Seven Brewers to participate in WBC

January 17, 2013

> It seems like the list just keeps getting larger. As of right now, seven Brewers are on their respective countries World Baseball Classic rosters: Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Taylor Green, Yovani Gallardo, and Martin Maldonado.

Braun and Luc will play for Team USA (Braun also played for them in 2009). Axford, Henderson, and Green were all selected to Team Canada. Gallardo will play for Team Mexico, and Maldonado for Puerto Rico.

I’m happy for all of these guys, but the one issue with the Classic is that it interferes with Spring Training. I typically don’t have an issue with that, but, as someone on Twitter pointed out earlier today, both of the Brewers’ big league catchers will be participating in the WBC, so the new Brewers pitchers (particularly the relievers) won’t have much time to get familiar with them. That shouldn’t be an issue, but it is something to think about.

Also, the fact that Gallardo will be throwing extra innings due the WBC will probably try and prompt Ron Roenicke to give him some sort of innings limit, knowing his shenanigans. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

> The Brewers added righty reliever Rob Wooten to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. The Brewers’ list of non-roster invitees now stands at 18: pitchers Wooten, Jairo Asencio, Jed Bradley, Darren Byrd, Kelvim Escobar, Donovan Hand, Taylor Jungmann, Arcenio Leon, Travis Webb, catchers Dayton Buller, Anderson De La Rosa, Blake Lalli, Rafael Nada, Adam Weisenburger, infielders Hector Gomez, Hunter Morris, Donnie Murphy, and outfielder Kentrail Davis.

> Four Brewers filed for salary arbitration today: Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez. Axford projects to get the largest contract. The Brewers already avoided arbitration with one of their eligibles, Chris Narveson.

> Minor moves: 

Blue Jays: Signed ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Adam Loewen to minor league deals; designated Tommy Hottovy for assignment; re-signed Colby Rasmus to a one-year deal; signed Denis Villatora to a five-year deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Nolan Reimold and Tommy Hunter to one-year deals.
Phillies: Signed Rodrigo Lopez, Juan Cruz, and Aaron Cook to minor league deals.
Yankees: Released ex-Brewer Chris Dickerson; re-signed Phil Hughes to a one-year deal.
Angels: Signed Fernando Cabrera to a minor league deal; re-signed Jerome Williams to a one-year deal.
Indians: Released Thomas Neal.
Reds: Signed ex-Brewer Cesar Izturis to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Re-signed Jeff Karstens to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed J.J. Putz to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Delwyn Young to a minor league deal; signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal.
Dodgers: Signed Peter Moylan, Jesus Flores, Deivy Castillo, Ariel Sandoval, Ravel Hernandez, and Miguel Urena to minor league deals.
Mariners: Signed Luis Liberato to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Signed Kyle McClellan to a minor league deal.
Marlins: Signed Michael Wuertz, Nick Green, and Austin Kearns to minor league deals.
Tigers: Signed Don Kelly to a minor league deal.
Rockies: Re-signed Wilton Lopez and Josh Outman to one-year deals.

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Brewers take series from Jays

June 21, 2012

> The Brewers completed a much-needed series win today, as they took two out of three from the Blue Jays. I haven’t had time to post over the past few days, so I’m just going to quickly recap all three games, then talk about a few things after as well.

> The Brewers took the first game, 7-6, in a hard-fought win. The game started in a way the Brewers weren’t hoping to see- Brett Lawrie, the former Brewers farmhand, hit a lead-0ff home run off Randy Wolf on the second pitch he saw. But the offense broke out against Jays starter Henderson Alvarez, scoring six runs in just the first two innings. This included RBIs from Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Norichika Aoki, and Aramis Ramirez. But, with the score 6-3 in the seventh and two men on, Jose Bautista hit a game-tying home run (I’ll go more in depth on that situation later). The Brewers then answered back the next inning on an overturned home run by Ramirez. It was a line drive shot that was actually lower than the top of the wall in left field, but it hit off the yellow strip of padding that extends below the foul line. The ball was first called foul, but Ron Roenicke went out to argue, and the umpires eventually overturned the call after going in to look at the replay.

> Last night’s game, the Jays’ 10-9 win, should have been a fairly easy win for the Brewers, but the bullpen made sure that didn’t happen (again, I’ll talk about our bullpen issues later this article).

The Jays were leading 6-5 in the sixth inning, and after the Brewers loaded the bases with one out, they put in Jason Frasor to pitch to Ramirez. Ramirez then came through with yet another clutch hit, just as he had the night before. But this one was a grand slam to give the Brewers a 9-6 lead. Unfortunately, a combined four runs given up by Manny Parra and John Axford (yet another blown save for him) would end up being the fate of the Brewers.

> Today’s game was yet another offensive outburst for the Brewers, which is a good sign for them, considering the scored at least seven runs in all three of these games. After Edwin Encarnacion homered in the top of the second, the Brewers answered back with five in the bottom of the inning, getting home runs from Corey Hart, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez. Braun also hit a home run in the seventh inning for his 20th of the year.

> Last night (the 10-9 loss), Tyler Thornburg was making his Major League debut in place of the injured Shaun Marcum, who may actually hit the disabled list. Anyway, his debut appeared to be going fine, but it appeared to me (I was at the game) that nerves may have gotten to him in the sixth. He gave up three consecutive home runs to Colby Rasmus, Bautista, and Encarnacion. But it turned out it might not have been nerves; it may have been a serious drop in velocity, which is a cause for concern. The scoreboard at Miller Park had Thornburg topping out at 96 MPH, and I noticed the scoreboard had him clocked in the mid-to-high 80’s on all of the home run balls. Because of the angle I was at, I just assumed he had hung a couple of sliders due to nerves, but those actually might have been Marcum-speed fastballs. Those type of fastballs can be effective, but, since Thornburg had been throwing in the mid-90’s previous to that and he probably wasn’t getting much movement on them, you can imagine why it was easy for the Jays hitters to start picking him up.

> Despite the fact the Brewers won this series, the bullpen continued to slump. In the first game of the series, Wolf left the game with a 6-3 lead, hoping to pick up his first win since the end of April (despite he’s pitched well enough to win his past three or so starts). But he would have no such luck- Kameron Loe came in and promptly gave up the game-tying shot to Bautista.

Then, last night, after Thornburg’s debut, Tim Dillard came in and gave up a run to finish the sixth. Like I said earlier, Parra pitched the seventh inning of that game, giving up two runs to cut the Jays’ deficit to one run. After Francisco Rodriguez, who has been pitching a lot better as of late, threw a scoreless eighth last night, Axford came in and blew yet another save, giving up back-to-back home runs to Rasmus and Bautista.

Today the bullpen wasn’t as bad, but Dillard did allow an inherited runner to score, which charged an extra earned run to Yovani Gallardo.

But it goes without saying that the bullpen has been flat-out terrible lately. Loe is supposed to enter the game and get groundball outs against power hitters, not give up go-ahead or game-tying home runs. And I have no idea what’s going on with Axford; he may be getting the Brewer-closer syndrome. Previous victims of this include Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow, Eric Gagne, and Trevor Hoffman. I don’t know what it is; it feels like we have closers who are stellar for a year and a half, then it’s like they go out there and forget how to pitch. Anyway, maybe Axford shouldn’t be listed with those other names yet, but I can’t imagine the Brewers are going to stand for this much longer.

By the way, just an interesting note from the end of today’s game: Michael Fiers pitched the last inning. He was scheduled to start the first game of the White Sox series, but maybe this means Marco Estrada will be back by then. That, or the Brewers have different plans that we don’t know about.

> As I said earlier, Marcum may be on his way to the disabled list. He experienced shoulder tightness prior to his would-have-been start against the Blue Jays, his former team, so Thornburg was called up for the emergency start.

But this is why I question taking Fiers out of the rotation (assuming he has been taken out). Unless Thornburg is staying to take Marcum’s spot in the rotation until he comes back, which the Brewers hinted they wouldn’t do, I can’t imagine why they would remove Fiers in a situation like this.

> Anyway, that’s about it. The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, then start their final Interleague series, this one against the White Sox. Here’s what the matchups are looking like:

Michael Fiers? (2-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (8-2, 2.46 ERA)

Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.10 ERA) vs. Philip Humber (3-4, 6.01 ERA)

Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.11 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (2-1, 1.53 ERA)

UPDATE: Actually, I recall Brian Anderson saying during today’s broadcast that Greinke got bumped up in the rotation to face Sale, but will be pitching on regular rest because of the off-day. So, either the Brewers are skipping Fiers’ spot in the rotation this time around, or they’re just going to go with a four-man rotation until Estrada returns.


Recap of the past few days…

July 29, 2011

3:29p Sorry for not posting for the past few days. I was out of town again and wasn’t able to post. I usually put up some kind of notice before I go, but I forgot to this time, so my apologies for that. But, a lot has happened in the past few days for the Brewers, and they’re starting to stir as the Trade Deadline approaches.

Weeks to 15-day DL

The biggest piece of news is the worst: Rickie Weeks, the Brewers’ starting second baseman, was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday morning. He sustained a severe ankle sprain in the game against the Cubs the day before yesterday, and it was not fun to watch. He was trying to leg out an infield single, and he was safe. But, on his last stride towards first base, he stepped on the wrong part of the bag, and his ankle completely twisted the wrong way. He went flying off the bag in pain and laid on the ground for a while. Weeks was eventually escorted off the field by Ron Roenicke and the medical trainer, but he couldn’t walk by himself and couldn’t put weight on the ankle.

Now, this is NOT the time of year that we need key guys getting hurt. First it was Carlos Gomez, our right-handed center fielder, and now Weeks. We can’t keep losing guys when we’re in the middle of a pennant race.

Anyway, the Brewers have a few options to replace Weeks at second base for the time being. Eric Farris was called up and sent back down to Triple-A within a day, but he remains a candidate to fill in for part of the time. The Brewers also acquired Felipe Lopez, who played for the Brewers in 2009, from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations, and his contract was purchased from Triple-A earlier today, so he’s also an option. Then, there’s versatile infielders Craig Counsell and Josh Wilson, who are both capable of playing second, but their offense is a question mark, especially since Counsell is mired in an 0-for-41 slump.

Brewers sweep Cubs, gain lead in Central

Despite Weeks’ absence for the last game of the series, the Brewers swept the struggling Cubs out of town yesterday, and gained some breathing room in the NL Central. They now lead the Pirates and Cardinals, who are in a tie for second right now, by 1.5 games. The Reds, meanwhile, are quickly falling out of contention. They were just swept in four games by the Mets and are now 6.5 games back. Sadly, we can’t count out the Reds yet, since they have the easiest schedule for the rest of the year out of any of the contending teams in the Central.

Brewers FINALLY get rid of Nieves…

It was music to my ears when I heard this. The Brewers traded, or sold, whichever you prefer, catcher Wil Nieves to the Braves. They supposedly did it to give Nieves a better chance to return to the Majors this year, and to clear a spot in Triple-A Nashville for catching prospect Martin Maldonado.

The Brewers signed Nieves this offseason to have a backup catcher in case something happened to Jonathan Lucroy or George Kottaras. And, sure enough, Lucroy got injured in Spring Training, so Nieves became the Opening Day catcher. Then, when Lucroy got back, the Brewers optioned Kottaras because they thought Nieves was a better defensive catcher than him. Turns out he was awful offensively and defensively. The Brewers finally outrighted him to Nashville after he hit .109 at the Major League level. He also flopped in Nashville, batting .170 until the Brewers traded him.

Anyway, here’s the funny part about this trade: GM Doug Melvin received $1 from the Braves in return for Nieves. That’s right- one dollar, about what you’d pay for a snack from a vending machine. That’s because the Braves have to pay for the remaining $775,000 of Nieves’ salary. But still, one dollar?

I think I’ve covered all of the important things I didn’t post about while I was away (that is, if you consider getting one dollar in exchange for a catcher important). But, there are a few more things I’d like to say before I end the post.

First off, the Brewers are starting a three-game series with the Astros tonight. (We must be blessed to get the Cubs and Astros consecutively at this point in the season.) Randy Wolf (6-8, 3.62 ERA) will go for the Brewers and is seeking his first win since June, and tonight is the perfect time to get it. Wolf, a former Astro, has done well against his former team in his career, going 7-5 with a 3.15 ERA against them.

The Astros will counter with rookie starter Jordan Lyles (0-5, 4.55 ERA). His record is somewhat deceiving, as he’s actually had a few decent starts this year, but hasn’t gotten any run support. This will be his first career start against the Brewers.

Anyway, one more thing before I go- the Cardinals made somewhat of a big trade yesterday, acquiring pitchers Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and outfielder Corey Patterson from the Blue Jays. But, they had to give up a key piece of their outfield- Colby Rasmus. They also parted with relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet, and Trever Miller. Anyway, that doesn’t really have anything to do with the Brewers, I just thought I’d throw it out there.