Rauch, Frasor, Farnsworth, Gonzalez on relief radar

December 18, 2012

> Doug Melvin has already missed out on multiple opportunities to sign relievers this offseason, the most notable guys being Jason Grilli and Sean Burnett. But, for the first time this offseason, Melvin himself named off a few relievers that the Brewers are currently interested in. Those names included Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Gonzalez, all of whom were in my relief pitcher article from a few weeks back.

In my opinion, Frasor is by far the most attractive pitcher of those four. He fits the bill of a power arm the Brewers are looking for, and can pitch the eighth inning (I’m not so sure I completely trust Jim Henderson in the eighth yet). Frasor doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but you have to take into consideration that he’s spent the majority of his career with the Blue Jays in the AL East, so a move to the NL might do him good.

Frasor

The other three options Melvin listed are decent, I suppose. Farnsworth had a breakout season in 2011 as the Rays’ closer, but had an injury-plagued 2012. Gonzalez is that coveted lefty the Brewers are looking for (though I’d much prefer J.P. Howell, who I’m surprised Melvin didn’t mention), but the competition for him his; same goes for Howell. And I’d stay away from Rauch- he reminds me too much of Kameron Loe.

But if Melvin does decide to go after one of these guys, hopefully he gives him a substantial offer. Not that I want Melvin to overpay for a reliever, but I felt like he didn’t go hard enough for guys like Grilli or Burnett. However, the four guys Melvin mentioned today should come much cheaper than Grilli or Burnett.

> The Brewers signed utility infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Murphy, who’s pretty versatile in the field, isn’t the greatest at the plate, as he hit just .216 in 129 plate appearances for the Marlins last year, and is a career .205 hitter. But, he does provide some depth at shortstop,a position the Brewers struggled with last year until the acquisition of Jean Segura. After Alex Gonzalez went down, we saw the tandem of Cody Ransom and Cesar Izturis flail miserably.

Anyway, Murphy should compete with guys like Mat Gamel and Taylor Green for one of the back-up infielder spots.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Stephen Drew to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal.
Astros: Signed Carlos Pena to a one-year deal; designated Mickey Storey for assignment.
Cubs: Designated Jeff Beliveau for assignment.
Giants: Signed Santiago Casilla to a three-year extension.
Angels: Signed Luis Rodriguez to a minor league deal.
Royals: Released Ysrael Abreu, Jose Brazoban, Adelso Polanco, and Yerinson Tatis.


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.


Hamilton, Dempster wiped off the market

December 15, 2012

> For the second straight offseason, the Angels have picked up the best hitter on the market with a sneaky deal that no one saw coming. Following a year in which they gave Albert Pujols a 10-year, $254 million deal, they handed out another huge contract to Josh Hamilton, this one for five years and $175 million. 

If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar. Their outfield seemed set with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos, a young core that could last them a long time. But, much to the chagrin of their division rival Rangers, they went out and stole the best free agent on the market, and will insert Hamilton into one of those outfield slots (likely Bourjos’).

It was speculated all offseason that the Brewers had interest in Hamilton, and there were articles as recent as December 6th saying that Milwaukee would make a run at him. But, realistically, the Brewers were never going to get him, especially at his price tag.

Anyway, the Angels’ lineup now looks something like this: Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Kendrys Morales, Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, and Chris Iannetta.

Looks like Los Angeles is the new New York.

Hamilton

> The Brewers’ top starting starting pitching target, Ryan Dempster, was also taken away, as the Red Sox wooed him with a two-year, $26.5 million deal. Apparently, the Brewers were willing to give Dempster two years plus an option for a third, but they didn’t come close to what Boston was offering cash-wise. Anyway, I don’t see Dempster doing well in the American League after what he did for the Rangers last year, but that was his choice.

With Dempster off the market, the likelihood of the Brewers bringing in a free agent starter this offseason decreased by a lot. The rest of the crop is either too Jeff Suppan-like or won’t fit the Brewers financial situation. The next best option after Dempster would be Edwin Jackson, but that would only happen if he would be willing to take a one-year or two-year deal. If the reports of Jackson wanting a four or five-year deal are true, then the odds of him coming to Milwaukee aren’t very good.

But, as I’ve been saying, it isn’t the end of the world if the Brewers don’t bring in a new starter for 2013. I’m completely fine with them staying in-house and using the prospects who are big league-ready. If that is the case, the ideal rotation for the Brewers would be Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, and Mike Fiers. While that seems like a relatively inexperienced rotation to someone who doesn’t watch the Brewers everyday, I think the Brewers will get by, especially with the best offensive lineup in the National League backing them up.

> One more major signing: the Tigers finalized a deal with Anibal Sanchez, who nearly went to the Cubs, this morning. The Cubs reportedly had a five-year, $75 million deal in place with Sanchez as recent as last night, but the Tigers were given the opportunity to counter the offer, and wound up getting him back.

Sanchez was one of the starters who the Brewers probably wouldn’t have been able to afford, but at least it’s good that the division rival Cubs won’t get him.

> Doug Melvin basically said that he doesn’t want Shaun Marcum back.

> The Brewers have been linked to Mike Adams, one of the better relievers on the market, recently. But Tom Haudricourt considers them out of the hunt for him. Adams started his career with the Brewers, pitching for them from 2004 to 2006.

> Long-time Brewers farmhand Amaury Rivas has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. He was always one of my favorite minor league pitchers for the Brewers, but I figured he’d be gone at some point.

> Minor moves: 

Rangers: Signed Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal; outrighted Konrad Schmidt to Triple-A.
Padres: Signed Juan Oramas, Sean O’Sullivan, Gregorio Petit, and Rene Rivera to minor league deals; acquired Chris Rearick from the Rays.
Twins: Signed ex-Brewer Brandon Boggs, Ray Olmedo, Bryan Augenstein, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Scott Earlton, Virgil Vasquez, Mike O’Connor, and Jason Lane to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Andres Torres to a one-year deal; signed Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal.
Braves: Signed Ramiro Pena to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Signed Tommy Manzella to a minor league deal.
Mets: Re-signed Manny Acosta to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Signed Bobby Wilson and Gil Velasquez to minor league deals; designated Josh Spence for assignment.
Cardinals: Signed Alex Reyes to a minor league deal; signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Neivy Pilier and Brian Bocock to minor league deals.
Rays: Acquired Vince Belnome from the Padres.
Phillies: Signed Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Cesar Jimenez, Steven Lerud, Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Jermaine Mitchell, Pete Orr, and Humberto Quintero to minor league deals; claimed Mauricio Robles off waivers from the Mariners.
Royals: Signed Xavier Nady to a minor league deal.


Brewers return empty-handed

December 8, 2012

> This year’s edition of the Winter Meetings were a disappointment for the Brewers, to say the least. They offered deals to a few of their targets, including Ryan Dempster, Jason Grilli, and Sean Burnett, but all of them were rejected. Burnett ended up signing with the Angels because they offered him much more cash the Brewers. Grilli hasn’t signed yet, but the Brewers haven’t been in contact with him for over a week for some reason, so he’s off the table. Dempster is still out there, but is holding out for a three-year deal. So far, the parties interested in Dempster- the Brewers, Red Sox, and Royals- have offered him two-year deals, but have been hesitant to add on that third year because of his age.

So that’s about the gist of what happened- rather, what didn’t happen- at the Meetings.

> The Brewers did make a move today, however, signing left-hander Travis Webb to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Webb has spent his entire career with the Reds’ minor league affiliates, never making it to the Majors. He has a career ERA of 4.13 in the minors, but went a sub-par 2-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 2012 at Triple-A. Webb was a starter at the beginning of his professional career, but has since converted into a reliever.

> Doug Melvin said that the Brewers aren’t in on Brian Wilson. We can all take a sigh of relief now.

> Minor moves: 

Rays: Signed Jason Bourgeois to a minor league deal.
Astros: Took Josh Fields from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; took Nate Freiman from the Padres in the Rule 5 Draft; claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Yankees.
Cubs: Took Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft; re-signed Ian Stewart to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Took Danny Rosenbaum from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Justin Berg, Hernan Iribarren, Jeff Manship, Gustavo Molina, and Henry Wrigley to minor league deals.
Twins: Took Ryan Pressly from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Vance Worley and Trevor May from the Phillies; re-signed Jared Burton to a two-year deal.
Indians: Took Chris McGuiness from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.
Marlins: Took Alfredo Silverio from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft; took Braulio Lara from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Red Sox: Took Jeff Kobernus from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Justin Henry from the Tigers; acquired Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates; signed Koji Uehara to a one-year deal; acquired Graham Godfrey from the Athletics.
Mets: Took Kyle Lobstein from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Diamondbacks: Took Starling Peralta from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Brandon McCarthy to a two-year deal.
Phillies: Took Ender Inciarte from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Ben Revere from the Twins.
White Sox: Took Angel Sanchez from the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft.
Orioles: Took T.J. McFarland from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft.
Rangers: Took Coty Woods from the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Randy Wells, Evan Meek, Brandon Allen, and Jake Brigham to minor league deals.
Padres: Acquired Wilfredo Boscan from the Rangers.
Braves: Re-signed Reed Johnson to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year deal; outrighted Jayson Nix to Triple-A.
Reds: Re-signed Ryan Ludwick to a two-year deal.


Mutual interest between Brewers, Dempster

December 5, 2012

> It was reported today that Ryan Dempster is interested in being a Brewer in 2013. And, as the Brewers have implied over the past few weeks, the Brewers are interested in him.

Only one issue: the amount of time Dempster would be spending in Milwaukee.

Doug Melvin has shown his reluctance to give out three-year deals this offseason- particularly to pitchers. And you can’t blame him after seeing how the multi-year deals given to Jeff Suppan, David Riske, and Randy Wolf all ended. While I have a tough time imagining Dempster would turn out as badly as any of those names, there always a chance, especially since Dempster is already 35- older than any of the guys I just listed when they signed.

And that’s the thing: Dempster has made it known that he’s looking for a three-year deal. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the only other known team to be seriously considering Dempster- the Red Sox- is probably willing to give him those three years (the Sox have already given three-year deals to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino this offseason).

My solution to this issue for the Brewers would be to give Dempster two guaranteed years, then maybe a club or vesting option for the third year. I wish things worked that easily, but I can see where Dempster wouldn’t take that as full commitment from the Brewers.

> Melvin also hinted that the Brewers have offers on the table to Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. The Brewer Nation later confirmed that those offers do exist: Grilli’s offer is worth $1.1 million for one year, while Burnett’s is $2.3 million for two.

> For some reason, the Brewers tried talking to the Mets about R.A. Dickey. But, as you’d expect, those talks didn’t get anywhere. The Mets asking price for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is insanely high, and the Brewers simply don’t have the prospects to give in return.

> Brett Myers’ name has also popped up in Brewers rumors. If he were willing to be a reliever, I’d take him. But as a starter? He can go rot with Twins, for all I care.

> The Brewers have kicked around lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan as potential relief options. Gorzelanny has previous starting experience, but has pitched in relief over the past few years for the Nationals. Lannan, on the other hand, has been a starter basically his entire career, and I have to imagine he’d like to continue starting.

> Just a few other random notes from an interview with Ron Roenicke today: Mat Gamel is progressing well in recovering from his knee injury, Jim Henderson could be the setup man, and RRR is debating whether to bat Norichika Aoki or Rickie Weeks leadoff.

> Minor moves: 

Rockies: Acquired Wilton Lopez from the Astros.
Rays: Re-signed Sean Rodriguez to a one-year deal; acquired Yunel Escobar from the Marlins.
Nationals: Signed Dan Haren to a one-year deal.
Red Sox: Signed Victorino to a three-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Kyle Newby, Luke Montz, Justin Thomas, Garrett Olson, Scott Moore, Darwin Perez, and Mike Ekstrom to minor league deals.
Marlins: Acquired Derek Dietrich from the Rays.
Giants: Re-signed Marco Scutaro to a three-year deal.


Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90′s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league deals.


Brewers making lefty relievers a priority

December 3, 2012

> The Brewers went a long time without announcing it publicly, but we all knew left-handed relief pitching was a necessity for the Brewers coming into this offseason. In fact, getting an established, healthy lefty for the bullpen has been a huge issue for the Brewers ever since early 2011. Going into that season, the Brewers thought they were going to have Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter as left-handed options out of the ‘pen, but injuries (and personal issues, in Braddock’s case) plagued all of them. Parra missed all of 2011, Stetter had season-ending hip surgery early on, and Braddock never quite regained his 2010 form. So, for their playoff run in 2011, the Brewers went without a lefty arm out of the ‘pen (until the postseason, when Chris Narveson was available). 

Now, all three of those lefties are gone, and the Brewers will have to begin from scratch. They’ll probably have to do so via the free agent market, where there’s a solid crop of left-handers. Those options include Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny.

Choate would probably be the toughest guy to sign, because the Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back, and we all know the Dodgers are going to get whoever they want this offseason. I thought it was going to be the same situation for Burnett and the Nationals, but now that we know he’s not actually seeking a four-year deal (which would have been ridiculous), I see him as a possibility for the Brewers. Howell would also be decent, but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams; same goes for Gonzalez. Gorzelanny would be the easiest and cheapest option, but I see him as more of a lefty long reliever, which the Brewers might already have if they decide to move Narveson to the bullpen.

In my opinion, the best guy on that list is Burnett. Ever since 2009, he’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. In 2012, he had a career year with the Nats, going 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 70 games (56 2/3 IP). He also had a 1.9 BB/9 and 9.1 K/9, which are exactly the stats you want to see out of a specialist like Burnett. My only concern regarding those numbers are they were far better than his career statistics in each of those categories- he has a career 3.6 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9, which leads to believe he could regress back to those numbers eventually. Regardless, Burnett is probably the best option on the list.

Burnett

There’s only one issue with the Brewers and the left-handed relief market: the Cardinals are also in dire need of a lefty reliever. Marc Rzepczynski flamed out under the pressure of being the only lefty reliever the Cards could rely upon in 2012. The Cardinals tried to fix that with minor leaguers Barret Browning and Sam Freeman, but neither of them really panned out, either. Hence, the Cards are also in the market for a lefty reliever.

It was reported the other day that Burnett came out and asked the Cardinals for a four-year deal, but his agent shot that down immediately (thank goodness). Still, that could mean the Cards also think Burnett is the best lefty available, so it could end up being a bidding war between them and the Brewers.

> When asked about the recent acquisition of Burke Badenhop, Doug Melvin called him a “young, cheaper Kameron Loe-type pitcher.”

I like the younger and cheaper part, but there was absolutely no need to insult the new guy right away. It’ll be tough for him to be as bad as Loe was.

> The Rockies are interested in another lefty reliever, Daniel Schlereth, who I almost forgot about. Schlereth hit the free agent market the other day after being non-tendered by the Tigers. He doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but, if the other options thin out quickly, he could become a potential option himself.


Brewers acquire Badenhop from Rays

December 2, 2012

> The Brewers weren’t expected to make many impact trades this offseason, primarily because their farm system is still depleted from acquiring Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke back in 2010. But, it often goes unsaid that the Brewers have a ton of outfield depth, and today they used that to their advantage to start fixing one of their other needs. 

The Brewers managed to acquire an established reliever in Burke Badenhop, who has been solid for the Rays and Marlins over the past few years. In return, the Brewers only needed to give up minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr., which doesn’t quite break my heart if you consider the numbers he’d been putting up.

Badenhop, who is still just 29, had a career year last year in his first and only season with the Rays, going 2-3 with a 3.03 ERA. He had been a bit inconsistent in his first four years in the league with the Marlins, but, now that he’s put up a few solid seasons in a row, it’s safe to assume he’ll continue his success from last year. Another perk regarding Badenhop is that he’s a groundball pitcher, which will definitely play well at Miller Park. He doesn’t strike out many guys (career 6.7 K/9), but he doesn’t give out many free passes either (career 2.9 K/9).

Anyway, I see Badenhop filling the role that Jose Veras was supposed to take on in 2012 (but failed), which is getting through the seventh inning to pass it on to the setup man and closer. In a perfect world, Badenhop would have the seventh, a young flamethrower like Jim Henderson (or even Michael Olmsted) would throw the eighth, and a rejuvenated John Axford would close it out. It’s unlikely things would go that smoothly early on, however, so don’t be surprised to see Badenhop pitching the eighth (unless the Brewers sign/trade for another setup man).

I saw some people on Twitter complaining about losing Mondesi. But honestly, who cares? The Brewers might have the most outfield depth in the Majors, including four established outfielders at the big league level with another one ready to burst onto the scene. Not to mention Mondesi wasn’t looking much like his father offensively during his three years in rookie ball for the Brewers- he hit just .243 with 12 homers and 76 RBIs in those three seasons.

But perhaps this trade will work for the both teams. While the Brewers filled one of many huge holes in their bullpen, the Rays may have taken a step in replacing B.J. Upton, who just signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Braves. Either way, I’m happy with what the Brewers got out of it.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays

> Another thing worth noting about this trade: with the acquisition of Badenhop, the Brewers now have three guys with guaranteed spots in the 2013 bullpen (yes, I’ve been keeping track of guys who I think have roles already locked up). The other two are Axford and Henderson. Doug Melvin seems confident that Axford will rebound in 2013, and has mentioned Henderson as another guy he hopes to build the bullpen around.

There are a few guys in the minors who I think have very good shots at making the bullpen and thriving, Olmsted being the one I have the most confidence in. It’s true he’s never thrown a pitch above Double-A, but the numbers he put up with Boston’s Double-A affiliate tell me he’ll be throwing a lot of pitches above Double-A in 2013. Then there are Jairo Asencio and Zach Kroenke, both of whom were also signed to minor league deals this offseason, but they don’t have quite as good of track records as Olmsted. The homegrown guys, such as Brandon Kintzler, will also get opportunities. But I think the Brewers need to add at least two more established relievers at the big league level in order for me to feel good about the ‘pen going into 2013.

> The Cubs signed Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, surprisingly. I was convinced the Dodgers or Angels were going to nab him.

This signing is probably going to prompt the Cubs to trade Carlos Marmol. But let’s not give the Brewers any ideas to get involved with that…

> Minor moves: 

Giants: Non-tendered Brian Wilson.
Mariners: Re-signed Josh Kinney and Robert Andino to one-year deals.
Pirates: Re-signed Charlie Morton to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Non-tendered ex-Brewer Wil Nieves.
Rays: Non-tendered Ben Francisco.
Reds: Re-signed Denis Phipps and Kris Negron to minor league deals.
Twins: Re-signed Lester Oliveros to a minor league deal.


Zduriencik wants Gamel back

November 23, 2012

> Yesterday, the Brewer Nation reported that the Mariners are interested in Mat Gamel. I don’t know why anyone else (or me) thought of this possibility earlier, but it makes perfect sense.

If Gamel does return to the Brewers next year, he’d be playing a bench player/utility man-type role. Gamel was basically handed the starting job at first base in 2012 following the departure of Prince Fielder, but the opportunity was snatched from him early in the season. While trying to catch a foul pop-up in San Diego, he lost track of where he was, and his knee met with the wall. As it usually works, the wall won, and next thing you know, the Brewers’ starting first baseman is gone for the season. Thankfully, Corey Hart swooped in from right field and took over at first base- a position he hadn’t played since Class A, which was nearly a decade ago- and was stellar defensively. And, since his offense was already better than Gamel’s, there wasn’t much thought put into who should start at first base in 2013.

Gamel can also play third base (though not very well) and the corner outfield spots, but he’s blocked by Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, and Norichika Aoki at the respective positions. That would leave him as a bench player, and history tells us he wouldn’t have much success in that role. Gamel has proven that he needs consistent playing time in order to produce, and it appears the Brewers aren’t going to be able to give Gamel that playing time.

This is where Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners enter the equation. Zduriencik, who was a scouting director for the Brewers at the time Gamel was drafted (he also played a huge part in drafting Fielder), knows Gamel well, so there’s some familiarity there. The Mariners, as we all know, are also in desperate need of offense in any way they can get it, particularly at first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions. First baseman Justin Smoak hasn’t given the Mariners the power numbers they thought he was capable of producing. The M’s just released third baseman Chone Figgins. The Mariners’ outfield has been a revolving door the past few years. All of those factors prove even more as to why this move could benefit the Mariners as a low-risk, high-reward transaction.

But enough of how it would help the Mariners- it could help the Brewers in a lot of ways, too. The Mariners make up for what they don’t have in offense with their wealth of young pitching; keep in mind this team produced Felix Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game. Anyway, the Mariners probably wouldn’t be willing to part with an ultra-prospect like Danny Hultzen or James Paxton, but they still have more than enough pitching depth behind those two. Perhaps the Brewers could get a guy like Blake Beavan in return for Gamel.

The point is this has the potential to be one of the rare deals that truly benefits both sides. It could also be of huge benefit to Gamel; I think he just needs a fresh start somewhere else.

> Also via Brewer Nation, Josh Hamilton’s agent has reached out to Doug Melvin. This probably doesn’t mean much; it’s probably just the agent saying, “My client would consider playing here” (as stated in the article).

It’s doubtful that Hamilton-Brewers talks will advance anywhere beyond this, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

> It’s needless to say the Marlins are in a horrible situation. Mark Buehrle, part of the 12-player mega-deal between the Fish and the Blue Jays, came out and said this:

“Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions. But I’m putting it behind me and looking forward to moving on with my career.” (Via MLB.com)

Then there was this tweet from Giancarlo Stanton a few hours after the trade was first reported last week:

Keep in mind this the Marlins’ only star player left.

Anyway, Buehrle was apparently told “verbally” that he wouldn’t be traded. But the Marlins don’t give out no-trade clauses (probably because they like having the ability to dismantle their team at any given time, as history has told us), at least officially. So Buehrle does have a legitimate beef, but, to be fair to the Marlins, it was never legally official, giving them every right to trade him. Though I still think not giving out no-trade clauses is a stupid concept.

> It was reported two days ago that the Blue Jays signed Cesar Izturis to a minor league deal. But, today, we found it was actually Julio Izturis, not Cesar. So whoever originally reported this needs to get their Hispanic names straight.

The Jays also signed Maicer Izturis, Cesar’s half-brother, to a three-year deal earlier this offseason. All three of these guys are related.

> I found this on Twitter a few days ago. Whether or not it’s legitimate, this is hilarious.


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.


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