Braun’s collector denies blame

February 29, 2012

> I guess things aren’t quite over yet.

Earlier today, the collector of Ryan Braun’s drug test, Dino Laurenzi Jr., denied to take blame for Braun’s positive drug test. Laurenzi wouldn’t comment much on the matter, but did say that it’s “taken an emotional toll on him” and his family. Here’s the only quote he released:

“The situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have don so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated.”

He also explained why he didn’t deliver the drug test to Montreal on time. He said it was a “late hour” and that there weren’t any FedEx offices within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship on that day or the following day, which was a Sunday. At first, I questioned that fact, because I live within 50 miles of Miller Park, and I can name at least a few different FedEx locations. I thought they delivered any day of the week, but I guess I wouldn’t know.

In any case, that is a valid argument. But, this doesn’t change the fact that there was a third person who got to see the sample- Laurenzi’s 22-year old son. That goes against the rules of collecting a drug test.

But we’ll see what happens with this. I can’t imagine that they’ll end up giving Braun the 50-game suspension anyway, but that would be unfair to the Brewers, since they were told he was let off the hook and Braun is already in Spring Training. (Link to article on Laurenzi)

> Left-handed pitching prospect Jed Bradley is going to take Spring Training a little slower for the time being, as he’s been dealing with groin issues, which is never a fun time. At least this is somewhat of a minor injury, and hopefully it doesn’t foreshadow more injuries to come. If you’ll recall, last year in Spring Training, every one of the Brewers starting players got injured in some way. The only two who ended up missing time were Zack Greinke and Jonathan Lucroy, so we got lucky there. But hopefully we don’t have to go through any of that again. (Link to article on Bradley)

> And that’s about it. Aside fromthe somewhat shocking news regarding the Braun case, it was another pretty slow day. But, Spring Training games start next week, so there will be news to cover. Baseball season is finally coming back…

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

Computer problems…

February 28, 2012

> The luck I have with computers really blows me away sometimes.

Once again, I apologize for yet another long layoff without me posting. I’m embarrassed that I have to continue making up excuses, but this time I have a legitimate excuse.

So, last night, I was writing a post for Reviewing the Brew, because I hadn’t posted on there in over a week, and I had to get something up. Unfortunately, I’d been having issues charging my computer two days prior to that. Usually, when I plug in my computer to a power outlet with the charging cable, a small light comes on in the front of it to signify that it’s charging. But, that light hadn’t been coming on for the past few days, and I noticed that, even when my computer was plugged in to the wall, it wasn’t charging. Last night, my computer was getting low on battery, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I had to write an extremely quick post on RtB (it still ended up being 500 words somehow), and, immediately after, my computer died.

I thought my computer charger (or the computer itself) was broken, so I was thinking I’d have to get another new computer due to charger problems. You see, a few years back, on my old laptop, a piece of the charger got stuck in my computer and somehow ended up in the motherboard, which screwed up both how the computer charged and how the computer ran. I thought that this was happening all over again, until I simply plugged my computer into another outlet. And, sure enough, it worked. I’m stumped as to what’s wrong with the outlet that I had been using to charge my computer for the past three to four years,  but hopefully I get to the bottom of that soon.

Anyway, that story definitely sounded better in my head, but it gives you a gist of what I’ve been through with computers over the years- at least Windows computers. . I use a Windows laptop to post on this site (and RtB), and a Mac desktop for all of my schoolwork. Of course, I’m constantly running into problems with the Windows computer, but never with the Mac. But I need at least one Windows computer at my disposal, since the disadvantage of using a Mac is it doesn’t have flash player.

Well, I got off topic again with that debate. Anyway, hopefully I’m back to posting regularly, at least for the time being.

> The other day, Mark Attanasio announced that Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke are going to be given extensions soon. I’d like them to get extensions for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum first, but the GM and managerial positions are also important. (Link to article)

> Chris Narveson has become one of the many Brewers to join Twitter. His “Twitter handle,” as the usernames are called nowadays, is @sleep_trick. Most baseball players use their own name in their username, but I guess Narvy decided to do something completely irrelevant. “Sleep Trick” was supposedly his X-Box gamertag. (Link to article)

> After I’ve written two articles (one here and one on RtB), the Brewers have finally realized that Yovani Gallardo needs to be more efficient. Roenicke talked about that during an interview at Spring Training the other day. (Link to article)

> I mentioned earlier that I put up a new post on RtB yesterday, so here’s a link to it. I’ve sort of already talked about the topic (which is  Ryan Braun taking legal action) here at BW, but I went a bit more in-depth on it yesterday.

> I think I’ve covered just about everything I’ve missed over the past few days. Again, sorry for yet another layoff, but hopefully it won’t happen again soon. But thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Braun makes history

February 24, 2012

> After waiting for nerve-wracking months since this shocking news was first reported, we finally got the answer we’ve been waiting for.

Ryan Braun defied the odds and made history today, as news broke that he will not, in fact, receive a 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season. He is the first player in Major League history to successfully overturn a positive drug test. The three arbitrators, led by Shyam Das, voted 2-1 to overturn the suspension.

One of the things Braun’s party used in the case was the two days of custody in which the test was unprotected. Apparently, whoever was going to deliver the test to analysts for further examination found that the delivery store was closed. So, he left the test in his refrigerator for two days, unprotected. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s tampering with the test. (Sorry for the vague explanation of that, I can’t find a specific news article about it, it’s just what I’ve heard from various sources.) Anyway, more details regarding the test- such as what the real results were- should come out within the next few days.

But, of course, someone had to somehow interfere with this good news. And who else but Bud Selig and the Commissioner’s Office to ruin it?

This is the main part of the statement they released following the news: “Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

I’m not going to go into all that right now, but let me tell you it really ticked me off. I’m half thinking about putting up a post tomorrow of me ranting about that, and how Braun should take legal action against both the league and ESPN, who first leaded the news back in December.

For now, though, let’s rejoice that one of the best hitters in baseball is back in the Brewers’ lineup. Now, with this whole thing out of the way, I’ll be able to do something I’ve been waiting to do- projecting the Brewers’ possible lineups.

But, Braun has officially won. We can take that tension off our backs.

> Norichika Aoki arrived at Brewers camp in Maryvale, Arizona, today, and had to navigate through a lot of media, both local and Japanese. It’ll be fun to see how he performs, and what role he’ll have during the regular season.

> Rickie Weeks made it clear today that he doesn’t want to hit out of the five-hole this year. After leading off from 2010 to the midpoint of 2011, when Corey Hart took over, Weeks experimented with hitting out of that spot of the lineup, but didn’t have much success. So it doesn’t surprise me that he’d prefer not to hit there.

But the Brewers had horrible luck out of the five-hole last year, no matter who it was. Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt, Weeks, Hart- none of them got it done hitting out of that spot. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other options aside from Weeks, unless the Brewers are confident that Mat Gamel can take that important spot in the lineup early on.

> And that’s about it. A rather busy news day, capped by the Braun news. We’ll probably hear a lot more tomorrow. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Greinke working on cutter

February 22, 2012

> Well, Zack Greinke said he isn’t working on his contract negotiations with the Brewers. But, he is working on what could become a new pitch for him next year- a cutter.

The cutter could actually be the reason for some Greinke’s hiccups prior to the All-Star break. He said he’s experimented with it in the middle of the season before, and it was never consistent enough, and it led to some bad outings. So, he decided Spring Training would be a good time to experiment with the cutter some more, when the games don’t mean as much.

In my opinion, though, Greinke doesn’t need a cutter. He’s already a four-pitch pitcher- fastball, slider, curveball, and circle change-up. Greinke also mentioned that the cutter is tougher for him to learn because he already has a slider. That may sound stupid, but I can actually relate. I’ve been pitching for a few years now, and last year I tried to amp up my arsenal. I had four pitches- fastball, cutter, splitter, and curveball. Towards the end of the season, I tried adding a slider, and it was hard at first. I eventually had to use a completely different arm angle for the slider, otherwise it would have moved exactly the same as the cutter. I assume something similar is happening to Greinke, except the opposite of my problem.

But again, if Greinke ends up not adding the slider, it’s not the end of the world. He already has four above-average pitches, which is enough to be a good Major League pitcher.

> Spring Training non-roster invitee Cesar Izturis is excited because it’s the first time in years that he’s got a chance to make a bid at a Major League roster out of Spring Training. If he does make it, he’ll be a back-up shortstop to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

> Ron Roenicke is deciding whether or not to stick with Corey Hart in the leadoff spot this year, or go back to Rickie Weeks, who was used in the leadoff role for all of 2010, and up until the All-Star break in 2011. Since Weeks still isn’t 100% healthy from his ankle injury last year, I think Hart is a good choice for now, with Weeks in the five-spot. (Link to article)

> And that’s about it. If you noticed, I sort of tried to list a few links in this post, and then briefly explain them (following the main topic of the post). I’m probably going to do this all throughout Spring Training, and, if it works well, use it for awhile.

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

Greinke, Marcum on opposite ends

February 21, 2012

> Earlier today, following the Brewers’ first pitcher/catcher workout, Zack Greinke was, once again, brutally honest with the reporters who interviewed him.

Earlier this month, Greinke had expressed interest in re-signing with the Brewers, and was open to contract negotiations. But, when approached about the topic today by the reporters, he didn’t sound too excited to talk about it. Here were his exact words:

“I’m not even going to talk about that. Sorry. I get annoyed when other people talk about it, and I already did earlier. It’s the same stuff. Nothing has changed.”

That pretty much means that the contract talks with Greinke have gone nowhere, which is a bad sign. In my opinion, the Brewers need to sign him as soon as possible, because contract negotiations during the actual season can get dicey.

Greinke was also asked about his current situation regarding an agency, since, as of right now, he isn’t represented by one. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’m not going to hire an agent for a while. There’s no reason to have one at the moment.”

It seems like he’s acting like there’s no rush to get a deal done. Well, Zack, we hate to rush you, but the season comes and goes like a breeze, so you might want to hire an agent sometime in the near future and get this thing out of the way.

I really hope a deal with Greinke gets done. Soon. He’s a key piece to the Brewers’ rotation in 2012, and beyond- hopefully.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum is Shaun Marcum, who actually wants a long-term deal with the Brewers, and he expressed that the day before yesterday. He was talking a bit negatively, as if he thought the Brewers were going to let him walk into free agency after this season. I guess I can’t blame him, because he only got a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

I really hope his postseason performance last year isn’t affecting the way the Brewers are working with him contract-wise. Postseason numbers, in my opinion, really aren’t the way to go while thinking about whether or not to sign a player.

It would be great if the Brewers could give both contract extensions, but I understand their financial situation, and I know they might not be able to do that. But hopefully they can keep at least one, considering they gave up five very highly-touted prospects for the two pitchers combined.

> Ryan Braun is going to be in camp for the full-squad workouts, even though he doesn’t know whether or not he’ll be receiving a suspension.

I said this a few days ago, but I’ll reiterate it again- this better be resolved by the time Spring Training games start (which is March 3rd, I believe). We can’t have this thing looming over the Brewers throughout ST.

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

K-Rod starts up again

February 20, 2012

> Here we go again.

Earlier today, I heard exactly what I was happy I hadn’t heard for most of the offseason: the whining of Francisco Rodriguez.

Well, it isn’t exactly whining, but it’s close enough. Rodriguez is “mulling legal action against his former agents, claiming they deceived him.” In other words, he wants to sue the agents he had prior to switching over to Scott Boras because they traded him to the Brewers without his consent.

Apparently, what happened behind the scenes of the Brewers-Mets trade that occurred over the All-Star break in 2011 is coming out. During that time, Rodriguez was in the midst of switching agents. He was then traded to the Brewers during that time, so none of the clauses of his contract came into effect (except that $17.5 million vesting option, which he and the Brewers agreed to null after the trade was completed).

One of the clauses that didn’t come into effect was a no-trade clause that allowed Rodriguez to decline trades to 10 teams. The Brewers were one of those teams.

So, here are all of his problems put together: he was trying to switch agents at the time, got traded without his consent, didn’t get an opportunity close, and took a significant pay cut (although he’s still making $8 million in 2012). I guess I can see where he’s complaining, but it’s either having all of those problems solved, or having the opportunity to play for a contending team, such as the Brewers.

But if you’ll recall, back in September, he started complaining that he wasn’t getting an opportunity to close. This really ticked me off, since it was during a time when the Brewers were in the midst of a playoff chase, and were kind of struggling at the time. What happened then makes me feel much less sympathy for the situation Rodriguez is in now.

Even though he’s making $8 million, though, don’t be surprised the he’s still complaining- the only other two teams he’s ever played for are the Angels and Mets, both of whom belong to the biggest market cities on their respectable coasts.

> The Pirates completed their trade for AJ Burnett by sending the Yankees two Minor Leaguers. They’ll expect Burnett to be their #2 starter, but I don’t know if he’s got that much left in the tank.

This also benefits the Pirates financially, as they’ll only need to eat up $13 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett’s contract.

> Mike Cameron retired today after 17 years in the Majors. He had signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals earlier this winter, but decided to retire before even taking the field this Spring Training. Cameron played two years with the Brewers (2008-09), and actually produced some decent power numbers that people forget about, hitting 25 and 24 home runs in the respective years. Those were his last two good years in the Majors, as he kind of fell off with the Red Sox and Marlins to finish his career. In fact, he was released by the Marlins towards the end of last year after a conflict with a flight attendant on an airplane.

But I’ll kind of miss Cameron. The guy was a true class act, and I wish him the best during his post-baseball life.

> And that’s about it. Not all that much news, unless you consider an overpaid reliever complaining news. But, before I go, here’s a link to my latest post on Reviewing the Brew. I wrote about a similar topic a few months ago here on BW, but I thought I’d reiterate it again.

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

Carter loses fight with cancer

February 17, 2012

> I hate cancer.

And so does everybody else (hopefully). I’ve had to face it a few times in the past, and the results have been varied. Every so often, someone I know who has cancer will bravely fight it, and be rewarded in the end with being able to continue living. Unfortunately, the rest of the time, once someone hears he/she has cancer, it’s too late, and their fate is already decided. And I hate it.

That was the case today with Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. Sometime around a year ago, Carter was diagnosed with one of the toughest cancers to treat- brain cancer. The tumor that caused Carter’s cancer was already too far along when it was discovered, and was untreatable. And Carter was only 57.

I don’t think I need to say anymore. You know what happened from there.

My prayers are with Carter’s loved ones. I know what they’re going through; I’ve been down that road before, and it isn’t easy.

But, a good friend of mine once said to me- “you never know when you’re number’s going to be called.” I think that applies pretty well here.

> But let’s get off that depressing topic. Apparently, the Yankees had a trade in place with the Angels that would send AJ Burnett to them in exchange for Bobby Abreu. But, Burnett has the ability to reject trades to 10 teams, and the Angels are one of them. Despite the fact the Angels have as good of a chance- possibly better- as the Yankees to contend next year, Burnett would prefer to stay on the east coast for family reasons.

Which is why the Pirates would make sense. They’re still in contention for Burnett, and it will probably end up working out, since the Yankees are willing to eat up a lot of Burnett’s salary just to get rid of him.

> I heard from a few different sources (Lance Allen, Brewer Nation, etc.) that Ryan Braun is “definitely 100% innocent.” I’ve been hearing this for awhile, but still be hearing it at this stage of the process is encouraging.

Which reminds me. Remember my post from the other day about how Braun’s deadline was extended and me reiterating Braun’s innocence? Well, it was one of my more popular posts in awhile, but I reached a milestone of sorts with it- I got my first “troll.”

I thought the first person to troll this blog was going to be a Cardinals or Cubs fan. But no- it was a fellow Brewers fan. That really disappointed me.

So, as I said, I was defending my opinion about Braun and trying to prove him innocent. But this guy comes in and starts trying to prove Braun guilty. Keep in mind he’s a Brewers fan. I had never seen anything like that before. Have you ever seen a fan of a team want the best player of his team to get a 50-game suspension? Because I haven’t.

But oh well. Stuff like that comes with blogging, and I realize that.

Braun’s deadline extended

February 15, 2012

> Can’t we just hear the results already?

It was announced earlier today that Shyam Das, the panel chairman for this case, has been given more time to decide the fate of Ryan Braun, and whether or not he’ll start the season with a 50-game suspension.

Honestly, I have no idea what’s taking so long. To me, it’s a simple decision- the drug test, which tested positive, was legitimate, or it was defective. There’s probably much more to it than that, but how much more? It couldn’t be that much.

But something has to be going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. My guess is, by now, that the people in charge of the case are arguing amongst themselves about whether or not Braun should be given another test, or at least something along those lines. I don’t know what else would be making this whole process take so long.

I’ve been saying this all along, but the test was clearly wrong in the first place. Twice the amount of testosterone than the previous record was? I’m not doctor, but if it were truly that much, I’m pretty sure Braun wouldn’t even be alive, if not very ill. But who knows- that could be another thing the arbitrators are discussing, which would be why it’s taking so long.

This better be resolved by the time Spring Training games start, at least. I don’t want the pressure of this thing to be on Braun for all of Spring Training, because odds are it’ll affect his performance.

Heck, they might as well start a new case for how long this case itself is allowed to last.

> But here’s one case that didn’t take very long- less than a day, in fact. Reliever Jose Veras lost his arbitration against the Brewers today, and will earn $2 million in 2012.

In my opinion, Veras wasn’t worth going all the way to arbitration with in the first place. The gap between what the Brewers offered and what Veras wanted wasn’t very wide at all, at just $375,000, but for some reason they couldn’t come to an agreement. Veras should just be happy to be with a team that has a chance at contending, though. It’s kind of a shame that everyone (or at least most players) in baseball nowadays only cares about the money, no matter what the amount is.

But I’m glad the Brewers at least won this case. It wouldn’t have made them look very good to have lost an arbitration case to a 31-year old reliever who has averaged over four walks per nine innings in has career, and has just had a mediocre career overall.

> The Royals picked up Ned Yost’s 2013 option today. Sometimes I wonder what direction that franchise is headed.

> The Pirates and Yankees are still talking about an AJ Burnett trade, and it appears to be becoming more likely, as the Indians were counted as contenders for Burnett earlier today. (They nearly traded Travis Hafner for him…)

Anyway, it sounds like the Pirates are still just arguing with the Yankees about the amount of Burnett’s salary they’ll have to eat up. The Yankees are willing to take a lot of it, but my guess is that the Pirates will probably have to take at least a third of the salary.

> And that’s about it. Slightly more of a news day than yesterday, at least.

By the way, I’ll probably have a post up on Reviewing the Brew tomorrow. I’m still trying to think of a topic, but I’ll have one by tomorrow night.

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

Veras has arby hearing

February 14, 2012

> The newly acquired Jose Veras reportedly went to an arbitration hearing with the Brewers earlier today. I don’t really see why, considering Veras asked for $2.375 million, and the Brewers countered with $2 million. Not that big of a difference, but apparently they were having trouble coming to an agreement.

The last time the Brewers went to an arbitration case was with Corey Hart, prior to the 2010 season. Hart ended up winning the case, and the Brewers’ fan base was angry because he’d made some cracks at the fans, and hadn’t been much a player before that. However, he completely turned it around in 2010, and had a career year with 31 homers and 102 RBIs. Hart’s feelings towards the fan base also changed, as he’s becoming a fan favorite in Milwaukee.

I don’t if Veras is worth going to an arbitration hearing with, but he’d better have at least a decent year next year.

> The Athletics have apparently came out of nowhere and signed Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.

But, in my opinion, this really isn’t going to help them at all. They’ve already traded away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey. I’m guessing this move is only to make their fan-base a little more confident in their team next year, but I still predict that they’ll come in last by a large margin next year in the AL West.

> Remember that show called “The Franchise” that started airing last year? They went behind the scenes of the Giants’ clubhouse, but this year they’re featuring the Marlins. I might actually watch it this year, just because Carlos Zambrano‘s tantrums will be available for the public to see. Ozzie Guillen is also quite the character.

I assume that’s why the Marlins are going to be the team featured, though, because they have so many different personalities on their team.

> Very, very, very slow news day today. The only Brewers news was the Veras case, and there isn’t much to talk about there, so I kind of had to go into some non-Brewers related topics. I don’t usually do that, but it’s inevitable when the Brewers aren’t making any interesting moves. But Spring Training is coming soon enough, and I’ll have plenty to cover then.

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

Reviewing the Brew Updates

February 13, 2012

> For the second time this week, I apologize for the lack of updates. But the Brewers literally haven’t made any moves for me to cover recently, and it’s starting to drive me insane. But, I figured I need to post something. So, since I’ve been pretty active on Reviewing the Brew lately, I thought I’d post some updates of what I’ve done over there.

If you weren’t already aware, I recently became a staff writer at Reviewing the Brew, FanSided’s Brewers site, and it’s been fun so far.

I can’t remember if already linked to this article here, but around a week ago I did piece on Jose Veras and what to expect from in his first year with the Brewers (link to article). I did it because Veras isn’t exactly the most popular reliever around, and I thought it would be a good informational-type piece.

Then, I got my first big project with RtB- a collaboration piece with Climbing Tal’s Hill, FanSided’s Astros site. Since 2012 is going to the Astros’ last season in the NL Central before making the big move over to the AL West, Climbing Tal’s Hill is doing a series of interviews with all of the NL Central’s FanSided sites. I offered to be the representative for RtB to answer the questions, and it was fun to do (link to article). I also did a follow-up piece to that last night (link to article).

We’ll also be doing another collaborative piece over Spring Training at RtB, but I’m not going to give it away yet.

And that about sums up what I’ve done at RtB lately. I’ve said this multiple times already, but it’s been fun thus far, and hopefully I can keep doing it for awhile, along with this blog.

> The Brewers haven’t done anything lately, but there are some intriguing rumors surrounding the Pirates- they’re reportedly interested in Yankees starting pitcher AJ Burnett. He has a big salary that he hasn’t exactly lived up to, and it sounds like the Pirates won’t be able to take on much of that salary. But that’s how much the Yanks want to get rid of him.

I have no idea what the Pirates see in him. Burnett has slowly flamed out and deteriorated over the past few years. He still throws sort of hard, but the control is completely gone. The Pirates probably think he’ll fare better in the NL Central than the AL East, which could be true, but still. He doesn’t have much fuel left in the tank.

> The Mariners got an early start on their Spring Training this week. This just makes me more excited for Brewers’ Spring Training to start…

I was in Arizona for the Brewers’ Spring Training last year, but this year I’ll be in Florida for Spring Training. I’d much rather be watching the Brewers, but, to get my dosage of baseball, I’m probably going to go to some Red Sox games in Fort Myers, because that’s closest to where I’m staying. (The Twins are also in Fort Myers, but I don’t really have any interest in watching them after the season they had last year.)

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