Yuni goes back to KC on one-year deal

December 20, 2011

> If you’re a Brewers fan, you can breath one big sigh of relief- Yuniesky Betancourt is officially not coming back next year.

> The inconsistent, both offensively and defensively, shortstop signed a one-year deal with the Royals today. It’s somewhat of a homecoming for Betancourt, who was traded from the Mariners to the Royals in 2009, and played from them for then until 2010. The Brewers acquired him in the Zack Greinke trade in December of 2010 (around this same time last year).

Betancourt never became very popular with the Brewers’ fan-base during 2011. In 2010, he hit .259 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs with the Royals. Since the American League, in some ways, is tougher than the National League, and the fact that Miller Park is more hitter-friendly than Kauffman Stadium, people thought that Betancourt’s numbers with the Brewers would be better than they were with the Royals.

Instead, all of the main stats that I just listed- batting average, home runs, and RBIs- went down for him 2011. Betancourt hit .252 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. Aside from a good August and decent postseason, he didn’t produce very much.

All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned his defense yet, which was also awful. Betancourt had just a .965 fielding percentage. He made a few of those highlight reel plays, but screwed up the routine plays far too often.

Anyway, there was some speculation that, despite the fact the Brewers already signed Alex Gonzalez to play shortstop in 2012, Betancourt would return to the Brewers in a utility role. This closes the door on that, thank goodness.

> None of this is official, but there are a few Prince Fielder rumors swirling. The Mariners have reportedly offered him a deal, but both the length of the contract and the amount of money are unknown. But, since Seattle isn’t exactly the biggest market around, it probably isn’t all that much.

The Cubs have apparently been doing some “behind the scenes” work on Fielder. But when you put the terms “Cubs” and “behind the scenes” together, it doesn’t mean much. Although I heard a few weeks ago that a close friend of Fielder said that he would be “very interested” in going to Chicago. No idea why…

Lastly, the Blue Jays have been said by many to be a good fit. I don’t really see why, unless they plan on moving Adam Lind into a DH role. But, the Blue Jays made an aggressive bid on Yu Darvish (but were outbid by the Rangers), which shows that they aren’t afraid to spend money this offseason.

So those three teams- the Mariners, Cubs, and Blue Jays- seem to be good fits for Fielder. Of course, the Brewers are also a good fit. You know, if finances didn’t exist.

UPDATE: Never mind the Mariners rumors. GM Jack Zduriencik once again shot down the possibility of signing Fielder, saying that he didn’t know where the rumors were coming from.

The speculation of the Mariners possibly trying to sign Fielder came from the fact that Zduriencik was a draft scout for the Brewers at the time they drafted Fielder. While Zduriencik has said that he still admires Fielder’s work on the field even though he’s now with the Mariners, he’s shot down rumors various times already this offseason.

> And that’s about it. It’s still sort of early, so I’ll update later if anything else comes up. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Braun’s positive test reportedly came from medication

December 20, 2011

> I don’t know if this makes it better, but at least we may know the cause of this whole issue.

> Ryan Braun‘s positive drug test (which was actually because of an unusually high amount of testosterone) apparently came because of some sort of medication. Braun was using this medication to get around a “private medical issue.” Both the medical issue and the medication used are still unknown.

But all of this doesn’t really change anything. Braun’s appeal in front of an arbitrator is still probably going to happen sometime in January, and the fact that no Major League player has ever won an appeal drug-related still looms over him. But, hopefully the fact that it was just “medication” changes that. But who knows- maybe the medication was a drug of some sort. We won’t know until the whole appeal process is over.

In the meantime, I’m still extremely angry at ESPN for leaking the information early. But, I’ve already vented about that in like three different posts, so before I do again, let’s move on…

> The Yu Darvish speculation is over- the Rangers have won negotiating rights with him. It was expected by almost every source that the Blue Jays were going to win the bidding, but the Rangers ended up offering more cash.

This make since for the Rangers, though, who just lost their staff ace, C.J. Wilson, to their division rival Angels. Assuming Darvish doesn’t turn out like Daisuke Matsuzaka, he’ll replace Wilson’s role as ace.

> The Darvish news makes the fact that the Brewers have officially won negotiating rights with Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki almost unnoticed. The Brewers said that, since they don’t have any scouts currently stationed in Japan, that they’ll have a workout with Aoki at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale, Arizona sometime in January. But, it needs to be before January 17th, because that’s the deadline for coming to terms with Aoki.

Anyway, you can read my post about where I think Aoki fits with the Brewers from the other day, because it’s kind of complicated, and I don’t want to write it all again.

> Jimmy Rollins officially re-signed with the Phillies today. But, the scary thing is that he gave some serious thought about coming to the Brewers.

Rollins was offered a four-year deal by the Brewers, and gave it some serious consideration.

“I had a four-year deal on the table, but it wasn’t necessarily with a team that I could have seen myself playing for,” were Rollin’s exact words.

Which is completely fine with me. I couldn’t see Rollins in a Brewers’ uniform either, and I wouldn’t have been thrilled had he signed with the Brewers. I’m content with Alex Gonzalez, who I can’t wait to see play defense next year.

> And that’s about it. Before I go, I have a few announcements- my midterms are finally over, but I’m leaving on vacation the day after tomorrow until January 3rd. So, I won’t be posting daily during that time. I might not post at all- but, if I do, they’ll probably be much shorter posts, since they’ll be coming from my phone. I will continue to tweet on my Twitter account (@BreakingWI) with all the Brewers news, though.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers win bidding for Japanese outfielder Aoki

December 18, 2011

> This came out of nowhere, but it may save the Brewers’ offense, if it gets done.

> According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers have won the bid for a chance to sign Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. I didn’t even know this guy was posted; he must have been sucked up in all the Yu Darvish and Tsuyoshi Wada talk. Anyway, the Brewers won the bid with just $2.5 million, which is an unusually low bid to win rights to sign a Japanese player.

Aoki has won three batting titles in Japan, and has a .336 batting average over seven professional seasons in Japan. But, he hit just .292 this year, which could explain the low posting fee (not saying that .292 is bad or anything, but it’s considerably lower than .336). Anyway, Aoki is said to be the “most pure hitter” out of Japan since Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, who has been one of the few successful Japanese players in the Majors.

As I said earlier, Aoki is an outfielder, and, from what I’ve heard, can play an outfield position. He has good defensive range, but a weak arm, which probably makes him fit for left field. Obviously, that spot is already vacated by Ryan Braun (unless he does receive that 50-game suspension, but I doubt he will). And, the Brewers are set in the rest of the outfield positions with the Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez platoon in center, and Corey Hart in right. People are saying that the signing of Aoki would be to use him off the bench, or give the Brewers an opportunity to trade an outfielder, but I have another idea, although it’s very unlikely to happen. (I also made up this idea assuming Braun doesn’t get suspended, so bear with me here.)

Since Aoki would fit best in left field, the Brewers could put him there for the best defensive production. Then, they could move Braun to right field, since he already has a good arm, and right field is the outfield position that requires a good arm. That would push Hart out of right field, but, since he actually came up as a first baseman, the could slot him there, with the departure of Prince Fielder. That would probably keep Mat Gamel and Taylor Green in the Minors, but at least the Brewers would know they have proven players at every position, if they used this plan.

Odds are, though, that isn’t going to happen. I can’t see the Brewers having Braun switch position again; that was kind of wishful thinking. But, if they want the best defensive production from Aoki, then they would kind of be forced to do that. Or, they could leave Braun alone, and push the Morgan/Gomez platoon over to right field, since both are capable of playing right (despite Morgan’s noodle arm). With Aoki’s supposed good range, they could put him in center, which is the outfield position that needs the best range. But, again- it probably won’t happen.

Anyway, Aoki hits more for average than power, but the Brewers already took care of replacing some of the power of Fielder with Aramis Ramirez last week.

After winning the posting fee, teams usually have 30 days to sign Japanese players, meaning the Brewers have until around mid-January to sign Aoki. Japanese players usually sign with the teams that win the bid. The only player that comes to recent memory who didn’t sign with the team who won signing rights for him was pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, whom the Athletics couldn’t come to terms with prior to the 2011 season.

Anyway, I just hope Aoki doesn’t turn out like Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had similar numbers to Aoki before coming to the Majors. But, Nishioka came to the Majors and had an injury-plagued year with the Twins, and also hit below .200. I doubt that’s going to happen, though.

> The Reds struck a five-player trade with the Padres today. The main part of the deal was pitcher Mat Latos going to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Edinson Volquez.

The Reds finally might have a legitimate ace in Latos, which is something they’ve been looking for over the past two years.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, I have absolutely no idea what the Padres were thinking in giving up their best pitcher for a sad excuse for a pitcher- if he even is a pitcher- in Volquez. Maybe they haven’t seen him pitch before, but they’re in for quite a ride- and I mean that in a bad way.

Anyway, the reason I’m even talking about this trade on here is because now the Brewers will be seeing a lot of Latos next year, and maybe years after, with the Reds being division rivals. I can only remember one occasion when the Brewers faced Latos- it was Zack Greinke‘s Miller Park debut, and he beat Latos. I think Latos only gave up two or three runs, though.

> And that’s about all the news for today. So, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. (Seriously, please leave your thoughts- I feel like I don’t get comments anymore.)


Not much Brewers news over the past few days…

December 17, 2011

> Well, we’re again experiencing one of the major downsides of the offseason- no news to talk about. That’s part of the reason I haven’t posted in a few days, but I also had midterms for most of the week (I’m in high school, if you don’t know). Those prevented me from posting, let alone even get on the computer.

> Anyway, there was one somewhat significant piece of news that was Brewers-related this week- John Axford won the 2011 Tip O’Neill Award, along with co-winner Joey Votto.

The Tip O’Neill Award is presented by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame every year, which is why it’s usually given to the best Canadian players in the MLB. Axford is from Simcoe, Ontario, while Votto grew up in Toronto, also in Ontario.

> Since there’s nothing else Brewers-related, I’ll talk about the Japanese pitcher who’s completely changing the free agent market- Yu Darvish. The posting fee for Darvish ended yesterday, and his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters (oh, how I love the names of Japanese baseball teams), is still reviewing the bids. Bids were reportedly submitted by the Yankees, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Rangers, at least the major bids.

Darvish’s numbers in Japan over the past few years have been unbelievable. In 2011, he went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, and has a 1.99 ERA in his seven-year career. But, history of Japanese pitchers making the transition to the MLB hasn’t been all that promising. Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu, and Daisuke Matsuzaka are premier examples of failed attempts at pitching in the Majors after moving from Japan. The hitters from Japan, such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, seem to have a bit more success. But the only pitcher from Japan who has had success that I can think of is Hiroki Kuroda.

Anyway, people think Darvish will be different, because he’s supposedly half-Japanese, half-Iranian, giving him a stronger body-build than a regular Japanese man. Darvish’s repertoire is also said to consist of many different pitches- three different fastballs, at least three different breaking balls, and possibly a change up. I feel bad for whoever his catcher is going to be…

> And that’s about all the major news. But, before I go, I have a bit of a story to tell.

So today I went on Breaking Wisconsin for the first time in two days (I couldn’t go on because of midterms, as I said earlier), and I expected to see no hits because I hadn’t posted advertising links on Twitter or anywhere. But, I noticed that today was actually a record-breaking day, as far as views go, despite the fact I’d been inactive over the last few days. And I couldn’t figure out why.

But, a few hours later, I was browsing MLB Trade Rumors, and noticed that they’d mentioned me under their “Baseball Blogs Weigh In” section, which explained the outburst in views. So I’d like to thank them for mentioning me on their site, it’s definitely the greatest accomplishment Breaking Wisconsin has achieved so far. Let me tell you, it’s one of the coolest things ever to see your own site on a popular site you read every day.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


Recent signings and trades open, close doors for Brewers

December 13, 2011

> Yesterday was a productive day for the Brewers’ front office. In the morning, they signed free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Then, by night, they traded third baseman Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. Both of these moves will have a huge impact on the Brewers will look next year- and it’s probably going to be much different than they looked in 2011.

> But these moves also opened up a few opportunities for young players, while closing them for other players.

The question at third base in 2012 was obviously answered when the Brewers signed Ramirez. After McGehee, who’d been the Brewers starting third baseman from 2009-2011, had a rough year last year, there were questions about whether or not the Brewers would get decent production from that position. McGehee had been one of the Brewers’ most consistent hitters in 2009 and 2010, hitting .301 and .285 (in the respective years). But, he slumped down to a .223 average in 2011, and, by the playoffs, had lost his starting position.

Despite the fact he’s 33, Ramirez should give the Brewers good production at third base. He hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs in 2011, and has proved over the years that he can hit 25-30 homers on a consistent basis. Which is what the Brewers needed to fill in the void that Prince Fielder left in their lineup.

Speaking of Fielder. The Ramirez signing pretty much closed the door on the possibility of Fielder returning to the Brewers in 2012. But, as much as we all wanted him back, I think we knew he was as good as gone.

And, with Fielder and McGehee officially gone, that opens an opportunity at one of the most important offensive positions- first base.

The Brewers seem determined to give Mat Gamel a shot at first. Gamel’s been stuck as a “prospect” for awhile now, as he’s torn up the Minors over the past few years. But, he’s been pretty inconsistent at the Major League level when given the chance.

Maybe consistent playing time will do him good, though. When he was given a chance in the Majors, he didn’t get consistent playing time, which probably didn’t help.

Another good thing about Gamel is that he’s versatile. While he’s most likely to play first base, he can also play third and the corner outfield positions, which could give him the ability to be a utility player if he doesn’t win the job at first.

Taylor Green may also be given a chance at first base. We saw a bit of him at the Major League level this year, and it looks like he’ll have a bright future. He’s also torn up the Minors, especially this year, when he hit .336 before being called up at the end of August. Green is also somewhat versatile, as he can play third, second, and first base.

The shortstop question was also answered this week, as the Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal, and he’s much better than Yuniesky Betancourt. I did an article a few days ago explaining my opinion on why Gonzalez was better than Betancourt, but, to sum it up in one sentence: Gonzalez is a far superior defender to Betancourt.

Onto the bullpen, which appeared to be going downhill when Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Diamondbacks and Angels, respectively. The Brewers began to address that last night in acquiring Veras from the Pirates, but I think they’ll need at least one or two more solid relievers to make me feel good about the bullpen, and more help to set up for the 1-2 punch of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

And that’s about it. I think the Brewers did a good job of addressing all of their major needs early in the offseason, which could give them time to ponder additional moves and trades over the rest of the offseason.

> By the way: the Brewers tendered the contracts of all their arbitration-eligible players. That means George Kottaras, Shaun Marcum, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Rodriguez, Veras, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan all avoided arbitration.

> The Brewers also announced this week that they’re still interested in extending both Marcum and Zack Greinke, another one of their top priorities this offseason.

> I don’t have much to say about the Braun issue today, as most of the news is the same as it was yesterday. But, if you’re worried that he’ll still receive that 50-game suspension, read this article- it definitely made me feel better.

> And one last thing- I heard today that the Rockies are interested in free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. That has nothing to do with the Brewers, I know- but if a team other than the Cardinals signs him, it’s beneficial to us.

> That’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers reportedly sign Ramirez to three-year deal

December 12, 2011

> Something good had to happen for the Brewers in light of all the horrible Ryan Braun news.

> And it did. The Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez this morning, and the deal appears to be for three years and somewhere between $34-37 million. This helps the Brewers offense a lot, especially because of the departure of Prince Fielder (this deal pretty much closes the door on the possibility of him returning to the Brewers).

Ramirez hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs last year- not bad for a 33-year old third baseman. He can hit 25-30 home runs on a consistent basis as well, something the Brewers need to help their offense.

Anyway, this move kind of decides the fate of Casey McGehee. He’s either going to play first base next year, be moved into a utility player-type role, or be traded. Unless the Brewers are determined to let Mat Gamel start at first base next year, the most likely option for McGehee is to simply move him across the infield, and hope he has a bounce-back year. However, the Rangers have shown interest in McGehee, and it sounds like the Brewers could get something decent in return from them. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

> The Braun issue- day three. I heard yesterday that, in the history of the drug prevention program in the MLB, that the results that Braun had were never seen before. This is because his testosterone level was two times as high as the previous highest testosterone level.

If that doesn’t tell you that this whole thing is “B.S.,” as Braun said, then I don’t know what to tell you.

I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t humanly possible to have a testosterone level as high as the results said Braun’s was (without being extremely sick or dying, of course). But this just proves that the whole thing is stupid and a waste of time, and, if Braun actually receives that 50-game suspension to start 2012, I’m going to be pretty pissed. (Sorry, I don’t usually used language like that on BW, but this has just gotten way out of hand.)

Plus, these preliminary results shouldn’t have even been released in the first place. This is why I hate ESPN- they have to release information that’s probably false before they even know anything about it.

> The Brewers made a few minor moves earlier today, signing catcher Mike Rivera and first baseman Travis Ishikawa to Minor League deals. Rivera saw a little time in the Majors with the Brewers this year, while Ishikawa hasn’t played in the Majors since 2010 with the Giants.

> Zack Greinke reportedly fired his agent(s) today, and hasn’t chosen a replacement yet. Let’s all pray that he doesn’t choose Scott Boras…

And we also have to hope that the Brewers get he and Shaun Marcum extended this offseason, because both hit the free agent market after 2012.

UPDATE- As of about an hour ago, the Brewers have traded McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. I definitely didn’t see this coming- not tonight, and not McGehee going to the Pirates. I feel a bit bad for him…

Anyway, Veras is a decent pickup, I guess. He set up for All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan while with the Pirates last year, but can be a bit erratic at times. But, he’s a hard-throwing right-hander, and can probably be used in a seventh inning role to set up for Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

> This move also makes up for the fact that the Brewers aren’t going to be able to bring back Takashi Saito, unfortunately. He’s reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks.

> And that’s about it. Barring any late-night news, that’s everything. So thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


More updates on the Braun controversy…

December 11, 2011

> Last night, it was reported that Ryan Braun tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), and that he was in the middle of an appeal against the results.

But, this morning brought more news. According to Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal), the substance Braun was found guilty of taking wasn’t actually a PED, but another prohibited substance. It’s still unknown what the substance is.

Heck, it’s still unknown if he even took prohibited substance, or if this is all “B.S.” (as Braun said). This is why crap like this shouldn’t be leaked until the whole matter is resolved. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen last night and this morning bashing Braun and giving up and him and all that. Stuff like this makes people uncharacteristically¬† jump to conclusions.

So my question is, why are we all jumping to conclusions when this whole matter might not even be resolved for awhile?

What if it’s not true? There are still going to be people not completely convinced that he didn’t take the substance, and it’s going to leave a bad impression in Braun’s legacy. And that’s too bad.

But this is just classic ESPN. Can’t wait for the truth to come out. Odds are, none of us should even be talking about this right now. But no.

> Anyway, I’m going to quit ranting about if for now, because, unlike most people I’ve seen so far, I’m going to wait for the truth to come out.

In the meantime, here are some links you can look at. Most of them make me think Braun is actually innocent, but you can see them for yourself below…

Source: Braun didn’t take PED (Tom Haudricourt/@Haudricourt, JSOnline)

Braun: ‘I am completely innocent’ (Tom Haudricourt, JSOnline)

If I find any more links regarding this (particularly ones that defend Braun), I’ll put them up.

> So that’s about it, for now. I’ll continue to update as the news comes. But, for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


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