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Chuck Freimund

Success Versus Cardinals Necessary

~~Success Versus Cardinals Necessary by Andrew Dunn-Bauman

The Brewers are off to an incredible start to the 2014 season. With a nine-game winning streak already in the books, the Crew owns the best record in the MLB at 10-3. Things have been clicking on all cylinders in Milwaukee, but there still remains a thorn in the sides of players and fans alike: The St. Louis Cardinals.

Monday night the Cardinals rolled into town and robbed everyone in the city of Milwaukee of free burgers, snapping the Brewer winning streak just one game shy of double digits. The loss dropped the Brewers' record against the Cardinals to 11-24, dating back to the start of the 2012 season.

Don't get me wrong, it's far from time to hit the panic button. April has been much kinder so far than I had ever anticipated (minus the weather) for Milwaukee, and I'll take the best record in the MLB at any juncture of the season, obviously. For fans freaking out about losing to the Cardinals, let's remember that this squad from St. Louis was slated by almost every pundit to win the NL Central in the preseason. They're good. Really good. The loss was amplified by the fact that it busted a huge winning streak, but no one could have realistically expected the Crew to sweep the Redbirds.

Now, that doesn't excuse the Brewers from ever beating the Cardinals. Quite the opposite. For this team to contend in the Central this year, they need to be competitive with the Cards. At least close to .500 ball against them. Back in 2011, when the Brewers won a franchise record 96 regular season games, they played the Cardinals even at 9-9. But that was against a weaker division than the NL Central this year (the Astros were still in the NL in 2011, that's all you need to know). Wins against division opponents will be at a premium this season (minus the Cubs) so the Brewers cannot afford to be handled by the Cardinals if they want to contend for the postseason.

The Crew has two games left in this set against their rivals from Missouri, and if they fail to win either, the Brewer fan base will go catatonic. The team can absorb this kind of result, but players and fans alike feel it's high time to make a statement. Jonathan Lucroy said on the Bill Michaels show this morning "I feel like we're better than (the Cardinals) are." Let's see the Crew prove it.

For Brewer updates and live tweets from Miller Park, follow Andrew on Twitter @ADBinMKE

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Should Gasser got Into His Grill?

(Dallas ) Whether or not Josh Gasser should have hedged up further into Kentucky's Aaron Harrison's face on
Saturday Night will be long debated. On one hand.Harrison has hit from there before with the game on the line, but then if Gasser gets up further, he risks Harrison's blowing by with his quicks and finding a way to tie a game. No blame, sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say Harrison made a big time play.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I consdered the Badger loss on Saturday night to be one of the toughest in state sports history. Final Four appearences are one of the toughest accomplishment in sports, especially for a program like Wisconsin, as we all know. The opportunity was there for a national title,espcially with Flordia losing. I feel Wisconsin is better than U Conn. This is what makes the Final Four loss a difficultone to swallow.
More on Chuck and Wickett when I join Mike from Dallas from 8-10 AM on Monday morning.
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Brewer Fans Quick to Forgive

Its Tuesday and Andrew Dunn-Bauman has his Brewers Blog

Brewer Fans Quick to Forgive By Andrew Dunn-Bauman

Brewers fans all know the saga of Ryan Braun. They know about the cheating, they know about the lying, they know about the 65-game suspension. But on Monday afternoon, it seemed the Brewer fan base chose to forgive and forget all of that, and instead greeted Braun with a roaring standing ovation as he approached the plate for the first time since July 2013.

For a group of fans that sounded decidedly furious with Braun when news first broke of his suspension, it was certainly more than a bit surprising to witness the reception Braun received from his home crowd on Opening Day.

I fully understand that the Brewers have a loyal and diehard fan base. I understand that they want their team to succeed on every level, as they understand that Braun is an integral part of this team's success. The outpouring of support from the 45,691 fans in attendance was merely a reflection of how badly this city wants the Crew to succeed this year, how badly they have missed warm weather and the boys of summer, and how badly the fan base wants to put the past to rest.

But I do not agree with the standing ovation.

For one at-bat, just one at-bat, the Brewer fan base should have sent Ryan Braun a message. Boos would have been appropriate, and they would have sent that message that the fans and city as a whole is disappointed in Braun's actions - both the fact that he cheated the game of baseball, and that he lied about it, trying to drag others down in the process. Silence, on the other hand, would have been eery and infinitely more effective. Imagine Braun being announced only for the stadium to fall dead quiet. That would have been memorable and effective.

Instead the crowd roared for Braun every plate appearance, sending the message that regardless of all the wrong he has done to the team and its fans, they are willing to accept him with open arms regardless. Brewer fans have taken loads of criticism for this, both from fans of other clubs and national pundits. Some of it is warranted. Some of it is excessive and uncalled for.

But the important thing is that the warm reception is in the past now. The Opening Day fanfare has passed as a blip on the screen, and it is time to get down to the grind of the season. Braun deserves the support of Brewer fans moving forward, because he needs to succeed for this team to succeed. And they are completely in the right to support him as a member of this organization. The fans missed their opportunity to send a message, plain and simple. Now let's leave the controversy in the past; it's time for baseball.

For Brewer updates follow @ADBinMKE

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Now is the Time, Badgers

I have said the entire season, that I can't make a judgment on this Badger Basketball team until March., I wanted to see March production. A Sweet 16 appearence for this team isn't good enough. A win tonight over Baylor in the Sweet 16 ,will give Bucky its biggest win since beating top seeded Arizona in 2000.

When is the last time Wisconsin has had a win in the NCAA's that you could say, "Wow" ..impressive job?" It hasnt happened under Bo Ryan. Most of the time its losing to inferior teams and they dont get to the big boys.

Wisconsin is still better than Baylor. The Bears are playing great but the Badgers are better. But if Wisconsin isn't hitting those 3's against that Baylor zone defense,it could be another March disappointment. This Badger team has beaten better teams than Baylor this season and they need to win this one otherwise it puts a damper on what was another great regular season.
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NL Central Preview

Andrew Dunn-Bauman is back from Spring Training in Arizona and here is his weekly Brewers Blog

NL Central Preview by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than a week from Opening Day at Miller Park, so it’s only right that it’s still below freezing. Nevertheless the countdown is getting serious, so with one final preview before the first pitch of 2014, here’s how I see the NL Central shaking out this season:
St Louis Cardinals (2014 prediction: 100-62)
The Cardinals are once again the team to beat in the NL Central, and with good reason. Adam Wainwright heads what is arguably the best rotation in the MLB. The Redbirds have six viable starters, (five to start the year with Jaime Garcia likely on the DL) and all of them posted ERA’s under four last season. The homegrown pitching depth on this club is uncanny, and extends to the bullpen as well. The Cards have a bunch of young, flame-throwing relievers headlined by closer Trevor Rosenthal, which means facing any portion of this Cardinal staff is a daunting task. Throw in the fact that Yadier Molina is calling the signals behind the dish, and facing this staff quickly becomes an absolute nightmare.
Offensively, the Cards have a solid lineup as well; one that Brewer pitching has struggled with in recent years. While they lost Carlos Beltran this offseason, the signing of Jhonny Peralta in the will provide a boost in production from the shortstop position, which has been inconsistent for the Cardinals recently. And of course, no one wants to face Matt Holliday. Barring an injury-plagued season, the NL Central is there for the Cardinals’ taking.
Cincinnati Reds (89-73)
The Reds won 90 games last season, and I expect them to come close to that total this year. The big loss for Cincinnati this offseason was their leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers.  Choo had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last year, and his production will be tough to replace at the top of the lineup. But center fielder Billy Hamilton could make waves as the Reds’ new leadoff man, bringing electric speed to the top of the lineup.
Johnny Cueto is the household name on the starting staff, but Mat Latos and youngster Tony Cingrani are above-average pitchers as well, and the lineup is still formidable, with the likes of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Closer Aroldis Chapman took a scary line-drive just above his eye in Spring Training, but reports are saying he could return as soon as late April, and his 100-plus MPH fastball effectively shortens the game to eight innings for the Reds. All in all this club should be competing for a Wild Card spot come September.
 Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)
The Brewers are undoubtedly an improved squad this season. Having Ryan Braun for the full season can only benefit the club, and the hope is that a healthy Aramis Ramirez behind him will lead to a potent 3-4 combo for the duration of 2014. Khris Davis in left field is not quite proven yet at the MLB level, but brings another powerful bat to the lineup. The Crew returns a gold-glover in Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura figures to be a real bright spot again at short, both offensively and defensively.
With the addition of Matt Garza, the starting staff looks truly solid from spots one to five to start the season, which is different from years past in Milwaukee. The bullpen looks to be solid as well, with the most notable addition being rookie Wei-Chung Wang, who made the jump from rookie ball in the Pirates organization last year, to the MLB in 2014. I have the Brewers as the most-improved team in the NL Central this year, earning 13 more victories than the 2013 campaign. Health is always a concern over the course of such a long season, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, I see them in the heat of a Wildcard race.
Pittsburgh Pirates (84-78)
This Pirates roster is largely the same as the one that won an impressive 94 games last season, but with one major piece missing; AJ Burnett. Burnett was a fixture in the Bucs’ 2013 campaign that saw the team snap its 20-year-long playoff drought. As a replacement for him, Pittsburgh signed free agent Edison Volquez, who posted a 5.71 ERA in 2013.
Burnett’s absence will be cost this Pirates teams some wins this season. On top of that, it’s questionable to assume that this club can repeat their magical season of 2013. There are three young arms in the Pirates starting rotation that are the key to the Bucs’ chances.  They don’t quite rival the talent of the Cardinals’ young arms, but if they all pitch effectively, they can carry this team towards another successful season. Andrew McCutchen will shine in all facets once again, but I see a season just shy of miraculous this season in Pittsburgh.
Chicago Cubs (67-95)
There’s always next year, Cubbies.
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"Buzz Kill"

Well if you followed me on twitter at all or listened to "Chuck and Wickett" you know that I have never been a big fan of Buzz Williams,the now departed Marquette coach. Buzz usually makes a handful of statements every year that you kind of just roll your eyes at. Too many to count. At the end of the day,he turned out to be the phony I thought he was. Unfortuately, a majority of Marquette nation bought into him.

He was never staying here long term. Its a shame, if you are a season ticket holder or Marquette booster,you would like to believe your coach when he says " I will stay here as long as they will have me"  Leaving the manner he did,appearing on CBS shortly after, wearing Virginia Tech garb,rubbed me the wrong way and was a slap in the face of everyone who supported him.. But again, I shouldn't be surprised with this guy.

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Opening Day

Giving way today to Andrew Dunn Bauman,who is at Spring Training 

Opening Day Predictions
by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than two weeks away from Opening Day at Miller Park. Exciting, isn’t it? With the season so close at hand, and in honor of March Madness starting this week, it’s only fitting for me to make some predictions about this Milwaukee Brewers club.

I’ve spent the past week following the Crew at Spring Training, and have learned that manager Ron Roenicke isn’t one to give away any information regarding roster decisions until it’s an absolutely certainty. But I’m going to use my critical thinking and Nate Silver-like prognosticating skills to predict the Brewers’ Opening Day active roster and starting lineup:

 25-Man Roster

 Starting Rotation:
     1. Yovanni Gallardo
     2. Kyle Lohse
     3. Matt Garza
     4. Wily Peralta
     5. Marco Estrada  

  1. Jim Henderson
  2. Francisco Rodriguez
  3. Will Smith
  4. Wei-Chung Wang
  5. Brandon Kintzler
  6. Alfredo Figaro
  7. Tyler Thornburg
  1. Jonathan Lucroy
  2. Martin Maldonado
  1. Aramis Ramirez
  2. Jean Segura
  3. Rickie Weeks
  4. Scooter Gennett
  5. Jeff Bianchi
  6. Mark Reynolds
  7. Lyle Overbay
  1. Khris Davis
  2. Carlos Gomez
  3. Ryan Braun
  4. Logan Schafer
Starting Lineup:
  1. Jean Segura, SS
  2. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  3. Ryan Braun, RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  5. Jonathan Lucroy, C
  6. Carlos Gomez, CF
  7. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  8. Khris Davis, LF
  9. Yovanni Gallardo, P
Bullpen Notables:
The big surprise of camp so far has been 21-year-old lefty Wei-Chung Wang. Wang, a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Pirates, hasn’t allowed an earned run in six Spring Training outings, pitching 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Roenicke has said he’s worried that he “can’t tell what (Wang) has upstairs” because he has to communicate through a translator. Regardless of what he has upstairs,   he’s had an extremely effective arm this Spring for Milwaukee. It’s impossible to keep Wang off the roster with the way he’s pitched in Spring, so I expect him to be a lock in the ‘pen on Opening Day. Tyler Thornburg will be the first one to get sent down if he struggles.

Infield Notables:
The first thing that stands out: seven infielders. Roenicke said that he plans to keep two first baseman on the roster, and has strongly hinted at plans to keep both Weeks and Gennett on the roster at second base. That totals six infielders, with no one to back-up Jean Segura at short. Having no one as a second option at shortstop is a big no-no, so I expect Jeff Bianchi to be kept as the seventh infielder. Logan Schafer’s ability to play all outfield positions allows for the extra infielder on the roster.
That being said, I expect the Brewers to either deal Rickie Weeks early in the season, or send Scooter Gennett down to Nashville if Weeks is clearly outplaying him. Either move frees up space for Caleb Gindl in the outfield. In the competition for a spot at first base, I see Juan Francisco as the odd man out.
Starting Lineup Analysis:
 As ridiculous as I keep saying it is, the Brewers seem to be leaning more and more towards a platoon at second base. Either this is an elaborate ploy to boost Weeks’ trade value, or he’s going to be splitting time with Gennett. But with Julian Teheran (a righty) being slated as the Braves’ Opening Day starter, I expect Scooter to be in the starting lineup Opening Day.

At first base, Mark Reynolds will win the job. Roenicke doesn’t seem sold on Francisco at this point in camp, and Lyle Overbay won’t be an everyday player at this point in his career. Despite being just a .233 lifetime hitter, Reynolds can offer flexibility defensively, playing at both first and third base as well as emergency relief in the outfield, and Roenicke likes his power numbers.

Outside of that, the starting lineup is pretty straightforward. Both the players and fans alike expect this squad to produce a lot of runs.

Next week I’ll be back with one final look ahead at the Brewer season. For now, one final prediction: Virginia wins the tourney.
For more Brewer coverage from Spring Training, follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE
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A Badger Run?

There is nothing that could persuade me otherwise. The Badger basketball team should at least make it to the Elite 8. They play two games in Milwaukee,should be favored in both, and are better than any team in their half of the West bracket. Im looking at a Wisconsin/Arizona West Regional Final.  The only thing that really bothers me about Bucky is if they have a just a ice cold shooting half like we saw on Saturday against Michigan State.

The table is laid out nicely for the Badgers. Ive been let down in the past by these guys as I have got sucked in by a great regular season. Im not getting my hopes up high but it is easy to see why so many experts like a run to the Final Four. We'll see
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Enjoy the Moment

I have probably never written more about UWM Basketball than I have done in the last week. It started one week ago with them. Winning their first game in Green Bay at the Horizon League Tournament and the Madness kept going becoming the first five seed from the Horizon to get to the NCAA Tournament. An improbable of run as we have seen any team ever make in this state. Sure they are going to face a heavyweight in the  NCAA's,and could smoked, but who cares.

UWM getting to the Big Dance is equal to Duke making it to the Final Four. So to the UWM Program, they will be treated like royalty in the next week and deserve it. It may be a once in a lifetime experience to play in the NCAA's. For one week,they will be able to bask in the spotlight.

Its a safe bet, most of those players on the team will be working in office jobs someday, and will never earn a paycheck playing the game. But playing in the NCAA Tournament is something that can never be taken from them whether they are the team's best player or last man off the bench..Enjoy the moment,as Coach Rob Jeter has been telling his team.
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Maryvale Notes

 He is heading down to Maryvale...  Andrew Dunn-Bauman has his weekly Brewers Blog

Just a couple of things to touch on from Brewers camp, as I’m en route to Phoenix today to check out the Crew in Spring Training...  by Andrew-Dunn Bauman
#1: The resurgence of Rickie Weeks
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago saying that Rickie needs to be a distant silver medalist in the competition for the starting job at second base. At the beginning of the offseason, it seemed crystal clear that Scooter Gennett had won the position with his impressive performance in Weeks’ absence.
Now, it’s a far cry from a certainty. There are stories surfacing of a potential platoon between the two, or even the possibility that Weeks could win the job outright. That seems hard to grasp, but what’s most astonishing is that seemingly half of the Brewer fan base would rather see Weeks take the job and be the Opening Day starter at second.
Why? I’ve repeatedly heard fans argue that “Weeks has a higher ceiling than Gennett.” In what sense? Weeks is 30 years old. He is a lifetime .247 hitter, who has never hit higher than .279 in a season. Gennett is 23 years old,  and he just hit .324 last year in 213 at-bats. Yet Weeks is considered by many fans as the more valuable asset to the Brewers, and his name is even being brought up as a potential leadoff hitter for the team this year. Am I missing something?
Fans fall in love with power numbers. It’s not just chicks who dig the long ball. I understand the excitement Weeks brings when he’s crushing the ball for a two-week period. But the consistency is just not there. Gennett is better defensively, and his “ceiling” is way higher than Weeks’.
#2: No big news is good news
So far it’s been a relatively quiet Spring Training in Maryvale. That’s a good thing. When Hank the Ballpark Pup captures the lead headlines for a couple of weeks straight, you know there’s not a whole lot going on. But that’s OK, because playoff berths aren’t earned in the Cactus League. The Crew is 6-8 so far this Spring, but wins in March are about as meaningful as Cubs victories in September.
Instead of winning games, the bigger focus of Spring Training is to prepare players for Opening Day, especially pitchers who need to slowly be stretched out in order to be ready for a heavy workload once the regular season rolls around. The Crew has avoided any major injuries thus far in camp, and that’s a more positive development than if Ryan Braun had gone yard in every plate appearance in Phoenix. True, Braun has been having himself a nice Spring so far, but those numbers are meaningless once Opening Day versus the Braves rolls around.
Moral of the story: Don’t get too excited about impressive numbers out of Maryvale, and don’t get anxious about a couple of rough performances.
Things to watch for over the next week:
  • I’m keeping an eye on the second base situation, and am interested to see who starts to emerge as the frontrunner at first base.
  • Keep tabs on Ryan Braun’s performance, as he has promised 2014 will be his best offensive season to date.
  • Matt Garza has gotten off to a tough start in Spring, and would like to get things figured out before it gets too close to Opening Day. Look for him to turn things around in his next start today versus the Angels.
For updates and news from Spring Training, follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE
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