Monday's Frosty Mug

June 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado (12) hits a home run in the seventh inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Some things to read while keeping your baseball cards.

The Brewers' momentum from a four game sweep in Los Angeles was short lived as they dropped two of three to the Pirates at Miller Park over the weekend, just their second series loss to Pittsburgh at home since 2006. Noah has the recap, if you missed it.

An already depleted Brewer lineup looked even bleaker yesterday, when Ryan Braun sat out for the second straight day with his sore Achilles and Aramis Ramirez was sidelined with a quad strain. Both players seem optimistic about getting back into the lineup on Tuesday. Howie Magner summed up the situation nicely:

Somehow, despite a lineup that featured Taylor Green as the cleanup hitter, the Brewers managed to hit three home runs yesterday. One of them was Martin Maldonado's first as a major leaguer (20.04 second trot), another was Brooks Conrad's second in as many days (21.68 second trot) and the third belonged to Nyjer Morgan (20.66 second trot), who hit two homers this weekend after going all of April and May without an RBI.

Things started to turn downhill for the Crew on Friday, when Randy Wolf (with an assist from Nyjer Morgan) allowed a six run inning to the NL's worst offensive team. Noah has a look at what's happened to Wolf, and Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times says "there has to be better options for the Milwaukee Brewers." Wolf told Howie Magner his "frustration level is tenfold" compared to last season.

Over the last few weeks we've been asked several times why Wolf isn't drawing more comparisons to 2010 Jeff Suppan. Their performances have been similar, but quotes like that from Wolf are the difference for me. While Suppan seemed to insist there was nothing wrong with his performances right up until his eventual release, at least Wolf seems to recognize there's a problem. That may not and probably shouldn't be enough reason to keep him around, but at least it's something.

With that said, the Randy Wolf/George Kottaras relationship has gone beyond irritating and into comedic territory. Despite the fact that Kottaras is clearly struggling to run with his strained hamstring he had to catch Wolf on Friday, and when Kottaras needed a pinch runner after walking in the ninth inning yesterday Wolf came in for him.

Other notes from the field:

The Brewers are off today for the first time in ten days before resuming action against the Cubs tomorrow. James Walker of MLB.com has the preview.

Cody Ransom went 1-for-9 in this weekend's series but drew a couple of walks and made some nice defensive plays. It's hard to believe, but Jon Morosi of Fox Sports notes that the Brewers have gotten more production out of their shortstops than the Phillies.

Ransom is one of several Brewers that no one would have predicted would play a significant role recently. This team is still firmly in "disappointment" territory on the whole, but Kevan Feyzi of PocketDoppler.com makes a case that they're actually overachieving recently. Ransom and Brooks Conrad, teammates on the 2012 Brewers, were also teammates on the 2006-07 Round Rock Express.

The Brewers got some rare good news on the injury front over the weekend, as Marco Estrada is ready to throw off a mound and should head out on a rehab assignment soon. John Axford, by the way, issued a not-so-subtle hint that Estrada is on Twitter.

In a vaguely related note, Axford rode his three saves in as many days last week to his first Brewer of the Week victory of 2012.

The Brewers are off today, but it won't be a quiet day. The opening rounds of the 2012 MLB Draft are tonight, and the Brewers have three picks between #27 and 40. We'll have coverage of the event throughout the day today, but here are some draft notes to tide you over until then:

  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball predicts the Brewers will take Texas high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins and Washington high school catcher Clint Coulter, while Matt Garrioch has them selecting Coulter and Texas high school pitcher Shane Watson.
  • MLB Depth Charts says Paul Molitor was the Brewers' best first round pick of all time, with Robin Yount, Ryan Braun and Gary Sheffield as honorable mentions.
  • Disciples of Uecker has a collection of mock drafts and other draft notes.

Elsewhere in the minors:

Has the luster of the 2011 NL Central championship worn off? Flip Flop Fly Ball notes that the banner across the top of The Official Site is no longer promoting last season's success.

Congratulations are due out this morning to airfigaro, yesterday's winner in our SB Nation Pick 6 contest. Here's the full leaderboard:

Rank Player Points
1 airfigaro 54.6
2 c.stet 44.9
3 Noah Jarosh 44.9
4 Kiev 'n Rice 43.5
5 Some Guy Named Gabbo 42.7
6 Beaver9 41.8
7 Fiesta 41.4
8 JimDub 41.3
9 bcschles 41.1
10 Yar Nivek 41.1

Today's first game is at 12:10, so there's still time to make your picks for today.

Around baseball:

Angels: Pitcher Juan Rincon has opted out of his minor league deal and is now a free agent.
Astros: Placed outfielder Travis Buck (Achilles tendonitis) and first baseman/outfielder Carlos Lee (hamstring) on the DL.
Blue Jays: Claimed pitcher Chris Schwinden off waivers from the Mets and designated pitcher Daniel Farquhar for assignment.
Cubs: Claimed pitcher Jairo Asencio off waivers from the Indians and designated pitcher Michael Bowden for assignment.
Mets: Placed outfielder Mike Baxter (collarbone and rib injuries) and pitcher Ramon Ramirez (hamstring) on the DL.
Orioles: Acquired first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce from the Yankees for cash and designated Bill Hall for assignment.
Padres: Designated pitchers Jeff Suppan and Matt Palmer for assignment.
Phillies: Placed reliever Jose Contreras on the DL with a strained right elbow.
Pirates: Placed pitcher Charlie Morton on the DL with elbow inflammation.
Red Sox: Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf has opted out of his minor league deal and is now a free agent.
Rockies: Placed pitcher Juan Nicasio on the DL with a strained left knee.
Tigers: Placed outfielder Andy Dirks on the DL with Achilles tendonitis.
Twins: Placed pitcher Carl Pavano on the DL with shoulder weakness.

Taking two of three from the Brewers this weekend was enough to move the Pirates into a tie for second place in the division at 27-26, and they're now just three games back of Cincinnati. You know this and more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

Last week's most fascinating roster move happened in Houston, where the Astros took advantage of a loophole most of us never knew existed. A new major league rule allows teams to add a 26th man to their roster on doubleheader days, and exempts said 26th man from the usual rule forcing teams to leave an optioned player in the minors for ten days before recalling him. The Astros used this loophole to send down one of the starting pitchers used in the doubleheader, effectively getting an extra roster spot for the whole week.

This weekend's big story around baseball came on Friday night, when Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history. One of the more interesting and less reported stories from the event was catcher Josh Thole's glove, which used to belong to Cubs backup Koyie Hill.

Today in former Brewers:

This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks the tenth anniversary of the Brewers making Prince Fielder the #7 overall pick in 2002. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the 72nd anniversary of the Braves signing Warren Spahn as an amateur free agent.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to wipe the dust off this sign.

Drink up.

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