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.

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No HOF inductees this year

January 10, 2013

> Not this year. Arguably the highest debated Hall of Fame election ever ended with no new inductees. The highest percentage a player received was Craig Biggio with 68%. Here are the rest of the results:

Craig Biggio- 68%
Jack Morris- 68%
Jeff Bagwell- 60%
Mike Piazza- 58%
Tim Raines- 52%
Lee Smith- 48%
Curt Schilling- 39%
Roger Clemens- 38%
Barry Bonds- 36%
Edgar Martinez- 36%
Alan Trammell- 34%
Larry Walker- 22%
Fred McGriff- 21%
Dale Murphy- 19%
Mark McGwire- 17%
Don Mattingly- 13%
Sammy Sosa- 13%
Rafael Palmeiro- 9%

(Players who received less than 5% were left off this list)

I’ve never really publicly expressed my opinion regarding the Hall of Fame, particularly with this ballot. But forget about steroids for a second: two players who did absolutely nothing to affect their playing careers- Joe Jackson and Pete Rose- are banned from the Hall of Fame for gambling. That alone makes me start to question the legitimacy of the Hall when two of the greatest players ever don’t even receive consideration (and if they did receive consideration, they’d be in in an instant).

Anyway, I guess if I were held at gunpoint and had to create a ballot, mine would include Biggio, Bagwell, Raines, Smith, Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling. There would probably be some edits if I actually took the time and sat down to think about it, but those are the first names that come to mind for me. Again, though, I’ve never been one to obsess over Hall voting.

> Ryan Braun is going to play for the US team in the World Baseball Classic in 2013 (he also participated in the 2009 game).

I’m probably not as opposed to this as others. It does bring about a higher risk of injury and cuts into Spring Training, but I’d much rather have a position player in the WBC than a pitcher.

> The recently-signed Mike Gonzalez thinks the Brewers are built to win.

> Minor moves: 

Rangers: Signed Lance Berkman (wow) and Jason Frasor to one-year deals; outrighted Eli Whiteside to Triple-A; designated Tommy Hottovy for assignment.
Mariners: Signed Mike Jacobs to a minor league deal; outrighted D.J. Mitchell to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Nick Swisher to a four-year deal; designated Neal Thomas for assignment; signed Brett Myers to a one-year deal; signed Jerry Gil, Edward Paredes, and Scott Kazmir to minor league deals; acquired Quincy Latimore from the Pirates.
Dodgers: Signed Jeremy Moore and Alfredo Amezaga to minor league deals; signed J.P. Howell to a one-year deal.
Royals: Signed Blaine Boyer and Chad Tracy to minor league deals.
Orioles: Released Elvis Duran; claimed Luis Martinez off waivers from the Rangers.
Blue Jays: Claimed Chad Beck off waivers from the Pirates.
Yankees: Claimed Russ Canzler off waivers from the Indians; designated ex-Brewer Chris Dickerson for assignment.
Cubs: Signed Dontrelle Willis and Zach Putnam to minor league deals.
Red Sox: Signed Jonathan Diaz and Mark Hamilton to minor league deals.
Mets: Signed Omar Quintanilla to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Released Rick VandenHurk; acquired Jeanmar Gomez from the Indians.
Nationals: Re-signed Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal; signed Brandon Mann to a minor league deal.
Athletics: Re-signed Chris Resop to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Signed Manny Corpas to a minor league deal.


Brewers could make a serious run at Hamilton

October 26, 2012

> I’m not going to get my hopes up, but it would be amazing if the Brewers actually pulled this off.

A few weeks ago, Buster Olney suggested that the Brewers could be a good home for Josh Hamilton, who will probably one of the most coveted free agent sluggers this offseason. The immediate reaction by most to Olney’s statement was that Hamilton would be to the Brewers this offseason what Jose Reyes was last offseason- he makes sense logically, but perhaps not financially. I agreed with that at the time (but I’ve been clinging to hope that we can bring him in somehow).

Today, though, Jon Heyman wrote that sources “familiar with the Brewers’ thinking” believe that the Brewers are going to make a serious run at Hamilton. Heyman cited a few good reasons for this: first and foremost, the Johnny Narron factor. Narron, currently one of the Brewers’ co-hitting coaches, was Hamilton’s “life coach,” so to speak, in Cincinatti and Texas (if you didn’t know, Hamilton used to have serious alcohol problems). If Hamilton gives the Brewers any discount, it’ll be because of that.

But another factor I didn’t consider a few weeks ago was that the big spenders- the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers- are more than likely to stay away from Hamilton, all for their own reasons. The Rangers, his current team, are hinting that they won’t try and retain him. That leaves the door wide open for the Brewers.

And I get the feeling Doug Melvin might pull it off. Though he couldn’t net Reyes last offseason, people seem to forget he brought in an even more valuable piece- Aramis Ramirez- and he put up an MVP-caliber season. Melvin took a gamble with Norichika Aoki, and he had a sensational rookie season.

Again, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but- as Heyman states at the end of his article– the Brewers have a better chance than people think.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Giants took a 2-0 advantage over the Tigers in the World Series tonight, also winning their game 2-0. The Tigers managed just two hits in the shutout, and cost themselves a run early on (none other than) Prince Fielder’s baserunning blunder.

Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister were both stellar, but Drew Smyly let in Fister’s inherited runner in the seventh inning, handing him the loss.

THE NEWS

> I haven’t talked much about the Brewers minor leaguers who are participating in the Arizona Fall League, but it’s worth noting that Brock Kjeldgaard, Josh Prince, and few other guys have been able to make names for themselves down in Arizona.

> Minor moves:

Pirates: Claimed Chad Beck off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Ali Solis off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Claimed Anthony Recker off waivers from the Cubs.
Padres: Outrighted Thad Weber to Triple-A.
Cubs: Outrighted Adrian Cardenas, Jason Berken, Miguel Socolovich, and Marcos Mateo to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Outrighted Jonathan Albaladejo, Tyler Graham, Mike Jacobs, Joe Martinez, and ex-Brewer Cody Ransom to Triple-A.
Mariners: Outrighted Luis Jimenez to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> This was sort of a cool way for the Brewers to thank their fans.


Giants pull another series out of the hat

October 23, 2012

> Coming back from a three-game deficit in one series is impressive, but to accomplish that feat in two postseason series in a row is unbelievable. The Giants did just that- they won three consecutive games against the Reds after being down 2-0 in the NLDS, and have now done the same against the Cardinals in the NLCS after being down 3-1.

The Giants’ 9-0 blowout sealed an improbable comeback for them, and snagged them the National League Pennant for the second time over the last three years. Matt Cain labored threw 5 2/3 innings, but managed to keep the Cards off the board, and got more than enough help from his offense. But his offense itself received some help, that coming from the Cardinals’ defense, as it did for the last three games of the series. Shortstop Pete Kozma had another rough day at the office, as it was his miscue(s) in the third inning that broke the game open for the Giants. Kyle Lohse and Joe Kelly combined to give up seven earned runs through the first three innings, but it wasn’t their fault, for the most part.

Anyway, the NLCS MVP unanimously goes to Marco Scutaro, who hit .500 in this series. He had multi-hit games in six of the seven games, and continued to produce even after Matt Holliday took him out during a double play early in the series.

MY TAKE

> There was a ton of speculation on Twitter tonight that Cain hitting Holliday in the sixth inning tonight was “retaliation” for Holliday sliding into Scutaro earlier this series. Here’s the thing, though: it was an 0-2 pitch and the Giants were up by seven. Either Cain is a huge wimp, or he let one get away, and I’m more convinced by the latter.

THE NEWS

> Dave May passed away today. May, a former big league All-Star, was traded from the Brewers to the Braves in exchange for Hank Aaron back in 1974. He played for the Orioles, Braves, Brewers, Pirates, and Rangers, but his best season came in 1973 with the Crew, when he hit 25 home runs with 93 RBIs and a .303 batting average.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Claimed Bobby Wilson off waivers from the Angels; designated Chad Beck for assignment.

THE EXTRAS

> Why FOX decided to put the camera on Hunter Pence during “God Bless America” is beyond me.