Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Brewers’

Case for A.J. Ellis

May 20, 2012

I’ll admit it (raises hand shamefully). I was NOT on the A.J. Ellis bandwagon when the season started. I figured he was the ultimate, lifetime backup catcher and that his pleas for playing time was a bunch of malarkey (I actually used to know someone with the last name Mularkey, so that word always weirds me out).

Watching Spring Training, I’d rue the day we ever set Russell Martin free to the Yankees. And then the 2012 regular season rolled around.

Did anyone in their right minds have A.J. Ellis as one of the best all-around catchers in baseball? If you said “Yes” just now, you are an evil and a heathen and you shall burn in Hellllllllsinki.

Yikes, that was harsh. I hear it’s cold there.

Anyway, as of the day this post is published (I say it that way, because technically I’m FINISHING it on Tuesday, May 22nd. Shhhhhh. But it’s posted as May 20th. Shut up.), Ellis is hitting .321 with a .446 on-base percentage.

Those numbers are good for third and first, respectively, among a loaded class of National League catchers. And the OBP isn’t even remotely close. We Dodger fans have gotten used to Ellis getting on base, one way or another. And he’s a major reason why we are holding the best record in baseball.

Having your number seven hitter getting on base nearly half the time he comes to the plate is an invaluable tool to a successful lineup. It’s a luxury most teams can’t claim, and never will. And despite the gaudy offensive numbers, and the fact that he has almost flawlessly handled the second-best pitching staff in the Majors…nobody knows who the hell A.J. is.

And we’ve all seen it a million times; that’s going to extend to the All-Star voting. With names like Yadier Molina, Brian McCann and Buster Posey, along with breakout seasons from Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Lucroy, finding a spot on the National League team would be tough for Ellis.

But he absolutely deserves to go. And not in the “please let him in, he’s such a nice guy and he really wants it” type of way. He has played his way into a backup role on that team, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better role player to have on a squad that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

I’ll tell you what – as a Dodger fan, with my team now a legitimate postseason threat, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with Ellis pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of a tie game in the All-Star Game with that home-field advantage on the line than McCann of the Braves and his .254 average.

But history and popularity says, McCann will be in Kansas City in July. Ellis will be at home, enjoying his days off.

Here’s my take on it:

Based on all-around game, Molina is the hands-down starter for the National League. He’s a four-time Gold Glover and now the best hitting catcher in the league (apologies to Ruiz, who is having a great season, but everyone outside of Philly knows this won’t last). McCann and Posey are the big names who should be left out because, though they are having solid seasons, have not been as good all-around as the other four. If three catchers go to the All-Star Game on the N.L. roster, I’m left with Molina, backed up by Ruiz, then Ellis.

If it’s two, I’m torn. Props to Lucroy for stepping up this season, but your 7-RBI game skews the power stats a bit. And you can’t handle the glove as well as my man A.J. While I’d love to see Ruiz earn that All-Star bid, how are you going to ignore a guy who has such a high OBP?

While it’s an unloved stat still, getting on base is the most important part of an offense. Here’s a simple formula for all you math duds out there like me: get on base, move to the next base, score more runs than the other team. That’s the basic idea behind baseball, and nobody is doing it better this year than Ellis.

I know this is a big ol’ waste of time, considering it’s going to be Molina, McCann and Posey in the All-Star Game. But these things must be blogged about, even if just so my poor little head doesn’t explode all over my laptop’s screen.

Just keep the numbers in mind when voting, and cast your vote for the Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis for the 2012 All-Star Game! Our team’s World Series home field depends on it!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman

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Busch, Bryce and Beer Pong

April 28, 2012

I just got back from my first trip ever to Busch Stadium, courtesy of my lovely girlfriend (@KelseyShea11). The Cardinals pulled out a 7-3 win over the rival Milwaukee Brewers in a day filled with home runs, sunshine and lots of Game 6 replays.

St. Louis is doing a good job trying to prove to me why it’s known as Baseball Heaven. The fans clearly are in LOVE with their Cardinals, and the stadium and atmosphere were really fantastic. One of the better ones I’ve been to. It didn’t hurt that we sat 14 rows behind the first base line, just off from the home team’s dugout.

Kelsey’s boy Yadi Molina went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, and David Freese hit a solo shot on his birthday. One of my favorite things on the day was seeing Molina get his Gold Glove award presented to him before the game started. There is no better defensive catcher in baseball right now.

Speaking of baseball, there’s a tiny little story developing in Los Angeles. It’s just this little, baby, teensy-weensy story about some dude named Bryce Harper making his Major League debut for the Washington Nationals against my Dodgers tonight. How will he fare? I don’t know.

But I hope, as a Dodger fan and hater of douchebags (yes, Harper is one), that he goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and misses so badly on one of them that he falls to his ass in the batter’s box. That’s what he gets for rooting for (yes, this is true…Google it) the Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys and Duke. *RAGE*

Thanks for reading…now leave me alone, I have to beat Kelsey’s family at beer pong with her. Ciao.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman!

Hating on Haters, Statistical Style

April 22, 2012

Through 16 games, my Dodgers are looking pretty sexy. A mark of 12-4 is very impressive, and it is tied for the second best record in the Majors, behind the two-time defending A.L. champion Texas Rangers and their terrifying offensive juggernaut.

Even better, is sole possession of first place in the N.L. West and a 3.5 game lead this early in the season. However, haters gonna hate, so I’m here to dispel a couple of rumors. Namely, the argument against their success regarding strength of schedule.

So the sixteen opponents have lined up as follows:

– Seven against the San Diego Padres (last place in the N.L. West; Dodgers are 6-1)

– Three against the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-9 record; Dodgers are 3-0)

– Three against the Houston Astros (somewhere in the clusterfreak of N.L. Central teams; Dodgers are 2-1)

– Three against the Milwaukee Brewers (defending N.L. Central champions; Dodgers are 1-2)

Obviously, the Padres, Pirates and Astros aren’t necessarily tearing it up this year. I do fully expect the Pirates to challenge for their first winning season in a million years, but right now their offense couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn…or anything within a mile of said barn.

And the Brew Crew, though still a playoff-caliber team in the N.L., lost the heart and soul to free agency when Prince Fielder signed a mega-deal with Detroit this offseason. Does anything still think Ryan Braun was as good as advertised now that Fielder isn’t protecting him? Or deserving of an MVP award last year? Please refrain from steroid jokes. Just kidding, go right ahead.

So, granted, in the long haul these are four teams that are either at or below .500 probably. And in Milwaukee’s case, maybe an 85-win season is in order, but that’s not exceptional. You could say the Dodgers won’t have a true test until Atlanta and Washington, the next two series on their radar.

I’m not going to speculate, but the offense and the pitching the Dodgers have presented thus far in 2012 should stand up to both those teams – they will be fantastic contests.

What I CAN do, is talk about what’s already happened. People will look at the schedule so far and say two things: One, you haven’t played anyone. To that, I wonder about their sanity. Clearly we’ve played someone. If we had played nobody, the record would be 0-0. Okay, annoying logic aside, good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat. You think the Yankees got to where they are by just beating up on the bad teams a lot and then coasting into the playoffs? No. They took care of business no matter the opponent.

Secondly, haters gonna hate by saying the only good team we’ve played so far (Milwaukee), beat us two out of three. Wall hateraders, you obviously didn’t watch that series. Clayton Kershaw didn’t pitch, yet Milwaukee had two of their aces (Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke) pitch games one and two. We lost those two. On walk-offs. By one run.

We were up in both games, but James Loney ran into a couple rally-killing outs on the base paths in the first game, and errors and walks on defense ruined game two. We beat ourselves. The record indicates a 2-1 series loss. If you ask me, the Dodgers won 25 of the 27 innings in that series. I’ll count that as a win, and expect the bullpen to shore up for next time we play.

So. Your team isn’t 12-4. I get it. You’re jealous. If the Dodgers get spanked in the next two series, I’ll give what the haters are saying a second thought. But for now, I’m not going to apologize for a team that is beating the shit out of the lesser teams, and looking damn good doing it.

Until tomorrow, enjoy last place, go Dodgers, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman! Thanks for reading.

Aces Wild

April 12, 2012

Let’s match the ERA’s to the aces through the first week of the 2012 season:

Matt Cain – 7.50

Tim Lincecum – 12.91

C.C. Sabathia – 6.75

Yovani Gallardo – 5.91

Zack Greinke – 6.75

Josh Johnson – 8.38

Dan Haren – 6.97

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???

I know it’s early, but my goodness those are some crooked numbers. My fantasy team got hit especially hard yesterday, when Sabathia, Lincecum and Johnson all got absolutely rocked in their respective starts.

Well, who’s for real? Who is going to bounce back and who is in trouble? I’ll tell you…NOW!

First of all, let’s be realistic. These guys are aces for a reason – there are four Cy Young awards spread throughout that group and a whole bunch of pretty stats. So they will all bounce back. But only to a degree. Here goes nothin’:

1. Matt Cain, Giants

The Giants made Cain a very, very rich man recently. How does he go out and reward them? By posting a hefty 7.50 ERA in his first start. Well, let me point a couple things out. Cain was throwing on the road against a red-hot Diamondbacks offense. Not to mention, I watched that game and it was really just a couple bad innings. He looked pretty solid for most of the game, but the hits kept piling up when he was missing location in a couple innings. Cain will be just fine.Panic Level 1-10 (10 is high):3

2. Tim Lincecum, Giants

The Freak is a huge reason why the Giants are floundering in last place early in the season. When Barry Zito (CG, 0 R, 4 H vs. Rockies) is your most reliable pitcher, things need to change. And quickly. Lincecum’s double-digit ERA is especially frightening, because he’s looked awful in his two starts. He’s lost velocity on his fastball, the breaking balls aren’t biting, and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn consistently. This is the second year in a row Lincecum’s velocity has dropped. Panic Level: 7

3. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees

I picked C.C. as my pre-season Cy Young favorite in the American League, so the big boy has a lot more than just his stats to worry about. I mean, would you want this human bicep coming at you?! Stop laughing…anyway, Sabathia’s 6.75 ERA is frightening. He’s getting on in age, and his last start was against the Baltimore Orioles. Sure, they have a penchant for big offensive outputs, but it’s still a last-place team that was ripping C.C. apart. Panic Level: 5

4. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

Gallardo got absolutely torched by the Pujols-less Cardinals at the Milwaukee home opener last week. He allowed four home runs. In one inning. It was just stupid. Gallardo has a tendency to be very inconsistent. His stuff is some of the dirtiest in the game if he can get it over the plate. But when he starts hanging breaking balls like he was against St. Louis, the Brewers are in for a world of hurt. I’m calling this early-season struggles, rather than a decline in talent. Panic Level: 4

5. Zack Greinke, Brewers

Has the rest of baseball figured Greinke out? Aside from his Cy Young year in Kansas City, Greinke hasn’t been THAT good. He’s similar to Gallardo, where his stuff is dirty, but he needs to consistently get it over the plate. If both these guys struggle in 2012, the Brewers are in for a very long season. I think Greinke will bounce back to have respectable numbers, but he’s never going to return to the award-winning form we’re accustomed to. Panic Level: 5

6. Josh Johnson, Marlins

Okay, Johnson worries me. He got shelled by the oft-injured Phillies lineup yesterday, and got touched up for a few runs by the Cardinals on Opening Day. It’s not his abilities that have me wary – it’s the fact that he’s coming off an arm injury. Is he fully healthy? I hate to speculate, but this is so out of character for the young righty, that I think something must still be bothering him. Panic Level: 8

7. Dan Haren, Angels

The Angels have been struggling big time, despite their big free-agent transactions this winter. It’s partly due to an offense that is still struggling to find its identity. But Haren isn’t helping matters either. He only allowed three runs to the Twins in his last start, but got hit hard against the Royals in his first. I’m not worried about Haren yet. He’s still got a 12:2 K-to-BB ratio, and is always solid. Give him another start or two before the panic meter rises. Panic Level: 2

There you have it! Comment below and let me know who I missed or who has a level that’s terribly skewed. Follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman!

Three Up, Three Down Premieres Tonight!

March 4, 2012

Hello fellow baseball lovers! Today is a big day! Because later this evening, myself and five other MLB Fan Cave candidates who didn’t quite make the cut are recording our inaugural podcast episode of Three Up, Three Down!

Each one of us represents one of the divisions. I’m a Dodger fan, so I’ll be the NL West extraordinaire. And my lovely co-hosts will be:

Kurt Peter (affectionately known as KP) – Brewers/NL Central

Bryan Mapes (surname only, please) – Braves/NL East

Brian Boynton (responds to Brian and RangerfanBrian) – Rangers/AL West

Angelo Fileccia (or Godfather, if you will) – Tigers/AL Central

Abby Mollenhauer (AbbyMo we want some Mo we want some Mo!) – Yankees/AL East

And while we won’t have Denzel as a guest quite yet, I’m not going to completely shut out that possibility. Because when you put six motivated, knowledgeable and passionate baseball fans into one podcast all about America’s pasttime…impossible is nothing.

Our podcast is going to be epic, there is no question about that. And tonight will be the first step towards glory – just stay tuned for updates on where you can listen to it. And when you become mesmerized by our collective genius, put 3u3d on your calendar for every week.

The basic format, as it stands now, is that we will each take time to discuss the biggest stories from our respective divisions. Then the entire group will jump into a more general baseball discussion. And don’t worry, the Three Up, Three Down moniker has a purpose (and an awesome logo, being revealed soon). We will also work in a segment with three hot hitters/three cold hitters, three fantasy pick ups/three fantasy drops, etc.

For now, you can take my word that this podcast is going to rock. And what can you do, other than tune in and listen? How about following @3u3d on Twitter to get all the updates you’ll ever need? Or maybe like the 3u3d Facebook page!

And did you notice how I linked in the six hosts’ Twitter handles up there? Now would be a good time to click, follow and love us. Baseball season is in full swing (puns aplenty, just wait until we’re on the airwaves), and with it comes a gritty, funny, informative podcast about the sport we all love.

I’m excited. You should be too. Remember to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and to LISTEN to the first episode, set to debut for your auditory pleasure in the next 48 hours.

National Treasure

March 1, 2012

I hate myself for that title. Cool movie, but anything with Nicolas Cage in it is going to piss me off. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the actual film. This is more a matter of sports, as a post of mine should be. If you missed it, I’ve already locked in my predictions for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. This isn’t what I think will happen, this IS what will happen. Wait and see.

My boldest prediction is that the annual N.L. East doormats in D.C. are going to win the division this year, after getting healthy and stacking their rotation with the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson this winter. Call me crazy, but they are the overall most talented team in the division. Yes, better than the new-look Miami Marlins, the powerhouse Phillies and the consistent Atlanta Braves.

You’ve got to love this offense – young guys at shortstop, second base and catcher that can absolutely rake. They’ve got Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman to beef up the middle of the order, and potential game-changing guys in AAA in Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. And if Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche or Rick Ankiel put it together for a full season…watch out.

So the news today is this: Nationals manager Davey Johnson says ‘Fire me’ if Washington misses the playoffs. And I love it.

Swag is a good thing. You want your players to have confidence on the diamond, why not the guy directing them? And why not say it? First of all, Davey Johnson isn’t getting fired no matter what happens. So it’s an empty offer. But secondly, this team has a legitimate chance to contend.

The fact that these young Nationals are so set on making the playoffs and their manager is so confident in their abilities is setting the table for a special season in the nation’s capital, methinks. Looking at the National League, I see nine serious contenders: Arizona, San Francisco, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Philly, Miami, Atlanta and Washington.

By a mile, the Nats would be the biggest surprise team out of those nine to make the playoffs. But beating four of them should be very do-able for such a talented roster. Their pitching is as good or better than the D’Backs, Reds and Marlins. And their offense definitely matches up or dominates teams like the Giants, Phillies and Brewers.

All I’m saying is this team has the makings of something special in 2012. I think people underestimate how good their rotation will be with Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannan. It’s going to be young and they will have their struggles, but if the Nats aren’t at LEAST in Wild Card contention in the last week of the season, I will be shocked.

And apparently, so will Davey Johnson. Long live the dark horse!

While We’re Young, Wild and Free

February 2, 2012

Well, we can officially put the “Blake Griffin is a God” talk to rest. As I pointed out yesterday, his dunk over Kendrick Perkins was significantly overrated and not even close to one of his ten personal best. Then, some doopster (dude hoopster) laid this beauty down in a college game. And suddenly, rightfully, Griffin is old news.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you finish a dunk.

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen some footage of the Egyptian stampede that took place after a soccer match yesterday. The death toll right now is at 74. I’m sure most people here don’t care because 1) it’s soccer, 2) it’s Egypt, but everyone needs to take notice. The United States essentially explodes from within when a streaker so much as tweets that he or she will storm the Phillies’ outfield.

Real fan violence takes place overseas, where soccer is king and passion falls like rain in Seattle (that’s a LOT, if you’ve never been). Take that into account next time you complain about that meany pants with the spiky face at the Raiders game yelled you suck to your family at the game. And if you go to a soccer game abroad, please be careful.

I finally have some baseball news! First, this. Because it’s the Yankees and they get too much pub to begin with, I’ll just hand you the link and tell you to read the first line and sit back in shock. And then you can think about it and realize how much sense Brian Cashman’s assertion makes. That’s all.

But even cooler, we have a Nyjer Morgan sighting! If you don’t like Nyjer, you must be either a commie or a Cardinals fan. But T-Plush is as bad ass a ballplayer as you’ll ever see. He’s the T.O. of baseball, minus the baby mama drama. So get a load of this guy taking on another sport! I love it.

Lastly, I have some punishment to dole out. Let me explain first. I have a raging bromance with Aldon Smith. He single-handedly gave me hope that the 49ers’ pass rush has a prayer in the next few years of returning to form. By the way, what’s the female version of bromance? I suggested homance and heavy flowmance, but my female friends didn’t take kindly to it. If you’re willing to risk public verbal flogging, comment below and tell me what the answer to that timeless question is.

Oh, right. Back to Aldon. He got a DUI the other day. The kid is barely old enough to drink. And as one of his fans, I wish I could just tell him this and let him walk. But he needs to be docked some serious pay by the NFL and a timeout from Coach Harbaugh. If he can make Alex Smith a respectable NFL quarterback, I’m sure he can help crank a few common sense life lessons through the younger Smith’s dense skull.

And it wouldn’t be Thursday without my P.T.Z.D.I.T.H.W.A! (Same title, but shorter. Whatever, just look.)


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