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.


Bats explode to back solid Gallardo

August 1, 2012

> Even if they aren’t contending, the Brewers needed a game like this. They blew out the Astros today, 10-1, and won their second game in a row. Yovani Gallardo got back on track after two sub-par starts against the Reds and Nationals, going seven innings while giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five. He improved to 12-2 in his career against the Astros, which is by far the best mark he has against any National League Central opponent.

The offense was alive today as well. The Brewers got on the board early in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single, the first hit of a big day for him. Then, in the bottom of the second, Gallardo attempted to put down a suicide squeeze to score Rickie Weeks from third base, which was successful. But Gallardo wound up beating out the play and was credited with an RBI single.

The only Astros run came in the third inning on a Chris Snyder solo home run. But the Brewers countered immediately in the bottom of the inning on Ramirez’s three-run blast. In the fifth inning, the Brewers tacked on three more on Corey Hart’s three-run homer. That closed the book on Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who struggled mightily in his first career start against the Brewers. He went just four innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits. He walked a whopping six batters and struck out one.

The Brewers added two more in the eighth on Nyjer Morgan’s two-RBI single.

I should also mention that, one day after blowing yet another save and practically blowing the game, the bullpen looked good. Obviously that doesn’t mean mention in a nine-run blowout, but Jim Henderson threw another scoreless inning, and Francisco Rodriguez had his first 1-2-3 inning in…

Let’s just say “a while.”

> I wasn’t even paying attention to this, but, after Ramirez’s 3-for-4 performance today, his average sits at .293. Since his sub-.200 April, Ramirez has hit .322.

And to think the Brewers were tossing around the idea of trading Ramirez and/or Hart. And, even more surprisingly to me, there were some Brewers fans who were in favor of it. Beats me as to why, but this team doesn’t need to go into a total rebuilding mode at the moment. A few offseason signings (which the Brewers will be able to pull off after dumping the rest of  Zack Greinke’s contract), and the Brewers could be contenders again next year.

> Speaking of trades, the Trade Deadline was today at 3:00 PM CT. The Brewers already made their splash with the Greinke trade, but here’s some news from around baseball:

> The Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. After Dempster pretty much vetoed a deal to the Braves and couldn’t get a deal worked out with the Dodgers, he heads to Texas and will help them try and reach the postseason.

> The Phillies couldn’t decide which side of the rivalry to join, trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, and Hunter Pence to the Giants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of trades like that.

> The Cardinals received reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins. That was about the only move they made, and probably the only move they needed to make.

There were definitely more deals than that, but those are a few of the highlights.

> And that’s about it. Mike Fiers (4-4, 1.77 ERA) tomorrow in the series finale as the Brewers go for a sweep of the struggling ‘Stros. They will counter with Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.54 ERA).

Anyway, thanks for reading.

 

 

 


Brewers’ bullpen holds serve until extra inning W

July 9, 2012

> I missed most of today’s game, but something rare took place, apparently: the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run. *gasp*

> The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-3, in ten innings. The offense had another relatively slow day, but it was just enough to squeak past the Astros. The Brewers’ bullpen was also stellar, holding the ‘Stros down to give the Brewers a win in their last game before the All-Star break.

Zack Greinke was starting his second consecutive game, and it didn’t go very well. If you recall yesterday, he was ejected in the first inning after four pitches for spiking the ball at the ground. So he was able to come back and start again today, but went just three innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Greinke’s bright spot was that he struck out the side in third inning, but other than that, he wasn’t very sharp. Ron Roenicke had already announced prior to the game that Greinke wouldn’t go very deep, and that he wanted to get Marco Estrada, the original scheduled starter, his share of work in.

All of the Astros runs came in the first inning. Jordan Schafer led off the game with a single, and Jose Altuve drove him in with a double. One batter later, J.D. Martinez hit an RBI single. Then, Greinke had a temporary lapse of command. After striking out Jed Lowrie and giving up a single to Chris Johnson, Greinke walked Brian Bogusevic to load the bases, then served up a bases-loaded walk to Chris Snyder. He struck out the pitcher, Jordan Lyles, to end the inning, but the damage had been done, and it was obvious Greinke was still shaken up about yesterday.

The Brewers answered in the second inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run, but didn’t score again until Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the sixth.

The next threat came in the eighth inning. Astros reliever Wesley Wright walked Norichika Aoki to start the inning. After Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Braun once again came through in the clutch and hit a game-tying RBI single. Braun then stole both second and third base, but Corey Hart killed the rally.

Neither squad scored in the ninth, so the game was sent to extras, which has been quite the theme for the Brewers this year. The Astros put in struggling reliever Fernando Rodriguez for the tenth, and he walked Morgan to start the inning. Morgan then stole second, which prompted the Astros to intentionally walk Braun. Then, with Ramirez batting, Rodriguez threw a wild pitch (apparently the last name Rodriguez automatically makes you an erratic reliever), and both runners advanced. So Rodriguez was gifted with another open base, and naturally walked Ramirez. Hart then made up for his rally-kill in the eighth by hitting a go-ahead RBI single. Weeks followed that up with another RBI single. Unfortunately, Rodriguez found his stuff and struck out the side from there, preventing the Brewers from putting up a big inning.

John Axford was on for the save in the bottom of the inning, and we all know how he’s pitched lately. It looked like we were in for another blown save when he gave up back-to-back singles to Snyder and Matt Dominguez. But, after Schafer moved both runners on a sacrifice bunt, Ax came back to strike out Altuve and Scott Moore to end the game and earn hi 15th save of the year.

> As I’ve kept saying, the Brewers bullpen was outstanding today. Until Axford gave up the singles in the tenth, the Astros hadn’t gotten a hit since the second inning when Greinke was still in. Estrada did indeed get his work in, tossing three near perfect innings, blemished by one walk while striking out three. Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez, and Manny Parra each threw perfect innings of their own as well.

I’m not going to get too excited about this, because it is the Astros. But this is a good sign and should be a confidence-builder for the Brewers’ struggling bullpen.

> Don’t look now, Jayson Stark, but Weeks is legitimately starting to get hot. He went 3-for-5 today with two RBIs, yet his average is still at an excruciating .199. Guess he’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break to bring it over the .200 barrier.

> Greinke already sort of made history today, being just the second pitcher this season to start consecutive games (C.J. Wilson of the Angels being the other). But now he’s got a chance to do something a pitcher hasn’t done since 1917: start three start games. Greinke is scheduled to start the first game after the All-Star break (which has been changed to four days this year), and that would count as three consecutive.

If he only he were starting the All-Star Game too.

> And that’s about it. After the ASG, the Brewers face a crucial stretch of division opponents in the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds. This could decide the fate of their season, and whether or not they can get back in contention. Let’s hope for the best.

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


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.



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