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.


Deals for relievers “not happening soon”

November 19, 2012

> We can thank the Dodgers and their seemingly endless supply of money for this one. According to Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers are looking at the starter and reliever markets, but “no deals are happening soon.”

I wasn’t expecting the Brewers to bring in an elite reliever like Rafael Soriano, but now it might be a tall task to even sign a relatively mediocre guy. The Dodgers signed Brandon League to a three-year deal worth $22.5 million deal. By looking at that contract, you’d think League is some kind of lights-out late inning reliever, right?

Not quite. There’s no denying League has good stuff (in fact, I’ve been a fan of his for a long time), but he did not deserve that kind of money. The Dodgers acquired League from the Mariners at the Trade Deadline to be their seventh inning reliever. They already had a decent closer at the time in Kenley Jansen, and probably weren’t planning to make League the closer at any point. In fact, League had been yanked out of the closer’s role for the Mariners earlier in the year, and rookie Tom Wilhelmsen took over.

But Jansen went down with an injury, and the Dodgers decided to throw League back into the closer’s role. He did a solid job down the stretch for a Dodgers team that disappointed.

I got a bit off topic, but the point is League hasn’t really even re-established himself as a consistent closer, yet the Dodgers threw millions of dollar signs at him. Why? Simply because they can, and it doesn’t put a dent in their enormous payroll. To them, it doesn’t matter. But to the rest of the small market teams looking for relief help, such as the Brewer, it matters.

My confidence in the Brewers bringing in at least a reliever whose name is relatively known around the league has certainly wavered. They’ll likely have to hope the minor league signings, such as Michael Olmsted and Jairo Asencio, will be enough to shore up what was a terrible bullpen in 2012.

> It’s been reported that many teams are interested in relievers Jason Grilli (RHP) and J.P. Howell (LHP), and there’s no doubt in my mind the Brewers are in the running for each of them. But, as I just explained, bringing in either of them might not be as easy as we think.

> And that’s already about it. There’s been close to no news surrounding the Brewers the last two days (hence the reason for no article last night). So let’s move on to the minor moves:

Cardinals: Signed Justin Christian to a minor league deal.
Marlins: Signed Juan Pierre to a one-year deal. (Because when you trade away your entire starting lineup, signing Juan Pierre is the best place to begin rebuilding.)
Tigers: Signed Kevin Russo to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Signed Scott Olsen to a minor league deal.


Haudricourt confirms that Braun was penalized

October 29, 2012

> It was just as I feared. In last night’s article, I opined that Ryan Braun likely lost the Hank Aaron Award to Buster Posey because of Braun’s failed drug test prior to this season, because there’s no way Posey had a better overall offensive season than Braun.

Unfortunately, it seems I was right. Tom Haudricourt wrote about a similar topic last night, and he also thought Braun had the better offensive season. He suggested that Braun lost it because of the failed the drug test, but then also added this at the end of his article:

“And, from talking to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I get the distinct impression that Braun also will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP. He won last year before news of his drug test became public but from what I’m hearing, Posey will claim that award as well. By performance alone, Braun deserves to be among the top vote-getters but some are speculating he will be left off some ballots completely. That would show a definite agenda by an voters who do so.”

Unbelievable. I won’t be at all surprised at all if Posey wins the NL MVP; at this point, he’s the only other viable option for it if Braun doesn’t win. But Braun being left off the ballot completely is beyond unfair. And there’s a reason for that that may not come to mind immediately, but I might write an article about it in the coming days.

Anyway, there will probably be some “rogue” writers from the BBWAA who will put Braun on their ballots. But any remaining hope I had of Braun somehow winning the MVP has been drained.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> First of all, the 2012 baseball season is officially over.

Second, the Giants have won the World Series. Yes, the team that was down 2-0 to the Reds in the NLDS, down 3-1 to the Cardinals in NLCS- that team swept the World Series in four games against the Tigers.

The Tigers actually put up somewhat of a fight tonight, as they had an early lead over the Giants on Miguel Cabrera’s second inning home run. The also tied it at 3-3 in the sixth inning on Delmon Young’s solo shot.

But, none other than Marco Scutaro drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. The World Series MVP will probably be a toss-up between him and Pablo Sandoval, who hit .500 in the series, including that three-homer game in Game 1.

THE NEWS

> Despite Haudricourt comments on the Josh Hamilton situation the other day, Nick Cafardo suggests that the Brewers are still “at least looking into the possibility, though their top priorities are still finding a starting pitcher and revamping their bullpen.”

> Clayon Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente Award.

THE EXTRAS

> My attempt at a Brewers-themed pumpkin for Halloween. You’ll immediately notice that I’m not the most artistic person. But this was done free-handed, which helps my case a little.

> This is the second straight title for the Giants in which they couldn’t celebrate with their home crowd, but their home crowd was dedicated enough to celebrate with them.


Haudricourt shoots down Hamilton rumors

October 27, 2012

> Leave it to Tom Haudricourt to crush the dreams of Brewers fans.

Kidding, but he might be right on this one. Yesterday, Jon Heyman clarified some rumors of the Brewers going after free agent Josh Hamilton this offseason. Naturally, Brewers fans- myself included- became hyped around this news.

However, Haudricourt himself interviewed Mark Attanasio last night, and apparently Attanasio “gave no indication that adding a hitter was a priority.”

Attanasio also added: “We’ve got the No. 1 offense in the league. We know what’s working. We have to fix the bullpen. We were last in the Majors. That has to be fixed. We’ve done a lot of work to see what the options are there.”

Fair enough. While I’d love for the Brewers to add Hamilton, it’s almost useless if the bullpen doesn’t improve too. So if that’s where all the money needs to go, so be it; the Brewers could still easily be contenders if that’s the only improvement they make this offseason.

At the same time, though, I wouldn’t completely shut the door on the Brewers signing Hamilton. If the opportunity presents itself and Hamilton doesn’t get any substantial offers from other teams- which he might not, because the “big spenders” don’t need outfield help- why not go for it? Since the departure of Prince Fielder, the Brewers have had a very right-handed dominant lineup, and Hamilton would nicely slot in between Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez at the core of the lineup.

But, as good as the Hamilton rumors have sounded, the bullpen should come first.

(You can read Haudricourt’s full article here.)

THE NEWS

> Not really any major news today, so let’s move right into the minor moves.

Diamondbacks: Claimed Gustavo Nunez off waivers from the Pirates.
Royals: Claimed Chris Volstad off waivers from the Cubs.
Cubs: Outrighted Manny Corpas, who elected free agency; outrighted Joe Mather, Blake Parker, and Justin Germano to Triple-A.
Angels: Signed Angel Sanchez to a minor league deal. (I don’t think I need to tell you why that’s funny.)
Astros: Claimed Che-Hsuan Lin off waivers from the Red Sox; designated Enerio Del Rosario for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Rich Thompson, who elected free agency.
Orioles: Released Dontrelle Willis.
Padres: Outrighted Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer, both of whom elected free agency.

> That’s not a weird MLB highlight video title regarding Sergio Romo. No, not at all.


Thoughts from the early offseason presser

October 15, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

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

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

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

THE NEWS

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

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

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

> Edwin Maysonet and Juan Perez each declared free agency.

> Today’s minor moves:

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


Nats remain in on Prince

January 24, 2012

> It appears Prince Fielder may finally be finding a destination sometime soon. The Nationals remain the top contender for him, and Tom Haudricourt (@Haudricourt) said this morning that he heard from a source that the Nats and Fielder had an eight-year deal in place. The amount of money involved was rumored to be $20 million per year, just a little less than what Albert Pujols is earning annually with the Angels.

But nothing is final, and, according to various sources, the “race is far from over.” There are several other teams involved. It was reported yesterday morning that, after the Dodgers are officially sold, they’ll become contenders for him. The Orioles may also be contenders for him, as manager Buck Showalter has told the O’s front office about his interest in having Fielder on the team. Then, there’s the Rangers, but, after the Yu Darvish signing, they aren’t in the financial position to sign him. There’s also the Mariners, but they haven’t been linked to Fielder at all recently.

> Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Ryan Braun is innocent. Earlier today, Dan Patrick weighed in, saying that he also believes Braun is innocent.

That would be great if Braun makes history and overcomes his possible 50-game suspension. Whether or not Braun is in the lineup for the first 50 games of the season could determine the Brewers chances for contention in 2012.

> Bud Selig is returning for two more years. Ugh. I was looking forward to this guy retiring after 2012, but now he’s back until after 2014.

The only thing I credit Selig for is bringing baseball back to Milwaukee by moving the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee after the Braves had left for Atlanta a few years earlier. Other than that, I’m not at all a fan of him, and I wish he’d just retire already…

> And that’s about it. Not much news today. But, I’d like to announce that I’ve become a staff writer for the fan blog Reviewing the Brew. I’m very excited for this opportunity, and my first post should come tomorrow.

In the meantime, though, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Back at it again…

January 4, 2012

> It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve posted in over two weeks, and my apologies for that. I was on winter break in Florida, which was heaven. Now, it’s back to Wisconsin, where I have to get used to a 60-degree change for the worse in weather. Anyway, BW should start up again on a regular basis after this.

> Not much happened while I was gone, as far as the Brewers are concerned. But, there a few minor things that I’ll go over.

> The Brewers added two peculiar players on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training- shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Juan Perez. Both have a shot at making the Major League club, but I also have my doubts about both.

You’ve probably heard of Izturis at some point. He’s played in the Majors for 11 years, spending time with Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and, most recently, the Orioles. He was once considered a great defensive shortstop, winning the Gold Glove Award in 2004 with the Dodgers. He’s not at that level defensively anymore, but is still considered an above-average defender (and as long as he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, I’ll take it).

The only issue with Izturis  is his extremely weak bat. He has a career .255 average, which isn’t awful, but he has the lowest slugging percentage of an active player at just .322. Over his 11-year career, he only has 15 home runs, never hitting more than four in a season.

Anyway, if Izturis does end up making the Brewers out of Spring Training, he’d probably serve as a backup to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

Perez has played professionally for 12 years, but has only spent part of three seasons in the Majors- two with the Pirates, one with the Phillies, which was last year. He has a career 4.79 ERA, but put up a career low 3.60 ERA with the Phillies in 2011. That was in just five innings over eight games, however.

Perez has a good shot at making the Major League club, though, because the Brewers are still extremely low on left-handed relievers. The three on the roster with Major League experience- Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter- all had injury-plagued years in 2011. Parra missed the entire year with elbow and back problems, Stetter couldn’t recover from a hip injury, and Braddock struggled with a social disorder. Because of all this, the Brewers spent the majority of the final months of the season with a right-handed dominant bullpen. So, Perez gives the Brewers a little left-handed depth in 2012.

> The Brewers shed a bit of light on the Norichiki Aoki situation. They won rights to sign him in mid-December, and have until January 17th to work out a deal, or Aoki returns to his Japanese team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

It turns out negotiations with Aoki have started at around just $1.5 million, which shows the Brewers aren’t extremely interested in him. Aoki has speed and can hit for average, but his weak arm and not much power at the plate probably hold him at a reserve, or fourth, outfielder in the Majors. This shows why the Brewers started negotiations so low.

They plan to work him out at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale sometime within the next few weeks before making their final decision.

> Now, for the piece of news Brewers fans have been worrying about for a while now- the Ryan Braun story. Apparently, an MLB official with knowledge on how the whole appeal process works told Tom Haudricourt that he think the ruling won’t be overturned because of previous cases.

But, you have to take into account that the test results are “unlike any test results seen before,” so this guy’s opinion doesn’t really matter.

I’m still holding out hope that Braun can get this cleaned up and be ready for the start of the season. Because there is a first time for everything.

> One more thing Brewers-related- the Brewers have reportedly approached Zack Greinke about a contract extension. I don’t know if negotiations have even started yet, but this is a good sign, because the Brewers need both Greinke and Shaun Marcum extended by the time the season starts.

> And that’s about everything Brewers-related the took place while I was away. However, there was also some stirring around other teams in the NL Central.

> The Cardinals managed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal worth $26 million. That sort of helps fill the void Albert Pujols left, but not quite.

With Beltran, the Cardinals now have an outfield trio of Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. Normally, this would be a scary trio to have in the lineup offensively, but none of them have very good injury history, so I’m not too worried at this point.

> The Reds and Cubs struck an in-division trade, with the Cubs sending reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for three prospects- starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and second baseman Ronald Torreyes. In my opinion, the Cubs won this trade- the Reds have been giving up way more prospects then they’ve needed to over their past few trades. They also had to give up five prospects to acquire starter Mat Latos from the Padres a few weeks ago.

> The Marlins are reportedly closer to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. And here I thought they were having a productive offseason…

> And I think that’s about it. Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a late merry Christmas and a happy new year. Here’s to hoping for another good Brewers season in 2012. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


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