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MDR Blog 7/21
06:47 PM ET (US)
Coming off series wins against contenders Texas and the Mets, the Cubs will travel north this weekend to Miller Park and try to avoid stumbling against their MDR rivals, the Brewers,

Milwaukee is well below .500 coming into the series. The Cubs are 57-37 and fighting for the best record in baseball.

But, the Brewers have extra incentive because of the I-94 rivalry. Any win against the Cubs gives the Brewers credibility and shows they can compete against the best teams, as they try to rebuild.

The Cubs cooled off some before the All Star break, but the series wins against the Rangers and Mets seem to have re-established them as one of the top 3-4 teams in baseball.

They hope to stay among the elite, especially as they get reinforcements with players coming off the DL and via other sources.

The series comes one weekend before the July 31 trade without waivers deadline. Rumors circulate around both teams. The Cubs are considered buyers and, in fact, made a deal on Wednesday.

LHP Mike Montgomery came from Seattle to bolster the bullpen. See details of trade in the Updated Notes section of this blog.

Before that deal, the Cubs had been rumored to be pursuing the Yankees’ Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. It’s not clear whether getting Montgomery means the Cubs have given up on acquiring either of those pitchers.

The Brewers’ main trade rumor has been catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Several teams have reportedly been interested in him since last winter. The Indians are the latest and hottest rumor.

LHP Will Smith also has been mentioned in rumors involving the Indians and other teams.

Jason Hammel will face the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson on Friday. John Lackey and Milwaukee’s Zach Davies match up on Saturday. Jon Lester and Junior Guerra will face each other in the series finale on Sunday.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** The Brewers’ win on Wednesday marked the 100th time they have beaten the Pirates since 2007.

** Lucroy is hitting .338 with 31 RBI over his last 42 games

** The Brewers and 620 WTMJ extended their radio contract.


** In the deal for Montgomery, the Cubs also received minor league right-hander Jordan Pries from the Mariners. In exchange, the Cubs are sending Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Double-A right-hander Paul Blackburn to Seattle.

** Montgomery, plus Dexter Fowler and reliever Joe Nathan, could join the Cubs by this weekend.

** With the Cubs looking at any number of possible means of upgrading at the deadline, GM Jed Hoyer says to “expect the unexpected,” as Patrick Mooney of writes.


** The Twins announced to the media that right-hander Neil Ramirez has been outrighted to Triple-A Rochester (Twitter link via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Left-hander Buddy Boshers has been recalled in his place, giving the Twins a third lefty alongside Taylor Rogers and Fernando Abad.

** The Twins are receiving the most trade interest in shortstop Eduardo Nunez, catcher Kurt Suzuki, right-hander Brandon Kintzler and Abad,

** Twins upper management told Terry Ryan a month ago that he wouldn’t be retained beyond the present season, and allowed him to choose his own method of departure, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN reports (links to Twitter).

White Sox

**GM Rick Hahn acknowledged that his club will not be pursuing short-term upgrades to the MLB roster, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago was among those to tweet. He added that the Sox will be willing to consider all other transactions.

** The Rangers have acquired minor league righty Scott Carroll from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations, according to an announcement from both clubs.

** The Sox are getting quite a few calls on outfielder Adam Eaton,

Player of the Week

After striking out four times in a game for the first time in his career, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hit two homers and drove in three runs on Wednesday. He has now hit in 37 of his last 44 games and has 13 homers and 36 RBIs in that stretch. That makes him the MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Lucroy, who continues to excel at the plate and behind it amidst all the trade talk; the Twins’ Max Kepler, who hit his 10th homer of the season in a clutch situation; the White Sox’s Jose Quintana, who stranded the go-ahead runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings until the White Sox eventually broke out for a 6-1 victory over Seattle to snap a five-game losing streak.

What’s Ahead

After playing at Miller Park this weekend, the Cubs will return home to Wrigley Field to host the Sox next week in another MDR Rivalry series.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B's Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.

Next week’s MDR Blog actually won’t run until Aug. to include any deals that are made before the trade deadline by MDR teams.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog - 7/16
09:32 AM ET (US)

Jonathan Lucroy has heard the trade rumors for months.


At one point during the off-season, the Brewers’ catcher even told the Journal Sentinel that he thought a trade might be a good idea for the team and him.


"I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to compete for the playoffs this year," Lucroy told the newspaper in a telephone interview. "If I did that, you'd call me a liar. I'd lose credibility and respect. I want to win, and I don't see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That's what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy."


But, as of this writing, Lucroy was still with the Brewers, and playing very well, behind and at the plate. He was the team’s All Star selection and singled in the ASG. He has made it clear he will play hard for the club as long as he is in Milwaukee.


“I want to compete. I want to win,” Lucroy said. “That’s all I was saying. I am committed to playing the best baseball I can, whether I’m here or elsewhere. If I can help the Brewers win, I am ready to do so. That’s all I really have control over.”


Lucroy, also an All Star in 2014, has been more committed to coming back from an injury-riddled season in 2015, and has managed to do so. He got off to a bad start at the plate last season before fracturing the big toe on his left foot in late April. He returned before the end of May and put up decent numbers before sustaining a concussion on Sept. 8 in Miami that kept him from catching the rest of the way.


“It was a frustrating year,” Lucroy admitted. “All I could do was work hard during the off-season to get in the best shape I could and be ready.”


He worked out with college friend Eugene Kwarteng, who played football at Lucroy's alma mater, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and later in the Canadian Football League. Lucroy's brother, David, who Milwaukee's 20th-round Draft pick last June, also joined in.


The results have been evident. Lucroy has been consistent at the plate this season. In May, he hit nine home runs. In one series against the Reds in late May, Lucroy drove in nine runs.

Lucroy became the first Brewers player to drive in three runs in three straight games since Robin Yount in 1987 in that series.


Of course, Lucroy has batted fourth in many games this season, so he feels he should be driving in runs.


"It's an approach thing, a mental approach," Lucroy said. "Whenever my mental approach is correct and my mechanics are correct in my swing, I feel like I should do it more times than not. It's a matter of pride. I take it personally when I don't get a guy in with less than two outs."

 As this blog is being written, rumors are circulating that Lucroy could be traded to the Rangers, who reportedly were interested in him last winter.


Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** LHP Will Smith also has been included in rumors about a deal with Texas and others.

** RHP Corey Knebel rejoined the team after a DL rehab and outfielder Domingo Santanta could be ready soon to go on a rehab. Michael Blazek was sent to the minors to make room for Knebel.

** The Brewers have announced that they’ve claimed righty reliever Rob Scahill from the Pirates and optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.


** Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the his club will be flexible in the build-up to the deadline, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “I don’t think its productive to pigeonhole yourself into thinking you have needs in just one specific role as the key to improving this club,” Epstein said.

** Cubs outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is getting trade attention but the Cubs aren’t eager to part with the talented 19-year-old, CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan tweets.

** The Cubs have been heavily connected to bullpen trade rumors, though they could potentially receive help from within if veteran Joe Nathan is able to regain any of his old form, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney writes.


** The last-place Twins, who have the worst record in the American League, have had surprising success against the Indians and Texas Rangers, the two best teams in the AL. They are the only team to have a winning record against the Indians, despite a loss Friday.

** Longtime center fielder Torii Hunter will be inducted into the Twins' Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. The five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner retired after the 2015 season, spending 12 of his 19 Major League seasons in Minneapolis.

** RHP Tyler Duffey went 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts before the All-Star break

White Sox

** The White Sox have activated first baseman/designated hitter Justin Morneau from the disabled list and optioned outfielder Jason Coats to Triple-A in a corresponding move.

** The Sox are promoting right-hander Carson Fulmer to work out of their bullpen, according to Dave Williams of Barstool Sports (links to Twitter).

** Right-hander Scott Carroll has been outrighted off the White Sox’ 40-man roster, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).


Player of the Week


Give the honor to Lucroy, who had a hit in the All Star Game and a key RBI on Friday night as the regular schedule resumed. It might be the last time he can get the honor if he is traded.


Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who hit over .600 in the short week of action and started at first base for the NL in the All Star Game; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who represented the Twins in the ASG and homered Friday night; the White Sox’s RHP Miguel Gonzales, who pitched six solid innings on Friday night.


What’s Ahead


The Mets and Cubs will play the highlight series for the week ahead. Also, look for the trade rumor mill to heat up as the July 31 date comes closer.


The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B's Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.


There will be two research presentations: Tom Rathkamp's is titled; "Happy Felsch: Banished Black Sox Center Fielder." Tom also has a book with the same title. Dennis Degenhardt's presentation is; "When Chicago Came to Milwaukee in the '60's."



You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below:
 ** Blog
MDR Blog 7/8
10:17 AM ET (US)
The Cubs are sending seven players to the All Star Game. The Twins and White Sox have one player each. The Brewers have one, with a possibility of a second since Ryan Braun is part of the final vote gimmick.

But, the Brewers have made the most news going into the final weekend before the ASG break. On Thursday, they traded veteran infielder Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for two minor leaguers, RHP Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo.

GM David Stearns said Will Middlebrooks and Hernan Perez will likely fill in at third base, but the deal makes sense only if it opens up a spot for prospect Orlando Arcia. The Brewers said they will announce Hill’s replacement on the 25-man roster later on Friday.

It could be Arcia, but they also might wait until after the All Star break to call up the shortstop. For one thing, they already have a shortstop who has played very well in Jonathan Villar.

That should not stop the callup of Arcia, however, and it does not mean the Brewers should send Villar along the same route as Hill. Instead, call up Arcia and put either him or Villar at third base.

There will be those who argue that third is a place for a RBI, slugger type, but that’s somewhat outdated thinking. With Arcia and Villar playing side-by-side, it would be tough getting a ball through the left side of the infield. The pair hitting 1-2 in the lineup also would give the club speed at the top of the order.

Rijo is a middle infielder. You have to ask how many of those the organization needs. But, if Rijo simply takes the place of Arcia in the minors, it makes sense.

The Brewer also made news when they sent RHP Kyle Davies down to the minors until after the All Star break. The rationale was that Davies, who has pitched very well for 11 straight games, would not appear until after the ASG and the Milwaukee bench needed another player, which turned out to be utility player Andy Wilkins.

Scott Boras, Davies‘ agent, had another spin on the move: “In this game, performance earns respect. After beating one of the best teams in the National League, he was told he no longer was a member of the team. It's disrespect for someone who will be a principal part of the organization for years to come, to add a bench player for 10 days. In this game, teams do not send down starting pitchers who are performing well.

“Flying a starting pitcher cross-country interrupts his regular routine and his normal bullpen sessions. This is not how you prepare successful starting pitchers.”

Stearns said the Brewers were within their rights to make the move and made no disrepect to Davies: “We certainly value Zach's contributions to the club and consider him an important part of our starting rotation. Given that he wasn't scheduled to pitch for a 10-day stretch, we wanted the extra flexibility of another player on the bench.”

The move does cost Davies 10 days of major league service time and about $24,000 in salary. Davies simply said, “Baseball is a business.”

But, the move brings back some memories of a move that led to the departure of J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee. In 2009, during a low-performing season through July, Hardy was optioned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds on August 12. It cost him MLB time, affected his free agency date and led to ill feelings between him and the Brewers. Hardy was traded in the off-season for to the Twins for Carlos Gomez.

Updated Noted

(Some of these notes come from


** Will Middlebrooks’ minor league deal with the Brewers included an assignment clause for July 1,’s Adam McCalvy writes. Milwaukee was required to offer the third baseman to the other 29 teams if Middlebrooks wasn’t on the big league roster by July 1.

** The Brewers have struck a $1.2MM deal with 11th-round draft pick Chad McClanahan, Jonathan Mayo of reports on Twitter.

** Scooter Gennett swiped home on a double steal for a tie in an eventual loss Wednesday, the Brewers' first such achievement in three years.


** Andrew Miller sits atop the Cubs’ wish list this season, according to Jon Heyman. The Yankees southpaw is humming along with a 1.47 ERA and 13.2 K/BB ratio.

** The Cubs have designated right-hander Joel Peralta for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for the return of Adam Warren, per multiple reporters out of Chicago, including the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer (Twitter link).

** The bullpen is the only “real problem” facing the Cubs,’s Jesse Rogers opines.


** Ervin Santana is the “most likely” member of the Twins to be traded this summer, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. However, executives that have spoken to the Twins about trades tell Stark that Minnesota is willing to talk about virtually anyone on their roster.

** Assuming he clears waivers, the Rays have interest in a reunion with reliever Kevin Jepsen, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Jepsen was designated recently by the Twins, who had picked him up from the Rays last summer.

** The Twins have outrighted Darin Mastroianni off their 40-man roster, the club announced. The outfielder was just activated off the disabled list, as he has been recovering from a left oblique strain since late May.

White Sox

** White Sox backstop Alex Avila headed to the DL with a hamstring strain, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago tweets.

** Outfielder Tony Campana is headed to the White Sox on a minor league deal after being released by the Nationals.

** The White Sox have announced that they’ve acquired catcher Alfredo Gonzalez from the Astros and optioned him to Double-A Birmingham.

Player of the Week

The White Sox’s Chris Sale takes a 14-2 record into Friday’s game and could end up the AL All Star starting pitcher. It’s Sale’s fifth straight ASG for the Sox. For this, he gets the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Aaron Hill, who hit .368 in his last five games in a Milwaukee uniform; the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who hit ,.310 with two homers and four RBIs for the week; the Twins’ Rob Grossman, who hit .381 for the week.

What’s Ahead

The All Star Game is the main event for next week. After the ASG break, the Cubs will have the highlight series against the Rangers, who are competing with Chicago for the best record in baseball.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 7/1
08:41 AM ET (US)
Balloting for the All Star teams ended at midnight Friday. American League and National League rosters will be revealed at 6 p.m. CT on July 5 in the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN.

One thing that is clear is that the Cubs will be well represented. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler led voting at their positions going into the final day. That means the Cubs could have the entire starting infield for the NL.

At least Jake Arrieta and perhaps another pitcher or two could be added from the Cubs. This would put the team among the top in ASG selections in history.

In 2015, the Royals had eight players leading balloting going into the final days of voting, but 65,000 votes were ruled to be fraud and KC ended up with four representatives.

The Reds had seven players voted All Star starters in 1957. Stan Musial was the only non-Red position player voted as a starter. But, commissioner Ford Frick appointed Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to replace the Reds’ Gus Bell and Wally Post, and took away fan voting.

That sounds a little like the Republicans trying to deny Trump the nomination at the GOP convention. You won’t see anything as drastic as the ‘57 move -- or the GOP situation -- in baseball this season.

With the possible exception of Russell and Fowler, the Cubs voted in by the fans deserve to be selected as starters. Certainly, Fowler deserves to be at least a backup.

Turning to other MDR teams. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was in the top six outfielders. He likely will be the lone Milwaukee representative. You could make an argument for Jonathan Lucroy, but he finished well behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey in catcher balloting. The Nationals’ Wilson Ramos should be the starter at the position.

Jonathan Villar also could have been considered a candidate at shortstop, but was fourth in voting.

The Twins will be one of those teams that gets a representative because it is required. Eduardo Nunez seems to be the favorite possibility in the Twin Cities.

Chris Sale is a lock as the White Sox All Star selection and is receiving support as the AL starting pitcher. The Sox might not have a position player picked.

Again, you can check out the final selections next Tuesday.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** RHP Zach Davies had his streak of effective starts snapped in a loss to the Dodgers Thursday. Davies was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA in 10 straight starts.

** RHP Taylor Jungmann, who started the season in the Brewers’ rotation, was assigned to Double A Biloxi after posting a 9.87 ERA at Colorado Springs in AAA.

** The Brewers designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, per a club announcement. Taking his place on the roster was utilityman Jake Elmore, whose contract was purchased by Milwaukee.


** Albert Almora Jr. hit his first MLB homer Wednesday.

** Anthony Rizzo had his first inside-the-park home run as a big leaguer on Wednesday.

** The Cubs selected the contract of 40-year-old RHP Joel Peralta and option LHP Gerardo Concepcion back to Triple-A Iowa, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).


** Byung Ho Park is hitting only .071 with 22 strikeouts in his last 12 games.

** Ervin Santana “is seen as perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market,” with one AL assistant GM describing the Twins veteran as “the one guy out there who could be a sure thing in the middle of the rotation.”

** Twins right-hander Phil Hughes will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The operation will alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

White Sox

** The Sox took two of three from the Twins in a MDR Rivalry series. James Shields got his first win with the Sox in a 6-3 decision on Tuesday. The Twins won 4-0 on Wednesday, and the Sox took the rubber game, 6-5/

** Matt Davidson broke his foot Thursday and will go on the DL. He had his first hit and RBI as a Sox earlier in the game.

** Justin Morneau feels that he can be ready to join the White Sox after about 30 at-bats on a minor league rehab assignment, he tells Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago (Twitter link). Levine estimates that Morneau will be ready to join the big league roster around July 15.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant became the only player in MLB history to hit three home runs and two doubles in a single game on Monday. For that, he’s a runaway pick for the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Junior Guerra, who continued his surprising season with a two-hitter in eight innings of a win over the Dodgers; the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, who held the White Sox to five hits and no runs in a win; the White Sox’s Brett Lawrie, who hit .458 in six games with three homers and four RBIs.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will continue their series against the Mets in New York after dropping the opener on Thursday. They then return to Wrigley Field for a series against the Reds and a makeup game of a previous rainout against the Braves.

The Brewers will meet the Cardinals twice within a week, traveling to St. Louis this weekend and hosting the Cards at Miller Park next weekend.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 6/25
08:39 AM ET (US)
All four MDR teams have struggled in the last couple weeks and need to make adjustments if they want to go into the All Star break on better notes.

The Brewers were 3-7 in their last 10 games, and that was after two straight wins. A disastrous West Coast trip, especially series in San Francisco and Los Angeles, set back the Brewers, who were 33-40 through Friday action.

The Cubs stood at a very good 48-24 overall, but had lost four straight before their win Friday night. The Cardinals had swept them, the first sweep by an opponent at Wrigley Field this season. Chicago stood at 5-5 in their last 10 games.

On the South Side of Chicago, the Sox also were 5-5 in their last 10, despite winning four of their last five games. They were 37-37 for the season.

The Twins continued to struggle with 3-7 in their last 10 games and were 23-50 in what already is a lost season.

Milwaukee continues to struggle because of inconsistency overall. Especially troubled on the road trip was the bullpen. The Brewers were tied or ahead in seven of nine games on the trip, but came out with only two wins.

Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg had problems on the road. Jeremy Jeffress also was unavailable because of an eye injury. They hope to get healthy in more than one way before the ASG.

The Cubs had been hit with some nagging injuries, as detailed in the Updated Notes section of this blog. As written last week, it might be getting close to the time for the club to bring in some reinforcements with some deals.

Manager Joe Maddon didn’t seem too upset, however. "It's very difficult to sustain the level we're at," Maddon said. "When you do get off to a good start, you can absorb a bad moment. When I look in the newspapers and see us at 70 percent, I can't be too upset."

Reports from execs from teams that have engaged the Cubs in trade talks were that Chicago has shown “no interest” in trading Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras or Javier Baez. GMs around the league believe that Albert Almora is more or less off limits as well.

That might change later in July if the Cubs still are struggling a bit and feel they need help for the stretch run.

The White Sox have been plagued with inconsistency all season, but did look better in winning four of their last five. Some of the team’s top hitters, such as Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu, have been inconsistent. Frazier did have a key hit Friday, and Abreu was starting to heat up before sitting out with leg soreness.
James Shields has struggled since being brought in to bolster the starting rotation. The Sox need him to come around.

The Twins have been a disaster since the start of the season, leading to some speculation that Paul Molitor could end up going from AL Manager of the Year to being unemployed. But, Twins management continues to back Molitor and look for solutions to both pitching and offensive woes. You could see some selling off by the club after the ASG.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** OF Keon Broxton hit his first MLB home run Friday night.

** LHP Chris Capuano and OF Domingo Santana likely will not return from elbow problems until after the All Star break.

** RHP Michael Blazek returned from the DL and went back into bullpen action.


** 1B Anthony Rizzo could return this weekend after suffering some back problems.

** INF Ben Zobrist was day-to-day with an ankle bruise.

** Catcher Miguel Montero was suffering with right knee soreness.


** OF Oswaldo Arcia was traded to the Rays for a player to be named later and cash.

** 3B Trevor Plouffe was day-to-day with a groin problem.

** The Twins committed a season-high three errors Friday and have struggled on defense all season.

White Sox

** 3B Todd Frazier was 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position before a clutch hit on Friday.

** 1B-DH Jose Abreu was day-to-day with leg soreness.

** Reliever Zach Putnam could be facing elbow surgery.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ rookie Willson Contreras hit .412 with a game-winning hit on Friday to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had two key homers during the week; the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who was hitting .379 since switching to an “axe bat” with a different style of handle; the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .370.

What’s Ahead

The Twins travel to Chicago to meet the Sox in a three-game series Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

Voting for the All Star teams ends next week.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.

** Blog
MDR Blog 6/17
09:30 AM ET (US)
MDR Blog - 6/17

 It might be time for the Cubs to consider calling in some reinforcements.

 The Washington Nationals had pulled to within two games of the Cubs for the best record in MLB, as of Friday morning. That’s hardly a reason to panic, but the fact the Cubs are 5-5 since starting June with four straight wins does support the idea that the team has cooled off considerably.

 Two areas that seem to need shoring up would be catcher and the outfield. Miguel Montero has not hit well since returning from the DL, and David Ross, headed for retirement after this season, cannot play every game without fading.

 The Cubs acknowledged these facts by calling up catching prospect Willson Contreras this week.

 In the outfield, injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler have depleted the ranks. Schwarber is out for the season. Soler should return soon, but he was not hitting before his injury (.223).

 Albert Almora and Matt Szcur have hit over .300 since they started filling in out in the outfield. Infielders Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist also have seen time there.

 The Cubs also acquired Chris Coghlan, one of manager Joe Maddon’s favorites, this past week. Coghlan played for Maddon in Florida and with the Cubs last season.

 But, you have to wonder how much Contreras can help behind the plate as a rookie, and if Almora and Szcur will continue to produce. Coghlan was hitting less than .200 when he was picked up from the A’s. Also, will Soler heat up once he returns.

 So, it might be time for a deal. The Cubs have been mentioned in rumors about the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy. Ryan Braun even has been mentioned in some Cubs‘ rumors. Don’t hold your breath on those.

 The club also has been mentioned in other rumors about position players, but overall Theo Epstein and his crew look to be more interested in adding relief pitching.

 Hottest rumor about the Cubs: Yankees’ relievers Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman for Schwarber or Soler. One would likely become the closer, replacing Hector Rondon.

 Apparently, the Cubs feel they can weather the storm in the outfield and that Contreras might strengthen them sufficiently behind the plate.

 They might end up right. At the same time, the Cubs have looked more mortal in the last couple weeks. Expectations have risen for this club, so reinforcements might end up being needed.

 Updated Notes

 (Some of these notes come from


 ** Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says that his club is “not actively shopping” either Jonathan Lucroy or Ryan Braun, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwakee Journal-Sentinel reports.

** While Lucroy is perhaps the most-cited trade candidate in baseball, GM David Stearns told some media that an extension can’t be entirely ruled out.

** Braun tells’s Michael Wagaman that he’s aware of the trade rumors swirling around his name and has had conversations with Stearns about the possibility of such a move. Braun says he has a “great relationship” with the team’s management.


 ** Jake Arrieta hopes to join crosstown Chris Sale with 11 wins when he starts against the Pirates Friday night.

 ** Righty Brandon Gomes has been released by the Cubs, as Baseball America’s Matt Eddy recently reported.

** The Cubs designated catcher Tim Federowicz for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Contreras, The Cubs have signed free-agent lefty Brian Matusz to a minor league contract, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter).


 ** The Twins have designated outfielder Oswaldo Arcia for assignment,’s Rhett Bollinger was among those to report on Twitter. His roster spot will go to Danny Santana, who was activated from the DL.

 ** Twins closer Glen Perkins has been diagnosed with a torn labrum that will likely require season-ending surgery, reports La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

** The Twins have claimed right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez off waivers from the Brewers and transferred Phil Hughes (knee) to the 60-day DL.

 White Sox

 ** Robin Ventura is on the hot seat again with the White Sox, Jon Heyman writes. A team source tells him that there’s a feeling that “patience has been shown” and a change could benefit the team. Bench coach Rick Renteria, who formerly managed the Cubs, could succeed Ventura. Not that it’s particularly surprising, but Heyman adds that former skipper Ozzie Guillen wouldn’t be a candidate to return to his old post.

 ** The White Sox announced they’ve requested waivers for the purpose of granting RHP Mat Latos his unconditional release.

** Avisail Garcia has been moved to DH, at least temporarily.

 Player of the Week

 The Sox’s Chris Sale became the first MLB pitcher to 11 wins this season. Sale gave up three runs on six hits in seven innings of a win over the Tigers and in the process won the MDR Player of the week honor.

 Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, who hit .364 for the week with a home run and five RBIs’ the Cubs’ Albert Almora, who hit .417 in limited action; and the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who hit .361 with a homer and five RBIs.

 What’s Ahead

 The Cubs play NLC rivals, the Pirates, this weekend. The Sox meet the Indians, who lead the ALC.

 The Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will have its next meeting at 11 am on Saturday, July 23. It will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar on 53rd and Bluemound Road. Guest Speaker will be Brewers radio announcer Jeff Levering.


 You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** Blog
MDR Blog - 6/10
07:38 AM ET (US)
Ryan Braun recorded his 1500th career hit this week. When you consider he missed much of one season because of his PED violation, Braun has averaged well over 150 hits per season in his 10 years with the Brewers.

This writer has been as critical of Braun as anybody in how he handled the PED controversy. He just plain lied, which has forever tainted his reputation, turned him from a fan favorite to a villain with most baseball fans other than the Brewers' faithful and undoubtedly cost him millions in endorsements and other financial benefits.

Those criticisms stand. Plus, Braun has repeatedly suffered nagging injuries that often plague post-steroid players -- wrists, back, neck, intercostal, etc.

With all that said, Braun also deserves credit for how he has performed this season. He is near the top of the batting average leaders in the National League, has continued to supply power and RBIs. Back in his more comfortable left field spot, he also has played well in the field.

National rumors repeatedly say Braun's good performance makes him trade bait later this summer. That could, in fact, turn out to be true. But, the Brewers also have performed better than expected thus far in their first year of what has been billed as a major rebuilding season.

Braun has been a major factor, at least on offense, in that team performance. So has Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter, who also have been subject of trade rumors. Only Jonathan Villar, who has been very good at shortstop, really qualifies as a young player among that group.

GM David Stearns has shown he believes in youth, and indeed the Brewers have some players in their farm system that very well could add to their core in a season or two. However, the club also could use the production, and leadership, that Braun, Lucroy, Carter and Villar have provided.

The rebuilding might not be as painful if Stearns retains these guys at least through this season and maybe next. Instead of dumping off these four, trade either Aaron Hill or Scooter Gennett before the trade deadline and bring up Orlando Arcia to play either second or third. Or shift Villar to one of those positions and put Arcia at his natural shortstop spot.

Get along with the committee of three or four players in center until Brett Phillips is ready to take over that position. Ride Lucroy at catcher until Jacob Nottingham is ready to take over at catcher.

Finally, stick with Braun as your proven star. By doing so, the Brewers will have a better chance of rebuilding quicker and also will give Braun ample chance to still salvage something of his reputation and legacy.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** Corey Ray, an outfielder from the University of Louisville, was the Brewers' top pick at #5.

** The Brewers announced they activated right-hander Corey Knebel from the disabled list and designated fellow righty reliever Neil Ramirez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster.

** The Brewers promoted pitching prospect Josh Hader to Triple-A Colorado Springs, assistant general manager Matt Arnold announced prior to Wednesday's game against the A's. Hader, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect by, is third in the Minors with a 0.95 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00 in 11 starts for Double-A Biloxi and was named a Southern League All-Star just hours before the announcement. He has not allowed more than one earned run in any of his starts and has 73 strikeouts to only 19 walks in 57 innings.


** The Cubs will make their first draft pick when the third round starts on Friday.

** The Cubs have brought back veteran infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan in a trade with the Athletics, per an announcement from Oakland. Young utilityman Arismendy Alcantara will go back in return.

** The Cubs have agreed to a minor league deal with 40-year-old veteran righty Joel Peralta, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The agreement is pending a physical.


** High school outfielder Alex Kirilloff was the Twins' first pick at #16.

** Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire returned to Target Field on Wednesday in his role as special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan.
It marked the first time Gardenhire had been at the ballpark since he was dismissed as manager following the 2014 season after managing the club for 13 years. Gardenhire has already visited each of the organization's Minor League affiliates, and Ryan asked him to see the Twins in person this week, especially with the MLB Draft on Thursday and David Ortiz's pregame ceremony before Friday's game against the Red Sox.

** After right-hander Brandon Kintzler picked up his first career save with a scoreless ninth in the Twins' 7-5 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night, manager Paul Molitor announced he'll be backing off closer Kevin Jepsen in the short-term, using Kintzler and lefty Fernando Abad in save situations based on matchups.

White Sox

** Catcher Zack Collins of the University of Miami was the Sox's top pick at #10.

** The White Sox have signed veteran first baseman Justin Morneau, the club announced. It’s a one-year, $1MM contract. Morneau will head straight onto the 15-day DL as he continues to work back to form after undergoing elbow surgery.

** The White Sox have designated right-hander Mat Latos for assignment, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Hayes tweets that Latos’ roster spot will go to 2013 second-round pick Tyler Danish — a 21-year-old right-hander with a 4.42 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings (12 starts) for Double-A Birmingham this season.

Player of the Week

Jose Abreu of the White Sox hit .450 with a homer for the week to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: rhe Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, who hit over .390 for the week; the Cubs' John Lackey, who threw a 3-hitter over seven innings in a win over the Phillies; the Twins' Byron Buxton, who hit .364 in six games,

What's Ahead

The Cubs will take their top record in baseball on the road ovet the weekend and early next week to Atlanta and Washington D.C. before returning home to host NL Central rivals, the Pirates and Cardinals.

Mike Haupert will be hosting SABR chapters from a multitude of states Saturday, July 9 at Copeland Park in LaCrosse. The afternoon meeting (registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) will have a guest from the LaCrosse Loggers Northwoods League team, an official scorers panel, research presentations, and a trivia contest by Howard Luloff.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 6/3
08:41 AM ET (US)
The annual MLB draft will be held next week. Here are some selection projections for the four MDR teams.

The Brewers have the highest pick at No. 5. Many of the so-called experts’ mock drafts have them picking an outfielder, most likely either Corey Ray of Louisville or Kyle Lewis of Mercer.

Milwaukee also has the No. 46 pick. Many are projecting LHP Kyle Muller, a Texas high school LHP for that spot.

The White Sox will pick at No. 10, and projections for that pick are all over the map. Some have the Sox taking Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson. Others are projecting Miami catcher Zack Collins.

The Sox also have the 26th pick. Again, take your pick with Kent State LHP Eric Lauer, Chaminade Prep OF Blake Rutherford and Georgia’s RHP Robert Tyler among the players most often mentioned. Rutherford could move up from this position.

Minnesota has the No. 15 ;pick, Two prep pitchers -- LHP Joey Wentz of Shawnee, Kansas, and RHP Ian Anderson of New York -- are the top projections for that spot.

The Cubs forfeited their first round pick when they signed John Lackey. They don’t pick until No. 98, where many experts are projecting they will take prep RHP Dustin May of Fort Worth.

Looking at some of these projected picks, Ray has speed and has hit over .300 at Louisville. Lewis, another of the Brewers’ projected picks, is a power hitter. He could go earlier in the draft to the Rockies.

Turning to the Sox, Hudson went through a dead arm period at Mississippi State, but has rebounded and has been throwing well.

Collins is one of the more interesting selections for the Sox. He stands 6-3 and weighs 220, almost in the stature of Carlton Fisk, who starred for the Sox. He hit .381 for the Hurricanes and led the nation in walks with 62 during the regular season.

Rutherford is said to have an exceptional combo of power and speed.

Moving to the Twins, Wentz has committed to the University of Virginia, but could sign a pro contract if he is drafted high enough. The Dodgers seem to be the Twins’ competition for Wentz.

Anderson has formed a battery combo with his brother, Ben, at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, N.Y. Ian has committed to Vanderbilt, but like Wentz could sign a pro contract depending on his draft position and team.
Of course, every year many of these so-called mock draft experts prove to be wrong. So, check back next week to see who the teams pick.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** RHP Chase Anderson lowered his ERA over his past five starts to 2.97 by allowing a run on three hits and no walks in 5 2/3 innings Thursday.

** LHP Will Smith was activated from the DL and had a scoreless relief appearance Thursday. RHP David Goforth was sent back to the minors.

** RHP Michael Blazek was put on the DL with a sore elbow. Reliever Jacob Barnes was recalled from the minors.


** The Cubs’ winning streak behind Jake Arrieta ended at 23 Tuesday night, but Arrieta did not take the loss.

** LHP Jon Lester posted the 13th complete game of his career Wednesday, against the Dodgers.

** Five Cubs led their position voting in the NL All Star selection. First baseman Anthony Rizzo led all voting.


** Eduardo Nunez became the first Twins player to hit an inside-the-park homer at Target Field and the 50th to do it in franchise history on Thursday. He was also the first Twins player to lead off the first with an inside-the-parker since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961.

** RHP Kyle Gibson came off the DL and made his first start since April 22.

** RHP Phil Hughes was sent to the bullpen to make room for Gibson in the rotation.

White Sox

** Rumors persisted that the Sox are talking to the Padres about acquiring RHP James Shields.

** LHP Jose Quintana leads the American League with a 2.13 ERA and ranks sixth in innings pitched (72) over 11 starts.

** The Sox’s losing streak hit seven before they beat the Mets on Tuesday night.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Jonathan Villar added some power to his strong overall game with a home run on Thursday. Villar’s continued performance in the field, at the plate and in stolen bases earned him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Jon Lester, who posted his 13th career complete game in a win over the Dodgers’ the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, who had the afore-mentioned historic inside-the-park homer; the White Sox’s Matt Albers, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief, hit a key double and scored what turned out to be the winning run in Wednesday’s 13 inning victory.

What’s Ahead

Three of the four MDR teams will play inter-league opponents next week, with the Brewers meeting the A’s, the Sox vs. the Nationals and the Twins vs. the Marlins.

The Cubs will stick with a NL opponent, the Phillies, during the week.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 5/27
08:15 AM ET (US)
The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta keeps making news even when he doesn’t pitch that well.

The Cubs held on for a 9-8 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. They now have won in Arrieta's last 23 starts -- a franchise record and tying the Major League mark set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen in 2012. Arrieta also is the first Cubs starter to open a season 9-0 since Ken Holtzman did so in 1967.

This all happened in a game where Arrieta lasted only five innings. He scattered seven hits over those five innings and was charged with a season-high four runs, snapping his record run of 30 straight starts of three earned runs or fewer.

"I came out and felt really good," Arrieta said. "My timing was as good as it's been all year. They put some good swings on some pitches. The cutter down to Randal Grichuk that he hit out in the second wasn't a bad pitch. He put a good swing on it. Same thing with Matt Adams. I had a manageable pitch count to pitch in the game a little longer, but I got extended in the fifth.

"They had a good game plan coming in," he said of the Cardinals. "It's a good thing our offense was productive today."

Arrieta has earned 20 straight wins. The other three Cubs’ wins came in games he started, but did not get a decision in.

His manager Joe Maddon insists Arrieta will get better. "He has not pitched as well as he can yet," Maddon said. "You'll see the day when he goes out with that fastball command and it'll be the eighth inning with 92 pitches and it'll be a good day."

Arrieta said he and the Cubs hope to keep riding the streak for as long as they can.

“You can go out and give up one run and get the loss,” he said. “We'll ride it out and see where it goes. The way we're swinging the bats and the way I'm capable of throwing on an extended period, I think we can keep it going a little longer."

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** The Brewers posted their first sweep of the season with their three wins over the Braves and their first ever sweep at Turner Field. It was the Brewers’ last appearance at the ballpark since the Braves are moving to a new park next season.

** LHP Chris Capuano went on the DL with elbow inflammation and RHP David Goforth was called up from the minors. LHP Will Smith is close to returning from a rehab assignment.

** The Brewers held a workout for Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez.


** The Cubs have showed a lot of versatility, with Kris Bryant shuttling between third base and left field, Javier Baez at third base (when Bryant is playing the outfield) or second (with Tommy La Stella when Ben Zobrist receives a rest) or La Stella at third base or second (when the situation calls for a left-handed batter against a tough right-hander).

** Cubs left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser has cleared waivers and had his contract outrighted off the 40-man roster, the team announced on Thursday. The move drops the Cubs’ 40-man roster count to 37.

** The Cubs released 35-year-old outfielder Shane Victorino.


** The Twins announced Thursday that they have indefinitely suspended, with pay, pitching coach Neil Allen for his pending DWI charge.

** The Twins have placed outfielder Darin Mastroianni on the DL and filled his roster spot by selecting the contract of left-hander Buddy Boshers from Triple-A Rochester, per a club announcement. Minnesota transferred closer Glen Perkins to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

** LHP Sean Burnett, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Twins.

White Sox

** The Sox have lost 11 of 16 overall and dropped five straight series.

** White Sox ace Chris Sale is exhibiting diminished velocity and a lower strikeout rate, but he’s even better than ever, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated writes.

** The Sox released OF-IF Travis Ishikawa.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant hit four home runs on the road trip and drove in nine runs in seven games to earn this week’s MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR team Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Jonathan Villar, who continued his good play in the field and at the plate with a 5-for-12 series, including a game-winning hit and a homer, in Atlanta; the Twins’ Robbie Grossman, who hit .444 in seven games, including a homer and four RBI’s; the Sox’s Austin Jackson, who hit .381 in seven games.

What’s Ahead

The West Coast comes to Chicago next week when the Dodgers and D-Backs meet the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Sox will try to hang on to their narrow lead in the AL Central with a series against the Royals this weekend, and one with the Mets early next week.

The NCAA DIII World Series starts Friday and runs through Memorial Day at Fox Cities Stadium outside Appleton. Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wisconsin-Whitewater are in the tourney.

The historic Baseball Hall of Fame Tour (We Are Baseball) will come to Miller Park beginning July 15 as the first-ever Major League city stop on its multi-year journey to dozens of cities across North America,

The tour brings fans “a one-of-a-kind baseball experience through the illustrious history of the game with cutting-edge technology and digital media.” Baseball fans in Milwaukee will be able to visit the one-of-a-kind mobile exhibit galleries in one of Miller Park’s parking lots from July 15-31.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 5/20
09:49 AM ET (US)
Thousands of Cubs’ fans came to Wrigley Field North this week, expecting to see their club dominate a three-game series. Instead, they found out a team called the Brewers, with their own set of fans, occupy the place called Miller Park.

The Brewers’ pitching matched the Cubs pitch-by-pitch and won the series, 2 games to 1. Chase Anderson pitched the best game of his career, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on Tuesday. Ben Zobrist broke up the no-no, and Anderson, obviously out of gas, gave up two homers in the 9th. But, the Brewers went away with a 4-2 win.

On Wednesday night, the Brewers led until the Cubs tied the score in the 9th and took the game into extra innings. What decided that contest for the Cubs was grizzled vet manager Joe Maddon schooling the relative rookie Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.

When the Brewers threatened to score by loading the bases, Maddon went to five infielders, pulling Kris Bryant into the infield. Before the inning was over, Bryant played left, third base, first base and left again. Travis Wood got the Cubs out of the jam by retiring three Brewers on what amounted to pop-ups.

Counsell didn’t come out as well in the strategy wars. He decided to intentionally walk Miguel Montero to ,load the bases because the Cubs were out of position players. Wood had to be used as a pinch-hitter.

The move was somewhat understandable, but it also moved the potential go-ahead run to third base with two outs. This often is considered a cardinal sin because a runner on third can score at least four ways -- steal of home, passed ball, wild pitch or walk.

Carlos Torres, who has been somewhat erratic all season, walked Wood to force in what turned out to be the winning run in a 2-1 Chicago decision. Wasted in that loss was a great starting performance by Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson.

But, on Thursday, journeyman Junior Guerra pitched the game of his career with 11 strikeouts, Tyler Thornburg picked up his first save of the season and the Brewers beat Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel for the first time ever, 5-3.

The Cubs had come into the series with perhaps the best pitching in baseball. John Lackey had the worst ERA of the rotation, just a little over 3.00.

Meanwhile, the Brewers’ starters had the worse ERA in the game. They still do, at 5.43, but in their last 10 games the ERA is 3.05 and the starters have eight quality starts in those 10 games. In the first 31 games of the season, the starters had seven quality starts.

Maddon noted on Thursday how the Brewers pitched and played overall. "They were very close games, and they never gave in to us. We had good at-bats the first two nights. Today, they got us and out-pitched us today. Give them credit. They're playing really well, and they hurt us on defense and they hurt us on the mound."
The series result does not mean the Cubs are collapsing and the Brewers are becoming contenders. One can note that the Brewers were lucky enough to miss Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the series.

But, the Brewers did play well, giving their fans and their manager some reason for hope. "I'm just proud of how the guys played today after the tough game last night," said Counsell on Thursday "That was our toughest game of the year, without question. We had a couple guys out of the lineup, but we played a really good game today. It was a satisfying win. Very satisfying."

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a productive game (two hits, two runs scored, two RBIs) Thursday to cap a homestand in which he batted .363. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) this season at Miller Park and has emerged as the Brewers' regular center fielder by batting .311 in May with seven RBIs.

** Ryan Braun (back) and Domingo Santana (shoulder) continue to be in and out of the lineup.

** Rule 5 second baseman Colin Walsh and out-of-options outfielder Ramon Flores are both struggling immensely for the Brewers, but Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the team isn’t planning to give up on either player anytime soon.


** Dexter Fowler got the Cubs going with a leadoff home run, hitting the second pitch from Guerra over the right-field fence. It was Fowler's fourth homer this season and 15th career leadoff blast. He now has hit safely in 21 of his last 26 games.

** With the series loss to the Brewers, the Cubs have lost five of their last eight games.

** The Cubs hope that veteran RHP Joe Nathan can return to readiness at some point in the middle of 2016. Given his 60-day DL placement, it would appear that mid-July is the earliest possible date for a return to the majors.


** The Twins had lost four straight and seven of nine going into Friday night.

** The Twins and outfielder Robbie Grossman are in agreement on a minor league pact, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Eddie Rosario was sent to the minors by the club.

** Twins skipper Paul Molitor chatted with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about his club’s struggles, saying that he’s still approaching the job with the same vigor. While he didn’t exactly suggest that there’s a significant hope of a full-blown turnaround this year, Molitor did stress that he’ll continue to “choose to see light still” even amidst the difficulties.

White Sox

** The Sox broke a four-game losing streak Thursday with their 2-1 win over the Astros.

** The White Sox have acquired outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Diamondbacks, Steve Gilbert of was among those to report on Twitter. Cash considerations will go back to Arizona in the swap.

** The White Sox are ready to make a significant upgrade this summer if the opportunity presents itself, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. Sox GM Rick Hahn appeared on WSCR’s “Inside the Clubhouse” show earlier this week, Levine notes, and expressed an aggressive approach toward improving his roster.

Player of the Week

The Sox’s Chris Sale improved to 9-0 with a complete game 2-1 win over the Astros. He became the first Sox pitcher to start a season that way since Eddie Cicotte. His effort also earned him MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the performance detailed earlier in this blog; the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler; and the Twins’ Juan Centeno, who hit .364 in limited action over the week.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs meet the Giants and the Cardinals in their next two series. They will have to improve on their recent play to win those two.

A series between the Sox and Royals this weekend is another highlight.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 5/13
07:44 AM ET (US)
The Cubs were showing some weaknesses for the first time this season as they headed into the weekend and prepared for a series against I-94 rivals, the Brewers, next week.

On Wednesday, the Cubs dropped a doubleheader to the Padres. This was the first time this season they had lost two straight. It also was the deepest the Cubs had gone into a season without losing back-to-back games since 1907. That team did not lose consecutive contests until the 34th and 35th games, May 26-27. Wednesday's second game was No. 33 this season for the Cubs.

So, it’s hardly time to panic for Cubs fans. But, the team did not have its usual offensive pop in the twin bill. Some cracks in the lineup also have shown up. Jason Heyward was hitting .231. Jorge Soler was under .200. Some of the other Cubs hitters who were hot have cooled. For example, Kris Bryant was hitting only .226 in his last seven games.

Of course, Heyward traditionally is a slow starter, and the Cubs do have alternatives to Soler. Bryant will have his ups and downs in any season since he has a long swing that can be exploited at times.

Whether this is a real slump, or nothing but a couple losses on the same day, might be determined this weekend, when the Cubs host the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Chicago swept the Pirates last week to start an eight-game winning streak that ended with the losses to the Padres..

Of more interest to MDR readers might be the series next week at Miller Park. The Cubs have beaten the Brewers in two games thus far, both at Wrigley. But, the Brewers have been playing better ball as of late.

Veterans like Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Aaron Hill have been productive at the plate. Jonathan Villar has continued to play well in the field and on offense. Hernan Perez and Alex Presley have contributed. Chris Carter has cooled off, but has been among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs so far this season.

The Brewers’ starting pitching can’t match up against the Cubs. Overall, there is no doubt the Cubs have superior talent and experience and should go on to win the NL Central and challenge for the World Series title.

But, for the first time this season, the Cubs have looked mortal. They might bounce back and get on a roll this weekend, but if not they could come to Miller Park somewhat vulnerable to the hungry Brewers.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** The Brewers have acquired righty Jhan Marinez from the Rays, according to a club announcement. To clear roster space, southpaw Michael Kirkman was designated for assignment.

** The Brewers made some other roster moves Thursday, with Scooter Gennett activated from the DL and fellow infielder Yadiel Rivera being optioned to Triple-A.

** Former Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer has signed with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, the team announced (as Jason Bristol of CBS 21 first reported, on Twitter, yesterday). Another former Brewer, first baseman Matt Clark (a former teammate of Schafer), has agreed to a deal with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball


** Cubs ace Jake Arrieta won’t offer the team a discount in extension talks, he told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. According to previous reports, the Cubs have been hesitant to commit to anything greater than a four-year term, and that length clearly isn’t of interest to the 30-year-old reigning Cy Young winner.

** There’s long been talk that Theo Epstein would sign a new deal with the Cubs before reaching executive free agency after the season, but he tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link) that there are no imminent extensions — either for himself or with any of the team’s players.

** Catcher Miguel Montero is scheduled to return from the DL next week.


** Miguel Sano has had some struggles in right field, but ranks second in the MLB for throwing strength with 95.5 mph. Former Twin Aaron Hicks, now with the Yankees, ranks first at 99.

** LHP Pat Dean made his big league debut Wednesday and gave up two runs in 2.2 innings.

** Closer Glen Perkins, who has been injured most of the season, will throw his first bullpen session on May 23.

White Sox

** 3B Todd Frazier was listed as day-to-day after getting five stitches in his lip for a cut suffered when he tried to catch a foul ball in the stands.

** The White Sox have acquired righty Anthony Ranaudo from the Rangers, according to an announcement from Texas VP of communications John Blake. RHP Matt Ball was sent to Texas.

** The Padres have claimed catcher Hector Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox, per the transactions page.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Aaron Hill started the week with a 3-homer, 7-RBI game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games before it was over. That earned him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Cubs‘ Ben Zobrist, who was hitting .556 with two homers in his last eight games; the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who was hitting .316 in his last seven games; and the Sox’s Chris Sale, who moved to 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs-Brewers series at Miller Park highlight next week.

Before that series, you can go to the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association dinner at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on Monday, May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. They also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets.


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 5/6
09:47 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 5/6

The Twins and White Sox meet in Chicago this weekend. The Twins were predicted to be contenders in the AL Central by many so-called experts while the previews of the White Sox were mixed.

So far this season, however, the Twins have bombed and the Sox are leading the AL. Why?

Bruce Levine, a respected radio reporter for years in Chicago, recently wrote: “The White Sox have won games the old-fashioned way — with pitching, defense and and by going above and beyond in the ‘little things.’ What defines little things? A good bunt, a clutch catch and putout, a great throw and tag play are a few examples. And all of those components have been a part of the winning baseball the White Sox have played.
 Last season, the team rarely displayed the savvy tactics or low-profile execution that it took to win close games.”

“I don’t want to get into it, comparing players,” manager Robin Ventura said of why the Sox have improved this season. “We do have different players this year (five new position starters). These guys just seem have some things going for them.”

More from Levine: :In the past few years, it hasn’t been so simple for the White Sox. To the credit of the the team’s front office, they identified a group not functioning together and brought in a different mix.”

“You look back at the end of some years and the close games you won and lost,” newcomer Todd Frazier said. “Are we 10 games over because of doing the little things? You want to win those close games no matter what. You know you can contribute to that by doing your job and executing. We really have not been scoring a lot, but we pay attention to defense and getting the job done in game situations.”

Levine’s story seems to have nailed it. Ventura, considered a good fundamental player in his day, could not get last year’s team to execute and thus was widely criticized by fans and some media. The Sox’s front office stayed loyal to Ventura and decided he wasn’t the problem. They stuck with him, and now the Sox are playing the kind of fundamentally sound baseball Ventura has always emphasized.

The Twins’ miserable start to the season is the result of a “total system failure” rather than any individual’s performance, club owner Jim Pohlad tells Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

More from “Pohlad says that GM Terry Ryan ‘is the right guy’ to run the baseball operations department, while skipper Paul Molitor ‘has our total support.’ The owner rejected the idea that more money would have done much good, saying: ‘I don’t believe that the money thing has been a constraint on the team’s success.”
 ‘And he doesn’t seem to believe that the choices made with the funding were ill-considered.

“We’ve been at this for a little while ů the owner can’t do a whole lot,” he explained. “But what could Terry do? Or what could Paul do? I just don’t know at this point. It’s just a total system failure, so to speak.”

Like the Sox, the Twins’ brass seems to believe they have the right leadership in place.
 Twins fans can only hope that the loyalty pays off in the long run like it has for the Sox and Ventura.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** RHP Wily Peralta will miss a start Friday while on paternity leave. RHP Tyler Cravy was called up and made the start.

** The Brewers have designated lefty Sam Freeman. His roster spot was needed for righty Junior Guerra, who started on Tuesday.

** The Brewers announced they have claimed left-hander Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres. San Diego had designated Kirkman for assignment earlier in the week after just one appearance.


** CF Dexter Fowler was ejected for the first time in his career.

** The Cubs swept their three-game series at Pittsburgh earlier this week, racking up at least 10 hits in each game. Prior to that series, the last time Chicago swept an opponent while recording at least 10 hits in every game was when they swept a three-game series versus the Brewers in Chicago from September 1-3, 2014.

** The Cubs announced they’ve placed outfielder Matt Szczur on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Kalish to take his place on the active roster.


** RHP Erwin Santana will be activated from the DL and start against the Sox over the weekend.

** Righthander J.R. Graham joined the club Wednesday from Class AAA Rochester, where he had a 10.80 ERA in eight appearances. That includes eight earned runs over his last 3⅔ innings.

** The Twins have placed southpaw Tommy Milone and righty Casey Fien on waivers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

White Sox

** The White Sox are on the lookout for a left-handed bat and an addition to the starting rotation.

** LHP John Danks, who was released by the Sox after 10 years, told reporters, including’s Scott Merkin, that he has no hard feelings toward the White Sox organization and is supportive of the team’s decision.

** The White Sox have placed right-hander Jake Petricka on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip impingement, the club announced. Petricka’s DL stint is retroactive to May 2, though there’s no immediate timetable for his return. Chicago announced that right-handers Tommy Kahnle and Erik Johnson have been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take the place of Petricka and Danks.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Chris Carter his his 10th home run of the season and continued to be very productive at the plate to earn the Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist who had four RBIs against the National and an overall good week at the plate; the Twins’ Joe Mauer, who hit .348 over the last six games; and the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .375 with a homer and nine RBI’s in a six game stretch.

What’s Ahead

The Twins-Sox series in Chicago highlights the weekend action.

The Chicago SABR chapter will hold their next meeting on May 14 at the Austin-Irving Branch of the Chicago Public Libraries, 6100 W. Irving Park, in Chicago A pre meeting lunch will be held at the Burgundy Restaurant, 5959 W. Irving Park Road (SE Corner of Austin and Irving, a block east of library) from 11:30-12:30. The meeting will be from 1-4:30 p.m.

Just a reminder that the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will meet at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. There also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets..


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** Blog
MDR Blog 4/29
08:14 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 4/29

 Jake Arrieta looked mortal for one inning against the Brewers last Thursday, and then went back to being a Super Hero. Thursday, after all, was National Super Hero Day.

 The Cubs' Cy Young Award winner gave up a leadoff bloop single to Jonathan Villar and walked two batters to load the bases in the first inning. Arrieta then struck out Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to get out of the inning.

 Arrieta went on to extend his scoreless streak at Wrigley Field to 52 2/3 innings before the Brewers Alex Presley drove in Villar in the 5th inning. He actually left the contest after five innings and got the win to go 5-0.

 For the last two seasons, Arrieta has been the most dominant righthander, if not the most dominant overall pitching, in baseball. Before coming to the Cubs, he was an under .500 pitcher for the Orioles.

 A former Brewer, Cubs' pitching coach Chris Bosio, has played a role in Arrieta's rise to stardom. “He has been a source of positive energy and a good friend,” Arrieta said of the relationship with Bosio. “He has helped me get my concentration back and has been there really for all the pitchers and the entire team.”

 Bosio says he primarily let Arrieta go back to what had been his natural deliver, after the Orioles has him experimenting. He urged Arrieta to work on the mental side ot the game.

 “I suggested to Jake that he consider a few things,” Bosio said. “I said beyond being a great pitcher, you should consider yourself a leader and carry yourself that way. I suggested that he needs to be that guy in the clubhouse and on the bench. I told him I saw these leaderships abilities in him.

 “Jake has taken it to the next level and has been that guy,” Bosio added. “He has given credit to everyone and has blossomed into the top pitcher in the league. He deserves the credit.”

 Arrieta's performance against the Brewers actually was not up to the standards he has set in the last two years. His ERA actually went up -- to 1.00 -- by allowing one run. Because he left after five innings, his streak of quality starts ended at 24 straight.

 But, those facts show just how his standards, and expectations, have grown for Arrieta. And, perhaps the most important stat of all is that the Cubs have now won 18 straight games when Arrieta has pitched. That's a Cubs' record.

 Updated Notes

 (Some of these notes come from


 ** RHP Taylor Jungmann dropped to 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA.

 ** The Brewers issued 11 walks to the Cubs Thursday.

 ** 2B Scooter Gennett could miss up to three weeks with his oblique injury. Hernan Perez was called up from the minors and could share time at second with Yadiel Rivera. RHP Matt Garza was moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the roster for Perez.


 ** The Cubs' 16-5 start is the best in baseball.

 ** The Cubs catcher Miguel Montero was put on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with back problems. The Cubs called up Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Iowa to take Montero's spot.

 ** Kris Bryant left Thursday's game after rolling his ankle. He is day-to-day.


 ** Jose Berrios, considered the Twins' top pitching prospect, lasted only four innings in a 6-5 loss to the Indians in his MLB debut.

 ** Rookie Byron Buxton was sent down to the minors do work on his swing, but the club emphasized he will be back with the big league club.

** Twins Minor League outfielder Reynaldo Rodriguez received an 80-game suspension on Thursday after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

 White Sox

 ** The Sox had the best start in the AL with a 16-7 record. The last time the two Chicago teams had the best records in baseball this far into the season was May 29, 1973.

 ** RHP Daniel Webb was called up and starter Miguel Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

 ** The White Sox placed right-hander David Robertson on the bereavement list on Thursday and recalled infielder Carlos Sanchez from Triple-A Charlotte.

 Player of the Week

 Since we featured Arrieta in the lede section of this blog, we'll pitch the other Chicago ace, the White Sox's Chris Sale, as the Player of the Week. Sale ran his record to 5-0 with another dominant performance.

 Other MDR teams' Players of the Week included the Brewers' Villar, who had three hits and three stolen bases against the Cubs on Thursday; the Cubs' Arrieta, for the reasons mentioned in the first section; the Twins' Eduardo Nunez, who was hitting .316 in the last seven games.

 What's Ahead

 As we head into May, we can look forward to a couple MDR Rivalry series. The Sox will host the Twins May 6-8. The Brewers will host the Cubs May 17-19.

 The Brewers and the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will induct former Milwaukee Braves outfielder Bill Bruton into the Braves Honor Roll. An induction ceremony will take place at Miller Park on Monday, May 16, beginning at noon at the site of the Braves Honor Roll, which is located on the Miller Park Field Level Concourse along the third base side.

 The lightning-quick center fielder spent eight of his 12 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-60. He batted .276 with 48 HR, 327 RBI and 143 stolen bases with the Braves. He passed away on December 5, 1995. Bruton family members will be attending the May 16 ceremony.

 Bruton will become the 15th member of the Milwaukee Braves Honor Roll. Previous inductees include: Warren Spahn (2004), Johnny Logan (2005), Andy Pafko (2006), Bobby Thomson (2008), Bob Uecker (2009), Felix Mantilla (2010), Eddie Mathews (2010), Joe Adcock (2011), Frank Torre (2011), Hank Aaron (2012), Del Crandall (2012), Gene Conley (2013), Joe Torre (2014) and Red Schoendienst (2015).

 Later that night, the MBHA will honor Bruton and former commissioner Bud Selig. For more info about tickets, go to the MBHA site.

 The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame induction, the first since 2009, will be held Saturday. About 2200 people have bought tickets, but some still are available. Go to the Hall web site at for info.


 You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** Blog
MDR Blog - 4/23
09:19 AM ET (US)

Paul Molitor was one of Craig Counsell's favorite players when he was a kid.


"Paul, Robin (Yount), Cooper. the way they played the game was great," Counsell said. "You learned a lot about the game by just watching how they went about their business."


Counsell saw a lot of those Brewers, in part because he was a huge fan and in part because his father, John, was in the team's front office. It was a dream for an aspiring

youngster, who went on to a successful baseball career himself and now serves as manager for the franchise he adored as a kid.


Counsell and Molitor were in opposite dugouts for four games this past week, as the Brewers and Twins played a four-game home-and-home series. The teams split the series, 2-2.


Both clubs are rebuilding. The Twins started their process last year, going a surprising 83-79. Molitor earned the AL Manager of the Year award because of the effort. This year, his

club got off to an 0-9 start, but they have been playing better as of late and have talent.


Counsell's task is tougher. The Brewers cleaned house over the winter and brought in youngsters whose talents are still developing. Nobody really knows how far they can go, or how long it might take for the team to get close to contending again.


As this writer watched the four games, two on TV and parts of two at Miller Park, I couldn't help but think how different things might have been. At one point, Molitor often was talked about as the potential manager of the Brewers, or a member of the franchise's front office.

But, that never happened for several reasons. First, Paul is from St. Paul and went home again to get his 3,000th career hit and join the Twins organization after his retirement as a player.


Relations with the Brewers also were strained when Molitor left the Brewers as a free agent after the 1992 season. It was seen as a bit of heresy by the Brewers' faithful. Then GM Sal Bando also made a statement that the Brewers had not been winning with Molitor, and at least hinted that No 4 wanted too much money for a DH.


Of course, Molitor went on to win a World Series with the Blue Jays and wrapped up his playing days with the Twins. His relations with the Brewers improved, to the point where he went into Cooperstown as a Brewer. His No. 4 also was retired and hangs in Miller Park along with the other Brewers who are in the Hall.


Counsell joined the Brewers' front office after his playing days and looked destined to become Doug Melvin's successor as GM. Then last season, things turned when Ron Roenicke was fired as manager and Counsell was named to replace him.


So, with these backgrounds, Counsell and Molitor found themselves looking at each other in opposite dugouts. You have to wonder if they ever wonder if things might have been different. Could there have been a combo of Counsell as GM and Molitor as field manager in Milwaukee, or vice versa? We'll never know.


Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from

** Ten of Chris Carter's first 14 Brewers hits are for extra bases, including his ninth-inning double on Friday. But he also contributed a single in the first inning for a 1-0 Milwaukee lead and Carter's 14th RBI, tops on the team. He is hitting .259/.328/.593 after 16 games.

** Former Brewers pitcher Don August joined the Brewers FOX TV team for the weekend series with the Phillies.

** RHP Matt Garza has reported his ailing shoulder has improved, but he is not yet throwing.


** Jake Arrieta made only nine regular-season starts between his two no-nos, six at the end of last season and three at the beginning of this one. In Major League history, only two pitchers have taken the ball fewer times in between. The Reds' Johnny Vander Meer famously became the only pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters in June 1938, and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn had only a five-start gap for the Milwaukee Braves between Sept. 16, 1960, and April 28, '61.

** In the 16-0 win, Chicago scored multiple runs in five innings on its way to the largest margin of victory in a no-hitter in the modern era. Only the 1884 Buffalo Bisons can top that margin, having defeated Detroit 18-0 on Aug. 4 that year, in Pud Galvin's no-no.

** Through Friday night, the Cubs had 15 quality start in 17 games, the most in franchise history. Chicago starters have given up just 29 runs (27 earned) and lead the Majors with a 2.13 ERA.


** RHP Kyle Gibson gave up seven runs in three innings Friday.

** Injured closer Glen Perkins tells 1500 ESPN’s Phil Mackey that a second opinion confirmed that he won’t require surgery to repair his ailing shoulder, but he’s still “at least” a few weeks away from pitching (Twitter link).

** Target Field was lit in purple to honor music legend Prince, a Twin Cities native who died Friday.

White Sox

** The White Sox turned a 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play against the Rangers. Adam Eaton started the wild sequence in the 7th inning,

** LHP Jose Quintana threw seven shutout innings against the Rangers.

** Mat Latos has paid huge dividends to the White Sox cin his first three starts for the organization, as Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes. Since signing for just $3MM in an effort to rebuild his career, Latos has spun 18 1/3 innings in which he’s allowed just six hits and one earned run.


Player of the Week


The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta earned the honor for his second no-hitter. He also went 2-for-4 in the 16-0 win.


Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Chris Carter, who continued to drive in runs and provide power for the team; the Twins’ Ricky Nolasco, who struck out seven in 6.1 innings against the Brewers; the White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who led the team with a .317 average and started a triple plan against the Rangers.


What’s Ahead


The Brewers travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs Tuesday through Thursday of the coming week.


The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame induction, the first since 2009, will be held Saturday. About 2200 people have bought tickets, but some still are available. Go to the Hall web site at for info.



You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.

 ** Blog
Edited 04-23-2016 09:20 AM
MDR Blog 4/16
08:40 AM ET (US)
The 2016 season is just about two weeks old. So, let’s take a look at how the MDR teams are performing in comparisons to expectations.

The Cubs have gotten off to a good start and occupied first place in the NL Central as of this writing. They were the first in the MLB to eight wins. That pretty much lives up to projections for the club.

They were dealt a blow when Kyle Schwarber suffered a season-ending knee injury. Over the long season, they will miss him. Jorge Soler, originally planned to platoon with Schwarber, has played well, especially improving his so-called situational hitting.

“That’s what we need from him, those kind of mental at-bats,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You can stay in the cage as long as you want or take as many swings as you want. That’s not going to matter. It’s about what you’re thinking. And those are really well thought-out at-bats by our group. We have to get Jorge there because he’s very capable of it. We’ve seen it in the past. We get him there with those really strong mental at-bats, sky’s the limit for him.”

Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist have been off to great starts at the plate. Anthony Rizzo’s batting average is down, but he’s provided power and RBI’s. Kris Bryant is off to a slow start, but will pick it up. Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta is leading the pitching with a 2-0 record and ERA under 2.00.

The White Sox also have lived up to the expectations of some, including this writer, who thought they would be contenders. The Sox were right there with the World Champs, the Royals, in the AL Central.

Adam Eaton is off to a great start. Jose Abreu had a couple home runs. Todd Frazier’s average was down, but he was driving in runs.

Chris Sale was 3-0. The bullpen was performing well, with David Robertson 3-for-3 in save opportunities.

The Brewers were where many expected -- near the bottom in the NL Central -- but were actually exceeding expectations as far as their won-loss record. Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Villar were hitting well and providing strength up the middle of the infield. Chris Carter was showing power.

Jimmy Nelson had a couple good starts. Now, the rest of the starting rotation needs to catch up to him. The bullpen has proven to be a strong point.

The Twins have fallen well behind pre-season expectations so far. They got their first win of the season Friday, as they rallied for two runs in the seventh before Byung Ho Park put in them in front with an RBI double in the eighth for a decision over the Angels.

They started 0-9 and were not performing well in any aspect of the game. Hitters were having a tough time putting the ball in play and had struck out a MLB high 79 times in the first seven games.

Joe Mauer was one exception to the rule, hitting over .300. That could be a good sign for the long term.

Two weeks is hardly a big sample, but it is worth pausing to make some early assessments. This writer expects the Cubs and White Sox to remain near the top of their divisions. The Brewers are still in a major rebuilding project and could finish last or near the bottom of their division, but they are showing they can get on base and compete. The Twins are not nearly as bad as they have played and will climb in the standings.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** Ryan Braun’s two homers helped the Brewers to a win that evened their record at 5-5 on Friday.

** The Brewers struck out 13 times and got only a single by Domingo Santana against the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia on Thursday.

** RHP Chase Anderson kept his 2016 ERA at 0.00, allowing no earned runs over six innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday night.


** The Cubs officially activated Javier Baez on Friday, optioning infielder Munenori Kawasaki to Triple-A Iowa.

** The Cubs cooled down Friday in a 6-1 loss to the Rockies at Wrigley Field, ending a five-game win streak and halting a stretch of four games with at least five runs scored.

** 3B Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday. He followed with another on Thursday.


** The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran outfielder David Murphy, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (links to Twitter). The 34-year-old Murphy was in camp with the Red Sox on a minor league contract and didn’t make the club.

** Closer Glen Perkins was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. Minnesota called up lefty reliever Taylor Rogers from Triple-A Rochester to replace him on the roster.

** OF Byron Buxton was listed as day-to-day with a bruised left hand.

White Sox

** Melky Cabrera had five straight multi-hit games.

** The Sox swept a series from ALC and MDR rival Minnesota during the week with wins of 4-1, 3-0 and 3-1.

** Jerry Sands hit his first home run as a member of the White Sox.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Dexter Fowler had a .559 on-base percentage and five multi-hit games in the first nine contests to earn the Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, who hit two homers on Friday; the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, who went 4-for-4 in his first start of the season against the Royals on Sunday, and served as a sparkplug again on Friday, going 3-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch; and the White Sox’s Chris Sale, who moved to 3-0 with a two-hit shutout Friday night.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers and Twins start a home-and-home four-game series Monday at Target Field. The first two games will be held in the Twin Cities, the last two at Miller Park.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar, 53rd and Bluemound Road, 11 am on Saturday, April 23. Guest Speakers will be ESPN's Drew Olson, and Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder, authors of the book, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Pete Rose is being inducted in the the Bobblehead Hall of Fame in an event taking place at the Pabst Theater on Saturday April 23. Doors open at 1 pm, with the event beginning at 2 pm. Drew Olson will be the host, and Rose will do Q&A. For more info, go to:ů/


You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** Blog
MDR Blog 4/9
08:29 AM ET (US)

Every baseball team is optimistic on opening day. The Brewers' leadership trio reflected that earlier this week, but also seemed realistic about their journey on creating a "new foundation" for the franchise.


"We've talked about every day commit to being a group, commit to being a team." said manager Craig Counsell. "We're building a new foundation. Where that leads us, we'll see. We're trying to take the approach that we improve every day, that at the end of the season we are a better team than we are at the start. If we stay together as a group, I think we'll make progress."


GM David Stearns was experiencing his first opening day as head of the Brewers baseball operations. "It's exciting to see what you have put together on the field,” he said. “The focus turns to the major league club at this point of the season. Some of what we have been doing will show up at the major league level and some at the minor league level. Our main focus is to continue the formation of our core talent."


The Brewers have turned over 20 players of their 40-man roster. They have committed to young talent with the parent club and in the minors. No timetables have been set at this point.


"Timelines are dangerous," Stearns said. "You can undersell or oversell your club by setting timelines. We are excited about the players in our clubhouse. We're also excited about the players who might follow them, and the next group of players behind them.


"The volume of talent we were able to bring in is what I'm proudest of so far. I'm pleased with what we did, to change half of our 40-man roster."


Principal owner Mark Attanasio said committing to a full-blown revamping has not been easy for him, but he believes it is the best thing for the long range future of the franchise.


"We started to pivot toward this when we hired Craig last season," Attanasio said. "Doug Melvin did a good job of setting things up for David with some moved before the end of the season.


"I knew then that we had to follow through all the way with that. It's exciting to be on the ground floor of something. We know there will be challenges. We've had several critical points since I took over. First was to get to .500, then to the playoffs. This is a critical point, which we hope eventually leads to the post-season again."


All three men seemed realistic and committed to establishing that "new foundation" that Counsell refers to. They feel the Brewers' fans also understand the approach and will be patient. "I don't feel like I've had to sell anything to our fans,” Stearns said. “They've seen the Cubs, the Astros and other teams do this. They are knowledgeable fans."


The Brewers tested their fans’ patience with an ugly 12-3 loss in the opener. They did get their first win on Wednesday and are hosting the Astros this weekend.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from




** Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was called out at first base for a game-ending double play Friday after the umpires deemed Colby Rasmus slid illegally past second base following Altuve's grounder. The Brewers won, 6-4. Under the new rule 6.01(j), runners have to make a "bona fide slide," which involves contact with the ground before reaching the base, attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot and being able to remain on the bag at the completion of the slide.

** The Brewers announced on Tuesday that they have acquired left-hander Sam Freeman from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Freeman, the Brewers have designated right-hander Ariel Pena for assignment.

** Chris Capuano is set to earn a $1.5MM base salary with the Brewers after cracking the Opening Day roster as a minor league free agent. The southpaw can also take in as much as $1.25MM in incentives.



** Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber will have surgery on a badly injured knee and miss the rest of the season. Jorge Soler will see the majority of action in left field.

** Anthony Rizzo drove in a career-high six runs in a 14-6 win over the D-Backs Thursday.

** Utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki has been added to the Cubs 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Kawasaki, 34, will serve as middle infield depth.



** Byung Ho Park hit his first MLB home run Friday.

** The Twins have not won an opening series since 2010.

** The Twins selected the contract of Fernando Abad, the team announced. The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Minnesota in December after the A’s non-tendered him. The Twins released left-hander Aaron Thompson out of minor league camp at the end of Spring Training.


White Sox

** The White Sox play 17 of their first 27 games on the road and have only one day off during that stretch.

** White Sox righty Kameron Loe has received an 80-game suspension for PEDs, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes (Twitter links). Officially, Loe tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone metabolite and methasterone.

** Miguel Gonzalez’s contract with the White Sox does not include an opt-out clause, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports on Twitter. The veteran righty will represent useful rotation depth in Triple-A.


Player of the Week


The MDR Player of the Week, a popular feature when MDR was a web site, returns to the Blog this season. Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs earns this week’s honor for his six RBI game on Thursday.


Other team Players of the Week include: Brewers’ Chris Carter and Scooter Gennett, who hit two homers each in their first four games: Twins’ Eduardo Escobar, who hit .400 in the first four games; and White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who hit .450 in the first five games.


What’s Ahead


The first MDR Rivalry series of the season will be held at Target Field Monday when the Twins host the White Sox in their home opener.


Join Milwaukee Brewers official scorer Tim O'Driscoll on Wednesday, April 13, 6 pm. for a night of baseball talk at the St. Francis Public Library, 4230 South Nicholson Ave. Tim with share his experiences of scoring over 2,000 Brewers games He will also do Q&A. Please register in advance by calling (414) 481-7323.


The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar, 53rd and Bluemound Road, 11 am on Saturday, April 23. Guest Speakers will be ESPN's Drew Olson, and Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder, authors of the book, “If These Walls Could Talk.”


Pete Rose is being inducted in the the Bobblehead Hall of Fame in an event taking place at the Pabst Theater on Saturday April 23. Doors open at 1 pm, with the event beginning at 2 pm. Drew Olson will be the host, and Rose will do Q&A. For more info, go to:ů/


The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Bracket Challenge will determine Wisconsin's all-time favorite Hall of Famer. Categories are baseball, football, basketball and other greats/ The winner of each matchup will move onto the next round until one final Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Famer is chosen by the fans!

Submitting a vote enters you into a drawing for a chance to win two tickets to the 2016 WI HOF Induction Ceremony on April 30th honoring Donald Driver and Bo Ryan.



You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
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