Comparing the mega-teams from LA

December 17, 2012

> Following the 2011 season, Los Angeles was not in a good state as far as the sport of baseball goes. The Angels and Dodgers hadn’t reached the postseason in 2010 or 2011, posting some of their worst seasons in decades (by their standards). The Angels were struggling to find any offensive consistency to back their decent starting pitching. The Dodgers were having similar issues, but their problems extended off the field as well, as Frank McCourt left them bankrupt.

I don’t think the Dodgers were expecting to contend in 2012 (at least early on) because of where they were financially, but their one huge move was giving Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million deal following his MVP-caliber campaign in 2011. The Angels, however, made themselves early favorites for the World Series by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal, and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Fast-forward to the 2012 offseason- following yet another season in which neither of these teams made the postseason- and a lot has changed. The Dodgers are nowhere near bankrupt; in fact, they’re the polar opposite, thanks to Magic Johnson and Co. The Angels are in the same position they were last year, but if they don’t make the postseason this time around, there’s something very wrong.

Anyway, let’s take a look at each of these teams from every angle- the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen, and so on. Both of them are considered near locks for the playoffs, but one has to be better than the other, right?

THE LINEUPS

Angels: 

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Erick Aybar, SS
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, LF
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Dodgers: 

1. Mark Ellis, 2B
2. Luis Cruz, 3B
3. Matt Kemp, CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Pitcher

OK, first off, Hairston isn’t going to start the entire season. Once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, he’ll take Hairston’s spot, and that’ll change the whole culture of the lineup (many project Crawford to hit second). But, until Crawford comes back- which will probably sometime in late May- that’s what I’m guessing the Dodgers’ lineup will look like.

Anyway, those are both powerhouse lineups. The each feature possibly the best 3-4-5-6 combos in their respective league in Pujols-Hamilton-Trumbo-Morales and Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier. It’s hard to say which is really better than the other; both are going to be very exciting to watch. While I think the Angels’ lineup might be the more exciting with three perennial MVP candidates in Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, I think the Dodgers have the overall better lineup. The reason I say this is because there are more experienced hitters in the Dodgers lineup, and by experienced, I mean hitters that you know what you’re going to get from them. Kemp, A-Gon, Ramirez, and Ethier aren’t necessarily “veterans” yet, but they’ve certainly been around the block a few times and have shown they can produce consistently at the big league level from year to year. The Angels definitely have that experience in Pujols and Hamilton, but they have a lot of younger, inexperienced hitters who I think we need to see more from. There’s no denying that Trout had the best offensive rookie season in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be susceptible to a sophomore slump. Trumbo hit over .300 for the most of the season last year, but then flamed out for the last two months and fell to a .268 average.

I think if everyone in the Angels’ lineup performs to their ability (and that includes Kendrick, who everyone thought was going to be a batting champion one day), then they’ll have the better lineup. But until that happens, I’d put my money on the Dodgers’ lineup, especially once Crawford gets back.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp

THE ROTATIONS

Angels: 

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Garrett Richards

Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Zack Greinke
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. Josh Beckett

Coming into this offseason, both teams wanted to improve their starting rotations, and I think each did. However, I think the Angels losing Greinke really hurt them. I also wasn’t in complete agreement with them just giving up on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana; I really wonder if they’re going to get what they could have gotten from those two from Hanson and Blanton. And Richards is going to be good somewhere down the road, but I’m not so sure he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot. There are even some question marks surrounding Wilson, who had a terrible second half for the Angels in 2012. Weaver is no doubt the ace, but health is a bit of a concern with him; same goes for Hanson.

To me, the Dodgers obviously have the better rotation, even though there are a few enigmas in theirs as well. Kershaw/Greinke is one- if not the best- 1-2 punches in baseball, and they get to throw half of their games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. After Kershaw and Greinke, however, there are a few questions. Billingsley can be an All-Star caliber pitcher when he’s on, but that isn’t always the case. Perhaps not having the pressure of being a #2 starter will help him. Anyway, the 4-5 spots in the Dodgers’ rotation should go to Ryu and Beckett, in my opinion. The Dodgers also have veterans Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, all of whom are capable of starting, but I think Ryu and Beckett will give them better results than any of the other two.

Clayton Kershaw

It’s evident that both of these teams will have to back up their rotations with those huge lineups, but I think the Dodgers are better off starter-wise.

THE ‘PENS 

(NOTE: I only put the six guys who I thought were guaranteed spots. There are probably going to be a few other long relievers in each bullpen>)

Angels: 

Ryan Madson
Ernesto Frieri
Scott Downs
Sean Burnett
Kevin Jepsen
Jerome Williams

Dodgers: 

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert
Matt Guerrier
Javy Guerra

This is actually the one category in which I think the Angels are better off. There’s only one guy that I think the Dodgers can count on to be consistent, and that’s Jansen. The rest of the guys- including League, who they named their closer and threw $22 million at- have had up-and-down careers.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a nice mix of young flamethrowers and veteran guys who know how to pitch. I loved the Madson pick-up; I expect him to have a good year even though he missed all of 2012. Frieri can also close if need be. Then they have a great tandem of lefties in Downs and Burnett. This has the makings of a great bullpen for the Angels.

Frieri

These are both going to be very exciting teams to watch, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw an LA vs. LA World Series (though it never seems to work out that way). I think the Dodgers have the slight edge, but that’s not to put a damper on the team the Angels are going to field.

> The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal (plus a vesting option for a third year), so that puts to bed any rumors that spoke of his possible return to Milwaukee. But Doug Melvin probably wouldn’t have been willing to give him $6 million a year anyway.

> The Mets are being the Mets once again, as they have a deal in place to send the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner- R.A. Dickey- to the Blue Jays in a seven-player deal. The deal also includes Josh Thole and another prospect going to the Jays along with Dickey, while the Mets are getting back Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a prospect.

I’m starting to wonder why the Mets gave an extension to David Wright if this is what they intended to do all along, but that’s their screwed-up organization for you. But I like the deal for the Blue Jays. They may have hurt themselves in the long run, but they’re making themselves favorites for the AL East next year. They’ve assembled a pretty nice rotation in Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, all of whom have been considered aces at some point in their careers.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Signed John Lannan to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Jonathan Albaladejo and Ed Lucas to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Javier Herrera to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year deal.


Transactions from the past few days

November 29, 2012

> Gord Ash has announced that adding arms- whether they be starters or relievers- is going to be the priority for the Brewers at this year’s Winter Meetings.

> Josh Prince was named to the Arizona Fall League Prospects Team.

> According to Buster Olney, the Brewers are still bidders for Josh Hamilton. But, if his price reaches anywhere around $214 million- the amount Prince Fielder got last offseason- Olney doesn’t think the Brewers will sign him.

> The Braves overpayed B.J. Upton with a five-year contract for $75.25 million. On the bright side, that means they’re out of the running for Hamilton.

> The Angels signed Ryan Madson to a one-year deal to be their closer. He could have been an option for the Brewers, but it would have been a risk, seeing as Madson didn’t pitch at all last year due to Tommy John surgery.

> Yet another relatively mediocre reliever has been signed to a multi-year deal. This time, the Reds gave Jonathan Broxton a three-year, $21 million deal. This means it will only be tougher for the Brewers to bring in a reliever.

> One more relief note: it’s been reported that the Giants are probably going to non-tender Brian Wilson. But he’s one guy who I want to stay away from the Brewers.

> Minor moves: 

Reds: Re-signed Todd Redmond to a one-year deal.
Mets: Re-signed Tim Byrdak to a minor league deal; acquired Brandon Hicks from the Athletics.
Yankees: Designated Eli Whiteside for assignment; re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one-year deal.
Red Sox: Outrighted Ivan De Jesus off their 40-man roster; signed David Carpenter and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Cubs: Signed Scott Feldman to a one-year deal; designated Casey Coleman for assignment.
Orioles: Signed Logan Mahon and Chase Johnson to minor league deals; acquired Danny Valencia from the Red Sox; designated Joe Mahoney for assignment.
Giants: Signed Omar Javier and Guillermo Quiroz to minor league deals.
Twins: Signed Jeff Clement to a minor league deal.
Phillies: Signed Brandon Erbe, Humberto Quintero, and Pete Orr to minor league deals; acquired Wilton Lopez from the Astros.
Astros: Signed Edgar Gonzalez, Trevor Crowe, Sergio Escalona, and Jose Valdez to minor league deals.
Diamondbacks: Signed Mark Teahen to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Bobby Bramhall to a minor league deal.
Indians: Designated Rafael Perez for assignment; added Nick Hagadone to their 40-man roster.
Pirates: Acquired Zach Stewart from the Red Sox; acquired Vin Mazzaro and Clint Robinson from the Royals; designated Matt Hague and Yamaico Navarro for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired Cory Burns from the Padres.
Athletics: Acquired Sandy Rosario from the Red Sox; designated Jermaine Mitchell for assignment; re-signed Pat Neshek to a one-year deal.
Mariners: Released Chone Figgins.


Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


Loe, Morgan, Veras, and Ishikawa likely gone

November 2, 2012

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

THE NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just stay away from Wisconsin, K-Rod.

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves (and a lot of ‘em):

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


Back after two weeks

March 25, 2012

> It always feels good to come back to blogging after a long layoff.

Unfortunately, though, this seems to have been happening to me a lot lately. But, now it shouldn’t happen again for a few months.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back. Posts will gradually start up again regularly (hopefully right away, actually), both on here and Reviewing the Brew. I don’t think much happened Brewers-related while I was away, but I’ll cover the little that did happen during that time now.

> The Brewers’ Spring Training recordhasballooned to an ugly 7-12 over the past few weeks. I know ST really doesn’t mean anything, but it is a bit of a cause for concern. The offense hasn’t done much lately, and the starting rotation is starting to return to earth after their stellar start to the spring. It’s not that they’re putting up bad numbers, but it isn’t much compared to what they were doing a few weeks ago.

Despite the lack of offense, there have been a few guys here and there who are turning heads early on. New shortstop Alex Gonzalez is hitting .400, and hit his first homer of the spring today against the White Sox. Jonathan Lucroy is continuing to tear it up, as he’s hitting .483 (although he was in the .600’s for awhile before falling to that average). If you consider the awful start Aramis Ramirez had, then his .276 average isn’t bad. Ramirez also hit his first homer of the spring today. Then there’s Mat Gamel, who’s hitting just .256, but his case is similar to Ramirez’s.

Unfortunately, Ryan Braun still hasn’t found his stride- he’s hitting just .095. But I’m not too worried about that; he’s Ryan Braun. He’ll find it eventually.

Like I said earlier, the pitching isn’t what it was earlier this spring, but it’s still solid. Yovani Gallardo’s ERA is 2.77, Zack Greinke’s is 0.73, Chris Narveson’s is 2.70, and Randy Wolf’s is 3.26. Most of those are actually great, but if you consider that all of them had 0.00 ERAs throughout the first few weeks of spring, they’re returning to earth.

Also, regarding Shaun Marcum’s status, he has yet to pitch in an ST game. But, it’s sounding more and more like he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which is a good sign.

That’s about it, Brewers-related at least.

> Chris Carpenter was probably dropping f-bombs about this one. It was reported that he’s been diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his right shoulder. That injury may be somehow related to the injuries he suffered earlier in his career during the 2004 and 2008 seasons.

Carpenter was the Cardinals’ projected Opening Day starter after going 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA last year (along with a 3-0 postseason mark). But now the job is going to go to Kyle Lohse, who went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011. The Cardinals also have to use Lance Lynn in their rotation now with Carpenter out. So their rotation, in order at this point, is Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lynn, and Jake Westbrook.

> Meanwhile in Cincinnati, it appears the Reds have lost their projected closer for this year. Ryan Madson, who was signed to a one-year deal a few months back, is having season-ending Tommy John surgery before he even appeared in a Cactus League game. The Reds will probably have to turn to lefty Sean Marshall to be there closer now, as he’s one of the only choices in their bullpen after they let Francisco Cordero walk.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I should have a post up on RtB tomorrow; I think I’ve got an idea for a topic. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Phillies sign Papelbon to four-year deal

November 12, 2011

> Finally- the first deal involving a top-tier free agent in the 2011 offseason.

> Closer Jonathan Papelbon signed a four-year deal, $50 million deal with the Phillies today. Papelbon has established himself as one of the best closers baseball has seen over the past six years- all with the Red Sox. During his time in Boston, he posted a 2.33 ERA with 219 saves.

I guess I didn’t see this coming. I knew the Phillies were somewhat interested in him, but they appeared dedicated to Ryan Madson- their closer during the 2011 season. Apparently, though, reports of the Phillies agreeing with Madson on a four-year deal were inaccurate, as talks with Madson’s agent- the feared Scott Boras- never really advanced after that.

But, in my opinion, this isn’t the best move for the Phillies. It’s dangerous to sign closers to deals for more than two years, because they can just lose it overnight. Trevor Hoffman, Jonathan Broxton, and Ryan Franklin are prime examples of closers who just fell apart over the past few years. Hoffman couldn’t miss bats (but rebounded to notch his 600th save), Broxton struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, and Franklin just forgot how to finish games at the beginning of this year. I don’t think any of this will happen to Papelbon, but you never know.

> The Marlins are making their long-awaited name change tonight, as they’ll go from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. The Marlins expect to be a completely revamped team next year, and the name change is only the start (or so they think). They’re moving into a new stadium, and expect to sign a few top free agents.

But I doubt the free agent part is going to happen. Albert Pujols is in Miami this weekend to meet with the Marlins, but let’s be realistic- is he really going to sign there? Can you imagine Pujols in a Marlins uniform? I can’t. (Literally, I can’t- I don’t know what their new uniforms look like yet.)

Anyway, my point is I don’t think the Marlins are going to take this seriously. They’re going to pretend to be in the bidding for these free agents and end up not being able to sign them. Then, next year when they’ll probably choke, they’ll see “but we did what we could in the offseason.”

Bottom line is, they’re still the Marlins- no matter how much they try to change themselves.

> The Twins made the first step at fixing their severely banged up infield today, signing Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal worth $7 million. The deal has yet to be officially announced, but it’s just pending a physical, which usually means it’s a done deal.

Carroll is coming off a 2011 season in which he hit .290 with the Dodgers, but was injured a few times. The Brewers appeared interested in Carroll at the Trade Deadline, but the Dodgers wouldn’t trade him.

> It was reported today that Wilson Ramos, the catcher for the Nationals, was found safe and sound 50 hours after being kidnapped in Venezuela. This was a scary situation, and it’s great that Ramos came out unharmed.

> The Brewers made one minor move that I didn’t notice yesterday, re-singing Erick Almonte to a Minor League deal. Almonte hit .303 in Triple-A Nashville last year, but just .103 in 16 Major League games with the Brewers last yaer.

> Anyway, that’s the only news from today. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers’ coaching staff all invited back for 2012

November 9, 2011

> Today was just another typical day in the 2011 offseason thus far- the Brewers had close to no news to talk about. I get it, it’s still early on, so not many huge moves are going to be made yet. But honestly, it’s every blogger’s nightmare to have nothing to write about…

> The Brewers did stir a little today, though- they announced that the entire coaching staff has been invited back to serve under Ron Roenicke for the 2012 season. So that means at least bench coach Jerry Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bullpen coach Stan Kyles, third base coach Ed Sedar, first base coach Garth Iorg, and “eye in the sky” John Shelby will be back.

The only question mark on the Brewers’ coaching staff for 2012 is hitting coach Dale Sveum, who has interviewed for the job of manager in both Boston and the north side of Chicago. Sveum has been passed over twice for the managerial role for the Brewers, first after serving as the interim manager for 12 games in 2008, then before this year, when Roenicke was hired.

But, for some reason, I have a feeling that Sveum isn’t going to be back next year. He clearly wants to manage, and this is probably his best chance.

Anyway, with that aside, onto the Hot Stove news…

> The Phillies are apparently close to a deal with closer Ryan Madson. Reports are saying that they’re working on a four-year, $44 million contract for the veteran reliever.

This offseason’s theme must be to overpay relief pitchers as much as possible. Just the other day, the Giants signed Javier Lopez to a two-year deal worth $8.5 million, and picked up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5 million option. And now we see the Phillies pouring it on Madson. In my opinion, especially with a veteran like Madson, it’s better to sign him to a short-term deal (1-2 years). But apparently they haven’t been paying attention to the closing collapses of Trevor Hoffman, Jonathan Broxton, and Ryan Franklin. Honestly, it seems like they can just lose it overnight nowadays.

> Terry Francona interviewed for the Cardinals’ managerial vacancy today. I expected this, and everyone else probably did, too. Francona was cut loose by the Red Sox after their historical September collapse that cost them the postseason, despite the fact it wasn’t his fault- it was the guys having fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse’s fault.

Anyway, Francona is still a great manager, and the Cards probably want someone exactly like him to fill in the void left by a future Hall of Fame manager.

> I’ve recently been hearing that the Nationals and Marlins, the two teams sulking at the bottom of the NL East, are interested in pretty much every big name free agent on the market. The Nationals are reportedly showing interest in Tsuyoshi Wada (a Japanese starting pitcher), Yoennis Cespedes (a defected Cuban outfielder), C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols (as unlikely as it is to happen). And the Marlins are interested in most of the same players.

But every big name free agent is going to want to sign with a team that will have to compete with the Phillies every year in the East, right?

> So yeah, another slow news day. But, before I go, I have one thing to announce about the blog itself- we’re now part of El Maquino’s correspondents, something he started today to try and get news about every MLB team in one place. There’s going to be one representative (or more, I guess I don’t know yet) blogger for each team, and I’ve got the Brewers. So I’m looking forward to becoming part of that.

> Anyhow, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts/comments, if you’ve got any.


Brewers reportedly decline Yuni’s option; full list of free agents

October 31, 2011

I didn’t look much at news today because I was busy, but here was the first thing I saw when I finally did- “Brewers decline Betancourt’s option.” My day was instantly made.

That’s right, Yuniesky Betancourt-haters (including myself). He probably won’t be playing shortstop for the Brewers next year, which means better defense at that position and better offense in the lineup- hopefully.

Betancourt had a pretty bad 2011. But it may have been good for his standards, actually. He hit .252 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI. All of those stats are worse than his 2010 season with the Royals, in which he hit .259 with 16 home runs and 78 RBI. Anyway, if you add his 2011 stats to his lazy defense at shortstop, you can see why the Brewers declined his option.

My guess is that Doug Melvin will make a push for Jose Reyes, the Mets’ All-Star shortstop who is now a free agent. His .336 batting average won him the NL batting title (although he technically cheated to get it). Reyes doesn’t hit for much power, but he did lead the NL in triples with 16. His offense, defense, and speed all make him a giant upgrade from Betancourt.

Oh yeah, and the Brewers are also expected to be top contender for lefty starter C.J. Wilson. He went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers this year, but he had an ugly postseason, as he went 0-3 with an ERA hovering around 7.00. But, he would make a great addition to the Brewers’ rotation, and would probably push lefty Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) back into the bullpen.

And just a couple more things before I move onto my next topic- the Brewers’ declined reliever Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option, but that was expected, as there was no way the Brewers would have been able to afford that. Also, Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed as one of the possible managerial candidates for the Red Sox. No idea why they’d want him, unless they’ve already given up on next year.

Anyway, onto the next topic. Here is a list of every free agent from every team, with their respective position next to their name:

Atlanta Braves

Alex Gonzalez, SS

Scott Linebrink, RP

Nate McLouth, OF

George Sherrill, RP

Jack Wilson, SS

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jason Marquis, SP

John McDonald, SS

Xavier Nady, OF

Lyle Overbay, 1B

Baltimore Orioles

Vladimir Guerrero, DH

Cesar Izturis, SS

Boston Red Sox

Erik Bedard, SP

J.D. Drew, OF

Conor Jackson, OF

Trever Miller, RP

David Ortiz, DH

Jonathan Papelbon, RP

Jason Varitek, C

Tim Wakefield, P

Chicago Cubs

John Grabow, RP

Reed Johnson, OF

Rodrigo Lopez, SP

Ramon Ortiz, RP

Carlos Pena, 1B

Kerry Wood, RP

Cincinnati Reds

Ramon Hernandez, C

Edgar Renteria, SS

Dontrelle Willis, SP

Cleveland Indians

Chad Durbin, RP

Kosuke Fukudome, OF

Jim Thome, DH

Colorado Rockies

Aaron Cook, SP

Mark Ellis, 2B

Kevin Millwood, SP

J.C. Romero, RP

Chicago White Sox

Mark Buehrle, SP

Ramon Castro, C

Juan Pierre, OF

Omar Vizquel, SS

Detroit Tigers

Wilson Betemit, SS

Carlos Guillen, 2B

Magglio Ordonez, OF

Brad Penny, SP

Ramon Santiago, 2B

Joel Zumaya, RP

Florida Marlins

Greg Dobbs, 3B

Jose Lopez, 2B

Javier Vasquez, SP

Houston Astros

Clint Barmes, SS

Jason Michaels, OF

Kansas City Royals

Bruce Chen, SP

Jeff Francis, SP

Jason Kendall, C

Los Angeles Angels

Russell Branyan, OF

Joel Pineiro, SP

Horacio Ramirez, RP

Fernando Rodney, RP

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rod Barajas, C

Casey Blake, 2B

Jonathan Broxton, RP

Jamey Carroll, SS

Jon Garland, SP

Hiroki Kuroda, SP

Mike MacDougal, RP

Aaron Miles, 2B

Vicente Padilla, SP

Juan Rivera, 1B

Milwaukee Brewers

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Craig Counsell, SS

Prince Fielder, 1B

Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B

LaTroy Hawkins, RP

Mark Kotsay, OF

Francisco Rodriguez, RP

Takashi Saito, RP

Minnesota Twins

Matt Capps, RP

Michael Cuddyer, OF

Jason Kubel, OF

Joe Nathan, RP

New York Mets

Miguel Batista, RP

Chris Capuano, SP

Scott Hairston, OF

Willie Harris, 2B

Jason Isringhausen, RP

Jose Reyes, SS

Chris Young, SP

New York Yankees

Luis Ayala, RP

Eric Chavez, 3B

Bartolo Colon, SP

Freddy Garcia, SP

Andruw Jones, OF

Damaso Marte, RP

Sergio Mitre, RP

Jorge Posada, DH

Oakland Athletics

Coco Crisp, OF

David DeJesus, OF

Rich Harden, SP

Hideki Matsui, DH

Josh Willingham, OF

Philadelphia Phillies

Ross Gload, OF

Raul Ibanez, OF

Brad Lidge, RP

Ryan Madson, RP

Roy Oswalt, SP

Jimmy Rollins, SS

Brian Schneider, C

Pittsburgh Pirates

Derrek Lee, 1B

Ryan Ludwick, OF

San Diego Padres

Heath Bell, RP

Aaron Harang, SP

Brad Hawpe, 1B

Chad Qualls, RP

Seattle Mariners

Josh Bard, C

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Wily Mo Pena, OF

Jamey Wright, RP

San Francisco Giants

Carlos Beltran, OF

Pat Burrell, OF

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Mark De Rosa, 2B

Guillermo Mota, RP

Cody Ross, OF

St. Louis Cardinals

Edwin Jackson, SP

Gerald Laird, C

Albert Pujols, 1B

Nick Punto, 2B

Arthur Rhodes, RP

Tampa Bay Rays

Juan Cruz, RP

Johnny Damon, DH

Casey Kotchman, 1B

Texas Rangers

Endy Chavez, OF

Michael Gonzalez, RP

Darren Oliver, RP

Matt Treanor, C

Brandon Webb, SP

C.J. Wilson, SP

Toronto Blue Jays

Shawn Camp, RP

Frank Francisco, RP

Kelly Johnson, 2B

Jose Molina, C

Washington Nationals

Rick Ankiel, OF

Todd Coffey, RP

Alex Cora, 3B

Jonny Gomes, OF

Livan Hernandez, SP

Laynce Nix, OF

Ivan Rodriguez, C

Chien-Ming Wang, SP


Brewers rally in ninth, but fall to Phillies again

September 10, 2011

The ninth inning of today’s game was a good sign for the Brewers. But, other than that, it was yet another clinic on how not to play offense.

The Brewers lost to the Phillies today, 5-3. The Brewers’ offense showed a little bit of life in the ninth inning as the rallied against Phillies relievers Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson. But, a George Kottaras groundout to end the game continued the Brewers’ skid of four straight losses.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Roy Halladay, who had a 6.41 ERA against the Brewers coming into today. He went eight innings while giving up one run on four hits. He walked a season-high three (yeah, that’s a season-high for him) while striking out nine. Shaun Marcum, on the other hand, went 6 2/3 innings while giving up five runs on nine hits. He walked four and struck out two. But, the first inning was the inning that plagued Marcum the entire game, as he gave up a three-run shot to Ryan Howard.

Anyway, I said yesterday that I’m not one to go into depth talking about the Phillies, because I’ll eventually go on a rant about how much I hate them (yeah, it’s that bad). But, let me get onto another topic- the freaking St. Louis Cardinals. I’m watching the game right now, and the Braves had a two-run leaded going into the bottom of the ninth. But, Craig Kimbrel, who had been lights out all summer, chose the worst possible time to blow his first save in 37 innings. I guess nobody can help the Brewers right now (including themselves).

And another thing about the Cardinals- Chris Carpenter came out and said that he yelled profanity after striking out Nyjer Morgan two days ago. Morgan claimed that Carpenter had yelled something at him after striking him out before Morgan retaliated, but there was no evidence until today that Morgan was telling the truth. But, I kind of expected it. I’ve always respected Carpenter as a pitcher, but I’ve never liked his personality. But that’s not to say Morgan went a little far that night as well.

The Brewers will try and snap their skid tomorrow at 6:10 PM CT (on WMLW, not FSWI). The Brewers will send Randy Wolf (12-9, 3.47 ERA), a former Phillie, to the mound. The last time the Brewers won a game was when Wolf was pitching against the Cardinals, as he went eight innings while giving up just one run against them. Wolf is 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA in his career against his former team.

The Phillies will counter with the master of shutouts- Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.47 ERA). Lee has a Major League leading six shutouts this season, and is coming off one against the Braves his last time out. But, he’s 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Brewers in his career.


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