Showing posts with label Ryan Braun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ryan Braun. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Miserable first inning typical of White Sox malaise

This isn't a newsflash, but the White Sox stink on the road.

Sure, they had a nice 4-2 homestand, taking two out of three from both the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds, but it's naive to think the Sox's early-season struggles are over until they can resemble a major league team while playing away from the comfortable environs of U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox fell to 2-12 on the road Monday with a 10-7 loss to the NL Central cellar-dwelling Milwaukee Brewers, and the South Siders wasted no time reminding fans just how bad a team they are. The first inning of this game was disgraceful.  Let's take a moment to review the sad timeline:
  • Milwaukee leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra hit a grounder toward second baseman Micah Johnson, whose lame attempt to backhand the ball was a failure. The ball deflected off Johnson's glove for a "single." The play should have been made. It was not.
  • Parra successfully stole second base, and catcher Geovany Soto's throw was nowhere near the bag. Parra had a good enough jump that he probably would have been safe regardless, but Soto still looked like a fool with his lame toss.
  • Ryan Braun, the second Milwaukee hitter of the game, hit a weak grounder to shortstop that Alexei Ramirez kicked for an error. The play should have been made. It was not. Runners on first and third, no outs.
  • Adam Lind, the third Milwaukee hitter of the game, hit what should have been a double-play ball to Johnson, who was too slow to field it and too slow to get the ball to Ramirez. The Sox did force Braun out at second base, but Lind was needlessly safe at first. The play should have been made. It was not.
  • Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija hangs a slider to Milwaukee cleanup hitter Carlos Gomez, who homers to put the Brewers up 3-0.
Amazing, isn't it? Four batters into the first inning, and the Sox had already made a handful of glaring miscues. Is it any wonder this team is 12-17?

Samardzija eventually dug the team a 6-0 hole, and to the Sox's credit, they did battle back against inferior Milwaukee pitching to tie the game at 7-7 in the eighth inning.

Alas, reliever Zach Duke had his first bad outing of the year. He gave up three runs, including home runs by Elian Herrera and Khris Davis, in the bottom of the eighth inning. That Milwaukee rally sealed the Sox's fate. It was a fate they deserved after another night on the road of pitiful defense and subpar starting pitching.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Does Matt Garza make the Brewers a contender?

The short answer is: probably not.

So why was it worthwhile for Milwaukee to add pitcher Matt Garza with a four-year, $50 million contract?

The Brewers are coming off a poor 74-88 season that saw them finish ahead of only the Cubs in the NL Central Division. It was their worst finish in nearly a decade.

Besides the exodus of stars from Milwaukee since going 96-66 and winning a division two years ago -- Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke were both part of that postseason team -- the Brewers were bit by just about every kind of misfortune last year.

Star third baseman Aramis Ramirez was hurt. Longtime pitching stalwart Yovani Gallardo imploded. Closer John Axford never regained his form. Left fielder Ryan Braun was suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Second baseman Rickie Weeks forgot how to hit, and after improving with his glove through the middle portion of his career, saw his defense continue to nosedive as it has since 2012. After a torrid first half last year, shortstop Jean Segura was awful in the second half. More injuries forced Milwaukee to go through first basemen faster than Spinal Tap went through drummers, including guys like Alex Gonzalez (!), Juan Francisco (!!) and Yuniesky Betancourt (!!!).

That's a long list, and the Brewers certainly have more areas that could use some fixing up. At least you would think they'd have signed a free agent before January.

Here's the thing: The Brewers might not need to add that many more pieces to improve over last year. They still have good players in center field (Carlos Gomez) and at catcher (Jonathan Lucroy), and a steady, if not spectacular, starting pitcher in Kyle Lohse.

Even if minor additions Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay make an awful platoon at first base, they'd be hard pressed to be worse than what was out there last year.

There's the hope that Segura makes adjustments and is better his second full season as a starter. Plus there's optimism younger players like Khris Davis can hit well in a corner outfield spot, while starting pitchers Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg can either improve or build on last year's work. Maybe Gallardo works out his struggles, too.

A mostly healthy Ramirez could boost them at third base. Ryan Braun just playing, even if he's never as good as what might have been his PED-lifted peak, will help the offense. If Weeks has just lost too much bat speed to ever be useful again, Milwaukee has an option in Scooter Gennett, who probably hit over his head last year (.324/.356/.479), but could be passable at second base.

If all of those things happen for the Brewers, that's not a shabby team. Maybe one that can contend in the NL Central, where nobody made any big upgrade, and where the Reds and Pirates might fall back to earth a little bit.

Granted, things rarely always go your way in baseball. So expecting the best-case scenario across the board is probably foolish.

Still, the Brewers can't dismiss their need for another pitcher, or the fact that the guy they signed came at a decent price, or that Garza might be a key piece for a team that could rebound from a disappointing year.

After how long it took Milwaukee to return to respectability this last decade, their winning season in 2007 being its first in 14 years previous, the Brewers should be working to maintain some of that respectability.

The work isn't over, but bringing Garza aboard and paving over a sinkhole at first base are good starts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ryan Braun and a few other random Friday thoughts

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally admitted Thursday that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his 2011 MVP season.

Apologies from disgraced athletes are nothing new, and I can't say I have anything to offer on the matter that hasn't already been written dozens of times before.

But you know who owes me an apology? The idiot Brewers fans who sat behind me at U.S. Cellular Field on June 23, 2012. Not that Braun could hear me, but I yelled insults at him and booed him the entire game as the White Sox defeated Milwaukee, 8-6, that night.

These Brewers fans seemed offended by my conduct, and on multiple occasions made snide remarks toward me and claimed that Braun "was right" for appealing his positive drug test after the 2011 season. Ha ha, whatever.

I guess some fans will defend the indefensible when it comes to players on their own teams. I think we all should be smarter than that. No matter which team is your favorite, understand that at some point you have cheered for a player that was using performance-enhancing drugs. That's just the sad reality we live in as baseball fans.

Six straight saves for Addison Reed

They say you can't win 'em all. Well, you can't lose 'em all either, and over 162 games, even struggling teams will have a winning streak at some point.

That where the White Sox are right now. They aren't very good, but they have won six games in a row after defeating the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in 12 innings Thursday night.

In an unusual twist, closer Addison Reed has earned a save in each of those six victories. The Sox did have an off day on Monday, so Reed has not pitched six consecutive days. Still, it's fairly remarkable to pitch six out of seven days and be effective every time.

The last closer to save six consecutive games for his team? Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.

Reed has been a bright spot in a dismal season for the Sox. He has 34 saves and five wins, meaning he has played a role in 75 percent of the Sox' 52 victories this year. He'd get my vote for team MVP.

Mike Olt is playing really bad

Coming into the 2013 season, third baseman Mike Olt was the second-ranked prospect in the Texas Rangers system. I don't think he'll be rated so highly going into 2014.

Olt has hit just .185 at Triple-A this year, and the Rangers gave up on him, sending him to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. The Cubs could use some help at third base -- journeyman Donnie Murphy has been getting playing time at that position recently.

I think when the Cubs acquired Olt, they had designs on calling him up in September for a late-season look at the hot corner. Doesn't look like that would be wise.

Olt has played 28 games at Triple-A Iowa since joining the Cubs organization. He has gone 12-for-99 with two home runs and four RBIs. That would be a .121 batting average, to go along with a .194 on-base percentage and .222 slugging percentage.