Brewers probably won’t make big moves at Winter Meetings

November 30, 2011

> Sorry for such a late post. I’ve been busy today, but I’m just going to try and quickly go through the Brewers’ news released today.

> Doug Melvin announced earlier today that the Brewers won’t be major players at the Winter Meetings this year. I guess this was expected, although the Brewers do have a few holes to fill, such as a shortstop and relievers. Not nearly as many as they did in 2010, however.

By the way, if you don’t already know, the Winter Meetings are in Dallas this year from December 5-8.

> The Brewers just can’t get a break as far as Minor League pitching goes. Pitching prospect Santo Manzanillo separated his right shoulder in a car crash earlier today in the Dominican Republic. This came a few days after Manzanillo was put on the 40-man roster for protection from being plucked away in the Rule 5 Draft.

Anyway, who knows what this injury is going to do to his arm. It could affect him a lot because he’s a power pitcher, shown by his numbers- 1.75 ERA and 17 saves between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville.

Notice how this occurred in the Dominican Republic. At this point, I’m starting to get shaky about Major League players leaving the country to return to their native countries for offseason exercising or winter ball, because it seems like bad things continue to happen. Wilson Ramos, Greg Halman, and now this. I hope this is the end of it.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news. There were some major signings around the rest of the MLB, however.

> The Red Sox may have finally found a new manager in Bobby Valentine. Reports are saying that both sides are close to a deal. Plus, it was reported that Gene Lamont is no longer a contender for their managerial position, leaving Valentine as the only choice.

> The Royals signed former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to a one-year deal today. Broxton, typically a closer, is probably going to set up for All-Star closer Joakim Soria.

I’m always tempted to make jokes about Broxton’s weight (he weighs 300 pounds) even though I know I shouldn’t; then I remember his insanely high strikeouts per innings pitched. He has struck out 503 batters in just 382 innings, which is 11.55 strikeouts per nine innings.

> The Cubs are apparently interested in both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Hopefully they’re smart enough to know they can only sign one.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. Again, sorry for such a late post; I’ll probably update this with more links tomorrow. But thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers hire another Narron to be hitting coach

November 29, 2011

> This isn’t exactly the situation I expected as far as the Brewers’ search for a hitting coach goes.

> The Brewers have hired another Narron to be part of the coaching staff- Johnny Narron. He will take over Dale Sveum‘s place as hitting coach, and will be “reunited,” so to speak, with his brother (and Brewers bench coach) Jerry Narron.

Johnny is most famous for turning Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton into the player he is today, from the days Hamilton was with the Reds. I’m hoping he can do the same for a couple struggling Brewers, such as Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt (if he comes back, which I’ve heard he might).

And I don’t know what it is about the Brewers and the Narrons. The Brewers also have a Minor League pitcher- Sam Narron, who I think is the nephew of Jerry (or something along those lines).

> The Astros are apparently trying to revamp their front office. That started today, as the released president Tal Smith and GM Ed Wade. But, it’s just one of those situations where something has to be done after an awful season.

And it wasn’t only Smith and Wade. Last week, Drayton McLane handed the Astros over to Jim Crane. So, by the beginning of next year, the Astros’ front office is going to look completely different- just in time for their move to the AL West.

> The Cardinals are discovering that more and more teams aren’t going to be contenders for free agent Albert Pujols. It’s been reported that they aren’t going to bump up their offer to him, which is supposedly for nine years and around $210 million. And they shouldn’t. Bidding against yourself for the best free agent on the market doesn’t sound very logical to me.

The only other “serious” contenders for Pujols are the Marlins. But honestly, can you see Pujols in a Marlins’ uniform?

> And that’s about it for today. Not much news (and not much to say about the news that there is), but, assuming there isn’t any tomorrow, I should have an article-style post up tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


And the slow offseason continues.

November 28, 2011

> As far as baseball goes, this has been one of the most boring weeks I’ve had in awhile.

> The Brewers made absolutely no roster moves, not even minor ones, which has left me with absolutely nothing to post about. And, on top of that, none of the major free agents- or even minor ones- signed with teams this week, also leaving me with nothing to post about. A few days ago, I attempted to come with my own topic, which was talking about whether or not five-tool catchers exist. Personally, I thought it was a good idea. But, judging by the amount of feedback (there wasn’t any), it must not have gone over well.

> I tend not to post about minor moves of other teams on here, but, since I can’t come up with any of my own material at the moment, I’m kind of forced to. So, here’s a list of those moves made over the past couple of days.

> Freddy Garcia is returning to the Yankees. The Yankees signed the right-hander to a Minor League deal last offseason as a last resort because they missed out on Cliff Lee, and Garcia responded by going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. In my opinion, the Yankees may have gotten lucky with him last year, but we’ll see how it goes over this time around.

> The Red Sox managerial search is reportedly down to two candidates- Bobby Valentine and Gene Lamont, both of whom are veterans with prior managing experience in the Majors. The Sox were interested in getting former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, but he opted to become the manager of the Cubs.

> Neftali Feliz is moving into the Rangers’ rotation. And no, it apparently didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he blew a save after being one strike away from sealing the Rangers’ first World Series title. Anyway, the Rangers signed former Twins closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal a few days ago, which forces Feliz out of the spot.

> Oh, and one non-baseball related topic- the NBA lockout supposedly ended yesterday morning. Not that I care, but I’d like to point out that this 149-day lockout made me realize how many people don’t care about basketball. I didn’t hear one person complain for the entire lockout. Which made me feel good, knowing that I’m not the only who could care less about a bunch of show-boating “stars.” I know people say that baseball is losing popularity (which it really isn’t), but there are probably still more baseball fans than basketball fans.

By the way, the NBA season starts on Christmas day. Classic.

> And that’s about all the major minor moves (if that makes any sense) of the past few days. Feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any. In the meantime, I’m going to try and come up with my own material for the next few days, because, if the first few weeks have been an indicator, it’s going to be a pretty boring offseason.


Five-tool catchers- do they actually exist?

November 25, 2011

> Earlier today, I was reading an article on MLB Trade Rumors. It talked about what general managers look for in drafts, such as five-tool players, front-of-the-line ace pitchers, and so on. But, there was one specific type of player in that article that caught my eye- a type of player I didn’t even know existed, and it may very well not even exist.

A five-tool catcher. The baseball terms “five-tool” and “catcher” typically contradict each other, hence the reason a five-tool catcher is so rare and unheard of. If you don’t already know, the five tools in baseball are hitting for average, hitting for power, speed, a good arm, and good defense. The most common type of player to wield the five tools is an outfielder. And, not coincidentally, the two top finishers for the NL MVP were outfielders- Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp- and you could make the argument that both are five-tool players, despite their young ages.

The best that catchers can usually be are four-tool players, as the top catchers in baseball are typically good hitters and good defenders (blocking pitches and throwing out runners). But, that one tool they almost always lack is speed. That’s kind of a given, though, considering they have to sit crouched in one position behind the plate for over 1,000 innings per year.

There are plenty of good catchers out there. Brian McCann (Braves) has made the All-Star Team every year since 2006, and has also hit 20 or more home runs every since as well (except 2007). But, his defense is below average for a catcher, and then there’s the speed as well. Yadier Molina (Cardinals) has always been arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball, throwing out nearly 50% of runners that have tried stealing against him in his career. Molina also broke out at the plate this year, hitting .293. But, he’s painfully slow, even for a catcher. Buster Posey (Giants), after winning the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award in the NL, promptly got injured in 2011, so we have yet to see what he’s truly capable of. Anyway, there’s more catchers to list, but I’m not going to rattle on forever about every catcher in the Majors.

While all of the guys I just listed are good, All-Star caliber catchers, they can’t be considered true five-tool players, simply because of that lack of speed. Hence, I don’t think a five-tool catcher can exist.

> When that topic on MLBTR caught my eye, I also started thinking about the Brewers’ young catcher, Jonathan Lucroy. He certainly isn’t a five-tool catcher either, because, like all catchers, he doesn’t have speed. And his offense could use a little work.

But, offensively, I think he’s headed in the right direction. After coming up from Double-A in May of 2010 to replace the injured Gregg Zaun, Lucroy was immediately thrown into the fire of being a starting catcher at the Major League level. He finished 2010 hitting .253 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Then, in 2011, his first full season in the Majors (although he missed a few weeks in April with a broken finger), he hit .265 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs, and demonstrated some power. This makes me think that, in time, Lucroy can be a power threat. I also think he’ll be able to be a near-.300 hitter at some point, but he needs to become less streaky. But doesn’t the entire Brewers’ offense need to become less streaky (save Braun)?

Lucroy also finally developed into a great defensive catcher in the second half of 2011. He still has his occasional embarrassing moment where he doesn’t know where the ball bounced, but he’s become accustomed to blocking balls in the dirt, probably thanks to Zack Greinke‘s slider. And it felt like Lucroy was throwing out more runners than ever in the second half as well.

Anyway, my point here is that I hope the Brewers hang onto Lucroy for awhile. He isn’t arbitration-eligible for the first time until 2014, and not a free agent until 2017, so I guess they’ll kind of be forced to, but hopefully the keep him beyond that. And, I’d like to see Martin Maldonado get a chance next year as a backup catcher. George Kottaras doesn’t even appear to be a catcher, he’s so bad defensively…

> And that’s all I’ve got for now. I might post Hot Stove news later. That is, if anything happens… Anyhow, thanks for reading.


Brewers offered K-Rod arbitration without “gentleman’s deal”

November 25, 2011

> If this doesn’t turn out the way the Brewers want it to, they could be on the hook for a lot of money.

> Doug Melvin said this morning that the Brewers and free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not strike a “gentleman’s deal,” as they’re called, before the Brewers offered him arbitration. This could be more dangerous than they think.

> Rodriguez has expressed his interest in closing, but has also expressed interest in money. Rodriguez could probably make more money by accepting the Brewers’ arbitration offer than signing with a team on the open market, meaning taking setting up over closing. Rafael Soriano made a similar move last offseason, as he signed with the Yankees as a setup man (obviously, that didn’t go over well) instead of signing with another team to close.

> Anyway, my point is the Brewers are already close to being in financial trouble. I doubt they’ll get there, but it’s possible. Though it’s unlikely they’ll sign him, the Brewers are obviously in the bidding for Prince Fielder. If they do wind up signing him somehow, that lowers the likelihood of extending starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, another offseason priority for the Brewers. If Rodriguez ends up accepting arbitration, that puts the Brewers in a bad situation.

> But I highly doubt all of these pieces will fall into place. I’m 80% sure that Fielder and Rodriguez will be in different uniforms next year, and the Brewers will manage to extend both Greinke and Marcum. But, they’ll also need to look for some relievers, as they’re also losing Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins.

> Anyway, that was all the news for today. Sorry it came later than usual, but I was out celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and friends, and hopefully you were too, instead of sitting on the Internet all day.

> And on that note, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and I thank you for reading.


Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays
NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.


Braun beats out Kemp for NL MVP

November 23, 2011

> And Ryan Braun wins the NL MVP. Let the debating begin.

> Braun beat the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp for the award, which has already caused a lot of debate. Most of it is that people think the only reason Braun won is because he played for a contending team. Which was part of it, and I’m not saying I disagree with it, as I said in my post last night. “Best player” and “most valuable player” don’t always mean the same thing.

> Anyway, I’m not going to talk much about the whole debate thing right now, but more about Braun’s numbers and why he was so deserving of this award.

> Braun is the first Brewer to win the MVP since Robin Yount won it in 1989. Yount is arguably the greatest player in Brewers history, so Braun has come along away and is joining some elite company.

Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes, which totals 388 points. Kemp came in second with 10 first-place votes (332), Prince Fielder in third with one first-place vote (229) and Justin Upton in fourth also with one first-place vote (214). Albert Pujols came in fifth with 166 points, but the highest vote he received was one third-place vote.

In 2011, Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs- definitely a MVP-caliber season. Kemp hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs. By looking at those numbers, you’d probably wonder why Kemp didn’t win instead.

But what I think separated Braun from Kemp was simply how often Braun came through in the clutch- yes, this is something that effects the voting. Braun coming through in the clutch is what drove the Brewers to the postseason. Kemp didn’t exactly come through in the clutch very often (but he played for the Dodgers, which explains why).

But what I’m saying is that the voting goes beyond the numbers.

> MLB and the players’ union came to an agreement on a five-year labor deal (imagine how jealous the NBA must be right now). Of course, this garnered about as much buzz- if not more- as Braun winning the MVP.

Anyway, it’s good to know that we won’t be seeing another baseball strike anytime soon.

> Jim Crane and his group officially took over the Astros today. They’ve agreed to move the Astros to the AL as early as 2013, as we heard a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Drayton McLane wonders how he sold the worst team in the MLB for $610 million.

> Anyway, I’m kind of short on time right now, so that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


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