The Brewers and Strength of Schedule

In an attempt to determine the difficulty of the remaining schedule I took all remaining Brewer games and dumped them into a spreadsheet, looked up the run differential of the opponent (because we all know that run differential tells you more about the quality of the team than wins and losses, right?) and popped that number in the next column. Then I added those up, and took an average.* Not really sure what to call this “metric” or how useful it is, but I found it illuminating. So here goes:

*For example, the Brewers play the Dodgers 6 more times and the Dodgers have a +58 run differential, so they count for +348 of the total. Make sense? Good.

Brewers

Remaining opponents have scored 93 more runs than they have allowed, an average of +1.75 per game. Tough opponents include the Dodgers (six games, +58), Blue Jays (two games, +38) and Giants (six games, +19), but what really hurts them is the lack of awful teams. They have a bunch of games against the Cubs (-46) but so does everyone else. They have three against the Padres (-39) but the Cards have five. The only negatives on the Brewers schedule are the Cubs, Padres, and Marlins. Maybe in a vacuum +93 doesn’t sound like a lot to you. Well…

Cardinals

Remaining opponents have scored 816 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -14.57 per game.

The Cardinal schedule is just littered with awfulness. Three games with Boston (-50), five more with the Padres (-39), three with the Phillies (-59), three with the Rockies (-54), and three with the D-backs (-73…Gritty!). The toughest task ahead for them is a three-game series with the Orioles (+30) and after that the best team they have is the Brewers (+24 as I write this). If the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs they have no one to blame but themselves.

Pirates

Remaining opponents have scored 322 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -5.75 per game.

The ease of the Pirates schedule is bolstered by a stretch in September where they will play thirteen consecutive games against teams at -46 or lower (Cubs, Phillies, Cubs, Red Sox), but at least there are a few challenges out there. They still have a four-game series with the Tigers (+36), a three-game series with the Nationals (+71) and seven against the Braves (+22). They also face the Diamondbacks and the Padres, so it’s really all over the map.

Reds

Remaining opponents have scored 295 fewer runs than they’ve allowed, an average of -5.27 per game.

Similar to the Pirates but not as extreme. They get two against Boston (-50) and four against the Rockies (-54), but everyone else is middling. They face Cleveland (+3), Miami (-17), and have three at Baltimore (+30).


The Cardinals have a much easier schedule down the stretch, there’s no getting around it. The Brewers will probably have to win the head-to-head battle by a decent margin to hold them off. Hopefully they get started this weekend.

Ralph Sasson, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

One would think that if you had your case dismissed for not adhering to a judge’s instructions about keeping things under seal that you would MAYBE think twice about publicly posting a copy of your own deposition on Youtube. And also, cutting your own “best of” version of said deposition.

But the one thing we know about Ralph Sasson is that he seemingly doesn’t ever think once, let alone twice. In any case…

Here’s the long version.

A couple of things in case you ever end up deposed:

1. You may not want to wear a Miami hoodie. Typically you should dress up for a deposition.

2. “You heard of money ball? this is dummy ball.” Don’t make deposition jokes. It never goes well. (Around 1:17:00)

3. Don’t call the attorneys questioning you “retards”. (Also around 1:17:00)

4. Don’t claim you don’t know what your lawyer is thinking if you are your lawyer. (In the “best of” cut)

5. Don’t invent your own legal theory called “fraudulent impression.” (1:22:30)

6. “You are attempting to sue CAA (Braun’s agent), yes or no?”

“I don’t know” (near the end)
I don’t either Ralph. I don’t either.

The All-Star Game is Terrible. Let’s Break It.

Yesterday we got some of the inevitable “you fans are dumb” articles. It’s absolutely true of course. The list of terrible All-Stars voted in by fans is lengthy. Of course, the list of bad players selected by other players and managers is also pretty terrible. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Americans are terrible at voting, and since we know we’re already lousy at this, we may as well be lousy on purpose.

This has happened before. In 1957 Reds fans stuffed All-Star ballot boxes and managed to get Reds selected for every position but first base. After this the vote was taken away from fans until 1970. Brewers fans have been a constant source of chaos in fan voting in the past and this year is no exception so far with almost every Brewer player in striking distance. There is no better time to continue to vote in your favorite player. By which I mean all of the Brewers including Rickie Weeks and Jean Segura. So why should you proceed with this little act of performance art?

1. The All-Star Game is boring, but Brewer games are fun, so let’s turn this into a Brewer game.

ESPN shows get a ton of mileage over arguing whether the All-Star Game counts or if it’s just an exhibition where Larry Walker can wear his helmet backwards and Randy Johnson can throw behind him and aww isn’t it all just too damn cute.

Larry Walker

And once it ended in a tie. The addition of home field advantage in the World Series is no incentive at all as it barely ever affects the World Series anyway, and almost none of these players will be personally impacted in any way. Maybe if the Brewers are all playing together it will actually be fun.

2. We’ve all wondered what would happen if a real team played an All-Star Team.

Let’s find out!

3. It is not some huge moral crime to not vote in the “best” players.

It is, after all, an exhibition. As fans we’ve been empowered to make it whatever we want, and if some player has a bonus tied to making the team, well boohoo. We should use our power to do all sorts of wacky stuff with the All-Star game. All lefties! Vote for the lowest WAR regulars! The all defense team! Let’s see some of that. I personally voted for the worst AL team possible to face my all-Brewer NL All-Stars.

4. Major League Baseball’s attempt to make this a “real” game is awful and they deserve to be told “no”.

If you actually want to make this a real game may I suggest huge cash prizes? Incentives have to actually be incentives, you can’t just throw out the Flint Megabowl and hope to get people excited. We should treat it with all the respect it deserves.

5. Hall of Fame arguments

Surely one of the most annoying arguments for any given potential Hall of Famer is the argument that they made X number of All-Star teams. Players have made All-Star teams while seriously injured, while retired, while sub-par Yankees. It’s already a stupid argument, but we should all go ahead and make it that much dumber. “Remember when Rickie Weeks made the All-Star team as the short end of a platoon?” “Remember when Jean Segura made the All-Star team with a .271 OBP?”

6. All of the fun stories.

This is probably the best reason to do it. A lot of people will be apoplectic if enough Brewers make it, and it’s fun to read self-serious apoplectic diatribes over what amounts to an internet poll about an exhibition game. It will provide me with material, and that is probably reason enough. If you’re one of those people who wants ESPN to cover your team, well, this will do the trick.

7. MLB tells you to do it!

See here:

“With online polls open until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 3, there’s still time to make sure your favorite player gets the starting nod.”

Todd Frazier might be having the best season at 3rd base but he’s not my favorite player. In fact due to some past roto seasons I kind of hate him. I want Mark Reynolds in the game. He’s my favorite.

You’ve got until midnight tonight, we’re the Evil Team of Evil, let’s burn this sucker to the ground. Vote early and vote often.

Evil-Team-of-Evil

 

 

 

RRR’s Chewbacca Defense*

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron did something really really stupid the other day. Ned Yost thinks it was stupid. You see, Ron forgot to warm up a left-handed pitcher, and then attempted to bring one in. But it’s not quite as simple as that. His explanation as to exactly what happened makes no sense whatsoever. None.

Sometimes you’ll watch an old movie (by which I mean “from the 90s”) and the entire plot will revolve around a miscommunication that could have easily been solved in the age of ubiquitous cell phones. That’s pretty much what happened here, except it DID take place in the age of ubiquitous cell phones, constant video surveillance, and, in a pinch, loud yelling. Despite the existence of all of these technologies, one of the Brewers’ most valuable assets was put in harm’s way for no reason. That’s enough from me, let’s get to Tom Haudricourt’s account of Ron’s mind-destroying explanation. He’s in bold. I am not.

*The Chewbacca Defense was made famous by South Park during the OJ trial. IT conveys the idea that if you can convey something mind-bogglingly nonsensical to your audience that they will give up on believing the rules of logic. It’s basically the only explanation for what follows, because THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. 

“But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke took full responsibility

Oh good, I can hardly wait to see how Ron goes about taking full responsibility. I certainly hope he doesn’t take that full responsibility, cram it in a bag, and throw it under some kind of bus.

for the debacle that resulted in reliever Will Smith taking the mound without warming up.”

It is actually pretty strange that baseball has a rule that essentially forces a player to perform without proper warm-ups under certain circumstances, however it’s even weirder that a major league baseball manager doesn’t know how to use a phone.

“It’s my fault; miscommunication,” said Roenicke. “There’s a certain way we do things and when Kranitz isn’t here, I didn’t go back and tell Rick Tomlin who to get up and bring in. So, it’s my fault.

There is a certain way that Ron tells Rick Kranitz, the pitching coach, who he would like to have up in the bullpen. And that way is not to say “I would like Will Smith up in the bullpen.”

“You do things the same way every day and when it changes, it just changes what goes on. I had to make the change.

Remember, we’re literally talking about telling a person who he would like to have warming up in the bullpen. Ron is not operating complex machinery or doing a pairs figure skating routine. He is telling another person to tell a certain bullpen pitcher to start warming up. It’s already weird, but are you ready for the weird part? This is the weird part. Keep in mind we live in a world with telephones and video monitors showing you the bullpen at all times.

I sent Maldy (backup catcher Martin Maldonado) to run down to the bullpen because we needed two guys up.

How to interpret this sentence…I am literally sitting here attempting to write this, clenching fists and gritting my teeth because this sentence….

First of all, WHY? Does he mean that the phone would have worked for one pitcher but because he needed two guys up he personally sent his backup catcher (one of his active bench players) down to the bullpen to personally relay the message? Does he mean that the importance of the message warranted a personal visit? Does Martin Maldonado do this a lot?

Maldy went down there and said, ‘I think it’s (Zach) Duke,’ but he never got the call on who it was. So, we didn’t call.”

And the most baffling thing of all, that Maldonado went to the bullpen charged with telling them that two relievers needed to be warming up, a righty and a lefty. According to this account, he only told them the wrong lefty. Brandon Kintzler, the righty, DID warm up so someone somewhere managed to tell the pen that the righty should warm up WITHOUT disclosing the lefty. How did this possibly happen again?

Roenicke wanted right-hander Brandon Kintzler and lefty Smith warming up, but only Kintzler got ready.

Ron: Maldy, tell them to get up Will.

Maldy: Get up Duke I think purple monkey dishwasher.

“We knew what was going to happen with who they were going to probably pinch hit,” said Roenicke. “We needed both guys up. That’s why I sent down our backup catcher.

“I needed to make sure Jean Segura was shifting properly against this guy, that’s why I sent out our set-up man.”

Maldy told Duke to get loose because that’s who Maldy thought it was going to be, but really I wanted Smith.”

WHY did he think that? Why? I’ll tell you what I think. I think Ron told him to run down to the pen and get “the lefty” up and Maldonado just thought Duke before he thought Smith. This doesn’t answer the question of why he sent his backup catcher in the first place, why he didn’t notice on the monitor that only Kintzler was warming, and why Duke wasn’t warming up, but it answers one thing at least. I mean, if you assume everyone involved is basically a moron.

With the Brewers leading, 4-2, Roenicke removed starter Matt Garza with two on and one out and summoned Kintzler. Gerald Laird hit a bouncer that caromed off the glove of diving third baseman Mark Reynolds and into shallow left for what became an RBI double, leaving runners at second and third.

Roenicke then went to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to make a double-switch and pointed to the bullpen for a lefty. There was no lefty warming up so Duke volunteered to come out, but Roenicke told Culbreth he wanted Smith.

The rules state that a new pitcher can throw no more than eight pitches after taking the mound. Because Culbreth was informed Smith had not been up in the bullpen, he asked Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez if he would agree to more pitches and Gonzalez said no.

He then proceeded to laugh his ass off and text all of his friends about it.

Culbreth then put on the video replay head set and called an umpiring supervisor to see if there was any way to allow Smith more pitches, and was told no.

After further review, the rules of baseball are still the rules of baseball.

In the meantime, Smith had to stand on the mound during that lengthy conversation back to New York, which didn’t help matters.

“The good thing is I usually only throw eight pitches in the bullpen before I come in anyway,” he said. “They told me it was only eight (when he got to the mound). I felt ready. I felt good to go.

See, now that’s how you take responsibility. I’m sure Will Smith hated having his routine destroyed, but when push came to shove he just said he should have gotten the job done anyway.

“Ron told me, ‘Don’t do anything stupid here, Will.’

“Like all that stuff I just did? You should do the opposite.”

The home plate umpire told me the same thing. He said, ‘Listen kid, be careful. Take care of yourself.’ But the adrenaline took over.”

I wonder how frequently a baseball manager has put his player in a position where the umpire actively fears for his safety? There is a time and a place for that kind of thing and it’s called football.

The Brewers moved the infield in to try to cut off the tying run,

Let’s fix that. “The Brewers moved the infield in to try and make it easier for Ryan Doumit to get a hit because they’re managed by an idiot.”

but

“and”

pinch hitter Ryan Doumit punched a grounder past shortstop Jean Segura

“which would have been fielded easily by a player playing at normal depth, and was hit hard enough to still possibly allow for a play at home, especially for someone with an arm like Segura’s

to drive in the runs that decided the outcome.

“Because dumb.”

It was an awful way to lose a game in which Garza was in command most of the way, leaving the Brewers with three losses in the four games here and a 2-5 record on the trip.

“I feel bad about everything,” said Roenicke. “You can’t do that to a player.

Sources originally believed that the “player” in question was Zach Duke, but subsequent interviews showed the Ron actually meant Will Smith.

“I should be able to adjust to different things.

Like, you should be able to give clear instructions in your native language to someone besides Rick Kranitz.

We had Lee in there yesterday and that was a little bit different. Rick (Kranitz) is always involved when we talk, and I know he’s taking care of calling somebody.

So that’s Maldy and Lee and Kranitz under the bus so far.

“When you have somebody else in there that doesn’t know what we usually do, it’s not his fault. I didn’t turn around and tell (Tomlin) to make the call. I just assumed it, which I shouldn’t do.”

Instead of instructing someone else to make a call after I realized that no one had, I sent my backup catcher in person, but didn’t tell him any instructions.

As for shaking off the loss, Roenicke said, “It’s going to be hard on me. They’ll be fine; they’ll move on. But it’s going to be hard on me.”

I’m sure it was hard on Ron. Perhaps not as hard as it was on Will Smith’s elbow, but hard nonetheless.

Mark Reynolds and Regression

Reynolds retroWe here at RRSMB love guys like Mark Reynolds. We used to own Russell Branyan’s b-ref page and it’s a pretty sure bet that we’ll own Mark’s at some point as well. There are a few reasons we like players like this:

1. Home runs are awesome.

2. Really really far home runs are even more awesome even though they don’t count for anything extra.

3. We like a guy who isn’t too proud to take a walk.

4. We like a guy who understands that striking out isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things.

The other day Rob Neyer did what all national media people do when a team they see as mediocre at best gets off to a hot start: write about how unsustainable it is. It’s easy to pick apart a team when it’s winning at a .700+ clip, but near the end Neyer made a flippant aside about two Brewers:

“Right now, they’re … actually, I’m not convinced they’re good. Take away these unsustainable things — by the way, I haven’t even mentioned Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds yet — and they’re just fair.”

 

This caught my eye. You can certainly argue that Carlos Gomez, currently enjoying his finest season, might come down to earth a bit.* I’m not sure the case is that strong for Mark Reynolds.

*Or maybe he’s just super awesome and finally completely adjusted to the changes he’s made at the plate while enjoying hitting lead-off.

Will Mark Reynolds experience regression to the mean? Of course. Everyone does. The question is always “what is the mean?” For Mark Reynolds, it’s probably better than you think. It’s almost certainly better than Rob Neyer seems to think.

The first thing to note is that Mark Reynolds is not old. He is nearly 2 full years younger than Corey Hart having turned 30 last August. He may not be in his prime anymore, but to the extent he’s entered his decline, it just started.

The 2nd thing to note is that Reynolds isn’t actually off to that great a start considering his historical numbers. His current .339 wOBA would only be the 4th highest total of his 7 year career. He had a .335 wOBA just 2 seasons ago when he hit .221/.335/.429 in Camden Yards. It’s not as if this start is unprecedented. A lot of analysts expected roughly this kind of production.

Mark Reynolds

Current slash line: .229/.297/.486, .335 wOBA

PECOTA preseason projection: .220/.323/.440

ZIPS(U): .232/.322/.478, .349 wOBA

Steamer(U) .222/.313/.455, .337 wOBA

While his power might be a bit on the high side*, we would actually expect his OBP, and therefore his overall value, to go up.

*Though maybe not in Miller Park. Camden Yards has actually been a decent place for right-handed power hitters lately but Miller Park is consistently one of the four friendliest.

There are some things you can nitpick about his early numbers. His HR/FB rate is high at 28.6%, but it’s not that unusual for Reynolds to have a HR/FB over 20% and he finished 2009 with a 26% mark. Miller Park is a very friendly home run-hitting environment and seeing a jump into the 20s isn’t that strange. While his LD% is down a bit that statistic is notoriously unreliable (especially over a small sample), and his BABIP isn’t strange in any way. Looking at his swing rates and contact rates doesn’t raise any huge red flags either. I suspect Neyer just saw his raw numbers, assumed they were better than they should be and didn’t look any further.

There is one other indicator that Reynolds may actually see his numbers get better. Historically about 30% of his PAs have come against left-handed pitching and while he doesn’t have huge platoon splits he does hit lefties better, especially in the OBP department (.315 v RHP, .360 v. LHP). This season only 20% of his PAs have come against lefties despite the presence of a platoon partner. He’s made up for this a bit by absolutely destroying the lefties he has faced (.300/.417/.600 in 24 PAs), but if that ratio normalizes a bit he could see further offensive gains just by reducing his right-handed exposure.

The Brewer have done a good job with Reynolds to this point. Keeping him mostly at first has limited his defensive problems and according to fangraphs he’s actually been substantially better defensively than Lyle Overbay. He’s a quantum leap over what they had last year and there is reason to believe that he may actually get better as the season goes along. He faces lefty Francisco Liriano tonight and I am looking forward to it. To close out, here’s a dinger.

Image

Last Night Was A Joke

Let's get those Cardinals!

Let’s get those Cardinals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tyler Thornburg replaces Lyle Overbay (PH) pitching and batting 9th
Martin Maldonado replaces Aramis Ramirez (3B) playing 1B batting 4th
Mark Reynolds moves from 1B to 3B

Interesting...

Interesting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Will Smith replaces Tyler Thornburg pitching and batting 9th”

I'm not so sure about this...

I’m not so sure about this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“M. Carpenter Reached on E3 (catch) (Ground Ball to 2B); Peralta to 3B; Ellis to 2B”

Hmmmm....

Hmmmm….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khris Davis attempts bunt. Strikes out swinging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despicable Brewers

I think it’s about time that we all embraced the evil.* The Milwaukee Brewers are my team and I will always love them, but they’re definitely on the “villain” side of the MLB spectrum. This can work. It worked for the Bad Boy Detroit pistons and it actually worked for the untuck ‘em Milwaukee Brewers just a few years ago.**  The Brewers have been the most successful when they’ve been showing up other teams with Beast Mode or celebrating the Jekyll and Hyde that is Nyjer Morgan/Tony Plush, one of the single most annoying players ever to play the game if he’s not on your team. It’s great to feel the joy that ensues when your team wins, but it can be almost as fun to wallow in schadenfreude when the other team loses to your team (especially if it’s the Cardinals) and the intensity of their suffering only increases as our own team becomes more insufferable to non-fans. In short, the more villains the Brewers have, the more enjoyable their winning can be. Let’s give in to the Dark Side together.

*Except for K-Rod. He’s not the fun kind of evil, he’s the kind of evil that makes the world a worse place.

**even if the very idea of getting offended by someone untucking their shirt is the stupidest thing in the history of the world. YES IT IS. Look, man, back off or I’ll UNTUCK MY SHIRT! See how stupid that sounds?

Gentlemen, welcome to the Evil Team of Evil.

Evil-Team-of-Evil

Ryan Braun

He takes performance enhancing substances like Underdog* or Bane or Disney’s The Gummi Bears**. He lies to cover his tracks. He’s super strong and can somehow do this creepy upside-down smile which just has to be evil. He is roundly booed everywhere he goes and is so despised that even his own union sold him out. He is cocky beyond belief and can generally back it up. Losing on a walk-off to Ryan Braun must be completely soul-crushing. Just the way we like it.

brew6

*Underdog has the best theme song ever.

**You may argue that some of these are heroes, but they all take PEDs so they’re all obviously evil. Duh. 

Martin Maldonado

Over the past three days Martin Maldonado hit a baseball so hard he destroyed it, hit Travis Snider in the head so hard he destroyed it, and destroyed Jody Mercer on a questionable takeout slide. His twitter handle is @Machete1224 . He’s basically already a super villain.

Jerry Narron

Sure he seems like a mild-mannered guy with his lineup calligraphy, but as soon as a fight breaks out he’s getting in the umps face and getting tossed.Total wild card.

Jonathan Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy is one of the best pitch framers in baseball. Basically he fools the umpire into calling more strikes for his pitchers than they deserve. This is just a step short of cheating and reminiscent of the mind-warping abilities of The Shadow.* Moreover, Machete1224 excels in this skill as well suggesting Lucroy has been spreading the dark arts.

Worst52

*Who knows what strikes lurk just outside the zones of umpires? The Lucroy knows. Also, that is just a horrible movie, so I’ll just say we’re talking about the old radio shows.

 

Mark Reynolds

Every group of supervillains needs some indestructible muscle.

Scooter Gennett

Every group of supervillains needs a diminProfessor_Chaosutive toady to kick around.

Matt Garza

Matt Garza has evil-seeming facial hair and has gone on terribly ill-advised sexist twitter tirades against his opponent’s spouse. Also, bunting is his Kryptonite.

Carlos Gomez

Carlos Gomez plays super hard, loves making big plays, talks a ton of shit, starts fights, breaks bats over his knee, and genuinely annoys the piss out of a ton of opposing fans who call him “thug” as well as any number of other racist codewords. He taunts pitchers after he beats them and was once blocked from scoring on a home run by noted Aquaman* wannabe Brian McCann. This weekend Gerrit Cole told Carlos Gomez not to talk shit immediately after allowing him to hit a triple, yet most pundits seemed to think Gomez was preening inappropriately. Carlos Gomez is faster and stronger than everyone else, he can jump higher than anyone else, and he’s not afraid to tell you about it. If the Brewers have an anti-hero, it is Carlos Gomez.

gomez-braves

*I’ve always found it amusing that Aquaman gets so much guf for being a lame superhero when the Marvel version of Aquaman, Namor the Submariner, is about a thousand times lamer. I suppose the main reason is that he’s simply not as well known as Marvel didn’t have anything like the Super Friends back in the day, so he escapes scrutiny. The main lesson is that water-based superheroes are incredibly lame, just like Brian McCann.

The national media and all opposing fans are going to call Braun a cheater and Gomez a thug, and that’s just how it’s going to be. The Brewers know this which is why they hired a puppy to be the face of the franchise. What do you think they’re trying to hide? You know who needs a puppy out in front? Brash, egotistical jerks, that’s who. They break the unwritten rules, they cheer their own home runs, they rub it in their opponent’s faces. They’re also really really fun if you’re a fan. I say we roll with it.