Friday, August 24, 2012

Cubs Get Swept At Miller Park | Sveum Tries New Blood

Dale Sveum Cubs Manager
Dale Sveum was in Milwaukee earlier this week, as the Cubs were victims of a three game sweep by the Brewers at his old place of employment. Leaving the Crew (after serving as interim manager in 2008 for seventeen games,) Sveum is now trying to keep a young Chicago team from dropping one hundred games for just the third time in franchise history. With just under forty games remaining in the season, that goal is reachable. Just sixteen wins would keep them out of the “100 Losses” club. The first year manager says that he is much more concerned with improving the team play by the end of the season and into the next than he is with his final record.
For the Cubs, there was certainly room for improvement during the team's opening game of the series at Miller Park. Starting pitcher Justin Germano ducked out of the game after giving up three runs in the first two-thirds of the fifth inning, leaving bullpen rookie Jeff Beliveau with a five run deficit. The young leftie would throw just a couple of pitches before Johnathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back homers, combining for four runs.

Sveum's offense has also been affected by the rookie overhaul of the team's roster. That was evident again during the team's Monday loss to the Brewers. Anthony Rizzo has been the only Cubs newcomer to produce this season, but his output has slacked in August. While he continues to make his it on base, Rizzo can’t get guys to move him over.  He has just one homer since the end of July. That shot came against the Dodgers on August fifth, the same day that Josh Vitters was called up from Triple-A, hoping to add some more power to Sveum's lineup. Vitters came in cold since joining the team in Chicago, and went hit-less in his first two at-bats on Monday. Though he did give some hope to Cubs fans, when hitting his first major league home run off Mark Rogers in the fifth. Sveum told reporters after the game that he thinks Vitters will be an important part of the team's batting game in 2013, mentioning the rookie's bomb as a hopeful sign of improvement.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mike Fiers Stumbles at Coors Field

Brewers at Coors Field
It was bound to happen. Mike Fiers was going to have one of those games where you just can’t get a guy out. What’s interesting about last night’s game was that the same thing happened to Yovanni when he was a high-flying rookie. The first thing that Fiers needs to do is remember that Coors Field will turn fly balls to home runs. The air is thinner, and it’s just going to happen. What Fiers doesn’t want to do is change the way he works, just because he got clobbered in one game.

It’s all about taking it game by game. Fiers probably knew that this was going to happen at some point. If I were him, I wouldn’t look at how his ERA jumped to 2.63. I wouldn’t go out and see what I can change in my throw, stance, etc. Just pitch the way that you learned. The style that got you to the majors shouldn’t change just because you got creamed.

Coming into this game, Fiers was crushing it. He pitched a near-perfect game against the Reds, and that’s nothing to play down, just because he couldn’t find his pitches at Coors Field. Eight earned runs in two innings will crush you, but you have to pick yourself back up and be ready to go once again. Prior to this debacle he was averaging 6.5 strikeouts per game, and doing that over roughly six innings of baseball. Don’t be like Gallardo, and struggle for a few more starts before going back to what you know. Just play your game Fiers, and you will be fine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weeks Has Seven Good Games But Does That Mean Anything at This Point?

Rickie Weeks Baseball
Has Rickie Weeks come out of his long, drawn out slump?  Does it really matter at this point in the season?  In past seven games, Weeks has gone 7 for 19, batting .368.  He’s scored five runs, and hit just one homer.  Overall, he still ranks near the bottom in production for a non pitcher in a Brewers uniform.  He is batting .268 since the All Star break, improving greatly from that dismal .199 he put up in the first half.  Still, this is a player that the Brewers paid pretty big money for, when they extended his contract in 2011.  We’re talking 10 million dollars per year, big.

Is it any wonder that Weeks has had a down year? If he finishes out the season on a high note, it might just bring his averages up to where they always seem to be.  His numbers reveal that his best yearly average was a not so great .279, and that came in 2006 when he played in only 95 games. He may go injury free this year, but his numbers have never broken the .300 average in batting, so what should we expect from Weeks?  I would like to see fewer strikeouts, for one.  He’s whiffing about as much as Hart, but without the production to justify it. Hart has hit 51 home runs over the past two seasons, with a batting average in the .284 range. 

Yes, I want to see Weeks play better ball, but I just can’t get my hopes up for some miracle .300 season, ever.  He’s just not that kind of player.  When he’s not hurt, he’s playing so-so ball.  Yes, he hit 49 homers over the same two seasons that Hart hit his 51, but if you go back to prior years, Weeks is either hurt, or putting up crappy numbers. In 2010, his 184 strikeouts were easier to take because he hit 29 home runs that year.  We’ll see how this pans out, but I’m beginning to regret the fact that the Brewers offered up a 10 million per year payout for Weeks.