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Old 11-17-2019, 08:11 PM   #741
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Schaeffer MGL Player of the Week

For the second time in the 1975 season Denver right fielder Josh Schaeffer is named MGL Player of the Week.
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In the absence of super star outfielders Ryan Rodgers and Joe McPhillips, and now the loss of veteran super-utility infielder Oscar Vargas, Schaeffer has played a key role in trying to keep the Brewers from falling back too far from the leaders until the return of their very talented teammates from the IL.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:23 PM   #742
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Week 5- May 11-17, 1975

Brewers record: 6-1 (week), 20-11, 1st place (season).

May 11-12, versus L.A.: 6-1, 5-4.

With the bullpen in a shambles one of the things keeping the Brewers afloat is a rejuvenated starting rotation which is giving them not only great quality starts, but working deep into games. In the middle game of the 3 game series in Denver versus the Spinners, Sadahige Kawasaki gave the Brewers another complete game performance, allowing just 1 run (unearned) on 3 hits to improve to 3-2, 2.72. Josh Schaeffer (.406/.493/.734) continues to lead the offense and went 2 for 4 and drove in his 20th run of the season, mostly hitting in the leadoff slot. 22-year old Jorge Gonzalez, getting his first taste of the big leagues, is also starting to contribute and went 2 for 4 with his first WPK RBI in this one.
Steve Green (3-1, 3.57) continued the starting pitching excellence by working 8 innings, giving up 3 runs on just 5 hits, striking out 6 and walking 2. He was denied the win as the Brewers scored twice in the bottom of the 9th to overcome a 4-3 deficit. Backup catcher Kirk Patnode (.375/.412/.375) went 3 for 3 and scored a run in the victory. (After both Zacarias Martell and Patnode looking horrible at the plate in the Spring Training exhibition games, they are off to a great start in the 1975 season and this has been an area of real strength for the team.) Jorge Gonzalez went 3 for 4 in the game and is now getting the lion's share of the starts in center field with both McPhillips and Rodgers on the IL. And not only is the kid hitting great but he has provided terrific defense and base running as well. There are enduring questions about Gonzalez apparent selfish and lackadaisical attitude, but his performance on the field thus far has certainly raised some eyebrows in the Brewers front office.

May 13-15, versus Oklahoma City: 3-1, 13-10, 4-0.

The much maligned Brewer bullpen certainly came through big in the opening game against the Diamond Kings when starter Matt Helm had to leave with a strained oblique muscle in the 5th inning. (Helm joins McPhillips, Rodgers, and Vargas on the IL while Hector Hard is currently rehabbing in Chester.) Four Brewer relievers combined (with Jordan Stephens working 2 2/3rds innings) to keep the Diamond Kings scoreless the rest of the way and earn the victory. Bobby Erbakan (.281/.320/.438- much worse since this game), off to a very poor start, does go 2 for 4 and hit his 4th HR of the season in the win. John Flores, whose contributions have been vital, went 2 for 4, hitting his 4th double.
In game 2, Cheol-han Lee (5-1, 4.46) was not sharp, giving up 7 runs on 12 hits in his 6 innings pitched. The bullpen returned to their normal horrible again too, but the bats were booming and the Brewers claimed a win in spite of the poor pitching. Jeremy Walker (2 saves, 3.18 ERA) did give them an inning and two thirds of solid work to finish things off and earn the save. Joe Willemse (.350/.381/.550) who came up AAA Chester when Oscar Vargas went on the IL, was 3 for 5 in this one, hitting his 2nd triple and driving in 3 runs.
And in game 3, Erik Sloan gave the bullpen a rest when he tossed a complete game, 4-hit shutout, striking out 7 batters while walking none. Sloan improves to 2-1, 2.95. Zach Cook (.250/.280/.292), who is an excellent defensive outfielder and great base runner, came through big at the plate in this one, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and 1 RBI. John Flores (.400/.426/.840) continued his assault on MGL pitching as he went 2 for 3 hitting his 5th double and 5th HR of the season. (This man needs more playing time, but with so many talented outfielders competing for time, even with Rodgers and McPhillips out, it's a trick.)
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May 16-17, at San Francisco: 5-9, 4-3.

Harry Lyerly (2-1, 3.09) was solid for 6 innings, striking out 8 batters while giving up 2 runs on just 4 hits (although he did walk 5) and after the Brewers scored 2 runs in the top of the 7th he exited with a 4-2 lead. And the bullpen promptly blew it for him, allowing 5 runs in the bottom of the frame. But once again, John Flores was a star, going 2 for 5, hitting his 6th double and 2nd triple and driving in a pair of runs. The Brewers had a scare in this one when Josh Schaeffer had to leave the game after pulling up lame while running the bases but it turned out to be a minor groin pull that only kept him out of action for one additional day. He hit his 5th double in the game.
It took 13 innings but the Brewers bounced back in game 2, getting a strong start from Sekien Hamasaki, in his first start for the team in 1975. He lasted 5 2/3rds, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits. The bullpen once again gave some signs of bouncing back collectively from their horrible start to the season and Jordan Stephens (2-0, 5.52), who earned the win, was impressive in working 3 full innings, allowing no runs or hits and walking just 1 while striking out 4. Joe Willemse had just 1 hit in 7 at-bats but it was a big one: the 13th inning single that drove in what proved to be the winning run. Rodrigo "RodRod" Rodriguez (.311/.362/.392) went 4 for 6 in the game and stole his 3rd base of the season.

Notes from around the league: The Columbus Whalers stay hot and now have a 25-7 record and lead the SJL over the Boston Berserkers (19-13) by 6 games. I realize I haven't mentioned the expansion clubs and I plan to talk a bit more about them soon. But just a quick update- the Chicago Fire had not gotten off to a terrible start, sitting in the middle of the pack until recently, but they have now lost 7 straight to drop into 11th place with a 12-19 record. The only team below them? The other expansion club, the Houston Cavaliers, who are 8-23.
Obviously, the Brewers took over 1st place in the MGL for the first time this week and currently have a 1/2 game lead over the Brooklyn Aces (20-12.) The Detroit Falcons are 3rd at 19-12 with the Baltimore Lords right behind them at 19-13. The L.A. Spinners are struggling and have dropped to 17-15, 3 1/2 games off the pace.
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Old 11-19-2019, 12:29 AM   #743
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Mid-May Brewers analysis/overview

So 31 games into the season it is a bit amazing that the Brewers have claimed 1st place in the MGL for the time being.
Amazing partly because of the key players who they have been without for awhile, reigning MGL MVP Joe McPhillips, reigning MGL batting champ Ryan Rodgers, team captain Matt Helm, coming off his finest season as a starting pitcher and off to another good start this year, and super-utility player Oscar Vargas, the defensive whiz who is the glue who holds our infield together.
Amazing also because of just how catastrophically bad the bullpen has been. Admittedly, they have shown a few signs of recovery of late and are now only 8th in the league in ERA (5.97) rather than dead last.
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But what is also amazing is that the Brewers are first in the league in runs scored and batting average, 2nd in OPS, batting WAR, and wOBA, and 4th in HR's. Now granted, these are all categories that one would expect the Brewers to lead or be the near the top in. But in addition to missing two of the finest hitters- McPhillips and Rodgers- there are also these numbers to look at, the numbers of four key starters who are all former All-Stars:
Bobby Erbakan- 117 PA, .259/.299/.398, 0.3 WAR
Mike Foster- 60 PA, .255/.317/.291, 0.1 WAR
Jonathan Koch- 106 PA, 238/.274/.277, -0.0 WAR
Chad Brown- 108 PA, 223/.259/.262, -0.3 WAR

So how is it that the Brewers have scored 175 runs, tied with Columbus for the best in the WPK, and have a .291 batting average (2nd to the SJL's Boston Berserkers, who are .294)?

Well, this certainly seems to have something to do with team depth.
Look at these numbers from less heralded Brewers, several of whom aren't even normally starters and one of whom is a 22-year old just forced into an early promotion due to injuries:

Andrew Kennedy- 101 PA, .412/.436/.485/, 1.1 WAR
Josh Schaeffer- 88 PA, 373/.466/.667, 1.5 WAR
John Flores- 60 PA, .400/.433/.855, 1.2 WAR
Rodrigo Rodriguez- 80 PA, .311/.362/.392, 0.6 WAR
Zacarias Martell- 80 PA, 329/.405/.486, 0.6 WAR
Kirk Patnode- 46 PA, .381/.422/.405, 0.4 WAR
Jorge Gonzalez- 48 PA, .318/.362/.318, 0.4 WAR

A single All-Star on that list (Martell), one very underrated pure hitter (Kennedy, who is 6th on the WPK career BA list with .319), a right fielder with a reputation for laziness who was picked in the same draft as Joe McPhillips and has been in his shadow ever since (Schaeffer) but who has a career WPK slash line of .306/.412/.450 in a little over 900 career PA's, a fifth outfielder who just keeps raking every time he is given a chance to play for the Brewers (Flores), who has hit 15 doubles, 11 triples, and 15 HR's in his 403 big league PA's, and two catchers known mostly for their defensive prowess and leadership abilities.
But, other than the starting rotation, which has been very good for the past month or so, these guys are the reason the Denver Brewers are holding onto a narrow lead in the MGL.

Surely some of them are bound to hit a slump and the starting rotation will have its off games. But also surely the bullpen, which was among the best last season, can't stay this bad much longer. (I have to wonder if I had too many pitchers in camp and these guys didn't get enough rust knocked off.) And Bobby Erbakan has to come alive soon, right? Plus you would have to expect that between Koch, Foster, and Brown, at least one of them will get hot soon. (My guess would be Koch.)
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And Rodgers and McPhillips will be back soon.

Still, guys like Schaeffer and Gonzalez, in spite of their supposed personality defects, have bought themselves a lot of good will in the Denver front office. And RodRod is earning more and more playing time at third base in the place of Mike Foster, whose future with the club may be in peril. And we gotta find a way to get Flores more AB's. The man has earned it! And Andrew Kennedy, well, he just quietly and consistently goes about doing his job, which is basically that of professional hitter, and we love him for it.


(Oh, and one other thing: look at the Chester Big Stick. We keep stealing away some of their best players this season (Gonzalez, Zach Cook, Sekien Hamasaki) and they're still having a great season, though they have recently fallen into second place.)
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Old 11-19-2019, 03:03 AM   #744
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Success in Spite of Adversity

Bird,

I believe that there are a couple of intangibles that have had a bit to do with the Brewers success so far this season. Leadership and Work Ethic. The sheer amount of leadership that the team portrays is incredible. As a team Denver's work ethic is second to none in the WPK. The leadership has been the glue that have held things together through the adversity so far. The work ethic has allowed them to show up each day and put in the work necessary to be prepared to play the games to the best of their abilities.

You had refered to Jorge Gonzalez by "There are enduring questions about Gonzalez apparent selfish and lackadaisical attitude, but his performance on the field thus far has certainly raised some eyebrows in the Brewers front office". His success and change of profile (most likely temporary to some degree) is due to team leadership, team work ethic, winning, individual success, possibly team chemistry and of course morale.

You questioned about who would come alive or get hot soon among Erbakan, Koch, Foster and Brown. Can you give updates on these guys? Have they lost anything? Been downgraded? Could you list their stats including relevant expanded stats please? It would be interesting to see more in depth how their season is going.

It is early yet but it appears that you may face some stiff competition this year from early contenders Brooklyn, Detroit, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Who know as the season moves along which teams will move up and drop off. Either way Denver getting back their star hitters Ryan Rodgers and Joe McPhillips as well as Captain Matt Helm back in the action and IF sub Oscar Vargas back on the bench where he belongs the sooner the better to keep this competitive attitude and winning feeling going and keep the pressure going against those competitors you face.

Riding those young guys until they slow down is going to be tough once the boys get back off the IL. Finding room for them to play will be tough. Platooning them may be a good idea. I am not sure what they all bat. The worst thing to do with the young guys is to sit them on the bench. They would be better off going back to AAA and getting regular at bats (then of course bring them back up as needed) than just pinch hitting 2-3 times a week and starting 1-2 times a week every 3 days. Of course you will have to see what works best. It all has a way of working itself out.

Have a Great night!

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Old 11-19-2019, 11:45 AM   #745
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palaaemon View Post
Bird,

I believe that there are a couple of intangibles that have had a bit to do with the Brewers success so far this season. Leadership and Work Ethic. The sheer amount of leadership that the team portrays is incredible. As a team Denver's work ethic is second to none in the WPK. The leadership has been the glue that have held things together through the adversity so far. The work ethic has allowed them to show up each day and put in the work necessary to be prepared to play the games to the best of their abilities.

You had refered to Jorge Gonzalez by "There are enduring questions about Gonzalez apparent selfish and lackadaisical attitude, but his performance on the field thus far has certainly raised some eyebrows in the Brewers front office". His success and change of profile (most likely temporary to some degree) is due to team leadership, team work ethic, winning, individual success, possibly team chemistry and of course morale.

You questioned about who would come alive or get hot soon among Erbakan, Koch, Foster and Brown. Can you give updates on these guys? Have they lost anything? Been downgraded? Could you list their stats including relevant expanded stats please? It would be interesting to see more in depth how their season is going.

It is early yet but it appears that you may face some stiff competition this year from early contenders Brooklyn, Detroit, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Who know as the season moves along which teams will move up and drop off. Either way Denver getting back their star hitters Ryan Rodgers and Joe McPhillips as well as Captain Matt Helm back in the action and IF sub Oscar Vargas back on the bench where he belongs the sooner the better to keep this competitive attitude and winning feeling going and keep the pressure going against those competitors you face.

Riding those young guys until they slow down is going to be tough once the boys get back off the IL. Finding room for them to play will be tough. Platooning them may be a good idea. I am not sure what they all bat. The worst thing to do with the young guys is to sit them on the bench. They would be better off going back to AAA and getting regular at bats (then of course bring them back up as needed) than just pinch hitting 2-3 times a week and starting 1-2 times a week every 3 days. Of course you will have to see what works best. It all has a way of working itself out.

Have a Great night!

Palaaemon

Yes, you make some excellent points.
Even with the temporary loss of our captain, there are quite a few strong leaders on this club. The young outfielder Zach Cook (IIRC) helps fill some of that vacuum. Kirk Patnode has emerged as perhaps the strongest leader this side of Helm. We are also missing our usual sparkplug in Joe McPhillips but starting pitcher Sekien Hamasaki also profiles as a spark.

Gonzalez is an interesting case. Unlike Josh Schaeffer, who profiles merely as being not a great worker or very adaptable, Gonzalez is considered downright selfish as a teammate. But his raw skills are near elite in some respects. He is already one of the better contact hitters on the team (by ratings, and to a certain extent, even by stats thus far), has very good speed and fine range in the outfield. While he has only an average arm (he has been playing center field mostly in the absence of both McPhillips and Rodgers but is expected to be a left fielder in the future) he rarely makes mistakes in the field. Given how much several of our right-handed batters are struggling, his right-handed bat is very helpful at the moment.
Zach Cook will surely return to AAA as soon as someone returns from the IL. He's a fine little outfielder with good speed but doesn't have big league bat skills. (Though he's had a few key hits for us and is a good guy to have in the clubhouse.)
Gonzalez is very young still and only has a partial season at AAA under his belt (but I will say he has performed better and better as he's moved up the ladder) and he would be the next to head back to Chester. But surely will be back some time this season, in September if not before.

Brooklyn does look like a formidable foe. They have some of the best pitchers in the league and a solid lineup. Detroit I suspect will cool off soon but might be able to stay in the hunt until pretty late in the season. Baltimore is a wild card. They have decent talent but is it enough to stay in the race? I suspect they finish 3rd or 4th this season. And L.A. is a conundrum. They have the best starting pitching in the game (though Brooklyn has the best top of the rotation) and some great superstars in Travis Johnson and Jesus Hernandez. But their lineup has some real weaknesses and they are getting old. I don't think they can seriously contend this year.

The real question in terms of players coming back from injury is Hector Hard. He was a valuable pick-up last season as a talented left-handed starter but he doesn't really have the stamina to work deep into games and with the bullpen having such issues we really need starters who can get us quality innings. I suspect he will join the bullpen when he returns from his rehab stint in AAA soon. But with the signing of Kawasaki and the emergence of Hamasaki as a potential back-end of the rotation guy (along with decent performance from Lyerly so far this year) it feels like Hard is the odd man out and we might need to move him.

Oh, and I almost forgot about your question regarding the scouting reports on Erbakan, Koch, Foster, and Brown.
For the most part no big downgrades other than the perception that Brown's defensive range has diminished, which is pretty huge given the importance of shortstop defensively. If he doesn't hit and doesn't get on base (his speed is down, but he is still a great base stealer) then his value is minimal. And obviously, at the moment he is below replacement player level.
There is no apparent reason Erbakan should be struggling. Just a slow start and I trust he will get hot soon.
Foster exceeded his perceived skills last season so his numbers aren't a huge surprise. RodRod is a much better hitter, has better range at third, but is more error prone. But at this point he is earning the playing time. And though RodRod is a left-handed hitter, like Andrew Kennedy he doesn't lose a lot when facing left-handed pitchers.
Koch is under-achieving his ratings. He may have over-achieved a bit in the past, admittedly. But a happy medium is to be expected by the end of the season.
(Edit: Not in front of game right now but will try to give some more complete stats for these four later.)

(I have had some other thoughts about the possibility of moving Erbakan to second base for a few seasons until his range starts to diminish, but that is a discussion for another time. )
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Old 11-21-2019, 12:41 AM   #746
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Complications in McPhillips recovery

It turns out the Brewers will have to wait a bit longer than expected to get MVP Joe McPhillips back from the IL.
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If there is a silver lining to this cloud it is that rookie Jorge Gonzalez has gone from doing pretty well to be fully on fire at the plate this past week and this means he will have a bit more time to show what he can do at the WPK level.
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The Brewers do expect Ryan Rodgers to return in just a few days and that will necessitate sending Zach Cook back to AAA Chester. Matt Helm is expected to return at about the same time as Rodgers and therefore Sekien Hamasaki will likely also be returning to Chester for the time being.

The rumor in the Brewers front office is that McPhillips almost surely will be given at least a brief rehab stint at Chester when he is healthy again just to get back up to speed before rejoining the club.

Meanwhile, Hector Hard has a maximum of 8 days left in his rehab stint and the team will need to decide soon who to send down to fit Hard back onto the 25-man roster. The reality is that other than Hamasaki the only pitcher on the roster who has any minor league options left is Ben Flynn, so he will probably need to head to Chester for at least the short term. (There is much speculation that the Brewers may be looking for a trade to send Hard and possibly one or two other players elsewhere before long.)
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Old 11-21-2019, 01:12 AM   #747
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Week 6- May 18-24, 1975

Brewers record: 4-2 (week), 24-13, 1st place (season).

May 18, at San Francisco: 3-0.
Sadahige Kawasaki hurls a complete game 6-hit shutout against the Velocity in the final game of that 3 game series. Kawasaki improves to 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA. Jonathan Koch (.248/.288/.314) comes alive in this one as he goes 2 for 4 with 3 RBI and hits his 1st HR of 1975.
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May 19-21, versus Portland: 4-2, 6-7, 7-2.

Another fine start from Steve Green to start a 3-game series at home against the Wild Things. Green (4-1, 3.40) gives up 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings. Josh Schaeffer (.354/.459/.659) hits another first inning lead off homer in this one, his 6th long ball of the season.
Then in the second game, Cheol-han Lee had another rough start and is currently, and shockingly, the weak link in the Brewers rotation. (His FIP is pretty good and his BABIP against is quite high and it certainly appears this is mostly a matter of some bad luck and things should even out for him soon.) Lee gives up 7 runs on 8 hits over just 5 2/3rds innings pitched and falls to 5-2 with a 5.25 ERA. Zacarias Martell's (.329/.402/.476) fine start continues as he goes 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and hits his 6th double in this one.
The Brewers bounce back in game 3 behind Erik Sloan who hurls another complete game, allowing 2 runs on 9 hits and improves to 3-1, 2.76. Jorge Gonzalez (.349/.388/.365) was 3 for 5 in the game and scored a pair of runs. Andrew Kennedy (.423/.444/.495) was 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and hit his 8th double and John Flores (.406/.435/.828) hit two doubles to get to 8 doubles as well.

May 23-24, at Charlotte: 2-4, 3-0.

Harry Lyerly got a tough break in game 1 of 3 at Charlotte against the Sting. He got the first two outs of the 3rd inning easily and then gave up a single to the hot hitting Amari Williams and followed that by walking Ricky Salinas. But when he then got Bill Burkett to lift a harmless looking fly ball to center field it appeared he had escaped unscathed. Unfortunately, young center fielder Jorge Gonzalez took his eye of the ball momentarily and then saw it clank off the end of his glove for a run-scoring error. Perhaps a bit rattled, Lyerly threw a ball to shortstop Mike Potter and then served him a fat one on the 1-0 pitch which Potter slammed into the right field stands for a 3-run HR. And that was the extent of the damage against Harry but ended up being enough to saddle him with a loss. Having allowed no earned runs, his record drops to 2-2 but his ERA also drops to 2.57. Another first inning lead-off HR for Josh Schaeffer, his team-leading 7th HR.

And then, in the final game of the week, Sadahige Kawasaki basically repeats what he did in the first game of the week. This time though he only gives up 2 hits (and 1 walk) in his complete game 3-0 shutout. Kawasaki is now 5-2 with a 1.87 ERA. Bobby Erbakan (.283/.336/.441) hits his 5th HR of the season and Rodrigo "RodRod" Rodriguez (.312/.379/.409) hit his 1st.
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(Apparently when Sadahige doesn't feel "quite right" the opposition better beware.)
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:32 PM   #748
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Random Brewer Musings (May 1975 edition)

So after another tough loss in which the Brewers had a very good chance of victory (and a late lead) if not for; a) horrible bullpen performance, again, b) Bobby Erbakan continuing to fail to do anything productive with multiple plate appearances with runners on base, and c) a costly error by second baseman Jonathan Koch, who had just been brought into the game when Joe Willemse moved over to shortstop, Chad Brown having been lifted for a pinch-hitter the previous half-inning- rumor has it that the Brewer front office is considering options even while the team is hanging at or near the top of the MGL (currently 1/2 game behind Brooklyn.)

First, the bullpen. What to do about this? On paper, this isn't a bad bullpen at all, or shouldn't be, anyway. It does lack one un-hittable dominant stopper, but it is deep and talented. Jaden Francis and Jordan Stephens have shown signs of getting back to their usual level of quality but remain inconsistent. Liann-wei Hua, who has quietly had a really fine career, continues to sport an ERA over 8 (IIRC). Youngsters Ben Flynn and Eric Marino still profile, in the eyes of the Brewers scouting staff, as potentially dominant stoppers in the future and as quality arms in the present. But they, like fellow young reliever Jeremy Walker, struggle with wildness.
One of the predominant theories in the Denver front office is that the bullpen as a whole just needs more innings to get into their usual rhythm. But with the team battling to stay in contention and the starting rotation currently pitching great, and deep into games, the manager is understandably reluctant to turn games over to the 'pen often. And hence the conundrum- if lack of work has rendered the bullpen ineffective, how much do you risk losing games just to get them the work they need to get out of their collective funk?

One idea would be to move some relievers down to AAA to get more work, perhaps bringing up a few of the better AAA arms (Mike Lizarraga, Antonio Nieves, Brian Murray) to see if they might have better success. But here's the catch- only one member of the current Brewer bullpen has any minor league options left (Flynn.)
Flynn will likely be heading down to AAA soon, for a little while at least, with veteran lefty Hector Hard returning to the team, but working out of the 'pen rather than being re-inserted into the rotation.
But beyond that, does the team need to explore trades that might mean giving up on one or more of their current 'pen arms and getting an established closer/stopper or do we just let it ride awhile, try to get these guys more innings to right themselves, knowing that it might lead to a drop in the standings?

And what of Erbakan? Well, okay, this one really isn't a big question. It's frustrating to watch his offensive struggles right now but he's not going anywhere and he's bound to snap out of it eventually. In the meantime, he might get a few more breathers with Andrew Kennedy playing first and John Flores and/or Jorge Gonzalez getting more starts in left field.

And Koch? This is where we get back to trade possibilities. Jonathan Koch has been a valuable member of the team for the past 2-3 years. He is a solid defensive second baseman. And he has a plus hit tool with a bit of pop in his bat. But his offensive contributions have always been diminished a bit by his lack of patience at the plate and his relative lack of speed. And while he's not a bad clubhouse influence, he's not particularly valuable in that area either. He's fairly blah.
The simple reality is that the Brewers have a great number of players who could man second base with at least equal skill as Koch does. David Bennett, Joe Willemse, Oscar Vargas, to name a few, with at least 2 others at AAA Chester in the mix as well. And while none of them is likely to ever hit for power the way Koch has, several of them have a range of offensive skills that could make them at least close to his equal in that respect.

Then there are the crazy ideas that get batted around during late night spit-balling sessions in the front office or at the local drinking establishment. It had been floated in the past that Bobby Erbakan's great defensive skills might be a bit wasted at first base. He doesn't have any experience at second base and there would be a learning curve, but given time he might be at least as good as Koch there and with much better overall value. Erbakan is still relatively young and this could be a viable option for at least a few seasons before he slows down enough to necessitate a move back to first. In the meantime, Andrew Kennedy would be a solid option at first and with the logjam in the outfield this would free up space for Flores/Gonzalez, etc.
But then someone else speaks up and says, but what about Chad? Chad Brown was once a fine defensive shortstop, with very good range. Sure, he commits too many errors. But his overall offensive and defensive contributions were enough to make him a valuable member of the Brewers the last decade. But signs are his range is diminishing and with his bat also struggling a change might be needed. Would a move to second base help? It might.

Ultimately, it comes down to this:
1) Players most likely to be traded before the trading deadline- Mike Foster (Rodrigo Rodriguez has already largely supplanted him at third base), Jonathan Koch, Hector Hard,.
2) Players who could be in danger of being traded but probably shouldn't panic yet- Chad Brown, Liann-wei Hua (free agent at end of season and nearly 30), Matt Helm (would we really get rid of the Captain? probably not, but also free agent at end of the season and very injury prone), Oscar Vargas (this would hurt me, but getting older, a free agent at the end of the season, and while still a premium defensive infielder showing signs of losing a step on the base paths- diminished defense range to follow soon?).
3) Players who were once thought possible trade bait but now have likely cemented their place on the team (or in the organization) for at least this season and likely the next as well- Jorge Gonzalez, John Flores, Josh Schaeffer, Sekien Hamasaki, Harry Lyerly (?).

One last thought, regarding Joe McPhillips. There is some concern in the Brewers organization that the young superstar, with his flat-out style of playing, might be doomed to battling injuries on a regular basis. With Ryan Rodgers just getting too darn old to regularly play center field anymore, this fear just elevates Jorge Gonzalez' importance and decreases any chances the organization's top prospect will be traded away. While Gonzalez is probably best suited to left field, he can be a pretty capable center fielder as well and is really the only good option the Brewers have if McPhillips misses large chunks of playing time, as it seems he might. When Joe is healthy he is the no doubt starter at center field and arguably the most important player on the team. But will he stay healthy? Increasingly it appears that Gonzalez might be a much needed insurance policy in case Joe can't stay healthy. (I should probably note that recent reports from the scouting staff indicate that Jorge's outfield arm strength may be a bit better than earlier thought- at least a bit above average.)
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Old 11-22-2019, 12:53 AM   #749
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Foster to Boston for closer Tim Shore

On the heels of another loss, one in which the Brewers led at home by a score of 7-2 going into the 7th inning and 8-4 going into the 9th only to see the bullpen give up 8 runs in the top of the 9th and hand the visiting Lords a 12-10 win (the Brewers did fight back for 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th), management had seen enough.
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It was time to shore up the 'pen. And with Rodrigo Rodriguez having pretty fully taken over the third base job from Mike Foster, the popular former third base starter was sent to the Boston Berserkers for 1974 SJL Reliever of the Year Tim Shore. (The literal "Shore-ing" up of the bullpen was not intentional.) The Brewers threw in veteran reliever Morgan Milhorn, signed to a minor league contract in the off-season and Boston sent us 23-year old catcher, Chris Moon.
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While it was hard to see Foster go, the hope is that Shore, along with Hector Hard, just returned from his rehab stint, can help get the bullpen back in order. Ben Flynn heads down to AAA for some seasoning. At the same time, Matt Helm was ready to return from the IL and to make room for him Sekien Hamasaki also is sent back to Chester. And Ryan Rodgers rejoins the club while young outfielder Zach Cook rejoins his Chester Big Stick teammates, who themselves are also battling for first place in their division.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:11 PM   #750
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Week 7- May 25-31, 1975

Brewers Record: 4-3 (week), 28-16, 1st place, MGL (season).

May 25, at Charlotte: 2-3.
The Brewers drop the final game of three against Charlotte to lose the series. Cheol-han Lee had a solid start- giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits in 7 innings- but didn't get run support and once again was victimized by the bullpen. Jaden Francis gave up a run on 2 hits in the 9th to get his 2nd blown save and drop to 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA. Rodrigo Rodriguez was 3 for 4 in the loss.

May 26-28, versus Baltimore: 11-6, 10-12, 6-0.

The Brewers come home to end the month and start with 3 games against the Baltimore Lords.
In game 1 the bats come alive, led by Joe Willemse (.309/.321/.455), who went 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored and hit his 4th triple of the season and Jorge Gonzalez (.354/.381/.367), who was 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. One of the weaker starts of the year for Steve Green, who allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 9 hits in just 4 1/3rd innings pitched, but Sekien Hamasaki and three other pitchers out of the bullpen fared well in this one, with Hamasaki getting the win to improve to 1-0, 3.68.
But in game 2 the bullpen collapsed again and the Brewers coughed up an 8-4 lead by allowing 8 runs in the 9th inning. Erik Sloan worked the first 6 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits. John Flores (.413/.438/.840) was 3 for 5 with 2 runs and 5 RBI, hit his 10th double and 6th HR. (We will have to look a bit more at the crazy numbers Flores has put up in the last season and a half, but suffice it say right now that he is on pace for a 5.7 WAR in just 302 plate appearances.) RodRod (.349/.402/.453) stays hot and went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles to get to 6 on the season. Young reliever Ben Flynn didn't pitch well in this one- giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 innings- but he did give a hint of his prodigious power hitting potential, hitting his 1st HR of the season.
In the third game, Matt Helm hurls a gem in his first game back from the IL, as he lasted 7 innings without allowing a run and giving up just 2 hits. Jordan Stephens and Liann-wei Hua pitched the final 2 innings, also allowing no runs in the 6-0 Brewer shutout. (Helm improved to 3-1, 2.23.) Zacarias Martell (.333/.407/.479) is starting to look like a better hitter than was ever predicted, and he went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI in this one.

May 29-31, versus Phoenix: 1-5, 9-1, 5-3.

The Brewers finish the month with 3 against the Speed Devils in Denver. They drop the first game as former Brewer farmhand Steve LaCoste was tremendous over 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 8 hits, and he improves to 4-2 with a 2.53 ERA. Sadahige Kawasaki takes the loss, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits in his 7 2/3rds innings pitched and falls to 5-3, 2.34. But hey, don't blame Zacarias Martell. The young catcher only went 2 for 3, hitting his 9th double and 3rd HR.
Game 2 saw another strong start from ace Cheol-han Lee and this time he got the run support he needed for a win. Lee lasted 8 innings, giving up 1 run on 9 hits, and improves to 6-2 with a 4.26 ERA. Andrew Kennedy (.421/.441/.476) is quietly in the midst of the longest hitting streak of the season as his 4 for 5 game gets him to 23 straight games with at least 1 hit. He also picked up his 1st stolen base of the season in this win. Bobby Erbakan (.297/.346/.466), climbing back into more normal statistical territory for him, went 2 for 4 with 3 runs scored and stole 2 bases to get to 8 on the season.
RodRod (.350/.400/.488) once again leads the way offensively as he goes 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored, 3 RBI, and hits his 9th double and 2nd HR as the Brewers win the last game of the month and take the series against Phoenix. Steve Green bounces back with a strong start, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits in 7 innings pitched and improves to 5-1, 3.86. Tim Shore, having been acquired in trade earlier in the week, gets his first appearance with his new club, and earns his 1st save as a Brewer with a flawless 9th inning. Andrew Kennedy gets 2 hits to extend his hitting streak to 24 games straight. And Zac Martell (.358/.425/.528) stays hot, going 3 for 4 with an RBI.

Notes from around the league: The Columbus Whalers continue their great start and are now 34-11 at the top of the SJL standings. The Boston Berserkers are currently hot, having won 9 of their last 10 games, and are 29-16, 5 games behind Columbus in second place. In the SJL, veteran outfielder Alex Reyes, who up until this season played his entire career in Portland, is having a great start with his new team, Jacksonville, as he leads the WPK in HR's with 15 and is on pace for a single season WPK record of 55 bombs. (Having said that, Reyes is considered very injury prone - Wrecked- so it will be interesting to see if he can stay healthy enough to have a chance to keep that up all season.)
The Brewers are now leading the Brooklyn Aces by 1 1/2 games and the Detroit Falcons by 2.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:18 PM   #751
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May 1975 Batter's of the Month

A pair of 32-year old veteran sluggers won Batter of the Month honors for the month of May.

In the SJL it was Columbus' center fielder Brad Tesh. Tesh is a life-long Whaler who has won a league MVP award and is a 6-time All-Star and even at his advanced age is the spark of the Whalers offense.
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Phoenix' slugging right fielder Ju-ao Ju, who has been a Speed Devil since coming to the WPK in 1967 as a free agent out of Taiwan, does not have the same work ethic reputation that Tesh does, but he remains a tremendous hitter with great power and is also known for his strong throwing arm in right. He is also a 6-time All-Star.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:26 PM   #752
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In the third game, Matt Helm hurls a gem in his first game back from the IL, as he lasted 7 innings without allowing a run and giving up just 2 hits.

Coincidentally, I finished the Shadowers last night, which, as you probably know is a Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton. Id not made the unintended, given that youre style is much more hands off than mine (Im a constant & compulsive OOTP universe tinkerer, Im afraid), connection until just now. Suddenly, Im a staunch supporter of your version... my attempts at locating his jersey on Amazon have, so far, bared no fruit.

Good stuff, as always, Bird! Id thought you were out with a cold or something as I didnt get my Brewers fix yesterday. Im glad that it seems to be a construct of my impatience instead of your reality.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:28 PM   #753
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May 1975 Pitcher's of the Month

Herschel Bates of the Philadelphia Mud Hens got off to a great start in the 1974 season and then was felled in mid-July by an arthritic elbow that kept him out the rest of the season. And he is off to another great start in 1975. The Mud Hens are holding their breath that the very talented, but often injured, left-hander can stay healthy the entire 1975 season. Only time will tell. But it is easy to imagine that if Bates could get an entire season completed, he could be a strong contender for Pitcher of the Year. For now he will have to settle for SJL Pitcher of the Month honors for May.
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Mike Hiatt is the only pitcher yet in the WPK to have 2 career No-Hitters are on his resume. And one of them was a Perfect Game. Hiatt does sometimes struggle with poor control and this has perhaps kept him from being talked about in any discussion regarding who the best pitcher in the league is, but we all know that when he is on he is certainly one of the best. He was on this past month to earn MGL Pitcher of the Month honors.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:41 PM   #754
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May 1975 Rookie's of the Month

Dave Robles was still a raw kid when the Washington Night Train scouting staff discovered him on the sandlots of the Dominican Republic but at age 22 it is starting to look like Robles could be blossoming into one of the best arms in the game. He is one of the harder throwers in the league, good at inducing ground balls, and should be able to keep the ball in the yard more times than not. He has a reputation as a good teammate, should be able to pitch pretty deep into games, and has a strong 3-pitch repertoire. He could still battle poor control at times, but he's off to a good start and the sky is the limit. His performance this past month puts him into the discussion for SJL Rookie of the Year and earned him Rookie of the Month honors for May.
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The Denver Brewers have never had a Rookie of the Year. But it looks like they should have a few very strong candidates this year in Sadahige Kawasaki and May's MGL Rookie of the Month, Rodrigo "RodRod" Rodriguez. RodRod has been on fire at the plate and has taken over as the Brewers starting third baseman, leading to the trade of Mike Foster to Boston for closer Tim Shore. And according to the latest reports from the Brewers scouting staff, RodRod is expected to continue to be a strong investment and one of the better third sackers in the league for the foreseeable future.
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:43 PM   #755
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauwoo View Post
In the third game, Matt Helm hurls a gem in his first game back from the IL, as he lasted 7 innings without allowing a run and giving up just 2 hits.

Coincidentally, I finished the Shadowers last night, which, as you probably know is a Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton. Id not made the unintended, given that youre style is much more hands off than mine (Im a constant & compulsive OOTP universe tinkerer, Im afraid), connection until just now. Suddenly, Im a staunch supporter of your version... my attempts at locating his jersey on Amazon have, so far, bared no fruit.

Good stuff, as always, Bird! Id thought you were out with a cold or something as I didnt get my Brewers fix yesterday. Im glad that it seems to be a construct of my impatience instead of your reality.
I will confess that I am not familiar with the work of Donald Hamilton. (Interesting though I see he was born in Uppsala, Sweden. I'm not a real aficionado of spy fiction but I am a fan of Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell. That's neither here nor there as Hamilton grew up in America but the Swedish connection is a bit interesting to me.) So I wasn't aware of the significance of Helm's name.
So I'm guessing that you would encourage me to extend Helm, who is a free agent at the end of the season? (I likely will, in spite of his fragile injury proneness. He is our team captain and has pitched very well the past few seasons.)

Most of the games I reported today were played late last week. I will admit I've been a bit distracted this weekend having found out Friday night that a dear friend of mine of more than 30 years passed away, unexpectedly. The game is a bit of relief from thinking about my friend Lon's death and the fact that I will never see him again, but it's also just a game and a bit hard to focus fully on right now.
So, yeah, you didn't totally misread my reality.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:09 AM   #756
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Im sorry to hear it, Bird. Id like to offer great platitudes of wisdom - but, in reality, at least for me, Ive found no way to navigate grief that would offer any relief. My recent trip to Maine was to look in on a friend that recently lost his younger brother. I hope that you find some solace in the highs, lows, and everything in between that a 30-year friendship has to offer. People, the best of them in my experience, have this amazing ability to live on in the lives of those theyve touched - in small memories that pop into our consciousness and make us laugh and in huge, unconscious ways, that, because of their example, inform the decisions we make.

Im truly sorry for your loss, please accept my heartfelt condolences and sincere hope that those who loved your friend will find some solace in their good, but all too fleeting, fortune to have had an opportunity to know them.
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Old 11-25-2019, 07:16 AM   #757
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Condolences

Bird,

Ah man, I feel for you. Everyone loses someone we care about at some point in our lives, but when it happens to us it can hit like a ton of bricks. I have lost many friends and family but still I cannot say I know what you are going through. How can anyone know what anyone else is feeling? Regardless of that Bird, I certainly do emphasize wiith you and your situation. If you need anything or someone to talk to you know how to get ahold of me. I am here for you brother.

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Old 11-25-2019, 11:31 AM   #758
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Thanks friends.

Thanks pauwoo and Palaaemon.
I spent the weekend thinking a lot about how much I will carry my friend Lon with me through the rest of my life. In fact, I got into a fascinating and magical conversation on Saturday morning with the baker at my local coffee shop and a random fellow customer that was so very my friend Lon that it felt like he was sitting there with us, smiling and nodding along.

And, yes, heading into my mid-50's I have certainly lost other very cherished friends and family. Somehow this one does feel different, but then I guess they all are. But as my mother said yesterday, Lon was a one-of-a-kind guy.
I think that what is most stunning about this is that my friend Lon was just so full of life. He was an adventurer, a philosopher, a student, a teacher, a musician, a dedicated father. He was fun and wild and untamed but also always thoughtful and kind and compassionate. He loved and lived fully.

(Sorry, I wasn't intending to go so far afield from talk of OOTP and the WPK, but now that I've started I do need to finish.)

My buddy Lon spent most of his adult life overseas. He lived in Thailand, Poland, Laos, and most recently in Malaysia. (And I'm sure I'm missing one or two places.) He loved to walk the unbeaten path, both literally and metaphorically. He embraced all people (well, not the ones who took pleasure in hurting others) but most especially the sensitive misfit, or in other words, people like me. He valued creativity, intelligence, deep thought, kindness above all else, and had little regard for the trappings of success. (As his own mother once said to him, you could be such a good looking man if you only tried. She is a wonderful lady, so this was mostly said tongue-in-cheek and not meant as truly critical. But my tall, thin, handsome friend Lon always looked disheveled and like he just threw on the clothes that were nearest at hand, whether they were his or someone else's. And generally, the goofier the look the more it seemed to please and suit him.)

We didn't live in proximity to one another for most of our friendship but I always knew I could count on Lon to come back into my life once every 5 years or so and I knew that we would reconnect once again on the deepest of levels, like no time had passed at all since our last conversation. I was fortunate enough to spend a long weekend with him in Ft. Collins, Colorado in the early Spring of 2018. We hiked and ate and drank and talked and talked and talked and listened to music and hiked and talked some more. I just thought it was another chapter in my long relationship with this wonderful friend of mine. I had no idea it would be the last chapter in this phase of our friendship.

A mutual friend, himself a world traveler and philosopher like Lon, living in South Korea, received a message from Lon's young adult daughter late last week. Lon had been diagnosed with melanoma two weeks ago. He spent the last two weeks of his life in the hospital, surrounded by family (thank goodness) until finally he passed. Two weeks. My vibrant, healthy, full of life friend was gone in two weeks.

Cover up my friends. Slather on that sun screen. Someone is counting on you being in their lives for many more years.

(And thanks for listening.)
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:02 AM   #759
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Whalers extend veteran team captain Leo Gavilla

Leo Gavilla has been a member of the Columbus Whalers for his entire WPK career, having joined the big league club late in the inaugural 1965 season, having spent time earlier in the year at their AA and AAA clubs.
And the hard working and speedy left fielder has emerged as the primary team leader, the team Captain, over the years.
Interestingly though he has entered both of the past two post-seasons as a free agent only to be signed eventually to 1-year contracts with his long-time club.
But a couple of days ago it was announced that there would be no such indecision about Gavilla's future this up-coming off-season as he has been inked to a 4-year extension that will likely keep him in a Whalers uniform for the remainder of his career.
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Gavilla is off to a great start this season and on pace to have his best season since 1969, when he earned his lone All-Star appearance and finished the season with 6.9 WAR and the lead league in both doubles and stolen bases. The big question always with Gavilla, and perhaps even more so now at age 32, is whether he can stay healthy the entire season.
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Old 11-26-2019, 01:45 AM   #760
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Blasphemy upcoming (about OOTP)...apologies ahead of time.

Bird,

First off, never apologize for interrupting OOTP for something else. Especially something like the death of someone you cared about. To hell with the game during a time like this bro. Let it loose. Cry, talk, spend time with family and friends if you can and hug them. The game will be there for you when you are ready for it. We will always be here for you.

It does sound like Lon was a helluva a guy. I think I would have liked to have met him. I wonder if everyone has at least one of those friends that you share such a deep bond with that you might not see each other for years and when you do it's like no time has passed (like you said) and just continue with the friendship like there was no interruption. With you mentioning all of his talents and travels, do you mind me asking what all he did? It sounds almost like he was in the Peace Corp.

Thankfully he was surrounded by family at the end. Nobody should pass on alone. I hope this comes out right. I think that it was better for him and his family that it was two weeks. If it had been very sudden then they may not have been able to say their goodbyes and put affairs in order. On the other hand if the cancer had lingered and had gone on causing him and his family pain for who knows how long...trust me that is horrible (I have been through it).

I do not have a lot of words of wisdom to give you unfortunately, (my wife would tell you I never had any to begin with) but think on this. Lon may have passed earlier than he should have but from the way you talk he did more with his life than most other people and lived life to the fullest the way he wanted to!

Always happy to listen. Anytime.

Palaaemon
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BirdWatcher (11-26-2019)
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