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Friday, July 19, 2013

Brewers Beat Marlins 2-0

After four days off for the All-Star Game festivities, the second half of the Major League Baseball season is here.  While it was only four games, both the Brewers and Marlins offenses were sluggish out of the gate. 

It was a pitching dual through the first three innings with both pitchers only surrendering three hits apiece.  The Brewers had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the first inning.  With one out, Jean Segura started the inning with an infield base hit.  Ryan Braun then came to the plate, only to popup to shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria for the second out of the inning.  Jonathon Lucroy drew a walk, and then the Brewers perfected a double steal, with Segura making it to third and Lucroy taking second.   With two outs in the inning, the Brewers tried to get on top early, but All-Star Carlos Gomez grounded out to third, to end the threat.

The Miami Marlins would come back in the top of the second inning to get two, two out base hits, only to strand the runners on first and second.  Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers did get a base hit to left with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but would remain at first to end the second. 

In the third, the Miami Marlins went a quiet 1-2-3, with Kyle Lohse striking out two batters.  Norichika Aoki did his job for the Brewers by leading off the inning with a base on balls.  The Brewers tried to rally again with two men out, when Lucroy singled to center, but they failed to score after the lead of walk.

For a second consecutive inning, the Marlins went down in order, and it was not until the Brewers came up when we would finally saw some scoring.  Leading off in the bottom of the fourth inning, Juan Francisco broke the zero, zero tie by hitting an opposite field homerun off Justin Turner, his 12th of the season.  Rickie Weeks then followed with a walk, and would steal second base with one out recorded by Bianchi.  Pitcher, Kyle Lohse then hit a weak foul ball right to the third basemen, Polacido Polanco, for the second out.  Aoki would then walk for a second consecutive at-bat, but Jean Segura grounded out to end the scoring threat. 

Kyle Lohse was cruising threw the first four innings, keeping the Marlins bats relatively quiet.  Lohse would get into some trouble early in the fifth when Hechavarria would single to right, and advance to second on a rare error by Aoki.  After his hit, Lohse would not allow him to score, striking out two and getting pitcher Justin Turner to hit a weak ground ball to shortstop.  The Brewers were finally able to do some damage with two outs in the inning, with Carlos Gomez crushing a ball down the left field line for his 15th homerun of the season.  This gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead after five.

Logan Morrison hit a two out double in the top of the sixth inning, but the Marlins failed to continue the two out rally.  Rickie Weeks did lead of the bottom of the frame by reaching on a hit by pitch for the Brewers.  The Marlins then made a pithing change by bringing in right-hander Ryan Webb for Justin Turner.  Webb would finish off the inning by pitching a clean sixth, to keep the score at 2-0 Brewers. 

Kyle Lohse’s night was over.  After six strong innings of shut out baseball, John Axford came in out of the bullpen in relief.  It would be a quiet game the rest of the way, with both teams using two more relief pitchers each to get the job done.  Francisco Rodriguez closed it out in the ninth inning to record his 10th save of the season, giving the Brewers the win, and improving their record to 39-56.  Kyle Lohse would pick up the win with Justin Turner being saddled with the loss.  The final score was the Brewers two and the Marlins zero. 

As Ron Roenicke would say after the game, “We played good baseball tonight, we pitched well, got a couple of base hits, defensively I thought we played a nice job, but whether we get back to .500 or not, we have to really play well there is no doubt about it, we have to play really good baseball…”

The Brewers pitching staff pitched nine strong innings of shut out baseball, and helped the Brewers start off the second half of the season on a positive note.  The usual stars did not lead the offense with Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list and Ryan Braun going zero for three, instead Carlos Gomez and Juan Francisco’s homeruns made the difference in tonight’s game.  Time will tell if the Brewers can get back to .500 ball, but tonight they started off on the right foot, with their excellent pitching and solid offensive performance.   

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brandon Jennings is Not Worth the Hassle

From Compton, California, an athletic six foot one point guard, Brandon Jennings has all of the tools and potential to be great, but he has never lived up to those expectations in the NBA.  Though he experienced success early on in his basketball career, it has not transferred into the pro game, and now he has also been reported to be a cancer in the locker room.  This brings up the question whether or not the Milwaukee Bucks should resign Brandon Jennings?

Brandon Jennings grew up always being the best player on the court.  In high school he transferred to the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy after his sophomore season, and over the course of his two seasons there he become one of the best know high school prospects in the country.

In his senior season he averaged 32.7 points and 7.4 assists, while leading his team to a 41-1 record.  His stellar performance earned him some of high school basketball’s most significant awards, including the 2008 Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award, 2007-08 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia, 2008 Parade Magazine Player of the Year and 2008 EA Sports Player of the Year.  His outstanding performance made him the number one ranked high school prospect in the class of 2008 by ESPN.

In the summer of 2006 Jennings had chosen to attend the University of Southern California, but within the following year he changed his mind and instead decided to join the University of Arizona.  While this was no surprise since Arizona had great basketball tradition and proven success throughout the years, his next announcement would shock college basketball.

In June 2008, Jennings announced that he was thinking of becoming the first American player to skip college and play basketball professionally overseas.  His dreams became reality on July 16, 2008 when he signed a contract to play with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian Lega A, and later a contract with Under Armor to play in the Euroleague.  He claimed that this was his best route to gain experience and money until he was eligible to enter the NBA Draft.

Brandon Jennings struggled overseas.  He averaged less than 10 points per game, while only adding a couple of rebounds, assists and steals in each contest with both teams he played for.  His time spent overseas, was a disaster.  He was unable to carry his success from the high school game into the pros, ultimately questioning whether or not he could be successful in the NBA.

The 2009 NBA Draft, ended up becoming a success for Jennings.  Although he was not the top overall pick, he was still a lottery pick, being selected tenth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

In his rookie season, Jennings took Milwaukee by surprise.  During his NBA regular season debut on October 30 Jennings was just shy of a triple-double, scoring 17 points with nine rebounds and assists in 34 minutes.  While his debut was impressive, scoring 55 points against the Golden State Warriors on November 14, had to be his biggest accomplishment of his rookie season.  He went on to lead the Milwaukee Bucks into the playoffs as the sixth seed.  Even though the playoffs did not go the way the Bucks had hoped, the future was bright for the young star.

His sophomore season did not go as planned.  While he did record his first career triple double on October 30, 2010, he was forced to miss 19 games in late December, through the end of January due to a left foot injury.  While his stats remained similar to his rookie season, he did struggle shooting from behind the arc shooting a dismal 32 percent compared to his 37 percent the year before.  The Bucks failed to make the postseason, but the expectations were still high for Jennings.

The lockout shortened season, 2011-12, was the best season of his young career.  He started all 66 games while recording career highs in points (19.1), steals (1.6), field goal percentage (.418) and minutes per game (35.3).  While Jennings had the best season of his pro career, the Bucks missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, and were still waiting for him to have that break out season; everyone knew he was capable of.

The Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs in 2012-13, even though they had a record below .500, but it was not because of Brandon Jennings.  He experienced a disappointing season after the 2011-12 season where he experience career highs in almost everything, causing many people to believe that this would finally be Jennings breakout year.  He averaged only 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game.  Not only was he disappointing on the court, but people close to the team speculated that he was a poor locker room guy.

Brandon Jennings is now a restricted free agent and currently has not received an offer from any team.  The Milwaukee Bucks have made it known that Jennings is not their first choice.  Earlier in the offseason the Bucks made an offer that was later matched by the Atlanta Hawks to point guard, Jeff Teague.  They also drafted point guard Nate Wolters and acquired point guard Luke Ridnour from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bucks are still waiting for Jennings to have a break out season and if he is truly a cancer in the locker room, it is neither worth the time nor money to bring him back.  This upcoming year will be a rebuilding season for the Bucks, and it is time to let the young guys play and develop.  While Jennings is full of talent, his performance and attitude throughout his short career, show no signs of him ever becoming a franchise point guard.

Although Jennings has all the talent to become an elite point guard, he has been unable to reach his potential.  With Jennings poor attitude and struggles on the court it would benefit both the Bucks and Jennings to let him move onto another team, and try to reach his potential with them. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Carlos Gomez is Finally Living Up to Expectations

Carlos Gomez is an electric player.  His ability to steal bases, make amazing catches and hit homeruns with ease makes him a fun player to watch no matter what team you are rooting for.  He has always had the athletic ability to be a successful Major Leaguer, but early on in his career he struggled and was unable to live up to the expectations of being a top prospect. 

At the age of 16, the New York Mets signed Carlos Gomez as an international free agent, who was considered to be a five-tool player, and he instantly became one of the Mets top prospects.

On May 13, 2007 Carlos Gomez made his MLB debut for the Mets, not even five years after they signed the youngster out of the Dominican Republic.  While Carlos Gomez quickly became a fan favorite in New York, he struggled in his limited amount of action.  Even though he batted a disappointing .232 in 125 plate appearances, he showed signs of becoming a star in the making with his excellent speed and defensive abilities. 

In the following offseason, the New York Mets had their eyes set on the two-time Cy Young Award winner, Johan Santana, who the Minnesota Twins were actively trading.  The Mets were able to swing a deal for the lefty, but had to part with numerous prospects including Carlos Gomez. 

This trade allowed Carlos Gomez to leave the Mets crowded outfield, and gave him the opportunity to compete for a starting outfield spot in Spring Training.  Gomez was able to beat out Denard Span and Jason Pridie to win the starting centerfield job.  Throughout the season he showed glimpses of stardom, but also made many plays that made you shake your head in disbelief.  He hit for the cycle once in 2008 and led the MLB in 30 bunt base hits, but he was picked off a major league high 10 times and committed eight errors. 

In 2009 Gomez received only 349 plate appearances, compared to the 614 he received a season ago, and he continued to struggle at the plate producing a .229 batting average.  Even though he was disappointing at the plate, he continued to improve defensively with a .997 fielding percentage. 

His career in Minnesota did not last long, in the offseason he was traded for a second time in his short career to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy.  While he continued to develop into an elite defender and base stealer, he still continued to struggle at the plate. 

It was not until the 2012 season, where he experienced his greatest success, producing career highs with a .260 batting average, .305 on-base percentage, 19 homeruns, and 37 stolen bases.  His terrific performance earned him a three-year contract extension worth $24 million, making him a Brewer through the 2016 season. 

Carlos Gomes said during the All-Star media session at Citi Field about his early career struggles, “For five years, I’ve been trying to do what others have told me – hit ball on the ground, bunt it. For five years, that hasn’t worked. Why do I need to keep trying to do that if it’s not working?’” 

When asked what he want to do.

“I’m going to try to hit the ball with power,” Gomez told them.

This move has paid off big time for the young star.  He is now having the best season of his career for the Brewers in 2013, posting numbers that fans and coaches expected of him when he first broke into the big leagues back in 2007 with the New York Mets. 

“Now I step up to the plate and every time I think, I think of hitting home runs to center field,” Gomez said. “That’s my approach and everything is coming together.”

This approach has shown, at the All-Star break, Gomez has a .295 batting average with 14 long balls and 45 RBIs.  He is fifth in stolen bases with 21 and ranks first in triples with 9 in the National League.  Not only has his hitting improved, but also he is having another great defensive season.  He has a .996 fielding percentage with only one error committed, and he has made multiple homerun saving catches.  Gomez also ranks higher than anyone in the MLB, including the best player in the game –Miguel Cabrera, with a 5.7 wins above replacement. 

Carlos Gomez has developed this season into the five-tool player everyone thought he would eventually become.  He has demonstrated that he can do damage with the bat, while also being able to change the game with his amazing speed and great defense. 

The Brewers made the right decision by locking Carlos Gomes up to an extension before the season.  He is finally living up to the expectations he had when he was once a top prospect, and is having the best season of his big league career.

Carlos Gomez is an All-Star this season, but do not be surprised if that is the only recognition he receives for his outstanding play.  He has been arguably the best defensive centerfielder this season and deserves to win the Gold Glove Award, ending the Brewers long drought of 30 years with out a Gold Glove winner.  He also should receive some MVP votes, while it is a long shot that he wins it, his WAR and overall statistics are just as good as any other deserving candidate in the National League. 

Everyone was wondering when Carlos Gomez would finally have a breakout season and live up to the high expectations, and this season he is finally producing at a level he was expected to do since day one.  While it took many years and struggles to become a consistent contributor at the Major League level, Carlos Gomez has transformed his career from when he first started with the Mets becoming one of the best centerfielders in all of baseball.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Baseball Stadium is a Must

The Panthers are moving back to the Cell!  While I understand that the men's and women's basketball team need a new practice facility to free up space at the Klotsche Center for the other sports and students, a new baseball stadium should be a priority.  

The Milwaukee Panthers are the only Division 1 baseball program in Wisconsin, and they deserve to have a facility that represents that.  As a player for Slinger High School varsity baseball team I have seen many high school ballparks that are quality baseball facilities.  These consist of a well-groomed field, exceptional dugouts, a functional scoreboard, a concession stand, permanent restrooms, a press box, and plenty of room for fans.  While Milwaukee has a functional scoreboard, that's it.  I was not overly impressed with the playing field, and my teammates and I were a little surprised to find out that we were sharing the dugout with an individual who was down on their luck.  His belongings were in the dugout when we arrived, looking back we should have passed the hat and left him a few bucks.  The Milwaukee baseball team deserves better.  

Kapco Park is a beautiful facility and the Panthers are worthy of a baseball park that is suitable for a D1 program.  Even though the basketball programs are in need of a practice facility, a new baseball stadium needs to be a priority.    

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thoughts on The Hebrew Hammer

Everyone has the right to their day in court, and is innocent until proven guilty.  I have always given Ryan Braun the benefit of the doubt, and have been a big fan of his, however I am beginning to have my doubts.  Here are some of the thoughts that are running through my head.

Major League Baseball has kept a close eye on Ryan Braun ever since his first positive drug test back in 2011, leading me to believe he has not taken any banned substance since, but recent news has led me to change my beliefs.

Ryan Braun had a meeting on June 29th with Major League Baseball to answer questions regarding his connection to Tony Bosch and the Miami-area clinic, Biogenesis of America, which has allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to around 20 MLB players.  Braun, who has denied using PEDs in the past, refused to answer any questions during the meeting, making it harder to believe that he only used Bosch as a consultant when fighting his suspension after the 2011 season.

If he was innocent he would have answered all of the questions asked to him, knowing that he was not going to get penalized because he was clean.  Due to him not answering a single question, it makes him looks suspicious and guilty of using PEDs.

It is just a matter of time until MLB hands out a suspension to Braun, and when it happens it will be a dark day in baseball.  After everyone thought the new drug testing was signaling an end to the steroid era, baseball will only be taking a step back.

One of the faces of baseball's new, clean era will become just like Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds - a cheater.  Ryan Braun's legacy and reputation will be tarnished, and he will never be looked at the same way.

Once compared to Robin Yount for his great play on and off the field, along with his excellent tools to become the next face of the Brewers organization, all thrown away because he tried to get a competitive edge on the rest of MLB players.

While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the truth of Ryan Braun will soon be released.  Since Ryan Braun's MLB debut back in 2007, I have continued to support him through all of the highs and lows of his career.  No matter if he is found guilty or not of using PEDs, I will have my doubts on Braun and will never look at him the same way I did before.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Milwaukee Brewers Latest Trade Rumors

The Texas Rangers could use another quality starting pitcher. They could also use another solid option in the outfield. The Milwaukee Brewers could be the solution to both equations.

Jon Morosi of tweeted early Thursday that the Rangers have expressed interest in outfielder Norichika Aoki during discussions with the Brewers about right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Perhaps they can get both?

It's not going to be cheap, but the Rangers have a lot of young talent, particularly on the mound and in terms of middle infielders down on the farm. Top prospect Jurickson Profar isn't likely to be part of such talks, at least one would presume.

Other arms that the Rangers have been linked to by common sense include Cubs righty Matt Garza.

Courtesy of Jason A. Churchill and EPSN 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Does Bryce Harper Deserve to be an All-Star?

Bryce Harper has become one of the most likable players in baseball, but that does not mean he is a star just yet.  Last season he was selected to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement, and this season he will be making another appearance, but this time it is as a starter.

This was a huge surprise, since Harper has missed 31 games due to injury, and when healthy, has struggled to produce at the plate.  In his limited amounts of at-bats (178), he is only hitting .281 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs.

Bryce Harper is going to be one of the biggest stars in the game, and a fixture in the All-Star Game for years, but right now is not his time.  With Carlos Gomez and Michael Cuddyer both having career years and producing at an incredibly high level, Harper does not deserve to be starting in the All-Star Game.

Should Bryce Harper be starting in the All-Star Game? Leave your thoughts below.  

Carlos Gomez's Amazing Game Saving Grab

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Who Will the Brewers Deal at the Deadline?

With the MLB Non-waiver Trade Deadline less than a month away, the Milwaukee Brewers expect to be one of the most active teams, trading away multiple veteran players in order to rebuild their weak farm system.  While everyone, with the exception of Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez, will be available, it is unrealistic to expect the Brewers to be able to completely clean house.  Here is who the Brewers will deal by July 31st:

Yovani Gallardo, RHP

Even though Yovani Gallardo is having the worst season of his big league career, he is young, experienced, and has two-years remaining at an affordable total of $24.5 million on his deal.  Not only are all three of things a plus, but Gallardo has playoff experience and success throughout his career making him even more of an attractive option for teams looking to add a frontline starter at the deadline.  It is not a question if Yovani Gallardo will be traded, but when will he be traded.  The Diamondbacks appear to be the favorite to land the righty, but do not be surprised if the Dodgers and Rangers make a strong push for him as well.

Francisco Rodriguez, RHP

Francisco Rodriguez has had an excellent season so far for the Brewers as their closer and set-up man, making him a likely trade piece.  Many teams are looking for bullpen help, and K-Rod would be a great option for any team in contention, due to the fact that he has experience and success pitching late in ball games.  While many teams will be vying for his services, the Brewers should not expect to receive an overwhelming offer for him because he will only be a two-month rental.  The Brewers will trade K-Rod by the deadline, and the Diamondbacks, Tigers, and Red Sox are the three favorites to acquire the experienced veteran.

Kyle Lohse, RHP

Although Kyle Lohse only has a record of 4-6, his ERA (3.46) and WHIP (1.16) still suggests that he could be a solid pitcher on a team looking to make a late season playoff run.  The Brewers signed Kyle Lohse days before Opening Day, surrendering a first-round pick, in hopes of making another playoff appearance, but the Brewers have struggled as a whole, making it time to recoup their losses.  It will not be easy to trade the 34-year old pitcher with two-years and $22 million remaining on his contract, but multiple teams (Dodgers, Giants, Rangers) are in search of a quality pitcher, who has playoff experience, making Lohse a player who will be dealt by the Brewers before the deadline.

The Brewers will be one of the most active teams around the deadline, with numerous teams interested in their players, but only three of them will be traded - Gallardo, Rodriguez, and Lohse.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Pittsburgh Pirates are Here to Stay

Do you believe in miracles?  For the first time in 20 seasons, it appears the Pittsburgh Pirates will finally have a winning season, while securing a playoff berth.  While luck has been on the Pirates side, their excellent play has to be largely credited to their outstanding pitching staff.

The Buccos' pitching staff does not feature any big name hurlers, but it is filled with veterans and youngsters who have done their job well and up to expectations, giving them the number one ranked pitching staff in all of baseball.  The Pirates' pitching staff ranks third in WHIP (1.19), and first in ERA (3.11), batting average allowed (.225), and saves (32).

While pitching has been a key to the Pirates' success, the offense has only done enough to get by.  Even though the Pirates have had a below average offense so far, it is nothing to panic about since Andrew McCutchen has yet to get on a hot streak, and the Pirates will most likely acquire another bat at the deadline, like they have in recent years.

Pitching wins championships, and the Buccos have the pitching to remain atop the National League Central for the remainder of the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates are no fluke, and they will finally finish with a record above .500, while making the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Milwaukee Bucks: Time to Rebuild Not Reload!

The Milwaukee Bucks have been mediocre for the last 12 seasons, and it is time to rebuild and look towards the future.  Instead of finishing with a near .500 record and possibly making the playoffs as an eighth seed for a second consecutive season, it is time to restart and build a team that can compete at a high level for multiple seasons.

The Bucks are built around their young frontcourt of Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, along with recent draft picks, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters.  Rather than overpaying for veterans, the Bucks need to see what they have in these young players by giving them opportunities to play and develop.

The Bucks are years away from competing with Miami, Chicago, and Indiana in the Eastern Conference, so now is the time to rebuild for the future.  The 2013-2014 season will not be an exciting time for Bucks' fans, but if it means getting a high lottery pick in the deep 2014 NBA Draft, and allowing their youngsters to develop, it will be worth it in the end.