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.

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Brewers’ lineup appears set

March 4, 2012

> It’s a little early to say for sure, but it sounds like the Brewers lineup and starting rotation for the regular season is set.

Ron Roenicke debuted the lineup earlier today during an intrasquad game, and he talked a bit about how the rotation would look. The lineup should look something like this: Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy, and the pitcher. That’s how I expected it to look, although we’ll have to see what happens with the leadoff spot. Weeks and Hart have both expressed interest and liking to the spot, but Weeks specifically said that he didn’t want to hit fifth, which leaves him leading off.

Then there’s the rotation. Here’s how it’ll go: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, and Chris Narveson. The reason Wolf is ahead of Marcum in the rotation is because of the opening series of the season against the Cardinals. Wolf has been solid against the Cards in his career, and pitched well against them in the postseason last year. Marcum, meanwhile, was pounded by them during the postseason. Marcum and Narveson will pitch the first two games in the next series against the Cubs. Both pitchers have had success against the Cubs in their career (I believe Narveson is 6-1 with an ERA below 3.00). To be honest with you, I almost wish Gallardo was pitching against the Cubs and Narveson was pitching against the Cardinals, though. Gallardo gets mauled by the Cards every time he pitches against them, although the departure of Albert Pujols may help a bit. And Gallardo is a strikeout machine against the Cubs. Narveson, meanwhile, has a career ERA under 2.00 against the Cardinals. One of my favorite things to watch in all of baseball is Chris Narveson pitching against the Cardinals, because I find it hilarious how they can’t hit him at all, and they’re the ones who drafted him. Hopefully the two get matched up sometime later in the season.

Also, the starting pitchers for tomorrow’s Spring Training game against the Giants have been announced. Wolf will start and pitch a few innings, then Greinke will pitch a bit as well in relief. Madison Bumgarner will be starting for the Giants.

> Bench coach Jerry Narron brought back his Japanese lineup card writing for Norichika Aoki during today’s intrasquad game. Narron has been doing this ever since 2001 when Ichiro Suzuki arrived in the Majors, and he says he does it “out of respect.” Aoki said this helped him “fit in” to the clubhouse better.

Narron also did this for Japanese reliever Takashi Saito, who pitched for the Brewers last year. Unfortunately, he left via free agency for the Diamondbacks.

> One more thing before I go- I put up another article on Reviewing the Brew earlier today. I can’t remember if I’ve explained it on this blog before, but, if I haven’t, here’s how it works. The six writers (including me) at RtB are doing a collaborative project in which we pick one Brewers prospect to watch during Spring Training, and then write articles about that player’s progress throughout spring. My pick was starting pitcher Amaury Rivas, who I’ve been avidly watching for about three years now. I thought this would be a good choice since I’ve already got a bit of background knowledge about Rivas, and he’s arguably my favorite Brewers prospect. Anyway, here’s a link to the article.

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


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…