Well, Monday in San Francisco was beautiful…sunny and 70 degrees. Unfortunately, the Brewers Opening Day forecast is less promising. That’s OK, the roller coaster ride begins Tuesday and if Mother Nature wants to be part of the fun, so be it.
Brace yourself Brewers fans, this could be a wild ride in ’09. The way the Brew Crew will swing the bats, they’re never out of a game. This is a confident bunch that posted, as Corey Hart put it, “average” numbers last year. All expect more, all expect better offensive production. For me, there are a couple of sneaky key statistics to
keep an eye on. On base percentage at the top of the order and runners eliminated on the
bases. With the power potential of this lineup, baserunners mean bonus rounds. The Brewers under Ken Macha will not be stealing many bases and avoiding double plays has sent the speedy Corey Hart to the top of the batting order.
Jason Kendall feels the pitching is severely underrated but doesn’t want anyone to upgrade their under(rating) so the young horses, Gallardo and Parra, stay in the “who knew” category.
As for the Giants…they have a deep rotation featuring three former Cy Young Award winners in Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson, and Barry Zito. Lincecum gets the opener. His career ERA versus the Brewers is 5.25 and the Crew tallied five earned runs last year (6ip) in their only matchup.
Lincecum was the runaway Cy Young winner last year (23 of 32 first place votes) and the first Giant to win the award since Mike McCormick in 1967. He was also the first second-year pitcher to win the Cy since 1985 when Dwight Gooden and Brett Saberhagen both did it in their respective leagues.
Brian Wilson is the closer and he’s a dandy (41 saves in ’08).
Offensively, San Fran is better but they still have question marks. They added five-time All Star Edgar Renteria and are hoping for a “bounce back” year from Aaron Rowand, who is in the second of a 5-year, $60 million contract. Bengie Molina still hits clean-up and interestingly enough, is the only catcher on the roster. Pablo Sandoval is the starter at 3B and will serve as Molina’s back-up in the event of an injury. That will likely change towards the end of April as the Giants, still in evaluation mode, will use four early season off days to rest Molina and clear up their roster picture.
Sandoval, a switch hitter, is a guy to watch. A Prince Fielder-type presence that many feel has a chance to win a batting title one day. He’s a free-swinger who hits the ball extremely hard to all fields.
The Giants have some speed so look for them to test Jason Kendall, who threw out nearly 40% of the baserunners last year, as often as they can. Randy Winn, Fred Lewis and Emmanuel Burris are all base stealers.
The Pitching Matchups:
Tuesday, 3:05pm CST: Jeff Suppan vs Tim Lincecum
Wednesday, 9:15pm CST: Yovani Gallardo vs Randy Johnson
Thursday, 6:05pm CST: Manny Parra vs Matt Cain
All games will be on Fox Sports Wisconsin with Brewers Live before and after every game.
Enjoy the season!
The final week of the exhibition season is upon us and Tuesday night we open up a window to the Cactus League. Brewers TV is back on the air (9pm CST) on Fox Sports Wisconsin for the Brewers and Padres from Peoria, Arizona.
We will also televise Wednesday’s game from Maryvale (Brewers/D-Backs) at 3pm CST on WMLW.
Producer Chris Withers, Director Michael Oddino and new sideline reporter Telly Hughes are all in the Valley to join Rock and me for the telecast. Spring Training TV is unique in that we are allowed in the dugout for interviews during the game. We hope to hear from Ken Macha and a number of players as they exit the game. Tune in.
Speaking of television, with the crew in town we took advantage of the access by spending most of the morning interviewing multiple players and coaches. You’ll see it all during the opening week of the season but here are some of the highlights:
Craig Counsell …said there is no Opening Day in the big leagues better than Milwaukee (he’s seen a few)…then reminisced about skipping school on Opening Day to see the Crew at County Stadium. Craig discussed his swing changes, saying he contacted Dale Sveum almost immediately this winter to formulate a plan. Why? “Because I hit .220!” he said. Despite his batting average, the Brewers are a better team with Counsell on the roster.
Yovani Gallardo…told us he looks forward to his FIRST Opening Day assignment. Remember, last year Yo started the season on the DL after his first knee surgery. He talked about dealing with the ”future ace” label saying, “that’s nice of people to say.” Gallardo is unfazed. I asked him about Jason Kendall’s comments that he could win multiple Cy Young Awards and he replied that he has trust in his catcher and that Kendall first said that to him right after he was injured last May…talk about rehab motivation.
Jason Kendall…says the pitching staff is underrated. He feels better about the staff right now than at this time last year. He told me the players enjoy Ken Macha’s no nonsense approach and all the talk about a sour relationship between he and Macha in Oakland is “crap” and was blown out of proportion. Kendall loves Milwaukee (the city and the fans), dropping more pleasantries than any Chamber member could dream of. He also said he is no .240 hitter and expects much better production at the plate in ’09.
Rickie Weeks…is trying to slow everything down. Offense, defense, baserunning. He’s always been a player to react fast (which explains the highlight-reel plays) but the game does not always have ”react-fast” moments. He admitted he had to learn in the fish bowl of the big leagues and feels he is now ready to “let the game come to him” in 2009. It shows this spring. Rickie also downplayed the Sheffield-like “waggle” in his swing saying as long as he has the bat quiet and in the right place prior to pitch, it’s not an issue. Rickie’s skills are off the charts and he has impressive mental discipline and work ethic. Nothing bothers him. Physically, he’s put on about 15 pounds of muscle and looks like he could run through a wall. When he puts it all together, look out!
Ken Macha…honest, straightforward and interesting. I could talk to him all day. Every answer is thoughtful and informative. He was “surprised” at just how good the Brewers position players really are. In Oakland, he managed based on pitching and defense. Here, it’s about run production. Don’t look for the Crew to risk giving away outs on the bases. Macha also explained why he set up the rotation as he did. Suppan, Gallardo and Parra to start the season allows his three most experienced pitchers, all right-handers, to face the Cubs (Looper, Bush, Suppan). Makes sense. I asked him if working in TV (NESN) the last two years changes his outlook on managing a second time around. He said he thought it might but checked his win-loss total as a Major League and Minor League manager and has decided (with a smile) to keep things the same. He’s never had a losing season. In four years in Oakland, he won two division titles. He’s supremely confident. Why else would he hire two of the candidates (Dale Sveum, Willie Randolph) that interviewed for his job?
That’s all for now, see you on TV!
Week two is underway of the Cactus League schedule and we’ve enjoyed reading all of the emails coming in from all over the globe. Each day during the webcasts, you can send your questions/comments directly to the booth at firstname.lastname@example.org. We try to get to as many as we can so be persistent and be patient if your entry doesn’t get read on the air right away.
There were a number of emails Monday about my daily routine/prep schedule for a webcast compared to a TV game. My day is mostly the same with the exception of production meetings. For a TV game, Bill and I meet with our crew (producer/director/graphics prior to every game to discuss all elements of the broadcast. Since it’s just us on the webcasts…no meeting necessary.
Other than that, it’s pretty much the same routine I keep every game day of the season. I’m a creature of habit. I’ve been doing the same thing since I started calling minor league games in the Texas League in 1994. It’s like studying for a test every day. Except the test is something I actually enjoy!
Because you asked, here is the Spring Training day in the life of BA:
*The night before: Research next day’s opponent (usually 2-4 hours depending on how well I know opponent)
7-8am: Family time, workout, etc…
8-10: Home prep (fill out scorebook, notes on pitchers/lineup/injuries)
10: Drive to ballpark
10:30-Noon: Field prep (clubhouse/batting practice…talk to Ken Macha, coaches, players, etc…)
12:30-1: Booth prep (finish scorebook entries, check news around MLB)
1-4: On the air
After game: To clubhouse for post game thoughts, check health status of injured players, harass Mike Vassallo, etc…
Family time until @ 9pm then rinse and repeat.
That’s my day here in Arizona, pretty cool, huh?
I know I’m a lucky dog to be doing what I do. I love every minute of being a big league broadcaster.
See you on the webcasts!
Game three of the Cactus League schedule will be game one of the much anticipated webcasting schedule. Bill Schroeder and I will call the action from Phoenix Muni as the Crew heads to the heart of the Valley to take on the A’s.
Bill and I love doing the webcasts mostly because we don’t have to groom but also because it’s totally interactive. You can participate in the broadcast by sending your questions/comments to email@example.com.
This season, the “Ask the Truck” feature is where you can ask questions about the behind the scenes workings of Brewers TV and hear from our talented group of producers and directors. But, this spring on the webcasts, it’s where you go to get your questions read on the air…as long as you pass through the one-man production truck that is Kent Sommerfeld.
Sign up today at MLB.com to not only enjoy the webcasts this spring, but radio and television broadcasts feeds all season long.
Today, we attempt to do what Brewers Radio could not…win a game.
See you on the air!
Hello Brewers Fans, I’m Telly Hughes and it’s an honor to join the FS Wisconsin Crew to cover the Crew!
After a season covering the Minnesota Twins, it’s good to get back into the National League.
Prior to Minnesota, I covered the St. Louis Cardinals (I know!) for two seasons.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Brian and Bill on a hand full of occasions and I’m really looking forward to working with them on a full-time basis.
You will definitely get the chance to get to know me with FS Wisconsin slated to carry over 130 games. I will be a part of majority of those broadcasts.
Just a little about me and I’ll keep it brief. BA was absolutely correct when he said I’m a baseball guy. Played from Little League throughout college (Illinois State) and I truly have a love and passion for the game. I’ve been fortunate enough to even cover a World Series as a journalist.
So, to wrap things up, I’m really looking forward to being a part of Brewers baseball and I hope you all out there enjoy my presentation. Thanks again, and see you at Miller Park soon!
Official FSWisconsin Press Release
TELLY HUGHES JOINS FOX SPORTS WISCONSIN
FOX Sports Wisconsin announced today that Telly Hughes has joined the FOX Sports Wisconsin team as host and sideline reporter. Hughes will serve as an in-game reporter for Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks games, beginning with Brewers spring training coverage on March 31.
Hughes will team with current Brewers Live host Craig Coshun and analyst Davey Nelson to cover all of the station’s telecasts of Brewers baseball this season. FOX Sports Wisconsin will cover 136 Brewers games throughout the 2009 season.
“Telly was an outstanding athlete at Illinois State University who lives and understands the world of sports” said Jeff Byle, Executive Producer for FOX Sports Wisconsin. “Our programming will benefit from his broad range of experience and professionalism.”
Hughes comes to Milwaukee from Minneapolis where he’s worked as a reporter and host for FOX Sports North over the last year. He was responsible for the network’s pregame, sideline and postgame coverage of the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild. While at FOX Sports North, Hughes also hosted Wolves Weekly, The Tubby Smith Show and Our Heroes: A Black History Month Special, which earned him a regional Emmy Award.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Hughes earned his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University where he also played baseball. He began his broadcasting career in Macon, Georgia as a weekend sports reporter for WMAZ and also worked as a sports reporter for CBS affiliate, WHO in Des Moines and for KPLR in St. Louis.
There will be two new faces/voices covering the Brewers in 2009. Telly Hughes replaces Trenni Kusnierek, now with MLB Network, as sideline reporter and Cory Provus replaces Jim Powell, now with the Braves, on Brewers Radio.
Telly Hughes has made a few cameos on Brewers TV in the past as studio host. Now, he gets the chance to cover the Brewers and Bucks exclusively as he joins us full-time in Milwaukee. Telly is a baseball guy. He played the game and he knows the game well. He’ll be a nice addition to our TV crew and we’re glad to have him.
Cory Provus is a good friend. I’m looking forward to having him in the Brewers family. Having just gone through hiring process two years ago, I know the “beat down” they put you through to land one of the greatest jobs
in broadcasting. You have to impress the Brewers and their army of interrogators, the station (WTMJ), a panel of select sponsors and season ticket holders and the ultimate “Simon,” Bob Uecker. Trust me, he earned the job! Cory is a low maintenance, hard working journalist with great chops and a proper amount of humility. He’s a perfect fit.
As for the TV schedule, FOX Sports Wisconsin announced today that they will televise 136 regular-season games in 2009 with WMLW broadcasting 15 games over-the-air.
There will also be three spring training games televised.
FSWisconsin’s 136 game regular-season schedule will include an increased number of games to be televised in high definition (HD schedule to be released at a later date) as well as 15 day games that will be re-broadcast in primetime. Telecasts on WMLW will be simulcast by FOX Sports outside Milwaukee.
Television coverage begins at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7 against the San Francisco Giants. .
The Crew will be seen a number of times on National Television as well. For the complete TV schedule, click here.
Don’t forget, the Cactus League webcasts begin Friday, February 27th. Bill Schroeder and I will call all exhibition games not covered by Brewers Radio.
Between Brewers TV, Brewers Radio and the Brewers.com webcasting, you don’t have to miss a single pitch in 2009.
Can I get an amen?
Greetings from Brew Town.
After a busy “Winter Warm-Up” weekend, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is anxious to play ball. All of us involved in the fan festivities were blown away at the turnout and enthusiasm displayed at the Riverside Theater and Midwest Airlines Center. Over 14,000 fans turned out and a great time was had by all. I spoke to a lot of fans over the weekend. Three P’s dominated the conversations. Prince, Powell, and pitching.
First, Prince. I had a good chat with the big man and he is genuinely relieved to get a two-year deal in place. He’s a show stopping drawing card. A player who “moves the needle” as we say in TV and now he’ll be paid like one. The Brewers get some financial certainty. They won’t have to go through what the Phillies are dealing with now concerning Ryan Howard and arbitration. It’s hard to budget when the salary a player makes isn’t decided until February.
Meanwhile, Prince Fielder gets some financial stability and as he put it, his family is now taken care of which allows him to concentrate on baseball. Prince is a great family man with a wife and two young children. I realize it’s all relative but playing a sport for a living has its hazards and the opportunity to secure your family can turn into big production on the job. Especially when you’re dealing with a player as driven and competitive as Prince Fielder. He told me he’s been working out with a trainer. He’s been doing some hitting drills for a few weeks as well and likes where his swing is right now.
Prince had a funny story about this batting cage he stumbled upon back in Orlando. He popped his head in the door and asked the manager if he could take some hacks. I’m sure the guy thought it was some kind of joke. Can you imagine? You’re sitting at work, waiting for your customers to get out of school and Prince Fielder shows up asking if he can borrow your batting cage. That would be like Uecker showing up at a music store asking to test out a microphone. Prince has been hitting there ever since and now he’s got the entire staff lined up offering to throw him batting practice. Prince couldn’t believe they recognized him. Ha!
Prince is happy and the Brewers are happy he’s happy!
As for Jim Powell…he’s officially been named the radio voice of the Atlanta Braves joining Don Sutton. Congrats to Jim. I know how much he loved Milwaukee and how much he agonized over the decision. He deserves a lead job. To call big league baseball for your hometown team, replacing the men (Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren) who inspired you to do this job in the first place, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He made the right choice. He’ll be missed. Jim was an extraordinary help to me and my family when I moved here in 2007. We spent many of hours on the buses and planes talking shop. I’ll be forever grateful for his friendship during our time together in Milwaukee. Now, Rock and I get to charge pre game meals in Atlanta to Powell’s account instead of Joe Simpson’s.
The Brewers system for choosing a broadcaster is thorough, I can attest. I still haven’t recovered. Bob Uecker is heavily involved in the process and his new partner will be announced soon. Please welcome whomever they choose with open arms. It’s not easy being the new guy.
The Pitching: When I last wrote, the plan was to add another starting pitcher. After speaking with Mark Attanassio and Doug Melvin, it appears they are set to begin the season with what they have. The payroll is in the $80-85 million range right now. Staying there allows some payroll flexibility to make a mid-season trade (e.g. CC Sabathia) if needed.
The Brewers feel the crop of free agent starters still available isn’t worth the payroll risk at the current asking price. They feel they’re in a better position to win by channeling funds to a closer (Trevor Hoffman) and position players: Ryan Braun and Jason Kendall (contracts last year), Mike Cameron and Prince Fielder (contracts this year), Hardy, Weeks and Hart (in arbitration). The young talent is now making millions instead of hundreds of thousands so the payroll approach has shifted.
Meanwhile, they ask Yovanni Gallardo and Manny Parra to develop into front line starters (they are certainly capable). Then, the club is able to keep the financial flexibility that allows Doug Melvin to use the talented minor league system as currency for an impact trade if need be.
This season will also be an important year to replenish the farm system. Scouting Director Bruce Seid has said the Crew could have as many as nine of the first 100 draft picks in June. High draft picks cost big money in bonuses. Nine of the top 100 will require some serious financial planning. You don’t want to have all of these picks then not be able to get them signed and into the system.
Only time will tell if the approach pays off. It sounds like a smart plan and I understand the thinking. I believe the Brewers are a playoff team right now. The power of tremendous fan support has given Doug Melvin and company leverage in a time when most teams are cutting back significantly. We are in the heart of an exciting era of Brewers baseball. Let’s enjoy it.
As much as I enjoy the relentless snowfall and sub-zero temperatures here in Milwaukee, my job requires me to start preparing for the rigors of Spring Training baseball and the harsh reality of Arizona’s sunny, seventy degree days.
We’re less than a month away from my favorite declaration of the year, “pitchers and catchers report for duty.” Actually, voluntary camp opens February 9th and pitchers and catchers are due to arrive in Maryvale February 13th. The entire roster is required to report February 17th and the first official Spring Training game is scheduled for February 25th versus Oakland. Every Spring Training will be broadcast live either on the Brewers Radio Network/WTMJ or via the webcast at Brewers.com. Stay tuned for the official on-air schedule. Fox Sports Wisconsin will also televise three Spring Training games.
As for me, I’ve enjoyed just being a husband and a dad this off-season. I don’t take many free-lance broadcasting gigs in the winter so I can get involved in my daughter’s activities and do projects around the house. You can imagine my ‘honey-do” list after seven months on the road with the Brew Crew. I played a lot of golf in October and spent some time in Texas in December. Once the deep freeze arrived, I was able to catch some football at Lambeau and Camp Randall, some hoops at the Bradley Center and the Kohl Center, and a number of great live concerts at the Pabst and Riverside Theaters. The Marcus Center and Discovery World have been family hot spots this winter as well.
This month, I’ve been lurching around the office trying to catch up on what’s new at Miller Park. Ticket sales are strong and the big offseason projects are on schedule. The new Club Suites are sweet! The major renovation project is almost complete and they look great, very hi-tech, not that I’ll ever be in one for a game. The Fan Zone got a nice makeover. More stuff, more room, cool fixtures and ladies, you’ll be happy to know you now have your own “womens only” section. There is a new Harley-Davidson area in the outfield that should really add to the character of the ballpark. Also, joining the ’57 and ’82 Party Suites, there is a new ’08 Brewers room available to the public this season. You’ll notice a number of tributes to the ’08 Wild Card champs around Miller Park in ’09.
I’ve also done a few public appearances with General Manager Doug Melvin this January. Since he’s stuck with me for 3-4 hours during these outings, I get the chance to pummel him with questions about the ballclub. He always offers great insight and a ton of information. My notebook is full so in the coming weeks, I’ll report his breakdown of the organization piece by piece. But, until then, here’s a quick overview of current state of Brewers baseball:
-Trevor Hoffman was a huge sign. He’s excited about Milwaukee and the Brewers are excited to have him. He fills a big hole at the back end of the bullpen and is an influential personality. Every time he saves a game, you get to witness a record setting day at the ballpark. The Brewers have visions of a pennant race and Hoffman’s 600th save coinciding this season (He’s 46 away - why not?).
-While Yovanni Gallardo and Manny Parra will be asked to blossom into big league stars (they’re certainly capable), landing another starting pitcher is key. It adds depth to the rotation and strengthens the bullpen. Braden Looper is the name that continues to show up but there are a number of others on the wish list as well. Free agent Ben Sheets appears to be headed in a different direction but the door is never closed until he is signed. Reports on Chris Capuano (elbow ligament replacement surgery) are positive. He could see action this spring and a late-April return to the Majors is not out of the question. Any success he has would be a nice bonus.
-The lineup is pretty much intact. Still right-handed heavy but full of All-Stars now boasting post season experience. Competition at third base could offer some left-handed balance.
-The day has come for the young nucleus of talent to cash in during arbitration. Long term deals have been offered to all of the young stars, only Ryan Braun has accepted. That means a shift in payroll is required. Basically, the bench goes from high priced veterans to low-priced youth and second chancers. Left handed options are the goal. Free agent Craig Counsell, a lefty, is a versatile backup and is still unsigned. He’s highly regarded and has an open door if he chooses to stay in Milwaukee.
-The minor league system is thin in starting pitching but strong in every other area, especially catching. As evidenced by the CC Sabathia trade last July, there are two kinds of currency in Major League Baseball; the Yankees kind, old fashioned $…and the Brewers kind, blue-chip prospects. The Crew is loaded with minor league talent that other clubs would love to acquire so a mid-season impact trade is always a possibility.
The bottom line, the Brewers are in very good shape and there is good reason for optimism for the upcoming season. I’ll be able to chat with new Manager Ken Macha, his coaches, and a number of players at Bob Uecker’s Winter Warm Up and Brewers On-Deck events so I should have plenty of interviews and new information here on the House of Blogs soon. Please feel free to send any questions by clicking on the “comments” icon below and I’ll take them directly to the target.
Until then, I hope the hot stove keeps you warm!
It’s time to close the book on the 2008 season. Thanks to all of you who visited this webpage. As the “hot stove league” heats up and moves are made, I’ll check back in right here on the House of Blogs with exclusive interviews of the new Brewers…so stay tuned.
It’s an honor to hold the position of Brewers television play-by-play announcer and responsibility I don’t take lightly. It was also a great thrill to be able to call the post season for TBS and an even bigger thrill to witness the first playoff games in Milwaukee in a generation. The city, the fans, Miller Park had all the “national-types” talking. Milwaukee showed very well on the big stage…just like we knew it would. Way to go!
Recently, I signed a five year extension that will keep me in Milwaukee until the end of the 2013 season, at least. My family and I are thrilled. We love it here and feel blessed to be in such a special community.
Bill Schroeder signed a multi-year deal with the Brewers, as well, which I’m very happy about. I think he breaks down a game as well as anyone in the business and he’s a pleasure to work with on a nightly basis. He’s one of my best buds.
Special thanks to my on-air colleagues Jeff Cirillo, Davey Nelson, Jeff Grayson, Trenni Kusnierek and the glue that holds it all together, Craig Coshun, a pro’s pro!
And a big thank you to our entire Brewers TV crew, led in the truck by John Walsh, Ryan Schaber, Michael Oddino, Brian Mikolajek, and Brent Vallenti. Most of them will be busy with Bucks Basketball this winter but we all look forward to re-assembling for Spring Training baseball, which will be here before you know it.
I hope you have great off-season. I’m going to be hanging with the family, tuning up my snow blower and preparing for the winter. I’ll leave you with my some of my favorite highlights of the 2008 season:
Click the date (then click Wrap) to revisit the GAMEDAY story, video, and pictures:
Three Final AB wins in a row:
The Crew gets CC’d
Final week dramatics
This is my list, how ’bout some of your favorites?