A Simple Kind of Fan. Getting to Watch Braun’s Next 6000 At- Bats. 4.26.11
When the subject is discussed about Milwaukee Brewer legends, invariably the first two names brought up are Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. While both men are legends, there is a clear and distinct difference between the two players. Yount spent his entire career in Milwaukee and Molitor didn’t. There I said it. I will freely admit that upper management didn’t exactly make it easy for Molitor to remain a Brewer. While that is true, Yount somehow found a way to stay. Sure he threatened to quit and join the pro golf circuit, but he inevitably didn’t. Robin Yount played with the Brewers through thick and thin. He surely took less money overall to remain in Milwaukee. For that reason alone, Yount deserves to be separated and held above Molitor. I am a HUGE Paul Molitor fan, but The Kid’s loyalty deserves to be recognized and admired. Robin Yount is a true Milwaukee legend and the greatest player the franchise has ever seen.
I mention this because for the first time a Milwaukee Brewer has set himself up to be mentioned in the same conversation as Robin Yount, and also play his entire career in Milwaukee. Considering that Milwaukee loves the past as much as the present, Ryan Braun could be a legend in Wisconsin for decades to come. He also has a chance to rewrite the record books and own several offensive statistical categories. Personally, I love the deal and I will tell you why.
First, there is a portion of the money that is deferred. This allows Braun to get paid by the team until 2031(h/t Brew Crew Ball), and it allows the Brewers to marginalize their risk at the end of the contract. Secondly, it is a financial risk taken by a millionaire owner that specializes in taking financial risk. As we all know, sports salaries never seem to go down in value, they only escalate in value as time passes. I believe this contract will become more and more team friendly as Braun’s career continues. Next, much like a stock, no one knows how Ryan Braun is going to perform offensively for the next decade. I do know he has done nothing but rake since he burst onto the scene in 2007. While past performance is no indication of future returns, I will take my chances with one of the most consistent players the franchise has ever seen. Finally, it seems as if Braun is a good guy and he has tried to establish roots in the community. Is he cocky? Yep. Does he want to be a deputy GM? Yep. Am I excited at the possibility of seeing the next 6000 at bats from Ryan Braun? Yep.
I am Calling You Out
I am calling you out Carlos Gomez, sort of. Earlier this year in spring training, you may recall that I said Carlos Gomez might be the most important bat in the lineup. Not because of his offensive production, but because of his superior defensive production. Even a minimum offensive output makes him effective and, at the very least, average overall. Gomez is an interesting case because the things he does well, he does very well. Unfortunately, the things he does poorly, he does very poorly. I believe the positives of Gomez outweigh the negatives and if used wisely upon the return of Nyjer Morgan, could be a productive player throughout the season in a platoon situation.
So far for 2011, GoGo has a slash line of .247/.283/.329. This line, unbelievably, is worse than last year. Clearly Gomez is living up to preseason expectations and is not getting on base consistently enough. An issue with Gomez is that out of his 20 hits, 17 are singles. This is what leads to such a poor slugging percentage. Another concern is the total of only five walks that he has managed to attain thus far. This is what leads to the poor on base percentage. Considering that the only job Gomez has hitting second in the order is to get on base in front of Braun and Fielder, he has failed miserably thus far. Lastly, Gomez has made several base running blunders in the early part of the season. Ultimately, the mental errors made by Gomez are what probably infuriates fans most.
It is not all negative however. In the last week, Gomez has been putting together some quality at bats and has been making some outs driving the ball to right field. This shows that he is trying. Also, his defense is terrific. Gomez also possesses a strong and seemingly accurate arm. While only roughly 1/7 of the way through the season, Gomez is already on pace for a +30.0 UZR. Finally, despite some base running guffaws, it is undeniable that Carlos possesses the kind of elite speed that can impact a game. Offensively, it can put pressure on a defense. Defensively, it can save an extra-base hit every couple of days. In critical situations, his defensive range alone is worth a couple of runs. When you take into account that the Brewers have become a team that wins with pitching, Carlos Gomez’s defense becomes even more valuable to the long term success of the club.
Upon the return of Nyjer Morgan, I am advocating a platoon of sorts in center field. The reason for this platoon has to do with how Gomez and Morgan perform in splits. For Carlos Gomez the splits really do not reveal much over the length of his career. In over 1000 at bats versus RHP, Gomez has a .250/.295/.345 slash line. In comparison to 480 at bats versus LHP, GoGo has hit .241/.292/.358 slash line. However, this has all changed in 2011. So far, Gomez is destroying LHP to the tune of a .381 batting average and a .435 on base percentage. Is this a trend or just a small sample size?
The reason I have proposed a platoon has much more to do with what the career numbers of Nyjer Morgan reveal. Morgan has a career batting average of .201 versus LHP. Against right-handers, he dominates to the tune of a .311 batting average in over 1000 career at bats. He also has a .364 career on base percentage against righties. This .364 mark is EXACTLY what the #2 hitter in the lineup needs to do in front of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. If used effectively in a soft platoon, I feel that the center field position can be an offensive, and obviously defensive, advantage throughout the season.
This week in the Yuni Watch, we see that Yuni had a good week with the bat and the glove. For the week he was 9 x 25, with 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs. In a continuing theme, Yuni had only one double and only one walk. He seems to make very little offensive impact for the team. In fact, Betancourt was only 1 x 8 with runners in scoring position all week. What this tells us is that he is quite simply not getting the job done driving in runs, and this may be why he was demoted to 7th in the lineup. However, for the season, he has a triple slash line of .244/.271/.308. While the average has gone up, the on base and slugging numbers are quite paltry and simply are not acceptable. It is too bad the Brewers have little choice but to trot him out every day at SS.
Defensively, Yuni did not make an error and he made all of the plays his poor range allowed him to get to. I can think of several instances this year, where I caught myself saying, “Escobar would have easily gotten to that ball.” While he lacks range, he has only made 2 errors in 87 total chances. Considering that I probably don’t zip my fly on 85 of 87 attempts, I will tip my hat to him for a better than expected defensive effort thus far.
Throwback Braun Jersey of the Week
This week’s throwback feature is also taking part in the Ryan Braun love- fest. For the first time, Milwaukee Brewer fans have assurances that the jersey they buy will be valid for the next 10 years. A decade is eons in jersey years, spilled spaghetti sauce be damned. In honor of Braun, I am going to break down three ways to get his jersey.
First, for the Father Day selection this week, I am recommending a simple replica jersey. Every father should be demanding this Ryan Braun jersey as a win-win gift. You get a sweet jersey; they get to see you wear it for an entire decade! You will have no problem finding a replica jersey like the one above for under $50. Second, I have selected an authentic game jersey, like the one the big boys wear. Since we are getting fancy, I went with the formal, old school pinstripes look. Finally, Ryan Braun is a stud and he has started in the last three All Star Games for the National League. You can proudly wear this jersey for under $50 for the next decade after Braun makes his 13th consecutive All Star game start.
A Season You Have Probably Forgotten About By Now
After WWII, baseball once again became the national focus and a source of passion. The 1947 season was paced by legends such as Ted Williams (10.8 WAR) and Ralph Kiner (9.1 WAR). However, Hall of Famer Johnny Mize also had one of his best seasons that year. “The Big Cat” hit 51 home runs (co-leader with Kiner) and also had a .302/.384/.614 slash line. In addition, Mize led all of baseball in runs scored (137) and RBIs (138) in 1947.
It is to be noted that Mize also fought in WWII and lost three good seasons to the effort. To give an idea of how dominant Mize was, he led the NL in OPS three straight seasons from 1938-1940. Johnny started at first base for the NL All Star team four times before the war and four times after. That is a span of 11 years! Mize is still considered one of the best first basemen to ever play the game despite only hitting 359 career home runs. He is one of my favorite modern era players and hopefully you can appreciate that the career statistics only tell part of the Johnny Mize story.
Dates Appearing Closer on the Horizon
May 4. Is this the return date of Zach Greinke? This is Atlanta on the schedule and this is where a Greinke start would fall.
May 14. Come party with PocketDoppler and Big League tours at Miller Park.
Shameless Self Promotion
Please don’t forget to follow my Twitter account, @simplekindoffan. If you aren’t following me, then you are missing out on useless tweets such as this.
Are you traveling or will you miss an upcoming Brewers game? No worries, the Pocketdoppler is here for you. Brian has you covered with a nightly ‘250 words or less’ summary of what happened for the Brewers. It is a quick and convenient way to stay on top of the team when things get busy. Luckily, I had a chance to fill in for him and I stunk up the place with a report last Friday night.
Finally, I would also like to see one of my readers get a chance to be the Friday Fan of the Week. Click on the link to review how you can win. It takes just a few moments, yet the recognition will last a lifetime.