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.


Brewers have arby decisions to make

November 26, 2012

> It came upon us rather quickly, but the arbitration deadline is already this Friday. Coming into the offseason, the Brewers had nine players to whom they would have to decide whether or not to tender them contracts, but that list has since been cut to five. Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, Travis Ishikawa, and Kameron Loe were all arbitration-eligible, but were cut loose earlier this month, so they’re no longer the Brewers’ problems to deal with. All of those names would have probably been non-tendered anyway.

But, there are still five arbitration-eligible players on the Brewers’ roster: John Axford, Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, and Carlos Gomez. Back in October, MLB Trade Rumors projected the possible salaries each will earn in 2013: they had Axford at $5.1 million, Narveson $800,000, Estrada $1.6 million, Parra $1.6 million, and Gomez $3.4 million. Most of them- save for Axford- should come relatively cheap.

The only immediate non-tender candidate that comes to mind is Parra, who I have to guess the Brewers are sick of at this point. He has great stuff, he’s a lefty, he once threw a perfect game in the minors- so why hasn’t he been able to find it during his first few years in the Majors? I thought shifting him to the bullpen permanently would benefit Parra mentally, and help the Brewers as a team, seeing as they went most of 2011 without a left-hander in the ‘pen. But, in 2012, Parra was unable to maintain consistency, and Ron Roenicke was hesitant to use him in tight situations (for good reason). $1.6 million isn’t much (though I get the feeling Parra will attempt to demand more), but he should follow Veras and Loe out the door.

I’m sorry, but Axford isn’t going to get $5.1 million. The case for him is that he saved 35 games in 2012, but then you have to remember he blew a Major League-leading nine saves. Axford is going to get the closer’s role back in 2013, but not at that price.

Gomez is going to be the Brewers’ starting center fielder in 2013 (unless they somehow pick up Josh Hamilton) following his breakout season at the plate, at least power-wise (he slugged a career-high 19 home runs). I’d take that and his dangerous abilities for $3.4 million, no doubt.

Lastly, there’s Narveson, who will certainly be back in 2013 (although it’s uncertain whether he’ll be in the bullpen or rotation). MLBTR is predicting that his season-ending rotator cuff surgery will keep him below a salary of $1 million once again, so the Brewers should be able to bring him back easily.

All of these guys will probably avoid arbitration. The Brewers’ last arby hearing came last spring with Veras, but the Brewers won it easily.

> According to Jim Bowden, Zack Greinke’s “camp” expects him to become the richest right-handed pitcher in history, while even possibly passing Cole Hamels’ six-year, $153 million deal with the Phillies.

OK, I love Greinke, but let’s step back and look at this from another perspective. Greinke’s career ERA is 3.77. That’s a good ERA, no doubt. But is it honestly worth giving him the richest contract in history for a pitcher? Matt Cain, who currently has the biggest contract out of any righty in history, has a career 3.27 ERA. Hamels’ career ERA is 3.34.

Another thing to keep in mind about Greinke: that career ERA is with his AL Cy Young year in 2009, during which he put up a 2.16 ERA. Take that away, and he his career ERA is borderline of 4.00. Not to mention Greinke’s lowest single-season ERA other than the CYA year is 3.47.

Again, not trying to hate on Greinke or anything; I’d love for the Brewers to bring him back (though now I know it’s not going to happen). But does he deserve to be the richest right-handed pitcher in the history of the game? No way.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Outrighted Brent Lillibridge, who elected free agency.


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.


Brewers take advantage of… the sun?

September 24, 2012

POSTGAME

> The score might not indicate it, but today was hard-fought win for the Brewers. They defeated the Nationals, 6-2, but a few of the Brewers’ key hits came courtesy of Nats outfielders losing fly balls in the sun.

The Brewers got on the board against Chien-Ming Wang in the fourth inning. Ryan Braun got a gift double after center fielder Bryce Harper misplayed a ball in the sun, then Jonathan Lucroy took advantage with an RBI single three batters later. Logan Schafer followed that up with an RBI double.

But the Nats tied it up in the fifth inning against Yovani Gallardo. Yo got himself into trouble quickly after walking Ian Desmond and allowing a double to Danny Espinosa. Chad Tracy put up an incredible at-bat against him, which resulted in an RBI single. Jayson Werth tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

The Brewers took the lead again in the seventh on Lucroy’s second RBI single. Carlos Gomez followed that with the second gift hit of the day- an RBI single thanks to the right fielder Werth giving up on the fly ball in the sun.

MY TAKE

> Schafer should be getting more playing time. He’s shown that he can hit when given the chance, with a clutch RBI triple against the Mets last week, and two more hits today.

But the way Schafer is playing gives the Brewers a world of options for 2013. It allows them to get rid of the left-handed hitting Nyjer Morgan- who isn’t getting playing time anyway- since Schafer is also a lefty. And, if Gomez winds up not working out as the everyday center fielder, we’ve got Schafer to fall back on.

> If Harper wins the Rookie of the Year Award, I’m going to explode.

THE NEWS

> Today was Schafer’s first big league start.

> Ken Rosenthal brought up the point that the Brewers spent about $180 million less on Aramis Ramirez than the Tigers paid Prince Fielder, but have gotten very similar production.

So where are the “Braun is going to be pitched to differently” haters now?

>The Cardinals defeated the Cubs again. They now start a three-game series against the Astros, then their easy nine-game stretch ends (not to mention the Brewers’ tough 10-game stretch will end as well).

As far as the teams behind the Brewers in the Wild Card race, the Dodgers and Pirates both won, while the Phillies lost.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun went 2-for-3 to bring his average up to .317. If he manages to get it into the mid-.320′s, I have no idea how you don’t give him the MVP- his other numbers are already so much better than the rest of the MVP candidates.

> The bullpen was lights-out. Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Henderson, Jose Veras, and John Axford combined for four scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

> Marco Estrada, tomorrow’s starter, is 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA over his last six starts. Prior to that stretch, he didn’t have a win all year.

> The Brewers have now won Gallardo’s last 11 starts (although Yo himself didn’t pick up the win today).

> Ramirez, who hit two doubles today, now has 49 for the season. That’s four away from breaking Lyle Overbay’s franchise record of 53.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (11-8, 2.96 ERA)

The Crew will have their hands full with the Wisconsin native Zimmermann, who has already defeated them once this year. Estrada, the former National, is the midst of his hot streak, but let’s hope he’s ready for his noon start this time.

THE EXTRAS

> OK, the Cardinals can do what they want in their clubhouse, but this is going a little far.

> So apparently Eric Chavez of the Yankees doesn’t approve of celebrating after home runs.


Brewers mount comeback to hold ground

September 21, 2012

POSTGAME

> It’s now safe to say that the Brewers are never out of any game. Despite a large early lead, they had to play comeback today, and they were successful. The Brewers managed to take a 9-7 win in a four-hour, back-and-forth contest with the Pirates.

The Brewers got off to a quick start, jumping on Wandy Rodriguez for three runs- including an Aramis Ramirez two-run blast- in the first inning. But, with a 4-0 lead in the third, Mike Fiers gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Fiers, who needed 81 pitches to get through just three innings, was removed after that.

After tying the game in the fourth, the Pirates rallied against Kameron Loe for three in the sixth inning, with a home run from Clint Barmes and an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Going into the eighth inning, the Bucs had a comfortable 7-3, but you could just tell the Brewers were going to mount a rally against struggling reliever Chad Qualls. And they wasted no time in doing so, as a two-run double from Norichika Aoki and a two-run triple from Rickie Weeks quickly knotted the game up at 7-7. Ramirez then gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI single. Logan Schafer tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as well.

John Axford nailed down the save for the second straight night, as he worked around a Jean Segura error to strike out the side.

MY TAKE

> Segura’s error in the ninth inning should have probably been charged to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Segura’s throw was slightly high, but it’s a throw that Ishikawa has to be able to handle.

> After the bullpen got off to a rough start (Brandon Kintzler gave up the lead following Fiers’ exit, then Loe nearly let the Pirates blow it open), they settled down nicely to shut down the Pirates for the rest of the game. Jose Veras got out of Loe’s jam in the sixth, Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Francisco Rodriguez handled the eighth, and Axford got another save as he continues his return to form.

> I hate to say it, but Fiers is starting to look legitimately fatigued on the mound. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his last three starts. As I noted on Twitter earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke pull the plug on his season any day now.

> Jason Grilli plunked Ryan Braun in theseventh inning- when the Pirates had a three-run lead. That drew a standing ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd. Hope they enjoyed the eighth-inning rally too.

So now I’ve concluded that their fanbase doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, or a mere .500 season. If they act like that, they can stay in the cellar of the NL Central for the next 20 years as well- or longer.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart made an unexpected return to the lineup today. He went 1-for-3 with a single, but it was noticeable that he was uncomfortable at the plate. Hart was removed in the fifth in exchange for Ishikawa.

> Axford said that the Zack Greinke trade “sharpened the Brewers’ focus.”

> Roenicke made a case for Aoki’s Rookie of the Year chances.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ current five-game winning streak is their longest on the season.

> This is the first time all year the Brewers have been give games over .500.

> Here’s the explanation for the Brewers passing up the Bucs in the standings: the Brewers have won 23 of their last 29 games. During that same stretch, the Pirates have won seven games.

> Oh, and the Pirates fell a game under .500.

> The Dodgers lost to the Nats, so the Brewers have leap-frogged them in the Wild Card race.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Nationals:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. ???

THE EXTRAS

> MLB Network’s Intentional Talk interviewed Axford the other day. But I was more amused at the murderous look on Jim Henderson’s face the entire time. Click here; you’ll know what I mean.

> This year’s edition of rookie hazing. They’re supposed to be the Flintstones… I think?

(It would appear Carlos Gomez took the photo.)


Brewers tally 15 in blowout

August 28, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers absolutely annihilated the Cubs tonight, demolishing their rivals 15-4. It was actually a rather close game through eight innings, but the Brewers put up a very crooked number- a nine-spot- in the ninth inning.

Basically everybody had a good day at the plate. Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and Ryan Braun went 4-for-6 with five RBIs, those just being the highlights. But the biggest blow was to start the ninth inning, when Braun, Ramirez, and Corey Hart hit three consecutive home runs off Alex Hinshaw. And Braun’s home run went out of Wrigley Field.

Yeah, it was that kind of night.

THE PROBABLE BATCH OF SEPTEMBER CALL-UPS

> With September just around the corner, most teams are probably starting- or already have- looking over prospects to recall and take a look at. Last year, the Brewers were contending at this time, so they only called up four players who they thought would help them to the postseason- Taylor Green, Logan Schafer, Martin Maldonado, and Mike Fiers. Maldonado and Fiers are both having success on the Brewers roster right now, and that month of experience at the big league level could have helped them.

This year, the Brewers aren’t close to contending, and will probably call up a larger crop of players to let them audition for roster spots next year. Here are some players who we could see come up and get playing time in September:

Green, 3B: Green has already spent time with the club this year, but was optioned back to Triple-A in July after most of his playing time diminished. His .198 batting average at the big league level probably didn’t help much either. Green is hitting a sub-par .269 at Triple-A this year, but is hot over his past 10 games, with a .300 average and three home runs.

Green is blocked at basically every position he plays- third base (primary), second base, and first base- at least for the near future. If he were to win a shot at the Brewers’ roster in 2013, it would be a similar role that he played earlier this year (utility/bench player). But he’d have to prove he can still swing the bat even without full playing time.

Schafer, OF: The speedy outfielder is hitting .270 with nine home runs and nine triples for the Sounds this season. He had a decent Spring Training, but didn’t really have a chance at making the team because the Brewers had (and still have) five big league caliber outfielders. With Nyjer Morgan likely leaving for the free agent market next year, Schafer could make the team as the fifth outfielder, but that still might be a long shot.

Schafer got the call last year, and got one hit in three at-bats for the Brewers.

Caleb Gindl, OF: Gindl typically hits for average, but is having a bit of a down year this year with just a .263 average. He’s very likely to get called up, though, having won the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week last week after posting a monster .533 average. Gindl hasn’t seen any Major League time yet.

Brandon Kintzler, RP: I’m almost certain Kintzler will be a September call-up, and that would complete his journey back. Kintzler was a September call-up in 2010 and was rather ineffective then, but made the roster out of ST in 2011. He posted a 3.68 ERA in nine games in ’11 before going down for the year, and he’s been out ever since with a series of elbow and shoulder problems. Kintzler currently has a 3.23 ERA between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

Personally, I see a bright future for Kintzler. His stuff tells me he could be a future setup man, which is exactly what the Brewers need right now.

Rob Wooten, RP: Wooten is probably a long shot, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him come up. He posted a stellar 1.74 ERA with eight saves in 17 games for the Stars, and is now playing for the Sounds, where he has a 3.88 ERA. I considered Jim Henderson (before his call-up) and Wooten the two best relievers in the Brewers organization this year.

Fautino De Los Santos, RP: The Brewers quietly acquired De Los Santos in the deal with the Athletics for George Kottaras, and he could be a talented arm. He posted a 4.32 ERA in 34 games for the A’s in 2011 and is an extreme strikeout pitcher. He also walks his fair share of batters, which draws him an alarming comparison to Jose Veras, but we just have to hope no one else can be that bad.

Tyler Thornburg, SP: Thornburg was up for awhile with the Brewers earlier this year, making two starts in July. He struggled with long ball, allowing seven homers at the big league level, more than he had allowed during the entire season in the Minors. But, if the Brewers do indeed shut down Mark Rogers and/or Fiers, Thorn could see a few starts in September, or at least work out of the bullpen.

Wily Peralta, SP: Already a leading candidate for the rotation next year, the Brewers have said that Peralta will more than likely make some September starts (more likely than Thornburg). Peralta has just one inning of big league experience, which came earlier this year against the Rockies.

My only concern about Peralta is that he can let his nerves get to him at times- at least in the past. In ST of 2011, the Brewers gave him a few starts, and he got rocked- and I mean rocked- each time. That’s probably behind him by now, but it’s something worth watching out for if he’s in the bigs this September.

If that is in fact behind him, though, watch out- he has some of the best stuff I’ve seen out of a Brewers prospect in quite some time (probably since Yovani Gallardo). His two best pitches are a high-90’s running fastball and a slider, which, not surprisingly, were the only two pitches he used in his debut (which was in relief). But he’ll be forced to at least bring out the change-up or curve if he’s starting.

Eric Farris, 2B: He has just one big league at-bat under his belt, but this kid has a ton of speed. Farris isn’t a power hitter, but does have a career .287 average, which tells me he’ll eventually become a good lead-off hitter/table setter.

Farris is blocked for the next few years by Rickie Weeks, whom the Brewers just have too much money invested into to give someone else a chance.

Scooter Gennett, 2B: Despite his small stature, Gennett has a ton of potential, probably more so than Farris. Like Farris, he has speed and hits for average, with a career .302 Minor League BA. He’ll probably eventually be the Brewers’ starting second baseman if Weeks continues to flail himself out of the job. But, like Farris, Gennett is at least blocked until Weeks’ four-year contract ends.

Obviously not all of these guys are going to be called up; the clubhouse would turn into a mad house. But I’d say the most likely to be called up of the players I listed are Green, Kintzler, and Peralta.

THE NEWS

> Ron Roenicke said it has yet to be decided on whether or not Carlos Gomez will be the starting center fielder next year.

“The at-bats, he’ll have a real good game, and then all of a sudden, the next day it will be just so-so. We’re wanting him to string together a lot of them.”

“Defensively, I know he dropped the one ball [in Tuesday's loss to the Pirates], but we know he’s going to play good all the time. Baserunning, he’s really good stealing bases. But the offensive part is the part we’ve always wanted him to be more consistent, and that’s what we would still like to see, a little more consistency.”

“If you’re going to swing at that first pitch, you need to square it up a lot. Gomey can do those things, which is what excites you about what he could do if he gets consistent.”

“You can learn a lot after 26 years old. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him. We all like him. Regardless of whether he’s starting for us or platooning, we like him a lot.”

> Tim Dillard was optioned to Double-A. I hadn’t picked up on this, but Dillard had a 9.42 ERA since being sent back to Triple-A a few months ago. Sort of why he wasn’t on the prospect list.

THE NUMBERS

> 15 runs. 21 hits.

> Every Brewers starter- including Marco Estrada- had a hit tonight.

> The ninth inning lasted almost exactly 35 minutes. It took the Cubs 25 minutes to record an out.

> Every Cubs pitcher, except Alberto Cabrera, gave up a run tonight. Justin Germano, Michael Bowden, Manny Corpas, Hinshaw, and Lendy Castillo all got their heads blown off.

> Brewers pitchers have quite a streak going- seven consecutive games with 10 or more strikeouts. That’s the longest streak of its kind since 1900.

> Estrada notched his second win of the season tonight. Both have come against the Cubs.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.62 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (4-10, 4.76 ERA)

I sort of wasted most of this article on the September call-up piece, but I wanted to get that up at some point before the month ended. I would have saved it for another day had I known this game was going to happen, however.

THE EXTRAS

> The Cubs needed Joe Mather, an outfielder, to finish the ninth inning for them.

> Here’s a clip of Hinshaw’s reaction after he gave up the third consecutive home run. Possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. (Special thanks to Jaymes Langrehr from Disciples of Uecker for creating it.)


Brewers avoid utter embarrassment

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> A sweep at the hands of the Astros would have made the Brewers truly hit rock bottom. But, they were able to avoid a sweep by the worst team in baseball, defeating the Astros 5-3.

Yovani Gallardo was able to go deep into the game, throwing 7 2/3 solid innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out eight. It was his longest outing of the year, and the second most pitches he’d thrown (114). Jose Veras came in to get the last out of what could have been a rocky eighth inning, then Kameron Loe recorded the save in the ninth (which was also pretty shaky).

Gallardo had a rough first inning, giving up back-t0-back doubles to Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez to start the game. But, Gallardo himself tied the game with an RBI single in the second inning. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with an RBI groundout to make the score 3-1. Gonzalez’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning cut into the Brewers’ lead, but Corey Hart added an insurance run in the sixth on 22nd home run of the year. The Brewers added another important run in the eighth on Martin Maldonado’s RBI double. The last Astros run came on Scott Moore’s RBI single in the eighth.

THE ROTATION SITUATION

> The other day, Ron Roenicke announced that the Brewers might start monitoring pitch count and the number of innings that pitchers throw, also mentioning that a few could even be shut down. If you don’t already know, I’m strongly against pitch count and the emphasis it has on today’s game of baseball, so naturally I’m opposed to this idea. But let me explain why I think it’s useless.

The only name Roenicke mentioned as to who would probably shut down is Mike Fiers, who is by far the best pitcher in the Brewers’ rotation right now. His 1.80 ERA makes him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. So why even think about shutting him down?

According to Roenicke, the Brewers want to “protect his arm.” After an eight-inning performance his last time out, Fiers is at 80 innings on the year (excluding 55 innings in the Minors). If you add those together, he’s at a total of 135 innings, and Fiers has never thrown more than 135 innings, which is RRR’s excuse to possibly shut him down.

And that’s what I don’t understand. Not letting a young a guy throw more innings than he has before isn’t going to help him develop. He has to get out of his comfort zone and throw more innings; he’s in the Majors now.

I do understand trying to protect his arm, but that’s pretty pointless, considering Fiers doesn’t have much injury history. For a guy like Mark Rogers, who has a ton of injuries on his ledger, sure, I can cope with not letting him throw as many innings until we know he’s back to 100%. But Fiers is at 100% right now, and is doing some of the best pitching the Brewers have seen in quite some time. So why take that away?

Roenicke has also suggested going to a six-man rotation, which would also hold back the innings of each pitcher. I’m not for that, either, but at least the guys would continue to pitch, instead of being shut down for the year. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the six-man rotation.

RRR also tried to compare this to what the Rockies are doing. Please, our pitching staff isn’t that bad. (Unless we’re talking about the bullpen, which we aren’t.)

THE NEWS

> Weeks was tried again at the top of the order, a role he lost earlier this year after his awful start. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so I doubt we’ll see him there tomorrow.

> Two former Brewers took the mound today. Chris Capuano took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Marlins before it was broken up by Jose Reyes. Ben Sheets will try to continue his astounding comeback tonight against the Mets, which will be broadcasted on ESPN.

> The Cubs picked up former Brewers starter Seth McClung today, signing him to a Minor League deal. The Brewers tried McClung again this year in the Minors, but just couldn’t control the damage, so he was released two weeks ago.

The Cubs have already tried something similar to this. Last year, they signed former Brewer Doug Davis to a Minor League deal, and he eventually reached the Majors. But that experiment didn’t work out too well, and I doubt McClung will either.

> One of the Brewers’ first round picks in this year’s draft, Victor Roache, was cleared to take dry swings today. He’d been out for over four months due to major arm surgery.

THE NUMBERS GAME

> Jean Segura continues to improve at the plate, as he went 2-for-4 today. His average is up to .250.

> Hart’s home run today snapped him out of an o-for-11 slump.

> This was Gallardo’s third consecutive start in which he himself picked up an RBI.

> Loe’s save was just the third of his career.

> Probables for the upcoming series in Colorado:

Mike Fiers (6-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.06 ERA)

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 5.07 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> This play may have been the Brewers’ play of the year, and sparks some excitement for the Segura/Weeks double play tandem.

> Hart technically had the only Brewers home run this series, but Mike Vassallo might disagree with that.


Henderson struggles in 10th as Brewers fall again

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> I guess there’s no getting around these bullpen problems. The Brewers lost to the Astros again today, 6-5, in 10 innings. The Brewers never had a lead in the game, so there wasn’t a save for the bullpen to blow. Up until the 10th inning, it actually wasn’t that bad, but Jim Henderson ran into some control problems in the 10th, which eventually doomed the Brewers.

Henderson had also pitched the ninth, but it seemed to be a breeze, as he had a 1-2-3 inning while striking out the side. But he ran into a wall in the 10th. He gave up a lead-off single to Jose Altuve, then walked back-t0-back batters in Marwin Gonzalez and Steve Pearce. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Brewers were forced to go with five infielders and bring everyone in. So all Scott Moore had to do was drive a single into no-man’s land somewhere in the outfield, and that’s exactly what he did.

Marco Estrada had a pretty rough start that was actually cut short. He went just four innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Estrada threw just 66 pitches, but was removed in the fifth inning with runners on first and third in place of pinch-hitter Cody Ransom. Ransom struck out (shocker), but Norichika Aoki followed it up with a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.

ADDRESSING THE BULLPEN

> I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure today, since Ron Roenicke didn’t use John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, he used almost everyone but, with Livan Hernandez pitching the fifth, Manny Parra the sixth, Kameron Loe the seventh, Jose Veras the eighth, and Henderson tossing the ninth and 1oth (although he didn’t record any outs).

Of course, though, people on Twitter were bashing Henderson for blowing the game, and that isn’t completely fair. Up to this point, Henderson had been lights out, and the only reliable reliever in the Brewers’ bullpen (and I think he still holds that title).

But the game wouldn’t have gone any differently had K-Rod or Axford been used in the 10th, so there’s no use in saying Henderson shouldn’t have been used in the situation. Last night I blamed Roenicke for not using Henderson, and I still do. But there’s not much he could have done tonight.

Anyway, here’s my theory that I’ve been trying to preach the past few days. In games where the Brewers have a three-run or less lead after the seventh inning (in other words, a hold/save situation), they should try Loe in the eighth, and Henderson in the ninth. Those are the two guys I sort of have confidence in at the moment. Loe has been shaky at times this year, but, out of the rest of the relievers, he’s been the best. Loe also has setup experience. He showed that he couldn’t handle the pressure of setting up when the Brewers were contending during the first half of 2011, but now the circumstances are different. Plus, they have no other choices right now, so it couldn’t hurt to try him.

Henderson has obviously proven he can close. He has yet to give up a run or a hit in the ninth inning. In three appearances in the ninth inning, he has six strikeouts and one walk. I have a feeling the 10th inning tonight was a fluke.

I’d love to see Roenicke try this. Hopefully he doesn’t assume Henderson can’t handle the job after his 10th inning tonight.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers said he didn’t mind that Moore broke up his no-hit bid in the sixth inning last night.

> Wily Peralta had a very efficient start for the Sounds tonight, going seven innings while giving up on run on six hits. He walked one and struck out six in Sacramento.

THE NUMBERS

> Tonight was the first time the Astros won back-to-back games since late June. Great.

> Carlos Gomez once again went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He might finally be cooling off.

> Jean Segura went 2-for-4 with an RBI for his first multi-hit game in the bigs.

> Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 to bring his average back up to .331. He had a .345 average coming off the disabled list, but slumped down into the .320′s.

> Tomorrow’s pitching match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-8 5.69 ERA)


Late-inning heroics from Gomez, Braun give Crew sweep

August 8, 2012

Postgame

> I don’t think any Brewers fan was expecting a sweep coming into this series, but that’s exactly what we got. The Brewers took down the Reds today, 3-2, in yet another low-scoring affair that was interesting until the final out.

I was glad the Brewers won the first two games, because Randy Wolf was going today, and my confidence in him has waned over his past few starts. But, I forgot he was 11-4 in his career against the Reds, and that sort of showed today. Wolf threw six solid innings while giving up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

But, he was being opposed by the red-hot Mat Latos today, who has been on fire ever since his 13-strikeout complete game against the Brewers back in June. After Dioner Navarro’s two-run shot in the third inning, it appeared that was all the support Latos was going to need. He went seven innings while giving up a run on just three hits. He walked one and struck out eight. The one run he gave up was a home run to another guy who has been on fire recently, Carlos Gomez. His homer cut the Reds’ lead in half in the sixth inning.

Going into the eighth inning, the Reds still held that 2-1 lead. Latos was at just 97 pitches and could have probably gone at least one more inning, but Dusty Baker went all Ron Roenicke on him and removed him in favor of the bullpen. (The only difference there is the Reds actually have a good bullpen.) Anyway, Baker opted to go to setup man Jonathan Broxton, who was acquired by the Reds at the deadline and has been dominant since. But, with the Brewers having faced the Royals in Interleague this year, they had already seen Broxton, which may have given them the advantage today.

Broxton started the inning fine, inducing fly-outs from Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy. But, Norichika Aoki got an infield single with two outs, and he was helped a bit by Broxton, who slowed it down and didn’t give third baseman Todd Frazier much of a chance at a play. After that, things just went downhill for the Reds. Aoki attempted to steal second base with Gomez batting, but the catcher Navarro fired it into center field, allowing Aoki to reach third. Gomez took advantage and hit a jam-shot RBI single to tie the game. After Gomez stole second, Ryan Braun hit a soft line drive into the left field gap, but Chris Heisey couldn’t make what would have been a highlight reel play, and it turned into a go-ahead double for Braun.

Jim Henderson came on for the ninth and recorded the save. Hopefully he has that job locked down at least for the time being.

Anyway, even though it may not look like much at the moment, I’m pumped that the Brewers swept the Reds. I’m particularly happy they jammed it down that obnoxious Reds fanbase’s throat. You can bet their excuse for losing this game was Braun being on steroids, even though it was a soft line drive. Those are the sort of fans I’ve ran into on Twitter lately, at least.

The News

> Manny Parra threw to live hitters for the first time since his injury. Parra never officially went on the disabled list, but has been sidelined for a few days with a shoulder impingement.

> George Kottaras hit a home run off Zack Greinke today. Wait, what?

> In the same inning Greinke gave up the home run to Kottaras, he walked five batters. All in one inning. That is not the Greinke we saw in Milwaukee through his year-and-a-half tenure, even when he struggled in the first half of 2011. Greinke’s overall ERA escalated to 3.74 today against the Athletics.

> I haven’t mentioned anything about Ben Sheets yet, but he’s having a heck of a comeback with the Braves. He’s 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts with them. The Brewers could certainly use that right now.

If he can stay healthy for once in his life, he could help the Braves go deep into the postseason.

> Here’s my latest article at Reviewing the Brew. It’s basically me talking about Henderson, his story, his stats, and so on. I also mention the always-popular Brewers closer curse.

The Numbers Game

> Henderson notched his second save in a row today, which is also the second save in his Major League career. He also lowered his ERA to 1.29.

> The two other relievers who threw today, Jose Veras and John Axford, didn’t do bad either. Both had scoreless innings. But do I trust either of them yet? No way.

> Segura notched his first Major League hit today, a fifth-inning single off Latos. With that out of the way, let’s see if he can become a productive force in the Brewers’ lineup.

> The Brewers’ comeback win today was just the second time in 2012 that, after trailing going into the seventh inning, they came back and took the lead. That makes them 2-43 in those games. I suppose that stat explains what’s happened this season.

> Braun’s double in the eighth snapped an 0-for-18 slump prior to that. His last hit had come on August 1st against the Astros. That slump dropped his season average to .304. Keep in mind Braun has only hit below .300 only once in his career.

> Speaking of the Astros, that’s who the Brewers play next after an off-day tomorrow. The Brewers then play the Rockies after that. So don’t look now, but they could start a long winning streak.

Anyway, I leave you with the probables for the Astros series in Houston. Apparently it’s become so bad for them that they don’t even know who’s starting until the day of.

Mark Rogers (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. ???

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. ???


Greinke dealt as Brewers snap skid

July 28, 2012

> It was certainly a day of mixed feelings. The Brewers finally won a game, shutting out the Nationals, 6-0. Mike Fiers was absolutely dominant once again, the Brewers offense came alive (like it actually was in Philadelphia), and the bullpen didn’t blow it. But, not even an hour before game time, the Brewers made the inevitable move of trading Zack Greinke.

Before we get to that, though, let’s talk about the bright side. Fiers evened his record at 4-4 (although it should be much better), and lowered his ERA to a rookie-leading 1.77. He went 6 1/3 scorless innings while giving up just four hits, all singles. He walked three and struck out nine.

The offense, on the other hand, wasn’t bad itself. The Brewers got in the board in the fourth inning against Ross Detwiler on Corey Hart’s two-run home run. They then added four in the fifth on RBI singles by Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun, and a two-run blast from Aramis Ramirez.

The bullpen also finally didn’t blow a huge lead. Livan Hernandez got Fiers out of trouble in the seventh, and wound up going 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Jose Veras finished the game with a 1-2-3 ninth.

> The Brewers did all this with a rather depressing cloud over their heads. About a half hour before game time, Jon Morosi reported that the Angels were extremely close to landing Greinke, and that held true. In return, the Brewers will receive three prospects: shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.

There were a multitude of teams in on the Greinke sweepstakes, including the Angels, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves. But, according to Doug Melvin, it came down to the American League West rivals, the Angels and Rangers.

Supposedly, the Rangers were very interested in Greinke, but just weren’t willing to put together the prospect package. They didn’t want to part with prospects Jurickson Profar (shortstop) or Mike Olt (third base). The Brewers may have inquired on a package including Olt, but their main interest was starter Martin Perez, as I predicted. But the Rangers weren’t even willing to deal him, which makes me wonder how interested they actually were in acquiring Greinke.

So now the tables are turned against the Rangers, as the rival Angels wound up grabbing him. Greinke will only improve a rotation that already features Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, and the struggling Ervin Santana (who is typically good, he just hasn’t found it this season).

The prospects the Brewers received are somewhat interesting. They were all ranked in the top ten prospects in the Angels’ farm system: Segura was #1, Hellweg #4, and Pena #9. But, keep in mind the Angels do have a rather weak system.

Anyway, the Brewers may have solved their shortstop problem for the long-term in Segura, who is a threat on the bases. He was hitting .294 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs at Triple-A. You can also throw in his whopping 33 stolen bases (although you have to imagine the running game is easier in the Minors). Segura was with the Angels for a few days before the trade, but doesn’t have much Major League experience other than that.

Hellweg and Pena are both Double-A pitchers. Hellweg supposedly has a great upside and Pena, along with Segura, participated in the Futures Game (basically a Minor League all-star game). At the same time, though, the Angels aren’t known for having much starting pitching depth, which is why they needed to go out and get Greinke. So we’ll see how they pan out.

All three of these players were sent to Double-A Huntsville to “get used to the organization.” In Segura’s case, I was hoping he’d come straight to the Majors and fix our shortstop situation, but now the Brewers are talking like he’ll be a September call-up. I don’t really see the logic in that, but, at the same time, it’s not like we’ll be contending any time soon this season, so I suppose there’s no need to rush him.

Farewell, Greinke. I wish he could have stayed longer, but the Brewers put themselves in the position to get rid of him. To me, Greinke was already gone a week ago, so I’m not going to lose sleep over this. But it’s still going to be different without him around.

> Greinke was scheduled to start Sunday, but everyone knew he wouldn’t be making that start. Instead, Mark Rogers will come up and make the Sunday start. If you know Rogers’ story, you’d know it’s amazing that he’s made it all the way back after all he’s been through.

Rogers only Major League time came at the end of 2010, when he put up a 1.80 ERA in four games.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow’s match-up is between Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.46 ERA) and Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann (7-6, 2.31 ERA), who is by far one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball.

Anyway, thanks for reading.


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