Random HGH testing to take place

January 11, 2013

> We may be looking at the end of the steroid era. MLB has finally decided to bring down the hammer, and in-season HGH testing is going to take place for the first time, starting in 2013.

Previously, testing only took place during Spring Training and the offseason, but now it’ll happen randomly during the regular season. The random timing of the testing brings about an element of surprise- in other words, players won’t know when they’re going to be tested, so they can’t juice up strategically and work around their testing dates (which they would have had prior knowledge of).

But this is definitely a positive for baseball. The doubts of the steroid era showed their true colors yesterday, as no one was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996. Players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were never proven to have taken steroids, but the speculation was still out there, which was enough to keep them out of the Hall. This new rule should take that aspect away from the game (though it won’t show in the HOF voting for a few years to come).

> Now for an intriguing piece of Brewers news: the club brought aboard right-hander Kelvim Escobar with a minor league deal and an invite to Spring Training. Escobar hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Majors since 2009, and that was in just one start: he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2007.

2007 also happened to be Escobar’s career year, when he went 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA as a member of the Angels. For his career, he’s 101-91 with a 4.15 ERA (seven years with the Blue Jays, five in LA).

The odds of Escobar making the big league team at any point during the season are slim, barring a major injury to one or more of the Brewers’ starter prospects. But, at 36 years of age, he’ll still be a cool story to follow.

> The Brewers also avoided arbitration with Chris Narveson, one of the many starters competing for a spot in the rotation this spring. He received $840,000 in his first year of eligibility.

> The club outrighted Arcenio Leon to Triple-A yesterday after designating him for assignment earlier this week.

> Jonathan Lucroy is also going to play in the World Baseball Classic, joining Ryan Braun on Team USA.

> Minor moves: 

Giants: Signed Kensuke Tanaka to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Tommy Hottovy off waivers from the Rangers; designated Chad Beck for assignment.
White Sox: Signed Jeff Gray, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Bryan Anderson, Josh Bell, Steve Tolleson, and Stefan Gartrell to minor league deals.
Cubs: Re-signed Luis Valbuena to a one-year deal; signed Brent Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald to minor league deals.
Rays: Signed Craig Albernaz, Jason Bourgeois, and J.D. Martin to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Nate Samson to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Signed Matt Palmer to a minor league deal.


Brewers have arby decisions to make

November 26, 2012

> It came upon us rather quickly, but the arbitration deadline is already this Friday. Coming into the offseason, the Brewers had nine players to whom they would have to decide whether or not to tender them contracts, but that list has since been cut to five. Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, Travis Ishikawa, and Kameron Loe were all arbitration-eligible, but were cut loose earlier this month, so they’re no longer the Brewers’ problems to deal with. All of those names would have probably been non-tendered anyway.

But, there are still five arbitration-eligible players on the Brewers’ roster: John Axford, Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, and Carlos Gomez. Back in October, MLB Trade Rumors projected the possible salaries each will earn in 2013: they had Axford at $5.1 million, Narveson $800,000, Estrada $1.6 million, Parra $1.6 million, and Gomez $3.4 million. Most of them- save for Axford- should come relatively cheap.

The only immediate non-tender candidate that comes to mind is Parra, who I have to guess the Brewers are sick of at this point. He has great stuff, he’s a lefty, he once threw a perfect game in the minors- so why hasn’t he been able to find it during his first few years in the Majors? I thought shifting him to the bullpen permanently would benefit Parra mentally, and help the Brewers as a team, seeing as they went most of 2011 without a left-hander in the ‘pen. But, in 2012, Parra was unable to maintain consistency, and Ron Roenicke was hesitant to use him in tight situations (for good reason). $1.6 million isn’t much (though I get the feeling Parra will attempt to demand more), but he should follow Veras and Loe out the door.

I’m sorry, but Axford isn’t going to get $5.1 million. The case for him is that he saved 35 games in 2012, but then you have to remember he blew a Major League-leading nine saves. Axford is going to get the closer’s role back in 2013, but not at that price.

Gomez is going to be the Brewers’ starting center fielder in 2013 (unless they somehow pick up Josh Hamilton) following his breakout season at the plate, at least power-wise (he slugged a career-high 19 home runs). I’d take that and his dangerous abilities for $3.4 million, no doubt.

Lastly, there’s Narveson, who will certainly be back in 2013 (although it’s uncertain whether he’ll be in the bullpen or rotation). MLBTR is predicting that his season-ending rotator cuff surgery will keep him below a salary of $1 million once again, so the Brewers should be able to bring him back easily.

All of these guys will probably avoid arbitration. The Brewers’ last arby hearing came last spring with Veras, but the Brewers won it easily.

> According to Jim Bowden, Zack Greinke’s “camp” expects him to become the richest right-handed pitcher in history, while even possibly passing Cole Hamels’ six-year, $153 million deal with the Phillies.

OK, I love Greinke, but let’s step back and look at this from another perspective. Greinke’s career ERA is 3.77. That’s a good ERA, no doubt. But is it honestly worth giving him the richest contract in history for a pitcher? Matt Cain, who currently has the biggest contract out of any righty in history, has a career 3.27 ERA. Hamels’ career ERA is 3.34.

Another thing to keep in mind about Greinke: that career ERA is with his AL Cy Young year in 2009, during which he put up a 2.16 ERA. Take that away, and he his career ERA is borderline of 4.00. Not to mention Greinke’s lowest single-season ERA other than the CYA year is 3.47.

Again, not trying to hate on Greinke or anything; I’d love for the Brewers to bring him back (though now I know it’s not going to happen). But does he deserve to be the richest right-handed pitcher in the history of the game? No way.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Outrighted Brent Lillibridge, who elected free agency.

News from the last few days

November 22, 2012

> The Mariners have reportedly shown interest in Mat Gamel. I’m going to have an article up tomorrow about how that applies to the Brewers and what they could get in return, but for now I’m going to recap the news I’ve missed over the past few days.

> The Brewers added prospects Scooter Gennett, Hiram Burgos, Josh Prince, Nick Bucci, and Khris Davis to their 40-man roster, meaning they’re protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> The Yankees re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal. I was holding out hope that the Brewers would some how be able to sign him, but it was unlikely the whole time.

> The Royals signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal. He could have been another option for the Brewers, though he was seeking a three-year deal, and I think he’s too dangerous to commit to for that long.

> 10 teams have reportedly shown interest in Kyuji Fujikawa. The Brewers could be one of those teams, seeing as Fujikawa is a hard-throwing reliever.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Kyle Blanks to a one-year deal; designated Cory Burns for assignment; added Yeison Asencio, Jaff Decker, and Adys Portillo to their 40-man roster.
Royals: Released Ysmelin Alcantara, Henry Moreno, and Jose Rodriguez; designated Adam Moore, Vin Mazzaro, Chris Volstad, Ryan Verdugo, Brayan Pena, Clint Robinson, and Derrick Robinson for assignment; added Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph, John Lamb, Justin Marks, Mike Montgomery, and J.C. Gutierrez to their 40-man roster; re-signed Brett Hayes to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Signed Felix Pie, Brooks Brown, Erik Cordier, David Bromberg, Luis Sanz, and Alex Valdez to minor league deals.
Indians: Signed Matt Carson and Cedric Hunter to minor league deals; designated Fabio Martinez for assignment; added Tim Fedroff, T.J. House, Chen-Chang Lee, and Trey Haley to their 40-man roster; outrighted ex-Brewer Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Signed Bobby Korecky, Jim Negrych, Ricardo Nanita, and Alex Hinshaw to minor league deals; designated Mike McDade, Mike McCoy, and Cory Wade for assignment; added Ryan Goins and A.J. Jimenez to their 40-man roster.
Tigers: Released Ryan Raburn.
Mariners: Acquired Robert Andino from the Orioles; designated Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins for assignment; added Julio Morban, Brandon Maurer, Vinnie Catricala, Anthony Fernandez, and Bobby LaFramboise to their 40-man roster.
Orioles: Acquired Trayvon Robinson from the Mariners.
Mets: Signed Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, and Jamie Hoffmann to minor league deals.
Yankees: Claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros; signed David Herndon to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Designated Brandon Hicks and Jim Miller for assignment; added Arnold Leon, Grant Green, Shane Peterson, and Michael Ynoa to their 40-man roster; signed Justin Thomas and Darwin Perez to minor league deals.
Rockies: Acquired Ryan Wheeler from the Diamondbacks; outrighted Andrew Brown and Matt McBride to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Acquired Matt Reynolds from the Rockies; signed Kila Ka’aihue to a minor league deal.
Cardinals: Signed Jamie Romak to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Sam Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Brian Dinkleman, Wilkin Ramirez, James Beresford, Deibinson Romero, Eric Fryer, Tom Boleska, and Jason Christian to minor league deals.
Cubs: Acquired Barret Loux from the Rangers; signed Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez, Johermyn Chavez, and J.C. Boscan to minor league deals; outrighted Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A; designated Bryan LaHair for assignment (I have to wonder when the last time a player was DFA’d following an All-Star season).
Rangers: Acquired Jake Brigham from the Cubs.
Astros: Outrighted Scott Moore to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Signed Jonny Gomes to a two-year deal; designated Danny Valencia, Ivan De Jesus, Sandy Rosario, David Carpenter, and Zach Stewart for assignment.
White Sox: Re-signed Dewayne Wise to a one-year deal; signed Bryan Anderson and David Purcey to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Fernando Abad and Caleb Clay to minor league deals.
Dodgers: Signed Nick Evans, Juan Abreu, Kelvin De La Cruz, Miguel Rojas, Hector Correa, Wilkin Castillo, and Gregory Infante to minor league deals.