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Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

Goodbye, Sweet Prince, Or So We All Presume

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Another Sunday, another split decision by the Observers. While Frank followed his "baseball rules" rule to attend the Brewers' home finale, Artie hunkered down in his version of NFL Central, sticking pins in his Brett Favre voodoo bobblehead. Later his phone rang...

Frank
: You missed a couple of nice giveaways as part of Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Artie
: Well, handouts were appropriate since the Brew Crew basically gave away the season by May. Where was all this good pitching when it might have made a difference? The batters have their theme songs, and for five months we should have been hearing "See You in September" whenever a starting pitcher took the hill.

Frank: You also missed a chance to wave farewell to the guy who—presumably—will be the vehicle for improving the pitching in 2011. Prince Fielder got a nice standing ovation for—presumably—his final at-bat in Brewer white. After he walked, a pinch-runner came out and Fielder eventually made a dugout curtain-call.

Artie
: I had wanted to tune in for the last at-bat, but I got distracted by some light housekeeping.

Frank
: As Fielder left he hugged the first-base coach, Ed Sedar. What, he's not going to see him tomorrow night when they play the Mets? It sure made it seem like Fielder presumes he'll be traded.

Artie
: It would have helped the fans recall his Milwaukee career if Prince had gone out with a bases-empty homer.

Frank
: He did hit one, in the third inning. That got him to 32 homers but only 80 RBI.

Artie
: How signature, another solo shot. That's our Prince, at least in 2010.

Frank
: I sense you're not wiping away a tear at the prospect of Fielder's departure.

Artie
: Nope. As soon as we knew his agent was Scott Boras, we knew the Brewers wouldn't be able to afford him when he hit free agency a year from now. Now they've got to get some solid pitching for him. I hope he enjoys his time in, say, that god-awful thing they call a stadium in Tampa Bay.

Frank
: I thought your master plan had him going to San Francisco for lefty phenom Madison Bumgarner or Matt Cain?

Artie
: That's still the No. 1 option, but the Rays have pitching to spare, too. Or maybe Toronto; hey Prince, can you speak Canadian?

Frank
: Whoever it is will believe it can spend well over $100 million to keep him OR that it's got enough of a shot at going all the way that it should "rent" Prince, like the Brewers rented CC Sabathia in ’08.

Artie
: The Giants or Rays certainly could qualify. The Rays supposedly have a right-handed version of Bumgarner in Jeremy Hellickson, a youngster who "can't miss."

Frank
: The Brewers are in a classic Catch-22. If they could add enough pitching to believe they had a real shot at the playoffs, it would be worth keeping Fielder for ’11. But to get enough pitching—presumably—they have to deal Fielder in the first place.

Artie
: Another problem is that just about everyone is looking for pitching. With all the competition, there may not be enough to go around, in terms of what the Brewers might be offered. And which would be better, getting more mediocre pitching this winter or two really good draft choices as compensation for a free-agent Prince?

Frank
: On the bus home from the game today, a couple of fans had a lively exchange about Fielder's recent comments in the Journal Sentinel. One of them said, "I didn't like what he said—‘It's not up to me, it's a business, I just go where they tell me to go.'” The second guy said, "He's just being honest." And the first guy replied, "You didn't hear Corey Hart say that. He said he really wanted to stay, and he got a deal."

Artie
: I'm with the first guy. It IS up to you, Prince! You could have said you'll take the five years, $100 million or whatever the Brewers offered. Just like Carlos Lee and Coco Cordero could have stayed with a lot of dough. But you and Boras are gonna take this as far as you can. Fair enough, but don't pretend you have no say.

Frank
: In a way what he said was true, but in print it also looked cold.

Artie
: He could have thrown the fans a bone—“Yeah, I'd like to stay." But that wasn't there, at least in that article.

Frank
: However they do it, it looks like the Brewers have three spots in the rotation to fill. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf are set.

Artie
: And in the last few weeks Wolf is showing some positive return for their $30 million investment. But after that it's the usual crapshoot.

Frank
: Chris Capuano has pitched well enough to be a candidate...

Artie
: But after two "Tommy John" operations, that's a lot to bank on for a full season.

Frank
: Chris Narveson has had his moments, but he's this year's Braden Looper—winning record, lousy ERA. Manny Parra has failed as a starter two straight years, and I think they'll tell Dave Bush, whose contract is up, "Thanks for five years of hard but mediocre work, and best of luck."

Artie
: Mark Rogers looked like he had good stuff in his start Friday night, and so did Jeremy Jeffress in relief.

Frank
: But Rogers used up his pitch limit in three innings and Jeffress walked a couple in two innings. And Ken Macha, although his opinion may be irrelevant next year, says neither one has pitched enough innings in the minors to be ready for a big-league rotation.

Artie
: I have to agree. It's a lot to hope that these guys will be the answer. The team needs somebody fairly proven.

Frank
: More than one somebody. Hey, did you notice on the Brewers' 2011 schedule that they'll be on the road against the Yankees for the first time since ’97?

Artie
: Last three days of June, ain'a? I wonder if those days are in your vacation plans.

Frank
: Bronx, here I come, though at Yankee prices I might be able to afford only one game.

Artie
: Make sure it's the one where Madison Bumgarner—or maybe Jeremy Hellickson—takes a shutout into the eighth inning and our new right fielder, Mat Gamel, hits the game-winning homer.

Frank
: So you think Gamel will be playing right field and Hart will succeed Fielder at first.

Artie
: Gamel can't play third and Casey McGehee is just fine there. And Corey came up as a first baseman.



And Back to Football...

Frank: As it happens, I'll have another chance to wave goodbye to Fielder tomorrow night. I'm off to New York in the morning and we have a family group going out to Citi Field.

Artie
: Geez, it's one thing to miss most of the NFL hijinks for a ballgame, but to miss Packers-Bears?

Frank
: You'll supply enough enthusiasm for both of us. Hey, with the Vikings and Cowboys both winning to avoid the dreaded 0-3, you can't feel as good as you did last week.

Artie
: It was bound to happen, but at least Favre will have trouble getting out of bed tomorrow. He got smacked plenty by the Lions!

Frank
: Now he has a bye week to rest up.

Artie
: What? I swear, the NFL coddles that guy. Either the Vikings are playing in their dome, as usual, or they get a week off.

Frank
: At least the Cowboys' impressive win at Houston wasn't on TV here. I see Tony Romo had a good day, with no interceptions. Care to reconsider anything you said a while back?

Artie
: No way. The Cowboys are NOT going to the playoffs and Tony Romo is NOT a good quarterback! A broken clock is right twice a day and Romo is due for two decent games a season.

Frank
: And of course you're sticking with your prediction that the Packers will stomp all over the Bears tomorrow night.

Artie
: You betcha. Because Romo didn't have any, there are some loose interceptions floating around. And Jay Cutler will find ’em.

Frank:
Presumably.