Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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Curtis Granderson looks to break out of a slump that has seen his average slip to .200

Headlines

Back in action? d’ArNO: Travis d’Arnaud remains on the DL with an ailing shoulder and appears nowhere close to a return. He has traveled to California to work with his off-season trainer to try to get right.

Say hey: The Mets may have lost their series against the Nats, but Juan Lagares made his best Willie Mays impression with a spectacular over the shoulder catch.

The Binghamton Oh-Boy-This-Sould-Be-Interestings : The Mets’ Double A Affiliate in Binghamton has decided to drop their Mets moniker, and is enlisting the public to vote on their new team name. The options are really something. Since there’s no write-in option (meaning my first choice of the Binghamton Boaty McBoatfaces is out), if I know the internet, even money is on the Binghamton Gobblers.

Know Your Foe

Appropriately, we’re joined by Nick from The Brewers Bar blog. On a personal note, I love their title of their round of up the last weeks happenings, The Weekly Hangover. Perfection.

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The major headline I keep seeing out of Milwaukee is the “will they/won’t they” for trading Ryan Braun. Seems to me he’s a pretty divisive figure, but it’s hard to deny the results so far this year (.367/.434/.586). What are you opinions on his tenure and future with the Brewers?

In introduction to your readers (and in shameless attempt to woo them) I will say that when in NYC last time I had a choice to go to a Yankees game or a Mets game, having never before visited either ballpark. Naturally, my now-wife and I took a train to Citi Field and had a great time. (Easy decision!) But on to the matter at hand…

Braun is definitely a divisive figure among the Milwaukee fanbase but perhaps less so than outsiders might think, probably due to the longterm nature of his contract and his decent production, including a rebound to form so far this year. His numbers in the past couple years haven’t been great, but he hasn’t ever bottomed out to the point where he really caught flak. His injury woes have been troublesome, but he seems to perform well when healthy.

I could give you 2,000 words on Braun easily, but in summation he looked like the next franchise face and career-Brewer after his first couple years, AKA the “next Robin Yount.” When he signed a longterm deal it was a windfall for a market that’s been shunned in the past by players reaching free agency. Of course the PED debacle has sullied his reputation locally and destroyed it nationally. So folks here still respect his skills because he’s a very good player (still) but is generally regarded as a guy who screwed up badly and embarrassed the team in the process.

Now that he’s hitting again and relatively healthy, it’s no wonder he’s being discussed in trade rumors. Unlike some players’ contracts, such as Joey Votto’s, Braun’s deal is sizable but looking more and more like a good deal every day. Alas, the Brewers are undertaking a rebuilding program that could take several years and Braun is 32.

Personally I’m at the point where I’d be more than fine with trading him, but with the condition that they get a package of real value back. Obviously grading baseball trades can be tricky and take years, but unless they get quality prospects (while perhaps helping pay some of Braun’s contract to improve the return), there’s no urgency for Milwaukee to trade him. He’s liked enough around these parts, reasonably affordable and still produces. He broke our hearts long ago but for the most part the wound is healed over and teams are going to need to impress new GM David Stearns to acquire Braun.

Glad to hear you enjoyed your Mets experience! It’s looking like a year to concentrate on developing younger talent as opposed to seeking a division crown. Who’s caught you eye on this front?

Yeah, clearly the Brewers are one of many NL teams that are “rebuilding.” The Reds, Braves, Rockies and Phillies are in somewhat similar positions, which some would incorrectly call “tanking.” In any event, Milwaukee desperately needed to hit the reset button after years of going for it but mostly ending up with mediocre seasons around the .500 mark.

The Brewers have made a ton of trades over the last year or so to improve the farm system, and most of the highly rated reinforcements are still in the minors. However right fielder Domingo Santana, acquired in the Carlos Gomez deal, has shown some hitting ability while struggling a bit with the glove. If he improves his focus and defense he could be a special player.

Brewers fans are looking forward to big-name prospects like outfielder Brett Phillips and shortstop Orlando Arcia. Personally I hope the starting pitcher prospects work out, because Milwaukee has really fumbled that part of things for decades. Starter Zach Davies, acquired in the Gerardo Parra trade last year, is with the big league team now but has mixed results.

For now there’s a hodgepodge of younger guys, vets and interesting placeholders in Milwaukee but it’s a tasty soup this year compared to the band-aid approach and high-payroll but underperforming teams.

Pitching looks to be a little rough so far for the Brew Crew. Do you chalk this up to growing pains or a lack of talent?

Once again the Brewers have a sneaky-good bullpen but the starting pitching is often lousy. Teams just can’t compete in MLB with bad starting pitching (though the Brewers have tried REALLY, REALLY hard to prove otherwise).

Granted, the starting rotation has been buoyed by righty Jimmy Nelson’s reliably solid efforts and the recent insertion of journeyman Junior Guerra, and is showing some signs lately that it can help keep the team in games after all. Overall, however, it’s a mix of growing pains and lack of talent. They need a lot of help in the starting pitching department to be competitive, but at least they have the innings now to experiment with and let guys figure it out. I expect to see more pitchers from the minors given tryouts in Milwaukee later this season, and hopefully potential trades will bring in more candidates.

Milwaukee became the “Beer Capital of the World” on the backs of macrobreweries like Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz. Do you think craft beer in the greater Milwaukee area lends additional credibility to the moniker?

First of all, from one website that loves to mix beer and baseball to another, I say kudos to you, good sirs.

Definitely, Milwaukee’s casual reputation has largely been built on the large-scale brewing industry that is now a plaything of global conglomerates rather than Brew City. Even though most of the macro breweries have long since been swallowed up or moved away, Milwaukee still has a solid beer-making tradition. Miller still has a pretty sizable presence here and Pabst has come around again a little bit. But nowadays it’s local craft breweries that strike a chord for residents, much like in many other American cities.

Lakefront Brewery (http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com), started in 1987, is the heaviest hitter locally. But there are a bunch in the area such as Milwaukee Brewing Company, Sprecher, Brenner, Horny Goat and many others that solidify Milwaukee’s brewing heritage for future generations and produce delicious beers. I’m not sure if any of the city’s craft beers reach NYC, but if so I’d encourage you and your readers to give them a try.

Kudos to you as well. We’re truly fighting the good fight for good beer and good baseball. There’s no team in the Majors more appropriate to the baseball and beer motif (called the Brewers for goodness sake!) than the Brewers. Do you think Miller Park has done a decent job of supporting the rich beer history of Milwaukee?

Great question! Obviously Miller Park is heavy on Miller products, along with Leinenkugel’s, that latter of which originates in Chippewa Falls, Wisc., but is also brewed in Milwaukee. The emphasis on macro beers can be nauseating for sure, but in this case at least it’s not the nearly omnipresent-in-MLB Budweiser, right??

Here’s a tidbit from a Miller Park ballpark guide I wrote for MapQuestBEST BEER IN MILLER PARK For cheaper domestic beers, it’s Miller High Life, MGD or Miller Lite all the way. The craft-beer options at Miller Park shift from time to time, but in general there are nearly 20 varieties available, many from Wisconsin. Try Louie’s Demise by Milwaukee Brewing Company, a German-style amber ale with a mix of malty and hoppy finishes. Alternatively, a beer only legally sold in Wisconsin is Spotted Cow by New Glarus. It’s a farmhouse ale that’ll please any palate. You’ll find craft beer stands along the baselines on the main and loge levels.

With that said, the beer snob in me does wish the folks who decide such things would put a bit more emphasis on craft beers and perhaps build a more concrete set of local craft offerings instead of a rotating smattering that seems a bit tenuous. In addition, craft beers on tap would be a welcome sight rather than 12 oz. bottle pours that seem overpriced for the average stadium guzzler (and me too sometimes).

Of course Miller Park has obligations to its namesake and corporate sponsors to push their stuff first and foremost. All in all craft beer has a good presence at the ballpark but I would criticize it as being too slight in a city known for beer. If it were up to me they would also have a permanent exhibit at Miller Park about Milwaukee’s brewing tradition rather than the “Selig Experience.”

Oh my.

Many thanks to Nick for some fantastic in-depth info! And maybe less thanks for making us aware of the Selig Experience.

Standings & Probables

Nationals 25-16 .610
Phillies 24-17 .585
Mets 22-18 .550
Marlins 21-19 .525
Braves 10-30 .250

Friday, May 20 Steven Matz (5-1 2.86 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (2-4 7.30 ERA)

Saturday, May 21 Jacob deGrom (3-1 2.50 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (1-3 5.58 ERA)

Sunday, May 22 Noah Syndergaard (4-2 2.19 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (2-5 5.32 ERA)

Beer From the Bad Guys

Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy

As mentioned by Nick above, Leinie offerings are easily procured at Miller Park. Plus, they don’t all have to be super fancy microbrews to be of interest to Brew & Orange! With wide distribution and a burgeoning stable of shandy options, Leinenkugel has quickly made their name on the style. I find the standard “Summer” (lemon) shandy to pretty enjoyable, so I figured I’d give another flavor a shot.

Grapefruit Shandy finds itself in a funny no man’s land. I can’t quite put my finger on what I dislike about the grapefruit flavoring within the context of a shandy. It just kind of falls flat. On the other side of the coin, it is reminiscent of a Radler (traditionally a combination of beer and sparkling lemonade), with a pronounced sparkling, effervescent consistency. But the again, the flavor falls short of really fitting the Radler designation.

The other slight head scratcher is the aftertaste. A peculiar tingle sits on the tongue, I’m assuming as a remnant of the sparkling aspect. A bit of cloying sweetness sits heavy on the tongue as well.

leiniegsScouting Report (20-80 scale)

See: 50

Smell: 50

Taste: 45

Feel: 40

Overall: 45

I don’t out and out dislike this beverage. I just…don’t particularly enjoy it. I’m usually more confident as to why I don’t like what I don’t like, but Grapefruit Shandy just doesn’t quite work for me. LGM!

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