Comparing the mega-teams from LA

December 17, 2012

> Following the 2011 season, Los Angeles was not in a good state as far as the sport of baseball goes. The Angels and Dodgers hadn’t reached the postseason in 2010 or 2011, posting some of their worst seasons in decades (by their standards). The Angels were struggling to find any offensive consistency to back their decent starting pitching. The Dodgers were having similar issues, but their problems extended off the field as well, as Frank McCourt left them bankrupt.

I don’t think the Dodgers were expecting to contend in 2012 (at least early on) because of where they were financially, but their one huge move was giving Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million deal following his MVP-caliber campaign in 2011. The Angels, however, made themselves early favorites for the World Series by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal, and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Fast-forward to the 2012 offseason- following yet another season in which neither of these teams made the postseason- and a lot has changed. The Dodgers are nowhere near bankrupt; in fact, they’re the polar opposite, thanks to Magic Johnson and Co. The Angels are in the same position they were last year, but if they don’t make the postseason this time around, there’s something very wrong.

Anyway, let’s take a look at each of these teams from every angle- the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen, and so on. Both of them are considered near locks for the playoffs, but one has to be better than the other, right?

THE LINEUPS

Angels: 

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Erick Aybar, SS
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, LF
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Dodgers: 

1. Mark Ellis, 2B
2. Luis Cruz, 3B
3. Matt Kemp, CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Pitcher

OK, first off, Hairston isn’t going to start the entire season. Once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, he’ll take Hairston’s spot, and that’ll change the whole culture of the lineup (many project Crawford to hit second). But, until Crawford comes back- which will probably sometime in late May- that’s what I’m guessing the Dodgers’ lineup will look like.

Anyway, those are both powerhouse lineups. The each feature possibly the best 3-4-5-6 combos in their respective league in Pujols-Hamilton-Trumbo-Morales and Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier. It’s hard to say which is really better than the other; both are going to be very exciting to watch. While I think the Angels’ lineup might be the more exciting with three perennial MVP candidates in Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, I think the Dodgers have the overall better lineup. The reason I say this is because there are more experienced hitters in the Dodgers lineup, and by experienced, I mean hitters that you know what you’re going to get from them. Kemp, A-Gon, Ramirez, and Ethier aren’t necessarily “veterans” yet, but they’ve certainly been around the block a few times and have shown they can produce consistently at the big league level from year to year. The Angels definitely have that experience in Pujols and Hamilton, but they have a lot of younger, inexperienced hitters who I think we need to see more from. There’s no denying that Trout had the best offensive rookie season in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be susceptible to a sophomore slump. Trumbo hit over .300 for the most of the season last year, but then flamed out for the last two months and fell to a .268 average.

I think if everyone in the Angels’ lineup performs to their ability (and that includes Kendrick, who everyone thought was going to be a batting champion one day), then they’ll have the better lineup. But until that happens, I’d put my money on the Dodgers’ lineup, especially once Crawford gets back.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp

THE ROTATIONS

Angels: 

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Garrett Richards

Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Zack Greinke
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. Josh Beckett

Coming into this offseason, both teams wanted to improve their starting rotations, and I think each did. However, I think the Angels losing Greinke really hurt them. I also wasn’t in complete agreement with them just giving up on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana; I really wonder if they’re going to get what they could have gotten from those two from Hanson and Blanton. And Richards is going to be good somewhere down the road, but I’m not so sure he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot. There are even some question marks surrounding Wilson, who had a terrible second half for the Angels in 2012. Weaver is no doubt the ace, but health is a bit of a concern with him; same goes for Hanson.

To me, the Dodgers obviously have the better rotation, even though there are a few enigmas in theirs as well. Kershaw/Greinke is one- if not the best- 1-2 punches in baseball, and they get to throw half of their games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. After Kershaw and Greinke, however, there are a few questions. Billingsley can be an All-Star caliber pitcher when he’s on, but that isn’t always the case. Perhaps not having the pressure of being a #2 starter will help him. Anyway, the 4-5 spots in the Dodgers’ rotation should go to Ryu and Beckett, in my opinion. The Dodgers also have veterans Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, all of whom are capable of starting, but I think Ryu and Beckett will give them better results than any of the other two.

Clayton Kershaw

It’s evident that both of these teams will have to back up their rotations with those huge lineups, but I think the Dodgers are better off starter-wise.

THE ‘PENS 

(NOTE: I only put the six guys who I thought were guaranteed spots. There are probably going to be a few other long relievers in each bullpen>)

Angels: 

Ryan Madson
Ernesto Frieri
Scott Downs
Sean Burnett
Kevin Jepsen
Jerome Williams

Dodgers: 

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert
Matt Guerrier
Javy Guerra

This is actually the one category in which I think the Angels are better off. There’s only one guy that I think the Dodgers can count on to be consistent, and that’s Jansen. The rest of the guys- including League, who they named their closer and threw $22 million at- have had up-and-down careers.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a nice mix of young flamethrowers and veteran guys who know how to pitch. I loved the Madson pick-up; I expect him to have a good year even though he missed all of 2012. Frieri can also close if need be. Then they have a great tandem of lefties in Downs and Burnett. This has the makings of a great bullpen for the Angels.

Frieri

These are both going to be very exciting teams to watch, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw an LA vs. LA World Series (though it never seems to work out that way). I think the Dodgers have the slight edge, but that’s not to put a damper on the team the Angels are going to field.

> The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal (plus a vesting option for a third year), so that puts to bed any rumors that spoke of his possible return to Milwaukee. But Doug Melvin probably wouldn’t have been willing to give him $6 million a year anyway.

> The Mets are being the Mets once again, as they have a deal in place to send the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner- R.A. Dickey- to the Blue Jays in a seven-player deal. The deal also includes Josh Thole and another prospect going to the Jays along with Dickey, while the Mets are getting back Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a prospect.

I’m starting to wonder why the Mets gave an extension to David Wright if this is what they intended to do all along, but that’s their screwed-up organization for you. But I like the deal for the Blue Jays. They may have hurt themselves in the long run, but they’re making themselves favorites for the AL East next year. They’ve assembled a pretty nice rotation in Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, all of whom have been considered aces at some point in their careers.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Signed John Lannan to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Jonathan Albaladejo and Ed Lucas to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Javier Herrera to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year deal.


Greinke latches on with Dodgers

December 9, 2012

> Not like no one saw this coming. The Dodgers, who have infinite pockets of cash, finally wooed Zack Greinke into joining them. Greinke’s deal is for six years and $147 million, which is the richest contract for a right-hander in history, surpassing Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal signed back in March. Greinke also slightly passes lefty Cole Hamels, who received six years and $144 million from the Phillies around the Trade Deadline. CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract remains the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. 

Greinke will slide into the rotation of what should be a powerhouse Dodgers team. That rotation already features the incumbents, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, followed by a few veterans that LA will have to choose from, including Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. The Dodgers could have one more starter competing for a spot- Hyun-Jin Ryu- if they sign him by tomorrow’s deadline.

Anyway, I see two possible scenarios for Greinke’s LA tenure. The first- and more likely- is that he’ll take advantage of pitching in the NL West, where the ballparks are significantly larger, and have a ton of success on a Dodgers team that should contend for years to come. The other, however, is that his anxiety issue comes back to haunt him in the huge market of LA, and he can’t handle the stress and publicity of pitching there.

The latter is very unlikely. He did fine in Anaheim, a suburb of LA (but basically the same market), posting a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA during his time there. Plus, Greinke doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff; Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the NL, has taken that role.

I wish the best of luck to Greinke in LA; he’s a guy who’s easy to root for. I don’t want the Dodgers to do well as a team because of how they’ve set up themselves up financially, but that doesn’t mean Greinke himself can’t have a good season.

Greinke2

> Now that Greinke is off the market, the Brewers’ chances of signing Ryan Dempster have increased. Had Greinke signed with the Rangers, the Dodgers would have probably overpaid a second-tier pitcher like Dempster. But, now that Greinke has gone to LA, it’s unlikely the Rangers are going to bring Dempster back after what he did for them last year.

> I keep forgetting to mention this, but I saw a headline the other day that read: “Yount shoots Sveum.” My immediate first thought was that Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount took some sort of shot- figuratively- at current Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Nope. Yount literally shot Sveum with a gun while they were on a hunting trip. It wasn’t fatal or anything- one of the pellets from Yount’s rifle grazed Sveum’s ear while he was shooting at a quail.

But this made my day: Sveum started calling Yount “Dick Cheney” after the incident.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Acquired Michael Young from the Rangers.
Rangers: Acquired Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla from the Phillies.
Mariners: Designated Mauricio Robles for assignment.


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.


Luc and Maldo: possible trade bait

November 15, 2012

> The Brewers signed catcher Blake Lalli to a minor league deal earlier today. The deal includes an invite to big league Spring Training,

At first, I just presumed this was a move to give the Brewers catching depth in case something were to happen to Jonathan Lucroy or Martin Maldonado. But it got me thinking about a topic that I’ve been pondering ever since Maldonado established himself at the big league level while filling in for Lucroy.

The Brewers have two catchers who are capable of starting in the Majors in Lucroy and Maldonado. That’s a luxury not many teams have. But, while it’s great to have, you have to wonder if the Brewers are dangling either of them on the trade market.

It’s sort of the same situation the Packers had at the end of last season. They had two quarterbacks who could have starting jobs in the NFL- Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Rodgers was- and still is- clearly the incumbent. Flynn was a great back-up, but, when free agency called his name, he decided to walk. The point is, if a guy knows he’s good enough to start at the big league level- whether it be baseball or football- he’s going to want that opportunity.

The difference with the Brewers’ catching situations is that both Lucroy and Maldonado are still controllable for a good amount of time. Lucroy just signed a five-year extension last year, while this will be just Maldonado’s second year in the big leagues, so he’s got a long ways to go before free agency.

But I wouldn’t at all count out the Brewers trying to use one of the catchers as trade bait in exchange for, say, bullpen help. The Brewers signed Lucroy to a very financially friendly deal. At first glance, that could be Lucroy giving the Brewers a discount because he wants to stay in Milwaukee, but you have to wonder if the Brewers have other ideas. Luc’s contract is certainly one another team wouldn’t mind picking up. Maldonado, meanwhile, still has years of team control, and won’t hit arbitration for a few years either.

So, the Brewers have two very talented catchers- both offensively and defensively- who have extremely friendly financial situations. There isn’t a doubt in my mind other teams have at least inquired on one of them.

Amazing the discussion some random minor league signing can draw out.

> Norichika Aoki has decided to sit out the World Baseball Classic coming up this spring. A few other Japanese players around baseball, such as Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma, have decided to do the same.

> David Price and R.A. Dickey won the American and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively.

Despite the fact Dickey won the award practically unanimously, there’s some controversy that Clayton Kershaw should have won the award again. Kershaw certainly had the stats to back it up- he led the league in ERA for the second straight year, had just six fewer innings than Dickey, and one less strikeout than Dickey. However, Kershaw got just 14 wins (obviously not his fault, he played for a disappointing team). And Dickey had a ton of hype around him all year because of his “feel-good story” and the fact that he’s a knuckleballer.

Personally, I chose Dickey to win the award, but not because of his story or the fact that he’s a knuckleballer; neither of those things impact that his raw stats were amazing. Not to mention Dickey played for a worse team than Kershaw and still managed to rack up 20 wins.

I also chose Price to win his award; his 20-5 record and 2.56 ERA were captivating enough for me. Justin Verlander had another great year- 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA. But a lot of Price’s raw numbers (ERA, wins, etc.) were simply better than Verlander’s, which impacts voters’ decisions. And, Price pitches in a much tougher division.

> The MVP awards are going to be handed out tomorrow, but Ryan Braun isn’t going to win.

> Minor moves: 

Tigers: Signed Torii Hunter to a two-year deal.
Marlins: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Blue Jays. (In exchange, the Jays received the rest of the Marlins’ roster.)


Predictions for the upcoming awards

November 12, 2012

> Seeing as the major MLB awards are going to be handed out all week starting tomorrow, I figured I’d better get this article up tonight.

So this is basically going to be the same drill as it was last year: I’m going to give my predictions for all of the major MLB awards (NL and AL Rookies of the Year, NL and AL Managers of the Year, NL and AL Cy Young Awards, and NL and AL MVPs). I’ll also put some other noteworthy players who are deserving of the respective award, but just weren’t my choice. (I’m going to do that regardless of who the “finalists” for each award are, because that’s a stupid concept.)

Also, one more note before we begin: I make my picks partly based on my own opinion, but also depending on who will draw the most votes. There are certain trends for each award that voters tend to follow, so I take those into account as well. This is who I think will win, not who I want to win. (If it were who I wanted to win, I’d find ways to incorporate Brewers players into winning all of the awards.)

Anyway, on that note, let’s begin.

NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants

It puts pain into my heart to write that, but that’s who I think is going to win it. As much as I want to put Ryan Braun, there’s no chance he’s going to win, despite putting up a much better year than Posey in every stat (except batting average).

There’s no denying Posey had a great year- 24 homers, 103 RBIs, and a .336 batting average- on a team that hasn’t been known for its offense in recent years. He also plays catcher (at least most of the time), which is a very important position, and will no doubt be taken into consideration during the voting.

Again, Braun had the better year, but there are unfair reasons he can’t win the award that we’ve just come to accept.

Other notable contenders for the NL MVP: Braun, Brewers; Chase Headley, Padres; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

This award probably has the best debate out of any of the awards this year. Many believe it’s become a two-horse race between Cabrera and Mike Trout, who had a phenomenal rookie season. It almost want to say it’s a toss-up between the two for who should win the AL MVP, but that wouldn’t be any fun. I can’t just say Cabrera is going to win the MVP; I suppose I have to state my case.

Trout definitely had a great rookie season, as mentioned earlier. That’s why he’s going to win the AL Rookie of the Year, which I’ll get to later on. But, in my opinion, Cabrera had the better season.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. The Triple Crown certainly helps his case, but even without that back him, I think he’d still win it. If the Triple Crown numbers weren’t enough, Cabrera also led the AL in slugging percentage (.606) and led the Majors in OPS (.999).

And, since the MVP seems to be determined by whether or not the recipient’s team makes the playoffs, Cabrera also wins it in that aspect- his Tigers made it to the World Series, while Trout’s Angels watched the playoffs from home. Do I agree with that part of the voting? No, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My final case is that without Cabrera, the Tigers don’t make the playoffs (a lot of other players in their lineup underperformed this season, in my opinion). The Angels would have finished in third place in the AL West with or without Trout, which is unfortunately true, despite the impact Trout had on that lineup.

Other contenders for the AL MVP: Trout, Angels; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Adrian Beltre, Rangers; Robinson Cano, Yankees

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Mets

No, I’m not picking him because he’s a “feel-good story.” The knuckleballer came out of nowhere and had one of the more dominant seasons in recent NL history, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. He also had five complete games (three of them shutouts) while eating up 233 2/3 innings. Dickey struck out 230 in that span, which is pretty wild for a knuckleballer. All four of those stats- complete games, shutouts, innings, and strikeouts- led the NL.

Dickey will probably win the award because he is, in fact, a feel-good story, but that’s not why I’m giving it to him. Once you get past that part of it, he had some pretty amazing stats.

Other contenders for the NL CYA: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Rays

Price nearly won the award two years ago when he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, but was narrowly beat by Felix Hernandez and his 2.27 ERA. This year, I think it’ll be the opposite: Price will take home the award as King Felix watches.

Price was tied for the AL lead in wins with 20, and also led the AL in winning percentage (he went 20-5). His career-best 2.56 ERA also led the AL. Price will be pitted against some tough competition for the AL CYA, as 20-game winner Jered Weaver and the reigning CYA/MVP Justin Verlander will no doubt give him a run for his money.

Other notable contenders for the AL CYA: Weaver, Angels; Verlander, Tigers; Chris Sale, White Sox; Hernandez, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

There’s an interesting crop of contenders for the NL RoY this year; some of them are overhyped, some not. But I’m giving it to Miley for a few reasons. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, which is spectacular, since he was barely being considered for the D-backs’ rotation during Spring Training. Miley also pitched about half of his games at the hitter-friendly Chase Field.

But I’m also sick of hearing that Bryce Harper should win the NL RoY because of all the hype surrounding him. What does that have to do with his performance? And I can guarantee that if Todd Frazier hadn’t saved someone’s life earlier this year, there wouldn’t be nearly as much hype around him.

Other notable contenders for the NL RoY: Harper, Nationals; Frazier, Reds; Norichika Aoki, Brewers; Mike Fiers, Brewers; Wilin Rosario, Rockies

AL Rookie of the Year: Trout

He should be given this award unanimously. Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, hitting .326 with 30 home runs. He also stole 49 bases.

Again, I’m not giving him the MVP for a case already stated, but he should win this award easily.

Other notable contenders for the AL RoY: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics; Yu Darvish, Rangers; Jarrod Parker, Athletics; Tommy Milone, Athletics; Robbie Ross, Rangers

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson

Before the season started, Johnson said that if the Nationals didn’t make the playoffs, he wanted the Nats to fire him. Many thought those were bold words at the time, but Johnson backed his statement by leading the Nationals to their first playoff berth since their move to Washington. Not to mention the Nationals led the NL in wins along the way.

Other contenders for the NL MoY: Bruce Bochy, Giants; Dusty Baker, Reds; Mike Matheny, Cardinals

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin

Now, this is literally a toss-up between Buck Showalter and Melvin for me. Both led their teams to unpredictable playoff runs. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go with Melvin, just because I predicted that the Athletics were going to have a terrible season prior to this year. He certainly jammed that back down my throat.

Other notable contenders for the AL MoY: Showalter, Orioles; Robin Ventura, White Sox; Joe Maddon, Rays

> And that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Any news (and minor moves) that I missed today will come tomorrow.


Brewers sign Asencio

November 8, 2012

> The Brewers signed reliever Jairo Asencio to a minor league deal on Monday. The deal includes an invite to Spring Training.

It’s probably unfair for me to judge him based on just parts of three seasons in the Majors, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy. His numbers in the Majors, though they are a small sample size, are unimpressive: he has a 5.23 ERA over 58 1/3 innings. In 2012, he threw a career-high 40 1/3 innings between the Indians and Cubs. Asencio had a 4.91 ERA overall in 2012, but was significantly better with the Cubs, posting a 3.07 ERA in 12 games with them.

The Brewers are doing exactly what I expected them to do: attempt to rebuild the bullpen from scratch. Not saying that’s a bad thing; sometimes it works. I think Michael Olmsted, if he stays healthy, could be a huge contributor at the big league level. I don’t feel quite as strongly about Asencio, but you never know.

> Apparently Doug Melvin and Zack Greinke recently had a conversation, but it was “just about baseball.” Of course, the media has tried to blow this into a “the Brewers are extremely interested in Greinke” situation, but they didn’t take into consideration that Melvin and Greinke became very good friends outside the game during Greinke’s time in Milwaukee.

Not saying that I don’t want the Brewers to bring Greinke back, but it’s extremely unlikely. The Angels and Dodgers seem to be his most likely suitors at this point.

> Melvin also continues to preach that the Brewers are a “long shot” for Josh Hamilton, who recently announced he’s seeking $175 million years over seven years (not like he’s actually going to get that kind of deal with his injury/drug history, though).

One thing I’ve forgotten to take into consideration this offseason is that Melvin has probably been turned off of mega-deals because of his history with them. In 2001, when Melvin was the general manager of the Rangers, he was the man who signed Alex Rodriguez to the infamous 10-year deal. Of course, the Rangers wound up not being able to afford it and had to send A-Rod to the Yankees. But perhaps that’s why Melvin is being so hesitant with these big-name free agents.

> The finalists for each major award were announced tonight. I’m really not a big fan of this “finalist” concept that has been introduced this year for awards, but here they are:

AL Rookie of the Year: Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Buck Showalter, Robin Ventura

NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Davey Johnson

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw

AL MVP: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano Hamilton, Trout

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey

I’ll reveal my own picks for each award sometime before next week. (By the way, all of my picks were correct last year.)

> Juan Nieves, who threw the only no-hitter in Brewers history back in 1987, was hired as Boston’s hitting coach today.

> Brooks Conrad signed with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. Maybe he’ll hit higher than .000 over there.

> Minor moves:

Twins: Re-signed Sam Deduno and Esmerling Vasquez to minor league deals.
Braves: Signed Wirfin Obispo to a minor league contract.
Orioles: Outrighted Steve Tolleson, who elected free agency.
Mariners: Claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Yankees: Claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Josh Spence off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas and Fred Lewis, both of whom elected free agency; released Jason Bay (that’s probably more than a minor move, but he was so hilariously bad for them that I can’t consider it major).
Diamondbacks: Signed Eddie Bonine to a split contract.
White Sox: Acquired Blake Tekotte from the Padres.
Padres: Acquired Brandon Kloess from the White Sox.


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.


Haudricourt confirms that Braun was penalized

October 29, 2012

> It was just as I feared. In last night’s article, I opined that Ryan Braun likely lost the Hank Aaron Award to Buster Posey because of Braun’s failed drug test prior to this season, because there’s no way Posey had a better overall offensive season than Braun.

Unfortunately, it seems I was right. Tom Haudricourt wrote about a similar topic last night, and he also thought Braun had the better offensive season. He suggested that Braun lost it because of the failed the drug test, but then also added this at the end of his article:

“And, from talking to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I get the distinct impression that Braun also will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP. He won last year before news of his drug test became public but from what I’m hearing, Posey will claim that award as well. By performance alone, Braun deserves to be among the top vote-getters but some are speculating he will be left off some ballots completely. That would show a definite agenda by an voters who do so.”

Unbelievable. I won’t be at all surprised at all if Posey wins the NL MVP; at this point, he’s the only other viable option for it if Braun doesn’t win. But Braun being left off the ballot completely is beyond unfair. And there’s a reason for that that may not come to mind immediately, but I might write an article about it in the coming days.

Anyway, there will probably be some “rogue” writers from the BBWAA who will put Braun on their ballots. But any remaining hope I had of Braun somehow winning the MVP has been drained.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> First of all, the 2012 baseball season is officially over.

Second, the Giants have won the World Series. Yes, the team that was down 2-0 to the Reds in the NLDS, down 3-1 to the Cardinals in NLCS- that team swept the World Series in four games against the Tigers.

The Tigers actually put up somewhat of a fight tonight, as they had an early lead over the Giants on Miguel Cabrera’s second inning home run. The also tied it at 3-3 in the sixth inning on Delmon Young’s solo shot.

But, none other than Marco Scutaro drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. The World Series MVP will probably be a toss-up between him and Pablo Sandoval, who hit .500 in the series, including that three-homer game in Game 1.

THE NEWS

> Despite Haudricourt comments on the Josh Hamilton situation the other day, Nick Cafardo suggests that the Brewers are still “at least looking into the possibility, though their top priorities are still finding a starting pitcher and revamping their bullpen.”

> Clayon Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente Award.

THE EXTRAS

> My attempt at a Brewers-themed pumpkin for Halloween. You’ll immediately notice that I’m not the most artistic person. But this was done free-handed, which helps my case a little.

> This is the second straight title for the Giants in which they couldn’t celebrate with their home crowd, but their home crowd was dedicated enough to celebrate with them.


Braun gets two hits in NL’s third straight win

July 11, 2012

> Welcome to the new and improved Breaking Wisconsin (at least for now). More on the new setup later, but for now let’s get straight to the All-Star Game.

> The National League defeated the American League, 8-0, for the third consecutive year. Personally, I thought some of the NL’s starters shouldn’t have gotten the nod, as did many others. But, it was some of those starters in particular who may have won the game for the NL.

Justin Verlander was starting for the AL, and I’m sure everyone thought he would have a tidy six-up, six-down two innings. But he did exactly the opposite. After striking out Carlos Gonzalez to start the game, he gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. Then, Ryan Braun represented the Brewers with an opposite field RBI double off JV to give the NL an early 1-0 lead. Verlander struck out Joey Votto the next batter, but struggled with his control after that, giving up back-to-back walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval then made him pay with a bases-clearing triple (yes, Sandoval hit a triple). Dan Uggla followed that up with an RBI single, but got a little help from some sheepish defense by Prince Fielder. Corey Hart would have made the play.

The NL added three more runs in the fourth against Matt Harrison. Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off him, then Cabrera put the icing on the cake with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 8-0. The biggest deficit ever recovered from in ASG history was five runs, and that didn’t change tonight.

The NL pitching staff was stellar, as shown by the nine goose eggs in the AL box score. Matt Cain started, and he threw two solid innings to begin the game. From there, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, and Cole Hamels each threw scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman combined for an eighth inning that was filled with high-90′s and low-100′s fastballs, and Wade Miley, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Papelbon each got an out in a scoreless ninth inning. The only NL pitchers who didn’t make an appearance were Huston Street, the Padres’ only representative, and Lance Lynn. But who knows- maybe Tony La Russa called to the bullpen for Lynn, but got someone else this time.

Other than Verlander and Harrison, the AL pitching staff didn’t give up a run, either. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each threw scoreless innings. The only AL player not to enter the game was position player Adam Dunn, but he would have probably just struck out to end the game.

> As I sort of expected, Cabrera took home the ASG MVP award this year after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. I was gunning for Braun to win it- he also had a triple to go along with his RBI double- but Cabrera was definitely worthy as well.

> Here was a cool moment in the game. Chipper Jones got into the ASG thanks to an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Chipper announced at the beginning of the year that this will be his last year before he retires, so everyone wanted him to get into the game somehow, and that opportunity presented itself.

Not only that, though- Chipper got a hit in his only at-bat. He hit a weak tapper to the right side, and second baseman Ian Kinsler may or may not have let the ball sneak through for a hit. That was probably the case, because Chipper was laughing his head off by the time he got to first base. Still, though, that was a cool moment.

> That’s about all I’ve got about the game.I could go on forever about all of the different storylines that were going on, but I think I covered the main points.

> You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve given BW a new theme. I’ve been pondering that idea for a while, actually going all the way back to near the time I started the blog. The old theme was supposed to be temporary, and this one is also probably going to end up not being around very long. But I haven’t found a theme I like for the long-term yet.

Anyway, you guys probably don’t care much about themes, but, to go along with quality writing, there needs to be a catchy theme to grab the eye of the reader.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll try and put up an article with my ratings of all of the players on the Brewers’ roster up to this point in the season. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers swept in Atlanta… again

April 17, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been pretty busy lately. But, then again, there’s been just about nothing to post about: except the Brewers getting embarrassed by a couple of young Braves pitchers, whom they should have crushed.

> The Brewers were swept in a three-game series by the Braves at Turner Field- again. They now have a seven-game losing streak going in Atlanta, a venue that just hasn’t been kind to them ever since 2010. They lost the first game, 10-8, after an amazing comeback of five runs. But a broken bat single by Dan Uggla in the eighth- which wouldn’t have gotten through if the Brewers didn’t use such a stupid shift on him- decided the fate of the game. They lost the second game, 2-1, despite a stellar effort by Shaun Marcum. He gave up both runs, but neither were his fault (although one was earned, and I’m not sure why). The Brewers were shut down by Mike Minor in that game, a somewhat inconsistent young pitcher entering his second full season in the Majors. The Brewers lost the last game, 7-4, following a rough outing by Chris Narveson.

So the only bright spots in this series were Marcum’s good start, and the fact that Corey Hart managed to stay hot, as he hit two homers and a few doubles.

> But now the Brewers are coming home, where they were extremely successful last year. They’ll start a three-game series against the Dodgers, and will thankfully miss Clayton Kershaw’s spot in the rotation, so they’ve got a good chance to win all three. Anyway, here are the match-ups:

Chad Billingsley (2-0, 0.63 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 5.91 ERA)

Chris Capuano (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (1-1, 6.75 ERA)

Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (0-1, 10.61 ERA)

Gallardo will make his third start tomorrow. His first was a disaster against the Cardinals, but his next one against the Cubs wasn’t so bad. Gallardo is 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in his career against the Dodgers, which looks bad, I know. But, coming into last year, his ERA against the Dodgers was a whopping 10.80, and he changed that with a stellar eight inning, one run outing against them in August (or somewhere around there). Unfortunately, he took a no-decision that day.

Billingsley, meanwhile, is off to an unbelievable start, shown by his sub-1.00 ERA. He’s given up just one run so far, which was a home run to Clint Barmes of the Pirates. He’s 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA in his career against the Crew.

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


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