We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Milwaukee Brewers Mt. Rushmore
A franchise that began as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 lasted just one season in the northwest prior to moving to Milwaukee under new ownership that included Bud Selig. The Brewers have the distinction as the only franchise to compete in four different divisions at some point: the AL West from 1969-71, the AL East from 1972-93, the AL Central from 1994-97 and the NL Central from 1998-present. But Milwaukee has just two division titles, the first in 1982, and the second in 2011. This past summer the Brew Crew established a franchise record 96 wins. In 43 seasons of competition, the Brewers have finished at .500 or better just 15 times. The 2002 season marked the only time the franchise lost 100 games, and the only season with a worse record than the expansion season of 1969. The two names that scream loudly to any Milwaukee fan for Mt. Rushmore are Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Finding two additional names takes a bit more digging.
The most popular man in Milwaukee (who never played for the Green Bay Packers, that is) won two MVP awards, one as a shortstop in 1982, the second as a centerfielder in 1989. Yount made his major league debut on Opening Day in 1974 at age 18 and spent his entire 20-year career with the Brewers. The Hall of Famer amassed 3,142 hits, 1,632 runs and 1,406 RBIs in a Brewers uniform.
With Yount firmly entrenched at shortstop, Molitor was forced to find other positions in order to break into the Brewers’ lineup. Like Yount in 1973, Molitor was drafted No. 3 overall in 1977. And also like Yount, Molitor found himself in the Brewers’ Opening Day lineup the following season. A shortstop by trade, Molitor stated at five different positions the first five Opening Days of his career (shortstop, DH, second base, left field and third base). In 15 seasons in Milwaukee, Molitor totaled 2,281 hits, 412 steals and a .303 batting average in 1,856 games.
Ranking third in most offensive categories in Brewers history (albeit a distant third) is enough to get Coop in this honored company. He has 154 more RBIs than Molitor, which ranks him second in that category. Cooper in fifth with 201 home runs. Of the nine 120-RBI seasons in team history, Cooper owns three of them, most of anyone. The former first baseman also owns three of the team’s seven 200-hit seasons, again, tops on that list. Acquired prior to the 1977 season from Boston, Cooper batted .302 over 11 seasons with the Brew Crew. During his first seven seasons with the team, he finished fifth in MVP voting three times over four seasons with an eighth-place vote mixed in. He won two Gold Gloves and batted .316 from 1977-83, averaging 22 home runs and 95 RBIs. His .352 average in 1980 would have been good enough to win an AL batting title 22 times during the 30 years from 1962-91, but George Brett chased .400 in 1980, ending at .390, leaving Cooper to settle for runner-up.
You can say what you want about Selig’s tenure in the Commissioner’s office, but he worked tirelessly to bring baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves left for Atlanta after the 1965 season. It isn’t a stretch to say that the owner-turned-Commissioner is responsible for bringing baseball back to Milwaukee.
Given his long-term commitment to the team, Ryan Braun is a positive PED test last October away from already being honored. The 2011 NL MVP has some making up to do.
Along with Yount and Molitor, Jim Gantner shares the record for games played by three teammates.
Mike Caldwell averaged 15 wins and 231 innings from 1978-83, and won 102 games.
Had he signed a long-term contract with the franchise, Prince Fielder most certainly would have hit his way onto the mountain.
Stormin' Gorman Thomas averaged 35 home runs and 98 RBIs from 1978-82.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Keep tabs on latest projections and signings here.
The 2012 Free Agency fun has really begun now. The Angels opened the Disney vault for Pujols and Wilson, while the Marlins make headlines on the other coast. Teams listed for Unsigned players are projections for 2012. The chart is updated daily. Some salary figures are rounded and all salary numbers are in millions.
The NLCS shows all the signs of a classic series hanging in the balance of every pitch. There are two teams from the same division who know each other so well. The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers split their 18-game season series 9-9. And let’s just say there is some “built-up intensity” toward one another that adds a bit more spice.
But there are two things that could allow this series to go haywire: Milwaukee’s inept supporting cast in the Brewers’ lineup and St. Louis’ inconsistent bullpen.
It’s no secret that Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder carry the Brewers’ lineup. Add to that Yuniesky Betancourt’s strong postseason and Jerry Hairston’s timely hitting and you have the Brew Crew’s complete offensive arsenal. Yep, those four guys are doing all the heavy lifting.
Non-pitchers not named Prince, Braun, Yuni or Hairston are batting .168 in the postseason. That’s half the lineup over a seven-game stretch, which is a decent sample size. They were 16-91 (.176) in the NLDS vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks and are 5-34 (.147) so far against St. Louis. Milwaukee is operating with half a lineup that can’t make outs and the other half can’t get on base. If the Cardinals are allowed to pitch around these four hitters without the supporting cast capitalizing, the Redbirds could be celebrating earlier than expected.
However, if the Cardinals’ bullpen reverts to its roots of allowing other teams to enjoy big innings, then the Brewers would waste no time dismissing St. Louis from the playoffs.
In the NLDS with Philadelphia, the St. Louis bullpen was very good. In 13.2 innings, the six relievers combined to walk only one batter and struck out 13 while allowing only 11 hits.
Avid Cardinals fans can tell you that those numbers don’t represent what was going on during the season. The Cardinals were second only to Washington in blown saves during the year. And that doesn’t count the numerous one-run leads that turned into multiple-run leads and tie games lost by the bullpen.
Other than Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals starters typically are effective deep into games, putting pressure on the bullpen most every night. That’s been the same in the playoffs. In the seven games thus far, St. Louis starters have gotten through the sixth inning just three times, including Carpenter’s masterful Game 5 performance at Philadelphia.
So what can we expect from the next five games?
The St. Louis bullpen, aided by manager Tony La Russa’s knack for dictating the right matchups, is as deep as it has been all season and has found its groove. Milwaukee hitters like Corey Hart, who had 15 RBIs vs. St. Louis during the season, and Rickie Weeks, who homered in Game 2, won’t stay cold much longer.
The likely scenario says the Cardinals will take two of three in St. Louis leaving them a game up heading back to Milwaukee. Could the Redbirds steal a second victory from the best home team in baseball? Perhaps. But there’s little doubt this baby is going the full seven with a trip to the World Series on the line and aces Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo on the mound.
Led by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers displayed their hitting ability in Game 1 of the NLDS
by Josh Kipnis
Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are two of the hottest topics in the National League MVP discussion. And although postseason play cannot be considered in the debate, Braun and Fielder both proved why they are among the NL’s best hitters in the NLCS opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitching was dominant, to say the least, against the Philadelphia Phillies in last week’s NLDS. St. Louis gave up just six runs and five extra-base hits in the entire 5-game series versus Philly.
With little hope in mid-September, the St. Louis Cardinals somehow have managed to find their way into the NLCS for the fourth time in eight years. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers will play in the NLCS for the first time in their history. Back in 1982, the Brewers played in the ALCS and defeated the California Angels to reach the World Series.
This series could not be much more evenly matched. The two teams split their 18 games this season and know each other so well. Both feature big boppers in the heart of the lineup and pretty good, but not great, starting pitching. The only real difference lies in the bullpens. The Brewers’ dependable bullpen gives Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke comfort in knowing his team is 81-1 with a lead after eight innings. Setup men Takashi Saito and Francisco Rodriguez in front of closer John Axford take the pressure off the Brewers’ starters to have to go more than six innings. The much-maligned Cardinals’ bullpen was shaky at best for much of the season. But there have been fewer better performances than the Redbirds’ relievers gave with six shutout innings in their Game 2 comeback win over Philadelphia.
Milwaukee has been the best team at home throughout the season, but rest assured, the Cardinals will not be intimidated. They just survived the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt gauntlet and won Game 5 before a raucous crowd in Philadelphia. And since August 1, after both teams made final adjustments to their rosters, the Cardinals won seven of 12 meetings. No doubt this series will be a battle between these two familiar rivals of the National League Central.
The Cardinals’ offense, which led the NL in runs during the regular season, struggled with only 19 runs and two home runs in the five NLDS games.
Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must get quality innings from the bullpen. Manager Tony La Russa was able to play matchups and manage his way through some tough innings, especially in Game 2, against the Phillies. Unlike the Brewers. the Cardinals don’t have the consistent go-to guys late in the game. La Russa was a master at controlling matchups in the series with Philadelphia by mixing and matching his entire bullpen.
Keys for Milwaukee
As good as the Brewers have been at home this season, they lost both games at Arizona and didn’t look like the same team. So they must hold serve at home. It was also clear how much they rely on their stars, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. As the series with Arizona wore on, the Diamondbacks pitched around the two MVP candidates. Expect similar treatment from St. Louis, so the Brewers must have clutch performances from the supporting cast.
Cardinals to Watch
Albert Pujols is poised to break out this postseason. He hit the Phillies well enough to receive an intentional walk that loaded the bases with one out for Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday late in Game 5. Rafael Furcal will set the table and spark the offense. Look for Yadier Molina to provide a clutch bat.
Brewers to Watch
Expect Jerry Hairston, Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan to step up in support of Braun and Fielder. Hairston had a good series against St. Louis in late August and was clutch in the Arizona series. Hart drove in 15 runs in only 16 games against the Redbirds while Morgan ignited the offense with a .393 OBP. Hart, who has batted leadoff since Rickie Weeks went down with an injury, may be moved to the No. 5 spot to protect Fielder.
Milwaukee Could make its First LCS since 1982 with a Game 4 Win.
The Milwaukee Brewers will look to make the club’s first League Championship Series since 1982 when they take the field in Game 4 of the NLDS tonight in Arizona. The Diamondbacks staved off elimination in Game 3 with an 8-1 victory behind a solid performance from pitcher Josh Collmenter and five RBIs from Paul Goldschmidt.
The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.
Milwaukee at Arizona
If we are to believe what we saw last night, the Diamondbacks will force a Game 5 back in Milwaukee, which they will promptly lose. You see, the Brewers are practically unbeatable at home, quite vulnerable on the road. Why? Not sure, but it certainly seems that way. Milwaukee won a major league best 57 games at home this season, yet were below .500 on the road. The Brewers managed just two hits and one run off starter Collmenter before the rookie gave way to David Hernandez and J.J. Putz, who were just getting a little work in more than anything else.
In the first two games, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder practically beat Arizona by themselves. But last night, Collmenter pitched them very carefully and was willing to put the game in Rickie Weeks’ hands. Braun walked in the first inning with two outs and Fielder was hit. Weeks couldn’t capitalize. Weeks is 1-for-10 with a walk in the series. Nyjer Morgan, who hits in front of Braun, is 1-for-11 with a pair of walks. That’s not the kind of support that will force the D’backs to pitch to the big bats.
A pair of veteran lefthanders —Randy Wolf for Milwaukee, and Arizona’s Joe Saunders — will oppose each other tonight as both teams get their first looks at southpaws in this series. Current Diamondbacks have hit Wolf well over the past three seasons. Justin Upton is 5-for-15 with two home runs and four walks. Ryan Roberts is 6-for-13 with a homer. Willie Bloomquist and Gerardo Parra are both 3-for-9.
The crafty Saunders held the Brewers to two runs back on July 20 before leaving down 2-0. The D’backs scored a couple to get him off the hook prior to Arizona losing in extra innings. Over the past two seasons, Saunders had held the Brewers down. Braun, with two homers in six at-bats, has had the most success.
Playing at home and with the confidence they can get to Wolf, Arizona is expected to send this series back to Milwaukee.
Brewers will finish off Diamondbacks with sweep tonight
by Charlie Miller
Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.
It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.
Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.
Milwaukee at Arizona
It’s easy to look at this series and believe that the Milwaukee Brewers have manhandled the Arizona Diamondbacks. And it’s also convenient to believe that the D’backs were happy with just making the playoffs after losing 90 games last season and being predicted by most to finish last in the NL West. But both assertions are incorrect.
The Brewers haven’t had their way with Arizona. Just Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. And content with just making the playoffs? Do you know who is managing this team? Kirk Gibson will never be content with anything short of a World Series title. He may celebrate a little with each step in that direction, but content? No way.
A quick glance at the two games played in Milwaukee shows that the Brewers outhit the Diamondbacks 20-14 and outscored them 13-5. Looks like a couple of mismatches. After all, the Brewers are batting .300 as a team. But, they’re not really batting that as a team, just as a tandem. Fielder and Braun have combined for a pair of home runs and a .563 batting average. The rest of the team has no home runs and is hitting .220 for the series. Think Gibson’s pitchers will allow Braun and Fielder to beat Arizona tonight? Doubtful. Someone else will have to step up for the Brew Crew.
And that someone is likely to be Rickie Weeks. After returning from his injury this season, Weeks has been moved to the fifth spot in the batting order. He should get at-bats tonight with runners on and the chance to be the hitting star.
The fate of the D’backs’ season rests in the hands of rookie pitcher Josh Collmenter. That’s right, Collmenter. The rookie joined the rotation in May and shut out the Dodgers and Braves over six innings each in his first two starts. The righthander had seven starts of at least five innings in which he did not allow a run. Two of those starts came in July against Milwaukee. One of those the D’backs lost 3-1, the other was a 3-0 Arizona win. So it appears there’s a chance.
However, leading MVP candidate Braun was not in the lineup for either game, dramatically changing the Brewers’ lineup. The Brewers are just too hot right now to be slowed by Collmenter. Gibson and his staff will have to take pleasure in building momentum for 2012.