Burnett, Choate yanked off the market

December 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves: 

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

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Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves: 

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


Brewers lay down the hammer

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> I’ll honestly say I wasn’t expecting this. After the way the Brewers played last night, I thought they were going to get owned by Bronson Arroyo, who usually has his way with us. But it was the complete opposite: the Brewers blew out the Reds, 8-1.

After Joey Votto put the Brewers in an early hole with an RBI double, the Brewers put up a huge two-out rally against Arroyo in the third, starting with a Norichika Aoki homer. Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart also had RBI singles that inning. The Brewers scattered a few more runs through the rest of the game, including homers from Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy.

MY TAKE

> I’m starting to notice a trend here. Adam McCalvy wrote today that the Brewers’ offense has been better without Prince Fielder. Doesn’t make any sense, right?

But it’s actually become a theme now. The Brewers have played much, much better since trading away Zack Greinke. The Brewers played worse in 2008 after acquiring CC Sabathia (but you can’t argue with his numbers; obviously not his fault). As tough as it is to part with these star players, it’s hard to argue with the results following their departures.

THE NEWS

> Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta were scheduled for one and two more starts respectively, but Ron Roenicke said those plans are subject to change.

THE NUMBERS

> Shaun Marcum had his best start since coming off the disabled list, going six innings while giving up a run and striking out seven.

> Aoki has the most extra-base hits (18) in baseball so far in September.

> Aoki’s 36 doubles are the most ever by a Brewers rookie.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)

> By the way, sorry for the brief articles lately. Schoolwork has really piled on much earlier than I expected, so that’s obviously my priority.


Maybe shopping a starter isn’t such a bad idea.

December 1, 2011

> A few weeks back, I read an article by Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy regarding the fact that the Brewers were one of the few teams in baseball with five starting pitchers in place. Assuming they’re all with the team by the beginning of Spring Training 2012, they’re pretty much guaranteed the spot in the starting rotation that they had last year.

But it isn’t guaranteed that all of them will be with the team at that point.

The Brewers have had five reliable starters in place since around May of 2011. Any team in baseball would want that luxury. But, the Brewers have the luxury, plus more- a few Major League ready Minor League starting pitchers waiting for their chance.

So my point is the Brewers could shop a starter on the trade market in order to fill a hole that they’re more in need of right now, such as shortstop or late-inning relief. Then, they could replace the starter they traded with one of those prospects (I’ll list a few later).

Here are the Brewers starters and their numbers from 2011:

Yovani Gallardo– 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts in 207 innings (7th place in NL CYA voting)

Zack Greinke– 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 201 strikeouts in 171 2/3 innings

Shaun Marcum– 13-7, 3.54 ERA, 158 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings

Randy Wolf– 13-10, 3.69 ERA, 134 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings

Chris Narveson– 11-8, 4.45 ERA, 126 strikeouts in 161 2/3 innings

Pretty solid numbers for all of them, for the most part. But I’m going to look a little deeper into them.

Despite Gallardo’s good numbers, he was rather inconsistent, especially at the beginning of the year. He settled in as the year went on, but had his occasional “hiccup.” And it happened more often to Gallardo than your typical ace pitcher, such as Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and so on. But, Gallardo’s ERA could probably be nearly half a run lower if it weren’t for a few starts against the Cardinals- the team he has definitely struggled against most in his career.

Greinke missed all of April because of a broken rib that he got while playing a game of pickup basketball (but that’s another story). When he returned from the DL, he obviously wasn’t right, as his ERA by the All-Star break was a whopping 5.66 (despite a 7-3 record, mostly due to good run support). But, Greinke obviously turned around his season, because bringing an ERA down from 5.66 to 3.83 in just 2-3 months is pretty remarkable. The one thing that struck me most about Greinke this year, though, was his inability to eat up innings. During his time with the Royals, he was consistent eight inning/complete game pitcher. But, in his first year with the Brewers, he never pitched beyond 7 2/3 innings. This is probably in part to Ron Roenicke, who appeared to hate complete games. But still, Greinke needs to pitch more innings next year. Hopefully he can do that while maintaining his stellar strikeouts per nine innings ratio and strikeout-to-walk ratio, both of which were among the top pitchers in the NL.

I know Marcum is still probably getting hate from his September/postseason meltdown, but I’m guessing this is the reason it happened. He was in uncharted waters, as he pitched over 200 innings for the first time in his career (although this was the same case that Gallardo had, and it didn’t seem to affect him very much). But, up until September, Marcum was probably the Brewers’ most consistent starter. He just needs to clear his mind over the offseason and come back next year with those two awful months behind him.

Wolf was pretty consistent all year, and led Brewers starters in innings pitched. And that’s his role- to be an innings-eater at the back-end of the rotation. He needs to do the exact same thing next year (assuming he’s still with the Brewers).

Narveson had the worst ERA of all of the Brewers’ starters, but that was mainly because of his injury-plagued late August and September. He was also moved in and out of the starting rotation and bullpen during that time, which obviously didn’t help, shown by his 5.48 ERA in September. But, ever since Narveson moved into the rotation in early 2010, I’ve done nothing but defend him as a starter. He’s already 29, but I think he still has time to evolve into a solid starter who can have an ERA around 3.90 or 3.80. In order to this, though, I think he needs a fourth pitch. Right now, he has a fastball (it appears to be a two-seamer), a change-up, and a big curveball (similar to Wolf’s, but not as slow). It’s also said that he has a cutter, but, if he does, he might as well drop it- it doesn’t look like it cuts very much. If Narveson adds a slider or slurve type pitch in place of that, I think that will make him a more complete pitcher.

That’s my opinion on all of the starters. I know that drove me a bit off topic, but it all leads me up to my main point- who, if I had to chose, would I want to be traded. And, I’d have to go with Wolf. I have nothing against him, and I think he serves a valuable role to the Brewers. But, he only has one year left on his contract (plus an option, but I don’t if the Brewers will pick it up). Gallardo is signed for a few more years, Greinke and Marcum will probably be extended, and Narveson can easily be brought back at a low price. So that’s my logic on why Wolf will is the most probable to be traded of them. (Plus, he could attract good players in return from other teams.)

I said earlier that I was going to list a few possible Minor League starters who I think could be Major League-ready, so here they are:

Wily PeraltaHe’s just 23, but has been putting up good numbers in the Minors for awhile now. I saw him pitch in Spring Training last year, and he appeared pretty erratic (as far as command goes) when facing Major League hitters, but I think he’s probably ready by now.

Amaury RivasA change-up specialist who has been Major League-ready for awhile now, but hasn’t gotten the chance yet. If Wolf (or another starter) would be traded, he would be a strong possibility to fill that last spot.

Mark RogersRogers’ situation is kind of complicated. He’s been injury-plagued ever since he was drafted, and injuries again prevented him from having a shot at playing for the Brewers in 2011. He was also suspended towards the end of this season for using performance-enhancing drugs, but he said it was to try and get around his injuries, and I have a feeling that won’t affect him in the long run. Anyway, if he’s finally healthy in 2012, he’d have a pretty good shot at making the team.

There are a few more pitchers I had in mind, such as Tyler Thornburg and Cody Scarpetta, but, after re-thinking it, I don’t know if they’re ready yet. But it won’t be long.

Anyway, odds are that Wolf (or another starter) won’t be traded, yet it remains a possibility. Just tossing around ideas as the slow offseason continues…


Brewers were interested in lefty Gonzalez

September 2, 2011

Well, it turns out that the Brewers were interested in making an August trade. According to Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy and MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers had been interested in left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez of the Orioles. The Rangers wound up acquiring Gonzalez, however.

Gonzalez put up solid numbers for the O’s this season, going 2-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 49 games (46 1/3 innings). I guess those aren’t great numbers for a reliever, but he was an assassin against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .211 average. But, righties have gotten some good swings off him, as they’re hitting .300 against Gonzalez.

The Brewers having been looking for a decent lefty out of the bullpen for quite sometime, but continue to come up empty. They were hoping to have three lefties in the ‘pen on opening day- Zach Braddock, Mitch Stetter, and Manny Parra. Parra pretty much immediately went down right when Spring Training started, and has been dealing with shoulder and back issues since. He won’t be pitching again this season due to a screw replacement in his elbow, but should be ready by Spring Training of 2012. Stetter was in the bullpen for the first part of the season, but he eventually went down with a hip injury that he’s struggled to come back from (probably because of his submarine delivery). He also recently underwent season-ending surgery. Then, there’s Braddock, but there are tons of question marks surrounding his situation. He dealt with a sleep disorder earlier this season that was based from a social anxiety disorder (similar to that of Zack Greinke’s), and that disorder would lead to two stints on the DL. When he returned from the second stint, he was just straight-up ineffective and couldn’t get anyone out. Braddock was then sent down because he was dealing with some personal issues, but assistant GM Gord Ash refused to talk about what they were. I don’t know if it has to do with his disorder or what, but I doubt he’ll be back in the Majors anytime soon. And that’s unfortunate, because I see a lot of talent in his arm.