Braun takes home fifth consecutive Silver Slugger

November 9, 2012

> Apparently there’s one award that a false PED accusation can’t take away from Ryan Braun, and that’s one of the three outfield Silver Slugger awards. Braun has basically had this award locked down ever since he arrived in the Majors, this season being the fifth consecutive in which he took home an outfield SS. (The reason I say “one of the outfield awards” is because there is no specific left field award; the awards just go to the three top offensive outfielders regardless of which outfield position they play.)

But Braun winning this award doesn’t make it any better that he was robbed of the Hank Aaron Award, and will be robbed of the MVP. Just something we’ll have to live with for likely the next few seasons.

Anyway, here are the rest of the Silver Slugger winners at their respective positions:

American League

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski

First Base: Prince Fielder

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

Outfield: Mike Trout

Outfield: Josh Willingham

Outfield: Josh Hamilton

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

National League

Catcher: Buster Posey

First Base: Adam LaRoche

Second Base: Aaron Hill

Third Base: Chase Headley

Shortstop: Ian Desmond

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen

Outfield: Jay Bruce

Outfield: Braun

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg

Now for a few pieces of news I’ve missed over the last few days…

> Hunter Morris was named the Topps Southern League Player of the Year. He just can’t stop winning awards; now let’s hope he isn’t falsely accused of using steroids sometime this offseason.

> Carlos Gomez was given the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award for the Brewers.

Defense appears to be second sense to him; now let’s see if Gomez can build off his solid offensive campaign in 2012. If the Brewers don’t sign Hamilton, Gomez is the guy they’re going to fall back on.

> Brock Kjeldgaard left the Arizona Fall League with a broken foot. He is going to have surgery this week, but will be ready for Spring Training.

> Santo Manzanillo also left the AFL due to a sore right shoulder. He got murdered for seven runs in just two innings over the course of three AFL games.

But poor Manzanillo never really managed to get healthy all year. He got into a car accident in late 2011, which affected his arm, and probably his performance.

> Minor moves:

Diamondbacks: Signed Garrett Mock to a minor league deal.
Mets: Signed Greg Burke to a minor league deal.
Indians: Outrighted Kevin Slowey, who elected free agency; signed Hector Rondon and Luis Hernandez to minor league contracts.
Red Sox: Signed Mitch Maier to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Signed Darren Ford and Jared Goedart to minor league deals.
Royals: Re-signed Manny Pina to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Acquired ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress from the Royals; signed Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal; designated Scott Maine for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired Tommy Hottovy from the Royals.
Angels: Signed ex-Brewer Mitch Stetter to a minor league deal.
Reds: Outrighted Bill Bray and Wilson Valdez, both of whom elected free agency.
Phillies: Re-signed Kevin Frandsen to a one-year deal.


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.


Brewers drop series on south side

June 25, 2012

> I usually take pride in the fact that I know most of the players in the MLB. Whether or not they’re All-Stars or no-names, I tend to to know most of them. So, when the Brewers lose on a walk-off hit from a player I’ve never even remotely heard of, it’s not a good sign.

> The Brewers fell to the White Sox today, 1-0, in ten innings. The bullpen as a whole has been terrible this year, and they’ve pretty much taken turns on who gets the loss. Today, it was Manny Parra, who gave up a walk-off single to a .190-hitting rookie named Eduardo Escobar. Who is he? Beats me. Nor do I care. But I do care about the fact that the Brewers basically don’t have a bullpen anymore.

On the bright side, the Brewers got another stellar starting pitching performance today, this one from Michael Fiers, who had the best start of his young career. He hurled 7 1/3 shutout innings while giving up five hits. He walked one and struck out seven, lowering his ERA to 2.70.

Marco Estrada is returning this week, but, with Shaun Marcum likely to be on the disabled list for the next two weeks, Fiers will still get a chance to make his mark in Milwaukee. I was doubtful for a while, but, if Fiers pitches better than Estrada while Marcum is on the DL, I’d love to see him stay in the rotation rather than Estrada.

Meanwhile, the Sox got another great start from Jose Quintana, who has come out of nowhere and put up unbelievable numbers. His ERA is 1.25 since his call-up last month, and this was his second straight start of eight innings and no runs. He shut down the Cardinals his last time out, so I guess I’m not going to get too worried that the Brewers couldn’t get much going against him.

> I’ve just about had it with Nyjer Morgan. His acts and things were funny and entertaining last year, but now I’m realizing that was just because he was performing on the field to back it up. After the Brewers acquired him in March of 2011, he went on to hit .304 and was a huge part of the Brewers’ NLCS run.

But now he just looks like an idiot, and his performance on the field is making sure of it. Today, in the ninth inning, the Brewers had two runners on, from singles by Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart, with one out. Morgan was pinch running for Ramirez and was on second. After Rickie Weeks struck out, George Kottaras was up to bat and had a 3-1 count. He swung and missed at the next pitch. For some reason, Morgan was “running” on the pitch, but was thrown out by a mile by White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski for the third out. It was obvious Morgan thought there was a 3-2 count. But, upon watching the replay, Morgan was barely even running. It looked like he was taking a walking lead from second, but, instead of running back to second on Pierzynski’s throw, he kept running to third and was an easy out. That’s stupid enough, but Morgan had to make it worse in a postgame interview, saying that “mistakes are part of his game.”

Designate him for assignment. Now.

> He can follow Brooks Conrad out of town. Speak of the .075 hitter, he’s hitting .500 with the Rays. He had a double yesterday, then a pair of two-run doubles today. So, in two days with his new team, he doubled the production he put up in nearly three months with the Brewers.

Have fun with your new team, Brooks. We won’t miss you.

> Today, Rowan Kavner wrote an articleabout Cody Ransom’s versatility in the field. But what he didn’t mention is the fact that Ransom has struck out 36 times in 87 plate appearances with the Brewers, and 57 in 126 all year. That’s a worse strikeout rate than Weeks.

> I could go on writing about the flaws of this team, but I’d be here all night. So let’s just preview the upcoming Brewers-Reds series, which is going to be the defining series of the year for the Brewers, any way you look at it.

The Reds are currently 39-32, good for first place in the National League Central. They were on a tear that included a six-game winning streak just last week, but have cooled off since. They’re 6.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the standings, meaning if the Brewers somehow came through to sweep them, we’d be just 3.5 games back. However, if the Reds swept the Brewers, they’d be 9.5 games out, and the season would might as well be over. So the Brewers have to at least take two out of three in this series at all costs in order to stay in relative shouting distance to the rest of the division.

The series starts tomorrow at the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park. The last time the Brewers visited there, in September of 2011, they swept the Reds in three games. Here are what the pitching matchups look like:

Yovani Gallardo (6-5, 4.22 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (5-2, 5.20 ERA)

Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.50 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (3-5, 4.19 ERA)

Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.81 ERA) vs. ???


Crew wins slugfest with ChiSox

March 7, 2012

> This is what we’ve been waiting for all spring- a day the Brewers offense breaks out.

I guess saying all spring makes it seem like Spring Training has been going on for awhile, even though this is only the Brewers’ fourth game. But, with the way the Brewers offense had been those first three games (save for those lucky breaks against the Giants), it certainly felt like awhile. Anyway, enough rambling- the Brewers defeated the White Sox today, 10-6. For the most part of the game, the Brewers had been winning be a large margin (at one point it was 8-0), as the White Sox didn’t even draw within four runs until the ninth inning.

The Brewers wasted no time getting on the board, as Alex Gonzalez hit a two-RBI double in the first inning off Sox starter Jake Peavy. The Brewers tagged Peavy for one more run in the second on Norichika Aoki’s long-awaited first hit with the Crew- a RBI triple. The Brewers also added another run in the third on Taylor Green’s RBI single.

The Brewers then had a breakout inning at the plate in the fourth. Mike Rivera and Travis Ishikawa each had RBI singles, and Gonzalez continued his good day at the plate with a two-RBI triple. All four of these runs came off of pitcher Dylan Axelrod, and the Brewers led 8-0 after the fourth.

The White Sox finally got on the board in the fifth on a two-run homer by Jared Mitchell, and a RBI double by A.J. Pierzynski. But the Brewers answered back in the sixth on a two-RBI double by Edwin Maysonet, making the score 10-3. The Sox scored three more runs before the game ended- Trayce Thompson had a RBI groundout in the eighth, Hector Gimenez hit a RBI single in the ninth, and Delwyn Young hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Despite the fact the pitching staff gave up six runs, it looked pretty good once again. Marco Estrada kept the starting pitchers’ scoreless streak alive with two scoreless innings to start the game. John Axford, Kameron Loe, and Juan Perez all also had scoreless innings. Mike Fiers gave up three runs, and Josh Butler gave up two runs, however. Taylor Jungmann also gave up a run in two innings of work, but it was unearned (what a theme that’s been this spring).

A lot of guys who were due to have breakout games at some point did have them today. Along with his triple, Aoki tacked on another hit later in the game and went 2-for-4. Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and showed that he can be an occasional source of power. Eric Farris also went 2-for-4. Meanwhile, Nyjer Morgan finally got his first hit of the spring, and Ishikawa got another hit as he continues to make his case for the opening day roster.

> Corey Hart announced today that hethought that having his knee surgically repaired was the right decision. We all probably already knew that, but it’s good hearing it from the man himself.

> The Brewers will take on the division-rival Reds tomorrow at 2:05 PM CT, and will send Zack Greinke to the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings in the first game of spring against the Giants. The Reds will counter with Mike Leake, who has a 4.50 ERA thus far this spring.

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


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