Hamilton, Dempster wiped off the market

December 15, 2012

> For the second straight offseason, the Angels have picked up the best hitter on the market with a sneaky deal that no one saw coming. Following a year in which they gave Albert Pujols a 10-year, $254 million deal, they handed out another huge contract to Josh Hamilton, this one for five years and $175 million. 

If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar. Their outfield seemed set with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos, a young core that could last them a long time. But, much to the chagrin of their division rival Rangers, they went out and stole the best free agent on the market, and will insert Hamilton into one of those outfield slots (likely Bourjos’).

It was speculated all offseason that the Brewers had interest in Hamilton, and there were articles as recent as December 6th saying that Milwaukee would make a run at him. But, realistically, the Brewers were never going to get him, especially at his price tag.

Anyway, the Angels’ lineup now looks something like this: Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Kendrys Morales, Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, and Chris Iannetta.

Looks like Los Angeles is the new New York.

Hamilton

> The Brewers’ top starting starting pitching target, Ryan Dempster, was also taken away, as the Red Sox wooed him with a two-year, $26.5 million deal. Apparently, the Brewers were willing to give Dempster two years plus an option for a third, but they didn’t come close to what Boston was offering cash-wise. Anyway, I don’t see Dempster doing well in the American League after what he did for the Rangers last year, but that was his choice.

With Dempster off the market, the likelihood of the Brewers bringing in a free agent starter this offseason decreased by a lot. The rest of the crop is either too Jeff Suppan-like or won’t fit the Brewers financial situation. The next best option after Dempster would be Edwin Jackson, but that would only happen if he would be willing to take a one-year or two-year deal. If the reports of Jackson wanting a four or five-year deal are true, then the odds of him coming to Milwaukee aren’t very good.

But, as I’ve been saying, it isn’t the end of the world if the Brewers don’t bring in a new starter for 2013. I’m completely fine with them staying in-house and using the prospects who are big league-ready. If that is the case, the ideal rotation for the Brewers would be Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, and Mike Fiers. While that seems like a relatively inexperienced rotation to someone who doesn’t watch the Brewers everyday, I think the Brewers will get by, especially with the best offensive lineup in the National League backing them up.

> One more major signing: the Tigers finalized a deal with Anibal Sanchez, who nearly went to the Cubs, this morning. The Cubs reportedly had a five-year, $75 million deal in place with Sanchez as recent as last night, but the Tigers were given the opportunity to counter the offer, and wound up getting him back.

Sanchez was one of the starters who the Brewers probably wouldn’t have been able to afford, but at least it’s good that the division rival Cubs won’t get him.

> Doug Melvin basically said that he doesn’t want Shaun Marcum back.

> The Brewers have been linked to Mike Adams, one of the better relievers on the market, recently. But Tom Haudricourt considers them out of the hunt for him. Adams started his career with the Brewers, pitching for them from 2004 to 2006.

> Long-time Brewers farmhand Amaury Rivas has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. He was always one of my favorite minor league pitchers for the Brewers, but I figured he’d be gone at some point.

> Minor moves: 

Rangers: Signed Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal; outrighted Konrad Schmidt to Triple-A.
Padres: Signed Juan Oramas, Sean O’Sullivan, Gregorio Petit, and Rene Rivera to minor league deals; acquired Chris Rearick from the Rays.
Twins: Signed ex-Brewer Brandon Boggs, Ray Olmedo, Bryan Augenstein, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Scott Earlton, Virgil Vasquez, Mike O’Connor, and Jason Lane to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Andres Torres to a one-year deal; signed Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal.
Braves: Signed Ramiro Pena to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Signed Tommy Manzella to a minor league deal.
Mets: Re-signed Manny Acosta to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Signed Bobby Wilson and Gil Velasquez to minor league deals; designated Josh Spence for assignment.
Cardinals: Signed Alex Reyes to a minor league deal; signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Neivy Pilier and Brian Bocock to minor league deals.
Rays: Acquired Vince Belnome from the Padres.
Phillies: Signed Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Cesar Jimenez, Steven Lerud, Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Jermaine Mitchell, Pete Orr, and Humberto Quintero to minor league deals; claimed Mauricio Robles off waivers from the Mariners.
Royals: Signed Xavier Nady to a minor league deal.


Greinke latches on with Dodgers

December 9, 2012

> Not like no one saw this coming. The Dodgers, who have infinite pockets of cash, finally wooed Zack Greinke into joining them. Greinke’s deal is for six years and $147 million, which is the richest contract for a right-hander in history, surpassing Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal signed back in March. Greinke also slightly passes lefty Cole Hamels, who received six years and $144 million from the Phillies around the Trade Deadline. CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract remains the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. 

Greinke will slide into the rotation of what should be a powerhouse Dodgers team. That rotation already features the incumbents, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, followed by a few veterans that LA will have to choose from, including Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. The Dodgers could have one more starter competing for a spot- Hyun-Jin Ryu- if they sign him by tomorrow’s deadline.

Anyway, I see two possible scenarios for Greinke’s LA tenure. The first- and more likely- is that he’ll take advantage of pitching in the NL West, where the ballparks are significantly larger, and have a ton of success on a Dodgers team that should contend for years to come. The other, however, is that his anxiety issue comes back to haunt him in the huge market of LA, and he can’t handle the stress and publicity of pitching there.

The latter is very unlikely. He did fine in Anaheim, a suburb of LA (but basically the same market), posting a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA during his time there. Plus, Greinke doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff; Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the NL, has taken that role.

I wish the best of luck to Greinke in LA; he’s a guy who’s easy to root for. I don’t want the Dodgers to do well as a team because of how they’ve set up themselves up financially, but that doesn’t mean Greinke himself can’t have a good season.

Greinke2

> Now that Greinke is off the market, the Brewers’ chances of signing Ryan Dempster have increased. Had Greinke signed with the Rangers, the Dodgers would have probably overpaid a second-tier pitcher like Dempster. But, now that Greinke has gone to LA, it’s unlikely the Rangers are going to bring Dempster back after what he did for them last year.

> I keep forgetting to mention this, but I saw a headline the other day that read: “Yount shoots Sveum.” My immediate first thought was that Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount took some sort of shot- figuratively- at current Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Nope. Yount literally shot Sveum with a gun while they were on a hunting trip. It wasn’t fatal or anything- one of the pellets from Yount’s rifle grazed Sveum’s ear while he was shooting at a quail.

But this made my day: Sveum started calling Yount “Dick Cheney” after the incident.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Acquired Michael Young from the Rangers.
Rangers: Acquired Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla from the Phillies.
Mariners: Designated Mauricio Robles for assignment.


Brewers return empty-handed

December 8, 2012

> This year’s edition of the Winter Meetings were a disappointment for the Brewers, to say the least. They offered deals to a few of their targets, including Ryan Dempster, Jason Grilli, and Sean Burnett, but all of them were rejected. Burnett ended up signing with the Angels because they offered him much more cash the Brewers. Grilli hasn’t signed yet, but the Brewers haven’t been in contact with him for over a week for some reason, so he’s off the table. Dempster is still out there, but is holding out for a three-year deal. So far, the parties interested in Dempster- the Brewers, Red Sox, and Royals- have offered him two-year deals, but have been hesitant to add on that third year because of his age.

So that’s about the gist of what happened- rather, what didn’t happen- at the Meetings.

> The Brewers did make a move today, however, signing left-hander Travis Webb to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Webb has spent his entire career with the Reds’ minor league affiliates, never making it to the Majors. He has a career ERA of 4.13 in the minors, but went a sub-par 2-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 2012 at Triple-A. Webb was a starter at the beginning of his professional career, but has since converted into a reliever.

> Doug Melvin said that the Brewers aren’t in on Brian Wilson. We can all take a sigh of relief now.

> Minor moves: 

Rays: Signed Jason Bourgeois to a minor league deal.
Astros: Took Josh Fields from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; took Nate Freiman from the Padres in the Rule 5 Draft; claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Yankees.
Cubs: Took Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft; re-signed Ian Stewart to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Took Danny Rosenbaum from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Justin Berg, Hernan Iribarren, Jeff Manship, Gustavo Molina, and Henry Wrigley to minor league deals.
Twins: Took Ryan Pressly from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Vance Worley and Trevor May from the Phillies; re-signed Jared Burton to a two-year deal.
Indians: Took Chris McGuiness from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.
Marlins: Took Alfredo Silverio from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft; took Braulio Lara from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Red Sox: Took Jeff Kobernus from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Justin Henry from the Tigers; acquired Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates; signed Koji Uehara to a one-year deal; acquired Graham Godfrey from the Athletics.
Mets: Took Kyle Lobstein from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Diamondbacks: Took Starling Peralta from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Brandon McCarthy to a two-year deal.
Phillies: Took Ender Inciarte from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Ben Revere from the Twins.
White Sox: Took Angel Sanchez from the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft.
Orioles: Took T.J. McFarland from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft.
Rangers: Took Coty Woods from the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Randy Wells, Evan Meek, Brandon Allen, and Jake Brigham to minor league deals.
Padres: Acquired Wilfredo Boscan from the Rangers.
Braves: Re-signed Reed Johnson to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year deal; outrighted Jayson Nix to Triple-A.
Reds: Re-signed Ryan Ludwick to a two-year deal.


Burnett, Choate yanked off the market

December 6, 2012

> If the Brewers are still intending to pick up a left-handed reliever this offseason, it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder after today. The Angels snagged Sean Burnett with a two-year, $8 million deal, while the Cardinals signed Randy Choate to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million.

I was hoping the Brewers would find a way to sign Burnett, but I should have known better with the deal they had on the table for him, which was for two years and just $2.3 million (according to the Brewer Nation). From what was made public, the Brewers didn’t have much interest in Choate.

So the two best lefty relievers left on the market are J.P. Howell and Mike Gonzalez. Adam McCalvy wrote that Howell is a name to keep an eye on for the Brewers, while Gonzalez hasn’t been mentioned as a possibility yet. Tom Haudricourt also said he sees Tom Gorzelanny, who had a 2.88 out of the Nationals’ bullpen last year, as a fit. But there’s no doubt that there are also multiple teams in on these guys as well, so the Brewers need to make a decent offer- and fast.

> It doesn’t sound like Jason Grilli is going to be wearing a Brewers uniform next year. Grilli’s agent, who happens to be ex-Brewer Gary Sheffield, said he and his client are going to be “wading through” all of the offers they’ve received. The Brewers reportedly have an offer in place, though I can’t imagine a one-year, $1.1 million deal is going to phase Grilli to come to Milwaukee.

> According to Danny Knobler, the Brewers are listening to trade offers regarding Corey Hart in order to free up money to sign a pitcher (or receive pitching in exchange for Hart). Luckily, it sounds like the Brewers would have to be “overwhelmed” in order to deal Hart, however. 

And I would not support trading Hart at this point. If the Brewers aren’t going to sign Josh Hamilton, then they can’t afford to trade away Hart and expect the lineup to post the same power numbers it did last year.

As much as I want the Brewers to get bullpen help (and possibly a starter), I don’t think they should do it via the trade. I know the free agent market isn’t the best this year, but, unless they can pull off trades similar to the Burke Badenhop one the other day in order to acquire pitching, FAs might be the only way to go.

> It was reported earlier that the Royals and Cubs have joined the Brewers and Red Sox in the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes. But the Royals and Cubs were both quickly erased- we learned that the Royals offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million deal, but it was rejected because the Royals “balked” at adding a third year (similar to the Brewers’ situation). And the Cubs said Dempster didn’t fit into their plans, hence they’re out of the running.

> The Brewers added both pitcher Chris Jakubauskas and infielder Hainley Statia on minor league deals.

> Minor moves: 

Mariners: Signed Jason Bay to a one-year deal.
Angels: Signed Joe Blanton to a two-year deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Nate McLouth to a one-year deal; signed Adam Russell, Conor Jackson, and Jan Novak to minor league deals.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Chavez and ex-Brewer Wil Nieves to one-year deals.
White Sox: Signed Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal.
Pirates: Acquired Andrew Oliver from the Tigers.
Tigers: Acquired Ramon Cabrera from the Pirates.
Rockies: Re-signed Jeff Francis to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal.


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.


Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90′s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league deals.


Crew will have to compete for Dempster

November 30, 2012

> Turns out the Brewers aren’t the only team expressing interest in Ryan Dempster. In fact, the other two teams could be very tough to bid against, seeing as they each reside in relatively big markets.

The two teams the Brewers will have to deal with are the Angels and Red Sox, both of whom are in desperate need of a starting pitcher; perhaps even more so than the Brewers.

If the Brewers don’t end up signing a veteran starter this offseason, it isn’t the end of the world. The Brewers still have a nice crop of big league-ready starting pitching prospects to choose from, including Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Tyler Thornburg. The same can’t be said for the Angels or Red Sox, however. The reason the Angels acquired Zack Greinke at the Trade Deadline was because of their lack of prospects ready to start at the big league level, and now they’re in jeopardy of not being able to re-sign Greinke. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have just had all sorts of starting pitching issues over the past few years, and now they’re trying to dip into the free agent market to fix it.

Despite the fact both of these teams have bigger markets than Milwaukee (though we have a ton of payroll flexibility right now), the Brewers could hold a few advantages. The first is that the Brewers are the only of these three teams in the National League. After posting a 5.09 ERA with the Rangers in the second half of 2012, which is his only extended period of pitching in the American League, it goes without saying that Dempster is an NL pitcher. Dempster’s success at Miller Park could also factor into the decision.

Or, the Brewers could get lucky and one of the other teams will drop out of the bidding. Last year, it was speculated early in the offseason that the Phillies- who needed a third baseman- were targeting Aramis Ramirez. There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to sign him and the Brewers would be left hanging, but the Phils unexpectedly dropped out and left Ramirez for the taking. It’s unlikely, but perhaps similar circumstances will ensue this offseason.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it isn’t the apocalypse (not until December 21st, that is) if the Brewers don’t sign Dempster. Their farm system is ready to occupy a few of the rotation spots if need be. And Dempster isn’t the only guy on the market. There are guys like Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson out there, who could also be potential fits for the Brewers (though, as I’ve preached, Dempster is the much safer play).

Dempster isn’t a neccesity, but could be a very nice asset to the 2013 Brewers.

> Tomorrow is the deadline to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players. John Axford, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez appear to be locks to be tendered contracts. Chris Narveson will probably be given a contract. The only guy who isn’t so likely to be tendered is Manny Parra, who I wouldn’t mind seeing the Brewers cut ties with at this point.

> Minor moves: 

Pirates: Signed Russell Martin to a two-year deal.
Rays: Signed Mike Fontenot to a minor league deal.
Royals: Outrighted Chris Volstad and Brayan Pena, both of whom elected free agency; re-signed Felipe Paulino to a one-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Collin Balester and Yangervis Solarte to minor league deals.
Padres: Signed Travis Buck, Eddy Rodriguez, and Daniel Stange to minor league deals.
Athletics: Signed Scott Moore to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Mariano Rivera to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Acquired Denard Span from the Twins.
Twins: Acquired Alex Meyer from the Nationals.
Indians: Re-signed Blake Wood to a one-year deal.


Brewers should target Dempster or Lohse

November 24, 2012

> Over the past few days, the first crop of starting pitchers have been plucked off the free agent market: Jeremy Guthrie signed a three-year pact to stay with the Royals, while Hiroki Kuroda returned to the Yankees on a one-year deal. Personally, I was gunning for the Brewers to somehow nab Kuroda, but it was unlikely the whole time.

With Kuroda gone, the top veteran starters on the market are Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, Ryan Dempster, and Kyle Lohse, and there are two names on that list whom I think the Brewers have a good chance at signing. Greinke and Sanchez are too expensive (Sanchez is asking for six years and $90 million). McCarthy is a great pitcher, but his injury history is going to hurt the type of deal he gets. Haren and Jackson are both veterans I wouldn’t mind having, but there are safer options.

And those safer options- safest for the Brewers, at least- are Dempster and Lohse.

While he was in the National League with the Cubs last year, Dempster was one of the best pitchers in the game. His 5-5 record with the Chicago doesn’t tell how good he was, but his 2.25 ERA does. He also had a streak of over 30 consecutive scoreless innings going for a while. He did spend a bit of time on the disabled list, but has a history of being a relatively healthy pitcher. Things fell apart for Dempster after he was traded to Texas at the Trade Deadline, as he posted a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts with them (despite putting up a 7-3 record). That was Dempster’s first time pitching full-time in the American League, however; it’s safe to say he’d return to form once he returned to the NL.

Lohse, meanwhile, was the surprise ace of the Cardinals’ staff in 2012. The 34-year old started his career with the Twins in 2001, but didn’t really have an overall solid year until 2008 (15-6, 3.78 ERA), his first year with the Cards. Lohse had off-years in 2009 and 2010 due to injuries, but showed signs that he was getting his stuff back in 2011, when he went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA. He finally put it all together in 2012, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and placing seventh in the NL Cy Young balloting. Though Lohse had a somewhat inconsistent career early on, the trends of the last few years tell us that he probably isn’t going to regress anytime soon.

The reason I picked these two guys as the best potential targets for the Brewers is because they are both groundball pitchers. Seeing as Miller Park is a hitter’s paradise, a groundball pitcher would be a nice addition, as long as the Brewers are interested in picking up a starter. And, the recent performance of flyball pitchers at Miller Park hasn’t been great. Jeff Suppan is my prime example, but it’s worth noting that there was a reason that Shaun Marcum was significantly better on the road.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with Dempster. Most would probably pick Lohse because his basic numbers over the past few seasons have been better, but there are a few reasons I’m taking Dempster. The main reason is that Dempster, though he’s considered a groundball pitcher, picks up his fair share of strikeouts as well, which is always something I look for in a pitcher. Some say strikeouts are insignificant and are overrated. But, the more a pitcher is striking batters out, the less the ball is being put in play, and the opposition won’t score as many runs. That’s my take on strikeouts, at least, even if they drive up pitch count in some cases. Anyway, Dempster had a K/9 of 8.0 in 2012 (career 7.8), while Lohse’s was 6.1 (career 5.6). I think Dempster’s numbers would play better at Miller Park than Lohse’s.

Not to mention the huge success that Dempster has had at Miller Park in his career. He has a 2.66 ERA there, so he seems immune to the fact that Miller Park is considered a hitter’s park (probably because he’s a groundball pitcher). Meanwhile, Lohse has a terrible 6.95 ERA at the Brewers’ home. Yet another reason Dempster is the safer play.

So far this offseason, the only free agent starter the Brewers have expressed interest in is Dempster (obviously they want Greinke, but know they aren’t going to get him). Perhaps they’re going through the same thought process, seeing as Dempster appears to be an affordable, yet effective option for the Brewers.

> The Padres are reportedly interested in Shaun Marcum. To be honest, I would have been okay with the Brewers bringing him back on a two-year deal or something along those lines. But, ever since last offseason, I’ve been getting the impression that Marcum and the Brewers’ front office don’t get along very well. Otherwise I’d think Marcum would want to stay.

> Minor moves: 

Dodgers: Signed Osvaldo Martinez to a minor league deal.
Phillies: Signed Josh Fields to a minor league deal.

> Remember the “Occupy Marlins Park” poster I showed yesterday? Well, this was the result, apparently. (Picture via @elmaquino)

Hopefully the riot was at least a few more fans than that. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s the entire Marlins fanbase right there.

> That awkward moment when you’re typing “Dempster,” and your computer wants to change it to “Dumpster.”


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.


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