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.


Season ends in KC

June 15, 2012

> Last night, the title of my article was “Taking ‘Embarrassment’ to a whole new level.” My apologies for not seeing this coming, because THIS is embarrassment. Our season might as well be over.

> And it sure feels like it. The Brewers’ season may have very well have ended tonight in their 4-3 loss to the Royals. They blew it in the ninth for the second consecutive night, but I’m having a tough time blaming it all on John Axford tonight.The defense did plenty of things behind him to make sure that he, once again, couldn’t get it done.

Just like last night, the Brewers played eight great innings. Shaun Marcum turned in a stellar start, going 7 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out five. Francisco Rodriguez got the last out of the eighth to preserve his lead.

Once again, though, everything fell apart in the ninth inning. Axford struck out the first guy he faced, Mitch Maier, but Martin Maldonado couldn’t block it, and Maier reached first base. That, of course, wasn’t Axford’s fault, and neither was the next play. He induced a Mike Moustakas groundout, but first baseman Cody Ransom (why he was playing there is beyond me) bobbled the ball and could only get the out at first instead of getting the lead runner. Axford then came back to strike out Alcides Escobar, the man who got him last night, on the nastiest slider I’ve ever seen him throw. But, he followed that up with a walk to the light-hitting Jarrod Dyson, which was a no-no. Axford then gave up what should have just been a game-tying hit to Brayan Pena, but the Brewers’ great defense made sure that wasn’t the case. Left fielder Norichika Aoki fielded the ball fine, and threw it back second baseman Rickie Weeks just fine. But Weeks dropped the ball, and by this point Dyson was at third. He decided to test Weeks and try for home, which was a great choice, since we all know Weeks can’t throw home. So, what does he do?

Throws it past Maldonado, and Dyson scores.

Good game, guys.

> I’m really starting to regret the Brewers signing Weeks to a long-term deal. Our four-year, $56 million man is hitting .164, and is a liability half the time defensively (especially on throws to home). Obviously, this season isn’t Weeks’ fault, but he’s part of the struggling cast.

> But this season keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Just when I think the Brewers have hit their low point, they do something that makes them look even worse. Which makes me wonder what they’re going to do tomorrow in Minnesota.

> I could go on and on about how terrible things are going, but the bottom line is everyone (except the starting pitchers) is to blame. I’m not going to blame injuries anymore. I’m done finding excuses for this team; they’ve dug themselves their own whole, and now it doesn’t appear they’ll be able to resurface.

That’s baseball sometimes though, unfortunately. We helpless fans can’t do anything about it.

> The Brewers start a three-game series against the Twins in Minnesota tomorrow. I predicted that the Brewers would sweep the Royals (which they could have done easily if not for all the late-inning bloops), but look where that got me. So I might as well say the Twins are going to sweep the Brewers. Anyway, here are the pitching match-ups for the series:

Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 4.21 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.45 ERA)

Michael Fiers (1-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. ???

Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.96 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68 ERA)


Taking “embarrassment” to a whole new level

June 14, 2012

> I guess we should just start getting used to this.

> The Brewers lost to the Royals today, 4-3, in eleven innings.

But they shouldn’t have lost. Up until the ninth inning, they played one of their better games in a while. They got a nice pitching performance from Randy Wolf (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), good defense, and timely hitting. Third baseman Cody Ransom and shortstop Edwin Maysonet saved Wolf a couple of times, but, other than that, Wolf put up his second consecutive quality outing, a sign he might be settling in to the 2012 season.

The Brewers got their first run in the top of the third on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI infield hit (which was the fourth consecutive infield hit that inning), and then the go-ahead run a Ryan Braun RBI single in the seventh. The Brewers also tacked on an insurance run in the ninth when Norichiki Aoki scored on an error.

Everything was going right. Until the ninth inning, of course.

John Axford, who looked awful in his last outing against the Padres, was on for the save. He got Billy Butler to ground out for the first out of the inning, but the wheels fell off from there. Axford walked Eric Hosmer on four pitches, then came back to induce a Jeff Francoeur flyout. But Axford went on to walk Mike Moustakas, then served up a game-tying triple to ex-Brewer Alcides Escobar.

If you recall, in my post for the last game of the Padres series the other day, I said the Brewers threw their fundamentally worst inning of the year, as far as pitching goes. Well, we may have a competition for that title.

Kameron Loe came in to to start the inning, and promptly gave up a lead-off single to Butler. He then walked Hosmer, and gave up a single to Francoeur. The Brewers “manager” decided he had seen enough, and replaced Loe with Jose Veras. And what does Veras do?

Walk Moustakas on five pitches, with the bases loaded. Good game, guys.

> I just don’t know anymore. I thought this team had hit its low point of the year, but, the way things are headed, it might only get worse. I predicted the Brewers would sweep the Royals this series, and now here we sit, losing a series to one of the worst teams in the American League.

But, as the title of this article implies, the Brewers are taking the word “embarrassment” to a new level. A walk-off walk? Give me a break. This team is bad, but it isn’t that bad.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will hopefully salvage one game of this series tomorrow at 7:10 PM CT. They’ll send Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.50 ERA) to the mound, who has won his last three starts. He’s also 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in his career against the Royals, who he’s no stranger to from his time in the AL. But, unless the offense and bullpen get their crap together, none of those stats really matter, unfortunately.

The Royals will counter with Luke Hochevar (3-7, 6.57 ERA), who was supposed to pitch today, but got pushed back by Jonathan Sanchez. The Royals have always had high hopes that Hochevar would eventually be an ace, but things have gone that way so far throughout his career. He’s never faced the Brewers in his career.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feelfree to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

(coming later)


Brewers rally too late against Royals

March 28, 2012

> The Brewers dropped another ST game today, this time to the Royals, losing 9-7. Yovani Gallardo once again struggled against the Royals, giving up four runs in five innings, though he struck out six. But Gallardo wasn’t the only pitcher who was off today. Jose Veras gave up a run, making his ST ERA 4.82, as questions begin to surround his ability to solidify the seventh inning role. Mike McClendon also gave four runs in two innings, and it may not be long before he’s optioned.

On the bright side, though, the offense wasn’t too shabby for the Brewers, although it wasn’t for the Royals either. The Royals took an early 1-0 lead when Yuniesky Betancourt attempted to make Brewers fans want him back by hitting a solo homer off Gallardo. But, to be honest with you, he could hit 25-30 home runs and I wouldn’t want to see him in a Brewers uniform again. Anyway, the Royals got two more runs in the third on Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer. A Mat Gamel throwing error also gave the Royals another run that inning.

The Brewers finally got on the board in the fifth when Gamel hit another home run, his fourth of the spring. But the Royals answered back in the sixth on Mike Moustakas’ solo shot, making the score 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Hosmer hit another two-run homer. But, in the bottom of the inning, Alex Gonzalez continued his red-hot spring with a two-run blast of his own to make the score 7-3.

But the home run parade wasn’t finished until after Max Ramirez’s two-run homer in the eighth. The Brewers scattered four runs via RBI groundouts and scoring on wild pitches, but they couldn’t come all the way back, with the final being 9-7.

> The Brewers finalized Jonathan Lucroy’s contract extension today, after Ken Rosenthal reported it yesterday. The deal is for five years, and will keep Luc in Milwaukee through at least the 2016 season. The deal also has a 2017 club option that would buy out one of Lucroy’s years in free agency.

Lucroy will make a guaranteed $11 million over the five years, but assistant GM Gord Ash said that a second contract the Brewers are working on could bring it up to $13 million.

But, Lucroy specifically said it wasn’t about the money, which is always what you want to hear. Here’s exactly what he said:

“It’s not all about the money for me. I believe his organization gives me the best chance to get better, just because of the fact that you’re playing with people that care. This works best for me and my family. You really can’t ask for anybody better to work with than these guys and our coaching staff. It’s easy to play, it really is. It was a very fair deal based on what I’ve done, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

It’s great to see he thinks that way. Even before that quote, I thought of Lucroy as a likeable guy, but this makes it even better. I’m glad he’s here until 2016.

> Norichika Aoki sat against the Royals today with a tight hamstring. It doesn’t sound like a major injury, but Ron Roenicke thought it wasn’t worth putting him on the field today.

> And that’s about it. If I have time, I’ll get up another article on Reviewing the Brew tonight, but if not it’ll come tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


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