Loe, Morgan, Veras, and Ishikawa likely gone

November 2, 2012

> Schoolwork- endless schoolwork. That’s basically my excuse for getting articles up the past few days. The past three days have been the worst of the year for me. I’m hoping the next few weeks will be at least a bit lighter, otherwise my time to write on BWI will get mercilessly crunched. Anyhow, I’m not going to write a big article today, but all the news I’ve missed should cover that up.

THE NEWS

> So far, the offseason is going as planned- the Brewers are getting rid of the useless players, so to speak, in order to create roster space. The first batch of players to go is Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, and Travis Ishikawa.

Morgan’s outright to Triple-A (and eventual election of free agency) probably gathered the most national news, especially because of the role he played on the postseason team in 2011. He was responsible for getting the Brewers to the NLCS on that unforgettable walk-off hit against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and he ingrained himself into the minds of Brewers fans (and into the minds of other fans, but in a negative way) with all of his aliases. But it just wasn’t Nyjer’s season in 2012. He hit a measly .239, and lost practically all of his playing time so that Carlos Gomez could prepare for a possible starting role in 2013. The emergence of Norichika Aoki didn’t help his cause either. And, with the left-handed Logan Schafer proving that he could possibly play the role of the fourth outfielder in 2013, there just wasn’t a spot for Morgan. So I thank Morgan for all of his contributions in 2011, but his antics and things weren’t fitting this year.

Loe and Veras also elected free agency following outright assignments. Loe was one of the Brewers’ best relievers in 2010, posting a 2.78 ERA. He had a second-half surge after getting off two a rough start in 2011, but it was the opposite this year. He had an ERA below 4.00 for most of the season, but it faded all the way to 4.61 in September. Statistically, Veras was one of the Brewers’ best relievers this year (though it’s not good when a guy with a 3.90 ERA is your best reliever). But he quietly had innings just about as frustrating as some of Francisco Rodriguez’s innings, so I’m relatively glad that he’s gone.

Lastly, Ishikawa was outrighted to Triple-A today, and is expected to elect free agency after he clears waivers. Ishikawa had his moments with the Brewers, but overall was the poster-boy of an extremely weak Brewers bench.

After their 2012 performances, I don’t think any of these players will be missed. However, Morgan will always be remembered: he’s written his legacy into Milwaukee history.

> The Brewers claimed reliever Arcenio Leon off waivers from the Astros.

> K-Rod was charged with domestic abuse for that incident in Wales that popped up two months ago.

Just stay away from Wisconsin, K-Rod.

> Speaking of K-Rod, the Brewers did not give “qualifying offers” to him or Shaun Marcum.

This “qualifying offer” thing is something brought about by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and basically replaced the Type A/Type B free agent system, which usually determined whether or not a team would receive draft picks as compensation for losing key free agents. Qualifying offers now play that role, and they are determined by the average salary of the top 125 player salaries from the previous season. That salary this season was $13.3 million.

As if K-Rod or Marcum are going to get $13.3 million on the market anyway. This was a no-doubter for the Brewers.

Only nine players received qualifying offers from their respective teams: Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Adam LaRoche, David Ortiz, B.J. Upton, and Kyle Lohse.

> Minor moves (and a lot of ‘em):

Tigers: Exercised 2013 options for Octavio Dotel and Jhonny Peralta; outrighted Don Kelly to Triple-A.
Rays: Exercised 2013 options for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Jose Molina; declined 2013 option for Luke Scott.
Braves: Exercised 2013 options for Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Paul Maholm; claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros; outrighted Erik Cordier, J.C. Boscan, and Robert Fish off their 40-man roster.
Astros: Designated Matt Downs for assignment; declined 2013 option for Chris Snyder; outrighted Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, and Kyle Weiland to Triple-A.
Athletics: Outrighted Dallas Braden and Joey Devine, both of whom elected free agency.
White Sox: Signed Jake Peavy to a two-year extension; exercised 2013 option for Gavin Floyd; declined 2013 options for Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis.
Mets: Exercised 2013 options for R.A. Dickey and David Wright.
Rangers:
Declined 2013 options for Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama; claimed Konrad Schmidt off waivers from the D-backs.
Cubs: Outrighted Justin Germano to Triple-A, who elected free agency.
Dodgers: Re-signed Brandon League to a three-year deal.
Orioles: Declined 2013 option for Mark Reynolds.
Indians: Exercised 2013 option for Ubaldo Jimenez; declined 2013 options for Travis Hafner and Roberto Hernandez (I still call him Fausto Carmona); outrighted Kevin Slowey and Vinny Rottino to Triple-A; claimed Blake Wood off waivers from the Royals.
Royals: Declined 2013 option for Joakim Soria; acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels; claimed Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Rockies; claimed Brett Hayes off waivers from the Marlins; designated ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress and Jason Bourgeois for assignment.
Yankees: Outrighted ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to Triple-A, who elected free agency; returned Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers to the Nationals.
Reds: Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Madson each declined his side of his mutual option for 2013.
Pirates: Exercised 2013 option for Pedro Alvarez; declined 2013 option for Rod Barajas; released Hisanori Takahashi.
Blue Jays: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Cubs; designated Scott Cousins and David Herndon for assignment; exercised 2013 option for Darren Oliver; re-signed Rajai Davis.
Diamondbacks: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Matt Lindstrom.
Rockies: Ex-Brewer Jorge De La Rosa exercised his player option.
Nationals: LaRoche and Sean Burnett each declined their player options.
Giants: Declined 2013 option for Aubrey Huff.
Twins: Claimed Josh Roenicke and Thomas Field off waivers from the Rockies.
Orioles: Claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Twins.
Padres: Designated Josh Spence and Blake Tekotte for assignment.


Five-tool catchers- do they actually exist?

November 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


Full 2011 All-Star Rosters

July 3, 2011

12:52p The full All-Star rosters for 2011 have been officially announced. Starters, pitchers, reserves, etc., we know them all now. So, right before the Brewer game starts, I thought I’d list all of the players who made the All-Star Game at their respective positions. (Starters are listed first.)

American League

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

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees; Howie Kendrick, Angels

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees; Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees; Adrian Beltre, Rangers

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

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

Starting Pitchers: Justin Verlander, Tigers; Jered Weaver, Angels; Josh Beckett, Red Sox; James Shields, Rays; Gio Gonzalez, Athletics; Felix Hernandez, Mariners; David Price, Rays; C.J. Wilson, Rangers

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Jose Valverde, Tigers; Chris Perez, Indians; Aaron Crow, Royals; Brandon League, Mariners

National League

Catchers: Brian McCann, Braves; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers; Joey Votto, Reds; Gaby Sanchez, Marlins

Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Brewers; Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Mets; Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; Starlin Castro, Cubs

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Chipper Jones, Braves

Outfielders: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Lance Berkman, Cardinals; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Matt Holliday, Cardinals; Hunter Pence, Astros; Justin Upton, Diamondbacks; Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Mets

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

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

AL Final Vote Candidates: Alex Gordon, Royals; Adam Jones, Orioles; Paul Konerko, White Sox; Victor Martinez, Tigers; Ben Zobrist, Rays

NL Final Vote Candidates: Michael Morse, Nationals; Shane Victorino, Phillies; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Todd Helton, Rockies; Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

So the Brewers have three All-Stars in the starting lineup, a franchise record. The Brewers did not get any reserves or pitchers, but I guess there wasn’t really a chance because Bruce Bochy (NL manager) chose three of his own pitchers (Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong). Not to mention Wilson got a players’ vote. I was hoping Yovani Gallardo and his nine wins would get in somehow, or Marcum and his decent ERA, but you can’t really compete with Giants or Phillies. (I forgot to point out that the stars of the Philadelphia rotation- Halladay, Hamels, and Lee- all made it. I bet Roy Oswalt would have made it as well, but he’s injured.)

As far as the AL goes, it’s the typical starting lineup for them, meaning the Yankees and Red Sox took most of the positions. Every starter for them is a player of the AL East, save for Avila and Hamilton.


2011 All-Star Starters

July 3, 2011

11:11a So I’m watching the All-Star selection on TBS right now, and I was happy to see a few Brewers chosen to play. I thought I’d put up everyone chosen at their respective position:

American League

Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers

1st Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

2nd Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees

3rd Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Outfield: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

Outfield: Curtis Granderson, Yankees

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Texas

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves

1st Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers

2nd Base: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Mets

3rd Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers

Outfield: Lance Berkman, Cardinals

Outfield: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

Fielder, Weeks, and Braun were all chosen to start and were all very deserving. This is also the first time in Brewers history that three Brewers were chosen to the starting lineup.


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