Milwaukee (49-43) will revamp their engines for the second-half of the season Thursday night, where they will take on the Rockies (43-48) for the first time this season.
Ron Roenicke’s crew managed to right the sinking ship by winning four of five after losing seven of eight heading into the All-Star break, whereby they now stand tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. Let’s break down the three-game series.
Thursday, July 14, 7:40 PM
Gallardo (10-5) vs. Jimenez (4-8)
Jimenez has been a far cry from his Cy Young-caliber 2010 season, carrying a 4.14 ERA and 1.30 WHIP into Thursday night’s matchup.
Milwaukee Brewers make first splash in trade market, reinforce their World Series-aspirations
Remember that old saying: “It isn’t a matter of if, but when?”
The Milwaukee Brewers know it quite well.
While the 2011 MLB All-Star Game saw the National League successfully put together back to back victories for only the first time since the 1995-1996 seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers and GM Doug Melvin were busy working on a deal that would send Francisco Rodriguez to the Brew City for two unnamed prospects in Milwaukee’s farm system.
As we reported early in the week, the deal — which was completed Tuesday but would not go public until the cessation of the game itself — would send Rodriguez to the Brewers along with a large sum of additional cash. It also should be noted that Milwaukee will now pick up the $5 million remaining on Rodriguez’s contract through this season, and could very well end up paying the $17.5 million buyout option for 2012 on vesting option if Rodriguez finishes 55 games this season.
While this whole contract/buyout fiasco is only beginning to rear it’s ugly head, it should be noted that Milwaukee remains fully invested and confident with their decision to acquire New York’s famed fire-baller. Melvin, among other things, was quoted as saying:
“Offense is down in baseball this year, and there seems to be a lot of one-run ballgames. To win those games, you have to have strong pitching in the bullpen.”
He’s certainly right. For as dominating as pitching was in 2010, the first-half of 2011 yielded 8.4 runs per game compared to last year’s 8.9 — down nearly 6 percent 2010 and 20 percent from 2000.
But, aside from the potentially detrimental financial aspects of the trade, the Brewers are nothing short of ecstatic for their second-half sprint towards an NL Central crown.
As Brewers first-baseman and All-Star MVP Prince Fielder put it:
“As a player, you appreciate it, because you’re going out there every day, and you’re wanting to win. When management does things like that, you appreciate it, because you see that they’re going for it with you every day, too.
Truth be told, the Brewers have been on the positive end of major deadline deals over the years (see CC Sabathia in 2008), and the K-Rod deal comes as no surprise to the Milwaukee faithful.
Even so, Ron Roenicke’s crew cannot overlook the ultimate goal: winning the World Series and bringing a championship back to Milwaukee.
But the question remains: can they actually do it?
Despite adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, 2011 has still proved to be very inconsistent for Milwaukee, who currently holds true to the baseball’s 10th-worst team ERA (4.06). Takashi Saito (another notable offseason addition) was only recently removed from the disabled list, and has pitched just five innings thus far.
Although the gaudy statistics would show otherwise, Rodriguez should bring unprecedented talent and leadership to Milwaukee’s bullpen in need of major addition. At the midway point of the season, Rodriguez maintained a 3.16 ERA while converting 23 saves in 26 opportunities.
Offensively, however, it’s a completely different story for the Brewers.
With All-Stars Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun (who will be fresh off missing a week’s worth of games due to a calf strain), the Brewers are clearly ready and capable to contend with the bats. Along with great support off the bench, what’s not to love about Milwaukee’s postseason chances?
The Brewers have invested anything and everything into this 2011 season, and with a few breaks here and there, they will be able to ride their revamped pitching into the postseason.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire K-Rod from NY Mets in great deal for both teams
Word broke late Tuesday night following the conclusion of the 2011 MLB All-Star game that the Milwaukee Brewers have indeed acquired Mets fire-baller Francisco Rodriguez in what ESPN’s very own Tim Kurkjian called “a great deal for both teams”.
In the deal, Milwaukee would receive New York’s outspoken closer and a substantial amount of cash. The Mets are due to receive two players yet to be named, sources say.
“That’s awesome,” the Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder said in Phoenix after the game. “That’s a big trade; he can really help us. He’s a great player. It definitely gives us a spark.”
Totaling 23 saves in 26 opportunities for the Mets through the first half of the 2011 regular season, K-Rod will not only bring unquestioned talent, but a considerable amount of experience to a Brewers pitching staff in dire need of direction and leadership.
Word on the street says that Rodriguez could also be looking for a contract extension with Milwaukee at season’s end, depending on if all goes well in the Brew City.
Since joining the Mets in 2009, Rodriguez was 9-10 with a 3.05 ERA and 83 saves in 165 games—clearly one of the best resumes among fellow closers in the National League.
But, for Brewers fans at least, this deal of epic proportions comes as anything but a surprise, as GM Doug Melvin has been known for making colossal trade-deadline deals (see CC Sabathia).
Does this put the Brewers over the hump and into the World Series picture?
For that, we’ll have to tune in.
Alec Dopp is a Milwaukee Brewers featured columnist on Bleacher Report. Follow him on twitter:@doppler9000.
Ryan Braun placed on day-to-day; Brewers lose six of seven: Is there a connection?
Although it may seem like nearly a decade’s worth of achievement, leading NL vote-getter and Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun has spent just three full seasons in Milwaukee upon being drafted back in 2005.
In fact, Braun has averaged 32 HR, 105 RBI, .307 BA and a .923 OPS from his 2007 rookie season up to the conclusion of last season — making him one of the game’s most lethal offensive threats and worthwhile talents to watch.
Some argue (myself included) Braun is more valuable to Milwaukee’s future than that of fellow superstar teammate Prince Fielder. And, judging by his contract extension (which locks Braun up through 2020), I’d say my thinking was right.
Nevertheless, it should be stated that Braun is worth every penny of his $145 million extension. But is he worth more than any other player in the National League?
It’s a question worth pondering for the simple fact that Braun is in fact the most valuable player to his respective team, based on statistical output and Milwaukee’s success without Braun in the lineup.
Here’s an interesting fact: since making his rookie debut back May of 2007, Braun has missed 25 total games. In those games, the Brewers have a combined 10-15 record, and have been outscored 114-98 in those games.
Sounds like a pretty big discrepancy, huh?
When Braun was placed on day-to-day back on July 2 for a left calf strain, the Brewers promptly lost their next two ballgames, and continued to fall back in the NL Central standings, now at 45-41 overall.
Braun addressed the media following Milwaukee’s 8-6 loss to the Diamondbacks:
“Injuries are a part of baseball. It happens sometimes,” Braun said. “Obviously I want to play, but at the same time I have to listen to what everyone else says. It’s the type of thing that you could easily re-aggravate or make far worse, and I don’t want that to happen and have to miss a couple months.”
For a Brewers in dire need for health as the season progresses, Braun’s injury should come more as a testament to the success he brings forth.
So before you crown Matt Kemp the undisputed NL MVP, consider what Braun has meant for his respective team in the long-haul.