Tag Archive | "Milwaukee Brewers"

Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

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Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Sometimes you may not notice certain things about certain players because you don’t pay attention to their every at bat, inning pitched, or whatever. Even in this wonderful age, where so much information is at our fingertips at virtually all times, things can slip past and go unnoticed to the baseball-loving masses. I mean, sure, if it is a “superstar” that is struggling mightily or a mighty struggler producing like a “superstar” then, yeah, the media and talking heads will notice and sort of force feed this information down our proverbial throats. However, for the majority of players, you know the tweeners or those on the cusp of stardom or, for that matter, mediocrity, certain statistics or information can be widely missed. All of this, as you should have guessed from the title, brings to me to the ever talented, Yovani Gallardo.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, must frustrating pitcher ever?

First, let me set the scene, even though many of you reading this are probably familiar with YoGa’s tale. Yovanni Gallardo broke into the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, with ace-like potential. A young stud ready to become the Brewers’ ace of the future. Well, Yovani has never quite made the jump from very good to superstardom. Gallardo has been very solid in his almost six (he missed almost all of 2008) major league seasons with Milwaukee. Gallardo has not posted an ERA over four since coming onto the scene, however he also has not posted an ERA below 3.52 in the majors. Okay, well, YoGa did have an ERA of 1.88 in ’08, but that was in only four starts, so I am not really going to count that, if you don’t mind. Of course, as you may also know, I don’t hold complete faith in the statistic that is ERA, so to really paint you a picture, his SIERA has fallen between 3.22 and 4.08 in those seasons. Surprisingly, that 4.08 SIERA was during that extremely short ’08 season, so again, I don’t hold much stock in that year’s numbers. Regardless, you can kind of see that Gallardo was decent, solid, or any number of synonyms for decent or solid, but never quite made the leap to stardom. Many probably thought of Yovani as an ace coming into 2013 and, to be fair, he is the Brewer’s ace. Gallardo, definitely was thought of as a guy who was very close to becoming that breakout stud picther. Gallardo has been better than a great deal of starting pitchers in his career, that is for darned sure. Gallardo’s, ERAs, WHIPs, FIPs and K/9s have regularly been a good deal ahead of the league averages each season that he has pitched. Still, Yovani was not quite in that first tier of starting pitchers and there were still folks waiting for a big breakout season from the Brewers’ ace.

The Brewers tried to stack the cards in their favor, by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation, which would definitely take some pressure off of young Gallardo, where he would not be expected to carry the rotation on his back. Now those guys are gone and the “ace” label was now, without question, affixed to Gallardo in Milwaukee. So would this be the breakout season? Sure, Yovani does have control issues and little lapses at times, but every picther does, at least every now and then, right? Well, fast forward to today. Gallardo, possibly poised to take the next step, has struggled a bit in this young 2013 season.  Gallardo’s current ERA is 4.25, with a WHIP of 1.47, which of course will not tell us the whole story. The SIERA at 4.48 does give one pause here though. Seems like his ERA is pretty much an accurate depiction of Gallard’s season thus far. Now, it is early in the season, so generally I would not be ready to push the panic button on Yovani just yet. However, here is the thing, regardless of those fluctuating ERAs or WHIPs, bits of wildness here and there, or anything else that could be simply attributed to a slow start, my main concern falls more with Gallardo’s strikeouts, or lack thereof.

See, a lot of mistakes can me covered up/ fixed by a good strikeout picture and this tried and true mantra has certainly applied to YoGa throughout his career. Yovani Gallardo is a strikeout pitcher. Well, perhaps it should be was? Yovani Gallardo, was a strikeout pitcher. Below are YoGa’s K/9 numbers for his career coming into 2013:

2007- 8.24

2008- 7.50*

2009- 9.89

2010- 9.73

2011- 8.99

2012- 9.00

So basically throught his career Gallardo could generally be counted on to strikeout roughly a batter per inning pitched. That, right there, is a good strikeout pitcher, folks! So, what the heck (pardon my French) is happening now?

Gallardo, went into Monday night’s start not only having been very hittable in his first five starts, but posting a K/9 of 5.28. In fact in four of his first five starts, Gallardo struck out three or fewer batters. Could this be a cause for concern? Well, kind of depends on why this is happening, I suppose. First place I look, when I notice a big strikeout drop is  velocity. in 2010, Gallardo’s average fastball was clocked at 92.6. It was the exact same in 2011. In 2012, it dropped almost a mile per hour, to 91.7. This year? Another drop of about a mile per hour on his average fastball, to 90.6. All of his other pitches have also dropped roughly the same amount in velocity. I am not sure this drop should be a huge concern just yet, as it is still early in the season and YoGa may need to still work the arm out a bit. I am not entirely sure, in that regards, but here is another interesting nugget, Gallardo’s four seam fastball percentage thus far in 2013 is 31.9%, which is almost ten precent less than his percentage last year. Gallardo has instead been going to the two seamer much more than he has in the past, 25.4% in ’13 as opposed to 14.5% in ’12.  So, is it possible, that Gallardo is not as confident in the four seamer and or is not fooling many hitters with his two seamers? Or maybe he is just not fooling hitters, much at all? With any of his pitches? Batters are making contact on just about 75% of Yovani’s pitches they chase out of the zone. Now, I don’t have any data with how hard these balls have been hit, but considering this percentage was 65% last year and has only been higher than that once in his previous six seasons, I think we can make the general assumption that Yovani is just not baffling hitters nearly as much as he has been in the past.

Now, again, it is early and maybe this is absolutely something that can be worked on and adjusted. Heck (there’s that potty mouth of mine again), maybe it is just an early season slump that is not indicative of how the season will pan out for Gallardo. The sample size is very small and it is always dangerous to read much into early season numbers, but I think you can see some things that may bear monitoring with Gallardo as the season progresses. Gallardo did put together a very good outing on Monday, against the Pirates, and while I don’t see updated pitch data from that game, it should be pointed out that in his previous start against the Padres, his average fastball was the fastest it has been all season, at 91.4%. Interestingly, in the Padres start, Gallardo threw far more changeups than any other previous 2013 start, but also only struckout two batters, while walking five, so not sure what is really going on with Yoga. Hopefully Monday’s outing, in which he finished by striking out three of the last five batters he faced, will be more indicative of things to come for Gallardo, even if those three batters were Gaby Sanchez, Clint Barmes and Jonathan Sanchez.

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The Longest Game

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Chris Caylor

baines_original_original_crop_exactOne of my favorite things about baseball is that you never know what could happen on a given night. You could see a perfect game, a 15-14 slugfest, an inside-the-park home run, or other feats too numerous to list here. You could even see an extra-inning marathon that would go into the record book for all time. On Tuesday, May 8, 1984, that is exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox provided for fans.

Like so many epic baseball happenings, this one started out as just another early-season game. The White Sox, defending champions of the American League West division, were trying to regain the form they showed the previous season. The Brewers, like the rest of the American League East, were staring up at the scorching Detroit Tigers. Chicago sent 23-year-old lefty Bob Fallon to the mound, while the Brewers countered with grizzled 39-year-old righty Don Sutton.

The two very different starters put up matching zeroes on the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth inning. White Sox first baseman Greg Walker hit a one-out single, stole second, then Sutton walked Harold Baines. Tom Paciorek, who had replaced Ron Kittle (1983’s Rookie of the Year) in the 4th inning, lined a single to left to score Walker.

In the top of the 7th, Fallon walked Randy Ready and manager Tony LaRussa went to the bullpen for right-hander Salome Barojas to face right-handed hitting catcher Jim Sundberg. The percentage move backfired, as Sundberg and Robin Yount both singled to tie the game 1-1. As would prove to be his career-long tendency, LaRussa immediately went back to the pen and summoned lefty Britt Burns, who escaped the 7th with no further damage done.

The game remained tied until the 9th, when Yount again factored in the scoring. He doubled to left, then stole third and scored thanks to an errant throw from Burns. Ted Simmons immediately singled and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. Ben Ogilvie’s single scored Simmons and the Brewers led 3-1. With Rollie Fingers (another future Hall of Famer) coming in, the game should have been over.

Instead, catcher/right fielder (never see that combination anymore, do you?) Charlie Moore botched a Paciorek fly ball that resulted in a two-base error. Fingers retired the next two batters. Then shortstop Julio Cruz, who sports a lifetime slugging percentage of .299, doubled to left to score Paciorek. Rudy Law (who stole 77 bases in 1983) followed with a single. Cruz beat Ogilvie’s throw home to tie the score 3-3. It was time for free baseball.

Little did the fans know how at the time just much free baseball they would get.

The game rolled on and on, remaining tied at 3 through 17 innings. In those eight innings, only the White Sox mounted a serious threat to score, leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th. Finally, at 1:05 am, the umpires had to suspend the game due to the AL’s curfew rule. The teams had played for six hours, used 10 pitchers and – in Chicago’s case – used nearly every player on the bench (which would become a factor). Yet nothing was decided.

When the game resumed the next day, the White Sox immediately threatened in the bottom of the 18th. Brewers pitcher Chuck Porter wiggled out of the jam by striking out Carlton Fisk with the bases loaded, however, and the game continued.

In the top of the 21st inning, 41-year-old right-hander Ron Reed relieved Juan Agosto. All Agosto did in this game is toss seven shutout innings. After retiring backup catcher Bill Schroder and Yount, Reed surrendered a single to Cecil Cooper and a walk to Simmons before Ogilvie smacked a three-run home run to put Milwaukee in front 6-3. At that stage of the game, Baseball Reference listed the Brewers’ win percentage at 96%.

The remaining 4% is what happened next.

It started with an error by third baseman Ready, against the red-hot Rudy Law. Next, Fisk redeemed himself for his bases-loaded strikeout three innings earlier by singling in Law. Marc Hill followed that with another single. After whiffing Dave Stegman, Baines walked to load the bases. Porter remained on the hill for Milwaukee. Having used five pitchers the previous night and with that night’s regularly-scheduled game still to go, it appeared Brewers manager Rene Lachemann was sticking with Porter, regardless of the outcome. Paciorek stroked a single to center, scoring Fisk and pinch-runner Richard Dotson to knot the game once again, 6-6.

As the 22nd inning began, some unusual changes took place on the field for the White Sox. Thanks to LaRussa’s decision to have Dotson, a starting pitcher, pinch run for first baseman Marc Hill, Paciorek had move from left field to first (their fourth first baseman of the game). Then Stegman, the designated hitter, had to go in and play left. Under the AL rules, when a player serving as the DH goes in to play the field, that team loses the ability to have a DH and the pitcher has to bat. Note: This was 13 years before interleague play started, so American League pitchers never batted during a game.

The Brewers, on the other hand, made minimal changes compared to the White Sox. Rick Manning replaced center fielder Bobby Clark in the 12th, Schroeder replaced Sundberg at catcher in the 13th, and Dion James and Mark Brouhard played right after Charlie Moore after his 9th-inning gaffe opened the door for the White Sox to tie game the first time. That’s it for personnel moves for the Brewers. Their DH, Cecil Cooper, racked up a game-high 11 at-bats.

In the 22nd, Ron Reed kept the Brewers off the scoreboard, then had to bat 3rd in the bottom of the inning. At least it wasn’t a foreign concept to him – he had spent his entire career prior to 1984 in the National League. He grounded meekly to the pitcher to end the inning.

In the 23rd, the White Sox threatened Reed again, as Cooper singled and Simmons walked. LaRussa pulled Reed for Floyd Bannister, another starter. He retired Ogilvie to end the threat. During the bottom half of the inning, the White Sox had two on and nobody out against Porter, but ran themselves out of the inning with some spotty baserunning. The score remained 6-6.

The 24th was uneventful, other than Bannister’s first major-league at-bat since 1978, when he was with the Houston Astros. He grounded out to short.

The 25th inning saw 39-year-old Tom Seaver, in his initial season in the AL, take the mound for Chicago. Seaver was three seasons removed from a 14-2 season for Cincinnati and a second-place finish in the Cy Young voting. He also was the scheduled starter for that night’s regularly-scheduled game. What would LaRussa have done for a starter in that game if the current one had gone another 5-10 innings? As it was, the only White Sox player or pitcher who didn’t appear in the game was starter Lamarr Hoyt, who had pitched the game before this epic. LaRussa had to be wondering the same thing. In any event, Seaver worked around a leadoff single by getting Yount to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.

As that half of the inning ended, it marked a first in baseball history: the first game that lasted eight hours. Fortunately, for both teams, it wouldn’t be much longer. Mercifully, in the bottom of the 25th, Harold Baines launched a one-out solo home run off Porter to end the game and give Chicago a 7-6 victory. Seaver was credited with the win. Porter, who did yeoman’s work by pitching 7 1/3 innings in preserving the Brewers’ bullpen, took the loss.

After the game, LaRussa was quoted as saying, “Hallelujah! Nice game. I don’t know.” I think he can be forgiven for being speechless at such a game.

 

Epilogue

Baines’ home run answered the question of who would start the scheduled May 9 game. Seaver not only started, but pitched 8 1/3 innings and – in a first in Tom Terrific’s career – won his 2nd game of the day.

The day the game started, Tigers first baseman (and former Brewer) Prince Fielder was born.

Rene Lachemann only lasted one season as Brewers manager and would not manage again until the expansion Florida Marlins debuted in 1993.

Tony LaRussa was fired by the White Sox in the middle of the 1986 season. In an unusual move, the Oakland Athletics scooped him up a few weeks later and he led them to a 45-34 finish that season. He would go on to manage the A’s through 1995, reaching three consecutive World Series between 1988-90 (winning it all in 1989). His greatest success came with the St. Louis Cardinals; there, LaRussa would win the 2006 and 2011 World Series and reach the postseason nine times in his 16 seasons as manager. LaRussa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win a World Series title in each league.

Ironically, Anderson would achieve this feat in 1984 by leading the Detroit Tigers to the 1984 World Championship, swamping the San Diego Padres in five games.

Rollie Fingers, who played for the Padres before joining the Brewers, would save 23 games for the Brewers in 1984. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992 after finishing 709 games in his career, being credited for 341 saves. In his debut season with the Brewers in 1981, he won the MVP and Cy Young awards.

Tom Paciorek, who had five hits during the game despite not starting, played 18 MLB seasons with an OPS+ of 103. He made the All-Star team with Seattle in 1981. After his playing days, he became a color commentator, most notably with the White Sox.

Ben Ogilvie led the AL in home runs with 41 home runs in 1980 and was a fearsome part of “Harvey’s Wallbangers”, the slugging bunch that reached the 1982 World Series.

Randy Ready, whose throwing error in the 21st inning led to the second game-tying rally by the White Sox, was a 24-year-old in his second major-league season. He was in the lineup in place of Paul Molitor. Ready is currently the manager of the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Juan Agosto, who pitched the final four innings the first night and the first three innings the following day, spent his entire 13-year career as a reliever. The 7-inning scoreless outing was the longest of his career, as well as the best overall pitching performance of the game.

Chuck Porter started 34 games for the Brewers and appeared in 20 others between 1981 and 1985. His most extensive playing time was in the 1983-84 seasons. His primary claim to fame remains the home run he surrendered to Baines to end the game.

Ron Reed’s final season was 1984, when he saved 12 games for the White Sox. After being a league-average starter during the first half of his career, he became an effective reliever for the Phillies. He won 146 games and saved another 103 during a 19-year career.

Floyd Bannister was the #1 overall pick in the 1976 amateur draft. He never lived up to that billing, however. In his 15-year career, he made the All-Star team once, with Seattle, during a 1982 season in which he led the AL in strikeouts with 209. His son, Brian, also reached the majors, pitching for the Royals and Mets from 2006-2010.

Seaver would go on to win 33 games with Chicago between 1984-86. His final game occurred on Sept. 19, 1986, after being traded to Boston. He would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, with the highest first-ballot total of all time (98.8%). He won 311 games, three Cy Young award, the 1967 Rookie of the Year and boasts a lifetime ERA of 2.86 (and a park-adjusted ERA+ of 127).

Milwaukee starter Don Sutton pitched until 1988, when he was 43. He was a reliable starter for manh contending teams and reach the postseason four times. Never a dominating pitcher, he nonetheless amassed 324 wins and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998. He has done color commentary for Atlanta Braves games for many years.

Bob Fallon’s final appearance in the majors would be 13 months later, on June 23, 1985. But for one night, he matched a Hall of Famer pitch-for-pitch for six innings.

The attendance for the Brewers-White Sox game was 14,754. There is no record of how many of those fans stayed for the full 17 innings the first night, nor how many came back for the final eight innings the following afternoon. But those fans who did witnessed a piece of baseball history that has not been replicated in the 29 years since.

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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

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Who’s Hot?

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ 23-year-old lefty is off to a sensational start in 2013, going 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA and a WHIP of 0.87. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your fantasy team, chances are it is off to a good start as well. He does need to limit his walks (4.2 per 9 inn.), but he is permitting a league-best 3.7 hits per 9 innings. Expecting Moore to sustain that (and his ERA and WHIP by extension) would be foolish; however, there is reason for hope that he will be able to keep them in the 3.30/1.20 range: his swinging strike rate is BELOW the league average. Moore was fifth in the AL with 175 strikeouts in 177 innings pitched in 2012, so he has the ability to whiff hitters. If his swinging strike rate goes up, then he could be even more dominating than he’s been. That should be a scary thought for major-league hitters (and a dream for fantasy owners).

Who’s Not?

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

CarGo is the poster child for the Rockies’ slump. Although Gonzalez has 4 HR, 12 RBI and 4 SB in the season’s first four weeks, Gonzalez is hitting a paltry .111 with three singles in his past six games. He has not hit a home run in his past 10 games. The slump is severe enough that Rockies manager Walt Weiss gave Gonzalez the day off Sunday. While it’s obviously too early to get too concerned about the kind of season CarGo will have, it may not be too early to wonder if the Rockies’ hold on first place in the NL West is already slippling away. With Gonzalez slumping, the timing of Troy Tulowitzki’s shoulder injury might be enough to push the Rockies out of first place in the division. And once they’re out of first, the chances of them getting back there aren’t good. If you own Gonzalez, you really have no choice other than to ride out this slump.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .271/.326/.365, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 4 SB
Player B: .286/.307/.514, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 runs, 0 SB

Both of the players listed here batted cleanup for their teams on Saturday night. Player A is the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Player B is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yes, you read that correctly. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke actually did this. I know Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez are both on the disabled list. I know Rickie Weeks is slumping horribly. But, still, really? A guy with a career OPS+ of 83 hitting cleanup? Naturally, of course, Betancourt would go 2-for-5 with an RBI. This means it will likely happen again (although it didn’t repeat itself on Sunday). I can’t actually bring myself to suggest that a fantasy owner pick up Yuni, so I’ll just say this instead: all fantasy stats count, regardless of who accumulates them. He would be an easy drop once the inevitable regression back to his usual terrible self happens.

Player A: 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 saves
Player B: 2-0, 0.81 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 6 saves

Player A is Edward Mujica, the Cardinals’ current closer. Player B is Jim Henderson, the closer for the Brewers after John Axford’s implosion. Mujica replaced Mitchell Boggs, who had replaced Jason Motte. A fellow owner in my NL-only league mentioned Mujica as soon as Motte’s elbow injury became public knowledge. He had the foresight to pick up him. I, on the other hand, figured that young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal would become the closer. While that may still happen, Mujica has done an excellent job closing games. Henderson, meanwhile, may not give the job back at all. He is 6-for-6 in save chances and I would not put much stock in manager Ron Roenicke’s concern about Henderson throwing too many pitches as the closer. Axford may have had a few scoreless innings of late, but he has proven repeatedly that he cannot handle the ninth-inning pressure on a regular basis. Yanking Henderson from the job would be a terrible decision. Then again, Roenicke has shown a flair for terrible choices before (see Yuniesky Betancourt above).

Random Thoughts

  • Any questions about whether Adam Wainwright is “all the way back” from Tommy John surgery? Through five starts, the man they call “Waino” is averaging more than 7 innings per start, with a 37/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. One walk in five starts. Lots of pitchers can’t get through five innings without issuing a free pass.
  • Conversely, the Cardinals’ bullpen is a hot mess right now. While it’s so frustrating to watch the bullpen ruin two decent starts over the weekend from Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller, it is still April. Here’s hoping that general manager John Mozeliak stays true to his history and does not make a knee-jerk trade in response. It would be easy to deal a useful player like Matt Carpenter for a fungible setup man or middle reliever.
  • Doug Fister has hit eight batters already in 2013. Good thing he didn’t plunk Carlos Quentin that night or it might be him on the DL.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has already been hit by pitches 10 times this season.
  • Nelson Cruz is on another one of his carry-the-team-on-his-back hot streaks: 3 HR, 13 RBI, 6 runs scored, along with a hitting line of .440/.533/.840 over the past week.
  • Hilarious on-pace stat of the year so far: Mike Napoli is on pace to drive in 190 runs for the Red Sox.
  • Seriously, though, I don’t think Boston misses Adrian Gonzalez so far this year.
  • In the same at-bat versus Albert Pujols last week, Yu Darvish threw a 97 mph heater and a 64 mph curveball. Proving that he is human, Pujols struck out.
  • Going into Sunday’s games, Justin Upton and Allen Craig had each driven in 18 runs for their teams. The difference? Upton has 12 home runs and Craig has none.
  • Most of the hype among the game’s youngest players goes to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but don’t overlook 20-year-old Manny Machado in Baltimore. Machado is on a seven-game hitting streak, during which time he has compiled a .433 average, 5 RBI, 5 runs scored and two steals.
  •  Which one of these statements is true? Edinson Volquez pitched seven consecutive innings without walking a batter last week. Petco Park was sold out.
  • Believe it or not, it’s Volquez. Someone call Ripley.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

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Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I traded him for Steven Strasburg. Sure, Braun was named the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player. However,Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. Sure, he may (or may not) have a pitch count but Ryan Braun was … connected to the Biogenesis scandal. I did not want to hedge my bets.

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You are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year.

The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

However, did I make the right move? Is 190 innings worth losing a prospective 30 to 40 home runs? The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder collected his first RBI of 2013 season on opening day and added to that total Tuesday night against the Rockies. He went 1 for 4 with a home run in the 8-4 loss. The 29-year-old launched a two-run shot off starter Jorge De La Rosa in the third inning. Braun has gone 2 for 8 with three RBIs through two games.

As of 7 pm today on CBSsports.com, Braun has earned his lucky managers 9 fantasy points. Strasburg has earned me 29. Nonetheless, the week is far from over.

Regarding anything that would keep Braun preoccupied…like I don’t know, the Biogenesis scandal, Major League Baseball claims that Braun is not at the center of the investigation. Michael Hurcomb of CBSsports.com reported on March 20th that Major League Baseball Vice President Rob Manfred denied allegations the league was targeting the Brewers outfielder in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Biogenesis, for those of you who don’t know, was an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami. It is alleged that the clinic sold performance-enhancing drugs to what is growing to be a laundry list of baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.

These newer reports contradicted an earlier USA Today report which suggested that Braun was “MLB’s Public Enemy No. 1″ in its investigation of Biogenesis. “Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,” Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

Listen, who says that Braun is not innocent? Can you name another person who was able to dispute his testosterone test and win an appeal of his 50 game suspension? I will not cast any dispersion on his name. Nonetheless, if I kept Braun, I guarantee that he would have been tossed from the game indefinitely.

I am the black widow of fantasy baseball.

So to those of you who have Braun on your team, you are welcome. Braun is projected for 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .312 batting average. Steven Strasburg? I hear he’s projected to buy a new insurance policy now that he knows I kept him.

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Gloria Cordes … The Tim Lincecum of the AAGPBL

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Gloria Cordes … The Tim Lincecum of the AAGPBL

Posted on 01 August 2012 by Trish Vignola

Gloria Elliott (nee Cordes) was born on September 21, 1931. However, as most girls her age grew to womanhood during the prosperity of the post-war economic boom, becoming secretaries, teachers, etc., Cordes took a drastically different route. She became a bona fide professional baseball player.

Growing up during World War II in Blue Collar Staten Island, New York, Cordes loved baseball. The 8th of 11 children, she constantly played “street ball” with her brothers and their friends basking in the glow of the Golden Era of Major League Baseball. As most of her teammates her age grew old enough to play organized ball, she tried to play with her local church league. She was not allowed to play without the permission of the local pastor. He eventually relented and allowed her (as well as another girl to play). They were only allowed to play together.

Never one to miss out on opportunity, she tried to play with the local PAL (Police Athletic League) as well. Unfortunately, the PAL tried to remind Cordes of her place in society. They shut her down. Nonetheless, Cordes would not stay down for long.

Cordes found creative ways to play. Local guys, who played with her as a kid, allowed her to play until infield practice was over. Nonetheless, once they realized how good she really was, they quickly reminded the coach that it wasn’t her place to play. Cordes, who could take a punch with the best of them, found a mentor in George Bamberger. A former Major Leaguer and Staten Island Boy, not much older than Cordes herself, used to let Cordes work out with him. Bamberger would go on to play for three seasons with the New York Giants as well as the Baltimore Orioles. He would later become the pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles and manage the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers.

Jim Hamilton, a 30-year vet and Chicago Cubs scout, was Head of Procurement for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The AAGPBL was a woman’s professional baseball league that existed from 1943 to 1954. Hamilton and his staff were responsible for scouting girls from California to New York. The league was originally designed to keep professional baseball in the public eye during the war years. However, once World War II was over and the league was no longer “needed”, it had to find creative ways to draw attention to the now fledgling experiment in professional women’s sports. One way the procurement team did this was through traveling exhibitions.

In 1949, Cordes went to see the Springfield Sallies and Chicago Colleens play one of these traveling exhibitions in New York. The league’s procurement staff got the most out of these exhibitions as they could. They held open tryouts simultaneously with these events. Never to miss an opportunity, Cordes ran down to the field when given the chance. She threw a couple of pitches and, the next thing she knew, there was an invitation in the mail to attend a mid-west tryout.

So, how did the blue-collar Cordes family react to their daughter, the eighth of eleven children, being invited to go halfway across the country to play professional baseball? Her brother had a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals, but homesickness got the best of him. So, for her parents, forward thinking for the time, they could not be more proud of their eighteen year old daughter and the opportunity she created for herself.

The average household income in the United States by 1950 was $5000. Women made up no more than thirty percent of the work force. A fourth of those positions were clerical. If Cordes didn’t get on the train, she was looking at life as a secretary.

A secretary in Manhattan around 1950, Cordes recalls, made about $30 a week. However, by signing to become one of twenty-five women with the league from New York City or New York State, Cordes’ made $50 a week. By the time the league folded, she was making $100 a week. By twenty-two years of age, Gloria Cordes was making $200 more a year than the average household income. By putting their eighteen year old on that train at Grand Central Station, the Cordes family handed their daughter more opportunity than any of the “Seven Sisters” could have offered her at the time.

Gloria “Cordie” Cordes made her debut with the AAGPBL, playing with both the Muskegon as well as the Kalamazoo Lassies and Racine Belles in 1950. She was a starting pitcher who threw and batted right. In 1951, as the league rebranded itself the American Girls’ Baseball League (AGBL) , Cordie rebranded herself a Battle Creek Belle for part of a season. She would finish her career as a Kalamazoo Lassie. She played 112 games a season, 56 at home and 56 away, all at night.

In her five-year career, Cordie never had an earned run average (ERA) over 3.63 (her first season). Her career best ERA came in 1952 with a 1.98 ERA. She also had a career best win-loss record that year, going 16 and 8. She would make the All Star Team that year as well as in 1953. In her last three years, she never had a winning percentage (PCT) under .542. Her career best PCT also came in 1952, with a .667 PCT. Cordie won 12+ wins in each of those three final years.

By professional pitching standards, Cordie was smaller in stature. At the height of her pitching career, she was 5’8’’ and 135 pounds. With a fastball, curve and a knuckleball in her arsenal, she was in many ways the Tim Lincecum of the AAGPBL. Both made their careers being smaller in stature, having a multi-pitch repertoire and being multi-year All Stars. Both had least three years of 12+ wins and both have seen pretty ugly years as well.

The troubles of Lincecum’s 2012 campaign are well documented, but are something Cordie can relate to. In her first year, she went 5 and 10. Her second year was worse. She went 3 and 15. Although Lincecum’s troubles still remain somewhat of an enigma, Cordie’s problems can be more easily pinpointed.

Cordie never had serious arm problems. In fact, former professional major leaguer, Dave Bancroft helped her to slow down her warm up and improve her curve ball. She might have been a professional caliber pitcher, but Cordie is quick to remind you that she was still an eighteen-year-old girl at the time of her tryout. She felt that first season of her career was her low point due to her extreme homesickness. It is hard to imagine, but this was still her first time away from home.

The managers did not treat their players differently because they were girls. So, Cordie credits her first host family for helping her to not get back on the train for Grand Central Station. The Kravitz family kept her busy as if she was one of their own. Also, the players kept an open door policy in the hotels during tryouts as well as when they were on the road. Cordie felt that there was always someone there to remind her that she was not alone. In her second season, Cordie settled in. Although her win-loss record was worse, she her ERA improved playing for two well-documented helpless teams. Gloria “Cordie” Cordes collected impressive accolades during her five years in the AAGPBL. Besides two All Star appearances, she also had two playoff appearances. She grabbed her only championship title in 1954.

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