Pitching shines in spring opener

February 24, 2013

> No, I’m not dead. Just your typical month-long absence. Things have been hectic for me recently, and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on BWI nowadays. But I figured I owed at least one article after not even checking on the site in over a month.

A lot has happened since I’ve been away, with the most significant thing pertaining to Ryan Braun and his second straight eventful offseason. But first, let’s talk positives: it’s hard not to be positive when baseball is getting back into full swing.

> The Brewers’ had their first Spring Training game yesterday, and squeezed past the Athletics in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The A’s recorded just five hits off the Brewers’ pitching staff, while the Brewers themselves managed just three. But patience at the plate was what gave the Brewers the edge: they drew seven walks against an otherwise-solid Athletics pitching staff.

Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a home run in his first (and only, as it turns out) ST at-bat. The second Brewers run came on Jean Segura’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning. In the seventh, prospect Michael Choice drove in the only Athletics run.

> So offense wasn’t exactly the Brewers’ strong point yesterday: the only players to pick up hits were Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Caleb Gindl. However, Carlos Gomez and Taylor Green drew back-to-back walks twice in the game. Hopefully this foreshadows that Gomez will be a bit more patient at the plate this year.

But the pitching was nothing but stellar. Aside from Santo Manzanillo allowing a run in 2/3 innings of work, the staff shut down the A’s. Mike Fiers worked around a shaky 26-pitch first inning to toss two scoreless innings. From there, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, Michael Olmsted, and Jesus Sanchez- who recorded the save- all had scoreless outings as well.

> Speaking of Olmsted, he’s received a lot of clamor and praise from players early on in Spring Training. He pitched the eighth yesterday and recorded two strikeouts. Hopefully that’s a role we’ll see him playing during the regular season.

> With that out of the way, let’s move onto the news that’s made this past month somewhat miserable for the Brewers.

> So there’s this pharmacy in Miami that’s been referred to as the “Biogenisis clinic.” Roughly a month ago, news broke out that it had allegedly sold PEDs to six players: Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of these players- A-Rod, Melky, Colon, and Grandal- had all been linked to PEDs (and, in some cases, suspended for use of them) in the past.

Since this incident was first reported by Yahoo!, however, more players have come out to be linked to Biogenesis.

Braun was one of them. But you knew it had to happen since he had said just a few days before that he was enjoying his non-eventful offseason.

To be honest, though, I’m not nearly as worried about this case as I was about the whole fiasco last offseason. Braun has not been directly linked to PEDs in this case- at least not yet. His name is on some extremely sketchy piece of paper next to a sum of money, but it does not say that he bought PEDs. According to Braun, he reached out to Anthony Bosch- the Biogenesis founder- for help during his trial last offseason. Why would he link himself to someone like that? Beats me. But all I know is that he hasn’t been linked to PEDs directly yet, and, until he is, he’s completely innocent.

Braun2

> There was a 1/10 chance that Mat Gamel was going to re-tear his surgically repaired ACL. But, since he’s Mat Gamel, that automatically becomes a 10/10 chance, which it did. Now he’s going to miss the whole 2013 season after getting knocked out of the 2012 season in May.

That leaves the Brewers with two injured first baseman to start the 2013 season, as Corey Hart will likely miss at least a month as well. The Brewers hope to tread water internally at first base until Hart returns, and are primarily looking at Alex Gonzalez (re-signed to a Major League deal to play a utility role), Hunter Morris (has never played above Double-A), and Bobby Crosby (former Rookie of the Year, signed to a minor league pact).

Personally, I’d like to see Morris get a chance, but I can see where the Brewers wouldn’t want to waste an option on him and start his free agency clock early just so he can fill in for a month.

> And that’s about it for now. The Brewers take on the Indians later today at 2:05 PM CT. Mark Rogers will take the hill as one of the many Brewers competing for a spot in the rotation. Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland.


Brewers once again Hart-broken

January 20, 2013

> Yesterday, when I got home from school, I saw a tweet regarding Corey Hart and how much he hates Spring Training, but I didn’t take it literally. So I tweeted a joke about how I’d be waiting to hear the news about more of his knee injuries come ST.

But I wouldn’t have to wait very long. In fact, a few seconds later, I checked out the MLB news of the day- something I probably should have done first- and found that Hart will be out for 3-4 months with knee surgery.

Yep, we can’t catch a break. This is the third straight ST in which Hart will have been injured for at least part of the time, and the second time over the past three years that he’ll miss at least the first month of the season.

Anyway, this injury certainly affects how I view the possibility of the Brewers extending Hart. While he’s been a power-threat in the Brewers’ lineup ever since his break-out 2010, I don’t know how much longer the team can put up with his constant early season injuries. Also, if Hart misses more than just the first month of the season- which some speculate he will- it’ll hurt the sort of deal he gets, should he hit the free agent market at the end of 2013.

As for the Brewers, though, it would appear they’re going to give Mat Gamel yet another chance to start at first base. First base prospect Hunter Morris might get a closer look during ST, but it’s unlikely the Brewers would burn one of his options just so he could fill in for Hart for a month or so. Another internal option is Taylor Green, who, along with Gamel, was supposed to be fighting for a bench role going into ST.

Bottom line is, though, that this was a year Hart should have been a bit more careful. There’s evidently chronic issues with his knee that should have been fixed for good by now.

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks

> The Brewers’ list of World Baseball Classic players grew after the rosters for each country were announced on Thursday. 14 players were chosen: Ryan Braun (USA), Jonathan Lucroy (USA), Yovani Gallardo (Mexico), Marco Estrada (Mexico), Martin Maldonado (Puerto Rico), Hiram Burgos (Puerto Rico), Carlos Gomez (Dominican Republic), Jeff Bianchi (Italy), Hainley Statia (Netherlands), Mike Walker (Australia), John Axford (Canada), Jim Henderson (Canada), Green (Canada), and Rene Tosoni (Canada). All but three of the players- Statia, Walker, and Tosoni- are currently on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.

> The club has also avoided arbitration with all of its eligibles. Gomez received $4.3 million, Axford $5 million, Estrada $1.955 million, and Burke Badenhop $1.55 million. All were one-year deals. The Brewers had already avoided arbitration with their other eligible, Chris Narveson, a few weeks back.

> The Brewers signed catcher Robinson Diaz to a minor league deal.

> Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan is going to be inducted into the Brewers’ Walk of Fame.

> Today was an extremely sad day for baseball: former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and Cardinals legend Stan Musial both passed away. Weaver was 82 while Musial was 92.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Will Venable, Joe Thatcher, and Everth Cabrera to one-year deals; signed Brad Hawpe and Lucas May to minor league deals.
Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a one-year deal; re-signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan, and Jacoby Ellsbury to one-year deals; re-signed Craig Breslow to a two-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension; re-signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year deal.
Twins: Re-signed Drew Butera to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Designated Zach Stewart for assignment; re-signed Garrett Jones to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Tony Sipp and Ian Kennedy to one-year deals.
Astros: Signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal.
Mets: Re-signed Bobby Parnell and Ike Davis to one-year deals; signed Landon Powell to a minor league deal.
Reds: Re-signed Logan Ondrusek to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Re-signed Drew Storen and Craig Stammen to one-year deals.
Yankees: Re-signed Joba Chamberlain to a one-year deal; signed Bobby Wilson and Reegie Corona to minor league deals.
Athletics: Re-signed John Jaso and Seth Smith to one-year deals.
Angels: Re-signed Alberto Callaspo to a two-year deal; re-signed Jason Vargas to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Re-signed Matt Garza to a one-year deal.
Giants: Re-signed Jose Mijares, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey to one-year deals.
Indians: Re-signed Drew Stubbs and Chris Perez to one-year deals; signed Ryan Raburn to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Matt Wieters to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Re-signed Josh Thole to a two-year deal.
Tigers: Re-signed Rick Porcello to a one-year deal.
White Sox: Signed Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league deal; signed Matt Lindstrom to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Singed Matt Downs to a minor league deal.


Rauch, Frasor, Farnsworth, Gonzalez on relief radar

December 18, 2012

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

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

Frasor

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves: 

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


Mutual interest between Brewers, Dempster

December 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves: 

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


Zduriencik wants Gamel back

November 23, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


News from the last few days

November 22, 2012

> The Mariners have reportedly shown interest in Mat Gamel. I’m going to have an article up tomorrow about how that applies to the Brewers and what they could get in return, but for now I’m going to recap the news I’ve missed over the past few days.

> The Brewers added prospects Scooter Gennett, Hiram Burgos, Josh Prince, Nick Bucci, and Khris Davis to their 40-man roster, meaning they’re protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> The Yankees re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal. I was holding out hope that the Brewers would some how be able to sign him, but it was unlikely the whole time.

> The Royals signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal. He could have been another option for the Brewers, though he was seeking a three-year deal, and I think he’s too dangerous to commit to for that long.

> 10 teams have reportedly shown interest in Kyuji Fujikawa. The Brewers could be one of those teams, seeing as Fujikawa is a hard-throwing reliever.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Kyle Blanks to a one-year deal; designated Cory Burns for assignment; added Yeison Asencio, Jaff Decker, and Adys Portillo to their 40-man roster.
Royals: Released Ysmelin Alcantara, Henry Moreno, and Jose Rodriguez; designated Adam Moore, Vin Mazzaro, Chris Volstad, Ryan Verdugo, Brayan Pena, Clint Robinson, and Derrick Robinson for assignment; added Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph, John Lamb, Justin Marks, Mike Montgomery, and J.C. Gutierrez to their 40-man roster; re-signed Brett Hayes to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Signed Felix Pie, Brooks Brown, Erik Cordier, David Bromberg, Luis Sanz, and Alex Valdez to minor league deals.
Indians: Signed Matt Carson and Cedric Hunter to minor league deals; designated Fabio Martinez for assignment; added Tim Fedroff, T.J. House, Chen-Chang Lee, and Trey Haley to their 40-man roster; outrighted ex-Brewer Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Signed Bobby Korecky, Jim Negrych, Ricardo Nanita, and Alex Hinshaw to minor league deals; designated Mike McDade, Mike McCoy, and Cory Wade for assignment; added Ryan Goins and A.J. Jimenez to their 40-man roster.
Tigers: Released Ryan Raburn.
Mariners: Acquired Robert Andino from the Orioles; designated Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins for assignment; added Julio Morban, Brandon Maurer, Vinnie Catricala, Anthony Fernandez, and Bobby LaFramboise to their 40-man roster.
Orioles: Acquired Trayvon Robinson from the Mariners.
Mets: Signed Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, and Jamie Hoffmann to minor league deals.
Yankees: Claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros; signed David Herndon to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Designated Brandon Hicks and Jim Miller for assignment; added Arnold Leon, Grant Green, Shane Peterson, and Michael Ynoa to their 40-man roster; signed Justin Thomas and Darwin Perez to minor league deals.
Rockies: Acquired Ryan Wheeler from the Diamondbacks; outrighted Andrew Brown and Matt McBride to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Acquired Matt Reynolds from the Rockies; signed Kila Ka’aihue to a minor league deal.
Cardinals: Signed Jamie Romak to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Sam Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Brian Dinkleman, Wilkin Ramirez, James Beresford, Deibinson Romero, Eric Fryer, Tom Boleska, and Jason Christian to minor league deals.
Cubs: Acquired Barret Loux from the Rangers; signed Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez, Johermyn Chavez, and J.C. Boscan to minor league deals; outrighted Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A; designated Bryan LaHair for assignment (I have to wonder when the last time a player was DFA’d following an All-Star season).
Rangers: Acquired Jake Brigham from the Cubs.
Astros: Outrighted Scott Moore to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Signed Jonny Gomes to a two-year deal; designated Danny Valencia, Ivan De Jesus, Sandy Rosario, David Carpenter, and Zach Stewart for assignment.
White Sox: Re-signed Dewayne Wise to a one-year deal; signed Bryan Anderson and David Purcey to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Fernando Abad and Caleb Clay to minor league deals.
Dodgers: Signed Nick Evans, Juan Abreu, Kelvin De La Cruz, Miguel Rojas, Hector Correa, Wilkin Castillo, and Gregory Infante to minor league deals.


Brewers would like to retain Hart

November 10, 2012

> I’m pretty sure we all saw this coming, but the negotiations between the Brewers and Corey Hart regarding an extension for the potential first baseman are now official. Hart has already come out and said multiple times that he’d like to remain in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, so it was likely these talks would happen eventually.

Hart, who is a free agent after 2013, is looking for a three-year deal for an undisclosed amount of cash. However, it’s been reported that the Brewers “might prefer” a two-year extension, and an increase to Hart’s scheduled $10 million salary in 2013. Hart signed a three-year extension with the Brewers back in late 2010.

After Mat Gamel went down with a season-ending injury early in 2012, Hart stepped in at first base and filled in admirably. He’s always put up solid power numbers in the middle of the lineup, but he appears to be a well above-average defensive first baseman, as opposed to his deteriorating range in right field.

Some are speculating that the Brewers will trade Hart or let him walk after 2013 because ultra-prospect Hunter Morris, who is also a first baseman, appears to be big league ready. However, it’s always a bit of a risk just letting a prospect- no matter his status- walk into a starting role in the Majors, so I think the safe play would be retaining Hart for at least a few more years. Plus, Hart is still relatively versatile, seeing as he could still play right field if needed (though, as mentioned earlier, his defense is certainly declining at that position).

The Brewers and Hart will probably get a deal done before long, especially if Hart does indeed want to stay in Milwaukee.

> The Brewers are reportedly expressing interest in Ryan Dempster, one of the few decent starter options on the market. Between the Cubs and Rangers, Dempster went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA, but had a 2.25 ERA in the NL with the Cubs.

Dempster has had a lot of success at Miller Park, a venue which he’s familliar with, in his career: he has a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts and 12 relief appearances (he used to be a closer) at the Brewers’ home. But Dempster has also owned the Brewers in general in his career, as he owns a 16-6 record with a 2.65 REA against them (three of those losses have come over the past two years). So that’s another positive of signing Dempster: if he’s on the Brewers, he can’t destroy their lineup.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Signed Justin Germano to a minor league deal.
Royals: Signed Ian Gac and Luis Durango to minor league deals.
Mets: Re-signed Mike Nickeas to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Signed Terry Doyle to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Lew Ford to a minor league deal.


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.


Thoughts from the early offseason presser

October 15, 2012

> This article is well overdue, but I figured it was necessary at some point. A day or so after the offseason, Ron Roenicke, Doug Melvin, and a few others met with the media to discuss their early offseason goals and what we can look for from the Brewers going into 2013. Melvin in particular had some interesting comments, and basically explained what the status of some players are going into 2013.

John Axford is the closer, Corey Hart is the regular first baseman, Alex Gonzalez could be the starting shortstop, and, if he returns, Mat Gamel will serve as a bench player.

These are all some very debatable points. I agree with two of them, I’m relatively neutral with one of them, and then there’s one I think should receive some re-consideration.

The one I favor most is Hart remaining at first base. Following Gamel’s season-ending injury back in May, the Brewers found that Travis Ishikawa wasn’t getting the job done, so they moved Hart in from right field, and it paid off. To go along with his solid offense (which a player needs to be a first baseman), Hart provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position as well. If he plays as well as he did this year at first base in 2013, he’s a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. This move also allowed the Brewers to play Norichika Aoki every day in right field, and that also paid off, as Aoki posted a sensational rookie season.

I also agree with placing Gamel on the bench as a utility player. He’s had plenty of chances to start- the best one coming in 2012- but spoiled all of them with injuries or lazy play. Thanks to his ability to play multiple positions (first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions), however, he still has the opportunity to be a valuable utility player, and a power left-handed bat off the bench.

The one I’m relatively neutral (at least for the time being) on is the possibility of Gonzalez starting at shortstop. I liked what I saw from Gonzalez early in 2012 before his season-ending injury and would have gladly taken him back, but that was before the Brewers acquired Jean Segura. If the Brewers really want Segura to start at short for the long-term, they might as well start doing it now. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gonzalez return as another utility bench player, a role I feel he could play well. But I think what will determine this decision is the kind of spring Segura has.

Lastly, I do NOT want the closer’s role simply handed to Axford to start 2013. I’ll admit he finished sort of strong in 2012, but that doesn’t change the fact that he led the Majors with nine blown saves. His home runs allowed and walks significantly rising from his 2011 season definitely contributed to that. I know the excuse is that the Brewers don’t have anyone else who can take over, but that is a false statement. It’s true that the Brewers are slim in the relief corps at all levels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anybody. For instance, Jim Henderson threw the ball very well down the stretch. The Brewers could also sign an established reliever this offseason. The closer’s job is still Axford’s job to lose, but, especially if he has a bad spring, it shouldn’t be handed to him by default.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Tigers took a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees today. Last night’s game was dramatic as ever, with Jose Valverde blowing a 4-0 lead- which was a non-save situation- including two-run home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. But Delmon Young gave the Tigers the lead in 12th inning, which would win the game. The biggest storyline, however, was Derek Jeter’s ankle fracture, which ended his postseason.

The Yankees’ offense continued to stay ice cold in today’s game, as they were shut out, 3-0. It’s hard to say whether or not Anibal Sanchez threw a gem, or if the Yankees’ offense is just awful. That offense killed a stellar start from Hiroki Kuroda, who took a perfect game into the sixth and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings.

> The Cardinals took the first game of the NLCS with the Giants. Both starters- Lance Lynn and Madison Bumgarner- got knocked around, but the Cards’ bullpen prevailed in tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings. The offensive heroes were who you’d expect: David Freese, who hit a two-run blast in the second inning, and Pete Kozma, who contributed an RBI double in the fourth. Carlos Beltran also had a two-run homer in the fourth.

THE NEWS

> Tom Haudricourt suggested Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, and even Brandon McCarthy as possible veteran starting pitching adds for the Brewers this offseason. I wouldn’t mind any of those, but I would also toss Kuroda into that mix, despite the fact the Yankees will want him back badly. Haudricourt also said that the Brewers will more than likely sign an SP through the free agent market rather than trade for one due to all the prospects the Brewers have had to part with in recent years.

> Haudricourt doesn’t think the Brewers will trade Hart or Rickie Weeks to create payroll flexibility. Hart has expressed his desire to stay in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, while Weeks’ salary isn’t as big of a deal due the Brewers’ current payroll situation.

> Lastly, Haudricourt said that Nyjer Morgan will probably be non-tendered and easily replaced by Logan Schafer, as we all expected.

> Edwin Maysonet and Juan Perez each declared free agency.

> Today’s minor moves:

Rangers: Outrighted Luis Hernandez, who declared free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Matt Palmer, who declared free agency.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.


Brewers do in Braves with huge 5th

September 13, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers are over .500 and three games out of the Wild Card.

No, seriously.

I didn’t think I’d be saying that any time soon, but the Brewers’ great play recently has pushed them back near contention. They KO’d the Braves tonight, 8-2, and improved to 72-71 on the season.

Paul Maholm looked good the first few innings with a few defensive gems behind him, but he completely unraveled in the fifth. With a 2-0 lead, he gave up a go-ahead three-run blast to Rickie Weeks. The Brewers got three more RBI hits from Jonathan Lucroy, Travis Ishikawa, and even Yovani Gallardo in that inning.

Yovani Gallardo was solid as well, going seven innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six, earning his 15th win of the season.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup again, and reportedly received custom foot support for the nagging arch injury. But, he’ll be available on Friday at the earliest, and even then he’d likely be in a pinch-hit role.

> Carlos Gomez left the game after attempting to break up a double play in the second inning. He was successful in doing that, but bruised the lower quadriceps on his right leg in doing so. Gomez is considered day-to-day.

Logan Schafer took his place in center field and in the lineup.

> Mat Gamel won’t be ready for the Arizona Fall League.

> The Brewers have changed their plans for Tyler Thornburg now that they’re contending.

> MLB released its 2013 schedule, including the new Interleague-every-series concept. The Brewers make some interesting Interleague trips, including visiting Seattle, and the Athletics coming to Miller Park for the first time.

> The Cardinals lost. Might as well start paying attention to what’s going on in the WC standings.

THE NUMBERS

> This is only the second time in franchise history the Brewers have swept the Braves.

> The Brewers are now over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 in April.

> Ishikawa went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, all coming on a bases-clearing double in the fifth. He isn’t quite as bad as I advertise him at times, I guess.

> The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow following a 20 games in 20 days stretch (during which they thrived). They’ll start a series against the Mets on Friday. Here are the probables:

Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 4.94 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.71 ERA) vs. Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA)

Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

MLB has yet to post the probables, so I just based this off the last order through each team’s rotation. The Mets’ starters might be one off since they’re using a six-man rotation.


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