Analyzing the veteran starters on the market

October 30, 2012

> Doug Melvin and the Brewers have made it known that they’re probably going to go after a free agent starter this offseason, preferable an experienced guy to anchor what looks to be a young rotation. Personally, I’m still debating whether or not that’s the right decision; the bullpen probably needs more tending to than the rotation. But, if the Brewers do choose to go after a free agent veteran starter, there’s actually a surprisingly decent market for that category this offseason. Here’s a list of the key possibilities for the Brewers:

Ryan Dempster
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Kyle Lohse
Brandon McCarthy
Anibal Sanchez*
Dan Haren*
Jake Peavy*

*Sanchez, Haren, and Peavy all have options (or other contract impediments) with their current teams, so it remains to be seen if they actually reach the free agent market.

Basically, the guys I listed are possibilities that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing, and most of them are relatively realistic for the Brewers as well. Greinke, obviously, isn’t very likely, but you still can’t count him out.

Dempster was stellar with the Cubs in 2012, but sort of fell off a cliff with the Rangers (despite a winning record in Texas). He’s clearly better in the National League, but I’d say one of the only benefits of the Brewers signing Dempster is that they wouldn’t have to face him (he has 15 career wins against the Brewers).

Guthrie might be the worst option on the list. He was awful with the Rockies, probably because of Coors Field, but resurrected himself with the Royals during the second half, posting a 3.16 ERA. Guthrie is still one of the riskier options on the list, however, and the Brewers will probably try and go with someone else.

Jackson quietly had a decent year as the fifth starter in the Nationals’ rotation, but he’s had an inconsistent career, and the number of teams he’s played for will tell you that. I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing him, but there’s a bit of a risk with him as well.

For me, Kuroda is the best option on the list. After years of getting no run support in Los Angeles, he blossomed on the big stage in the Bronx. He proved he can pitch in the hitter-friendly environment of Yankee Stadium, meaning he probably wouldn’t do too bad at Miller Park.

There’s no denying Lohse had an unbelievable season in 2012, but I just don’t see him fitting in with the Brewers. Plus, he’s going to draw a ton of money (at least $12 million a year), and I don’t see the Brewers spending that on a starter.

In my opinion, McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game; he knows how to shut down a good offense. But, it’s not often that he isn’t injured, whether it be shoulder/elbow problems, or taking line drives off the head.

Those are my top options. There are also guys like Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there’s no doubt that those guys would turn into Jeff Suppan-like signings, so I hope the Brewers stay away from them.

THE NEWS

> Now that the offseason has officially started, the Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, and Alex Gonzalez all elected free agency. Marcum and K-Rod are both as good as gone, but Gonzalez has a chance of returning as the back-up shortstop (or starter, depending on Jean Segura’s status). The Brewers also reinstated Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson from the 60-day disabled list. Lastly, they re-signed shortstop Hector Gomez to a minor league deal.

The Brewers’ other free agents, Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba, are already on the market, as they elected free agency during the NLCS.

> The Gold Glove Finalists were announced today. Here’s a list of them at each position:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Peavy, C.J. Wilson
Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters
First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixera
Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan
Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy
Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout
Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz
First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto
Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop:
Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins
Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright
Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado
Center field: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs
Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Eithier, Jason Heyward

That awkward moment when Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox anymore, yet could win the AL Gold Glove at first base.

Anyway, Ramirez should win the third base GG, seeing as he had the fewest errors in the league at the position. But Braun won’t win the GG in left field, because steroids. (You can bet that’s what all of the voters are thinking.)

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised 2013 options for David Aardsma, Cano, and Curtis Granderson.
Phillies: Declined 2013 options for Ty Wigginton, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco.
Twins: Declined 2013 option for Scott Baker; signed P.J. Walters to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Exercised 2013 option for Luis Ayala.
Athletics: Optioned 2013 option for ex-Brewer Grant Balfour; declined Stephen Drew’s option; signed Mike Ekstrom to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera, and Matt Treanor.
Pirates:
Outrighted Jeff Clement, Eric Fryer, and Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Takuya Tsuchida.


Haudricourt confirms that Braun was penalized

October 29, 2012

> It was just as I feared. In last night’s article, I opined that Ryan Braun likely lost the Hank Aaron Award to Buster Posey because of Braun’s failed drug test prior to this season, because there’s no way Posey had a better overall offensive season than Braun.

Unfortunately, it seems I was right. Tom Haudricourt wrote about a similar topic last night, and he also thought Braun had the better offensive season. He suggested that Braun lost it because of the failed the drug test, but then also added this at the end of his article:

“And, from talking to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I get the distinct impression that Braun also will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP. He won last year before news of his drug test became public but from what I’m hearing, Posey will claim that award as well. By performance alone, Braun deserves to be among the top vote-getters but some are speculating he will be left off some ballots completely. That would show a definite agenda by an voters who do so.”

Unbelievable. I won’t be at all surprised at all if Posey wins the NL MVP; at this point, he’s the only other viable option for it if Braun doesn’t win. But Braun being left off the ballot completely is beyond unfair. And there’s a reason for that that may not come to mind immediately, but I might write an article about it in the coming days.

Anyway, there will probably be some “rogue” writers from the BBWAA who will put Braun on their ballots. But any remaining hope I had of Braun somehow winning the MVP has been drained.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> First of all, the 2012 baseball season is officially over.

Second, the Giants have won the World Series. Yes, the team that was down 2-0 to the Reds in the NLDS, down 3-1 to the Cardinals in NLCS- that team swept the World Series in four games against the Tigers.

The Tigers actually put up somewhat of a fight tonight, as they had an early lead over the Giants on Miguel Cabrera’s second inning home run. The also tied it at 3-3 in the sixth inning on Delmon Young’s solo shot.

But, none other than Marco Scutaro drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. The World Series MVP will probably be a toss-up between him and Pablo Sandoval, who hit .500 in the series, including that three-homer game in Game 1.

THE NEWS

> Despite Haudricourt comments on the Josh Hamilton situation the other day, Nick Cafardo suggests that the Brewers are still “at least looking into the possibility, though their top priorities are still finding a starting pitcher and revamping their bullpen.”

> Clayon Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente Award.

THE EXTRAS

> My attempt at a Brewers-themed pumpkin for Halloween. You’ll immediately notice that I’m not the most artistic person. But this was done free-handed, which helps my case a little.

> This is the second straight title for the Giants in which they couldn’t celebrate with their home crowd, but their home crowd was dedicated enough to celebrate with them.


Braun didn’t win the Hank Aaron Award

October 28, 2012

> Notice how I didn’t title this article, “Buster Posey wins the Hank Aaron Award.”

The Hank Aaron Award is defined as “the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.” In the American League, the award went to Miguel Cabrera, and rightfully so. In the National League, it should have definitely gone to Ryan Braun, right?

Nope. As he probably will with the NL MVP, Posey somehow won this award. But it’s a different case for this award than the MVP.

If Posey wins the MVP award, I won’t be as mad because Posey’s Giants contended all year (and won the NL West), while Braun’s Brewers could only muster up a hot streak during the final weeks of the season, and only came as close to the playoffs as two games behind the second Wild Card spot. That’s just the way the MVP voting works, and we’ve all become used to it.

But the Hank Aaron Award should be- and, as shown by the winners in recent years, is- different than the MVP award. It doesn’t matter whether or not the winner’s team contended- after all, Matt Kemp won it last year.

Overall, Posey definitely did not have a better offensive year than Braun, and there really isn’t a legitimate argument for it. The only major offensive category that Posey had Braun beaten in was batting average- Posey won the batting title (.336) and Braun came in third in the race (.319). Other than that, though, Braun had him beat by plenty in many other stats. Braun had nearly 20 more home runs than Posey (41 to 24), had more RBIs (112 to 103), more hits (191 to 178), and a higher slugging percentage (.595 to .549).

I don’t know about you, but looking at those stats, there’s a clear-cut winner of this award- and it isn’t Posey.

Perhaps it’s the “roid factor,” something we may have to live with for the rest of Braun’s career. I didn’t think it would come into play for an award like this, but I suppose it’s going to affect Braun’s chances at every award for as long as he plays.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Giants now have a stranglehold over the Tigers in the World Series, taking a 3-0 lead with their 2-0 win tonight. Ryan Vogelsong continued his postseason dominance with 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, and the only two runs he needed were on RBI hits from Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford in the second inning.

That two-run second inning was the only flaw in a stellar outing from Anibal Sanchez, who went seven innings while striking out eight.

THE NEWS

> Following the play in which Doug Fister got hit in the side of the head with a line drive the other night, MLB is now seriously considering a helmet-type guard for pitchers. This was probably already being talked about after the Brandon McCarthy scare in September, but this fiasco likely accelerated the talks.

Anyway, the helmets wouldn’t reach the big leagues right away. If they do come into play, they would first be tested in the minors.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Outrighted Tyson Brummett to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> Oh, FOX…

> Cabrera was literally given a crown for winning the first Triple Crown since 1967.


Haudricourt shoots down Hamilton rumors

October 27, 2012

> Leave it to Tom Haudricourt to crush the dreams of Brewers fans.

Kidding, but he might be right on this one. Yesterday, Jon Heyman clarified some rumors of the Brewers going after free agent Josh Hamilton this offseason. Naturally, Brewers fans- myself included- became hyped around this news.

However, Haudricourt himself interviewed Mark Attanasio last night, and apparently Attanasio “gave no indication that adding a hitter was a priority.”

Attanasio also added: “We’ve got the No. 1 offense in the league. We know what’s working. We have to fix the bullpen. We were last in the Majors. That has to be fixed. We’ve done a lot of work to see what the options are there.”

Fair enough. While I’d love for the Brewers to add Hamilton, it’s almost useless if the bullpen doesn’t improve too. So if that’s where all the money needs to go, so be it; the Brewers could still easily be contenders if that’s the only improvement they make this offseason.

At the same time, though, I wouldn’t completely shut the door on the Brewers signing Hamilton. If the opportunity presents itself and Hamilton doesn’t get any substantial offers from other teams- which he might not, because the “big spenders” don’t need outfield help- why not go for it? Since the departure of Prince Fielder, the Brewers have had a very right-handed dominant lineup, and Hamilton would nicely slot in between Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez at the core of the lineup.

But, as good as the Hamilton rumors have sounded, the bullpen should come first.

(You can read Haudricourt’s full article here.)

THE NEWS

> Not really any major news today, so let’s move right into the minor moves.

Diamondbacks: Claimed Gustavo Nunez off waivers from the Pirates.
Royals: Claimed Chris Volstad off waivers from the Cubs.
Cubs: Outrighted Manny Corpas, who elected free agency; outrighted Joe Mather, Blake Parker, and Justin Germano to Triple-A.
Angels: Signed Angel Sanchez to a minor league deal. (I don’t think I need to tell you why that’s funny.)
Astros: Claimed Che-Hsuan Lin off waivers from the Red Sox; designated Enerio Del Rosario for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Rich Thompson, who elected free agency.
Orioles: Released Dontrelle Willis.
Padres: Outrighted Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer, both of whom elected free agency.

> That’s not a weird MLB highlight video title regarding Sergio Romo. No, not at all.


Brewers could make a serious run at Hamilton

October 26, 2012

> I’m not going to get my hopes up, but it would be amazing if the Brewers actually pulled this off.

A few weeks ago, Buster Olney suggested that the Brewers could be a good home for Josh Hamilton, who will probably one of the most coveted free agent sluggers this offseason. The immediate reaction by most to Olney’s statement was that Hamilton would be to the Brewers this offseason what Jose Reyes was last offseason- he makes sense logically, but perhaps not financially. I agreed with that at the time (but I’ve been clinging to hope that we can bring him in somehow).

Today, though, Jon Heyman wrote that sources “familiar with the Brewers’ thinking” believe that the Brewers are going to make a serious run at Hamilton. Heyman cited a few good reasons for this: first and foremost, the Johnny Narron factor. Narron, currently one of the Brewers’ co-hitting coaches, was Hamilton’s “life coach,” so to speak, in Cincinatti and Texas (if you didn’t know, Hamilton used to have serious alcohol problems). If Hamilton gives the Brewers any discount, it’ll be because of that.

But another factor I didn’t consider a few weeks ago was that the big spenders- the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers- are more than likely to stay away from Hamilton, all for their own reasons. The Rangers, his current team, are hinting that they won’t try and retain him. That leaves the door wide open for the Brewers.

And I get the feeling Doug Melvin might pull it off. Though he couldn’t net Reyes last offseason, people seem to forget he brought in an even more valuable piece- Aramis Ramirez- and he put up an MVP-caliber season. Melvin took a gamble with Norichika Aoki, and he had a sensational rookie season.

Again, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but- as Heyman states at the end of his article- the Brewers have a better chance than people think.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Giants took a 2-0 advantage over the Tigers in the World Series tonight, also winning their game 2-0. The Tigers managed just two hits in the shutout, and cost themselves a run early on (none other than) Prince Fielder’s baserunning blunder.

Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister were both stellar, but Drew Smyly let in Fister’s inherited runner in the seventh inning, handing him the loss.

THE NEWS

> I haven’t talked much about the Brewers minor leaguers who are participating in the Arizona Fall League, but it’s worth noting that Brock Kjeldgaard, Josh Prince, and few other guys have been able to make names for themselves down in Arizona.

> Minor moves:

Pirates: Claimed Chad Beck off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Ali Solis off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Claimed Anthony Recker off waivers from the Cubs.
Padres: Outrighted Thad Weber to Triple-A.
Cubs: Outrighted Adrian Cardenas, Jason Berken, Miguel Socolovich, and Marcos Mateo to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Outrighted Jonathan Albaladejo, Tyler Graham, Mike Jacobs, Joe Martinez, and ex-Brewer Cody Ransom to Triple-A.
Mariners: Outrighted Luis Jimenez to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> This was sort of a cool way for the Brewers to thank their fans.


Giants take Game 1

October 25, 2012

> The Giants took Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, quickly turning the tables on Justin Verlander and the favored Tigers. Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs- two coming off Verlander- in the game, and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols as the only players to accomplish that feat in a World Series game.

Barry Zito came through for his team again, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball and picked up the win. It’s also worth mentioning that Tim Lincecum, who has found a postseason home in the bullpen, struck out five over 2 1/3 innings of relief for Zito. Verlander, on the other hand, got his head blown off for five runs in four innings. It was his shortest non-delayed outing since June of 2010.

MY TAKE

> Taking  a look around the Internet earlier today, it appeared most of the “experts” were picking the Tigers to win this thing in five or six games. Personally, I chose the Tigers to win it in seven, and I’m going to stand by that, even after tonight’s disaster. But I’m usually wrong in these sorts of decisions.

> Jose Valverde seems to be going all mid-season John Axford on the Tigers this postseason. Phil Coke handled the closing duties during the ALCS, but Valverde got his chance to redeem himself today, since the Tigers were already down by five runs. But he didn’t help the cause, allowing two runs on four straight hits. The one batter he retired was Lincecum on a strikeout, but, unfortunately for him, that doesn’t really count.

> MLB Network compared Marco Scutaro to Paul Molitor. Meh.

Scutaro is having an unbelievable postseason, but I’m not ready to put him up there with an HOFer.

THE NEWS

> According to multiple sources, Norichika Aoki sat in as a guest commentator for the Japanese broadcast of the World Series.

> Davey Johnson of the Nationals won TSN’s Manager of the Year Award, as he received the most first-place votes. But what struck me is that Ron Roenicke received a first place vote.

> Minor moves:

Cubs: Claimed Carlos Gutierrez off waivers from the Twins; designated Anthony Recker for assignment.
Twins: Declined Matt Capps’ option for 2013; outrighted Jeff Manship, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez, Kyle Waldrop, P.J. Walters, and Matt Carson off of thier 40-man roster.
Mariners: Declined Miguel Olivo’s option for 2013; released Munenori Kawasaki.

> I was going to write a big article tonight on fan bases, but wound up not having enough time. I’ll have it up tomorrow or the day after. (And I know the topic “fan bases” sounds extremely broad, but you’ll know what it means when I get the article up.)


Two possible adds for the Brewers this offseason

October 24, 2012

> Today was one of those extremely boring days that we’re going to be seeing a lot of during the offseason once the World Series is over. There was basically no news- at least on the Brewers front. But, scrolling through MLB Trade Rumors earlier and seeing some of the smaller names that are going to be out there this offseason, I figured I’d project how some of them could fit in with the Brewers. I’ll be doing a lot of this over the next few months, but I’m going to start with two random players- a reliever and a shortstop- and discuss how they would fit in with the Brewers, what the odds of the Brewers signing them are, and so on.

The first name that caught my eye scrolling down MLBTR is reliever Shawn Camp, who spent 2012 with the Cubs. Camp doesn’t come to mind when you think of dominant relievers, but he’s quietly been relatively consistent over the past few years with the Blue Jays (2008-2011) and the Cubs (2012). In 2012, he went 3-6 with a 3.59 ERA, and was one of the bright spots of a Cubs bullpen that wasn’t the greatest (though not as much of a train wreck as the Brewers’ ‘pen). He throws in the high-80’s to low-90’s, but has a pretty deceptive 3/4 delivery. I think he’d be a solid fit in what will hopefully be a revamped Brewers bullpen. The Cubs have shown interest in bringing him back next year, but, if the Brewers show interest as well, I get the feeling he’d rather come to Milwaukee instead of Chicago.

The next guy is shortstop Marco Scutaro- yes, the NLCS MVP for the Giants. I’ve been thinking about him as a possible option for the Brewers since September, but the chances of the Brewers getting him are looking slimmer and slimmer with Scutaro’s unbelievable postseason feats. Anyway, I thought he’d fit in as the starting shortstop if Jean Segura shows that he isn’t quite ready for the starting role. But, even if Segura did earn the starting role, I thought Scutaro would be a better option to sign as a back-up than bringing back Alex Gonzalez in that role. Again, though, Scutaro’s recent success tells me he’ll be looking for something more on the free agent market this offseason. So, unless the Brewers are willing to give him the starting nod at shortstop regardless of the Segura and Gonzalez situations, I’m doubtful of the Brewers’ chances of bringing in Scutaro.

THE NEWS

> Jonathan Lucroy will not be eligible for Super Two Status.

> The Marlins fired Ozzie Guillen after his disastrous first season in Miami. Guillen and Bobby Valentine (Red Sox) held similar circumstances going into this season with their respective teams: each had been given a great team- at least on paper- by their front office, and were expected to contend for a title. I can tell you that I fell for it; I had both the Red Sox and Marlins making the playoffs via the Wild Card prior to the start of the season. But chemistry issues in the clubhouse plagued both teams, hence the early exits of both managers.

> Japanese super-prospect Shohei Otani- pretty much this offseason’s Yu Darvish- has decided to pursue an MLB career rather than stay in Japan. Just like last year with Darvish, the Rangers and Red Sox have done the most work with him so far.

It’s a long shot, but I think he’d be an interesting option for the Brewers. At first, I thought he wouldn’t make sense for them financially. But, looking at Otani’s situation, it’s unlikely an 18-year old is going to get the money Darvish did last year. Plus, since Otani is just coming out of college and never signed with a Japanese team, the MLB team that signs him won’t have to pay the idiotic posting fee.

> Randy Wolf is going to miss all of 2013 due to Tommy John Surgery, a procedure he also had to go through in 2005. That makes me wonder if this had something to do with his sub-par performance with the Brewers in 2012.

Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Phillies; designated Tyson Brummett for assignment.
Phillies:
Outrighted Michael Martinez to Triple-A.
Angels: Outrighted Jeremy Moore to Triple-A.


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