Greinke latches on with Dodgers

December 9, 2012

> Not like no one saw this coming. The Dodgers, who have infinite pockets of cash, finally wooed Zack Greinke into joining them. Greinke’s deal is for six years and $147 million, which is the richest contract for a right-hander in history, surpassing Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal signed back in March. Greinke also slightly passes lefty Cole Hamels, who received six years and $144 million from the Phillies around the Trade Deadline. CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract remains the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. 

Greinke will slide into the rotation of what should be a powerhouse Dodgers team. That rotation already features the incumbents, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, followed by a few veterans that LA will have to choose from, including Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. The Dodgers could have one more starter competing for a spot- Hyun-Jin Ryu- if they sign him by tomorrow’s deadline.

Anyway, I see two possible scenarios for Greinke’s LA tenure. The first- and more likely- is that he’ll take advantage of pitching in the NL West, where the ballparks are significantly larger, and have a ton of success on a Dodgers team that should contend for years to come. The other, however, is that his anxiety issue comes back to haunt him in the huge market of LA, and he can’t handle the stress and publicity of pitching there.

The latter is very unlikely. He did fine in Anaheim, a suburb of LA (but basically the same market), posting a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA during his time there. Plus, Greinke doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff; Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the NL, has taken that role.

I wish the best of luck to Greinke in LA; he’s a guy who’s easy to root for. I don’t want the Dodgers to do well as a team because of how they’ve set up themselves up financially, but that doesn’t mean Greinke himself can’t have a good season.

Greinke2

> Now that Greinke is off the market, the Brewers’ chances of signing Ryan Dempster have increased. Had Greinke signed with the Rangers, the Dodgers would have probably overpaid a second-tier pitcher like Dempster. But, now that Greinke has gone to LA, it’s unlikely the Rangers are going to bring Dempster back after what he did for them last year.

> I keep forgetting to mention this, but I saw a headline the other day that read: “Yount shoots Sveum.” My immediate first thought was that Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount took some sort of shot- figuratively- at current Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Nope. Yount literally shot Sveum with a gun while they were on a hunting trip. It wasn’t fatal or anything- one of the pellets from Yount’s rifle grazed Sveum’s ear while he was shooting at a quail.

But this made my day: Sveum started calling Yount “Dick Cheney” after the incident.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Acquired Michael Young from the Rangers.
Rangers: Acquired Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla from the Phillies.
Mariners: Designated Mauricio Robles for assignment.


Tigers headed to the World Series

October 20, 2012

> Sorry for my inconsistent writing recently. I’ve been pretty under the weather the last few days, and I just haven’t been in the mood to write. But here’s an article covering what’s gone on the past few days.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> Prince Fielder and the Tigers are going to the World Series. They blew out the Yankees and their “offense” yesterday, 8-1, to secure their first trip to the largest stage since 2006. Max Scherzer was stellar, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits. His counterpart, CC Sabathia, didn’t have such luck, however- he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was pounded for six runs on 11 hits. The Tigers got home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, and Jhonny Peralta, who hit two.

But you can bet the Yankees are happy this awful postseason for them is over. They hit .188 in the ALDS and ALCS combined, Alex Rodriguez has been getting hampered by the media for flirting with fans and hitting .125, they lost Derek Jeter to a horrible ankle injury- not much went right.

And you have to wonder what on earth went wrong. A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher all hit below .200, and Robinson Cano hit under .100. Mark Teixera hit exactly .200. The lone players to hit over .300 this postseason for the Yankees were Ichiro Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, and Jeter (before he got injured). And Nunez was left off the ALCS roster until Jeter got hurt.

A strange phenomenon indeed.

> The Cardinals won last night and could have clinched a World Series berth today, but the Giants will live at least another day after their win today. The Cards ambushed the Giants for eight runs last night on great offensive days from Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Pete Kozma, but couldn’t replicate that today. They were completely shut down by Barry Zito, who fired 7 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Giants alive. But the Cards’ biggest mistake was Lance Lynn’s error in the fourth inning, which, had it turned into a double play, could have made this a very different game.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers outrighted Hector Gomez to Triple-A Nashville.

> Fernando Rodney and Buster Posey won the AL and NL Comeback Player of the Year Awards, respectively.

> Delmon Young won the ALCS MVP award.

> Minor moves from the past few days:

Rangers: Outrighted Tyler Tufts to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Claimed Tyson Brummett off waivers from the Phillies.
Phillies: Outrighted Pete Orr and Steven Lerud off their 40-man roster.
Mets: Outrighted Fred Lewis, who will probably elect free agency.
Athletics: Outrighted Jeremy Accardo, who elected free agency.
Royals: Signed Juan Gutierrez, Devon Lowery, Max Ramirez, Matt Fields, and Nick Van Stratten.
Marlins: Outrighted Nick Green to Triple-A; outrighted Donnie Murphy, who elected free agency.


The Championship Series begin

October 14, 2012

> All of the Division Series have come to a close. And, considering it was the first time in history that all of the necessary DS games were played- each series went to five games for 20 games total- I don’t think any of them was a bad series.

> The Giants came all the way back from an 0-2 deficit in their series against the Reds and won three straight to reach the NLCS. Their offense was non-existent during the first two games. But, after a Scott Rolen error in the 10th inning of Game 3 gave them a gift win, the offense exploded in Games 4 and 5. The highlights were Pablo Sandoval’s two-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 4 and Buster Posey’s grand slam in Game 5 that pretty much sealed the series.

> The Tigers nearly allowed the other Bay Area team- the Athletics- to come back from an 0-2 deficit against them, but Justin Verlander was having none of that. He threw a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts to abruptly end the A’s miracle season and send the Tigers to the ALCS.

> The Yankees’ offense only showed up for one inning during the entire series with the Orioles, but CC Sabathia didn’t need much yesterday. He threw a complete game to also end a dream season for the O’s. The big story was that Alex Rodriguez- the highest-paid player in baseball- was benched in Game 5 of the series, but Raul Ibanez’s .444 ALDS average picked up the slack.

> Despite the fact they were down 6-0 early, the Cardinals did exactly what they did in the 2011 World Series. Down 7-5 going into the ninth inning, they ambushed Nationals closer Drew Storen with four two-out runs. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a hard ground ball up the middle that deflected off of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove- I leave it up to you as to whether or not Desmond should have had the ball- and boom, tie game. Then Pete Kozma, some rookie shortstop that no non-Cards fan had heard of until late September, hit the go-ahead two-run single to sink the Nats.

Hate to say it, but this season might once again by written in the stars for the Cardinals. (Yes, that pun was definitely intended.)

MY TAKE

> PLEASE quit calling the Cardinals a “cinderella story.” Yes, they won in dramatic fashion last night, but that doesn’t put them in that category. A cinderella story is a team that, at the beginning of the year, is expected to finish near last in their division, then go on to have a miracle season. This year, that was the Orioles and Athletics (you could argue the Nationals, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be terrible this year).

Sure, the Cards lost Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa, and Dave Duncan. But there was still way too much talent on that team coming into 2012 for them not to contend.

So I guess if you expected the Cardinals to finish in dead last and lose 100 games coming into this season, then sure, they’re a cinderella team to you. But there’s clearly a problem if you expected that.

> There aren’t series MVPs handed out in the Division Series, only for the Championship and World Series. But, if they did exist in the DS, these would be my MVPs for each series:

Giants: Sandoval

Cardinals: Kozma

Yankees: Ibanez

Tigers: Verlander

I actually had a tough time picking for the Giants, but Sandoval was the only Giants hitter to hit over .300 for the series. And I couldn’t give it to a pitcher, since the starters especially underperformed in this series. The rest of MVPs were rather easy, however.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum doesn’t expect to pitch for the Brewers next year.

> Following outright assignments, relievers Vinnie Chulk and Tim Dillard each elected free agency.

> The Brewers also outrighted Cody Scarpetta and Eric Farris to Triple-A Nashville, but neither has the right to elect free agency.

> News has surfaced regarding Francisco Rodriguez and his arrest for domestic violence sometime in September. The incident took place in Wales, a suburban city about 45 minutes to an hour away from Milwaukee.

But apparently K-Rod has a history of things like this that I wasn’t aware of. In late 2010, he had to take anger management classes after “an altercation” with one of his relatives at Citi Field during his days with the Mets.

It seems he’s doing everything he can to make sure he can’t find a deal anywhere else for 2013. His horrible 2012 campaign made it bad enough, but you can bet teams that see this on his resume won’t be impressed.

> Other than that, there hasn’t been much to report about the Brewers lately, so let’s get on to the minor moves around baseball the past week:

White Sox: Outrighted Ray Olmedo, who elected free agency.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Jesse Litsch, Aaron Laffey, Bobby Korecky, Robert Coello, and Scott Richmond, all of whom elected free agency.
Pirates: Outrighted Doug Slaten, who elected free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Ross Ohlendorf, who elected free agency.
Rays: Outrighted Brooks Conrad, who elected free agency.
Indians: Outrighted Shelley Duncan and Luke Carlin, both of whom elected free agency.
Red Sox: Outrighted Jason Repko and Guillermo Quiroz, both of whom elected free agency.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Brent Clevlen.
Giants: Outrighted Shane Loux and Justin Christian to Triple-A.


Recapping the Division Series to this point

October 9, 2012

> I’ve been busy the past few days, and there hasn’t been much Brewers news to report. But, seeing as we’re already into the third day of the Division Series, let’s jump right into some postseason coverage.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> A day after Justin Verlander’s 11-strikeout, 121-pitch adventure, the Tigers defeated the Athletics, 5-4, to take a 2-0 ALDS lead. It was a back-and-forth game with some shoddy defense on both sides, but ex-Brewer Grant Balfour finally gave in at the end, allowing a walk-off sacrifice fly from Don Kelly.

> Bronson Arroyo and the Reds dominated the Giants last night, shutting them down 9-0. Arroyo took a perfect game into the fifth, and finished with seven one-hit innings. He was backed by his offense, who crushed Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ bullpen army. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, and Ryan Hanigan each had multi-hit days.

> The Cardinals-Nationals series started yesterday, and the Nats came out on top after take advantage of a later error by the Cards. Despite Adam Wainwright’s 10-strikeout game, Tyler Moore’s two-run single in the eighth was the decisive factor.

However, the Cardinals stormed back today with a 12-run outburst, including two home runs from Carlos Beltran.

> The Yankees rode a five-run pummeling of Jim Johnson in the ninth inning last night to a 7-2 win over the Orioles. The ninth inning rally started with a home run from Russell Martin. Former Brewer CC Sabathia nearly went the distance, but was pulled with two outs in the ninth.

The O’s-Yanks game is still in progress right now, but the Orioles are winning 3-2 after 6 1/3 stellar innings from Wei-Yin Chen.

THE NEWS

> A few managerial updates- some surprising, some not so much. The Indians hired Terry Francona, the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine, and Jim Tracy resigned his post as Rockies manager.

> The Angels signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension.

> Minor moves:

Rays: Released Matt Bush.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.

And that’s about it. This is what the post format is going to look like for the rest of the offseason. Since there won’t always be Brewers news to cover, I have to compensate by reporting news from around the league as well.

THE EXTRAS

> Yesterday, Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque kissed the ball before tossing it to first base to record the final out of the ninth. No joke.

But, of course, something as trivial as this had to turn into a fiasco.


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.


Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

> Anyway, 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…