Welcome to the Brewers, Michael Olmsted

November 5, 2012

> Yesterday, the Brewers signed reliever Michael Olmsted to minor league pact and added him to the 40-man roster. My immediate first thought was, “Oh great, the Brewers are going to try and shore up the bullpen by signing no-names and hoping they pitch well.” That strategy works from time to time, but not often.

But, after doing some research on Olmsted, the kid might not be some no-name- at least not for long. This past year for Boston’s Class A and Double-A affiliates, Olmsted had a stellar 1.52 ERA, and picked up 19 saves as their closer. The year before that (2011), he had a 1.39 ERA between Boston’s Rookie and Class A levels. Olmsted also had unbelievable strikeout numbers, notching 92 in just 59 1/3 innings of work in 2012.

So why wasn’t this guy on the Red Sox (or at least in Triple-A) yet?

Turns out Olmsted has quite the story behind him. He was drafted out of college by the Mets in 2007, and posted a solid 2.52 ERA in 10 games that year. Then, in 2008, he put up a 2.67 ERA at three different levels for the Mets. However, while pitching in the Instructional League following that season, Olmsted blew out his elbow, and required the dreaded Tommy John Surgery.

He spent all of 2009 rehabbing, then reported to extended Spring Training in 2010 to get back on track. However, the Mets immediately released him after that, which came as a surprise to Olmsted- it’s not like he was pitching bad prior to his injury (in fact, the numbers say he was pretty good).

That was the beginning of three years away from American baseball for Olmsted. He became an assistant pitching coach at the college he attended before being drafted, then caught the eye of a Japanese scout. Next thing he knew, he was in Japan pitching for the minor league affiliate of the Softbank Hawks. But, while in Japan, he was hit with some shocking news: his mother, who already had cancer, had fallen into a coma.

So Olmsted decided to return from Japan. He did get to speak to his mother again, but she only lived for 23 days after awaking from the coma. Due to the circumstances, Olmsted decided to request his release from the Hawks, and they granted it to him. For the next few months, he continued pitching at his former college, but “thought his career was over.”

At a tryout the following spring, however, the Red Sox took notice of him and his stuff, and decided to give him a chance in their organization.

At that time, Olmsted’s fastball was sitting at just 89-92, but has improved to a consistent 95-97 since. He also features a hard slider.

But why were the Brewers able to pick up him up so easily? Olmsted was on Boston’s Double-A roster, but not on their 40-man roster. Unless the Red Sox added him to the roster, Olmsted would have been eligible to be snatched up by another team in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. But Doug Melvin acted fast and managed to get him before the draft. Since the Brewers offered Olmsted a spot on their 40-man roster (thus getting protection from the Rule 5 Draft), he was willing to leave the Red Sox organization to sign with the Brewers.

So I hope nothing but the best for Olmsted this season. Not only does he have a great shot at making the Brewers’ bullpen out of Spring Training because of the shape the ‘pen is currently in, but all he has been through makes him deserve this chance.

(By the way, most of this info came from Peter Gammons’ amazing article on Olmsted that he wrote back in August.)

THE NEWS

> Josh Hamilton’s asking price is $175 million over seven years. Ouch.

However, some are speculating that this won’t stop the Brewers from going after Hamilton. The only other major contender for Hamilton is the Braves, which could also benefit the Brewers.

> More Hamilton news: I don’t know who David Lennon is, but apparently he predicted the Brewers landing Hamilton with a five-year deal.

> Minor moves:

Dodgers: Outrighted Alfredo Silverio to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> Nyjer Morgan might be gone, but this remains one of my favorite pictures of all time.

> OK, I understand that the shortstop market is terrible this offseason, but there’s no reason to put Cesar Izturis and Yuniesky Betancourt among the rest of these guys who will probably have starting jobs.

EDIT: Just noticed Ronny Cedeno is in there too. The MLB Twitter account has gone insane.


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