Some things to read while changing shampoos.
Late yesterday afternoon I got a text from Rubie Q:
And there ... is your NL Central DAGGER.
Obviously the Brewers are still a week or two away from clinching the NL Central, but it's hard not to feel pretty good about their chances after they collected 12 hits and beat the Cardinals 4-1 yesterday. That's a nice change from last week, when they were bitten by a turtle. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Brewers are happy to turn the page.
Ryan Braun had eight hits over four games this weekend and is now batting .391/.458/.719 in his last 16 contests. His average is now up to an NL-leading .335, and Dale Sveum says he'll be motivated by the possibility of winning the Brewers' first batting title. He was one of three Brewers (Yovani Gallardo and John Axford are the others) on MLB Depth Charts' August NL All Star team. He also entered the weekend third in Plunk Everyone's BACON stat.
Corey Hart had five hits over 20 ABs this weekend, but those were enough to stretch his hitting streak to 17 games. This is only the third longest streak of his career and the second longest by a Brewer this season, but it's tied for the 16th longest in franchise history. That streak is a large part of the reason Hart is our Brewer of the Week. Nonetheless, Steve Slowinski of FanGraphs is listing Hart as baseball's fifth most overvalued power hitter.
Speaking of hitting streaks, Taylor Green has now appeared in five games as a Brewer and picked up a hit in all of them. He's the first Brewer since Steve Bowling in 1976 to pick up hits in his first three MLB at bats, and only the 17th Brewer ever to have a hit in each of his first five major league games (Jonathan Lucroy did it last year). Dickie Thon holds the franchise record: he had a hit in each of his first 13 games as a Brewer in 1993. All that and more earned Green this week's El Super. He's also profiled in the Globe and Mail. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
While Braun, Hart and Green all had pretty good weekends, none of them had an outing to compare to George Kottaras. He became the seventh Brewer ever to hit for the cycle on Saturday, and you can see video of all four hits here. Rob Neyer might have had the best reaction. Kottaras, meanwhile, became the first player to hit for the cycle and not start the next day since Eric Valent of the Mets in 2004.
Other notes from the field:
- Yesterday's unusual 3:15 start time led to some shadow issues at Busch Stadium (FanShot).
- The Brewers are now 35-38 on the road, going 19-7 since a 16-31 start.
- Randy Wolf, Yuniesky Betancourt and Ryan Theriot are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- The Brewers traveled in western attire for Sunday night's trip from Houston to St. Louis.
- George Kottaras and Craig Counsell rounded the bases in 20.97 and 20.3 seconds following home runs on Saturday, respectively.
- The Astros gave away Carlos Lee bobbleheads on Saturday.
- Pitching coach Rick Kranitz is away from the team because his mother is ill.
The minor league season has mostly wrapped up, but the Brewers won't be calling up many players from AAA Nashville. Tim Dillard will rejoin the team today, but that's it. Tom Haudricourt talked to Doug Melvin about the decision not to bring up Mat Gamel, Caleb Gindl, Wily Peralta or Michael Fiers. Martin Maldonado, who spent most of the season catching Peralta and Fiers in Nashville, raved about their performances.
We still don't have much news on the condition of Rickie Weeks, who was supposed to be ready to go out on a rehab assignment weeks ago. The Brewers have raised the possibility, though, that he could return and be used as a pinch hitter while he's waiting to be ready to play defense.
Is it finally time to start looking ahead? Sully Baseball has a list of ten reasons why the Brewers winning the World Series would be good for baseball.
One of those ten reasons is Bob Uecker, long overdue an opportunity to broadcast another Fall Classic for the Crew. Tom Haudricourt talked to Uecker about the differences between this season and years past.
Shaun Marcum has been a key part of the Brewers' success this weekend and was dominant in Houston on Sunday, allowing just one hit over seven innings. Brett Lawrie has also been really good for Toronto: He hit a home run to give the Blue Jays a 1-0, 11 inning win over the Red Sox last night and followed it up with a very tool-ish looking celebration photo. Jaymes Langrehr of OnMilwaukee.com and Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation are both calling the deal a win-win trade.
Marcum will start the second game of this weekend's four game set with the Phillies. Here are the projected matchups:
|Thursday||Chris Narveson||Cole Hamels|
|Friday||Shaun Marcum||Roy Halladay|
|Saturday||Randy Wolf||Cliff Lee|
|Sunday||Yovani Gallardo||Vance Worley|
Zack Greinke will be the odd man out in the series. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star talked to him about life in Milwaukee and the differences between his first likely contending team and the years prior with the Royals.
Even while the team is winning, Doug Melvin can't resist the urge to complain about baseball's September roster rules. He outlined a plan to Cory Provus that would allow teams to call up as many players as they wanted but would force them to have 30 "active" players for each game. I feel like teams would work around this policy by deactivating members of their starting rotation each day.
Another day, another MVP race update (h/t Adam McCalvy):
- Scott Miller of CBS has Braun first and Fielder third on his ballot.
- Tim Brown of Yahoo is picking Matt Kemp.
- Jeff Passan mentioned both Braun and Fielder on his list of candidates.
Down on the farm, here's something that surprised me: The 2011 minor league season is more or less wrapped up (Helena has three more games, but everyone else is done) and for the first time in franchise history every US-based Brewer affiliate is going to finish under .500. The only other time something close to this has happened was 1978, when the Burlington Bees were the Brewers' best affiliate at 69-69.
Elsewhere in the minors:
- John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a review of the Peoria Javelinas' AFL roster, which includes Jed Bradley and several more Brewers.
- Scooter Gennett will be another one of the Brewers on that roster, and he tied a franchise record with 167 hits for Brevard County this season.
- The affiliates went 2-1 yesterday and Mike Fiers pitched five innings without allowing an earned run in Nashville's 10-2 win over Memphis. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Fiers was undefeated after being called up to the Sounds and posted a 1.11 ERA while striking out 69 in 64.2 innings there.
- Mat Gamel had a hit yesterday to snap an 0-for-18 slump.
For me, the NFL season doesn't start until after the Brewers have played their final game. I know not everyone feels that way, though, and Tyler Maas of the AV Club has a guide to watching both the Brewers and Packers in September and October.
By now some of you have likely been to the Brewer team store at Miller Park to pick up your gold gear, which went on sale at 6 am today. I think I'll wait and get mine at a more reasonable hour.
If you get a copy of the Brewers' 2011 team photo, look at it closely: Adam McCalvy says Francisco Rodriguez had a prior commitment, so he missed the picture and will be photoshopped in.
In power rankings:
- Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk has the Brewers fourth, firmly entrenched under the "Batman" heading.
- FanGraphs has the Brewers holding steady at fifth.
- Beyond the Box Score has the Brewers fifth.
This is a few days old now, but you can hear my Friday appearance on The Home Stretch with Justin Hull by following this link. We didn't talk about Yuni as much as we usually do, and as such we argued less than we usually do.
Blue Jays: Released pitcher Brian Tallet.
Braves: Released infielder Julio Lugo.
Cubs: Carlos Zambrano will not rejoin the team this season.
Marlins: Designated infielder Alfredo Amezaga for assignment.
Padres: Claimed pitcher Drew Carpenter off waivers from the Phillies.
Rangers: Shortstop Omar Quintanilla has declined an outright assignment to the minors and is now a free agent.
Red Sox: Designated infielder/outfielder Drew Sutton for assignment.
Here's one Cardinal hitter the Brewers won't be facing this week: Outfielder Nick Stavinoha set a team record with 109 RBI for AAA Memphis this season but won't be called up in September. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.
Sometimes we all need a reminder of how good we have it as Brewer fans: Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? is taking the Pirates' 2011 collapse pretty hard, and notes that what seemed like a bright future for the organization may not actually be all that impressive. They also fell behind the Astros in third-order wins over the weekend.
One of baseball's greatest stereotypes might be coming to an end. If this story is true, we might have to stop using the phrase "warm, flat Old Style swilling" to discuss Cub fans.
Today in former Brewers: The B-Ref Blog lists Sixto Lezcano as one of 50 position players who were worth +.260 WPA or more in their major league debuts.
Today in baseball economics: Negotiations aren't going well between the Angels and a couple of unions that work within the ballpark, leading to some protesting outside games this weekend.
Everyone who's referred to Taylor Green as "Tyler" over the last two weeks should have to read this story about pitcher Jerome Williams, who the Giants referred to as "Jeremy" for two years.
I can't decide what'd be worse: Being called the wrong name for two years or getting hit so hard by a foul ball that it wedges itself into your catcher's mask.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm curling back up.