We’re switching back to baseball this week for the Thursday Q & A with our guest Adam from The Brewer Nation.  Adam shares with us how The Brewer Nation site began, his views on the Brewers thus far this season, whether or not Prince will be in Brewers blue this coming season and lots more.

Give us a history lesson, how did The Brewer Nation get started and what got you into writing about the Brewers?

The Brewer Nation started with an idea, and wallet, of a friend of mine whose writing handle is South Side Rob. Back then, having MLBlogs.com host your blog was a privilege that you had to pay for. He opened the site under a different name, actually, which we changed shortly after I started writing with him. He wrote first and often back when the blog began and asked me to join him in writing shortly thereafter.

We had a blast working together and bouncing ideas off of each other. We had “professional” courtesy to try to not post within 10 or so hours of each other in order to allow us both to have a chance to have the most recent post in the feed for a while.

Taking Rob up on his offer, to get back to your original question, was an easy decision though. I had done other kinds of writing for a while but was most passionate about sports and the Brewers specifically. It kept my interest as we built a readership and has continued to fill my free time as it grows and evolves. We’ve got some more ideas coming up soon too, hopefully before this season is over.

Unfortunately, real life has prohibited him from contributing anything lately to the written blog. He has appeared on one of our podcasts and still supports and promotes the blog, but it really has become my baby over time. I expanded the idea from just the blog to include the aforementioned podcasts, a Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/BrewerNation ), Twitter account ( http://twitter.com/BrewerNation ) and I’m even pretty sure the archaic MySpace page still exists out there somewhere.

Most of my time is spent on the Twitter account these days myself because it’s easier to just post a quick thought than take the time to draft a nice post about a topic. I’ll still get to the blog itself though for larger topics. In fact, I’ve got an idea for a post on something very topical right now that I just need to find the time to sit down and write.

Having two kids, ages three and one, means that my evenings are usually filled up without much chance to blog.

We’re coming off the heels of the 2011 MLB Draft here. What grade would you give the Brewers’ draft and which player would you predict could make the majors first?

I defer grading to those that study and know prep and college ball. I am quite aware of the Brewers’ minor league system and the players therein, but as far as knowing much about the players that were drafted to join it…I’m without. The other sites I read have given decent to good grades saying that the Brewers filled a bunch of needs and got good value with several of their selections. Some people are very high on a few of the choices so that’s always better to hear than to have all of the “experts” panning the choices.

Having said that, it sounds as though there were already questions being asked as to whether or not first-round pick Taylor Jungmann could conceivably contribute out of the bullpen yet this season. He seems to have the most polished stuff of our selections and may be able to speed through the system. Then again, nobody can reach the majors without signing a contract and as I write this Jungmann still hasn’t done so.

After an uninspiring start the Brewers seem to be swinging upward.  Which is the real Brewers: The club that started 14-20 or the one that following that up by going 20-6?

I subscribe to the saying that you’re never as good as think you are when it’s going well and you’re never as bad as you think you are when things aren’t going well. In other words, the truth lies somewhere in the middle though I’m cautiously leaning toward the dominance they’ve shown lately. Once Zack Greinke rejoined the rotation, the team has been playing some very strong baseball. Winning a lot of close games is something that good teams, contending teams, have to do and this team is doing that.

But the team that started the season 14-20 was still trying to get itself right. Greinke missed time until May, Jonathan Lucroy was out for a while, Corey Hart was hurt and admittedly came back before his swing was right, Nyjer Morgan had two stints on the DL, they’re still missing Manny Parra, Takashi Saito and others.

The point is, there’s a lot of talent on this team and it really feels like when they put it all on display at once that they can play with and beat anybody.

While the acquisition of Zack Greinke got most of the play, it’s been the other newcomer Shaun Marcum that has been more solid thus far. Do you think Marcum will come back to earth once the NL sees him a few times?

Any pitcher switching leagues has the advantage the first time through the league, no doubt, but Shaun Marcum is a tremendously talented pitcher that performed very well last year against the teams that saw him the most, those in his own division. Even if we forget the fact that those teams include the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, just realizing that he is capable of performing well despite multiple looks as his repertoire bodes well for his chances to sustain his play thus far.

That doesn’t mean I expect him to finish the season with 18 wins, five losses and an ERA under 3.00, but I think he’ll have very strong numbers when it’s all said and done.

Is platooning Nyjer Morgan and Carloz Gomez the answer in Center or should one be given the job over the other?

Right now, a platoon makes the most sense because it’s working. I know that sounds like a cop out, but it’s true.

A baseball manager’s job, ultimately, is to put his players in the best position to win as much as they can. Starting Morgan while he’s hot makes sense. Starting Morgan against a left-handed pitcher, however, makes little sense because based on his substantial sample size against lefties throughout his career, you’re knowingly affecting his chances to contribute offensively.

Carlos Gomez, on the other hand, doesn’t hit anybody particularly well but tends to have better at-bats against left-handers than Morgan does and Gomez also plays superior defense in the outfield.

It just so happens that the majority of starting pitchers in Major League Baseball are right-handed and therefore Morgan gets the majority of the starts over Gomez as a result. Don’t kid yourself though. Gomez has tremendous skills in certain areas and definitely adds value to this team. He has a place on the 25-man roster, and that includes starting in center field on occasion.

The 800 lb gorilla in the room that no one really wants to talk about is the future of Prince Fielder, who is having a pretty good season.  Any chance we see him in a Brewers uniform next year?

If sports has taught us anything it’s that you simply can never say never. Even some of the most sure-looking things have failed to happen over the years. A recent example would be Cliff Lee signing with Philadelphia. Everybody had him either going to the Yankees if he could stomach the fans or resigning with Texas because they were so close to winning the World Series last year. Few thought Philly could even be a player for Lee because they had just extended Roy Halladay.

Things like that happen all the time in sports, and in baseball in particular. So is there a chance that Fielder stays in Milwaukee? Absolutely. There’s always a chance. I wouldn’t say it’s a big chance, or even that it’s likely, but there’s always a chance until he signs a deal with another club. His wife and kids love it in Milwaukee. Obviously his teammates love him and the fans are rabid about him.

To be corny and cliche for a moment, the Prince would truly be King if he stayed here for his entire career. Again, there is always that chance.

Possibly tied to the above question, do you see any trade options being explored come late July?

There’s no chance that they trade Prince Fielder this season unless they somehow fall to 30 games back by the end of July. The division is too winnable and will most likely be contested all the way to the end of the season. You need your biggest bat to get you to the post-season and to get you some October victories.

As the question relates to the rest of the roster, I could see them absolutely wanting to make some upgrades. The question though is whether or not they’ll be able to fulfill that desire. The Brewers are perilously thin as far as high-ceiling prospects go but there also has to be a player or players made available by their clubs and that furthermore fit our needs.

For example, I’d thoroughly enjoy having Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez on this club. They fill full-time needs at shortstop and centerfielder but they won’t be made available. On the contrary I’m sure they Dodgers would love to move the 37-year-old Jamey Carroll somewhere for a piece if they fall out of contention but I don’t think Carroll is an upgrade over what we already have.

It’s a perfect storm when all things come together on a trade. There are some pieces out there that would fit and that should be available, but “At what cost?” is the question.

I personally think that if they want to compete for the World Series and have a chance to win the thing, they need a better full-time option at shortstop. They also need better middle relief. No offense to Marco Estrada and Tim Dillard, but they don’t exactly fit the bill of a championship relievers.

What are your initial impressions of Brewers first year skipper, Ron Roenicke.

I have to remind myself that he’s still adjusting to the National League and still learning the players of both squads. Having said that, I generally like his philosophies, style, and decisions. I don’t always understand what he’s doing (like against the Cubs on June 14th), but for the most the part I think he’s a fine manager.

His demeanor fits this team so much better than did Ken Macha’s and that’s translating to on-field success. More than that I think the players have responded to his style of play. I tend to like his aggressiveness on the bases, his defensive positioning ideas, most of his lineup decisions, and things like that.

I think they’ve found a manager for the next several years.

Do the Brewers have enough defense to make the post-season or can they hit/pitch their way past those deficiencies?

They have enough defense at most positions. Ryan Braun is still an average defender at best in left field. Corey Hart still takes bad routes to the ball, but has a great arm in right. Casey McGehee lacks range but, when healthy, has an accurate and strong arm at the hot corner. Rickie Weeks has vastly improved defensively from where he started as a rookie but at times slips into old, bad habits but all in all is a solid defender. Fielder struggles a little with his reach but all things considered isn’t a butcher over at first. Lucroy does an adequate job behind the dish but has struggled a little in throwing out base stealers this season for whatever reason.

So, the short version of the long answer is: “Yeah, but…”

The “but” is that of Yuniesky Betancourt. He has plenty of talent based on some plays he has been able to make in the field, but it almost seems like he isn’t focused all the time. Every player on the field needs to be focused on every play. I know that’s easier said than done, but championship teams play respectable defense.

Quality pitching needs its defense to perform. As we’ve seen so far this year, even with this lineup there are going to be a ton of close games. You simply cannot afford a one-run loss down the stretch because of a defensive mishap.

Biggest surprise and greatest disappointment during the first third of the season?

Biggest surprise, and there are a lot of factors that are individually surprising that have contributed to this, would have to be their record at Miller Park so far. Especially after finishing the last two seasons with losing home records, it has been a very pleasant surprise that they’re doing so well at home to this point.

As for the greatest disappointment so far, I guess I’ll have to say it’s that they haven’t given Nyjer Morgan his own reality show yet. That guy is something else.

Seriously though, I’d have to point to the inconsistent play by the offense on the road. The players are too talented to struggle so mightily at times. The starting pitching has been great for the most part and at times the offense has done nothing to support it. We shouldn’t have only scored one run in Houston (on April 30th) let alone get shutout the next night. We shouldn’t have gotten shutout two nights out of three on that short four-game west coast road trip in the middle of May. Just frustrating nights like that are the biggest disappointment.

…and now the lightening round.

Your all-time favorite Brewers player is:

Robin Yount and it’s not even close. I was born on the 19th of July. Yount’s number was 19. Coincidence? I think not!

Your favorite Brewers blog to read that is not named The Brewer Nation is:

Brew Beat by Adam McCalvy on MLB.com is my favorite professional one because he has the access that all of us unpaid blogger types can only dream about so he gets the stories about and the questions to the players and ends up with nice insight.

As far as the non-professional (different from unprofessional) blogs, I tend to gravitate toward writers more so than just the sites that they post on. I try to read as much as I have time for but honestly don’t favor one over another. Is that a weak answer?

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

I don’t know that I would. Baseball offers so much to write about because it’s played every day and the off-season is filled with intrigue and questions. Then again, I am a Texas Rangers fan so…

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

Catcher. I’m 6’5″ so I’d be tall for the position but seeing everything in front of me, calling a game, understanding game situations, breaking down opposing hitters, all of that is right up my alley. I’m a baseball junkie and I think all good catchers are too.

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

Nice glass of scotch.

Thank you to Adam for joining us the week.  Check out The Brewer Nation for more of Adam’s thoughts and opinion on the ‘Crew as well as follow him on Twitter, @BrewerNation .

Would you like to be the guest for a PocketDoppler.com Thursday Q & A? Let us know!

 

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