Joining us for this installment of the Thursday Q & A is Kyle for Brew Crew Ball.  As many of you know, Brew Crew Ball is one of the biggest and most prolific, in terms of content, Brewers Blogs out there.  They are also one of the few sports team related blogs out there that consistently and continually churn out content even during the off season, which is something that is not always easy to do and often where you will see sites lose steam and falter.  Let’s gets some answers!

I would consider Brew Crew Ball to be the granddaddy of all Brewers blogs out there based on longevity & popularity.  Share with us the story of its origins and consequent growth.

I don’t actually know the full story of BCB, but I do know that Jeff Sackmann started it as one of the first SB Nation blogs back in 2005. I discovered it in early 2008 and started writing a primitive version of the Frosty Mug in the FanPosts section of the site. For me, things took off from there: The Frosty Mug was moved to the front page a few weeks later, and I’ve been producing it five days a week ever since. And when Jeff decided to move on to focus on other ventures in November of ’08, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to take the reins of BCB.

Since then, we’ve grown to 11 contributors, and now produce as many as 6-7 posts on the Brewers every weekday. It’s been a wild and occasionally stressful ride but I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish: BCB has been around 100,000 readers per month all season, and was recently credentialed for the first time at Miller Park.

So we’re coming off the All-Star break here, is there any reason the Brewers should NOT be sellers at this point?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is probably no. The one argument I think you can make against dealing a player like Prince Fielder, Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks is 2011. All three players are under team control for next season and could feasibly help the team. If you think the team is only a player or two away from contending in 2011, then it could make sense to hold onto some or all of these guys and avoid creating another hole in next season’s team.

With that said, the Brewers desperately need to find young pitching, and you have to give something to get something. If any team offers legitimate major league ready pitching for Fielder or Hart, Doug Melvin should pull the trigger. Trading Rickie Weeks would be a bit more challenging for me, but I’d still do it if the right offer came along, and let Joe Inglett keep the seat warm at second until Brett Lawrie is ready. 

Assuming they are sellers, who should get moved first? Should subsequent moves be made before the deadline?

If the Brewers can get fair market value for Corey Hart, they should hurry up and do it as soon as they can. I have no idea what to expect from Hart down the stretch, but I fear the worst from a player who hasn’t typically been anywhere near as good as he’s been this season. It’s time to sell high on him.

Beyond that, if I were Doug Melvin I’d be working the phones looking for new homes for pending free agents like Jim Edmonds, Dave Bush, Trevor Hoffman and Doug Davis. None of them are worth a lot at this point, but getting something for them is better than nothing and they have little left to contribute in Milwaukee.

The focus will likely be on young pitching in any deal the Brewers makes. Should they be looking at MLB ready (i.e. AAA or big league rookies) or would it be advisable to settle for less developed (A or AA) players who might take a few years to make it to The Show?

Getting another GM to trade MLB ready starting pitching isn’t as easy as it sounds. I spent a full day researching trade possibilities for the Brew Crew Ball Trade Deadline Primer , and had a hard time finding any teams that I’d expect to be willing to deal a major league ready impact pitcher. There aren’t many of them out there, and they’re baseball’s most valuable commodity.

With that said, I’ll be disappointed if the centerpiece of the return in a Fielder or Hart deal is a pitcher below AA. There are a million opportunities in a pitcher’s development for something to go wrong, and the Brewers do not have a good track record regarding developing pitching. They need someone who’s relatively close to the major leagues and can be slotted onto the roster by the end of 2011.

Will Corey Hart fall back to earth following his strong first half? Suffer from the Home Run Derby ‘Curse’?

I’m not sure the Home Run Derby “curse” has anything to do with it, but I’d be surprised if Hart doesn’t regress a bit. I posted a link from Beyond the Box Score in Wednesday’s Mug that showed Hart as one of baseball’s best hitters of inside and high pitches, which is something he’s always done relatively well. Why anyone pitches him there is beyond me, because he’s a guy that’s always struggles to hit balls down in the zone and outside. It’s possible he’s turned the corner, but he’s had so many extended swoons that it’s hard not to brace yourself for another one.

Macha’s job security is in question for sure, but should Doug Melvin also be perusing the want ads?

If I owned the team, yes. I think Melvin has had an extended opportunity to produce a winner and, while he’s had some great moments, on the whole I don’t think he’s had the level of success one could ask for from him, and I don’t think he’s done enough to make sure the future of the franchise is as bright as it could be.

A lot of people point to Melvin’s free agent decisions (Suppan, Wolf, Hawkins, Riske et al) as proof that he should go, but those signings are really just a symptom of a larger problem: A systemic failure to evaluate and develop pitching talent internally that has created a hole that had to be filled via expensive, risky signings that turned into major financial mistakes. 

It’s a shame, because Melvin does seem to be very good at some things (finding usable talent on the scrap heap), but on the whole he seems too inclined to repeat the same mistakes.

Back to Macha here, I think it’s a foregone conclusion he’s not here next season.  Any early candidates you see to replace him?

I’m very surprised Macha isn’t already gone. If the Brewers do fire him before the end of the season, I fully expect either Willie Randolph or Dale Sveum to get the opportunity to manage in an interim role with a strong possibility of returning next season.

Even if Macha isn’t fired in-season, I think Randolph and Sveum have to be considered the top candidates to take his place.

What do you make of Mark Attansio’s comments this past Sunday saying the the Brewers won’t necessarily be sellers? Is he serious or just posturing to preserve the market value of his tradeable parts?

One of my strongest complaints against the Brewers’ current PR strategy is the volume of posturing that takes place. Each of the last two offseasons, they’ve played the “out of money” card before signing a late free agent (Braden Looper in 2009, Doug Davis this season). They pretended to be happy to give Jon Lucroy a shot in the majors before signing Gregg Zaun. It seems like every major move is preceded by comments about why it won’t happen. As such, I’ll take Attanasio’s comments about not selling with a grain of salt, and I have a hard time believing anyone within baseball took them seriously.

Who replaces Hart, Fielder and possibly Weeks from the minor league system? How much offensive drop off should be expect?

Hart – Jim Edmonds would likely get a fair amount of the playing time in right in the short term, with Carlos Gomez taking back over as a full time center fielder. Lorenzo Cain would likely be called up, but it’s hard to predict how he’d be used. Ideally he’d get a chance to compete with Gomez for the center field job.

Fielder – Anyone’s guess. They could move Braun to first base in the short or long term, or Casey McGehee, if they’d like to see what Mat Gamel can do at third base. Jim Edmonds could also be a fit here, as could George Kottaras.

Weeks – In the short term, it probably means much more playing time at second for Joe Inglett and Craig Counsell. Inglett could get a chance to prove he deserves long term consideration at the position. Brett Lawrie might be big league ready in a year but may or may not be a second baseman long term, so he’s the wild card.

And the ‘mentor’ question – What advice would you give to sports bloggers (or bloggers in general) as it relates to starting or maintaining their blogs?

Five things:

  • I’d strongly advise against trying to do it on your own. If you’re going to start your own blog, try to do it with others who will also contribute and reduce some of the workload. You don’t need 12 contributors like BCB has, but it’s nice to have a variation of voices and people who can help out on days when you have nothing to write about or you’re not around. 
  • If you’re going to give up in a week, don’t bother. Generating readership takes time and consistency. If you can’t commit to writing on a relatively firm schedule (whether it’s three times a day, every morning, or every Tuesday), then it’s going to be hard to get people to consistently check back. 
  • If you feel like you’ve got good stuff but don’t have the time to write consistently, consider finding a place to post your work, instead of creating your own site. The FanPosts section at BCB is a great place for that- the readership there is pretty high, and it’s where I got my start. There are likely other blogs that might be interested in taking on a new contributor, if your work is good. [Ed. Note: Like PocketDoppler.com]
  • Originality is key. There are dozens of Brewer blogs writing game recaps, some 24 hours or more after the fact. If you’re just talking about the same stuff everyone else is talking about, then there’s no reason for people to seek you out. Find an interesting niche, something you don’t see anyone else doing, and make it your own.
  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote, within reason. If you’re starting a new blog or you’ve got something really interesting you want to make sure people see, don’t be afraid to drop an email to me or any of the other prominent sites covering your team. Start participating in forums and communities like the comments at BCB – if people talk to you and see you’re knowledgeable, they’re more likely to check your site.  

…and now for the lighting round.

Your all-time favorite Brewers player is:

Gorman Thomas. I have a dachshund named after him. 

Your favorite Brewers blog to read that is not named Brew Crew Ball is:

There are several good ones, but if I’m limited to one I’ll take Disciples of Uecker. 

If there were no Brewers, you would have a blog about:

Food, most likely. I already have a recipe blog

If you were a pro baseball player, your position would be:

Eliminated. I’m nowhere near athletic enough to even pretend to play baseball. 

Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.

I’m not a big drinker, but when I do it’s typically hard cider. Strongbow is good, but Woodchuck is my preferred flavor. 

Big thanks to Kyle for coming to join us this week and make sure to bookmark Brew Crew Ball for all your Brewers news and information year round.

 

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  • Nick

    I’d try Hornsby’s if you can find it and haven’t tried it yet. Much better than Woodchuck IMO.

  • ktenreb

    Kyle’s blog is populated by a relatively small number of “buddies” who do not tolerate any sort of dissent. Kyle, the former Iowa political strategist for at least one unsuccessful candidate for governor, is quick to ban anybody who does not agree with him. Kyle’s blogs are sometimes entertaining, but his possessiveness and narrow-mindedness are a disservice to those who try8uly try to follow the Brewers.