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Monday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while something tastes funny.

While the Brewers and Cubs played three playoff implication-free games at Miller Park this weekend, the big story came from the press box. In the hours before Friday's game, a fake press release made the rounds advertising a new book from Cubs GM Jim Hendry titled "How to Finish Near Last Place with the Highest Payroll in the League." (Photo) (FanShot) The release highlighted some of Hendry's biggest mistakes, including signing Milton Bradley, releasing Casey McGehee, a roster mixup with Micah Hoffpauir and some poor contract decisions.

The Brewer PR department says they don't know who was responsible for the release, which was placed near the game notes in the press box Friday. Reaction to it has been about what you'd expect. David Pinto of Baseball Musings says "instead of being angry about it, the Cubs should try to make it not true next season." All told, I'll admit I laughed. But I would've laughed harder if the Brewers weren't battling the Cubs for fourth place.

The Brewers appear to be searching for a culprit internally for the release, but it's also worth noting that the Cubs fired their director of sales and promotions over the weekend.

On the field, Yovani Gallardo pitched seven scoreless innings yesterday and appears to have bounced back nicely since the calendar turned to September. Adam McCalvy has a quote from Ken Macha noting the emergence of Gallardo's slider as his #2 pitch. As Battlekow noted, the stats back it up: FanGraphs says Gallardo is throwing his slider more often (17.3% of the time, up from 10% in 2009) and more effectively (+1.35 runs per 100) this season.

This weekend's series featured a matchup of two of the game's best young shortstops: Alcides Escobar and Starlin Castro. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar compared the two and agreed with "the general consensus that Castro will end up being the better player." Meanwhile, Marc Hulet of FanGraphs says Escobar "needs to get on-base and use his legs if he's going to have any offensive value whatsoever."

Other notes from the field:

Prince Fielder went 0-for-2 yesterday but drew a pair of walks, raising his season total to an NL-leading 95. Fielder set the Brewer record with 110 walks last season, and Bill from The Platoon Advantage notes that he's likely to break 100 for the second time in franchise history this season. He's also hitting .324/.452/.588 in ten games in September.

As we've come to expect, Miller Park was overrun with Cub fans for this weekend's series. After Friday night's win, Carlos Zambrano told reporters "I feel like I'm at home" in Milwaukee.

With their final meeting with the Cubs in the rearview mirror, the Brewers head to Houston today for their final 2010 meeting with the Astros. Chris Narveson will face Brett Myers in the series opener, and Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs rated the game a 5 out of 10 on his NERD scale.

While the Brewers play out the string on the field, Doug Melvin has begun his annual evaluation of the team and met with Ken Macha for 90 minutes to discuss various players and their performance this season. Macha's job status reportedly didn't come up. Howie Magner of Milwaukee Magazine complimented Macha's professionalism while dealing with an uncertain future.

Brandon Kintzler and Mark Rogers both made their major league debuts on Friday night, and Adam McCalvy has a look at the differences in their approaches to the event. Both got outs, though: They combined to pitch 2.1 scoreless innings.

The Brewers will get a chance to see firsthand what they have in Rogers when he gets a start in next week's four game set against the Marlins (FanShot). The rotation will expand to six members to make room for him, and if all goes well the team could keep it that way though the season's final week.

Both Rogers and Jeremy Jeffress could factor into the team's plans for 2011. Ken Macha suggested to Adam McCalvy that the team could look to use either or both pitchers in long relief in an effort to get them major league experience without overworking them next season. The Yankees took a similar route with Phil Hughes in 2009.

The organization also has a few more weeks to get an extended look at Chris Capuano, who will be eligible for free agency at season's end. At Disciples of Uecker, Jack Moore says Capuano "should be given every opportunity to join the Brewers rotation next season."

Meanwhile, the organization isn't taking much of an opportunity to reevaluate Mat Gamel. Gamel has been with the team since September 1 but has received just four plate appearances. Baseball Brew says Gamel should be starting twice a week down the stretch at first base and in right field, giving a day off per week to both Prince Fielder and Corey Hart.

Doug Davis is still with the team and threw a bullpen session over the weekend. He's still hoping to get some relief innings in before the end of the season to show he's ready to go. If Davis is healthy, he's previously expressed interest in playing winter ball to help his stock as a free agent.

Lorenzo Cain isn't as sure about his offseason plans: He's played in the Arizona Fall League each of the last two years, but told Adam McCalvy he's considering skipping winter ball this year and working to bulk up at home.

In the minors:

Everyone loves a cheap laugh about weight, right? Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times compared the Brewers to Fat Tony from the Simpsons.

It was a quiet weekend on the transaction wire:

A's: Exercised manager Bob Geren's option for 2011 and signed infielder Akinori Iwamura.
Phillies:
Designated pitcher Cesar Carillo for assignment.

The Jim Edmonds Retirement Watch is starting to become a daily event. Edmonds has just started hitting the ball off a tee as he recovers from his oblique injury, but he was activated from the DL when he became eligible over the weekend, and with the Reds shorthanded in the outfield it appears likely he'll get some playing time down the stretch.

Speaking of the Reds, here's a pretty amazing stat: Joey Votto hasn't hit a pop up all season.

Aramis Ramirez is one of the Cubs signed to the terrible, untradeable contracts mentioned in the fake press release above, but he might be getting ready to help the Cubs out: He has a player option for $14.6 million next season, and Jack Moore of FanGraphs notes that he might decline it and become a free agent. Ramirez has a .296 OBP this season and B-Ref estimates his value at -0.8 WAR.

All told it was a tough weekend for the Brewers, who scored just two runs while losing two of three to the Cubs. But at least none of the Brewers fell down on the mound, like Collin Balester of the Nationals did.

It's been a while since I've complained about the state of major league umpiring, so we were probably due for this: Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News documented poor performance and confrontational behavior from veteran umpire Jerry Crawford in a Giants game this weekend.

Happy birthday to:

  • Rickie Weeks, who turns 28 today.
  • 2004 Brewer Mark Johnson, who turned 35 Sunday.
  • 1992-96 Brewer Pat Listach, who turned 43 on Sunday.
  • Milwaukee native Fred Luberus, who would have turned 125 Sunday. Luberus played 12 major league seasons from 1909-1920 with the Phillies and Cubs.
  • AZL Brewer Michael White, who turned 21 Saturday.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm getting excited.

Drink up.