Saturday, January 31, 2009

Signing of Prince Fielder: Yay! or Nay?

There was rumor that Prince Fielder would be traded in order to get a solid starting pitcher. That rumor ended when Fielder and the Brewers avoided arbitration and signed him to an $18 million, two-year contract on Jan. 23. Was this a good deal for the Brewers?

One thing's for certain: the Brewers desperately need either a starting ace or a number two pitcher. If the whole rotation stays healthy, the Brewers led by Yovani Gallardo could have a solid season and be alright without another starting pitcher. Everyone for the most part stayed healthy last season with the exception of Gallardo who missed most of the season with injury. The Brewers would have been very dangerous if Gallardo would have been in the starting rotation all year. Although, who knows if the Brewers would have pulled off CC Sabathia if Gallardo wouldn't have been out all season. But the thought of having a rotation consisting of Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Gallardo, Manny Parra, and either Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan would have been mesmorizing and arguably would have been the best rotation in the MLB. But Milwaukee needs a healthy rotation in 2009 if they want to be contendors.

Which brings me to this point: When Milwaukee signed Fielder was it a good deal? Or should they have traded him to another team for a solid pitcher? I have a hard time going against anything that GM Doug Melvin does and the Fresh Prince of Milwaukee is one of the best first baseman in the game. Sure, the Brewers could have traded Fielder and started phenom Mat Gamel at first but now Milwaukee can afford to play the waiting game with Gamel and get him some MLB experience before he comes in and is an everyday starter. Melvin has mentioned that he is probably done with signing anyone but is keeping some money to potentially trade at the deadline. The Brewers may have lost Sheets and Sabathia but they still have one of the best rotations in the Central Division. Only Chicago and the Cardinals have a better rotation and if Milwaukee is in good standing by the deadline, they can trigger a deal to get them back to at least in the running for another Wild Card.

Brewers followers will be happy to see Fielder for at least the next two years and continue to give them one of the best 3-4 punches in the league between Ryan Braun and Fielder. Trading Fielder would have also given Milwaukee a much weaker bench.

Note: Milwaukee should have worked meat eating into Fielder's contract. The vegetarian diet messed with his success. Moral of the story: Don't mess with meat especially in a city of carnivores who have a seventh inning stretch consisting of hot dogs racing each other.

Photo: Courtesy of

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Preseason Predictions in the Central...


1. Chicago Cubs

2. Milwaukee Brewers

3. Houston Astros

4. St. Louis Cardinals

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

6. Cincinnati Reds

It is somewhat of a tossup this year for how the NL Central will round out in 2009. Chicago by far has all the tools to win the division yet again. I don't consider them the strongest team in the NL, probably the third best, but barring an injury (obviously any injury to any team can scramble up the division) they should make it back to the playoffs in 2009 and possibly even win a game or series.

Milwaukee has arguably the best hitting in the Central if they could only hit with runners on base and start getting some walks instead of striking out consistently. Brewers GM Doug Melvin is one of the best in the game but won't be going after any pitching. Milwaukee lost two pivotal players in free agency- CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets- and have a mediocre -at best- rotation. Yovani Gallardo if healthy, will be a potential CY Young winner down the road and certainly has the stuff to be an ace right now at the age of 21. The Brewers will go into the season with a young rotation but I believe that Melvin will trigger a deal before the deadline and get a big name pitcher to help the Brewers get back to the playoffs. As long as the Brewers are in contention for a title, Melvin and Attanasio will find a deal to bring in a pitcher to help them make another run. The relief pitching is decent but with the addition of Trevor Hoffman it makes the Brewers a contender in the Central.

Luckily for the Brewers, the rest of the NL besides the Cubs have a lackluster rotation and are very much offensively inclined than defensively. For that reason I will give Milwaukee the number two position in the Central and the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros will battle it out for the three spot.

St. Louis has a much better edge with their rotation than Houston who's rotation is pitiful. Besides Roy Oswalt the rest of the Astros rotation just doesn't stack up. Wandy Rodriguez had his best year last year but can be very shaky at times and can be pegged in any given game. He is a number three type of pitcher but the Astros have him a spot behind their ace. I think Oswalt will regain form this year and be the Oswalt of old that dominated every game. Oswalt and Rodriguez both finished with a 3.54 ERA last season. Their number three, Brandon Backe, finished with a 6.05 ERA and it goes down hill from there.

As for the bottom of the barrel... Drumroll please! I'll take the up and coming Pittsburgh Pirates to finish fifth and Cincinnati to be the worst in the division. Pittsburgh doesn't have all the pieces to be a good team all year but they will be very competitive and win games that they shouldn't. Cincinnati has solid starting pitching and I look for Aaron Harang to make a comeback. Edinson Volquez is there young ace who has a great arm. For the Pirates Tom Gorzelanny was their staff ace who was under the radar but had a few great seasons before he completely fell apart last year. Zach Duke showed a lot of promise but has never posted very good stats. Duke had a 4.82 ERA and was 5-14 last season while Gorzelanny failed to show up last season and went 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA. Gorzelanny was the Pirates ace while Duke has been either the second or third pitcher in the rotation. Gorzelanny and Duke are number four and five pitchers on the staff according to the Pirates depth chart on their official website. Look for Gorzelanny to get back on track and have a decent season and Duke to post numbers that number four or five pitchers usually do (high four-point era and seven or eight wins). Both teams have mediocre offenses that can score runs but neither are legitimate threats and Cincinnati was hurt when they lost Adam Dunn. Neither will make a cinderella run to win the division.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Great Debate: Miller Park vs. Wrigley Field

There's no sense in making this a debate but let's do it anyway:

Miller Park vs. Wrigley Field: which stadium is better?

If Wrigley Field didn't have the history that it does, would it even be considered a good field for today's standards? NO it doesn't really compare to today's standards. But, the history of Wrigley and the fans make it a relative topic. The Cubs and Brewers are now the two best teams in the Central so let's take a look at the debate. Note: I am sure I missed some aspects of Wrigley Field so feel free to leave comments and tell me (if you have visited both stadiums) which one in your honest opinion is better...

The case for Wrigley:

You have to love Wrigley Field it is a natural place with a great baseball atmosphere. I went to Wrigley Field when I was a little kid and it was one of the first stadiums that I ever went to. In fact the time I went was when Sammy Sosa hit his 62nd homerun for the second time against the Milwaukee Brewers. I was not overly impressed with the place but I knew the history and it gave me chills just being inside of there. It is a great place to watch a ballgame and I love the ivy on the outfield wall. Being out in the Sun without any roof is the way baseball should be played. The other great thing about Wrigley is it has no bullpen. Relief pitching pitches on the side. Wrigley brings out the inner-baseball child in us because that is how we grew up playing baseball with nothing over our heads and a little room before the foul line to pitch. With the amount of money spent on ballparks these days we have to value a stadium that was built in 1914 and still has the feel of the America's pastime. The history adds another element and pushes Wrigley Field into the forefront of best stadiums in the league.

The case for Miller Park:

Well, simply put, it is a beautiful park. When Milwaukee decided to build another park and tear down County Stadium I was devistated. I had grown up going to games in County Stadium and when you tear down a stadium you lose all history. County Stadium had it's fair share of moments from being in the movie Major League to the Green Bay Packers playing three to four home games a year inside the stadium. I hated that the Yankees built a new stadium let alone when the Brewers did. I have never even been to New York but guys like Micky Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford and so many others played their careers in there and saw several penants. It is all about money now not only with athletes but having the best stadiums. History just isn't that important to some people anymore. Milwaukee fans witnessed not only the Brewers but also the Milwaukee Braves. But enough about County Stadium...

When I first layed eyes on Miller Park in 2001 when it opened I was mesmorized. The County Stadium memories I have I will never forget but when I walked into Miller Park in the first season the hurt of losing County rolled off and for the most part diminished. Miller Park has two easily noticed parts of their park: the retractable roof and the outfield has large panes of glass. The glass allows natural sunlight to come in so the field can have natural grass. Having a retractable roof is starting to be a norm for new fields so there is almost never a delay or cancellation of a game which is great especially for the beginning of a season in the Midwest. They also have a few different LED screens along the wall that show everything from scores to stats to the players who are batting or on deck and so on. In 2005 Sports Illustrated conducted fan surveys and named Miller Park the best ballpark based on value per dollar spent. They have the Bob Uecker seats that cost a dollar and they have kids hot dogs for a buck a piece. The atmosphere is beginning to get better and better with the Brewers starting to become a playoff team but the atmosphere in Wrigley Field is much better with the attendance. But, Miller Park stays very competitive with the luxury box they built on the field that is positioned right next to the bullpen. They also have Bernie who slides down the slide after a homerun and of course fireworks all of which is a crowd pleaser. The one structure I wish they still had was the barrel that was at County Stadium.

There are several other aspects to put into which ballpark is better from the seventh inning stretch: "Take me out to the ballgame" or the Sausage race. Both are two of the greatest traditions in any sport.

What stadium do you think is better? Miller Park or Wrigley Field. It all depends on what you think is more important: the history or the actual stadium.
My pick for best stadium would be Miller Park. Money can buy you the best and I am still amazed every time I walk into Miller Park.

Another Q: What stadium do you consider the best stadium in the world?