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.


Thanks, Jonny

September 11, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Braves are known for having one of the better bullpens and defenses in baseball. But neither were present tonight, as the Brewers handily took advantage of both of those absences to run away with a 4-1 win.

Mike Minor was on his game, but pitch count got him. He needed 115 pitches to get through just 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. But it’s a good thing he needed all those pitches; there’s no telling what would have happened had he remained in the game.

The first run of the game came in the fifth inning on an Andrelton Simmons double play; you know it’s a pitchers’ duel when the first run of the game scores in that way that late. The Braves put in Jonny Venters to start the seventh inning, but he would hand the Brewers the game on a silver platter. He gave up a single to Martin Maldonado and a walk to Jean Segura to start the inning. Jeff Bianchi then put down a bunt that was only meant to advance the runners, but Venters foolishly went for the runner at third base (who he wouldn’t have gotten anyway), and ended up throwing the ball away. That allowed pinch-runner Eric Farris to score and tie up the game.

The Braves removed Venters for Chad Durbin, who let the floodgates open even more. After walking Jonathan Lucroy, he gave up a go-ahead two-run double to Norichika Aoki, who continues to show off his power stroke. Carlos Gomez tacked on the final run with a sacrifice fly.

The bullpen was solid, with Jim Henderson and John Axford putting up scoreless innings to finish off the game.

MY TAKE

> Aoki has come out of nowhere lately as another power threat in the lineup. After putting up a few extra-base hits in yesterday’s game- including a game-tying home run in the ninth- he hit two more doubles today.

> Wily Peralta was solid, going six innings while giving up a run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Peralta actually looked pretty wild, at least early on. He threw close to half of his pitches for balls and worked behind in the count for the most part. But, with as good of stuff as he has, I suppose it isn’t that huge of a factor.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup tonight with an apparent injury to the arch of his left foot. He’s considered day-to-day for now.

> In Ben Sheets’ first return to Milwaukee since he left in 2008, he talked to the media about his injuries and doubters since then.

> The Astros released former Brewers closer Francisco Cordero. I’m guessing he’ll just retire now; after the year he’s had, I can’t imagine any team being even remotely interested in him.

THE NUMBERS

> The Braves got caught on the basepaths four- yes, four- times. Martin Prado got caught trying to take an extra base twice, Martin Maldonado picked off Freddie Freeman at first base on a snap-throw, and Maldonado threw out Jason Heyward attempting to steal second base.

> I forgot that the Braves signed former Brewer Lyle Overbay to a Minor League deal awhile back. He hit a single in the seventh inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

The Brewers haven’t faced Hudson since May of 2011, and it wasn’t pretty. Hudson threw a one-hit shutout that day. In fact, that was the same day Zack Greinke made his Brewers debut.


Yo does the job again

August 29, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers once again handled the Cubs with ease tonight, winning 4-1. Yovani Gallardo had another stellar start, going seven innings while giving up a run on three hits. He walked three and struck out nine.

The Brewers jumped on Travis Wood early, as Jeff Bianchi hit his first career home run- a three-run blast- in the second inning. The only Cubs run came on a home run from Wood, the pitcher. Other than that, the Cubs’ offense was rather lifeless.

The 2011 bullpen was successfully revisited tonight, as Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford got the hold and save, respectively. If only we could have had that a few months ago.

LOOKING INTO THE NL MVP RACE

> Recently I’ve been mulling over who I think should win the major baseball awards come the end of the season, and I’ve found there are a lot of interesting award races around the game. One I’m having a particularly tough time with is the National League MVP race.

Our own Ryan Braun took it home last year after posting a career high in batting average and leading the Brewers to the playoffs. But, while Braun is nearly duplicating the numbers he put up last year- and on pace for a career high in home runs- I can’t see him taking it home this year. The Brewers aren’t remotely close to contention, which we all know always affects the MVP race. And his eventful offseason is certain to take more than a few votes away.

Other than Braun, I see three candidates for the MVP (all on contending teams): Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, and Matt Holliday. Obviously there are other sleeper guys around the league, such as Adam LaRoche, Freddie Freeman, Carlos Beltran, and so on, but the three I listed prior seem to be the choices whom all the buzz is surrounding.

Everyone was pretty much handing McCutchen the award in July, which is clearly too early. He was hitting around .370 at the time, but has fallen into the .340′s. That still isn’t bad, but, as McCutchen has fallen, so have the Pirates. If that continues, my vote would not go to Cutch.

Posey and Holliday are my top two right now; both are valuable assets to their contending teams. Assuming the Giants and Cardinals stay where they are in the standings into the playoffs, my vote would go to Posey. The Giants have an otherwise weak offense without him, while the Cardinals still have a lineup of perennial All-Stars without Holliday.

That’s my opinion on the race right now. I would be thrilled if Braun somehow came out with the award again, but I have a feeling one of the guys I listed will to do Braun what Braun did to Matt Kemp last year.

MY TAKE

> Bianchi must have been listening when I called him Brooks Conrad 2.0 the other night, because he’s gone on a tear since I criticized him in Pittsburgh. After starting his career with an 0-for, Bianchi had five consecutive hits, ending with his first career homer in the second inning.

Needless to say I’m liking the Jean Segura-Bianchi shortstop tandem than I did the Cody Ransom-Cesar Izturis tandem.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum was placed on waivers today. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get nabbed by a contender.

> Randy Wolf didn’t go unemployed for very long, as it was reported that the Orioles signed him earlier today. They’ll likely use him as a relief since they’re primary lefty out of the ‘pen, Troy Patton, is taking a long time to recover from an injury. But Buck Showalter didn’t rule out using him as a spot starter in the ever-changing O’s rotation.

UPDATE: The Athletics also had “serious interest” in Wolf before he signed with the Orioles.

> Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he doesn’t want Brewers pitchers trying too hard to get strikeouts in what could be a record-breaking season.

“I don’t want to see guys try to get strikeouts. They are a product of strike one and strike two. But when the situation dictates it, we’ve got guys who know how to strike guys out.”

“I’m just as happy with a shutout with no strikeouts and no walks. I don’t want to get caught up in all that [strikeout talk]. That’s why you have a defense out there.”

The Brewers are on pace to break the team strikeout record set by the 2003 Cubs, who featured elite arms such as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

> The Pirates released Erik Bedard. His final start with them was a loss at the hands of the Brewers just a few days ago, when he gave up seven earnies in 4 2/3 innings.

THE NUMBERS

> Gallardo made strides in quite a few stats tonight. He reached 14 wins for the third consecutive year. He won his sixth consecutive decision. He struck out nine for the third consecutive start. He threw his Major League-leading 22nd quality start. Yep, he’s the ace of the staff right now.

> Brewers pitchers struck out 10 for the eighth straight game.

> Holy crap, Justin Verlander gave up eight earned runs today.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA)


Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays
NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.


A few predictions for the MLB awards…

November 6, 2011

> It’s been an extremely slow day for me in nearly every aspect. Close to no new baseball news, BreakingWI not getting any views (but I’m pretty used to that by now), and just not much to do. This is why I hate when baseball season ends.

> Anyhow, before I get into my main topic, here’s the Hot Stove news from this slow day:

> It appears Dan Duquette is close to becoming the Orioles’ GM. I talked last night about how it seemed like nobody wanted to fill the O’s GM vacancy, but, sure enough, someone takes it after I say that.

Anyway, Duquette has prior experience as a general manager with the Expos (1991-1994) and the Red Sox (1994-2002). Apparently he’s known for attracting fans to both of those teams during his time with them, but I don’t know how that will translate in Baltimore, who haven’t experienced as much as a winning season since 1997.

But I would like to see someone get that team turned around sometime in the near future. I, along with every other true baseball fan, am sick of the Sox and Yankees dominating the AL East due to high payrolls. But that’s what the Rays are there for, I guess…

> The Cubs managerial search is starting with Pete Mackanin, who has already met with the Red Sox as well. Mackanin serving as the Phillies hitting coach right now, but sounds open to leave for a managerial job. Anyway, the Cubs are also going to talk to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux- the Brewers’ old pitching coach.

So that’s really all the Hot Stove news for the day. As I said earlier, it’s been a slow and rather boring day…

> Because I really have nothing else to write about, I’ve decided to show you guys my predictions for who’s going to win each award, and the reason why I want them to win. So, I’ll start with the MVPs from each league.

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers

That’s a given. If you’re a Brewers fan, odds are you want Braun or Prince Fielder to win. And either of them would be deserving- Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs, while Fielder hit .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs. But, if I had to choose between these two, I’d go with Braun, just because he’s the overall better player. Braun is a true five-tool player- he can hit for average and power, he’s fast, he can play defense (most of the time), and has a great arm. Oh, and he had a 30/30 season. Fielder, on the other hand, is what I would call a one-tool player- he hits for power, and that’s about it. He looked like an idiot defensively this year, can’t run, and, despite the fact he hit .299, he doesn’t normally hit for that high of an average. So, say what you like, but I think Braun is better, and I’m glad we have him signed through 2020 instead of Fielder (if I had to choose between which one I wanted signed that long).

I know there are people out there who want Matt Kemp of the Dodgers to win. And that’s a legitimate argument- he hit .324 with 39 homers and 41 steals, one homer away from the near-impossible 40/40 season. But, he plays for the Dodgers, which is going to not help him in the voting.

Anyway, that’s why Braun is my choice. Aside from Fielder and Kemp, his other competition is going to be Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks, but there’s nearly no chance of him winning.

AL MVP: Justin Verlander, Tigers

Yes- I’m choosing a pitcher as the MVP. But, so are many others, and it’s tough to argue with. Verlander had a career year, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA. He also had 250 strikeouts, which won him the AL Triple Crown (an award given for leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts).

Another reason Verlander is a legitimate choice for MVP is that the Tigers would have been nowhere without him, and I mean nowhere. Try imagining their rotation without Verlander- Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, and Phil Coke. I didn’t even put Doug Fister in there because, with that rotation, they wouldn’t have even been in contention at the Trade Deadline, and wouldn’t have acquired him.

A few other contenders for the MVP in the AL are Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Curtis Granderson (Yankees), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays). All of those guys had great seasons, but did any of them help their team as much as Verlander helped the Tigers?

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Like Verlander in the AL, Kershaw won the NL Triple Crown, as he went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, along with 248 strikeouts. If you think that’s remarkable, add this to those stats- he’s only 23 years old.

And, he played for the Dodgers, who, other than Kemp, give close to no run support, so getting 21 wins with a team like that isn’t easy. But he was just one of those guys who, also like Verlander, appeared to be an automatic win every time he took the mound.

Some other competition for the NL CYA are Ian Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Roy Halladay (Phillies), and Cliff Lee (Phillies).

AL Cy Young Award: Verlander

I already explained what I could about Verlander in the AL MVP section, and winning the MVP as a pitcher pretty much locks up winning the CYA as well.

Jered Weaver (Angels), CC Sabathia (Yankees), C.J. Wilson (Rangers), and Ricky Romero (Blue Jays) are, in my opinion, Verlander’s best competition for the CYA.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Braves

Kimbrel had a remarkable season in his first full year in the Majors, and had big shoes to fill, future Hall of Famer closer (at least in my opinion) Billy Wagner had just retired. But, Kimbrel put those expectation aside and broke the rookie saves record with 46. Yes, Neftali Feliz held it for all of one year.

Anyway, despite the fact he technically ended up costing the Braves their playoff chances, he still had a great season.

A few other good rookies in the NL were Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks).

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

While Hellickson didn’t get much run support, as his 13-10 record shows, he still put up a 2.95 ERA and 189 innings pitched, both of which led rookie starting pitchers in the MLB. Not to mention he pitches in the AL East, arguably the toughest division to pitch in, and to put up those numbers as a rookie in that division is incredible.

Michael Pineda (Mariners), Eric Hosmer (Royals), and Mark Trumbo (Angels) are probably the best competition for the AL ROY.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

In his first full season as D-backs manager, Gibson completely turned this team around from an awful 2010 season in which his team won only 67 games. After a slow start, the stayed hot the rest of the season and beat out the 2010 World Champion Giants for the NL West division title. Of course, they would lose to the Brewers in the NLDS, but the fact that the even made the postseason this year was remarkable.

Ron Roenicke (Brewers) and Tony La Russa (Cardinals) both probably have a better chance at winning than Gibson, but I still think Gibson is deserving.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Rays

With a week left in the season, it didn’t look like the Rays would be going to the postseason. But, Maddon, who is arguably the most motivational manager out there, kept driving his team on, and the eventually passed the Red Sox for a playoff berth on the last day of the season.

Other candidates in the AL include Ron Washington (Rangers) and Jim Leyland (Tigers).

> Anyway, those are all of my predictions. Feel free to leave a comment saying if you agree or disagree with them (or you can post your own). These are purely from my opinion, and I don’t expect a couple of them to win. But I think they’re all deserving.


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