Monday, March 21, 2005

ST Games 14-19

Sorry for the lack of updates, been a busy weekend with the Badgers, UWM, as well as the state High School basketball tournaments. Anyhow, I'll post the links to the last few games recaps, then add a little bit at the end about what is currently going on.

ST Game 14: Brewers 6 - Rangers 4
ST Game 15: Giants 3 - Brewers 2
ST Game 16: Diamondbacks 13 - Brewers 10
ST Game 17: A's 5 - Brewers 1
ST Game 18: Cubs 4 - Brewers 2
ST Game 19: Brewers 8 - Rangers 5

The Brewers have made a few roster moves. Matt Erickson, Julio Mosquera, Sam Narron, Andy Pratt, Jeff Housman, Nelson Cruz, Luis Pena, and Brad Nelson were reassigned. Interestingly, Cruz was sent to AAA Nashville, while Nelson was sent back to AA. This seems to confirm various firsthand reports saying that Cruz was a much more advanced player than Nelson. The team also mercifully released LHP Rigo Beltran.

On to what's been going on with the team. It appears that for some unknown reason, Ben Hendrickson stands a very good chance of being sent back to AAA. He has pitched a whopping 9 innings this spring, and it seems like most are ready to give up on him based on this insanely small sample, coupled with another small sample (46.1 IP) from the bigs last year. These people seem to ignore the fact that Hendy completely dominated his competition in AAA last season to the tune of a 11-3 record and 2.02 ERA. Granted, his peripherals are less than dazzling, but his K rate of 6.7/9 IP is almost exactly league average, and was about 1 per inning before he had some injuries in '03. He also has a nifty GB/FB ratio, which will help him succeed in Miller Park, and surrendered only .5 HR/9 last year at Indy. He is also an extreme strike thrower, kind of like Sheets was, but he is going to need to miss more bats than he has. Obviously, the main difference between the two was the few extra MPH Sheets had on his heater. However, Sheets gave up bundles of HR. There are reports, also, that Hendrickson has tweaked his mechanics a little bit and added a little to his fastball - this could easily be the cause of his struggles early in spring training. The main thing with Hendrickson was so many people had such high expectations of him. He will likely turn into a very solid third starter, in my opinion, but all I'll say is don't sleep on him. Guys that utterly dominate in AAA usually have success at the MLB level. Consider the alternatives: Gary Glover and Wes Obermueller. Out of those two, you have to kind of like Glover a bit more, just due to the fact that Obermueller has failed so miserably in the past. He is legitimately awful, whereas Glover could serve some purpose to the team, and pitched decent, albeit in a small sample, last year in September.

The third base situation is hopefully starting to clear itself up, with Branyan having what Yost termed a "quarter-step lead" over the woefully bad Wes Helms. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new way of thinking for Yost called the "play the better player movement". I do, like I have said a few times, like Helms vs. LHP. He can rake them, but leave him out against RHP and play him as little as possible at 3B.

Today: Brewers (Capuano) @ Padres (Darrell May)
Also, there is a Drew Olson chat about to begin.

If you wanted to spend the first 40 games finding out if you were a contender this year, I could understand sendng Hendrickson down. it gets him a regular turn, it boosts his confidence, and it keeps him out of the 5 slot at the MLB level for about 6 starts. You're not going to be able to give away 3 or 4 wins if you need to be, say, 24-16 at the quarter pole. Then, if you decide to make a go of it, you can bring up Hendrickson when he's 8-0 with a 1.75 and he's really bringing it.

That's a big if, though. If you are realistically looking at a .500 season, you ought to run him out there from day 1.

My opinion is that you check this analysis against what's going on in his head. If he's confident that he's better able to get MLB hitters out, then make him the #5 and be done with it. But if you think he needs the boost of mowing down some minor leaguers, then by all means, let him do it. It's not going to make a big difference this year.
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