Monday, April 21, 2008

JS Beat Writer chat

Okay, here's the plan. I like answering the questions people write in on my own instead of the usual negativity of the JS writers. In all fairness to Witrado, he doesn't seem to be as much of a downer as the "Prince of Darkness." So away we go...

April 21 mailbag

Q: Jason of Milwaukee - Did Dave Bush help his cause in St. Louis?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Probably. And now, with the Ben Sheets situation, Bush will probably get another start this week.

More importantly, he didn't do anything to lose his spot, albeit temporary.


Q: Steve Schmidt of Marshfield, WI - IF the Brewers were to make a managerial move, would they promote from within or look outside of the organization?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Why, are you expecting a managerial move? I'm not.

Simmons, Ted.


Q: Josh of Minneapolis - How is Gabe Kapler doing, can he play again this week?

A: Brewers Mailbag - I think Kapler is probably ready to play again.

If the opposing starting pitcher threw with his left hand, he'd have been playing. He's pinch hit several times now already. Yost is playing the platoon splits.


Q: Jeff of Spring Valley - Is there concern over the lack of righty/lefty balance in the Brewers order?? I see very few teams with 7 out of 8 regulars hitting right handed. Seems like an easy bullpen matchup for other teams to plan around getting Fielder out. Can the Brewers be successful with only one regular leftie in the lineup??

A: Brewers Mailbag - I expect righties to be much tougher on the Brewers than lefties. At present, I believe they are 5-0 against left-handed starters and 6-7 vs. righties.

Didn't really answer the question. Yes, the Brewers do well against lefties. But I think if the righties can start to take more pitches via better pitch selection, they'll be in better position to succeed versus righties.


Q: Josh of Minneapolis - Assuming Gwynn and Kapler have returned to health two weeks from now when Cameron comes back, how confident are you the Gross is the odd man out? Do you think there is any chance Gross gets waived when Gallardo comes back so the club can buy more time to make a pitching decision?

A: Brewers Mailbag - When Cameron joins the team, you'd have to assume that either Gross or Gwynn are headed out. Gwynn has an option. Gross does not. So, it comes down to whether the Brewers want to chance Gross clearing waivers.

I'll guarantee Gross doesn't clear waivers. Savvy teams like the A's & Red Sox have already kicked the tires on him this winter. Gross has not been hitting into much luck lately, and with Gwynn having an option, it's a no brainer.


Q: Harry Balczak of Stevens Point - I've always wondered what the Brewers do with the roof at Miller Park when they are on a road trip. Do they open it and let the rainfall water the grass and let the sun in when it is nice? In the winter is it closed all the time? And how soon will they just save time and money and put in Field Turf?

A: Brewers Mailbag - The Miller Park roof is left open when the team is on the road to allow for sun, rain, etc. Many times over the winter, it's also left open. I haven't heard any talk of Field Turf but you never knmow.

Field turf within five years. I don't like the idea of it, but with the hassle of getting the field ready to begin each season, the idea has to atleast be considered.


Q: Pat of Brookfield - Is there a golden rule that only the pitcher can bunt in the first 6 or 7 innings of a game? With runners on first and second with no one out, why not sacrifice an out to move the runners up. The first game at St. Louis Bill Hall grounded into 2 double playes and struckout once with runners on first and second with no one out. Now our road record last year was horrendous and we are on the road playing the team leading the division. If Billy Hall bunts we have Corey Hart up, our hottest hitter at the time with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Bruan wasn't in the lineup that night, and lets get some runs on the board especially on the road. To me its a no brainer!! I can see not bunting Braun and Fielder but anyone other than that should be sacrificing? What do you think of Yost's philosophy on this. Thanks

A: Brewers Mailbag - It depends on what kind of a bunter the player is. Bill Hall had only one sacrifice bunt all of last season.

Why give away outs? Sacrafices give away outs. Never a good idea.


Q: Keith Niemuth of Neenah - Why not bat Hart second instead of Gross who bats like Sheets this year?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Hart bats fifth to protect Fielder and be there for RBI chances. He batted fifth much of last season and did quite well there.

Hardy's a good choice, too.


Q: Dane Gabrielson of Black River Falls - Will Derrick turnbow finish the season with the brewers or will he be sent down to the minors. Also will this be his last year in milwaukee.

A: Brewers Mailbag - Turnbow isn't being used now with games on the line. I don't know how much longer the Brewers can carry a pitcher they don't trust.

Not sure, but they've had room for Chris Spurling, Greg Aquino, Matt Wise last year. Turnbow won't clear waivers, so he won't be sent down. He'll either be released (very unlikely) or traded for pennies on the dollar (50/50 chance).


Q: Vince of Oak Forest - With the season being so early, it's probably hard for both of you to understand why some Brewers fans are upset with some of the losses the Brewers experience. The point is that Brewers have been living under "Murphy's Laws" since 1983, so when bad things happen, not making the playoffs again really does seem inevitable. My question (finally) is are there areas of the team that clearly seem better than last year?

A: Brewers Mailbag - The Brewers made one error on their just-completed nine-game trip. They rank near the top of the NL in defense. Believe me, that's a huge improvement.

Not to mention leading the league in "hitting with RISP."


Q: Joel of Chicago (5 blocks from Wrigley...) - Hi Tom, Do you see us trying to move one of our extra outfielders before Cameron comes back? If so, what do you see as our needs? Thanks, and Go Brewers, Joel

A: Brewers Mailbag - When Cameron joins the club, I don't see the need for Kapler, Gwynn and Gross on the club. It'll be interesting to see who goes.

Gwynn goes to minors for depth purposes. Not too much else in the cupboard in AAA. Nix isn't much to write home about. Irribaren is still learing on the job in CF.


Q: Michael of Shorewood,WI - Is there any justification at all for taking either Manny Parra or Carlos Villanueva out of the rotation in favor of keeping Dave Bush in it? Bush may have had a few seasons with a .500 record (albeit an ERA above 4) but it's as simple as this... Brewers are 8-6 overall. 0-3 when Bush pitches. The Brewers can't afford to pencil in a loss every 5th day because Bush has "history on his side" as Ned says.

A: Brewers Mailbag - Yost and Maddux like Bush, therefore he gets a longer leash. He did win 12 games in 2006 and 2007 in the back of the rotation.

Pitchers that can log 200+ innings are valuable. You don't just banish them to the bullpen after 3 mediocre starts. You can't also plan on having Parra & CV go over 200+ innings this season either. You need to monitor their innings & pitch counts more than you do Booshy.


Q: Paul Johnson of Dubuque - How long before the Brewers fire New Yost? This season is looking like a repeat of the previous seasons-----time for a change.

A: Brewers Mailbag - Yeah, the manager is doing a terrible job. The team is 11-7 despite most of the key hitters struggling, and some of the starting pitchers as well. Got to be the manager's fault. Sheesh.

He hasn't done that horrible. He's made a few questionable moves with the bullpen of late w/Gagne going 4 games in a row and warming for a 5th, plus using Turnbow in a high leverage situation when he hasn't pitched in a meaningful game all year while on a 14 man staff. But he's done well with lineup construction so far.


Q: Mark of Kimberly - Is Gabe Gross the worst major leaguer you have ever seen?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Perhaps you have forgotten Enrique Cruz. Or Chris Barnwell. Or... Let's just say this: no.

Chad Moeller? Raul Casanova? Mark, you are not a wise person. Hey, Matt Wise?!


Q: badgermitt of Mequon - It is early and we should not panic. It is a long season. ok, I said it 5 times fast. It seems like the same ol' Brewers, starters not getting 6 innings and no timely hitting.

A: Brewers Mailbag - And yet the team is 11-7. Not too shabby.

The starters ARE going 6-7 innings. And the team is getting timely hitting. Leading the league in "avg w/risp."


Q: Zachary of Chicago - Will you please tell Yost to get a clue and get GABE GROSS OUT OF THE LINEUP?!?!?! Why isn't Kapler starting and why has he all of a sudden decided to make all these minor adjustments to the starters that aren't paying off?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Kapler has been injured. That's why he hasn't been starting.

I think Zachary would like see Kapler swing the bat w/one hand over Gross at this point.


Q: Fearful of Janesville - It seems to me these guys need a kick on the pants to get going. It seems Ned Yost either won't or doesn't know how to energize this team. I get this awful feeling that he's becoming a "Players Coach". Also, when pitching is such a scarce commodity, how is it that the Brewers felt they should release Claudio Vargas(23-16 last two years) and retain the likes of Turnbow and McClung? Your thoughts.

A: Brewers Mailbag - The Brewers liked the starters they kept more than Vargas, who had a $3.6 million contract. If he was such a great pitcher, why wasn't he immediately snapped up by a big-league team. Instead, it took him two weeks to get a minor-league deal with the Mets.

Good answer. W/L stat is the end all/be all stat to judge talent on: note to self...


Q: Andy of Chicago - Tom/Anthony, I've heard that Ned Yost is quite the fan of coffee. As a coffee connoisseur myself, I'm curious as to the type of coffee he drinks, and how many cups per day he usually downs. Thanks guys and keep up the good work!

A: Brewers Mailbag - I know he frequents Starbucks quite often. Not sure what he's got in the pot in his office. I'd say he drinks around 12 cups a day. And that might be a conservative estimate.

3 dozen cups, my guess. And that's on an off day.


Q: T. Jones of Oconomowoc - Did Tony Gwynn Jr. sleep with Yost's daughter? Why are we not giving this kid a fair shake? I understand he got hurt this year. Last year he was hitting over .300 and was sent down and this year he comes off the DL to be sent down again. Coming back cold can't be any worse than Gross.

A: Brewers Mailbag - Perhaps you didn't hear the news that he injured his hamstring.

Yost has a daughter? Is he supposed to play over Cameron next week too? The kid has absolutely no power to speak of, that's why he doesn't get a fair shake.


Q: Walt Kaufmann of Mequon - For Tom: Why has nothing been said over the years about Gary Sheffield's time with The Brewers. As a Brewer; he admitted purposly booting balls during actual games just so he could rid himself of being in Milwaukee. Isn't that the same as cheating or as bad as gambling or taking a banned substance? Nobody says boo about that situation and his play actually could have affected the outcome of those games. It really steams me off. Where are his ethics and why hasn't Major League Baseball done anything?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Gary Sheffield hasn't played with the Brewers since 1991, so I wouldn't call it a timely subject. Plus, he later recanted and said he didn't make errors on purpose. You have to realize that Sheffield says a lot of stuff. A lot.

Seriously?!?! Wow... Walt, it was **17** years ago! Let it go buddy.



A: Brewers Mailbag - I'd make the trade, merely because Roberts is productive now and Weeks has yet to be consistent. That's assuming you want to win right now. Weeks would have the higher ceiling in the long-term.

Jesus... these are your beat writers hard at work. So, how much salary does Brian Roberts make? Oh, right. The only thing Roberts does better than Weeks is play defense. Weeks has more power by far. They both get on base. They both steal bases.


Q: Jeff Reseburg of Sheboygan - My wife thinks the Brewers should shell out big money for Ben Sheets to stick around. Given his mediocre win/loss record, and his being prone to injury, how could she feel that way?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Sometimes, it's hard to figure out wives. And they'll say the same about husbands. That's why divorce lawyers do such good business.

Heh, good one. The Crew are damned if they sign him, and damned if they don't. They can't win on this one.


Q: Wil of Las Vegas from Kenosha - Hi! Thanks for adding this feature! My question is: Why doesn't Corey Hart bat leadoff with Weeks dropping to 6th or 7th in the order? Didn't Corey bat lead-off for awhile last year and do well? With Corey's baserunning acumen and better on-base %, it would seem like a no-brainer and maybe jump-start the offense. Your thoughts?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Hart is a nice run-producer in the No. 5 spot. He was very successful there last year.

Too bad the entire lineup couldn't be made up of Corey Harts... sigh.


Q: Maurice of Milwaukee - Hi i'm a african American who is a big Brewers fan? So here my question With six picks in the first two rouds what positions/Pitchers you think they will look at ?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Wow, it's way to early to project that stuff right now. They don't even get their first pick until No. 16, I believe. The draft board doesn't firm up until the final days before the draft. Check back then.

Hooked on Phonics worked for me. Me no understand Ebonics. Yeesh. They'll hopefully go w/the 'best player available' route as long as they are deemed signable.


Q: Greg of Racine - The disparity between the Brewers home & road records last year was ridiculous. Did they play over their heads at home? Was there a reason for being sluggish on the road? Are the Brewers changing anything in their road regimine to improve this year?

A: Brewers Mailbag - There's no rhyme or reason to any of that. They did acquire some veteran players, who perhaps can be a stabilizing influence. They're off to a better start on the road this year.

I will crap my pants when they sweep a team on the road this year. Haven't done so since 2004.


Q: Trevor Smith of La Crosse, WI - Hi Tom, A few times I have heard both the radio and tv crews comment on Jason Kendall and his overall better handling of pitchers, than they were last year. Are these comments referring to Johnny Estrada or Damian Miller? Thank you!

A: Brewers Mailbag - Estrada did most of the catching, so I'll let you figure that one out.


Q: Joe of Combined Locks - The Brewers homegrown players seem to be poor at bunting. How much emphasis does bunting (especially for pitchers) get in our minor and major league system?

A: Brewers Mailbag - Everybody works on bunting about the same. I don't think many players are proficient at it, for whatever reason. You'd think the pitchers would be way better at it than they are.

Well, pitchers don't start to hit in games until they reach AA, for starters. Also, bunting is a lost art because when you're in the minors, you really aren't there to bunt. Every single one of these major leagures were run producers in the minors and weren't really looked to for bunting.


Q: Ardena Sering of Wisconsin Rapids - Did Gabe Kapler receive any good natured ribbing for stupidly running in the outfield wall during B.P. ? I sure hope that he did.

A: Brewers Mailbag - I'm sure he heard about it. You don't see many guys get injured in that fashion.


Q: rick smith of lynchburg va. - among these starters ; which is most likely not to be the opening day starter in 2009 hardy weeks hall hart and why do you think your choice will happen thanks

A: Brewers Mailbag - I would think all of those players would be starters in 2009. But Weeks needs to get going.


Q: Brewer Fever of Hartford - Has anyone in the Brewers organization raised the idea to Rickie Weeks that he scrap that bat waggle timing mechanism and go back to the swing he used in college where he won the NCAA batting title? It wouldn't hurt his eye at the plate, and he might even sprinkle in a few more base hits. It just seems odd to abandon what worked and stick so long with an approach that has him below the mendoza line.

A: Brewers Mailbag - I haven't heard anybody mention that he stop it. But he needs to figure out something that makes him more consistent.


Q: Keith of Tampa - It's obvious that Gagne is a $10 million mistake...and Weeks is gonna see .100 before he sees .200. How 'bout they both go to Music City for awhile and see if they can achieve success at the AAA level, as it is obvious they can't at the MLB level

A: Brewers Mailbag - Do you really think the Brewers would try to send Gagne to the minors?

I want you as the GM, Keith.



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