Thursday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while planning a sequel.

The Brewers dropped the game and the series at Wrigley yesterday to finish the season 39-42 on the road. That's not great, but it's a huge step forward from where they started. The Crew took eight of nine from the Cubs at Miller Park this season, but just two of seven in Chicago.

Of course, losing for the second time in three days meant the Brewers' magic number to clinch the NL Central remains stalled at 3. Mark Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt the team is "loose and relaxed." I'm pretty sure he meant it as a positive.

Randy Wolf had a rough day yesterday: He was cruising for four innings but was hit by a pitch (Plunk Everyone) on his left (throwing) arm and stumbled after that, allowing five runs in his final two innings. Wolf passed on an opportunity to use the plunking as an excuse after the game, though.

For the second straight game Jerry Hairston Jr started in place of an underperforming regular: Yesterday he batted sixth in place of Casey McGehee and was the only Brewer to collect multiple hits in the game. Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt that Casey McGehee needed a day off and he wanted to get a look at Hairston at third.

Other notes from the field:

The Brewers are off today before opening the season's final homestand against the Marlins tomorrow night. Jon Star of MLB.com has the preview.

I certainly didn't expect to be in a position where this could still happen at this point: TheJay points out that the Brewers hold a tiebreaker edge over the Cardinals, so the Brewers would be the NL Central champion if the two teams finish tied for both the division and Wild Card lead.

Apparently the employees at Boston Store didn't expect things to reach this point, either: They accidentally released some Brewer NL Central Championship merchandise early.

Prince Fielder went 0-for-3 with a walk yesterday to finish 1-for-10 in the Cubs series, but has still reached base safely in 21 straight games. I've got a bunch of notes on him today:

  • The B-Ref Blog notes that Fielder is one of just two players (Matt Kemp is the other) that could appear in 162 games this season.
  • Fielder drew his 100th walk on Tuesday. He's still the only Brewer who's ever done that, and now he's done it three straight years.
  • Lewie Pollis of Beyond the Box Score says Fielder would have joined Ryan Braun as an NL starter in on the Bias-Neutral All Stars.
  • Mike Bauman of MLB.com raised the possibility again of Prince Fielder as an MVP candidate. He'll likely receive some votes but I'd be shocked if he finishes above Braun.

Ryan Braun also had a rough week, picking up just one hit over three days in Chicago. Tyler Lockman of FS Wisconsin notes that Braun has still reached base in 33 of 36 career games at Wrigley Field. Sam Zuba of MLB.com says Braun is "cognizant" of the ongoing race for the NL batting title.

Braun, by the way, fell behind Jose Reyes by the slimmest of margins last night. Reyes went 1-for-4 in the Mets' loss to the Cardinals and is now batting .33009. Braun's 0-for yesterday dropped him to .32967.

Jonathan Lucroy got the day off yesterday, but Mike Fast of Baseball Prospectus had some high praise for him in an article on catchers who help their pitchers get called strikes by framing pitches well. Despite having played just two seasons Lucroy is second in all of baseball in runs saved that way.

Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star has an interesting interview this morning with Doug Melvin, talking Canada, hockey and the Marcum/Lawrie trade. Lawrie, by the way, is done for the season with a broken middle finger.

John Axford won't save a game today, but he might save your face: He teamed up with 12 Angry Mascots to introduce Ax Mustache Spray.

In the minors:

Around baseball:

Reds: Plan to exercise second baseman Brandon Phillips' $12 million option for 2012 if they can't work out an extension.
Royals: Designated first baseman Kila Ka'aihue for assignment.

You already know about Phillips and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

By now you've likely heard that Arizona beat Pittsburgh last night and now is just one game back of Milwaukee in the race to avoid the Phillies in the first round. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the Pennant Chase.

For once, today's "things could be worse" note comes from outside the NL Central. The Rockies beat the Brewers at home last Wednesday and haven't won a game since.

Today in baseball economics: MLB and the MLBPA are hoping to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place in time to make an announcement during the World Series. Jayson Stark has some notes on the negotiations, which seem to be focused on potential changes to the draft structure and the possible creation of a reverse luxury tax for teams with repeatedly low payrolls. (h/t Bucs Dugout)

Whether you'll admit it it or not, you probably have a stereotype in your head for major league baseball players (or any professional athlete, really). That expectation probably doesn't include making Greek mythology references after a tough loss, but that's what Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey did yesterday. Jordan Schelling explained the reference, if you needed the help like I did.

Actually, this note surprised me even more. In an interview yesterday, longtime Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone somewhat casually mentioned that John Smoltz used pine tar to doctor baseballs.

Pitching has gone from a weakness to a strength for the Brewers, who have likely used the trade market better than most. The Crawfish Boxes has a look at how contending teams acquired their starting pitchers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find my tape.

Drink up.

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