Monday, June 1, 2009

Let's Change It Up Today.

Critiquing Todd Welter's work has gotten a bit boring; it's like grading a paper for a third grader who speaks English as his second (or maybe third) language. So, today, let's see what Greg Giesen of the Racine Journal Times has to say about the Crew (with love to KL Snow and the other wunderkinds at Brew Crew Ball for the link).

But, before we jump in, keep two things in mind:

One, this piece was written on Friday, before the three-game sweep of the Reds.

Two, Greg Giesen, from all appearances, is an idiot.

That said, here we go:

Baseball fans dig the long ball.

Home runs are the reason fans flocked to watch Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire back in 1998.

Home runs electrify crowds and can turn a game around with one swing of the bat.

To paraphrase Jack Black in Tenacious D's "Kielbasa": So far, off to a good start.

But home runs are also a Siren’s call to baseball players and teams that can lead to disaster.

The Milwaukee Brewers are a perfect example of a team drawn to the allure of the home run only to find its promises of high-octane splendor empty.

Oh, shit. It's a small-ball trap!

Entering Friday's game against Cincinnati, the Brewers have hit 53 home runs — second in the National League. Eighty-five of Milwaukee’s 218 runs scored have come via the home run. That’s 39 percent of the team’s offense. During the Brewers’ recent 28-game stretch during which they went 22-6, Milwaukee hit 35 home runs. During that span, the Brewers scored 155 runs and 56 — or 37 percent — came via the long ball.

Greg, since we're talkin' numbers, let's try these on: last year, the Brewers scored a total of 750 runs. Guess how many scored via the home run? 297. Percentage-wise, for you math geeks: 39.6% of the team's runs. In case you've got an obscenely short memory, lemme remind you: we made the playoffs last year scoring 39.6% of our runs by home run. It's not a foolproof strategy, by any means, but we're not languishing in last place playing this way, either.

Since finishing a three-game sweep of St. Louis May 18, Milwaukee has hit three home runs accounting for four of its 22 runs. Milwaukee’s record during that period is 3-6. Going a step further, the Brewers are 22-9 in games in which they homer, but just 5-11 in games in which they don’t.

Let me cut through all the bullshit for you, Greg: hitting home runs is good. It helps your team win baseball games. See? I just saved you 500-some words.

But wait! It gets better:

But when those power outages arise, teams have to grind through the tough times and score enough runs to win. The St. Louis Cardinals did just that Wednesday in their 3-2 victory over Milwaukee at Miller Park. ...

There wasn’t a single home run, but St. Louis beat Milwaukee because the Cardinals got runners on base, hit to the left side for productive outs and scored the runner. They manufactured runs. That’s exactly how championship-caliber teams beat good pitching and grind through offensive slumps.

These same St. Louis Cardinals -- the gritty, small-ball playin', hard drinkin', untucked shirt despisin', salt of the earth folks that Greg Giesen wants the Brewers to emulate -- had hit 51 homers going into their weekend series vs. the Giants.

And, apparently, Greg didn't take in the Brewers' 1-0 win over the Cards two days before, when the Brewers "got [a] runner on base," advanced the runner into scoring position and "scored the runner. They manufactured [a] run." After all: " That's exactly how championship-caliber teams beat good pitching and grind through offensive slumps."

The Brewers need to focus on fundamental hitting. Players like outfielder Corey Hart, third baseman Bill Hall and Hardy need to focus on putting down bunts, moving runners over and executing at the plate with fewer than two outs. All three have hit 20 home runs in a season and have that ability, but the team’s long-term success depends on them getting on base, moving runners over and driving them in by any means necessary.

Annnnd there it is. You were wondering when it was going to come (that's what she said), weren't you? The mindless suggestion that, if the Brewers hope to contend this season, they need to bunt more? He doesn't disappoint, that Greg Giesen.

Let's just throw the stats up there, for poops and giggles:

BILL HALL: 13 sac bunts (career); 5 in the last three-plus seasons. 100 career homers.

17 sac bunts (career), including 8 in his rookie year, when he couldn't hit out of a wet paper bag; 9 in the last three-plus seasons. 69 career homers.

JON "CORAL" HART: 10 sac bunts (career), including one this season. 60 career homers.

But, yes, by all means, give up outs and bunt more, boys.

Lookit: I know there's a vocal mob of numbnuts in this state who want to see the Brewers play small ball at all costs. (This same mob of numbnuts is also eager to point out that Tony Gwynn, Jr. is hitting .320 for the Padres, with an OBP of .390. M'self, I'm equally eager to point out that: (a) we're talking a sample size of 25-some at bats; and (b) TGJ's already struck out 6 times in nine games.) But, facts are facts: the Brewers are a home run hitting team. This year, we're going to have at least three guys with at least 30 homers, and probably five with at least 20. This is who they are, and, thus far, the results have been pretty good.

(Does that qualify as a positive post, Va Jay Jay?)

1 comment:

Sheets' Va Jay Jay said...

Very positive. I like it!