Random HGH testing to take place

January 11, 2013

> We may be looking at the end of the steroid era. MLB has finally decided to bring down the hammer, and in-season HGH testing is going to take place for the first time, starting in 2013.

Previously, testing only took place during Spring Training and the offseason, but now it’ll happen randomly during the regular season. The random timing of the testing brings about an element of surprise- in other words, players won’t know when they’re going to be tested, so they can’t juice up strategically and work around their testing dates (which they would have had prior knowledge of).

But this is definitely a positive for baseball. The doubts of the steroid era showed their true colors yesterday, as no one was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996. Players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were never proven to have taken steroids, but the speculation was still out there, which was enough to keep them out of the Hall. This new rule should take that aspect away from the game (though it won’t show in the HOF voting for a few years to come).

> Now for an intriguing piece of Brewers news: the club brought aboard right-hander Kelvim Escobar with a minor league deal and an invite to Spring Training. Escobar hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Majors since 2009, and that was in just one start: he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2007.

2007 also happened to be Escobar’s career year, when he went 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA as a member of the Angels. For his career, he’s 101-91 with a 4.15 ERA (seven years with the Blue Jays, five in LA).

The odds of Escobar making the big league team at any point during the season are slim, barring a major injury to one or more of the Brewers’ starter prospects. But, at 36 years of age, he’ll still be a cool story to follow.

> The Brewers also avoided arbitration with Chris Narveson, one of the many starters competing for a spot in the rotation this spring. He received $840,000 in his first year of eligibility.

> The club outrighted Arcenio Leon to Triple-A yesterday after designating him for assignment earlier this week.

> Jonathan Lucroy is also going to play in the World Baseball Classic, joining Ryan Braun on Team USA.

> Minor moves: 

Giants: Signed Kensuke Tanaka to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Tommy Hottovy off waivers from the Rangers; designated Chad Beck for assignment.
White Sox: Signed Jeff Gray, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Bryan Anderson, Josh Bell, Steve Tolleson, and Stefan Gartrell to minor league deals.
Cubs: Re-signed Luis Valbuena to a one-year deal; signed Brent Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald to minor league deals.
Rays: Signed Craig Albernaz, Jason Bourgeois, and J.D. Martin to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Nate Samson to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Signed Matt Palmer 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.


Miley snubbed in NL RoY voting

November 13, 2012

> The AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards were handed out today. The AL recipient was who we expected: Mike Trout. Pretty sure we all knew that one in August.

But there is a lot of debate around the NL winner, who, of course, had to be Bryce Harper. He edged Wade Miley by a mere seven points- Harper received 16 first place votes, while Miley got 12.

I thought Miley was the clear-cut winner. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and was the unexpected ace of the Diamondbacks’ staff. Harper and the other finalist for the NL RoY, Todd Frazier, both had decent rookie seasons, but were WAY too overhyped. Harper hit .270, and received more hype than Ryan Braun did in 2007 when he hit .324 in his rookie season.

Again, I’m not denying that Harper had a good season, but to say he had a better season than Miley- which is what giving Harper the NL RoY is doing- isn’t right.

Also, if you didn’t see it, I went on a Twitter rant about how Wilin Rosario had just as good of a season- if not better- than Harper. Rosario had the same batting average, and more home runs and RBIs in less at-bats. That would have been fun to write, but I was stupid and forgot to take Coors Field into effect. Oops.

> Props to the two writers who gave Norichika Aoki second-place votes in the RoY. Aoki came in fifth place overall, and also received five third-place votes.

This is how the placing went:

1. Harper
2. Miley
3. Frazier
4. Rosario
5. Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
7. Matt Carpenter
8. Jordan Pacheco

As you can see, Mike Fiers was left completely off the ballot. Apparently everyone forgot about him after he fell of a cliff from August on.

> Doug Melvin shot down the rumors that the Brewers were talking to Corey Hart and his camp about a possible contract extension. Not to worry; we’ll probably see the extension come eventually. It’s worth noting Hart will probably be open to talks midseason as well, as he signed his three-year extension (which he’ll be in the last year of in 2013) in August of 2010.

> Minor moves from the past few days: 

Red Sox: Signed David Ross to a two-year deal.
Twins: Signed Tim Wood and Eric Fryer to minor league deals.
Giants: Outrighted Emmanuel Burriss, who elected free agency; re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Neal Cotts, Juan Apodaca, Yonata Ortega, Jim Adduci, Zach Simons, and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals.
Royals: Outrighted Jason Bourgeois, who elected free agency.
Tigers: Signed Shawn Hill to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Signed Daniel McCutchen and Dan Meyer to minor league deals.


Loe, Morgan, Veras, and Ishikawa likely gone

November 2, 2012

> Schoolwork- endless schoolwork. That’s basically my excuse for getting articles up the past few days. The past three days have been the worst of the year for me. I’m hoping the next few weeks will be at least a bit lighter, otherwise my time to write on BWI will get mercilessly crunched. Anyhow, I’m not going to write a big article today, but all the news I’ve missed should cover that up.

THE NEWS

> So far, the offseason is going as planned- the Brewers are getting rid of the useless players, so to speak, in order to create roster space. The first batch of players to go is Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, and Travis Ishikawa.

Morgan’s outright to Triple-A (and eventual election of free agency) probably gathered the most national news, especially because of the role he played on the postseason team in 2011. He was responsible for getting the Brewers to the NLCS on that unforgettable walk-off hit against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and he ingrained himself into the minds of Brewers fans (and into the minds of other fans, but in a negative way) with all of his aliases. But it just wasn’t Nyjer’s season in 2012. He hit a measly .239, and lost practically all of his playing time so that Carlos Gomez could prepare for a possible starting role in 2013. The emergence of Norichika Aoki didn’t help his cause either. And, with the left-handed Logan Schafer proving that he could possibly play the role of the fourth outfielder in 2013, there just wasn’t a spot for Morgan. So I thank Morgan for all of his contributions in 2011, but his antics and things weren’t fitting this year.

Loe and Veras also elected free agency following outright assignments. Loe was one of the Brewers’ best relievers in 2010, posting a 2.78 ERA. He had a second-half surge after getting off two a rough start in 2011, but it was the opposite this year. He had an ERA below 4.00 for most of the season, but it faded all the way to 4.61 in September. Statistically, Veras was one of the Brewers’ best relievers this year (though it’s not good when a guy with a 3.90 ERA is your best reliever). But he quietly had innings just about as frustrating as some of Francisco Rodriguez’s innings, so I’m relatively glad that he’s gone.

Lastly, Ishikawa was outrighted to Triple-A today, and is expected to elect free agency after he clears waivers. Ishikawa had his moments with the Brewers, but overall was the poster-boy of an extremely weak Brewers bench.

After their 2012 performances, I don’t think any of these players will be missed. However, Morgan will always be remembered: he’s written his legacy into Milwaukee history.

> The Brewers claimed reliever Arcenio Leon off waivers from the Astros.

> K-Rod was charged with domestic abuse for that incident in Wales that popped up two months ago.

Just stay away from Wisconsin, K-Rod.

> Speaking of K-Rod, the Brewers did not give “qualifying offers” to him or Shaun Marcum.

This “qualifying offer” thing is something brought about by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and basically replaced the Type A/Type B free agent system, which usually determined whether or not a team would receive draft picks as compensation for losing key free agents. Qualifying offers now play that role, and they are determined by the average salary of the top 125 player salaries from the previous season. That salary this season was $13.3 million.

As if K-Rod or Marcum are going to get $13.3 million on the market anyway. This was a no-doubter for the Brewers.

Only nine players received qualifying offers from their respective teams: Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Adam LaRoche, David Ortiz, B.J. Upton, and Kyle Lohse.

> Minor moves (and a lot of ‘em):

Tigers: Exercised 2013 options for Octavio Dotel and Jhonny Peralta; outrighted Don Kelly to Triple-A.
Rays: Exercised 2013 options for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Jose Molina; declined 2013 option for Luke Scott.
Braves: Exercised 2013 options for Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Paul Maholm; claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros; outrighted Erik Cordier, J.C. Boscan, and Robert Fish off their 40-man roster.
Astros: Designated Matt Downs for assignment; declined 2013 option for Chris Snyder; outrighted Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, and Kyle Weiland to Triple-A.
Athletics: Outrighted Dallas Braden and Joey Devine, both of whom elected free agency.
White Sox: Signed Jake Peavy to a two-year extension; exercised 2013 option for Gavin Floyd; declined 2013 options for Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis.
Mets: Exercised 2013 options for R.A. Dickey and David Wright.
Rangers:
Declined 2013 options for Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama; claimed Konrad Schmidt off waivers from the D-backs.
Cubs: Outrighted Justin Germano to Triple-A, who elected free agency.
Dodgers: Re-signed Brandon League to a three-year deal.
Orioles: Declined 2013 option for Mark Reynolds.
Indians: Exercised 2013 option for Ubaldo Jimenez; declined 2013 options for Travis Hafner and Roberto Hernandez (I still call him Fausto Carmona); outrighted Kevin Slowey and Vinny Rottino to Triple-A; claimed Blake Wood off waivers from the Royals.
Royals: Declined 2013 option for Joakim Soria; acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels; claimed Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Rockies; claimed Brett Hayes off waivers from the Marlins; designated ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress and Jason Bourgeois for assignment.
Yankees: Outrighted ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to Triple-A, who elected free agency; returned Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers to the Nationals.
Reds: Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Madson each declined his side of his mutual option for 2013.
Pirates: Exercised 2013 option for Pedro Alvarez; declined 2013 option for Rod Barajas; released Hisanori Takahashi.
Blue Jays: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Cubs; designated Scott Cousins and David Herndon for assignment; exercised 2013 option for Darren Oliver; re-signed Rajai Davis.
Diamondbacks: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Matt Lindstrom.
Rockies: Ex-Brewer Jorge De La Rosa exercised his player option.
Nationals: LaRoche and Sean Burnett each declined their player options.
Giants: Declined 2013 option for Aubrey Huff.
Twins: Claimed Josh Roenicke and Thomas Field off waivers from the Rockies.
Orioles: Claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Twins.
Padres: Designated Josh Spence and Blake Tekotte for assignment.


Fielder helps Brewers past depleted Astros

July 31, 2011

4:06p To be honest, I’m surprised the Astros put up that much of a fight without their two star players.

Astros-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-4, to complete their sweep of Houston and keep their winning streak going, which now stands at six. The Astros put up a good fight in the late innings, but they couldn’t pull it off, and having lost two of their best players didn’t help. They traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies two days ago, then traded Michael Bourn to the Braves earlier this morning.

Anyway, the Brewers got to Astros starter Brett Myers early when Yuniesky Betancourt hit an RBI double in the second inning. Then, later in the inning, Jonathan Lucroy laid down a squeeze bunt to score Betancourt from third (he had advanced on an error after his double).

But, trouble came for the Brewers in the fourth inning. Chris Narveson, who had retired the first nine batters he faced, gave up a double and a walk start the fourth inning. Then, ex-Brewers Jason Bourgeois hit a three-run shot to give the Astros a 3-2 lead. The Brewers would tie it, however, in the bottom of the inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI double.

The Brewers then retook the lead in the sixth inning when Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Ryan Braun on a fielder’s choice.

But, in the eighth, the bullpen blew yet another lead. After allowing a double steal, Francisco Rodriguez threw a wild pitch by Lucroy to tie the game, 4-4. K-Rod then struck out J.D. Martinez the pitch after to end the inning.

Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez gave up a lead-off double to Braun. The next batter was Prince Fielder, who was expected to be intentionally walked, since there was a base open. But, for some reason, Rodriguez pitched to him, and Fielder hit a go-ahead single, which gave the Brewers a 5-4 lead that the would not relinquish.

John Axford came in and recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 31st save of the year.

Narveson had a decent start, but didn’t get the win because of K-Rod’s wild pitch. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out four.

Myers also had a solid start, but he didn’t factor in the decision either. He went six innings while giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits. He walked none and struck out six.

Counsell extends franchise long slump

Craig Counsell was in the starting lineup today at third base to give Casey McGehee a day off. Instead of ending his career-high slump at 0-for-41, he extended it to 0-for-44, which is a new franchise record for the Brewers. The previous one was held by former Brewers pitcher Doug Davis. If you ever saw Davis attempt to swing a bat, you’d see why this is pretty embarrassing for Counsell.

Anyway, Ron Roenicke said he put Counsell in the lineup because of his defense, and that paid off. In the fifth inning, Myers attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Counsell had it played perfectly. Since there were men on first and second, Counsell threw to Betancourt covering third, who then threw to first to finish a great double play.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers start an extremely important series with the Cardinals tomorrow. Zack Greinke (8-4, 4.50 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and is coming off his best start of the year, when he shut out the Cubs for 6 2/3 innings. He already has a win against the Cards this year, when he threw seven innings of three-run ball. Greinke is 4-2 with a 4.10 ERA in his career against the Cardinals.

Chris Carpenter (6-7, 3.68 ERA) will go for the Cardinals. He hasn’t exactly had success against the Brewers in his career, going 4-4 with a 5.24 ERA against them.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cubs and Cardinals will play at 7:05 p.m. CT tonight. They are currently two games back and 17 games back, respectively.
  • The Reds crushed the Giants, 9-0. They are still 6.5 games back.
  • The Pirates fell to the Phillies in 10 innings, 6-5. They are now 4.5 games back and keep falling in the standings.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Houston Astros 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 4 5 2
Milwaukee Brewers 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 X 5 11 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 4 0 3 0 0 1 0 .271
Mark Kotsay, CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 2 .242
Ryan Braun, LF 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 .322
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 1 3 1 0 1 0 .296
Felipe Lopez, 2B 3 1 1 0 0 0 3 .222
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 4 1 1 2 0 0 4 .255
Jonathan Lucroy, C 3 0 1 2 0 0 2 .285
Craig Counsell, 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .147
Chris Narveson, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 .154
a-Jerry Hairston, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .266
Total 32 5 11 5 0 8 13

a-Popped out for Saito in the 7th.

BATTING

2B: Betancourt (17), Lucroy (11), Braun (25).

RBI: Betancourt 2 (40), Lucroy 2 (43), Fielder (76).

Team RISP: 2-for-8.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

CS: Hart (6).

FIELDING

DP: (Counsell-Betancourt-Fielder).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Chris Narveson 6.2 4 3 3 3 4 1 4.39
Takashi Saito (H, 5) 0.1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2.53
Francisco Rodriguez (BS, 5) (W, 4-2) 1.0 1 1 1 1 1 0 3.20
John Axford (S, 31) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2.50

WP: Rodriguez.

Pitches-strikes: Narveson 86-59, Saito 12-6, Rodriguez 20-10, Axford 9-7.

Groundouts-flyouts: Narveson 9-4, Saito 0-0, Rodriguez 1-0, Axford 0-2.

Batters faced: Narveson 26, Saito 2, Rodriguez 5, Axford 3.

Inherited runners-scored: Saito 2-0.


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