Happy Friday, folks, and welcome to a brand new edition of Rolling Out the Barrel. I was out in the Third Ward last night, celebrating the birthdays of my friends Kiki and Kenne. On my way out of the Milwaukee Ale House, I spotted a pair of Cardinals fans, no doubt in town to witness what turned out to be a sweep of the Brewers at Miller Park. An unfamiliar feeling gripped me and compelled me to strike up a conversation with the couple as they stood smoking in the rain. They offered their sympathies on what even they recognized as a somewhat promising season gone totally and completely wrong and offered words of encouragement, stating that they too knew what it felt like to live through what he termed “a rough patch” in the 1990s. These things are all relative, of course: the Cardinals fan’s idea of a rough patch is a decade in which the the team only has five winning seasons, with just a single division title — St. Louis has not had a 100-loss season since 1898 — but it was an interesting and worthwhile conversation regardless. No one hates the Cardinals more than I do, but as the close of this disastrous season draws closer, we can remember that we’re all just baseball fans, and we ought not let a geographically-driven devotion to laundry prevent us from pleasant interactions with folks wearing the “wrong” colors.
FanGraphs || Pick Your Preferred General-Manager Job (September 17, 2015)
Jeff Sullivan offers readers the chance to “choose” which of the six vacant general manager positions they’d most like to take. Of the Brewers situation, Sullivan notes that while Milwaukee has a relatively low payroll and plays in the league’s smallest market, new GMs will benefit from not having to make a host of unpopular moves since the rebuilding process is already underway, and will benefit from an influx of talent from a quality farm system (imagine anyone saying that about the Brewers franchise 6 months ago) that will hit the big leagues the next couple of years. However, also working against Milwaukee is the NL Central, which looks like it will remain the league’s toughest division for quite some time with the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates all set up for long-term success.
Grantland || The Pitch (Sept. 11, 2015)
Last Friday was the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, an annual opportunity to look back and reflect on the lives that were lost, both literally and figuratively; thousands of Americans lost their lives on that terrible day, and millions of survivors were forever changed. Louisa Thomas retells the story of the first pitch thrown out by George W. Bush at Yankee Stadium before game three of the World Series, a simple act that seemed to carry so much weight for a nation still gripped by fear. You can (and should) catch the 30 for 30 short about that day here. Regardless of your politics, Bush’s perfect strike thrown that day was a huge symbolic moment for a nation in mourning.
BP Milwaukee || The Narrative Problem: Ryan Braun and PEDs (Sept. 17, 2015)
I don’t normally shill out for articles on our own site; it’s sort of not the point of this article to just have you clicking around on the site, and we’re also hoping that if you’re here for this, you’re already catching most of the other things we post. I’ll make an exception for this piece from J.P. Breen, a blistering take-down of the narrative revolving around post-PED players like Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and other premier hitters that have either tested positive, or are widely assumed to have used. No one is saying you have to like these guys, and of course their vehement denials are partially to blame for the vilification of the aforementioned players. However, the widespread idea that these hitters owe their video game numbers to PEDs is put to bed.
MLB.com || Nelson leaves early after injury (Sept. 17, 2015)
A very scary moment in last night’s game, as Brewers’ pitcher Jimmy Nelson was struck square in the temple by a 104 MPH line drive off the bat of Tommy Pham. As of this writing, Nelson had been taken to a hospital for a CT scan, and while it’s very encouraging to see in this video that Nelson was able to walk off the field under his own power, there’s a chance we’ve seen Nelson throw his last pitch in 2015 — there’s no sense messing around with a head injury in a lost season.
Disciples of Uecker || Khrush: Ballplayer (Sept. 15, 2015)
Nicholas Zettel ,who at this point seems to be the last man standing over at Disciples of Uecker, presents a breakdown of Khris Davis’ game, from his excellent ability to work counts while still taking advantage of early mistakes (while seven of his 20 HRs have come on the first pitch, he’s still seen 7.5 percent more pitches than the league average based on his number of plate appearances), to his much-overblown struggles in the field, where he actually ranked 6th (out of 16) among left fielders in runs saved. There have been rumblings that Davis could be traded this offseason to make way for Domingo Santana, whose ultimate landing spot is almost certainly not center field. It says here that while Santana is certainly an intriguing prospect with a few years more control than Khrush, the Brewers would be unwise to simply unload him onto the first team that came calling to make room, especially considering the fact that Milwaukee does not have a major-league-ready center field prospect whose spot Santana is blocking.