We are a little late on this, I got the questions to Noah Jarosh, from Brew Crew Ball, SB's Brewers blog a little late, but better late than never, we'll post.
The Brewers have built up a nice lead in the NL Central, how confident are you that they will keep it up and finish first?
I'm actually feeling pretty good about the Brewers' chances to stay in first place. The nice thing about the team is that they don't really have any weaknesses as far as their starters go. The bench is put together poorly, but the offense has the second-best wOBA in the NL, the startpitching is, at least, league average and the bullpen is strong up top and will get better after a couple of their better relievers come back from injury.
Unlike previous years, the Brewers don't need to rely solely on their strong offense. In any given game the pitching can pick up the lineup and vice versa. That's a pleasant change, and it makes me believe the team should be a little above .500 in the second half. That would put them firmly on pace for 90+ wins, which should win a division unless the Cardinals do Cardinaly things and call up some C level prospect who ends up winning the MVP.
How is our old friend Lyle Overbay doing?
Want him back? In all honesty, his .331 OBP is better than I would have expected him to have at this point and he actually hit really well in June. But the Brewers have two platoons (second base and first base) going where three of the four players involved can only play their respective positions. The second base platoon is more crucial, in my mind, so Overbay becomes the most expendable player on the roster. However, Brewers management loves their gritty veterans and an 872 OPS in June will keep him on the roster. For now, anyway.
Ryan Braun has had an interesting couple of years. What do Brewers fans think of him?
There are some fans on either extreme, but I would say the vast majority of Brewers fans are pretty over the whole thing. Braun is still the best player on the team, despite a recent slump that is probably due in large part to various nagging injuries. As long as he remains productive, fans will be plenty happy to have him on the team. It's not approval of what he did so much as it is acknowledgement that he did his time, has put in an effort to make things right, and is now here to help our favorite baseball team win the division.
I don't know. People make mistakes and Braun got caught. He served a longer-than-typical suspension because of it. I think it's strange that people get so up-in-arms that Brewers fans don't shun him or whatever. People deserve second chances. He didn't pull an Aaron Hernandez, he took a banned substance. He's one of thousands over the course of baseball history who have tried to gain an advantage through less-than-natural means. As long as he keeps hitting baseballs well, I'll be cheering him.
Can we have a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers the Jays are likely to face?
Well, Marco Estrada happened today. Which is a fun match. I'm typing this up in the first inning and dreading this start. The Blue Jays have hit the most home runs in the majors. Estrada has (easily, I might add) allowed the most home runs of any pitcher in the MLB. He can have a good changeup, and can be really good. He'll put up strong strikeout numbers while not giving up a ton of baserunners. The problem is, is all his baserunners end up scoring because all he allows is homers.
Wily Peralta, meanwhile, has the stuff to be an ace in the near future. He has a big fastball and decent secondary stuff and has managed to be very successful early in his career. That being said, after a phenomenal start to 2014, he has cooled down recently. Over his past five starts, he has a 4.22 ERA. The good news is that has happened with him letting opponents post just a 692 OPS. The even better news is that he hasn't been giving up runs due to walking a ton of batters, which was his biggest struggle coming through the majors. Peralta may not be locked in recently, but the fact he is still managing decent results makes me real optimistic for his future.
I haven't seen much of Ron Roenicke, could you give us an idea of his strengths and weaknesses?
I'm not great at judging managers. I think we end up seeing too many of the bad things (oh, he brought in that reliever instead of that one? He's bunting when?) and too few of the good decisions. We're quick to judge managers when something goes wrong, but rarely consider them when it goes right. Overall, I think Roenicke is fine. He's not a special manager or anything, but the players seem to like him and he doesn't display Ned Yost levels of ineptitude. I think his decision to rearrange the lineup and put Braun in the second spot, Lucroy third, and Gomez cleanup is one of the better moves a manager has made recently.
That said, Roenicke does have a perplexing affinity for bunting, the contact play, and aggressive baserunning. These are all things that are fine and good in limited doses, but boy do the Brewers do each of those a lot. It would be nice if the team toned it down a little with the bunting, but, hey, they have the best record in the NL so I won't complain too much.
With the series In Toronto we are playing AL rules, which game do you prefer the AL or NL?
You know, as far as impartiality goes, Brewers and Astros fans are probably the best candidates to answer this question given the fact they are the only two franchises to switch leagues. That being said, I'm young enough that I hardly remember Milwaukee's AL days and prefer the NL no-DH rules myself. I think one of the great joys in life is watching a pitcher hit for himself and it seems that several starters would tell you they relish the opportunity to step up to the plate.
I get why some people think the DH makes games more exciting to watch because it creates more runs and prevents an empty spot in the lineup. But it's just way too much fun to see a pitcher swing like it's the first time he's picked up a bat. Or when they actually catch a break and pick up a hit. Or hit the only home run of their career when they are nearly 40.
Who is your favorite Brewer to watch?
Oh, that's an easy one. Watching Carlos Gomez is an absolute treat. I'll put him up there as one of the most exciting players in baseball just because of all the different things he'll do over the course of a game. Home runs, stolen bases, baserunning gaffes, enormous cuts that spin him around at the plate, the best center field defense in the league...you never know what he'll do next. One inning he'll fall down rounding third base too hard and get thrown out easily. Then the next he'll rob someone of a home run and follow that up with a homer of his own. He's certainly one of the more passionate players in the game, too, and can get a little, shall we say, 'reactionary' at times. That may rub some people the wrong way, but at least it shows he cares.