Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've got to get going on these!

Spring training is in full swing and I still have 10 more of these to bang out.
No time to watch Oscar nominees (The Reader stunk).

Let's get cracking!

Today we take a look at the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that plays for a passionate fan base and had little to root for over the past decade and a half.

The team was run by Bud Selig for a long time, so I know it is a surprise it was terribly run for so long. But since the Selig family slithered away from the team and Mark Attanasio took over they have put a winning product and a playoff team on the field.

Kind of makes you think how baseball will get better once Selig leaves the office he stole.

The Brewers history is kind of strange too. They existed as the Seattle Pilots for one year, a team whose sole contribution to the landscape of baseball was being the subject of Jim Bouton's brilliant book Ball Four.

They took over Milwaukee County Stadium after the Braves split town and for their first 8 seasons, they gave their fans little to cheer about (except for bringing back Hank Aaron for a few seasons.)

Then suddenly they became a 90+ win contender and had a pair of home grown Hall of Famers at the heart of their team.

And they adopted the coolest logo in baseball history!

Since moving to Milwaukee they have stayed put... moving only across the parking lot from County Stadium to Miller Park. Despite that stagnancy, the Brewers began in the AL West, in 1972 moved to the AL East, in 1994 shifted to the AL Central and then in 1998 moved to the NL Central, being the only team to shift leagues.

With two straight winning seasons and a post season berth in 2008, good days might be coming back to the city that gave us The Fonz.

One thing I will tell you... I went to game in Milwaukee in 1991. No better sausages in the game. NONE!

The rules for the Home Grown vs. Acquired lists can be found here.

Well there are three things you don't want to see be made... sausages, laws and a Sully Baseball post. Just enjoy them.



Being the #1 pick in the baseball draft isn't as high profile as being #1 in the football or basketball draft... but you still need to deliver. As I wrote in the Orioles post, Surhoff was #1 in the draft over Barry Larkin, Will Clark, Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson and Rafael Palmeiro. Was he as great as those guys? Nope.

BUT he was solid offensive catcher (he batted .299 his rookie year) he had unusual speed (21 steals in 1988) and got some big hits, including a walk off hit on June 6, 1987 against the Yankees.

Later with the Orioles and teammate Rafael Palmeiro he developed into a 20 home run hitter.
I'm sure Brewers fans wish he had some of that pop in Milwaukee.


In baseball's answer to The Great Santini, it is fascinating to see Prince Fielder work out his daddy issues on baseballs. I am sure Milwaukee Brewer fans hope he resolves them AFTER he retires!

He hit a dramatic walk off homer on September 23, 2008 after being player of the week the week before. If anyone sunk the Mets it was the tonnage (literally) of Fielder and Sabathia.

He's now a vegan and wants to lose the weight. I wonder what he thinks about the sausage race.


Wisconsin isn't really a hotbed for baseball talent. It's not a place where ball can be played year round. Heck, without a roof, they wouldn't be able to play in Milwaukee in APRIL!

But Jim Gantner beat that stereotype. He was born in Fond Du Lac, grew up in Eden, and went to University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.

And he was drafted in the 12th round by who else? The Brewers! He spent his entire 17 year career in Milwaukee (they play baseball in other states?) and gave the Brewers steady defense, durability and a .333 average and an OPS of .943 in the 1982 World Series.

He retired in 1992 and now is a minor league manager. Guess which team?
The Wisconsin Woodchucks!


My cousin Dave is a great Mets fan but he went to college in Marquette during the early 1980s. He was there in time to see Harvey's Wallbangers and the 1982 World Series and says he has a soft spot in his heart for the Brewers because of that magical season.

And of course who was the MVP that year? And who batted .414 with an OPS of 1.073 in the World Series?
That would be Robin Yount.

Years later in 1989, I went to an A's/Brewers game with Dave in Oakland. When Yount would come up to bat, each time Dave would say "Look at those STATS! Look at those STATS!" And he had great numbers that year, winning ANOTHER MVP.

In the end he was a 3,000 hit man, Gold Glove winning two time MVP Hall of Famer with power, speed and knew when to move from the infield to the outfield. And had stats to make anyone drool... not just my cousin.


Paul Molitor made me really appreciate Joe DiMaggio.

I remember vividly Molitor's hit streak in 1987. Each day there was such anticipation and each day he would come through. There was such scrutiny and in the days before ESPN could cut in live, Molitor highlights were pushed to the front of SportsCenter.

I remember each time he came through there was a sigh of relief and a sense of "I can't believe how long this is going on." And The Ignitor, who had been a World Series hero in 1982 but had gone through drug addictions and injuries, had come all the way back and pushed his career to Hall of Famer level.

Finally on August 26, 1987 he went 0-4 and was on deck when Rick Manning singled home the winning run. Fans booed the already unpopular Manning, but Molitor was the first to congratulate him. (What was Manning supposed to do?)

But what was amazing was as long as that streak was and as dizzying the day to day anticipation was... he was STILL 17 games short of DiMaggio! Man, that Joe D must have been a good player!


Wasn't it confusing when there were two Ryan Brauns playing at the same time?

One was a kind of forgettable reliever for the Royals.

The other was an All Star slugger for the Brewers. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2007 and followed it up with a 2008 season where he finished 3rd in the MVP vote. He was the starting left fielder in the All Star game and led the NL with extra base hits. One of those extra base hits was a dramatic walk off grand slam on September 25th that kept the Brewers in the Wild Card hunt.

Sadly Ryan Braun never faced Ryan Braun. Maybe the two can't share the same space at the same time... kind of like that Van Damme movie Time Cop.

(Shame on anyone who gets that reference.)


Stormin' Gorman was a 30-40 home run hitter back when that meant something. He was also a bad ass, swing from his heels striking out way too much slugger. Plus he had the cool facial hair that made him look meaner than he probably was.

It's easy to forget that before he was injured that he was also a solid center fielder with a good arm and good range.

The nickname Stormin' Gorman is kind of lazy. Just because his first name rhymes with something else doesn't make it a good nickname.

If his first name was Jerry would he be Fairy Jerry? Hairy Jerry?

(This coming from a guy whose nickname is the very creative "Sully.")


Jenkins gave the Brewers 10 major league seasons and was their representative in the 2003 All Star Game. The team's MVP in 2000 became a highly paid bench player by the end of his time in Milwaukee. But the fans in Milwaukee remembered the good times and gave him a long standing ovation when he returned as a member of the Phillies in 2008.

He played against the Brewers in the 2008 Division Series. I don't remember if he got a standing ovation in Milwaukee during the series.


Was Jay Bell a better player than Greg Vaughn? I say not! Vaughn may have struck out a lot and was a subpar outfielder, but he was a terrific power hitter! He was a 25-30 home run hitter in the early 1990s and made a pair of All Star games for the Brewers. (He developed into a 40-50 home run hitter when he joined Ken Caminiti and friends in San Diego).

And in late September 1992, he hit homers in back to back games against the A's to give the Brewers a pair of one run wins when their dim hopes for a division title were still intact.

I would argue Vaughn was a bigger impact player than Bell.

Why am I comparing the two? Well Greg Vaughn got zero Hall of Fame votes this year and Jay Bell of course got two.



During his heyday, everyone compared Teddy Higuera to Fernando Valenzuela. And I could never figure out if that comparison was racist or not.

Both were Mexican pitchers who looked like they didn't order the "small" at the Dairy Queen that often.

But then again they were both outstanding aces, left handed screwball specialists. In fact when Higuera won 20 games in 1986, Valenzuela also had his lone 20 win season.

I guess being compared to one of the legit aces of the era can't be that bad a thing.

There's one more Valenzuela/Higuera connection. In the 1986 All Star Game, Valenzuela had struck out Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken, Jesse Barfield and Lou Whitaker in a row. One more strikeout and he would have tied Carl Hubbel's legendary 5 consecutive strikeout performance in the 1934 All Star Game.

Hubbel had struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin... all future Hall of Famers.
So who did Valenzuela face to tie this famous record?

HIGUERA! AL Manager Dick Howser let Higuera bat!
Jim Rice, Harold Baines, Frank White, Lloyd Moseby, Brook Jacoby, Rich Gedman and Tony Fernandez (among others) were all available to pinch hit! And he let an American League pitcher be the guy that Fernando fanned to tie one of the most famous records in baseball.

Of course he struck him out.


Thank God for his nickname. Seriously, would you remember "Bryan Haas"? Of course not! Moose is one of my favorite nicknames. Hell, I might nickname one of my sons Moose!

Either way, Moose took the mound for Game 4 of the 1982 ALCS. The Brewers won the day before to stay alive but the Angels still needed only one win to win the pennant and had Tommy John pitching.

The Brewers jumped all over John and Moose wouldn't give the Angels a chance to catch up. Going into the 8th, he had a 7-1 lead. He ran out of gas and let up a 1 out grand slam to Don Baylor, but it was too little too late.

Milwaukee had all the momentum going into the last game... thanks to Bryan Haas... AKA Moose!


On July 19, 1992, the Brewers recalled Cal Eldred from the AAA Denver team where he had a 10-6 record. He won the game and gave the third place Brewers a boost.

Between August 8th and September 29th, Eldred made 10 starts for the Brewers... and went 10-0 in those starts. He pitched 7 or more innings in all but 1 of those starts and the Brewers climbed back into the playoff chase.

The Brewers run for the division fell a few games short, but it would probably never have occurred with Eldred's unexpected ace like turn in the last two months.


The 1987 Brewers started off as well as you possibly could. By Tax Day, 8 games into the season, they already had a 3 game lead and an 8-0 record. Juan Nieves, a promising young pitcher who had won his first start, took the mound on April 15th.

He faced a veteran Orioles team with some solid bats in the line up. Future Hall of Famers Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken played that day. Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, Ray Knight, Lee Lacey and John Shelby were no slouches either.

But Nieves rode the Brewers wave throughout the game and shut the Orioles down each inning. He walked five but never let that rattle him (getting Lynn to hit into a double play) and at the end he got Eddie Murray to fly out to record the first and only no hitter in Brewers history.

The Brewers would go on to a 13-0 and a 17-1 start, with Nieves' no hitter the highlight of their amazing start.


Can anyone analyze Ben Sheets' career without using the words "When Healthy"?
When healthy, Sheets was an Olympic hero.
When healthy, Sheets was a regular All Star game participant, getting some Cy Young votes while pitching for a 94 loss Brewers team in 2004.
When healthy, Sheets threw a 9 pitch, three strikeout inning.
When healthy, Sheets was an ace.

He was almost never healthy.

He's a free agent now but nobody will touch him because of his health.

He's one of the best pitchers in the game... when healthy.



Currently in the MLB Network's rotation, Plesac was a three time All Star and gave the Brewers of the late 1980s a devastating left handed closer.

He had 20+ saves in four straight seasons and recorded 7 saves during the Brewers amazing April run in 1987.

He got zero Hall of Fame votes this January. That's as many as he deserves.

No disrespect to him.


Bosio had some success as both a starter and as a reliever for the Brewers. When Dan Plesac's season 1988 season ended due to injuries, Bosio took over as closer. And he pitched as a set up man and spot starter before becoming a 16 game winner for the 1992 Brewers.

So why am I putting him in the bullpen and not the rotation?
Well, there's not a lot of good home grown relievers in Brewers history and it didn't seem right to leave Bosio out of this post.


Chuck Crim's prescience on the internet will be bigger in 2009. He was a solid set up man with double digit save totals in two seasons. In 1987 he gave the Brewers 130 innings almost all in relief and gave them depth building the bridge to Dan Plesac.

And he has a website coming soon.

His site Ultimate Pitching Coach looks like it will give tips on how to pitch and maybe have an 8 year big league career and make a few million bucks along the way.

Book mark that page... it will launch in 2009!


As a pitcher Castro was an effective middle reliever who had 8 wins and 13 saves for a 95 loss Brewers team in 1977. The next year, the Brewers first winning season, he kept his ERA under 2.00 and almost did it again the next season.

He was gone by the time the Brewers won the 1982 pennant, but he would come back and become a survivor

Castro is a mainstay in the Brewers coaching staff. 2009 will be his 18th season as he's survived the firings of Phil Garner, Jim Lefebvre, Davey Lopes, Jerry Royster and the bizarre firing of Ned Yost last September.

Ken Macha is keeping him aboard too. He must be doing something right.


A quick peak at the Brewers record book sees Jim Slaton's name all over the place. No pitcher won more games, threw more innings nor had as many shutouts in a Brewers uniform as Slaton.

He was an All Star in 1977 and consistently won in double digits despite playing on some TERRIBLE Brewers teams.

So what is he doing in the Bullpen?

Well he pitched so many years with bad Brewers teams that it seemed cruel that he was traded away to Detroit in 1978 when Milwaukee had their first winning season. He came back and missed most of the 1980 season to injuries. But he reinvented himself into a solid middle reliever, setting up Rollie Fingers.

With Fingers hurt, he saved Game 4 of the 1982 ALCS and then won Game 4 of the World Series.

In 1983 he won 14 games and won 112 1/3 innings, all in relief.

THAT'S why he's in the bullpen!



I have found writing these Home Grown vs. Acquired posts that Rockies fans and Mariners fans all hate Jeff Cirillo. They considered him to be an overpaid whining bust.

Well they like him just fine in Milwaukee.
In a Brewers uniform he hit .320 or more three times and represented Milwaukee in the 1997 All Star game.

He then signed a big contract with Colorado and after wandering the baseball desert in Seattle and San Diego he returned to Milwaukee and became a solid hitter again.

He's now a broadcaster for the Brewers. Who knows? He might some day be considered a "beloved Brewer."


Over the last 26 seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have won a grand total of one post season game. It was Game 3 of the 2008 Division Series where the Brew Crew beat the eventual World Champion Phillies to hold off elimination.

Hardy went 3-4 that game with an RBI in the first and a run scored in the seventh to give Milwaukee life for at least another day.

He's been an All Star and a 20 home run hitter. A lot of Brewers can claim that. But nobody in the last quarter century can say they led the Brewers to a post season game victory.


The player not the singer.
The player who made the All Star team last year and is coming into his own as a solid power hitting right fielder.
The player who got the game winning hit in a critical game on the last weekend of the season to keep the Brewers hopes alive.

That guy, not the singer.

The player Corey Hart was 1 year old when the singer Corey Hart came out with the song "Sunglasses at Night."

And yet people will always hum "Sunglasses at Night" whenever Hart comes to the plate. At least I do!


I met Darryl Hamilton a few times when I would be a guest on Cold Pizza on ESPN2. He was a nice enough guy who talked openly about how much he hated playing in Candlestick Park.

As a member of the Brewers he was a .300 hitter with speed and played solid defense. He was the #2 batter for the 1992 Brewers run at the Division, batting .298 with 41 steals.

Later, after being let go by the Mets he claimed to have placed a Hex on the team. It seems to have worked.


Usually teams don't expect much from their #9 hitters. On October 1, 1980, Brewers manager George Bamberger penciled in Charlie Moore into the 9 hole. He held his own.

He singled in the second, and then broke a 4-4 tie in the fourth with a home run off of Chris Knapp. With the scored tied 5-5 in the 6th, Moore tripled home the go ahead run. In the 8th, he doubled to complete the Cycle and the Brewers got the win.

It was that kind of hitting that kept Moore in the line up even after the arrival of Ted Simmons.
He didn't hit for the cycle again, but that would be greedy expecting that again!


I almost put Gary Sheffield here, but I think if I did, Brewers fans would chase me through the streets with torches and pitchforks.

Sheffield made intentional errors and just wanted out of Milwaukee and it is safe to say he is not a beloved figure in Milwaukee.

So why not Bill Hall? He's a hard nosed, playing above his ability and changing his position constantly team first player.

OK, there was that incident where he asked to be traded because he was tired of changing positions and the fans started to boo him in 2008.

But never mind that! Think of him as the guy who hit the walk off homer on Mothers Day with the pink bat! Think of him as the guy who got a bunch of big homers in 2008 down the stretch.

I had to make him the 25th man. I couldn't figure out what position to call him!

So there's the Home Grown Squad... some hard nosed players and the two most loved players in the franchise's history. So are there any beloved players on the Acquired team?

Oh... a few.

Read on.



In two years, people will start dissecting the career of Ted Simmons like it was open heart surgery. He wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame and was dropped from the ballot but in 2011 the Veterans committee can elect him.

The bulk of his great career was played in St. Louis but he was no slouch in Milwaukee. After a rough first season in the American League in 1981, he rebounded with a solid 1982 as his 23 homers and 97 RBI helped lead the Brewers to the pennant. He homered twice in the World Series but watched his former team clinch the series.

In 1983 he had his best season in Milwaukee. He batted .308 with 108 RBI.

I'm not sure what his chances are. Either way I hope they make a decision quickly. There's no need to have Simmons dangle.


First base was a rotating door for the Red Sox from 1977 to 1993. In that time George Scott, Bob Watson, Tony Perez, Dave Stapleton, Bill Buckner, Dwight Evans, Todd Benzinger, Nick Essasky and Carlos Quintana all played the position before Mo Vaughn gave the Sox some stability.

Meanwhile from 1977 to 1987 the Brewers had nothing but stability with the reliable Cecil Cooper. He gave the Brewers four top 10 MVP finishes, contended for three batting titles, led the AL in RBIs in 1980, won multiple Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the Red Sox had kept Jim Rice's best friend?


My friend Brody Stevens played baseball at Arizona State. One of his teammates was Fernando Vina.

I could try and get a hold of Brody to get some dirt on Vina... but I wouldn't want to get either one of us in trouble. So I'll just say that Vina was a Gold Glove second baseman, an All Star, a .300 hitter and according to Brody a cool guy.

And you should trust Brody... he's an athlete.


When Gary Sheffield sulked his way into a trade, Jose Valentin was part of the haul from San Diego. He was a power hitting shortstop who never hit for a high average but knew how to get on base as he walked often.

In 1996 he hit 24 homers and 95 RBIs and had 7 triples to be among the league leaders.

I had to look up if he was still playing. He last played in 2007... but I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up somewhere else.

No word if he intentionally made errors to leave Milwaukee. I doubt it.


When the Phillies developed Mike Schmidt in the early 1970s, Don Money was expendable and was dealt to Milwaukee.

OK, this 1979 Topps Card shows him as an All Star Second baseman... so shouldn't he be at second?

Perhaps, but he made two All Star teams as a third baseman as well. And he played more than 1,000 games at third but less than 200 at second base. So I don't feel bad at all for putting him at third!


Another former Red Sox player!

Oglivie became an MVP candidate and home run champ in 1980. A three time All Star in Milwaukee, he homered in Game 5 of the 1982 ALCS to begin the Brewers comeback to win the pennant.

Hmmm. I wonder why the Red Sox gave up on him.


I remember reading in Ball Four that players often would get upset when they were traded if they thought the player they were dealt for stunk.

Imagine how Dave May must have felt after the 1974 season. He was an All Star and one of the few bright spots on the mid 1970s Brewers. He was an All Star in 1973 and among the league leaders in batting, slugging, homer and RBI. But he slumped badly in 1974 and was dealt to Atlanta.

If he asked the front office "Who did you get for me?" the answer would be "Hank Aaron."

That must have been a pick me up.

If I were Dave May I would introduce myself to people by saying "Hi, I'm Dave May and I was traded for Hank Aaron."


I wonder how Jeromy Burnitz felt on July 13, 1999. He was the Brewers representative at the All Star Game in Fenway Park... but this was no ordinary All Star Game. Along with the current stars, the living finalists for the All Century Team were in attendance.

Sandy Koufax made a rare on the field appearance. Pete Rose was allowed to participate. Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were there. Ted Williams famously rode out in his golf cart.

And starting in left field for the National League was Jeromy Burnitz. The likable and humble Burnitz probably felt a little out of place. But Burnitz was no slouch. He was in the middle of his third straight 30 homer season and probably should have made the All Star team the previous season.

And in that game, he doubled off of David Cone. I'm sure he savored every moment.


The Brewers started the 1987 season 11-0. They were off to a magical start including Juan Nieves' no hitter. But on April 19, it looked like the streak was coming to an end.

The Brewers never led that Easter going into the 9th, trailing 4-1. With one out and two on, closer Greg Harris came in to face Rob Deer.

Deer, a product of the Giants farm system who was best known for his high homer titles and comically low batting average, launched a game tying three run shot that sent Milwaukee County Stadium into delirium and earned him a Sports Illustrated cover.

Dale Sveum would hit a walk off shot later in the inning... but by then there was no suspense... the Brewers were going to win. Thanks to Deer's blast.



You ask someone who has a fantasy to pitch in the bigs and chances are they'd ask a genie "Make me a Cy Young Award Winner."

If you asked a struggling actor what they would wish for, I'm sure a lot would just want a memorable role in a hit movie.

Well think about Pete Vuckovich! He got to pitch in the bigs and win the Cy Young Award for the 1982 A.L. Champion Brewers.

And then later as an actor played brutal Yankees slugger Clu Haywood in Major League, where he has the great "How is your wife and my kids" exchange with Tom Berenger.

Whoever his genie was, he delivered!


The Brewers needed to make this deal. They had one winning season between 1992 and 2007 and with nearly a quarter century of irrelevance under their belt, they needed to stop thinking about the future.

The fans of Milwaukee helped pay for a new ballpark and supported a team through terrible seasons. And with a chance to win a playoff spot the Brewers brass did something so few small market teams ever do:

They went all in.
They traded for 2007 AL Cy Young winner C. C. Sabathia.

Sure, outfielder Matt LaPorta, the stud they sent to Cleveland, could turn into a big star.
Sure, they knew they had no chance of resigning him.

Who cares? There were 25 year old Brewers fans who could say "the Brewers haven't played in October in my lifetime."

Sabathia went 11-2 in Milwaukee, throwing complete game victories in three of his first four starts. He was not only a win but a night off for the bullpen. Milwaukee treated him like a rental car and rode him to yet another complete game victory to push them into the playoffs.

For a generation of Brewers fans it was their first glorious memory of their team.
Yeah, that was worth Matt LaPorta.


Over six plus seasons, Mike Caldwell was kicked around between San Diego, San Francisco and Cincinnati with one good season to show for it. He landed in Milwaukee in 1977 and something clicked.

He went 22-9 and completed 24 of his 37 starts in 1978, finishing second to Ron Guidry in the Cy Young voting.

He became one of the steadiest starters on the Milwaukee staff and won two games in the 1982 World Series.

All the while San Diego, San Francisco and Cincinnati all could have used another steady starter.
Oh well... they had their chance.


Colborn was a spot starter and middle reliever for the Cubs when he was dealt to Milwaukee and put into the starting rotation in 1972.

The next year he blossomed, becoming the Brewers' first ever 20 game winner. He threw 314 1/3 innings, completing 22 of his starts and picked up a save for good measure.

The workhorse, who later threw a no hitter for the Royals, has been working steadily as a pitching coach. I bet he gets orders from the front office for strict pitch counts... and I bet that makes him roll his eyes.


I originally had Jeff Suppan here, but KL Snow from Brew Crew Call pointed out that Hall of Famer Don Sutton should have this spot.

He is 100% correct.

The Brewers sent Kevin Bass and others to Houston to pick up the former Dodger ace. He threw a complete game shutout his second game as a Brewer and won three games in September as the Orioles and Brewers finished up a furious race for division.

The last game on October 3rd was unofficially a playoff game. Both the Orioles and Brewers were tied after 161 games. They were playing each other and whomever won would go to the ALCS against the Angels.

The match up was two future Hall of Famers. The Orioles sent Jim Palmer to the hill, who had pitched well down the stretch. The Brewers sent Don Sutton. There were 51,642 at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium for what everyone thought was going to be Earl Weaver's final game as manager.

No pressure, right? Robin Yount homered in the first and the third as the Brewers ran up a 3-0 lead. Glenn Gulliver (remember him?) homered off of Sutton but the damage was done. Sutton pitched 8 solid innings and a late rally turned a 5-2 thriller into a 10-2 blowout and the Division Title for Milwaukee.

And to think I initially forgot to include that!



My family moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1980 and we lived there for a couple of years. There were a bunch of American families in our neighborhood and who went to our school. My best friend there was P. J. Jurack, who was a big Milwaukee Brewers fan.

We would talk baseball and try and compare our favorite players. (I insisted Jim Rice was better than Cecil Cooper.)
I remember him coming into class one day and he wiggled his fingers in my face like he was casting a spell.

He stopped doing that long enough to say "We've Got FINGERS!!!!"

I knew he wasn't just talking about his digits. His Brewers just picked up arguably the greatest reliever in baseball history (along with Pete Vuckovich and Ted Simmons... not a bad deal!)

All Fingers did in 1981 was win the Cy Young and AL MVP in the strike shortened season. And the next year continued to be his dominating self until injuries cost him a spot on the playoff roster (and probably cost the Brewers the World Series.)

Needless to say P.J. had won the bragging rights for those years.


Baseball needs more pitchers like Mike Fetters. Chubby faced, intense looking and with a violent head jerk in his pitching motion that Mark Grace famously imitated, he's what a fan favorite is all about.

We love chubby guys who can play because most of us have guts and seeing a guy like Fetters makes us believe we are one trick pitch away from the show.

It helps that Fetters was a talented guy. He went 5-1 with 1 .87 for the contending 1992 team and later took over the closers role. He saved 32 games for the 1996 Brewers before finding himself on the A's and later pitching for the Diamondbacks in the post season.

Scouts, seriously... look for chubby pitchers. The future of the game depends on it!


In 2006, when the Brewers unloaded Carlos Lee to the Rangers (who clearly thought they just needed more HITTERS in Texas) they would up getting the Rangers one time All Star closer in the package.

Cordero was having a down season but found his old form in Milwaukee. He saved 16 games, struck out 30 in 26 2/3 innings and posted a 1.69 ERA for the Brewers.

He showed it was no fluke in 2007 as he became the closer for the first Brewers team to post a winning record since 1992. Cordero posted a 2.98 ERA and struck out 86 in 63 1/3 innings. He nailed down 44 saves, including his first 22 chances, and made his second All Star team. And on September 30th, he got the final out to defeat the Padres and force a one game playoff between San Diego and Colorado for the Wild Card spot.

He had found a young winning team that he fit perfectly into...
Naturally he left the Brewers to sign with the lousy Cincinnati Reds in the off season.

Go figure!


The 1971 Brewers went 69-92 in their last season in the AL West. They drew only 731,531 fans all season and fell out of contention in early May. They finished in dead last place, 32 games behind Division Champion Oakland.

Yet somehow they had one unlikely bright spot... the few times they did have a lead to protect, Ken Sanders got the job done. He won 7 games and saved 31, having a decision in 55% of the teams victories.

He threw 136 1/3 innings, all in relief and posted a 1.91 ERA as he represented the Brewers in the All Star Game. And he was no "One inning and out" reliever either. On April 18 Sanders came into a tied game in the 8th and threw 5 2/3 innings as the Brewers won in 13.

On June 27th he threw four innings of 1 hit shut out ball to nail down a save against the Twins.

One could only imagine the solid numbers he could have put up with a winning ball club in 1971.


I decided to put Torres over Pete Ladd. I know I'll get some flack for that, but bear with my reasoning.

With Rollie Fingers injured during the 1982 World Series, many people blamed the Brewers loss on his replacements, Bob McClure and Pete Ladd. If your very prescience can be given for a reason a team lost the World Series, I can't honor you here.

Torres and his surprising 28 save season helped ease the loss of Francisco Cordero. He had 14 straight save opportunities converted at one point and nailed down the only Brewers post season save since 1982.

Instead of cashing in his successful season, Torres opted to retire, ending a strange up and down career that started in the bigs in 1993. I guess he wanted to leave on top... or at least in October.



When Kevin Seitzer broke in with the defending World Champion Royals during the 1986 season, I really thought Kansas City had the heir apparent to George Brett. And the next year when he was runner up to Mark McGwire in the Rookie of the Year race and batted .323 for the season, I felt my hunch was right.

It wasn't. Seitzer's performance dropped each year until the Royals cut him during Spring Training 1992. His first stint with the Brewers he helped the team contend in 1992. After a fling with Oakland he returned to Milwaukee and found his old form. He batted .314 in 1994 and .311 in 1995 when he made the All Star team. He was batting .316 when the Brewers dealt him to Cleveland for future All Star Jeromy Burnitz.

My hunch was correct that he was a terrific solid right handed hitter.

There's no shame in not being the next George Brett.


I know I am going to get hammered for this pick by Brewers fans... but if you can think of a better acquired infielder, let me know. Durham had revived his career after a horrific 2007 in San Francisco. He returned to form in 2008 and was sent to Milwaukee in the stretch run to provide a spark.

In his second start with the Brewers on July 26th, he led off the game with a double and then scored. He scored again in the third and the seventh as the Brewers won by 2. He shifted between 1st and 2nd in the lineup, but provided a spark no matter where or when he hit.

He is a free agent now and is contemplating retirement. I think the Cardinals should sign him. They never listen to me.


The White Sox had Carlos Lee on their squad in the early 2000s. He was a 25-30 homer, .300 average guy but the White Sox wanted a spark plug instead of a slugger. So off Lee went to Milwaukee for spark plug Scott Posednik. The White Sox got a World Series hero and the Brewers got an All Star.

They wanted to keep him in Milwaukee, but once he turned down a four year $50 million contract he was dealt to Texas (and Francisco Cordero came to the Brewers.

In 2006 he signed a six year $100 million contract with the Astros. I bet he was glad he was a free agent in 2006 and not this off season. He got $76 million more than what Manny Ramirez has been offered!!!


The Brewers franchise never had a winning record until the 1978 season... which was also the first year Larry Hisle played for the Brew-Crew.

He finished third in the MVP voting to Jim Rice and Ron Guidry. He was second in the league in homers, RBI, slugging and OPS (not that anyone knew what OPS was then.)

It was his only full season in Milwaukee before injuries took their toll, but it was an important year. It changed the culture in Milwaukee and turned the team into winners.

Hisle became a champion as a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays. It would be interesting to write a list of the veteran coaches who got their first World Series ring as a coach.... do I smell a new Sully Baseball list?

Let's finish this one first!


After nine seasons of not contending in Pittsburgh, Jason Kendall has turned into a bit of a good luck charm each of the last three seasons.

In 2006 he played for the AL West Champion A's.
In 2007 he played for the NL Central Champion Cubs.
And last year he played for the NL Wild Card Brewers. His average may have been subpar but he could still handle the pitching staff. Plus he threw out 40% of attempted base stealers.

He's back with the Brewers for 2009... which bodes well for their post season chances!


I needed to include a Seattle Pilot on this list to honor that obscure lost team. I was going to put Jim Bouton, who I couldn't squeeze onto the Yankees squad, but if you read his book you saw he had an up and down season.

They sent two players to the All Star game in Washington. Don Mincher was one, Hegan the other.

Hegan batted .292 and homered in his first at bat in the season, Christening the franchise with a 2-0 lead two batters into their existence. For a brief moment with that homer and the opening day victory, it looked like the future for the Seattle Pilots looked bright.

It wasn't, but it was a heck of a moment for the man who is currently a broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians.


There's no doubt the acquired team has the better arms. And with a healthy Rollie Fingers, their bullpen would be hard to beat. But let me ask you something?

How am I supposed to write about the Milwaukee Brewers and pick AGAINST Robin Yount and Paul Molitor???



One more down!

That is the Brewers

And the Reds
And the Dodgers
And the Blue Jays
And the Pirates
And the Diamondbacks
And the Mariners
And the Nationals
And the Angels
And The Padres
And The Twins
And The Orioles
And the A's
And the Astros
And the Giants
And the Rockies
And the Mets
And the Rangers
And the Marlins
And the Yankees
And the Red Sox

9 to go...



  1. Very nice work, but leaving Don Sutton off the acquired team and replacing him with Jeff Suppan is a game-changer. With Sutton in the fold, it'd be hard to get much from the home-grown offense.

  2. you are right.

    it has been corrected

  3. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Nice article. Good memories brought back...including the Easter Sunday game in 1987. You have it listed as a Mother's Day game.

  4. Whoops! I confused it with the Bill Hall homer!

    I'll correct it

  5. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Great list, but I think you're missing a very key acquisition for the Crew. Richie Sexson. He was an All Star when he was on the team and "The Richie Sexson Trade" will live on in Brewers lore forever. If not for that trade, we wouldn't be talking about the end of the playoff drought. It was Doug Melvin's first move as GM. Not to mention probably the greatest move he'll ever make.

    Mike Hegan was a great choice. Anyone who's grown up in Milwaukee has spent a solid chunk of their childhood at the gloriously dumpy Mike Hegan's Grand Slam.

  6. I thought about Sexson...
    But I couldn't drop Cooper and it basically came down to Sexson and Deer.

    I could be persuaded to change it

  7. Anonymous3:00 PM

    best thing I've read all year.



  8. Anonymous10:11 PM

    I could see a case being made for Sexson over Deer. I love Rob Deer, but the problem is that you have him as the top pinch hitter off the bench. I would say that is definitely situational. You'd only want Deer if you needed a dinger to win the game. If you just needed somebody to put it in play you wouldn't go with Deer or Sexson though. Maybe you could swap Deer with May? (I'm too young to remember May I'm just going by what you have written.)

    p.s. I don't mean to harp on it but in Rob Deer's piece it still says Mother's Day game...should be Easter Sunday.

  9. Anonymous7:23 AM

    One problem...Gorman Thomas should be on the "acquired team". Sure, he was brought up thru the system and played parts of '73, '74, '75 and '76 with the big club, but in 1977, he was out of options and was traded to Texas after the season. In one of his first moves as GM, Harry Dalton re-acquired Gorman.

  10. That's a good point about Gorman Thomas

    But here's why I am keeping him on the home grown team...
    My rule for Home Grown is the team has to be their first professional organization.

    Bobby Bonilla is on the home grown Pirates team even though he made his big league debut with the White Sox. He was originally drafted by the Pirates and they reacquired him

    Curt Schilling is also on the homegrown Red Sox team even though his trek to Fenway went through Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia and Arizona.

    Basically I need simple iron clad rules like that for one reason:

    I'm doing THIRTY of these! I don't have the time to analyze each player on a case for case basis!!

    But good knowledge!

  11. Anonymous2:19 PM

    Good enough.

    I think you're doing a great job, btw. It's a daunting task and it's fun to read.

    I would put my name, but for some reason it won't let me sign in. :)

  12. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Wow! What a site! I'm a long time Brewers fan (since they came to Milwaukee in 1970) and your post is excellent!

    Another great Brewers player who could make the acquired team would be Tommy Harper, who was the first batter ever for the Seattle Pilots (1969) and for the Milwaukee Brewers (1970). He played 3rd base and centerfield and was one of the first 30-30 guys (30 stolen bases/30 homes) in baseball history.
    Great blog! Keep it up! ---Mark from Wisconsin

  13. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Everyone from the Richie Sexson trade (direct and indirect) from the 2008 team:
    Chris Capuano
    Craig Counsell
    Dave Bush (for Overbay)
    CC Sabathia (for Zack Jackson, who was traded for Overbay)

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