Crew will have to compete for Dempster

November 30, 2012

> Turns out the Brewers aren’t the only team expressing interest in Ryan Dempster. In fact, the other two teams could be very tough to bid against, seeing as they each reside in relatively big markets.

The two teams the Brewers will have to deal with are the Angels and Red Sox, both of whom are in desperate need of a starting pitcher; perhaps even more so than the Brewers.

If the Brewers don’t end up signing a veteran starter this offseason, it isn’t the end of the world. The Brewers still have a nice crop of big league-ready starting pitching prospects to choose from, including Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Tyler Thornburg. The same can’t be said for the Angels or Red Sox, however. The reason the Angels acquired Zack Greinke at the Trade Deadline was because of their lack of prospects ready to start at the big league level, and now they’re in jeopardy of not being able to re-sign Greinke. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have just had all sorts of starting pitching issues over the past few years, and now they’re trying to dip into the free agent market to fix it.

Despite the fact both of these teams have bigger markets than Milwaukee (though we have a ton of payroll flexibility right now), the Brewers could hold a few advantages. The first is that the Brewers are the only of these three teams in the National League. After posting a 5.09 ERA with the Rangers in the second half of 2012, which is his only extended period of pitching in the American League, it goes without saying that Dempster is an NL pitcher. Dempster’s success at Miller Park could also factor into the decision.

Or, the Brewers could get lucky and one of the other teams will drop out of the bidding. Last year, it was speculated early in the offseason that the Phillies- who needed a third baseman- were targeting Aramis Ramirez. There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to sign him and the Brewers would be left hanging, but the Phils unexpectedly dropped out and left Ramirez for the taking. It’s unlikely, but perhaps similar circumstances will ensue this offseason.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it isn’t the apocalypse (not until December 21st, that is) if the Brewers don’t sign Dempster. Their farm system is ready to occupy a few of the rotation spots if need be. And Dempster isn’t the only guy on the market. There are guys like Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson out there, who could also be potential fits for the Brewers (though, as I’ve preached, Dempster is the much safer play).

Dempster isn’t a neccesity, but could be a very nice asset to the 2013 Brewers.

> Tomorrow is the deadline to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players. John Axford, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez appear to be locks to be tendered contracts. Chris Narveson will probably be given a contract. The only guy who isn’t so likely to be tendered is Manny Parra, who I wouldn’t mind seeing the Brewers cut ties with at this point.

> Minor moves: 

Pirates: Signed Russell Martin to a two-year deal.
Rays: Signed Mike Fontenot to a minor league deal.
Royals: Outrighted Chris Volstad and Brayan Pena, both of whom elected free agency; re-signed Felipe Paulino to a one-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Collin Balester and Yangervis Solarte to minor league deals.
Padres: Signed Travis Buck, Eddy Rodriguez, and Daniel Stange to minor league deals.
Athletics: Signed Scott Moore to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Mariano Rivera to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Acquired Denard Span from the Twins.
Twins: Acquired Alex Meyer from the Nationals.
Indians: Re-signed Blake Wood to a one-year deal.


News from the last few days

November 22, 2012

> The Mariners have reportedly shown interest in Mat Gamel. I’m going to have an article up tomorrow about how that applies to the Brewers and what they could get in return, but for now I’m going to recap the news I’ve missed over the past few days.

> The Brewers added prospects Scooter Gennett, Hiram Burgos, Josh Prince, Nick Bucci, and Khris Davis to their 40-man roster, meaning they’re protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> The Yankees re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal. I was holding out hope that the Brewers would some how be able to sign him, but it was unlikely the whole time.

> The Royals signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal. He could have been another option for the Brewers, though he was seeking a three-year deal, and I think he’s too dangerous to commit to for that long.

> 10 teams have reportedly shown interest in Kyuji Fujikawa. The Brewers could be one of those teams, seeing as Fujikawa is a hard-throwing reliever.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Kyle Blanks to a one-year deal; designated Cory Burns for assignment; added Yeison Asencio, Jaff Decker, and Adys Portillo to their 40-man roster.
Royals: Released Ysmelin Alcantara, Henry Moreno, and Jose Rodriguez; designated Adam Moore, Vin Mazzaro, Chris Volstad, Ryan Verdugo, Brayan Pena, Clint Robinson, and Derrick Robinson for assignment; added Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph, John Lamb, Justin Marks, Mike Montgomery, and J.C. Gutierrez to their 40-man roster; re-signed Brett Hayes to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Signed Felix Pie, Brooks Brown, Erik Cordier, David Bromberg, Luis Sanz, and Alex Valdez to minor league deals.
Indians: Signed Matt Carson and Cedric Hunter to minor league deals; designated Fabio Martinez for assignment; added Tim Fedroff, T.J. House, Chen-Chang Lee, and Trey Haley to their 40-man roster; outrighted ex-Brewer Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Signed Bobby Korecky, Jim Negrych, Ricardo Nanita, and Alex Hinshaw to minor league deals; designated Mike McDade, Mike McCoy, and Cory Wade for assignment; added Ryan Goins and A.J. Jimenez to their 40-man roster.
Tigers: Released Ryan Raburn.
Mariners: Acquired Robert Andino from the Orioles; designated Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins for assignment; added Julio Morban, Brandon Maurer, Vinnie Catricala, Anthony Fernandez, and Bobby LaFramboise to their 40-man roster.
Orioles: Acquired Trayvon Robinson from the Mariners.
Mets: Signed Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, and Jamie Hoffmann to minor league deals.
Yankees: Claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros; signed David Herndon to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Designated Brandon Hicks and Jim Miller for assignment; added Arnold Leon, Grant Green, Shane Peterson, and Michael Ynoa to their 40-man roster; signed Justin Thomas and Darwin Perez to minor league deals.
Rockies: Acquired Ryan Wheeler from the Diamondbacks; outrighted Andrew Brown and Matt McBride to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Acquired Matt Reynolds from the Rockies; signed Kila Ka’aihue to a minor league deal.
Cardinals: Signed Jamie Romak to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Sam Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Brian Dinkleman, Wilkin Ramirez, James Beresford, Deibinson Romero, Eric Fryer, Tom Boleska, and Jason Christian to minor league deals.
Cubs: Acquired Barret Loux from the Rangers; signed Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez, Johermyn Chavez, and J.C. Boscan to minor league deals; outrighted Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A; designated Bryan LaHair for assignment (I have to wonder when the last time a player was DFA’d following an All-Star season).
Rangers: Acquired Jake Brigham from the Cubs.
Astros: Outrighted Scott Moore to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Signed Jonny Gomes to a two-year deal; designated Danny Valencia, Ivan De Jesus, Sandy Rosario, David Carpenter, and Zach Stewart for assignment.
White Sox: Re-signed Dewayne Wise to a one-year deal; signed Bryan Anderson and David Purcey to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Fernando Abad and Caleb Clay to minor league deals.
Dodgers: Signed Nick Evans, Juan Abreu, Kelvin De La Cruz, Miguel Rojas, Hector Correa, Wilkin Castillo, and Gregory Infante to minor league deals.


Haudricourt shoots down Hamilton rumors

October 27, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEWS

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

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

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


Brewers’ bullpen can’t hang on against Cards

April 9, 2012

> The Brewers had somewhat of a repeat of the first game of the season today, losing to the Cardinals 9-3. Like the first game, the Brewers’ bullpen blew up late, and didn’t give the offense much of a chance to try and catch up. Marco Estrada gave up two runs in two innings, Tim Dillard gave up a run, John Axford gave up two runs in his 2012 debut, and Kameron Loe gave up a run. In other words, every pitcher the Brewers used today gave up a run, which is never good.

Randy Wolf was on the hill for his 2012 debut, and didn’t pitch particularly bad. He went five innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Wolf managed to strand a lot of St. Louis baserunners, but had to work for it, as he threw 108 pitches in just five innings.

The Cards got on the board right away in the first on Matt Holliday’s RBI double. They got another run in the fourth on a Rafael Furcal RBI single, and another in the fifth on David Freese’s RBI single. The Brewers scored in the fifth on yet another Corey Hart home run, this one a solo shot. He’s currently tied for the league lead with three home runs.

The Cardinals got two more runs on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer in the seventh. They also picked up another one in the eighth on Tyler Greene’s RBI single. The Brewers got their second run of the game in the eighth on Alex Gonzalez’s first hit (and RBI) as a Brewer, which was an RBI double. That followed Norichika Aoki’s first hit in the MLB.

The Cards tacked on three more in the ninth on Shane Robinson’s three-run blast, which pretty much put away the game. Ryan Braun hit his first home run of the year in the ninth inning, but the game was already over by then.

Oddly enough, the Brewers just couldn’t hit Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter’s temporary rotation replacement. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

Then again though, the Brewers have a history of not being able to hit rookie pitchers for their lives, so this start could mean nothing, for all we know.

> I’m glad this series is over. Now theBrewers move onto a hopefully easier opponent- the Cubs. They’re playing them in Chicago, however, a venue the Brewers haven’t had much success in over recent years. Anyway, here are the pitching matchups (the statistics are from 2011):

Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (5-13, 4.89 ERA)

Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (6-14, 3.66 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. ???

Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) vs. ???

Gallardo will probably be facing Ryan Dempster, and Greinke should be up against Matt Garza, but the Cubs haven’t officially announced it yet.

Anyway, all four of these pitchers have above-average career numbers against the Cubs, so this should be a good series for the Crew.

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

 


Morgan returns to his roots

February 2, 2012

> If you don’t know Nyjer Morgan’s background already, tell me this- could you imagine him as a hockey player?

I learned this last season after his infamous bench-clearing brawl in Florida while he was with the Nationals. It was ignited when Chris Volstad (who’s now on the Cubs, ironic) threw behind Morgan after already hitting him with a pitch earlier in the game. Morgan charged the mound, but failed, as Gaby Sanchez flew over and laid a clothesline blow to his head.

After that incident, I thought this to myself- why would a shrimp like Morgan (not meaning that in an offensive way) charge the mound, when a 6’8” pitcher in Volstad is waiting there?

That’s when I learned he was a former hockey player. Apparently, he grew up a huge hockey fan, and played junior hockey for awhile. Morgan is from San Jose, and he strongly followed his hometown Sharks.

Morgan never made it past the major junior level in Canada, so he decided to leave his hockey dreams behind for his second favorite sport- baseball.

But now his hockey dreams are coming back- kind of. Earlier today, he got to practice with the Sharks, the team he grew up admiring. You can read the full article about that here, because there are so many different things that happened at that practice that I can’t cover them all.

> Yesterday, I did another post- my third, I believe- on Reviewing the Brew. It got some positive feedback on Twitter, and it was featured on the Brewers blog Brew Crew Ball. You can read it here.

In short, the topic was regarding Taylor Green as an option at first base. I’ve actually mentioned the multiple times on this blog, simply because I’m not completely sold on Mat Gamel- at least not yet. But we’ll see what happens at first in 2012.

> And that’s about it. Very, very slow news day, but hopefully there will be something to report about tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Did the Cubs’ rotation improve?

January 20, 2012

> Probably not.

The Cubs had another Cubs-esque year in 2011, going 71-91. The actually had a half-decent offense, as they were near the top of the NL in team batting average.

But why were they so bad? Their pitching; primarily the starting rotation. Practically none of their starters performed to the expectations they were expected. They did deal a few of their starters and acquired a few as well, but I don’t know if it was enough to lift them out of the chasm that is the bottom of the NL Central.

This is how I would assemble the Cubs’ rotation in 2012:

#1 starter- Matt Garza- 10-10, 3.32 ERA

Garza was the only decent starter in 2011, despite the fact Mike Quade named him the #3 starter at the beginning of the season. Garza actually had a career year, setting a career-best ERA. His wins don’t show it, but he didn’t get run support most of the time.

Garza also had a career-high in strikeouts, punching out 197 in 198 innings. His K/9 was exactly 9, which was a huge improvement from his 6.6 K/9 while pitching for the Rays in 2010. Garza, who used to be known as primarily a fly-ball pitcher because of his aggressive use of the high fastball, could be turning into a strikeout pitcher.

For some reason, Garza is on the Cubs’ trade block. If they trade him, their rotation will have close to no hope in 2012, as you’ll see from the pitchers I’m about to talk about.

#2 starter- Ryan Dempster- 10-14, 4.80 ERA

Dempster had an awful 2011, to say the least. In 2010, he went 15-12 with a 3.85 ERA, so his numbers really plummeted in 2011. The only area he was half decent was his innings and strikeouts. He ate up 202 1/3 innings, something the Cubs needed.

Garza has a sinker, splitter, and slider in his repertoire, so he’s known as a groundball pitcher. But, his 8.5 K/9 in 2011 was a career-high, so, like Garza, he could be becoming a strikeout pitcher.

But, since Dempster’s career year in 2008 in which he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA, his ERA has consistently gone down- 2.96, 3.65, 3.85, 4.80. Maybe we could expect worse next year, but I kind of doubt it. Dempster can be a good pitcher, but he just isn’t consistent enough yet, and it may be too late in his career to turn it around.

#3 starter- Paul Maholm- 6-14, 3.66 ERA

After the Pirates opted not to re-sign Maholm, the Cubs picked him up on a one-year deal, and, in my opinion, it isn’t a bad pickup. His 6-14 shows nothing of how well he pitched in 2011- the Pirates didn’t have any offense.

Maholm definitely isn’t a strikeout pitcher, as he had just a 5.4 K/9 in 2011, to go along with 97 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings. I don’t see him pitch very often, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s a groundball pitcher. But it’s fine that he doesn’t strike out many batters- Garza and Dempster have that covered.

I think Maholm will have a decent year in 2012. But that’s just my gut feeling, I could be wrong; he’s been pretty inconsistent over the past few years.

#4 starter- Randy Wells- 7-6, 4.99 ERA

Wells got injured in his first start of the year, so he missed the first few months. When he came back, he struggled, and for most of the year his ERA was well north of 5.00. But, he had a good September that included a shutout against the Giants, and lowered his ERA by a large margin.

Wells is an extreme groundball pitcher, and his K/9 was just 5.5 in 2011. Yet, he somehow found a way to give up 23 homers in just 135 1/3 innings, which means left a few too many sinkers up.

I don’t know about Wells. I don’t see much in him, and have a feeling he won’t have more than an average season in 2012.

#5 starter- Chris Volstad- 5-13, 4.89 ERA

The first thing the Cubs need to to do with Volstad- thank him. He was part of the trade that sent the psychopath- AKA Carlos Zambrano- to the Miami Marlins, so they won’t have to deal with his antics anymore. Anyway, with that aside, I see talent in Volstad. He hasn’t had the best career so far, but he’s still young and has time to turn it around. I think the Marlins gave up on him a bit early, and it was actually their fault for his lack of wins, because they didn’t give him any run support.

Volstad is considered a groundball pitcher, but I don’t really see it, as he gave up 23 homers in 2011. He doesn’t strike out all that many, with his K/9 being 6.4 in 2011. But I think all he needs to do is start missing more bats, and he’ll be successful.

I see a bright future for Volstad, but for some reason I have a feeling he won’t be in Chicago very long.

And that’s how I think the rotation should go. There will be some competition in Spring Training, as Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, and possibly Jeff Samardzija could possibly challenge for a spot in the rotation.

> Today was the day. Ryan Braun finally pleaded his case in front of three arbitrators earlier today, but not much info was released. The decision won’t be made by Saturday, however, so we’ll have to wait a little longer.

The case took place a few days earlier than expected, as it was supposed to happen after Braun received his MVP award at a dinner on Saturday. At least that’s what’s Lance Allen reported earlier this month. But it would be nice if it were all settled before the dinner; it could make things a little less awkward, or ten times more awkward.

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


More news on Aoki, Braun situations

January 6, 2012

> The two biggest offseason situations for the Brewers may have been resolved today, or are at least closer to being resolved.

> The Brewers announced that they’re going to be working outfielder Norichika Aoki this weekend at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale, Arizona. I saw an interesting article earlier today regarding Aoki’s role with the Brewers, and one particular thing in it caught my eye.

Aoki is going to be the Brewers’ fifth outfielder, assuming they sign him. That gives the Brewers Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez, and Aoki, and that’s obviously not going to work, because one of them isn’t going to get any playing time.

Morgan and Gomez platooned in center last year, which would have probably happened again next year. Hart has right field locked up, and same with Braun for left. But, there’s no guarantee Braun will be playing for the first 50 games of next year (which I’ll get to later), which could be part of the reason the Brewers are going after Aoki.

But let’s just assume that Braun does get suspended (which he hopefully won’t, but I’m just talking hypothetically). If he does, then the Brewers have four outfielders. But, when Braun comes back after the 50 games, then they have five, which, again, is too many. That article I mentioned earlier suggested the possibility of Gomez getting traded or cut at that point, which would make sense, since the other three are more valuable to the Brewers. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens- we don’t even know the fate of Braun yet.

> Which leads me to my next topic. According to Lance Allen (@lanceallen), Braun’s case is to be held after the BBWAA MVP award ceremony, which means it would happen around January 22nd or 23rd.

Also, according to Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS), Braun does plan to attend that ceremony to officially accept his MVP award. But I can’t even start to imagine how awkward that’s going to be.

> The Marlins officially acquired Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs today in exchange for Chris Volstad and cash. I still think they’re going to regret this…

But the funny part is that the Marlins only have to pay $2.5 million of the $18 million that Zambrano is owed in 2012. Who has to pay the rest? The Cubs.

> And that’s about it. Not much news today, but at least some light was finally shed on the Braun and Aoki situations. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


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