My questions, and her responses, are below.
1. How would you rate the Brewers' chances of keeping Prince Fielder long term? Do you think the enormous contract extension received by Ryan Howard last month all but punched Fielder's ticket out of town?
Slim to none. There's no way that a small-market team can commit the money and years to Fielder that he's going to be asking. Plus he's a Scott Boras client. I think the Howard contract nailed it home for us, but any Brewer fan who's honest with them self already knew the Brewers have no place putting that kind of money or that many years in one player. Some folks are making the argument that the market will be flooded with free agent first basemen, but I'm not so sure that matters.
2. "Inconsistent" would be a kind word to describe Trevor Hoffman's performance out of the bullpen this season. Is this the end of the road for the future Hall of Famer? Who is the heir-apparent?
Trevor's problems have been half tough luck and half poor pitching on his part. He's had trouble with his changeup and has not been throwing it, leaving him with a low 80s fastball to try and get guys out. He seems to have corrected the problem and luckily the Brewers haven't needed him much. This team is so streaky that they're either losing or up by double digit runs - there hasn't been much call for a closer,
There are two options in the minors. Chris Smith blew his first save tonight at AAA Nashville. He had 22 straight dating back to last season. His ERA is 0.71 and his WHIP is 0.947. He's had some cups of coffee with the Brewers, but nothing major.
The other option is Zach Braddock, but he may still be too green. He started the season well with an ERA below one after 6 games. Sadly, after ten games his ERA is 4.80. We've already got that kind of consistency, so I can't see him getting the call any time soon.
3. Who has been the most pleasant surprise on the roster? Biggest disappointment?
Casey McGehee is the biggest surprisse. He's the best player that no one has heard of. We claimed him off waivers from the Cubs after the 2008 season and that was a total steal. He got a chance to get on the field when some other guys struggled and basically continued to prove he belonged there. He led all rookies in RBI last season and should have been more talked about for ROY.
No one knew if last season was a fluke or not, so we're super excited about him hitting .323/.399/.565 with 7 HR and 32 RBI. Adding him to the already potent 3-4 punch of Braun and Fielder has really opened up the lineup.
The biggest disappointment had probably been Doug Davis. No one expected DD to go out and give us complete game shut-outs, but they also didn't imagine he'd need to be yanked from a game before the end of the fifth inning as he has in four of his seven starts. The Brewers are in dire need of serviceable starting pitching and right now, no one's confident that Davis brings that.
4. Yovani Gallardo is a legitimate ace in the rotation, and Ryan Braun continues to put up MVP-caliber numbers. How does the farm system look?
The Brewers are kind of notorious for not being able to grow pitching talent. Last year's first-rounder, Eric Arnett, has struggled in A ball and has had a difficult time with his command, to put it kindly. His ERA is 9.00 after six games and 24 IP.
However, sticking with tradition, there are big bats throughout the system. Cutter Dykstra (Lenny's son) and Scooter Gennett are both in single-A and hitting well. The first-rounder from two years ago, Brett Lawrie, is doing decently at AA Huntsville but there is a disturbing lack of HR there. As a team they have just 2 HR this season.
5. Only kind of a question, but... is this the cutest thing you've ever seen? My heart is a rock, but I can't stop watching it.
That is so damn adorable that I just got home from Friday night's awful loss and it's still got me smiling. Take that Phillies. Sure, you have your deep pitching staff and your strong lineup. We've got this adorable kid. So there!