondbacks in the race to avoid facing the Phillies in the NLDS.

Other notes from the field:

All of the Brewer production yesterday came from the top half of the lineup: Starters in the 1-5 spots went 11-for-20 in the game while Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy went a combined 0-for-12. Tom Haudricourt says McGehee's at bats have become painful to watch, and Betancourt's aren't much better. Betancourt went 2-for-12 this weekend to drop to 8-for his last 42, and his homer on Saturday featured baseball's slowest trot at 25.06 seconds. That's at least 2.5 seconds slower than each of the team's five trots on Friday.

Even Mark Kotsay had a pretty good weekend: He went 3-for-6 with two doubles and a home run and drove in five runs. Jeff Wallner of MLB.com says Kotsay has been providing valuable production.

Following the game yesterday the Brewers got on a plane to Chicago, where they'll open a three game series tonight. Tom Singer of MLB.com has the preview.

Yesterday was rookie dress up day for the Brewers, but Tom Haudricourt noted that John Axford also took part. That's a weird way to celebrate your first Brewer of the Week victory.

Ryan Braun also had a weekend to celebrate: He reclaimed the NL batting title lead with an 8-for-13 series and became the second 30/30 player in franchise history when he hit two home runs Friday night. Tyler Lockman of FS Wisconsin talked to Tommy Harper, the only other 30/30 Brewer, who had this to say:

"I didn't know anything about 30/30 when I was playing in 1970," Harper said in a phone interview last week. "When I came into the clubhouse, the writers told me that was an accomplishment that hadn't been done by any other infielder in the history of the game. So I had the realization later, you know, 30/30 ... I guess that kind of is something to be proud of."

The Brewer pitching staff looked pretty good this weekend, holding the Reds to five runs over three games. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, though, says the Brewers only have the sixth best rotation among playoff contenders. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar is comparing the likely NL playoff teams by fWAR.

Meanwhile, Baseball In-Depth notes that Zack Greinke is one of just nine pitchers since the All Star break with more than 75 innings pitched and an ERA under 2.5.

Another day, another set of notes on Prince Fielder's pending free agency:

I'm surprised this hadn't occurred to me until this morning: Brian Anderson is once again contracted by TBS to cover postseason baseball this October, but his assignment has not been announced. It would make sense for Anderson to be assigned to the Brewers' NLDS series, as he's been covering the team all season and would bring some clear expertise. However, I could also understand a decision to assign him to the other series to avoid accusations of bias. It'll be interesting to see how this is handled.

This post and the accompanying debate are a few days old now, but I still think they're worth noting. Many of you probably witnessed the conversation on Twitter that likely sparked this post from Miller Park Drunk, talking about the 2011 Brewers and expectations. It's a strong push for one side in a debate we've been having all over the internet for weeks now: "The Brewers aren't going to miss the playoffs, so stop worrying."

I think the big divide that's led to quite a few heated debates over the last few weeks really comes down to what you're willing to accept from this team. If simply making the playoffs is good enough for you, then you have every reason to be ecstatic. That's almost certainly going to happen. But many of us feel like this team is capable of more with relatively minor changes. Regardless of how the rest of this plays out, the 2011 season has to be considered a success. But I still feel like management is costing this team an opportunity to be as good as they could be, which is disappointing.

In the minors:

In power rankings: Tom Haudricourt has the Brewers holding steady at #3.

Around baseball:

Mets: Signed pitcher Tim Byrdak to a one year contract extension for 2012.
Phillies: Designated pitchers Drew Naylor, Juan Perez and Mike Zagurski for assignment.

Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo is sneaking up on history: He allowed four home runs on Friday to bring his season total to 44, tied for the fifth most in major league history. The MLB record is 50, set by Bert Blyleven in 1986, and the NL record is 48, set by Jose Lima in 2000. Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News notes that Arroyo has cost MLB $1,188 in replacement baseballs this season.

Elsewhere in records: Cubs manager Mike Quade set a new franchise record by being ejected from a game for the seventh time this season on Sunday. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

Meanwhile, if they'd crossed off "at Wrigley" then The Cub Reporter would have made my favorite gif of the season.

Today in former Brewers: The Mariners have hired Pete Vuckovich as a special assistant to the GM.

And you think you had a rough weekend: Marlins relievers used sandbags to trap rookie reliever Jose Ceda in the bullpen restroom.

Mark Reynolds hasn't been locked in a restroom, but he is having a pretty rough first season in Baltimore: He's hitting .219/.320/.476 and leading his league in strikeouts for the fourth consecutive season. On top of that, he thinks Angels pitcher Ervin Santana is trying to hit him.

I bet it feels longer when you need to use the restroom: Alyson Footer of MLB.com has video showing that it takes 1:05 to walk from the visitors' clubhouse to the dugout at Wrigley Field.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a new place to store my bees.

Drink up.

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