brewers baseball and things


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sort of a war memorial

I been watching the Vietnam Special, Ken Burns, and so i got to thinking about players who served in the war, in the vietnam war so i looked it up and there was an alphabetical list. There were a lot of names. I was kind of surprised. Some I recognized; some I didn’t, but one really stuck out – Garry Maddox because i remember him playing on the phillies with bake mcbride……bake mcbride…just a moment of silence for his name, maybe that’s not his real name, but that’s what we always called him bake and shake mcbride and his moves how to describe them, but back to Garry maddox so i knew his name so i clicked it and baseball reference took me to the gary maddox page and “pre-eminent defensive center fielder of his day” and it was only a paragraph, but it seemed to be taking too long. I knew there were more paragraphs  too, but i was in a hurry to know and then bam in the 2nd paragrapah.

“Maddox served in the Army, including a tour in Vietnam during the 1969 and 1970 seasons. Exposure to chemicals in Vietnam left his skin highly sensitive, and he has always since worn a full beard to protect his face. The Philadelphia Phillies had to waive their clean-shaven rule to accommodate Maddox.”

That’s pretty awesome of the phillies to do that and it makes me hope that someday someone will sit down with all baseball players who served in vietnam and have a little recorder and what not. Gary Maddox is only 68.

 

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mid season summary

I didn’t mind when the Brewers didn’t sign an overpriced free agent pitcher this off season and I don’t mind that we haven’t traded for another starter yet because we’re in 1st place and still await the arrival of our best pitcher – Jimmy Nelson. He hurt his shoulder last year diving back into first base….yes, as a base runner, damn freaky pitcher injuries.

(update from original post)

This off season, we didn’t sign an overpriced free agent pitcher like Jake Arrieta, but we did sign Jhoulys Chacyn who provoked the second most swing and misses on his slider last season. He leads the league this year with 19 starts, El Durable! He won again last night, his 7th of the season, a 7-2 triumph in the first of four against the NL East leading Braves.


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The Slump


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Making Sense of WAR

I was watching a special on the MLB Network about the 1967 Red Sox. It’s called The Impossible Dream:Red Sox Nation Begins. The premise was that 1967 marked a watershed moment in Red Sox history, that it turned a city’s attention towards its baseball team. I like that it’s narrated by Boston native John Slattery. Adds some local color to the show.

There were interviews and adjectives thrown around and yet, I still wanted to know what was implied by watershed as in how did it translate into numbers. Thanks to baseball reference, I had my wish. Attendance at Fenway did more than spike from 1966-1967. It doubled, from 811,172 (10,014 per game) to 1,727,832 (21,331 per game.) That may or may not be a record.

There is a dialogue between  two players from that team – Rico Petrocelli and Mike Andrews and also an extensive interview with Carl Yastrzemski. I don’t remember all the details of the show, but one really sticks out – that Yaz carried the team on his back for most of the season.

This type of single-handed contribution screams of WAR or Wins Above Replacement Player. I’m not too knowledgeable when it comes to today’s statistical analysis, but I don’t think the formula or factors or complicated math matters. What does matter is the intent – to determine how valuable a player is to his team. That’s interesting and in this case, it proved to parallel the word “carried team on his back.”

The all-time single season WAR leader begins with Babe Ruth (14.3 in 1923) and is followed by Ruth as well (12.9 in 1921) and who is third? Yaz in 1967 with 12.5.

Those numbers don’t speak to me the way a batting average above .300 does or an OB% above .400, but one day, they might…….

 

 


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three trades and…..

I’m not opposed to free agency. I prefer money landing in player pockets….not owners. The entertainment is, after all, rooted in the long ball, head first slides, pitcher’s painting corners, diving catches, and not owners smoking cigars in luxury boxes or whatever they do these days. Bill Veeck is maybe the lone exception. If he were still alive, I’d pay to sit on a park bench in his mind. What he did for baseball is roll out the intestinal track long, maybe nothing more wonderful than him signing Satchel Paige, not once, but twice, first with the Cleveland Indians and then the St. Louis Browns.

Anyway, back to the point of this post….Free agency pales in comparison to the good old fashioned trade, especially ones that help both teams.

Winter, 1980
The Brewers acquired Ted Simmons, Pete Vuckovich, and Rollie Fingers from the St. Louis Cardinals for David Greene, Dave Lapoint, Sixto Lezcano, and Lary Sorenson. It was the biggest trade in Brewers history. All three players helped the Brewers win the second half of the 1981 season. Rollie Fingers won both the MVP and the Cy Young as a freaking relief pitcher. I don’t know if that’s happened before or since? The Brewers lost to the Yankees in the playoffs. But then in 1982, the Brewers won the AL East and then came from behind to beat the Angels and win their first ever AL Championship. Pete Vuckovich won the Cy Young Award with less than stellar numbers. In fact, he may have the worst WHIP of any pitcher that won the award. (1.502)  Who did they meet in the Series, but those same Cardinals in what came to be known as the Suds Series. The players the Brewers traded to the Cardinals didn’t play as big of role as the ones the Brewers got, but in the end the Cardinals took the series in 7 games. Of course, some say, if Rollie Fingers hadn’t of got injured, the Brewers would have won…..if if if..

Winter 1985
The New York Mets sent John Christensen, Wes Gardner, Calvin Shiraldi, and LaSchelle Tarver to the Boston Red Sox for Bob Ojeda and Chris Bayer. The Mets ran away with the NL East in 1986. Bob Ojeda won 18 games. They outlasted the Astros in the NL Championship, and who did they face in the World Series? The Boston Red Sox. I’ll never forget the look on Calvin Shiraldi’s face, rubbing his Game 6 chin as Bob Stanley performed his version of the colossal meltdown on the mound.

December, 2010
The Brewers traded Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odirizzi to the Royals for Yuniesky Betancourt and Zack Greinke. It was the second biggest trade in Brewers history. We were all in and Greinke didn’t disappoint.  He won 16 games in 2011 and kept us close in another dozen. The Brewers won the NL Central and then lost to the Cardinals….again….. in the NL Campionship. It took the Royals a few years, but they reached the Series in 2014 and lost, but then won it all in 2015. Cain and Escobar played significant roles in the Royal’s success and their manager? None other than former Brewers player and manager – Ned Yost.

The Brewers lost Greinke to free agency, no surprise there. But recently they started missing Cain and Jeffress so much so that this off season they signed Cain to a long free agent contract and got Jeffress in a trade with Texas. It’s June 29th and after their win last night against the Reds, the Brewers are 47-33 and in first place.

 


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Peralta’s revenge

On June 17th the Royals recalled former Brewer, Wily Peralta from AAA Omaha and since then have used him in semi, high leverage situations, an inning here, an inning there. He’s pitched well, earned a hold and a save.

The Royals took a 5-1 lead over the Brewers yesterday after roughing up the previously un-rough-uppable Josh Hader in the 7th inning. Tim Hill came on in the ninth to close the door for the Royals.

But then things got interesting. Recently acquired middle infielder Brad Miller hit a three run homer and suddenly the Brewers were within one run. . Peralta was summoned. He allowed a hit, but then induced his old teammate Ryan Bryan to hit in to a game ending double play.

Peralta earn the save and  helped the Royals split the mini 2 game series.


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Tale of Two Peraltas

Long before baseball’s scouting bureau, the bird dog scout roamed. I always pegged the species as wearing a Hawaiian button down, sun glasses and sitting in a lawn chair, maybe a stop watch around his neck. He drove a big car, the back seat filled with reams of data. He traveled the country side in search of players. Those days, those olden golden days are, of course, gone or maybe they aren’t?

I was watching the Yankees-Phillies game a few days ago and the announcer told a story of Yanks pitcher and Nicaraguan native Jonathan Loaisiga being signed as an amateur free agent by the Giants and then released three years later. The story fasts forward to an evening in the Dominican Republic. Loaisiga was pitching and the Yankees international scout was watching, then drooling, and finally phoning back home to Yankee land, at 3 AM insisting that they sign him and they did. He was called up at some point this season. He’s started three games. The Yankees have won all three, Loaisiga two. It’s early. He’s only pitched 14 innings, but 18 k’s and a 1.286 WHIP ain’t too shabby.

Loaisiga is one of hundreds, if not thousands of pitchers who look good, real good. They fill up high school and university rosters. Many of them are drafted and begin the long climb out of obscurity. They are as plentiful as aluminum cans. But most end up selling vacuum cleaners or some such trade because they get injured or never develop. Blame it on the pitching coach or destiny or the wind….who knows?

I’m not sure how the Brewers compare in developing pitchers to other organizations. But two names that come to mind – Teddy Higuera and Ben Sheets were signed and drafted respectively and they shined. Then there’s Wily Peralta. He was highly regarded and showed signs of success as a member of the Brewers starting staff. He earned a spot for four consecutive years, but in the fifth, the wheels fell off and he started getting shelled. He now pitches for the Royals in their AAA affiliate.

Speaking of the Royals, the Brewers are hosting them for a quick two game interleague match up and another Peralta, Freddy, another top Brewers prospect (we actually got him in a trade with Seattle for Adam Lind) was on the hill last night. It wasn’t his first start as a Brewer, but it was his first at Miller Park. His family was on hand to watch him pitch seven innings of one hit ball with 10 K’s. Got the win too. Alright, so it was against the rebuilding Royals, but still something to celebrate. Peralta’s total stats this year look mighty impressive…..22.2 IP, 35 K’s and only 7 hits allowed, a 1.59 ERA and .786 WHIP.