Patterson on board with Minors deal

January 31, 2012

> Earlier today, while I was at school, a random thought came to my mind- what happened to Corey Patterson? I don’t know why this came to me; it just struck me that he was one of the few Cardinals from their 2011 World Series team that wouldn’t have a place there next year.

So, sure enough, a few hours after I get home, I notice that the Brewers had signed him to a Minor League deal. Apparently assistant GM Gord Ash hinted that the deal was in the works at the On Deck event yesterday; guess I missed that piece of information.

Patterson is  a somewhat speedy veteran (he’s 32). He owns a career .252 average with 118 home runs and 218 stolen bases in 1,230 games in the Majors. He’s played for the Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Nationals, Blue Jays, and Cards. He’s actually already spent time with the Brewers- a brief stint of 11 games back in 2009.

I’m not a huge fan of Patterson. It’s not that I have anything against him, but, having watched some of his defense over the past few years, I kind of hope he doesn’t break camp with the Brewers. He’s pretty far past his prime. And, the odds of him breaking camp with the Brewers are very slim, as they already have five capable Major League outfielders in place- Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez, and Norichika Aoki.

> The Pirates appear headed to an arbitration case with ex-Brewer third baseman Casey McGehee, who will probably play first base for the Bucs next year.

The Brewers traded McGehee to the Pirates in exchange for Jose Veras after signing Aramis Ramirez. McGehee had a down year in 2011, hitting just .223. But, he hit .301 in 2009 and .285 in 2010, so he could easily bounce back.

> And that’s about it. Slow news day… But I’ll probably post on Reviewing the Brew tomorrow (if I’ve thought up a topic by then). Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

The Greinke agency is open

January 30, 2012

> Earlier today, starter Zack Greinke said that he’s still open to negotiations, as far as a contract extension goes. However, the only twist is that Greinke is his own agent. He’s been operating that way for awhile now, having cut ties with his former agency, CAA Sports, after being traded to the Brewers from the Royals in December of 2010.

Greinke said it was interesting to be his own agent, because he gets to see what happens behind the scenes, which players don’t normally get to do.

“I’ll talk to them about it. I don’t really want to talk to anyone else about it. But I like the business of baseball. It’s exciting for me. It’s not like I plan on being my agent, but it is exciting being able to know what’s going on behind the scenes.”

In other words, the Brewers are negotiating with Greinke directly, instead of an agent representing him- at least for now. Whether or not your a Brewers fan, pray that his next agent isn’t Scott Boras.

Greinke also complimented Brewers owner Mark Attanasio when regarding how he’d enjoyed his time in Milwaukee so far.

“Everything feels really good at the stadium and stuff, the team is great, and I love the whole coaching staff and front office, too. The owner [Attanasio] is probably the best owner in baseball, maybe. He’s incredible.”

And that’s coming from Greinke, arguably the most brutally honest player in baseball. So when he says something like that, you know he means it.

Anyway, the Brewers have been trying to extend Greinke since December. And he definitely deserves it. He went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 2011, which doesn’t reflect his best work. But, he did have 201 strikeouts in just 161 1/3 innings, which is incredible. His K/9 ratio was also the best in baseball (among qualifiers). The Brewers won all of his starts at Miller Park (17), where he went 11-0 during the regular season (12-0, if you include a win against the Cardinals in the NLCS).

The only thing I’d like to see from Greinke do better next year is go deeper into games. He never once finished the eighth inning all season, with every other Brewers starter doing it at least once. I understand that it isn’t always his fault, as Ron Roenicke can sometimes have an unusually short leash, but still.

Anyway, hopefully a deal gets done. I’d love to see Greinke stay in Milwaukee for awhile; he and Yovani Gallardo form a formidable tandem atop the Brewers rotation. I wouldn’t mind Shaun Marcum getting extended, either.

> The Brewers On Deck event was today. I was thinking about going, but decided against it. I would have probably mainly gone for autographs anyway, and I hate sitting in long lines for hours on end waiting for that type of thing. I also heard there were thousands of people there. But that shows that the Brewers are once again become popular in Milwaukee after a few down years.

> The Cardinals and free agent starter Roy Oswalt are talking about a deal- or are they? Beats me. Over the past few days, there have been a ton of conflicting sources regarding the matter. Two days ago, a few sources said Oswalt and the Cards were nearing a deal with each other, but last night GM John Mozeliak shot the rumors down. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

But, if they do end up signing Oswalt, who would probably slot as their fourth starter, they’ll have competition for the final spot between Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. Lohse will likely get it, with Westbrook probably moving to the bullpen. The Cards have been trying to find trade suitors for both, but Lohse has the ability to veto any trade (which he would do if given the chance), and Westbrook just plain sucks, so no one wants him.

The Brewers have seen Oswalt a lot over the years, as he spent his first ten years or so in the Majors with the Astros. They’ve knocked him around at times, and other times he’s had their number.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Hart ready to play first

January 29, 2012

> With the departure of Prince Fielder made on Tuesday when he signed a nine-year, $214 million pact with the Tigers, that left the gaping hole at first base for the Brewers everyone was expecting.

Right now, Mat Gamel is the leading candidate for the starting job, and he’ll probably get it. With Fielder gone, that also leaves a left-handed hole in the batting order, which Gamel could also take over. However, the Brewers don’t know what they’re going to get from him, as he’s torn of the Minors over the past few years, but has been inconsistent at the Major League level. Personally, I’d like to see him finally get some actual playing time, something he hasn’t really had yet at the Major League level, but still- what do the Brewers do if he still doesn’t produce, even with that playing time?

I’ve been saying this all along, and recently the Brewers have finally made note of it- Corey Hart can play first base. This could be a backup plan if Gamel doesn’t work out. It could also work if Norichika Aoki ends up vying for a starting spot in the outfield.

Hart does have experience at first- in fact, he came up as a first baseman, but was converted to a right fielder fairly easily. However, his defense and range in right field has gradually become worse and worse over the past few years, so maybe the move back to first wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

On Thursday, Hart actually spoke to 1250-AM WSSP, one of Milwaukee’s local radio stations, that he would be willing to do it, but would need time to make the transition back to first. So hopefully it goes well, if he does need to make the transition back.

> The Brewers FanFest, known as Brewers On Deck, takes place tomorrow at the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee from 10-5 P.M. (I believe those are the hours). I have tickets, but I don’t know if I’m going or not yet.

I’ve never been to one of these before, so I can’t tell you how it is, but I’ve heard good things about it. However, I’ve heard the autograph lines can be extremely long, so keep that in mind if you’re headed there specifically for that.

> I made my second post on Reviewing the Brew last night (you can read it here). In short, I was just agreeing with Hart’s comment about Fielder not being a team leader, and that the loss of Craig Counsell could mean more to the team, from a leadership standpoint.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m going to mainly keep my posts about news regarding the Brewers here on BW, and write more opinionated and creative pieces for RtB. I will write that kind of stuff on here every now and then as well when there isn’t news to report, but I’ll rarely post a straight-up news article on RtB, because it’s likely another writer will get to it before me.

By the way, I guess I kind of ditched the idea of reviewing all of the rotations in the NL Central. I didn’t take into consideration that there were still starters on the market, and the possibility of them signing with NL Central teams, so I might wait awhile before I start those articles up again. But you can look back at my reviews of the Cubs and Astros, if you want.

> And that’s about it for now. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Braun withdraws from FanFest

January 27, 2012

> Yesterday, Ryan Braun, in the midst of the whole drug story, decided to back out of the Brewers On Deck that takes place this weekend. This was sort of expected; I can only imagine the tension he’s feeling right now waiting for the arbitrators to decide his fate.

He claimed he withdrew from the fest to avoid questions about the matter. But, if you’re a true Brewers fan, hopefully you wouldn’t have questioned him about it. I would have expected him to get a standing ovation just for how well he’s dealt with this situation, but I guess we won’t know what would have happened now.

The appeal process appears to be almost finished. Braun appealed in front of three arbitrators on January 19, two days before he accepted his MVP award at a dinner in New York. However, he’d reportedly been trying to get an appeal ever since ESPN first leaked the news (that we shouldn’t know about) back in December.

I’ve already said this multiple times, but, if (when, hopefully) Braun isn’t guilty of taking PEDs, I hope ESPN receives a severe punishment, and I mean severe. ESPN doesn’t give a crap about baseball in the first place, but of course when there’s something that makes the sport look bad, they jump right on it. Skip Bayless better be fired, at the least- and I wouldn’t mind a few of their other irritants leaving either.

If it were up to me, I would have ESPN shut down for this; if Braun is innocent, this will be my last straw for them.

But we all know that isn’t going to happen.

> Two Brewers Minor Leaguers made’s Top 100 Prospect List, created by Jonathan Mayo. Both were starters- Wily Peralta got 49th, and recently drafted Jed Bradley got 97th.

Peralta is just 22, and is showing some signs maturity. He went a combined 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA at Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. In Nashville, he went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA. Peralta will probably reach the Majors at some point in 2012, whether it’s as a spot starter or long reliever.

My only issue with Peralta is what I saw from him in Spring Training 2011. He seemed fine against Minor League teams. But, when pitching against Major League teams in Spring Training, he seemed to lose all of his command. If I recall correctly, he gave up five runs and five walks in just a third of an inning against the Rockies. I assume that was just him getting his nerves out, but hopefully he’s over that and can pitch in the Majors this year.

Bradley was one of two first round picks the Brewers received in 2011, the other being Taylor Jungmann (but he promptly got injured… the Brewers have the best luck with young pitchers). I saw Bradley pitch in the Rising Stars game (or some game in the AFL that was broadcasted on MLB Network), and he looked great, striking out two in what would have been a perfect inning; I believe whoever was playing shortstop made an error.

Anyway, I think Bradley could soon make the Majors. And, if he doesn’t stay a starter, I could definitely see him being a lefty specialist; although that’s probably not what he’s interested in.

> And that’s about it. I was going to write a post for Reviewing the Brew tonight, but I’ll have to once again procrastinate that- I haven’t thought of a topic yet. But I probably will have by tomorrow night.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Fielder inks monster deal with Detroit

January 24, 2012

> If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar.

At long last, Prince Fielder has signed a deal with a team. Was it the Nationals, like everyone expected? No. The Orioles? No. The Dodgers? No. The Rangers? No. The Mariners? No.

Then, who?

None other than the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers came flying out of nowhere in the running and inked Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. That comes out to about $23.8 million per year- not much less than what Albert Pujols is making with the Angels.

But I’m happy Fielder at least signed with a team that we know is going to contend in 2012. Had he signed with a team like the Orioles, Dodgers, Mariners, etc., I would have been pretty mad, because we’d have known that it was all about the money. But, after holding out this long without a deal and finally signing with the Tigers, that shows that it was about the chance to contend.

You may be wondering why the Tigers offered Fielder this deal with an All-Star first baseman- Miguel Cabrera- already in place. It was announced last week that DH/catcher Victor Martinez will miss the whole season due to an ACL tear that he got while hitting a home run last season, ironically enough. The recovery time will force him to miss all of 2012. But I credit the Tigers for working quickly and finding a replacement for him right away.

Anyway, I guess this is it. Good-bye, Fielder. It was a good run, and we’re going to miss you here in Milwaukee. It was a great six seasons with the Crew, and I wish you the best of luck over the next nine years in Detroit.

> Tony La Russa will be managing the 2012 NL All-Star team. Guess that dink isn’t completely out of baseball yet.

> And that’s about it. I’ll update later with a link to my first post on Reviewing the Brew, which should be coming sometime tonight. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

UPDATE- I just finished my first post on RtB. I’m not allowed to re-post it anywhere else, but here’s the link to it.

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.

Braun’s BBWAA speech goes well

January 22, 2012

> Last night, Ryan Braun spoke publicly for the first time since ESPN practically ruined his life back in December. He gave his acceptance speech for the NL MVP award, and it seemed to go over well. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can watch it here.

Most of the speech is pretty much just Braun congratulating the other award recipients and thanking his supporters. But, he did indirectly reference the whole drug story twice in the speech. He did it first when he was thanking the Players’ Association, thanking them for helping him throughout his career, “and especially everything I’ve been through the past couple months.” That was the only notable time he made reference to it, but he also said this:

“Sometimes in life we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to view those challenges as obstacles or opportunities, and I’ve chose to face every challenge as an opportunity, and this will be no different. I’ve always thought someone’s character is shown through how they deal with those moments of adversity.”

It was something along those lines; I don’t think I got it exactly. But it’s somewhere towards the end of the video if you want to watch it yourself.

Anyway, that probably referred to the drug thing as well. I assume it means he’s confident that he can get through this thing, and that his true character will be shown when he does.

But off of that topic. This speech made me realize even more of how much of a class act Braun is, and that he couldn’t have possibly done such a thing.

It just doesn’t add up.
Before I move on, a note to the people watching the video- you’ll notice Bobby Valentine sitting next to Braun during his speech. I heard he was mercilessly booed earlier in the dinner, which sounds hilarious. But pay attention to his facial expressions during Braun’s speech- they’re pretty amusing.

> And that’s actually about it, I guess. There has been very little news involving the Brewers lately, other than this.

But, before I go, I’d like to announce that I’ve applied for a Brewers blog called “Reviewing the Brew.” Someone commented on here the other day, giving me an offer to apply, so I figured it’d be a good experience. I’m expecting to hear back either today or tomorrow, so I’m definitely excited for that.

Anyway, it’s still early, so I could update with more news later. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Did the Cubs’ rotation improve?

January 20, 2012

> Probably not.

The Cubs had another Cubs-esque year in 2011, going 71-91. The actually had a half-decent offense, as they were near the top of the NL in team batting average.

But why were they so bad? Their pitching; primarily the starting rotation. Practically none of their starters performed to the expectations they were expected. They did deal a few of their starters and acquired a few as well, but I don’t know if it was enough to lift them out of the chasm that is the bottom of the NL Central.

This is how I would assemble the Cubs’ rotation in 2012:

#1 starter- Matt Garza- 10-10, 3.32 ERA

Garza was the only decent starter in 2011, despite the fact Mike Quade named him the #3 starter at the beginning of the season. Garza actually had a career year, setting a career-best ERA. His wins don’t show it, but he didn’t get run support most of the time.

Garza also had a career-high in strikeouts, punching out 197 in 198 innings. His K/9 was exactly 9, which was a huge improvement from his 6.6 K/9 while pitching for the Rays in 2010. Garza, who used to be known as primarily a fly-ball pitcher because of his aggressive use of the high fastball, could be turning into a strikeout pitcher.

For some reason, Garza is on the Cubs’ trade block. If they trade him, their rotation will have close to no hope in 2012, as you’ll see from the pitchers I’m about to talk about.

#2 starter- Ryan Dempster- 10-14, 4.80 ERA

Dempster had an awful 2011, to say the least. In 2010, he went 15-12 with a 3.85 ERA, so his numbers really plummeted in 2011. The only area he was half decent was his innings and strikeouts. He ate up 202 1/3 innings, something the Cubs needed.

Garza has a sinker, splitter, and slider in his repertoire, so he’s known as a groundball pitcher. But, his 8.5 K/9 in 2011 was a career-high, so, like Garza, he could be becoming a strikeout pitcher.

But, since Dempster’s career year in 2008 in which he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA, his ERA has consistently gone down- 2.96, 3.65, 3.85, 4.80. Maybe we could expect worse next year, but I kind of doubt it. Dempster can be a good pitcher, but he just isn’t consistent enough yet, and it may be too late in his career to turn it around.

#3 starter- Paul Maholm- 6-14, 3.66 ERA

After the Pirates opted not to re-sign Maholm, the Cubs picked him up on a one-year deal, and, in my opinion, it isn’t a bad pickup. His 6-14 shows nothing of how well he pitched in 2011- the Pirates didn’t have any offense.

Maholm definitely isn’t a strikeout pitcher, as he had just a 5.4 K/9 in 2011, to go along with 97 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings. I don’t see him pitch very often, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s a groundball pitcher. But it’s fine that he doesn’t strike out many batters- Garza and Dempster have that covered.

I think Maholm will have a decent year in 2012. But that’s just my gut feeling, I could be wrong; he’s been pretty inconsistent over the past few years.

#4 starter- Randy Wells- 7-6, 4.99 ERA

Wells got injured in his first start of the year, so he missed the first few months. When he came back, he struggled, and for most of the year his ERA was well north of 5.00. But, he had a good September that included a shutout against the Giants, and lowered his ERA by a large margin.

Wells is an extreme groundball pitcher, and his K/9 was just 5.5 in 2011. Yet, he somehow found a way to give up 23 homers in just 135 1/3 innings, which means left a few too many sinkers up.

I don’t know about Wells. I don’t see much in him, and have a feeling he won’t have more than an average season in 2012.

#5 starter- Chris Volstad- 5-13, 4.89 ERA

The first thing the Cubs need to to do with Volstad- thank him. He was part of the trade that sent the psychopath- AKA Carlos Zambrano- to the Miami Marlins, so they won’t have to deal with his antics anymore. Anyway, with that aside, I see talent in Volstad. He hasn’t had the best career so far, but he’s still young and has time to turn it around. I think the Marlins gave up on him a bit early, and it was actually their fault for his lack of wins, because they didn’t give him any run support.

Volstad is considered a groundball pitcher, but I don’t really see it, as he gave up 23 homers in 2011. He doesn’t strike out all that many, with his K/9 being 6.4 in 2011. But I think all he needs to do is start missing more bats, and he’ll be successful.

I see a bright future for Volstad, but for some reason I have a feeling he won’t be in Chicago very long.

And that’s how I think the rotation should go. There will be some competition in Spring Training, as Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, and possibly Jeff Samardzija could possibly challenge for a spot in the rotation.

> Today was the day. Ryan Braun finally pleaded his case in front of three arbitrators earlier today, but not much info was released. The decision won’t be made by Saturday, however, so we’ll have to wait a little longer.

The case took place a few days earlier than expected, as it was supposed to happen after Braun received his MVP award at a dinner on Saturday. At least that’s what’s Lance Allen reported earlier this month. But it would be nice if it were all settled before the dinner; it could make things a little less awkward, or ten times more awkward.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Astros rotation should flop again

January 19, 2012

Note- This is the first of a new series I’m doing where I’ll be reviewing all of the rotations in the NL Central for 2012. If you’re looking for news, then scroll down- it’ll posted afterwards.

> We all know that the Astros just plain sucked in 2011. They were an MLB-worst 56-106, and finished a whopping 40 games out of first place to the Brewers in the NL Central.

While it didn’t help that they traded away their only position players who were worth something- Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn- at the All-Star Break, their pitching was one of the primary causes for their awful season. The starting rotation was nothing special, but their bullpen was worse. Every time their starter had tossed a solid outing and Brad Mills handed it off to the bullpen, you just knew they were going to blow it some way or another.

Anyway, I’m going to review their starting rotation now, and put them in order of how I think the rotation should go in 2012, along with their 2011 stats.

#1 starter- Bud Norris- 6-11, 3.77 ERA

Norris, in my opinion, is an elite pitcher just waiting to break out. He goes unnoticed because he’s on the Astros, but this kid has one of the nastiest sliders in the MLB. Since he’s a right-handed pitcher, that slider is near impossible for righties to hit, but it makes Norris vulnerable against lefties.

I consider him a strikeout pitcher. In 2011, he struck out 176 batters in 186 innings, with an 8.7 K/9 ratio. That was slightly down from his 9.3 K/9 in 2010, but his overall numbers were much better than 2010. But, he can’t let that strikeout rate drop anymore.

Anyway, Norris now has two full MLB seasons under his belt, which should set him up for nice year next year. But, his win-loss record might not show it, because I have a feeling he’s not going to get any run support.

#2 starter- Wandy Rodriguez- 11-11, 3.49 ERA

In 2011, Rodriguez was probably the Astros’ most consistent starter. Again, his record doesn’t show it (but no Astros’ starter record shows anything other than lack of run support), though. But, he’s already 33, and it’s rumored that the Astros might be shopping him to get rid of his large contract, so he may not be around too much longer.

I guess I haven’t seen Rodriguez pitch enough to determine what kind of pitcher he is, but, judging by the amount of home runs he gives up (25 in 2011), I’d assume he’s a fly-ball pitcher. But, he’s K/9 rate isn’t bad, as it was 7.8 in 2011. His K/9 rate has steadily fell over the past few years, though, which could show a possible decline.

Overall, I think Rodriguez still has a few good years left in him. They probably won’t all be with the Astros, though.

#3 starter- Brett Myers- 7-14, 4.46 ERA

After I did my best to praise the first two starters, I might not be able to do so with the next two. Myers had a great year in 2010, going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA, and earning him the #1 spot in the rotation. But, he followed it up with an awful 2011, as seen by the basic numbers. He also became nearly a complete off-speed pitcher, with more than 50% of his pitches being change ups and curveballs, rather than fastballs.

Myers gives up enough home runs, as he gave up 31 in 2011. He’s pretty much a fly-ball pitcher, and his K/9 is just 6.7. He also gives up a lot of hits, giving up 9.4 per nine innings.

So I don’t think Myers has much left in him. But he’s on the trade block as well, so he may not be on the Astros for much longer either.

#4 starter- J.A. Happ- 6-15, 5.35 ERA

Happ just had a flat-out bad season. I used to think he had talent, but, after last year, I don’t know anymore. There was a stretch of eight starts in which he gave up at least four runs in each of them, which explains his high ERA. And, even when he did have solid starts, guess what he didn’t get? That’s right- run support.

Happ’s  K/9 in 2011 was 7.7, and he gave up 21 home runs. I guess I don’t really know what kind of pitcher he is, but, whatever kind he is, he needs to get better at it.

I think Happ will bounce back in 2012, but not by much.

#5 starter- Jordan Lyles- 2-8, 5.36 ERA

Lyles was called up during the year to give him a taste of the big leagues, and I think he has potential. He has an extremely relaxed pitching motion, which usually means good things for a pitcher. I still haven’t seen enough of him, but I’m guessing he’ll break the rotation next year.

And that’s my review of all of them. There are a few more Astros starters who could break the rotation, like Kyle Weiland, but I think these are the five who have the best shot.

Overall, I think the Astros rotation will, like the rest of the team, once again flop in 2012. Aside from Norris, I don’t see much coming from them next season.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for another review- I’m thinking I’ll do the Cubs.

> Today, I heard that earlier this week Tony La Russa said at some lunch circuit thing that he did tell Jason Motte to intentionally hit Ryan Braun in the wild game in August.

That’s so typical of him, though. He lied and flipped out at the reporters after that game. So, after he retires, he comes out and tells the truth when he’s untouchable.

Needless to say I’m happy that prick retired. I’ve had it with his crap; I don’t care if he’s a HOF manager- he certainly doesn’t have the personality of one.

> And that’s about it. Sorry for calling TLR a “prick,” I don’t usually use language like that on BW. But trust me, I could have called him something much worse…

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Aoki on board with two-year pact

January 18, 2012

> A few hours after their deadline to sign the Japanese outfielder, the Brewers announced that they’ve struck a two-year deal with Norichika Aoki. The deal’s base salary has yet to be announced (at least I haven’t seen it), but it’s reportedly full of incentives that can be earned by certain milestones, I’m guessing.

Aoki joins an outfield that currently consists of Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan. Five outfielders is typically too many, but we don’t know if Braun will be on the field for the first 50 games of the season, so Aoki provides some depth if that doesn’t go over well. It was also reported that Ron Roenicke has also contacted Hart about playing some first base- his natural position- next year. Right now, first base is expected to be vacated by Mat Gamel. But who knows- they could split time there, with Gamel being a lefty and Hart a righty.

Anyway, back to Aoki. According to Doug Melvin, Aoki said that he “never asked about playing time, he’s just confident that he can come over and show us his skill set.” Now that’s what I like to hear. At least we know he’s not like Hideki Irabu, who demanded to be sent to the Yankees after signing out of Japan with the Padres.

Aoki also has a mantle full of awards that he’s won in Japan. He has multiple batting titles, Gold Gloves, and All-Star appearances. Obviously, the Japanese league is considered the equivalent of a Triple-A team in the MLB, but still, those are some great achievements that give me confidence in him.

To go along with those awards, he’s a career .329 hitter in eight professional seasons, with 84 home runs and 385 RBIs, along with 364 stolen bases. The numbers show he isn’t really a power hitter, but he’s definitely got speed.

Overall, based on what I’ve heard so far, I’m excited to see this guy play in the Majors, and hopefully this deal works out for the best.

> Here’s something no one expected- the Brewers and Francisco Rodriguez agreed to a one-year deal today, avoiding arbitration. Well, I guess that was expected, but did you expect him to take a pay cut? That’s right, he signed for just $8 million. Normally, that’s a lot. But, when Rodriguez was expected to make somewhere in the vicinity of $13-14 million, then it doesn’t seem like so much.

Who knows how he’ll react to this on the field, taking a pay cut to do a job he doesn’t even want to do. But maybe he finally came to his senses and wants to do what’s best to contend.

On another arbitration note, the Brewers also avoided arbitration with Kameron Loe, signing the righty to a one-year deal worth $2.175 million. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’d know that I’m not Loe’s biggest fan, but I’m fine with this, I guess.

> Craig Counsell is coming back to the Brewers next year. No, not as the utility man he’s been over the past few years, but as the special assistant to the GM Melvin in the front office.

Yep, Counsell decided to call it a career after hitting just .178 in 2011, including an 0-for-45 streak that was just tough to watch. He still thought about deals for playing for a Major League team, but the deals he was offered never went beyond a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. It was also reported that Dale Sveum asked him to be the Cubs’ first base coach, but Counsell said that the “timing wasn’t right.”

Counsell was a career .255 hitter in 16 seasons, six of which came with the Brewers. He’s also got two World Series rings- one with the Marlins, and one with the Diamondbacks.

I’m glad he decided to take a job with the Brewers. Counsell’s a true class act, and he’ll always be one of my favorite players who donned a Brewers uniform.

> And that’s it. I’m starting to realize that not much is going to happen the rest of the offseason that’s significant to the Brewers (other than the Braun situation and where Prince Fielder will end up), so, starting tomorrow, assuming there’s no big news, I’m going to start a series of articles reviewing the 2012 starting rotations in the NL Central. I don’t know which team I’ll do first, but, for some reason, I’m thinking I’ll do the Cubs or the Astros- two rotations I doubt will be successful in 2012.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.