Friday, April 25, 2008

Gabe Kapler piece

Welcome Back Gabe Kapler
Monday, April 14, 2008, 7:42:10 AM | by Dave Cameron

Hey all. My name is David Cameron, and I’m thrilled to have been invited by David Appelman to join in the great work he’s been doing here at FanGraphs. You may have read some things I’ve written elsewhere, either at USSMariner, The Hardball Times, or Baseball Prospectus. I’m excited to be here, not only because the data that David has made available has been a huge asset to fans and researchers alike, but also because I look forward to seeing how we can explore the information available here, create some unique commentary, and build a community that rivals the quality of the knowledge found on this site. I’ll be hanging out in the comment threads regularly, so feel free to ask any questions or make comments there, and we’ll get the discussion started.

For my first post here, I wanted to take a look at what has to be the most exceptional story 2008 has brought us so far - the unbelievable return of Gabe Kapler. A year ago, Kapler was the manager of the Greenville Drive, a Red Sox affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League. At 31-years-old, he had retired from his playing career and was beginning a coaching career in the lowest rung of full season minor league baseball. He’d spent the previous few years bouncing between reserve roles and playing in Japan, and after a torn Achilles in 2006, it looked like he would never get a chance to fulfill the promise he showed as a prospect with the Tigers in the 90s.

However, unwilling to let his on field career end prematurely, he declared himself a free agent this winter and landed a contract from the Milwaukee Brewers. With a hole in center field while Mike Cameron serves out his suspension, Kapler has… well, to say he’s made the most of his opportunity would be the understatement of the year. After going 3 for 4 with a couple of doubles and a home run last night, he is now 11 for 26 with two doubles, four home runs, two walks, and a stolen base just for good measure. He leads the majors in batting average and slugging percentage (at .423 and .962 respectively), and his 0.71 WPA/LI ties him with Casey Kotchman, and just behind Albert Pujols, as the fourth best hitter per plate appearance in baseball. Kapler has been the Brewers savior as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder struggle to start the season, and one of the main reasons the Brewers are 8-4 in their first dozen games.

In all likelyhood, this will go down as the best two week stretch of Kapler’s playing career, but it’s two weeks he wouldn’t have experienced had he stayed retired.

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Brian Shouse Analysis

Shouse the Strand-Master
by Eric Seidman - April 18, 2008

Brewers reliever Brian Shouse is a late bloomer. Graduating from Bradley University in 1990 he debuted in the big leagues with the Pirates in 1993 albeit for just six mostly ineffective games. For the better part of the 1993 season up until 2002, Shouse shuffled around farm systems, playing for minor league affiliates of the Pirates, Orioles, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Mets, Astros, and Royals. His only other major league experience came with the Red Sox in 1998 as he struggled in only seven appearances prior to a demotion to Pawtucket.

In 2002, nearly ten years after his major league debut, Shouse found himself appearing in 23 games for the Kansas City Royals. While the numbers were subpar–15 hits, 10 runs, and 9 walks in 14.1 innings—he has been on a major league roster ever since.

He was terrific out of the bullpen for the Rangers in 2003 and 2004, going for 105.1 IP in 115 games; he struck out 74 while walking 32 as well as posting a 3.08 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. After a shaky 2005 and just six games in 2006, Shouse was sent to the Brewers for Enrique Cruz and cash. Since arriving in Milwaukee he has been stellar and consistent out of the bullpen. In 2006 he stranded 42 of 56 inherited runners and allowed his own runs in just 10 of his 59 appearances. His ERA of 3.97 may not come off as flashy but specialist relievers can have their numbers vastly changed with one or two bad appearances; since they are usually only in for one out, giving up one run looks much worse in 0.1 IP as opposed to 1.0 IP. In fact, take away an August 29th outing against the Astros, wherein he surrendered four runs, and Shouse finishes 2006 with a 2.91 ERA for the Brewers, allowing just 25 percent of inherited runners to score.

In 2007, Shouse built on his success the previous season by posting this line: 73 G, 47.2 IP, 46 H, 16 ER, 14 BB, 32 K, 3.02 ERA, 1.26 WHIP. On top of that he he allowed just 18 of 78 inherited runners to score. Those numbers are a little skewed as well because eight of those 18 scored in Shouse’s final five appearances. Up until September 16th Shouse had stranded 58 of the 68 runners he inherited.

This year, Shouse has made eight appearances, allowing just one run and five baserunners in 6.1 innings. He has stranded all 11 inherited baserunners, with a .159 BABIP. Shouse truly makes the best of what he has to work with as he primarily throws a 79-80 mph fastball and a 72 mph slider.

His WPA of 0.34 comes down to a WPA/LI of 0.28 due to his appearances largely coinciding with baserunners allowed by other pitchers. Despite this, Shouse has allowed just 32 of 145 inherited runners to score throughout his Brewers tenure, just 22 percent. In fact, of non-closer relievers with at least 120 games in the span of 2006-2008, Shouse ranks tied for seventh in percentage of inherited runners scored. Not too shabby for a near 40-year old with just about 14 years of minor league experience.

Whether or not this will continue is left to be seen but this 39-yr old lefty who failed to find a secure major league home until the age of 35 is definitely doing all he can to show why he belongs.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Booze Problems in the fine city of San Diego

I remembered reading about an article about beer prices continuing to rise for San Diego Padres games. While I wasn't overly shocked by it - San Diego has quite the expensive lifestyle compared to Milwaukee - I was a little upset by the fact that they're distributing water-down beer!!

I'll post three articles in succession. The first regards the beer prices in San Diego. The second is only a few days old where tests were done showing the beer isn't as strong as it should be. The third is in response to it by the Journal Sentinel.

Ballpark suds'll soak you
Padres' beer prices up 4th straight year, as high as $9

By Michael Stetz

March 29, 2008

The San Diego Padres have some kind of streak going. And it's got nothing to do with playing ball.

The team's organization has raised most beer prices every year since moving downtown to Petco Park in 2004. Opening Day is Monday and guess what: The streak lives on.

Pat Morris of Hillcrest carried a beer and a hot dog to her seat last night at the Padres game at Petco Park. The lowest-priced ballpark beer has risen to $6.50 for a 16-ounce domestic draft.

This season, prices will increase on all beer sold at the stadium, with the most expensive being $9 for premium brands. Last season, they were 50 cents less. The cheapest beer is now $6.50 for a 16-ounce domestic draft, up 75 cents.

All major league ball clubs charge a lot for beer, and all keep a close lid on how much they're making from it. The Padres are no exception, but we did some math of our own.

Information on beer pricing is available through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Local beer distributors post the prices they charge area retailers. The Padres' vendor doesn't receive a discount for buying in bulk. That's against the law.

According to ABC records, a keg of Bud Light costs $76. That keg holds about 1,984 ounces, which produces about 99 20-ounce cups. The Padres charge $8.50 for a 20-ounce cup of Bud Light, meaning a single keg produces as much as $842 in sales.

The local distributor charges about 93 cents for a 12-ounce bottle of Heineken. That bottle, considered a premium brand, sells for $9 at Petco.

Even though Petco Park is partly owned by the city of San Diego, the city receives nothing from concession sales during games. Still, the Padres don't keep all the beer dollars.

The team must pay taxes and the vendor's cut, which the Padres wouldn't disclose. Sports retail experts say teams typically get between 40 cents and 50 cents per dollar on beer sales.

Why do the Padres – who have the final say on prices – charge so much for a simple beer?

The Padres say they're vastly different from a neighborhood bar, given their overhead and the limited dates they're open for business. The team also wants to discourage excessive drinking through higher prices, an executive said.

Not everyone buys that. Spectators in today's ballparks are treated like “captive prisoners,” said Bill Sutton, associate director of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida.

“They're locked up and can't get out,” he said, which gives teams leverage when it comes to pricing their concessions. “It's a crazy mentality.”

Beer prices at Petco are even higher than at the trendy Gaslamp nightclub Stingaree two blocks away.

A pint of beer costs $6 there and beer prices haven't been raised since the club's opening in 2005, said Ali Pouladin, lead bartender. A bottle of domestic beer costs $5.

“That's a lot for a beer,” he said of Petco's prices.

Out of control

Up the road, in Anaheim, the most amazing thing happened five years ago. The Angels actually lowered beer prices. The new owner, Arturo Moreno, thought prices had spun out of control and cut some by up to 20 percent. The Angels still haven't increased the price of a 14-ounce beer at Angel Stadium. It remains $4.50 this season.

The move by the Angels hasn't exactly caught on league-wide, which might seem surprising. Fans loved it. And the Angels say the lower prices haven't resulted in more booze-fueled boorishness.

But the Padres say higher beer prices help maintain a family-friendly environment, which is one of the reasons they're more aggressive in raising those prices instead of others, said Richard Andersen, executive vice president in charge of ballpark management.

“We don't want to do anything to encourage excessive alcohol consumption,” Andersen said. “We want people to have a beer or two if they like. We're not interested in attracting people who want six or eight beers.”

Most concession prices at Petco aren't rising this year, he said. Of the 98 items offered, 57 remain unchanged. Peanuts are still $4.50 a bag. Popcorn is still $4.

The Friar hot dog will cost $4, up 50 cents from last year.

Andersen declined to say how much beer is sold during a Padres season, though the Boston Red Sox reported selling 3.1 million beers in 2004, with an attendance of about 2.8 million. Last year, the Padres attracted about 2.7 million.

Andersen did say the volume has remained pretty much consistent year-to-year, despite the annual cost increases.

The economics of beer works like the economics of everything else, experts say. A price can be set too high, discouraging consumption. Price beer at $30 a bottle and see what happens.

But sports concessions are free of one key element that exists in the open market: competition.

If a number of enterprises were allowed to set up shop and fight for the beer dollar, costs would drop. But the chance of that happening is about as likely as the Padres getting Alex Rodriguez.

Sutton questions the business approach many sports teams take with pricing, particularly in these tough economic times. If the customer believes he is being gouged, he'll begin to harbor negative feelings toward the franchise, he said. If the team performs badly, where's the incentive to hang with the club?

“That's not good long-term thinking,” he said.

Bitter taste

Beer has always been a big part of baseball. Breweries once owned teams. Today, a number of beer companies – Miller, Coors and Busch – pay to have their names on ballparks.

Years ago, fans could actually bring their own beer into some stadiums. That was the case until 1984 for the Padres, who played at Jack Murphy Stadium, now Qualcomm. Then the team complained that alcohol-related problems were increasing.

Other baseball teams banned carry-in beer, saying the change was needed to create a better ballpark environment. But there was another reason: money.

Paul Fordem, a San Diego County supervisor at the time, complained that the new ban granted the Padres “an absolute monopoly” on stadium concessionaires.

Talk about vision.

Another supervisor, Paul Eckert, wondered why, if the Padres organization really wanted to solve the alcohol problem, it wasn't banning all beer-drinking at games.

Today, fans keep forking over the money for beer, even though the prices can leave a bitter taste in their mouths. At an exhibition game last night at Petco Park against the Angels, the new beer prices were in place.

And even though fans said they've grown accustomed to higher prices, nobody was exactly applauding another increase.

“You come here expecting to pay a lot,” said Geoff Longenecker of La Jolla, who was sipping a Stone beer, which set him back $9.

He called the prices, “extraordinarily high,” yet was happy that at least the variety was broad.

Christina Curtin of Mission Valley said she should could buy a six-pack for what she paid for a single beer, a premium draft for $9. But she said she expected it, given that she was at a baseball game.

Marc and Jodi Stein of El Cajon said having a beer or two is part of the baseball experience, so they forked over $16.50 for two beers.

The guy behind the counter forewarned them that the price was going to be ugly, Marc Stein said. “He said, 'Believe it or not, it's $16.50, and you don't get a TV set with it.' ”

Staff writer James P. Sweeney and staff researcher Erin Hobbs contributed to this report.


For it's 1, 2, 3.2 at the old ballgame

Beer is high on price, low on alcohol content
By Michael Stetz

April 18, 2008

SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune

Kevin Kimball, of San Diego, enjoyed a Bud Light last night at Petco Park. More bucks, less bang.

Padres fans already know beer sold at Petco Park has a higher price tag than the same thing elsewhere. But they might be surprised to learn some of the beer also has lower alcohol content.

Three of the downtown ballpark's domestic draft brands – Budweiser Select, Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft – contain 3.2 percent alcohol by weight.

Go to a bar and most regular domestic draft beer will have about 4 percent alcohol by weight. Most light beers run about 3.4 percent.

In other words, it's not just the Padres' batting lineup – producers of only six home runs so far this season – that's weak.

“It's kind of upsetting,” said Randall Brooks of Ventura, who was unknowingly drinking a 3.2 percent beer, a 20-ounce cup that set him back $8.50 at Wednesday's Padres game. “I should get what I'd get anywhere else.”

Padres fans at Petco Park might be surprised to learn some of the beer sold there has a reduced alcohol content.

By the numbers

There are two ways to measure alcohol content in beer: by weight and by volume. For lower-alcohol beer, the 3.2 percentage refers to alcohol by weight. The strength of various beers, in comparison:

4.0% Budweiser
3.4% Budweiser Select
4.0% Coors
3.4% Coors Light
4.3% Stone Pale Ale
4.0% Heineken
3.7% Corona
3.7% Miller Genuine Draft
3.4% Miller Lite
Online: For a March 29 story about rising beer prices at Padres games, go to

The Padres aren't required to divulge the alcohol content of the beer they sell. There's no mention at the concessions, which are run by a vendor called Sportservice, that the three brands are any different.

Padres officials say lower-alcohol beer, like higher prices, is part of an “alcohol management plan,” meant to keep fans from overindulging. They also say it's common practice in the sports industry and hardly limited to Petco.

It's unknown how many professional teams' vendors sell 3.2 percent beer at stadiums. Sportservice, a subsidiary of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North, runs concessions in as many as a dozen professional sports venues. Company officials didn't return phone calls.

Centerplate, which runs the concessions for the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, didn't return calls, either.

“The Padres aren't alone,” said Chris Bigelow, president of the Bigelow Companies, a consultant to sporting and entertainment venues on food service management.

He said the difference in the quality of the beer is difficult to tell, “especially after the first one.”

The decision on what kind of beer to buy rests with Sportservice, said Richard Andersen, executive vice president in charge of ballpark management for the Padres. The difference in alcohol isn't that dramatic, he said.

The difference in cost is 32 percent. A keg of Budweiser Select goes for $76, according to California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control records. The 3.2 percent version of Bud Select runs $52.

“Wow, $8.50 for low-octane beer,” said Michael Shames, a consumer advocate who heads the Utility Consumers' Action Network in San Diego. He compared the move to that of oil companies, which have been accused of reducing octane in gas.

Bars don't peddle the lower-alcohol stuff, said Greg Anderson, owner of McGregor's Grill and Ale House near Qualcomm Stadium. “It's not a practice in the bar industry, as far as I know,” he said.

Stephen Zolezzi, executive vice president of the Food and Beverage Association of San Diego, said that to his knowledge, distributors don't offer such beer to local bars.

Zolezzi said he thought sports venues were required by law to sell lower-alcohol beer, but the ABC said no such law exists.

Petco's premium draft brands, such as Sam Adams, which contains 3.9 percent alcohol, are not lower-alcohol versions. The bottled beer is also the same you'd find anywhere.

Lower-alcohol beer has been sold at Padres games for years, according to the Padres organization. When the team moved from Qualcomm Stadium, the 3.2 beer – called “stadium beer” among some in the industry – made the ride to the downtown digs as well.

But today's higher beer prices could make the lower alcohol content harder to swallow. In 1988, a beer at a Padres game was $2. When adjusted for inflation, that $2 beer would be $3.61 today. The cheapest beer at Petco now is a 16-ounce domestic draft for $6.50.

“It's just another example of companies fleecing the public,” said Mark Reback, of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog. Consumers are facing higher prices not only for necessities such as gasoline and food, but also while enjoying a simple baseball game, he said.

“Where does it end?” asked Reback, who recommended fans lodge complaints with any teams that sell weaker beer.

The 3.2 percent beer dates to Prohibition. Just before the booze ban was repealed in 1933, Congress allowed for 3.2 beer in an effort to jump-start the economy during the Depression and appease those clamoring for the right to imbibe.

After the repeal, beer makers started producing stronger beers, but several states kept the 3.2 standard. Today, six – Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah – continue to require that some retailers, such as grocery stores, sell the lower-content product.

Beer lovers in those states routinely complain about the quality of the beer.

Brewers basically add water to lower the alcohol content. Some critics maintain that brewers bring the content lower than 3.2, to make certain the beer passes muster in those states.

Anheuser-Busch – maker of Budweiser Select, among other brands – did not return calls.

Kathy and David Pence from Montrose, Colo., who were at the Wednesday Padres game, said they try to avoid 3.2 percent beer at home.

“We go to liquor stores to buy our beer,” said David Pence, because those outlets are allowed to sell the full-strength stuff.

The Pences weren't aware that Petco sold 3.2 percent beer, and they didn't understand the reasoning offered by the Padres. “If people want to get drunk, they're going to get drunk,” Kathy Pence said.

Not everyone minds the less powerful beer.

“To me, it's a minor thing,” said Rick Atwood, who was at the game drinking Miller Lite. “If they were doing so to a microbrew, that's a different story.”


Your beer, your stadium
By Don Walker

Tuesday, Apr 22 2008, 09:41 AM

First the good news. Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee BREWERS, for crying out loud, does not serve beer with 3.2% alcohol by weight.

But they do at Petco Park in San Diego, according to this story. And the fans didn't know it.

Here's the key phrase in the story: "The San Diego Padres aren't required to divulge the alcohol content of the beer they sell. There's no mention at the concessions, which are run by a vendor called Sportservice, that the three brands are any different.

"Padres officials say lower-alcohol beer, like higher prices, is part of an 'alcohol management plan,' meant to keep fans from overindulging. They also say it's common practice in the sports industry and hardly limited to Petco."

Scary stuff if you're a beer drinker. Sportservice, by the way, has the concessions contract at Miller Park. And, as mentioned, officials there told me you get the real deal in the beer lines. No 3.2% beer for Brewers fans.

Sportservice is a huge company and has concessions deals with dozens of sports stadiums and arenas around the country. Naturally, we wondered if there were other stadiums that did the same thing.

A Sportservice spokesman said the practice at Petco was the exception, rather than the rule.

"The type of draft beer being served at Petco Park in San Diego is consistent with draft beer being served at many stadiums and large public gathering places in the state of California. This practice began at Qualcomm stadium under another concessionaire, and was carried through to the new ballpark," the spokesman said in a prepared statement.

In San Diego, opinion appears to be divided on the practice. Some cared, some didn't.

In the meantime, we'll keep you apprised whether this practice goes on at other stadiums around the country.

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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.