A brief look at an opponent we play this weekend.
Dates we play them: 6/12-6/14 @ Milwaukee
Offense: A potential batting order: Craig Counsell-2B, J.J. Hardy-SS, Ryan Braun-LF, Prince Fielder-1B, Mike Cameron-CF, Mat Gamel-3B, Corey Hart-RF, Jason Kendall-C Bench: Bill Hall-UTIL
Milwaukee, the good land. This series is our first in a National League park this season, so expect to see very little Jim Thome. But back to the Brewers. Craig Counsell, he of the little league coach's nightmares batting stance (which he apparently has changed), is batting leadoff since Rickie Weeks remembered he is the Mark Prior of hitting. Craig gets on base at a good clip (.344 career OBP), but has no power. He seems like the kind of guy people like us would mock relentlessly (see grinders). Something has to be wrong with J.J. Hardy. He should not have as bad of a slash-line as he does (.219/.298/.344). His walk and strikeout rates are normal and his BABIP is a bit low, but just looking at these numbers still makes me think something is wrong. His past two seasons were too good for this. Ryan Braun is having the best year of his young career. The Hebrew Hammer is crushing the ball like he has since his 2007 call-up, but he is finally showing some patience at the plate. He has practically doubled his walk rate and his 29 walks on the season match his 2007 total in just over half the games. I feel bad for NL Central pitchers, as this guy is going to be terrorizing them for years. Plus, he has a lot of great links about him. My favorite vegetarian, Prince Fielder, completes one of the best pair of 3-4 hitters in the NL. As great a season as Braun is having, Fielder's is even better (169 OPS+). The King of the Fatties has already belted 15 homers and is walking almost as much as he is striking out. He is on his way to becoming a better hitter than his father, who he doesn't talk to.
Mike Cameron does not seem to be aging. The man we traded over 10 years ago for Paul Konerko has not had a below average season since. He hasn't been stealing as much this year, but still has a powerful bat and plays above average defense in center. He also strikes with an assassin's accuracy. Mat Gamel is going to hit eventually. Gamel, the Brewer's number two prospect, has destroyed the minors. His problem is his terrible defense. It's not a great thing when you're 23 and people already talk of turning you into a DH or first baseman. Don't be surprised if either him or Prince Fielder get traded this offseason, as both would be better off in the AL. Corey Hart is one of those guys you think is better than he actually is. What do I mean? Last season he was an All-Star. With an OBP of .300. The man seems allergic to drawing a walk, which will ultimately stop him from being as valuable a player as he should be. And he needs to go back to using the most obvious at-bat music ever. Jason Kendall is playing out the string. The Brew Crew have some good young catchers in the minor and the man with the sub-.300 slugging percentage will most likely leave Wisconsin this winter, and should give retirement some serious consideration. I will always remember him for this.Pitching: A potential rotation and closer: Jeff Suppan-RHP, Yovani Gallardo-RHP, Manny Parra-LHP, Braden Looper-RHP, David Bush-RHP and Trevor Hoffman-RHP.
Milwaukee's rotation went from a strength to a weakness when they lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets last winter. Jeff Suppan frightens no one. He back of the rotation fodder than the Brewers gave too long of a contract to. Gallardo is the true ace on the team. He currently has one less strikeout than innings pitched. If he continues pitching like this, he could lead Milwaukee to the playoffs for many years to come (he's only 23!). The next three are the guys we will see this weekend. Manny Parra has five pitches and bad control. He strikes out a large number of hitters, but walks far too many. This wasn't a problem for him in the minors, so he may be able to fix it. Braden Looper is a groundball machine. He made the transition from closer to starter a few years ago for St. Louis and has been fairly solid since. He's no world-beater, but he doesn't walk hitters and is pretty cheap. I wanted us to sign him this offseason. David Bush is yet another decent but unspectacular pitcher. He has gotten three no-hitters past the seventh, but lost all of them before the ninth. He throws a fastball, a curveball, and a cutter. Trevor Hoffman is very old (think WU-old), but somehow has been lights out this year. He hasn't allowed a run in 17 innings and has only walked one hitter. Not bad for a guy who made his debut before I started kindergarden.
Outlook: The Brewers are a pretty good team, but have been playing pretty badly lately. We have also been playing pretty poorly, but most likely aren't a very good team. This series being played at Miller Park hurts us, as we lose the Gentleman Masher. The retractable roof does insure no rain delays though, so unfortunately we have no chance of this happening. I'm feeling optimistic this morning though, so I say we take the series 2-1. And if you happen to be at the game on Saturday, stop by section 414 and say hello. I'll be in the 17th row.