Brewers manager Ned Yost said during an online chat Wednesday that Milwaukee is not just playing to win the Wild Card, but is looking to win the division. He answered fans' questions about Milwaukee's pitching and the impact players in the Brewers' system.
Ned Yost: Hello everyone, thanks for joining me today, let's get started!
Base_Ball_2: Mr. Yost, what is the current goal for the Brewers as they enter September only five and a half games back of the National League Wild Card?
Yost: We are five and a half out in the Wild Card and six and a half out in the division. We are not just limiting our thoughts to winning the Wild Card. The key to all of this is getting hot and winning some ball games, getting back over .500 and taking it from there.
Base_Ball_2: How will you use your six outfielders for the remainder of the season?
Yost: Good question. Right now we are trying to get an extended look at some of the young outfielders -- Corey Hart, Laynce Nix and Gabe Gross. We know what we have in Geoff Jenkins and Brady Clark, and even though Kevin Mench is new to our team, I feel that he is a guy that is going to be an offensive producer. We will just mix and match, game by game.
cjbrewer: How much have the injuries affected the season so far?
Yost: The answer to that is probably quite a bit. We don't like to use it as an excuse, but losing J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks and Corey Koskie in the infield, they were all offensive producers. Losing Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka for six weeks hurt, too, in the aspect that we really struggled to fill those two spots. But, we like the new players we brought in to cover our injuries and we feel like we have a team that can compete.
brewcrew1122: What have you enjoyed most about being a manager?
Yost: I think the relationship with the players and coaches is the most fun for me. Seeing the young kids get better and grow into good Major League ballplayers is something I enjoy very much.
lukevan: Ned, congrats on a great win last night, the team really pulled together and everyone contributed. Could you talk a little about the great progress Jose Capellan has made since his stint on the disabled list? Does he project to be a closer in maybe a year or two?
Yost: Jose has made great progress not only since he has came back from the DL, but from the beginning of the year on. He is a young guy that last year was getting established as a Major League reliever. This year you can really see his confidence on the mound, the way he attacks hitters, and command and quality of his pitches are getting better all the time. I think he is going to play a very key role in our bullpen for years to come.
Base_Ball_2: In your opinion, who is the Brewers' comeback player of the year?
Yost: Jeff Cirillo. I don't know if you could call him comeback player of the year, but you could call him the keep-on-comin' player of the year. He has made a huge impact on the team from the time Doug Melvin signed him. He is versatile defensively and a professional type hitter that can do everything you want a hitter to do -- bunt, hit and run, take pitches. He has the ability to put together quality at-bats time after time.
nosense: Marquette High baseball won state this year and will be honored at Miller Park on Thursday. Did you ever win a state championship in high school?
Yost: No, I did not. When I was growing up, I went to a brand new high school and our teams were not very good at the time. But, my three sons have all played for state championships in Georgia, with my oldest boy, Ned Jr., winning the National High School Baseball Championship in 1999 and my youngest son, Andrew, was a member of Georgia's State High School Baseball Championship last season.
Erik_Faber: What do you plan on doing with Geoff Jenkins next season? What is your opinion on the situation with his current slump?
Yost: Right now, I am not really thinking in terms of next year. I still think Geoff has many great years in front of him. I think he has always been a proven run producer, but he has struggled this year. I think that with some adjustments, he is going to get back to being the special player he has been. The key now is not to let this get him down to the point where it takes away from his focus of helping us win baseball games every day, and he has done this in a very professional way. He continues to help the young players on the team, he is on the bench rooting while he is not playing and it just goes to show you the type of player and person he is.
Base_Ball_4: With Chris Capuano's win yesterday, do you think he's back on track?
Yost: I don't think he really got off a track. He came back after the All-Star break and had one or two so-so starts, but from that point on he has pitched great. Not only his last five or six starts, but all year long. He was very deserving, in my opinion, to be an All-Star.
nosense: Who do you believe currently in the Brewers' system will have the biggest upside in the Majors?
Yost: I think that the stock answers are Prince Fielder, Weeks, Hardy and Hart. I also think Capellan, Tony Gwynn, Carlos Villanueva and Zach Jackson are all players we have seen who will be great players. We have a lot of kids in our Minor League system we look at every day who are making great strides. Ryan Braun is included on that list.
kat423: Do you think that Bill Hall has a shot at becoming the permanent starting shortstop next season?
Yost: Yes, he has a shot at it. The thing with Billy is that he has so much versatility. He is such a valuable player in terms of being able to play four, five or six different positions and still bring tremendous offensive production every day. A lot will depend on how J.J. bounces back. Right now, I would say Billy is ahead of J.J., but time will see how that all works out.
Base_Ball_2: Do you think there could be a possibility that the Brewers make an offer to Carlos Lee this offseason?
Yost: I think we have already made a fair and generous offer and it appears that Carlos wants to test the free agent market, so I don't see that happening as much as we liked having him here.
milwaukeebrewersfan1: Mr. Yost, how do you like coaching in the city of Milwaukee compared to playing or coaching any where else in your career?
Yost: I love being in Milwaukee. I love the city, I love the fans, I love the ballpark. I love being with a bunch of players that play the game hard and are trying, to the best of their abilities, to play the game right. They are playing to be winners. It was fun in Atlanta, but the fans here are born and raised Brewers fans and it makes it special.
Joel_Jorgensen: What do you offer Derrick Turnbow for advice after he has been struggling over the last few weeks?
Yost: Derrick, his last two or three times out, has really started to turn the corner. His first half was definitely worthy of making the All-Star team. From that point on, he lost command of his breaking ball, which is a huge out-pitch for him. He is working every single day on certain aspects of his game to gain command of that breaking pitch again and he is very close to regaining his first-half form.
Base_Ball_4: What did Brian Shouse do to come from a 5.15 ERA to a little over 1.00 ERA?
Yost: I think just opportunity -- the opportunity to pitch on a regular basis. He really hasn't done anything different. He has gotten a change of scenery and has taken full advantage of the opportunity.
brewcrew1122: With guys like Hart and Gwynn coming up, is Clark a guy we can look forward to seeing in the next few years?
Yost: Yes. Brady brings so many intangibles to the table. He plays with so much heart, determination and desire. He is a guy that strives to play winning baseball and there is always a place for guys like that. He gets the very, very most out of his ability and guys really look up to him on our team.
brewerfreak: What is your favorite stadium to go to on the road?
Yost: With all the new stadiums, they are all great. There really isn't a bad place to go to on the road anymore.
lukevan: Do you think Hall has made the adjustments in the past few games to strike out less and see more pitches?
Yost: Yes, he is working on it. That is the one thing in his game that he is really going to need to improve on. Increasing his walks and decreasing his strikeouts. Once that happens, his numbers can't do anything but go up and those numbers are pretty high right now. But right now, he can get better.
Base_Ball: Do you think Fielder has a chance at the Rookie of the Year Award?
Yost: I think he does, he is definitely one of the top three or four candidates in the league for sure.
bnbcheney: Assuming Hart plays to his potential and becomes the starter next year, could he continue leading off?
Yost: In a perfect world, we would probably want Corey moving down the lineup a little more. He has been a run producer in his career and we could take better advantage of that with him hitting fifth or sixth. He could develop into a four hitter at some point in his career. Corey has the ability, more than anybody else, to steal a base on our team right now. We are trying to get an extended look at him and hitting in the one spot will get him a few more at-bats.
Yost: I have to get ready for tonight's game against the Rockies. Thanks for joining me today and I hope to see you at Miller Park during this final stretch of the season. Go Brewers!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.