With the major league baseball trade deadline fast approaching, much of the attention in Milwaukee has been centered on what, if anything, the Brewers are going to do about first baseman Prince Fielder, rightfielder Corey Hart and, to a lesser extent, second baseman Rickie Weeks.  The speculation is only logical since all three will be eligible for free agency after next season.  It’s already a virtual certainty that Fielder won’t be a Brewer by this time next year, if not well before.  Hart’s trade value as well as his season may have taken a hit Friday night when he injured his wrist banging into the Miller Park wall.  As for Weeks, I would advocate trying to lock him up for awhile as he finally appears to be healthy and should just be entering his most productive years.

This morning, however, I would like to focus on another three players that have had a checkered impact on the Brewers season to this point:  shortstop Alcides Escobar, centerfielder Carlos Gomez, and left-handed pitcher Manny Parra.  Based on their respective career arcs, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that they’ve underachieved but it’s fair to note that they haven’t had the kind of seasons that the Brewers had hoped or needed them to have.  And their performances have contributed to the team’s disappointing prospects for this year.

The trade of J.J. Hardy to the Minnesota Twins directly affected two positions in the order by automatically installing Escobar and Gomez in the starting lineup.  So far, they seem to be reinforcing the cliche that it’s difficult to win with young players ‘up the middle’ of the field.  At only 23 years old, the Brewers are committed to Escobar for better or worse.  One presumes he’ll grow into a competent major league shortstop though his minor league error totals give me pause for concern.  Gomez, on the other hand, is a different story.  While also still young, he has experience at the big league level with the Twins and prior to that with the New York Mets.  Gomez’ obvious talent tantalized those two organizations as well as the Brewers.  But games like Friday night, when he excelled both at the plate and in the field, mostly serve to highten the frustration level at his lack of consistent production and approach to the game.  The main difference between Escobar and Gomez is that, while there is no ready alternative at shortstop, the Brewers have a centerfielder waiting in the wings at Nashville with Lorenzo Cain.

Which brings me to Parra.  Like the other two, Parra’s ability is readily apparent but likewise he has never really been able to sustain any success comparable to his talent.  Baseball people rave about his “stuff’” but at some point you need to see the results on the mound.  Since starting pitching is at a premium, especially for a club like the Brewers, he has merited a little more leeway than most.  He had a solid outing last night, which I appreciated as I was in attendance at the game.  Unfortunately with his track record, it means absolutely nothing for his next start.

The fear with players such as these is the possibility of giving up on them too soon only to see them blossom elsewhere.  But to continue to live with their mistakes indefinitely is essentially cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.  The ultimate question for the Brewers and general manager Doug Melvin is how long can they afford to wait for these players to finally come around?  Since the Brewers are out of this year’s playoff hunt for all intents and purposes, it is one that can be put on hold for now.  Nevertheless, it is a question that will have to be answered eventually.

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General Manager John Hammond’s remaking of the Milwaukee Bucks appears to be nearly complete with the acquistion of forward Jon Brockman from the Sacramento Kings.  The Seattle native’s arrival was perfectly timed as he must have felt right at home in rainy Milwaukee.  Brockman is said to be a high energy guy who should be able to easily replace Dan Gadzuric’s contributions off the bench. 

Since the end of last season, the Bucks have swapped out forwards Gadzuric and Kurt Thomas, along with guards Luke Ridnour and Jerry Stackhouse, for newcomers Brockman, rookie Larry (“Hey now!”) Sanders, Keyon Dooling, and swingmen Corey Magette and Chris Douglas-Roberts respectively.  That’s a lot of change for a team coming off it’s first playoff appearance in years.  On the surface, the moves appear to be an upgrade and make the team younger and more athletic.  It also leaves guard Michael Redd as a forgotten man in Milwaukee. 

I believe the Bucks will miss Ridnour, who provided more of a scoring threat than will Dooling, and Thomas, who did yeoman’s work after Andrew Bogut was lost for the season.  I also wasn’t happy that Thomas signed with division rival Chicago.  It will be interesting to see how coach (gritty, gutty) Scott Skiles manages to mesh all the new pieces.

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Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, took time out from his busy schedule this week to issue a lecture to sports agents on the subject of ethics.  Saban, upset that one of his best players was facing ineligibility for accepting improper benefits, labeled such agents as ‘pimps’.

Not to defend agents, the reputations of many of which would pale in comparison to used car salesman, but this is totally asinine.  Saban might be the only person on the planet with less credibility than those he criticises.  Never mind that this is a person who has made tens of millions of dollars off the efforts of ‘student-athletes’.  Ask Miami Dolphins fans about Saban’s ‘integrity’.  Saban took the job in Tuscaloosa only after repeatedly denying that he was even a candidate.  Saban previously did pretty much the same thing at Michigan St. and LSU.  The next contract that he fulfills as a head coach will be the first one.

If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, Saban laid the problem at the feet of the NFL; saying that the players association should police agents at the college level.  Saban went so far as to suggest that he might ban NFL scouts from access to his program.  Good idea, Nick.  That should really spark recruiting.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  The University of Wisconsin basketball program gained another recruit for 2011 with an oral committment from Cedar Rapids, IA forward Jarrod Uthoff.  Uthoff’s AAU coach compared his potential to Badger senior Jon Leuer and Butler’s NBA draftee Gordon Heyward.  Coach Bo Ryan seems to be on a recruiting roll since losing Vander Blue to rival Marquette………..The Brewers were lucky to miss Nationals’ phenom Stephen Strasburg in the rotation this weekend.  The Brewers typically struggle with lesser pitchers they’ve never seen; facing Strasburg might’ve been downright ugly………..Speaking of the Brewers, why did they bother to call up Cain only to give him a few meaningless ABs off the bench?  If they wanted to reward him for his work, just wait ’til September when they’ll be officially out of it and let him play the field………..Two noteworthy incidents at Miller Park Saturday night:  Jim Edmonds game saving catch (outstanding!) and Weeks’ beaning (the headhunting has got to stop)………..Great quote from Edmonds:  “I really haven’t lost a step because I never had a step to begin with.”……….Judging by the players they’re putting around them, the Miami Heat’s big three of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh better plan on playing a lot of minutes this season………..According to broadcast reports, golfer Tiger Woods’ “Year of Living Dangerously” cost him $22 million in endorsement money last year.  Don’t feel too sorry for him though.  He’s still head and shoulders above any other athlete in income.  Surprising #2 on the list:  Phil Mickleson………..After whining about wanting to be traded to a contender, Houston Astro pitcher Roy Oswalt reportedly threw up a roadblock in a deal to Philadelphia by insisting they pick up his $16 million option for next year in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause.  C’mon, Roy!  Make up your mind!………..Less than a week ’til the start of Packers training camp.  No truth to the rumor that the fence across the street from Lambeau Field is being repainted to read “How ’bout a big hit Burnett”.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the rest of your humid weekend.

 

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  • Jon

    At the beginning of the year no one would have thought that Weeks and Casey McGhee would look like long term cornerstones of the Brewer franchise. Looks a little bit like that now.

    Parra, Escobar, and Gomez will all be on the roster for at least one more year.

    I really like what the Bucks have done…now it is Skiles job to get them to play as hard as last year’s overachievers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Packers-Therapy/113896815298853?ref=sgm Chris

    That pitch that took down Weeks was a 94 mph heater. It was sickening to watch. On the drive home from the game, 540 ESPN played the TV audio commentary from Bill Schroeder. Rock’s point was that if a guy doesn’t know how to pitch inside without beaning a guy he shouldn’t be trying to go there. I agree.

    Another comment (and I forget if it was from Dan O’Donnell on WTMJ or Craig Karmazin on ESPN MKE) suggested that a punishment for Balester is in order. The host noted that just because one doesn’t intend to do something, one is still responsible for the results (and he used the criminal justice system as an example). Again, I agree.

    If Balester just let one get away, OK–it happens. But that shouldn’t make him immune from the consequences for laying a guy out with a 94 mph pitch. The punishment should be more lenient (perhaps a three day suspension instead of 10 days for doing it with intent) but there should still be consequences.