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.


Quick hits: Brewers roster moves and rumors

July 26, 2012

> Sorry for not getting anything up during the Phillies series. But honestly, I would have been writing the same thing every day: our bullpen is a pile of garbage that needs to be disposed of. The Brewers should have had a series sweep over the Phillies, but instead the bullpen turned it into a sweep in favor of the Phillies.

Needless to say, putting in a reliever at this point means an automatic loss (in what is already a lost season).

> Anyway, there have been rumors flowing everywhere last night and this morning, which I’ll get to in a minute. But before that, here are some significant roster moves the Brewers made:

Jim Henderson has finally been recalled from Triple-A, where he was having a career year. He was 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA out of the Sounds’ bullpen, and went his first 20 or so appearances of the year without giving up an earned run.

You would have thought with those numbers that Henderson would already be with the team, but apparently the Brewers were hesitant to call him up because of his inconsistent Minor League career. Henderson, 29, has been in the Minors for since 2003, the beginning of his professional career, and seemed to have one good year, one bad year, one good year, and so on throughout his career.

The corresponding move to make room for Henderson on the roster was Jeff Bianchi getting optioned back to Triple-A. He was hitting .300 in the Minors before his call-up over the All-Star break, but didn’t reach base in 12 at-bats for the Brewers.

And here’s the best move of them all: Jonathan Lucroy was reinstated from the disabled list today. He’s been gone since late May because of a freak injury (I really don’t want to explain what I think happened again), but was hitting .345 prior to it. Too bad he couldn’t have come back earlier while the Brewers were still on the verge of contention, but I guess it’s better late than never.

In a corresponding move, George Kottaras was designated for assignment. He got off to a hot start in April, but literally hasn’t done anything since.

Sorry, Randy.

> And now for the rumors. Doug Melvin has said that Zack Greinke will likely be gone before Tuesday. He had a stellar started in Philly the night before last, and there were an estimated 20 scouts watching him. You can bet they liked what they saw.

The most likely suitors for Greinke right now are the Angels, Rangers, and possibly White Sox. The Rangers seem most likely, since, according to the Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation), the Brewers were looking at shortstop Elvis Andrus’ contract this morning.

The Rangers also have the strongest farm system of those three. The only standout for the Angels is starter Garrett Richards, who already has Major League time, and the White Sox’s system is pretty depleted.

> That’s about it. We’ll see where the rumors go from here.

So if you haven’t already, say your farewells to the short-lived Brewers tenure of Zack Greinke.


Brewers hand win to Cardinals in series opener

August 31, 2011

This is exactly the kind of game that will not help you late in the season or in the postseason.

The Brewers fell to the Cardinals today, 2-1, in the opener of a three-game set at Miller Park. It was just the third time since the All-Star break that the Brewers lost at home, and their overall record at Miller Park is now 50-17. It was a pitchers’ duel for most of the game, but, the pitcher for the Brewers didn’t have much of a say in the turnout.

Shaun Marcum tossed a gem. Just like he did his last time out against the Pirates. But, the results were the same. Marcum took a tough luck loss, as he went seven innings while giving up two runs (none earned) on four hits. He walked three and struck out four.

And those two unearned runs were the only runs the Cards scored. They came in the fifth inning, and, to start that inning, the Brewers committed two consecutive errors. The first one was by first baseman Prince Fielder, who let a ball that should have been a routine grounder bounce through his legs, allowing Skip Schumaker to reach. The next one was a botched play by second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. He took what should have been a routine double play ball and turned it in to an embarrassing play in which the ball bounced off his chest, followed by him throwing the ball to first base like a girl. That throw allowed Rafael Furcal to reach. Both Schumaker and Furcal would come around to score on a RBI single by the pitcher, Edwin Jackson, and a sacrifice fly by Jon Jay, respectively.

But this is the one thing that drives me absolutely insane about the Brewers. They have pitching. They have offense. Both of those are extremely important aspects of the game. But, they don’t have the third aspect, which is defense. You need all of them to succeed. Having two of three doesn’t cut it. And there’s proof that they have bad defense- Casey McGehee (third base), Yuniesky Betancourt (shortstop), and Fielder (first base) all lead the league in errors at their respective position. That’s saying something.

The only other contending team I can think of that manages to get by with horrible defense is the Rangers. But, the reason they have to account for so many errors is because of their shortstop, Elvis Andrus, who leads the Majors in errors at any position. Anyway, I guess I’m losing my point here, but what I’m saying is the Brewers need to pick it up defensively if they want to go deep in the postseason.

Anyway, the only Brewers run came on a Nyjer Morgan RBI double in the sixth inning. In that same inning, the Brewers 3-4-5 combo- Ryan Braun, Fielder, and McGehee- were due up with a guy on second and no outs. So what do they do? Get retired in order by Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson and strand the baserunner. Great.

The Brewers threatened in the ninth against Cardinals closer Fernando Salas with runners on first and second with Mark Kotsay up, but he grounded into a game-ending double play. That followed a botched bunt by Betancourt that practically turned into a double play itself.

Now, I’d be more angry about this loss if the race in the NL Central were tighter. With the loss tonight, the Brewers still hold a whopping 9.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the Central, which I’m still comfortable with for now. Had the Brewers won, the Cards would have fallen to an 11.5 game deficit.

Anyway, now that I’m done venting about the Brewers’ defense, I’ll get into tomorrow’s game. The Brewers and Cardinals play the second game of this three-game set at Miller Park tomorrow night, and the Brewers will send Randy Wolf (11-8, 3.37 ERA) to the mound. Wolf’s last start against the Cardinals was great: he went eight shutout innings and was poised to toss a complete game. Anyway, Wolf is 7-7 with a 3.80 ERA against the Cards in his career.

The Cardinals will counter with Jake Westbrook (10-7, 4.75 ERA), who hasn’t really impressed me any time I’ve seen him pitch. Westbrook is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Brewers, and both of those losses came this year.


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