Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Oh hey, horses.

Some things to read while sticking to what you know.

Last night's game was over early and ended in disappointing fashion, as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 4-2 and Tony La Russa rushed out the door to play the tambourine at a Santana concert. (h/t Matthew Leach)

The Brewer bats rallied for a late run but the heart of the order was pretty quiet last night: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt and Craig Counsell started in the 3-7 spots in the order and went a combined 1-for-19 in the game. Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 with a walk batting eighth, spurring more conversation about why the team refuses to bat him ahead of Betancourt et al in the lineup.

Jerry Hairston Jr. sat out last night's game after leaving Monday's contest with a stiff neck, but hopes to be back in there today. He's also saying all the right things regarding a potential return to the team in 2012.

Other notes from the field:

The Brewers and Cardinals play their last game of the season today, and Adam Berry of MLB.com has the preview. This could be the last time the Brewers face Albert Pujols in a St. Louis uniform: The USA Today has a story on his pending free agency.

At the very least, the Brewers likely won't miss the Cardinals' whining. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a surprisingly critical collection of thoughts yesterday on the team's development of a reputation for making excuses. Let's start the quotes with Derrick Goold:

Some of the comments the Cardinals made this season have not distinguished the team or done anything to change their growing reputation as the most-disliked club in the National League.

Here's Bernie Miklasz:

The Cardinals won't be in the 2011 postseason. The least they can do is lose with dignity.

And Jeff Gordon:

But why make such a fuss about it? The Cards have developed a reputation around baseball for whining and these complaints only add to their negative image.

It appears even the writers who cover the team have noticed the reputation the Cardinals have earned. I'm not sure it'll change anything, but it's good to know.

Infielder Nick Punto didn't get into last night's game, but he's been activated off the DL and rejoined the Cardinals yesterday. You know that and more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

Once the Brewers are done with the Cardinals today they could have a roster move to announce: Rickie Weeks is supposed to be activated off the DL for this weekend's series against the Phillies. He'll be used sparingly at first as he continues to rehab his sprained ankle. Miller Park Drunk wrote a poem about him.

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder had a rough night last night but are still part of one of baseball's greatest tandems. Former MLB scout Bernie Pleskoff has a look at what makes Braun and Fielder so effective, and how well they work together.

Shaun Marcum has arguably this weekend's toughest assignment for the Brewers, as he'll face off against Roy Halladay on Friday night. The Good Point recently sat down with Marcum to discuss his arsenal and his first season in Milwaukee (FanShot).

There's probably no Brewer on the 2011 roster that has done more this season to improve his long term value than Marco Estrada, who has gone from afterthought to potential full time big league starter in six months. I didn't realize this, though: Estrada is averaging 4.06 pitches per batter faced this season, fifth highest among pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings in 2011.

With that said, the Brewers' best "bounce-back" season (in the pitcher division, anyway) has to belong to Randy Wolf. Jayson Stark says Wolf is "mixing stuff better than I've ever seen him."

In the hitter division, the clear winner has to be Nyjer Morgan. David Golebiewski of Baseball Analytics has a look at Morgan's significant upswing in power this season. Tony Plush rounded the bases in 18.84 seconds following his homer Monday, by the way, narrowly missing the day's fastest trot. Ryan Braun came home in 22.58 seconds in the same game.

John Axford's star has also risen a fair amount this season: He's got a new endorsement deal with Wahl Trimmers.

The NL Manager of the Year race is going to be an interesting one, as both Ron Roenicke and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will likely generate a fair amount of support. Michael Hunt of the JS makes the case for Roenicke to take the honor.

The Brewers had one of baseball's toughest interleague schedules and a couple of really tough road trips, but it's still worth noting that they had baseball's third weakest schedule, according to Jayson Stark. All those games against the Astros, Cubs and Pirates add up.

In the minors:

Have the Brewers gotten less interesting over the last few weeks? Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs' Leaderboards of Pleasure moved the Brewers and Ryan Braun (first to fourth) down in their NERD rankings. Zack Greinke remains #1 among pitchers. The Brewers' hot streak, however, did earn them the #1 spot on The Baseball Index's list of things they learned in August. That hot streak is part of the reason A Simple Kind of Fan is talking about an easy September.

If you haven't yet, please take a moment today to vote in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. It will remain open through the day today and results will be posted tomorrow.

If you'd like more Brewer content today but you're sick of reading, the View From Bernie's Chalet podcast is up. This week's topics include the end of the road woes, comparing the 2011 Brewers to the 2004 Red Sox and the starting rotation.

Around baseball:

Indians: Claimed pitcher Jason Rice off waivers from the Red Sox and designated outfielder Jerad Head for assignment.
Mets: Designated pitcher Mike O'Connor for assignment.
Nationals: Released pitcher Adam Carr and designated pitcher Garrett Mock for assignment.
Orioles: Designated infielder Blake Davis and pitcher Mark Hendrickson for assignment.
Phillies: Announced the resignation of assistant GM Chuck LaMar.
Rockies: Placed infielder Jonathan Herrera on the DL with a broken index finger.
Twins: Designated pitcher Chuck James for assignment.
Yankees: Designated pitcher Lance Pendleton for assignment.

Over the weekend the Brewers will face Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley for the first time. Hopefully they won't be distracted by his terrible hair.

In former Brewers:

This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History remembers the anniversary of Robin Yount's final game as a shortstop in 1984, but Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the first anniversary of Trevor Hoffman's 600th save. Follow the link for more on that and a great story about Bob Uecker and Phil Niekro.

Hoffman, by the way, is still the all time saves leader with 601 but may not be by October: Mariano Rivera converted save #598 early this morning and now needs four more in the Yankees' final 22 games to take over first place this season. Rivera turns 42 in November, so there's a chance this is his last major league season. He is under contract for 2012.

Speaking of players with notable walkup music: Kevin Lai of The Hardball Times has a great post this morning discussing trends in musical taste across baseball.

Today in baseball economics: Kudos to @bigleaguestew for pointing out that the 2011 Diamondbacks are averaging just 24,377 fans per game this season, which is less than the 2010 Reds. The Reds were pretty consistently berated for failing to draw fans, but the D-Backs have largely escaped notice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to land this trick.

Drink up.

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