Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Weeks Out for the Season

All photos of Modern Woodmen Park available on Flickr.

With the Milwaukee Brewers untucking their shirts at an astonishing rate this May, their winning ways hit a slight bump in the road on Sunday as it was announced that second baseman Rickie Weeks would be out for the season with a torn sheath in his right wrist. This worries me for several reasons, not the least of which is that this will be Weeks' third wrist/hand injury in the past 4 seasons. Rickie was really coming into his own this year, both defensively and offensively. Every single ball he's hit all year has been a line drive and he's not hanging around in the count begging for walks anymore like Yost had him doing. The man who has the highest all-time 4-year collegiate batting average (.430) was finally showing his promise, thanks in large part to bench coach Willie Randolph. Also, the Brewers really have no other option at second base or at leadoff. Hart swings too much and too early in the count to be a leadoff guy, and his bat is much more valuable in the middle of the lineup. For right now, it looks like the Brewers will platoon Casey McGehee, a guy who has no major league experience at 2nd and is hitting below .200, and Craig Counsell, who is 38 and playing with torn cartilage in his knee, and is currently Macha's utility infielder and best option off the bench. I had mentioned to Erik jokingly that the Brewers should try to get Ray Durham off the couch - a mid-season pickup of the Crew last year brought in to spell a struggling Weeks - but it looks like he's already working out in North Carolina and has already been contacted by GM Doug Melvin. Reports right now say that the Brewers will try out their #1 position prospect Alcedes Escobar at 2B in AAA, and will call him up if he can handle it, but otherwise would try to sign Durham. This is the third thing that worries me about the Weeks injury - it almost ensures that some infielder will be traded or released next season. If Iribarren, McGehee, Durham and/or Escobar shine at 2nd in his absence, Macha will have a tough choice come next season, especially when you throw the Gamel/Hall 3B logjam into the mix, and when you look ahead to Brett Lawrie and Cutter Dykstra down the line who also play second. Lastly, the torn sheath in the wrist is the same injury that slugger David Ortiz suffered, and we all know of his epic homerless streak that is ongoing this year. The Brewers as of today lead the NL Central by 3 games; here's hoping we can maintain that lead throughout the summer without Weeks.

In other news, I visited Davenport, Iowa for a third time this week while on my way out to an interview in Waterloo. In my first visit there in 2006, the downtown was desolate, attendance was sparse, and the team was known as the Swing of the Quad Cities and played at John O' Donnell Stadium. Now in 2009, the stadium has been renamed Modern Woodmen Park and the team went back to its former name, the Quad Cities River Bandits. The city and stadium look a lot nicer too. There's still the methadone clinics across the street, but the riverfront is starting to develop, and the ballpark was packed with children for an 11 AM game. The ballpark has added amenities such as a cornfield in left where players enter from in the summer, and a tiki lounge in right field. Excluding the fact that the Swing logo and name were way better, the team store has much more and much better apparel (they did not have baseballs OR souvenir cups on the tour). There were even Bandit-themed foods at the concession stands - the Bandit Dog with bacon, cheese, and chili was phenomenal. Being there two previous times in August, it was nice to take in a game in more comfortable weather. Overall this was my best time of the three in Davenport, and Quad Cities won to boot. The River Bandits beat the Cougars 3-1 behind an overall great pitching performance. Three Quad Cities pitchers combined to strike out 12 batters while walking only one. Charlie Cutler was the star of the day, going 3-4 with an RBI for the home team.

rankings and stats-
see below and 2007 John O' Donnell Stadium post:
aesthetics - improves to 7

food variety - improves to 7
team shop - improves to 5

best food - Bandit Dog

starters - Kenny Smalley (KC) v. Arquimedes Nieto (QC)
opponent - Kane County Cougars
time of game - 2:09
attendance - 6159
score - 3-1 W
Brewers score that day - 8-5 W

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