Results of the major awards

November 17, 2012

> Now that the week of debating over awards is over, the boring part of the offseason starts: waiting for all of the big name players to sign. But first, let’s look at the complete placing for each award (via Baseball Reference).

NL MVP:

1. Buster Posey
2. Ryan Braun
3. Andrew McCutchen
4. Yadier Molina
5. Chase Headley
6. Adam LaRoche
6. David Wright
8. Craig Kimbrel
9. Aramis Ramirez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Matt Holliday
12. Aroldis Chapman
13. Brandon Phillips
14. R.A. Dickey
14. Joey Votto
16. Ian Desmond
16. Clayton Kershaw
18. Michael Bourn
19. Allen Craig
20. Gio Gonzalez
20. Kris Medlen
20. Martin Prado
20. Alfonso Soriano
24. Giancarlo Stanton
24. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Carlos Beltran
26. Aaron Hill
28. Jason Heyward
28. Carlos Ruiz
30. Johnny Cueto
30. Bryce Harper
32. Chipper Jones
32. Miguel Montero
32. Angel Pagan
32. Hunter Pence

AL MVP: 

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mike Trout
3. Adrian Beltre
4. Robinson Cano
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Adam Jones
7. Derek Jeter
8. Justin Verlander
9. Prince Fielder
10. Yoenis Cespedes
11. Edwin Encarnacion
12. David Price
13. Fernando Rodney
14. Jim Johnson
15. Alex Rios
16. Josh Reddick
17. Albert Pujols
18. Ben Zobrist
19. Joe Mauer
20. Rafael Soriano
21. Matt Wieters
22. Felix Hernandez
22. Jered Weaver
24. Raul Ibanez

NL Cy Young Award: 

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Matt Cain
7. Kyle Lohse
8. Aroldis Chapman
8. Cole Hamels

AL Cy Young Award: 

1. David Price
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jered Weaver
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Fernando Rodney
6. Chris Sale
7. Jim Johnson
8. Matt Harrison
9. Yu Darvish

NL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Todd Frazier
4. Wilin Rosario
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
6. Matt Carpenter
6. Jordan Pacheco

AL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Jarrod Parker

NL Manager of the Year: 

1. Davey Johnson
2. Dusty Baker
3. Bruce Bochy
4. Fredi Gonzalez
5. Bud Black
5. Mike Matheny

AL Manager of the Year: 

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura
4. Joe Maddon
5. Joe Girardi
6. Jim Leyland
6. Ron Washington

> I forgot to mention the other day that Ramirez placed ninth in the NL MVP voting. It seems like a lot of non-Brewers fans are overlooking that he actually turned in a great year.

> The Brewers signed Eulogio De La Cruz and Zach Kroenke- both pitchers- to minor league deals.

Kroenke is a lefty, so he gives the Brewers some much-needed depth in that department. And, if you don’t recognize the name “Eulogio” De La Cruz, trust me- you do.

Does “Frankie” De La Cruz ring a bell? Yep, he’s back, and n0w I can continue vomiting over how horrible his mechanics are.

> Jack Zduriencik- a former Brewers scout, and currently the general manager of the Mariners- said they aren’t actively pursuing Josh Hamilton. That could be good for the Brewers, though Doug Melvin has been saying basically the same thing as Zduriencik.

> The Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Interpret that how you want.

> Minor moves: 

Mets: Signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.
Padres: Acquired Tyson Ross and A.J. Kirby-Jones from the Athletics.
Athletics: Acquired Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino from the Padres.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood, Atahualpa Severino, Brian Sanches, and Anthony Ortega to minor league deals.


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.


Recapping the Division Series to this point

October 9, 2012

> I’ve been busy the past few days, and there hasn’t been much Brewers news to report. But, seeing as we’re already into the third day of the Division Series, let’s jump right into some postseason coverage.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> A day after Justin Verlander’s 11-strikeout, 121-pitch adventure, the Tigers defeated the Athletics, 5-4, to take a 2-0 ALDS lead. It was a back-and-forth game with some shoddy defense on both sides, but ex-Brewer Grant Balfour finally gave in at the end, allowing a walk-off sacrifice fly from Don Kelly.

> Bronson Arroyo and the Reds dominated the Giants last night, shutting them down 9-0. Arroyo took a perfect game into the fifth, and finished with seven one-hit innings. He was backed by his offense, who crushed Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ bullpen army. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, and Ryan Hanigan each had multi-hit days.

> The Cardinals-Nationals series started yesterday, and the Nats came out on top after take advantage of a later error by the Cards. Despite Adam Wainwright’s 10-strikeout game, Tyler Moore’s two-run single in the eighth was the decisive factor.

However, the Cardinals stormed back today with a 12-run outburst, including two home runs from Carlos Beltran.

> The Yankees rode a five-run pummeling of Jim Johnson in the ninth inning last night to a 7-2 win over the Orioles. The ninth inning rally started with a home run from Russell Martin. Former Brewer CC Sabathia nearly went the distance, but was pulled with two outs in the ninth.

The O’s-Yanks game is still in progress right now, but the Orioles are winning 3-2 after 6 1/3 stellar innings from Wei-Yin Chen.

THE NEWS

> A few managerial updates- some surprising, some not so much. The Indians hired Terry Francona, the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine, and Jim Tracy resigned his post as Rockies manager.

> The Angels signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension.

> Minor moves:

Rays: Released Matt Bush.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.

And that’s about it. This is what the post format is going to look like for the rest of the offseason. Since there won’t always be Brewers news to cover, I have to compensate by reporting news from around the league as well.

THE EXTRAS

> Yesterday, Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque kissed the ball before tossing it to first base to record the final out of the ninth. No joke.

But, of course, something as trivial as this had to turn into a fiasco.


Fiers not perfect, but still stellar in win over Cincy

August 8, 2012

Postgame

> I missed pretty much all of today’s game, but I have to say I knew what I was going to be missing. The Brewers defeated the Reds today, 3-1, in yet another amazing performance by Mike Fiers. I know I’ve said this about nearly all of his starts, but I think today was the best performance of his young career. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Brewers jumped on Reds ace Johnny Cueto right away in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez stayed hot and smacked a two-run shot into left field to give the Brewers the early lead.

Cueto did settle down after that inning, turning in a good start (7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K). But, after that first inning, Fiers never looked back either, and out-pitched an opponent who has been tough on the Brewers recently.

Fiers threw eight stellar innings while giving up one run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. The eight innings are a new career-high in innings pitched for Fiers. He also lowered his ERA to 1.80, which is just flat-out remarkable.

But the story tonight was Fiers’ bid for perfection. He needed just 66 pitches to get through the first six innings, which were flawless. But, Zack Cozart led off the seventh inning with a double to break up the perfecto. Two batters later, Brandon Phillips drove him in with a sacrifice fly, which wound up being the only blemish on Fiers’ line.

Fiers ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth as well. He started off the inning by striking out Scott Rolen, but then gave up a single to Xavier Paul. Two batters later, Ryan Hanigan hit a single to put runners on first and third with two outs. But, Fiers did what he’s done so well all year: get out of the tough jams. He struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat in the eighth.

The Analysis

> There really isn’t much more you can say about Fiers at this point, other than he’s turned himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. You can say all you want about the over-hyped Bryce Harper (who is now hitting under .260, mind you), but my vote would go to a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA, rather than some overrated 19 year-old outfielder who’s only in the conversation because of his age.

Anyway, I decided to check out some scouting reports regarding Fiers today to see what the prospect experts were saying about him. What I found interesting is that his scouting report is nothing compared to the stats he’s putting up. But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise- Fiers has a mid-to-high 80′s fastball, a solid cutter, and two plus off-speed pitches. That usually makes for a good fly-ball pitcher, but that isn’t what Fiers is doing: he’s being a dominant strikeout pitcher at the Major League level.

The News

> Ron Roenicke once again talked about the frustration he’s having with Francisco Rodriguez’s role in the bullpen. We know, Ron. We know.

> As I mentioned in today’s pregame post, Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment by the Rays today. The man of the .000 batting average wasn’t going to last long there anyway.

The Numbers Game

> The theory I’ve been talking about the past few days finally occurred today: Jim Henderson closed out the game. He preserved Fiers’ two-run lead with a scoreless 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Henderson is throwing the ball the best in the bullpen by far right now, so hopefully we see him in these situations more often.

> Jonathan Lucroy had been slumping since his return from the disabled list, with his batting average dropping from .345 to .327. But, he went 2-for-3 today to bring the BA back up to .329.

> The Brewers’ third run came on Jean Segura’s first RBI as a Brewer (and in the Majors overall), which was a groundout off Cueto in the seventh inning. Segura is still looking for his first hit.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up. So let’s just say it’s a good thing the Brewers took the first two games.

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)

 


Fiers’ solid start spoiled by Brewers’ offense

July 22, 2012

> This has certainly become a recurring theme over the past few days. The Brewers once again fell to the Reds today, 2-1. That score should tell you what went wrong for the Brewers, and what has gone wrong this entire series: no offense. Thanks to this lack of offense, the Brewers have managed to sweep themselves out of contention for the National League Central, as they now sit 10.5 games back in the division. This season is starting to feel very 2010-ish.

More on that later, but for now here’s the game summary. Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI single in the third inning to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead, but the Reds answered back with two of their own in the bottom of the inning on Wilson Valdez’s RBI single and Brandon Phillips’ sacrifice fly. And that’s your game summary.

Michael (or Mike, still debating on what to call him) Fiers had yet another stellar start today. He went six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out four. He lowered his ERA to 1.96 on the year, which leads the Majors in rookie starter ERA. But, courtesy of this so-called “offense,” his record stands at a mediocre 3-4. That’s all due to no-decisions and hard-luck losses.

> I said earlier that this season is starting to feel a lot like 2010. Just like that season, the Brewers went into a season-deciding series against the Reds with a chance to make up some ground. Instead, they lost the series (in this case, were swept), and buried themselves into the bottom of the NL Central with no hope of getting out.

But, unlike 2010, it isn’t the starting pitching’s fault. The starting pitching has been great again this year like it was in 2011, despite some injuries. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of the issue we had in 2010: it’s the offense.

Which is odd. If you look up and down the lineup, there is some talent. Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Ramirez, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks are all names that should be productive. But it feels like none of them are; otherwise I don’t have an answer as to why the offense is slumping so horribly.

It’s not that Aoki isn’t producing. But it’s worth noting that his average has dropped from around .300 to .285 in recent days (though he did go 2-for-5 today).

Braun is having another banner year, but did have a pretty terrible series in Cincinnati. He struck out six times- three of those coming today- and his average dropped to .309 (not that it’s a bad average, but it was higher coming into the series). He also left four runners on base today.

Ramirez is the one guy who is producing right now. He went 2-for-4 today, and he’s brought his average up to .277, the highest it’s been all year. But, without guys getting on ahead of him (I should also mention the two-spot in the lineup is a gaping hole), how can he drive in the runs that he’s supposed to be driving in?

Hart has been a streaky hitter his entire career; I’ll give him that. But, he’s been mired in his bad streaks at the wrong times this year, especially with no one else around him producing. His average currently sits at .258 (it’s been flying up and down between .240 and .270 like it always does), which doesn’t give Ramirez much protection.

Then there’s Weeks. Everyone was going crazy when he finally heated up after the All-Star break and brought his average over .200 (there’s definitely an issue when people are getting excited about that), but now he’s falling back down. His average sits at .195, and he’s still on pace to have arguably the worst year of his career.

Those are the core five guys who need to be producing- getting on base, driving in runs, etc.- in order for the Brewers to win. And they aren’t doing that, especially right now. You could make a case that Martin Maldonado, who has brought his average all the way up to .280, should be in that group of core players. And I suppose I’d agree with that, considering he’s performing better than half of them anyway. But he has the same problem Ramirez is having: no one is getting on base for him to drive in.

Anyway, I’ll be done with that tangent, which was basically me trying to explain what’s wrong with the offense. I’m aware a bunch of things don’t add up- I’m just about as confused as the rest of you.

> On a somewhat positive note (it’s been tough to stay positive through this disappointment of a season), John Axford hasn’t given up a run in three appearances since he was removed from the closer’s role, which is a good sign. There was always the danger of him coming in and giving up a run or more before his removal, so it’s nice to see him string together a couple scoreless appearances.

> The Brewers have reached an agreement to sign pitching prospect Yosmer Leal. He’s a 16-year old out of Venezuela who probably will not see big league time with the Brewers any time soon, but it’s always good to stack up young pitchers.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers travel to Philadelphia tomorrow to start a three-game series with the Phillies. But no worries there: the Phillies are having a worse season than the Brewers, if you can believe that. They’ll see Roy Halladay tomorrow, then Cliff Lee and Vance Worley. At first glance that seems like a tough lineup of pitchers, but none of them are having very good seasons up to this point.

Anyway, thanks for reading.


Brewers’ offense once again absent against Reds

July 22, 2012

> This is frustrating, and just doesn’t make any sense. The Brewers, who were once known as one of the better offensive teams in baseball, have been unable to score runs at what is, statistically speaking, a hitter’s haven, otherwise known as Great American Ball Park. That trend did indeed continue today, as the Brewers fell to the Reds, 6-2.

Great American Ballpark was a house of horrors for the Brewers in 2010, and most of 2011. The Brewers swept the Reds at their home park in September of 2010, but they’ve proved this year that it was a fluke.

Yovani Gallardo’s line today was somewhat deceptive. He went 5 2/3 innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. Anyway, Gallardo gave up four runs right away in the first inning. Jay Bruce hit an RBI single, Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly, and then Ryan Ludwick smashed a mistake pitch from Gallardo for a two-run shot. After that inning, Gallardo held the Reds in check. But, the way the offense has been lately, a 4-0 deficit is far too much to come back from.

The Brewers got their first run in the fourth inning on Corey Hart’s RBI single. They got their second and last run when a run scored on Aramis Ramirez’s double play in the sixth. The sixth could have become a big inning for the Brewers, but the double play- which was slickly turned by shortstop Zack Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips- killed the rally.

The Reds tacked on two more in the seventh against Jose Veras, a two-run blast from Phillips, which pretty much put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo once again inexplicably dominated the Brewers. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out six. I guess I don’t really see what’s so good about Arroyo, since other teams seem to hit him just fine.

> And that’s already about it. Not much news today, other than this pretty crushing loss, since the Brewers desperately needed to get out of Cincy with a series win.

Anyway, here’s tomorrow’s match-up:

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-5, 2.28 ERA)


Looking back at the first week of 2011′s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their options  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their option  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.



Braun, Fielder take home Silver Slugger Awards

November 3, 2011

The Brewers don’t have good defense. That’s why nobody on the Brewers received any of the Gold Glove Awards that were handed out yesterday.

But you can’t argue with the fact that- despite its inconsistency- the Brewers have a rather destructive offense. So, it was fitting that a few Brewers took home the offense-related awards that were handed out today.

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder both won the 2011 Silver Slugger Award at their respective positions: outfield and first base. It’s the second straight season that they had multiple winners, as Braun also won last year, along with pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

Braun had a career year in multiple categories. He hit 33 home runs with 111 RBIs, and also had a .332 batting average- a new career best for him, and second in the NL in 2011. Braun also led the NL in OPS at .994, and led in slugging percentage at .597. Not to mention this is Braun’s fourth year in a row winning the Silver Slugger Award.

This was Fielder’s second Silver Slugger Award, as he also won in 2007. Fielder winning it this year broke Albert Pujols’ three-year streak of winning the award at first base. Anyway, Fielder hit 38 home runs with a 120 RBIs. He also hit .299, which tied a career-high.

Both of these guys definitely deserved it. I know there are people out there arguing that Pujols or Joey Votto should have won at first base, but Pujols’ injury dampened his chance at winning for the fourth straight year, while Votto just didn’t have as good of a year as Fielder. Anyway, here are all of the winners at each position in the AL and NL:

American League

Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Curtis Granderson, Yankees; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves

First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

Pitcher: Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks

I think most of these guys were deserving of winning it.

Anyway, before I go, here’s all the Hot Stove news from today:

Cubs manager Mike Quade finally got fired. Newly appointed president of the Cubs, Theo Epstein, flew to Florida to tell Quade personally that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cubs in 2012. In Quade’s only full season with the Cubs, he went 71-91, which obviously wasn’t going to cut it.

Anyway, I guess I didn’t expect this, but it doesn’t appear that Epstein is going to do much screwing around while he’s the president of the Cubs. He wasted no time firing Quade, so we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll make any other surprising moves. (Actually, the Quade move wasn’t very surprising. Never mind.)

Oh, and one more thing related to the Cubs and Epstein- the Cubs and Red Sox still haven’t agreed on compensation for Epstein leaving the Sox with time still left on his contract. At first, the Sox wanted Matt Garza from the Cubs, which was just plain stupid. But now I guess they can’t even agree on a Minor Leaguer.

Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers today. Apparently, the team is going to be auctioned off.

But it’s about time. I’m not big into the Dodgers, but those fans- and the players themselves- have had to suffer enough under that dink McCourt. A baseball team shouldn’t have to suffer because of the owner’s personal issues (if you didn’t know already, this all started when McCourt and his wife- who was the president of the Dodgers- got divorced).

Anyway, a few other moves- the Nationals are close to re-signing starter Chien-Ming Wang, who has missed the better of the last two years with injuries. Also, John McDonald, a great defensive shortstop, re-signed for two years with Diamondbacks.


Gold Glove Awards handed out, no Brewers win

November 2, 2011

Isn’t this a surprise. The 2011 Gold Glove Awards were handed out today, and nobody on the Brewers won.

Normally, I’d try to defend the Brewers and at least attempt to make a case that someone on the team should win (which I’ll actually do for three players later in this article). But, other than those three players, I can’t make a case for any infielder on the Brewers. If I remember my stats correctly, third baseman Casey McGehee, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and first baseman Prince Fielder all led the league in errors at their respective positions. I don’t think second baseman Rickie Weeks led the league in errors at second base, but I’m pretty sure he was up there.

Not to mention the outfield. Corey Hart has a cannon arm (although it isn’t always accurate), but, other than that, he looks like a fool in right field. Platoon center fielders Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan each had their share of highlight reel plays, but also made costly misplays.

Then there was that awful inning in the Brewers’ last game of the postseason- game 6 of the NLCS- where the Brewers made about five errors in two plays (but were only charged for three; the error is such a pathetic stat). That pretty much closed the book for me on the Brewers’ 2011 defense, and hopefully that’s Doug Melvin’s top priority this offseason.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about how awful the Brewers’ defense was, here are the actual 2011 Gold Glove winners:

American League

Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Shortstop: Erick Aybar, Angels

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Alex Gordon, Royals; Nick Markakis, Orioles

National League

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Base: Joey Votto, Reds

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks

I didn’t get to see all many of these guys play very often this year to judge how good their defense actually was, but really- Gerardo Parra over Ryan Braun? And Kershaw is pretty much a lock for the NL Cy Young Award, does he really need a Gold Glove too?

From the Brewers, I think Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum at least deserved consideration for the Gold Glove Award at pitcher. Marcum was on the highlight reel all the time, while Greinke was just a good defender. But again, I can’t judge how good Kershaw’s defense really is, because I don’t watch “Dodgers Baseball!” (as Vin Scully would say) very often. But I never saw him on a highlight reel.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Before I go, here’s the Hot Stove news from today:

The Cardinals picked up and declined some options today. They picked up Molina’s option, which was expected, but they declined shortstop Rafael Furcal’s and Octavio Dotel’s options- something I didn’t expect. Maybe they intend to bring back Furcal for less money- either that, or they’re stuck with Ryan Theriot at short again, and we all know how that turned out. And Dotel was a great right-handed reliever, but he’s aging, which is probably why the Cards declined his option.

Brian Cashman is going back to what he’s done best over the past few years for the Yankees- spend as much money as possible and taunt the best players in the game to come to the Yanks. I’ve never really said this on this blog before, but I’m not a huge Cashman fan. Anyway, he’s back on three-year deal for them.

Lastly, the Cubs formally introduced Jed Hoyer as their new GM, and Jason McLeod as the head of scouting and player development. The only reason these guys are there is because of the Cubs’ new president- Theo Epstein. Together, these three created a World Series team in 2004 for the Red Sox.


Revamped All-Star Rosters

July 11, 2011

4:58p The All-Star team rosters for both leagues have changed quite a bit since they were announced a week ago. So, here are the new rosters:

American League

Catchers: Alex Avila, Tigers | Russell Martin, Yankees | Matt Wieters, Orioles

1st Basemen: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox | Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | Paul Konerko, White Sox

2nd Basemen: Robinson Cano, Yankees | Howie Kendrick, Angels

Shortstops: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians | Derek Jeter, Yankees | Jhonny Peralta, Tigers

3rd Basemen: Adrian Beltre, Rangers | Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox | Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Outfielders: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | Curtis Granderson, Yankees | Josh Hamilton, Rangers | Michael Cuddyer, Twins | Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox | Matt Joyce, Rays | Carlos Quentin, White Sox

Designated Hitters: David Ortiz, Red Sox | Michael Young, Rangers

Starting Pitchers: Jered Weaver, Angels | Josh Beckett, Red Sox | Gio Gonzalez, Athletics | Felix Hernandez, Mariners | Jon Lester, Red Sox | Alexi Ogando, Rangers | Michael Pineda, Mariners | David Price, Rays | Ricky Romero, Blue Jays | CC Sabathia, Yankees | James Shields, Rays | Justin Verlander, Tigers | C.J. Wilson, Rangers

Relief Pitchers: Aaron Crow, Royals | Brandon League, Mariners | Chris Perez, Indians | David Robertson, Yankees | Mariano Rivera, Yankees | Jose Valverde, Tigers | Jordan Walden, Angels

National League

Catchers: Brian McCann, Braves | Yadier Molina, Cardinals | Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks

1st Basemen: Prince Fielder, Brewers | Gaby Sanchez, Marlins | Joey Votto, Reds

2nd Basemen: Rickie Weeks, Brewers | Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstops: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies | Jose Reyes, Mets | Starlin Castro, Cubs

3rd Basemen: Scott Rolen, Reds | Placido Polanco, Phillies | Pablo Sandoval, Giants | Chipper Jones, Braves

Outfielders: Lance Berkman, Cardinals | Matt Kemp, Dodgers | Matt Holliday, Cardinals | Ryan Braun, Brewers | Jay Bruce, Reds | Hunter Pence, Astros | Andrew McCutchen, Pirates | Justin Upton, Diamondbacks | Shane Victorino, Phillies | Andre Ethier, Dodgers

Starting Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Phillies | Matt Cain, Giants | Kevin Correia, Pirates | Cole Hamels, Phillies | Jair Jurrjens, Braves | Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers | Cliff Lee, Phillies | Tim Lincecum, Giants | Ryan Vogelsong, Giants

Relief Pitchers: Heath Bell, Padres | Tyler Clippard, Nationals | Joel Hanrahan, Pirates | Craig Kimbrel, Braves | Jonny Venters, Braves | Brian Wilson, Giants

And that’s everybody. Remember that some of these guys got injured and won’t be playing, but their replacements are listed as well. And some of the pitchers who threw yesterday (Sunday) aren’t allowed to pitch in the All-Star Game, due to that stupid new rule. A few examples of guys who can’t pitch because of that rule are Hernandez, Hamels, Cain, Sabathia, Shields, etc.

Now, here’s the starting lineup for both leagues:

National League

Rickie Weeks, 2B

Carlos Beltran, DH

Matt Kemp, CF

Prince Fielder, 1B

Brian McCann, C

Lance Berkman, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Scott Rolen, 3B

Roy Halladay, SP

American League

Curtis Granderson, CF

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

Jose Bautista, RF

Josh Hamilton, LF

Adrian Beltre, 3B

David Ortiz, DH

Robinson Cano, 2B

Alex Avila, C

Jered Weaver, SP

Braun would be starting in the outfield for the National League, had it not been for that stupid calf injury. At least we’ve got Weeks and Fielder in the starting lineup, though.

Weaver and Halladay should be a good matchup. To be honest, I would have rather seen Jurrjens starting instead of Halladay so it would have been the two ERA leaders facing off. But that was Bruce Bochy’s decision, not mine.

Anyway, the Home Run Derby is starting in an hour, so I’m pretty excited for that. I’ll have some coverage up after the derby ends.


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