Pitching shines in spring opener

February 24, 2013

> No, I’m not dead. Just your typical month-long absence. Things have been hectic for me recently, and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on BWI nowadays. But I figured I owed at least one article after not even checking on the site in over a month.

A lot has happened since I’ve been away, with the most significant thing pertaining to Ryan Braun and his second straight eventful offseason. But first, let’s talk positives: it’s hard not to be positive when baseball is getting back into full swing.

> The Brewers’ had their first Spring Training game yesterday, and squeezed past the Athletics in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The A’s recorded just five hits off the Brewers’ pitching staff, while the Brewers themselves managed just three. But patience at the plate was what gave the Brewers the edge: they drew seven walks against an otherwise-solid Athletics pitching staff.

Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a home run in his first (and only, as it turns out) ST at-bat. The second Brewers run came on Jean Segura’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning. In the seventh, prospect Michael Choice drove in the only Athletics run.

> So offense wasn’t exactly the Brewers’ strong point yesterday: the only players to pick up hits were Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Caleb Gindl. However, Carlos Gomez and Taylor Green drew back-to-back walks twice in the game. Hopefully this foreshadows that Gomez will be a bit more patient at the plate this year.

But the pitching was nothing but stellar. Aside from Santo Manzanillo allowing a run in 2/3 innings of work, the staff shut down the A’s. Mike Fiers worked around a shaky 26-pitch first inning to toss two scoreless innings. From there, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, Michael Olmsted, and Jesus Sanchez- who recorded the save- all had scoreless outings as well.

> Speaking of Olmsted, he’s received a lot of clamor and praise from players early on in Spring Training. He pitched the eighth yesterday and recorded two strikeouts. Hopefully that’s a role we’ll see him playing during the regular season.

> With that out of the way, let’s move onto the news that’s made this past month somewhat miserable for the Brewers.

> So there’s this pharmacy in Miami that’s been referred to as the “Biogenisis clinic.” Roughly a month ago, news broke out that it had allegedly sold PEDs to six players: Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of these players- A-Rod, Melky, Colon, and Grandal- had all been linked to PEDs (and, in some cases, suspended for use of them) in the past.

Since this incident was first reported by Yahoo!, however, more players have come out to be linked to Biogenesis.

Braun was one of them. But you knew it had to happen since he had said just a few days before that he was enjoying his non-eventful offseason.

To be honest, though, I’m not nearly as worried about this case as I was about the whole fiasco last offseason. Braun has not been directly linked to PEDs in this case- at least not yet. His name is on some extremely sketchy piece of paper next to a sum of money, but it does not say that he bought PEDs. According to Braun, he reached out to Anthony Bosch- the Biogenesis founder- for help during his trial last offseason. Why would he link himself to someone like that? Beats me. But all I know is that he hasn’t been linked to PEDs directly yet, and, until he is, he’s completely innocent.

Braun2

> There was a 1/10 chance that Mat Gamel was going to re-tear his surgically repaired ACL. But, since he’s Mat Gamel, that automatically becomes a 10/10 chance, which it did. Now he’s going to miss the whole 2013 season after getting knocked out of the 2012 season in May.

That leaves the Brewers with two injured first baseman to start the 2013 season, as Corey Hart will likely miss at least a month as well. The Brewers hope to tread water internally at first base until Hart returns, and are primarily looking at Alex Gonzalez (re-signed to a Major League deal to play a utility role), Hunter Morris (has never played above Double-A), and Bobby Crosby (former Rookie of the Year, signed to a minor league pact).

Personally, I’d like to see Morris get a chance, but I can see where the Brewers wouldn’t want to waste an option on him and start his free agency clock early just so he can fill in for a month.

> And that’s about it for now. The Brewers take on the Indians later today at 2:05 PM CT. Mark Rogers will take the hill as one of the many Brewers competing for a spot in the rotation. Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland.


Brewers once again Hart-broken

January 20, 2013

> Yesterday, when I got home from school, I saw a tweet regarding Corey Hart and how much he hates Spring Training, but I didn’t take it literally. So I tweeted a joke about how I’d be waiting to hear the news about more of his knee injuries come ST.

But I wouldn’t have to wait very long. In fact, a few seconds later, I checked out the MLB news of the day- something I probably should have done first- and found that Hart will be out for 3-4 months with knee surgery.

Yep, we can’t catch a break. This is the third straight ST in which Hart will have been injured for at least part of the time, and the second time over the past three years that he’ll miss at least the first month of the season.

Anyway, this injury certainly affects how I view the possibility of the Brewers extending Hart. While he’s been a power-threat in the Brewers’ lineup ever since his break-out 2010, I don’t know how much longer the team can put up with his constant early season injuries. Also, if Hart misses more than just the first month of the season- which some speculate he will- it’ll hurt the sort of deal he gets, should he hit the free agent market at the end of 2013.

As for the Brewers, though, it would appear they’re going to give Mat Gamel yet another chance to start at first base. First base prospect Hunter Morris might get a closer look during ST, but it’s unlikely the Brewers would burn one of his options just so he could fill in for Hart for a month or so. Another internal option is Taylor Green, who, along with Gamel, was supposed to be fighting for a bench role going into ST.

Bottom line is, though, that this was a year Hart should have been a bit more careful. There’s evidently chronic issues with his knee that should have been fixed for good by now.

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks

> The Brewers’ list of World Baseball Classic players grew after the rosters for each country were announced on Thursday. 14 players were chosen: Ryan Braun (USA), Jonathan Lucroy (USA), Yovani Gallardo (Mexico), Marco Estrada (Mexico), Martin Maldonado (Puerto Rico), Hiram Burgos (Puerto Rico), Carlos Gomez (Dominican Republic), Jeff Bianchi (Italy), Hainley Statia (Netherlands), Mike Walker (Australia), John Axford (Canada), Jim Henderson (Canada), Green (Canada), and Rene Tosoni (Canada). All but three of the players- Statia, Walker, and Tosoni- are currently on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.

> The club has also avoided arbitration with all of its eligibles. Gomez received $4.3 million, Axford $5 million, Estrada $1.955 million, and Burke Badenhop $1.55 million. All were one-year deals. The Brewers had already avoided arbitration with their other eligible, Chris Narveson, a few weeks back.

> The Brewers signed catcher Robinson Diaz to a minor league deal.

> Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan is going to be inducted into the Brewers’ Walk of Fame.

> Today was an extremely sad day for baseball: former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and Cardinals legend Stan Musial both passed away. Weaver was 82 while Musial was 92.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Will Venable, Joe Thatcher, and Everth Cabrera to one-year deals; signed Brad Hawpe and Lucas May to minor league deals.
Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a one-year deal; re-signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan, and Jacoby Ellsbury to one-year deals; re-signed Craig Breslow to a two-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension; re-signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year deal.
Twins: Re-signed Drew Butera to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Designated Zach Stewart for assignment; re-signed Garrett Jones to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Tony Sipp and Ian Kennedy to one-year deals.
Astros: Signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal.
Mets: Re-signed Bobby Parnell and Ike Davis to one-year deals; signed Landon Powell to a minor league deal.
Reds: Re-signed Logan Ondrusek to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Re-signed Drew Storen and Craig Stammen to one-year deals.
Yankees: Re-signed Joba Chamberlain to a one-year deal; signed Bobby Wilson and Reegie Corona to minor league deals.
Athletics: Re-signed John Jaso and Seth Smith to one-year deals.
Angels: Re-signed Alberto Callaspo to a two-year deal; re-signed Jason Vargas to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Re-signed Matt Garza to a one-year deal.
Giants: Re-signed Jose Mijares, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey to one-year deals.
Indians: Re-signed Drew Stubbs and Chris Perez to one-year deals; signed Ryan Raburn to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Matt Wieters to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Re-signed Josh Thole to a two-year deal.
Tigers: Re-signed Rick Porcello to a one-year deal.
White Sox: Signed Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league deal; signed Matt Lindstrom to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Singed Matt Downs to a minor league deal.


Burnett, Choate yanked off the market

December 6, 2012

> If the Brewers are still intending to pick up a left-handed reliever this offseason, it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder after today. The Angels snagged Sean Burnett with a two-year, $8 million deal, while the Cardinals signed Randy Choate to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million.

I was hoping the Brewers would find a way to sign Burnett, but I should have known better with the deal they had on the table for him, which was for two years and just $2.3 million (according to the Brewer Nation). From what was made public, the Brewers didn’t have much interest in Choate.

So the two best lefty relievers left on the market are J.P. Howell and Mike Gonzalez. Adam McCalvy wrote that Howell is a name to keep an eye on for the Brewers, while Gonzalez hasn’t been mentioned as a possibility yet. Tom Haudricourt also said he sees Tom Gorzelanny, who had a 2.88 out of the Nationals’ bullpen last year, as a fit. But there’s no doubt that there are also multiple teams in on these guys as well, so the Brewers need to make a decent offer- and fast.

> It doesn’t sound like Jason Grilli is going to be wearing a Brewers uniform next year. Grilli’s agent, who happens to be ex-Brewer Gary Sheffield, said he and his client are going to be “wading through” all of the offers they’ve received. The Brewers reportedly have an offer in place, though I can’t imagine a one-year, $1.1 million deal is going to phase Grilli to come to Milwaukee.

> According to Danny Knobler, the Brewers are listening to trade offers regarding Corey Hart in order to free up money to sign a pitcher (or receive pitching in exchange for Hart). Luckily, it sounds like the Brewers would have to be “overwhelmed” in order to deal Hart, however. 

And I would not support trading Hart at this point. If the Brewers aren’t going to sign Josh Hamilton, then they can’t afford to trade away Hart and expect the lineup to post the same power numbers it did last year.

As much as I want the Brewers to get bullpen help (and possibly a starter), I don’t think they should do it via the trade. I know the free agent market isn’t the best this year, but, unless they can pull off trades similar to the Burke Badenhop one the other day in order to acquire pitching, FAs might be the only way to go.

> It was reported earlier that the Royals and Cubs have joined the Brewers and Red Sox in the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes. But the Royals and Cubs were both quickly erased- we learned that the Royals offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million deal, but it was rejected because the Royals “balked” at adding a third year (similar to the Brewers’ situation). And the Cubs said Dempster didn’t fit into their plans, hence they’re out of the running.

> The Brewers added both pitcher Chris Jakubauskas and infielder Hainley Statia on minor league deals.

> Minor moves: 

Mariners: Signed Jason Bay to a one-year deal.
Angels: Signed Joe Blanton to a two-year deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Nate McLouth to a one-year deal; signed Adam Russell, Conor Jackson, and Jan Novak to minor league deals.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Chavez and ex-Brewer Wil Nieves to one-year deals.
White Sox: Signed Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal.
Pirates: Acquired Andrew Oliver from the Tigers.
Tigers: Acquired Ramon Cabrera from the Pirates.
Rockies: Re-signed Jeff Francis to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal.


Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90’s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league deals.


Zduriencik wants Gamel back

November 23, 2012

> Yesterday, the Brewer Nation reported that the Mariners are interested in Mat Gamel. I don’t know why anyone else (or me) thought of this possibility earlier, but it makes perfect sense.

If Gamel does return to the Brewers next year, he’d be playing a bench player/utility man-type role. Gamel was basically handed the starting job at first base in 2012 following the departure of Prince Fielder, but the opportunity was snatched from him early in the season. While trying to catch a foul pop-up in San Diego, he lost track of where he was, and his knee met with the wall. As it usually works, the wall won, and next thing you know, the Brewers’ starting first baseman is gone for the season. Thankfully, Corey Hart swooped in from right field and took over at first base- a position he hadn’t played since Class A, which was nearly a decade ago- and was stellar defensively. And, since his offense was already better than Gamel’s, there wasn’t much thought put into who should start at first base in 2013.

Gamel can also play third base (though not very well) and the corner outfield spots, but he’s blocked by Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, and Norichika Aoki at the respective positions. That would leave him as a bench player, and history tells us he wouldn’t have much success in that role. Gamel has proven that he needs consistent playing time in order to produce, and it appears the Brewers aren’t going to be able to give Gamel that playing time.

This is where Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners enter the equation. Zduriencik, who was a scouting director for the Brewers at the time Gamel was drafted (he also played a huge part in drafting Fielder), knows Gamel well, so there’s some familiarity there. The Mariners, as we all know, are also in desperate need of offense in any way they can get it, particularly at first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions. First baseman Justin Smoak hasn’t given the Mariners the power numbers they thought he was capable of producing. The M’s just released third baseman Chone Figgins. The Mariners’ outfield has been a revolving door the past few years. All of those factors prove even more as to why this move could benefit the Mariners as a low-risk, high-reward transaction.

But enough of how it would help the Mariners- it could help the Brewers in a lot of ways, too. The Mariners make up for what they don’t have in offense with their wealth of young pitching; keep in mind this team produced Felix Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game. Anyway, the Mariners probably wouldn’t be willing to part with an ultra-prospect like Danny Hultzen or James Paxton, but they still have more than enough pitching depth behind those two. Perhaps the Brewers could get a guy like Blake Beavan in return for Gamel.

The point is this has the potential to be one of the rare deals that truly benefits both sides. It could also be of huge benefit to Gamel; I think he just needs a fresh start somewhere else.

> Also via Brewer Nation, Josh Hamilton’s agent has reached out to Doug Melvin. This probably doesn’t mean much; it’s probably just the agent saying, “My client would consider playing here” (as stated in the article).

It’s doubtful that Hamilton-Brewers talks will advance anywhere beyond this, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

> It’s needless to say the Marlins are in a horrible situation. Mark Buehrle, part of the 12-player mega-deal between the Fish and the Blue Jays, came out and said this:

“Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions. But I’m putting it behind me and looking forward to moving on with my career.” (Via MLB.com)

Then there was this tweet from Giancarlo Stanton a few hours after the trade was first reported last week:

Keep in mind this the Marlins’ only star player left.

Anyway, Buehrle was apparently told “verbally” that he wouldn’t be traded. But the Marlins don’t give out no-trade clauses (probably because they like having the ability to dismantle their team at any given time, as history has told us), at least officially. So Buehrle does have a legitimate beef, but, to be fair to the Marlins, it was never legally official, giving them every right to trade him. Though I still think not giving out no-trade clauses is a stupid concept.

> It was reported two days ago that the Blue Jays signed Cesar Izturis to a minor league deal. But, today, we found it was actually Julio Izturis, not Cesar. So whoever originally reported this needs to get their Hispanic names straight.

The Jays also signed Maicer Izturis, Cesar’s half-brother, to a three-year deal earlier this offseason. All three of these guys are related.

> I found this on Twitter a few days ago. Whether or not it’s legitimate, this is hilarious.


Miley snubbed in NL RoY voting

November 13, 2012

> The AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards were handed out today. The AL recipient was who we expected: Mike Trout. Pretty sure we all knew that one in August.

But there is a lot of debate around the NL winner, who, of course, had to be Bryce Harper. He edged Wade Miley by a mere seven points- Harper received 16 first place votes, while Miley got 12.

I thought Miley was the clear-cut winner. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and was the unexpected ace of the Diamondbacks’ staff. Harper and the other finalist for the NL RoY, Todd Frazier, both had decent rookie seasons, but were WAY too overhyped. Harper hit .270, and received more hype than Ryan Braun did in 2007 when he hit .324 in his rookie season.

Again, I’m not denying that Harper had a good season, but to say he had a better season than Miley- which is what giving Harper the NL RoY is doing- isn’t right.

Also, if you didn’t see it, I went on a Twitter rant about how Wilin Rosario had just as good of a season- if not better- than Harper. Rosario had the same batting average, and more home runs and RBIs in less at-bats. That would have been fun to write, but I was stupid and forgot to take Coors Field into effect. Oops.

> Props to the two writers who gave Norichika Aoki second-place votes in the RoY. Aoki came in fifth place overall, and also received five third-place votes.

This is how the placing went:

1. Harper
2. Miley
3. Frazier
4. Rosario
5. Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
7. Matt Carpenter
8. Jordan Pacheco

As you can see, Mike Fiers was left completely off the ballot. Apparently everyone forgot about him after he fell of a cliff from August on.

> Doug Melvin shot down the rumors that the Brewers were talking to Corey Hart and his camp about a possible contract extension. Not to worry; we’ll probably see the extension come eventually. It’s worth noting Hart will probably be open to talks midseason as well, as he signed his three-year extension (which he’ll be in the last year of in 2013) in August of 2010.

> Minor moves from the past few days: 

Red Sox: Signed David Ross to a two-year deal.
Twins: Signed Tim Wood and Eric Fryer to minor league deals.
Giants: Outrighted Emmanuel Burriss, who elected free agency; re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Neal Cotts, Juan Apodaca, Yonata Ortega, Jim Adduci, Zach Simons, and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals.
Royals: Outrighted Jason Bourgeois, who elected free agency.
Tigers: Signed Shawn Hill to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Signed Daniel McCutchen and Dan Meyer to minor league deals.


Brewers would like to retain Hart

November 10, 2012

> I’m pretty sure we all saw this coming, but the negotiations between the Brewers and Corey Hart regarding an extension for the potential first baseman are now official. Hart has already come out and said multiple times that he’d like to remain in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, so it was likely these talks would happen eventually.

Hart, who is a free agent after 2013, is looking for a three-year deal for an undisclosed amount of cash. However, it’s been reported that the Brewers “might prefer” a two-year extension, and an increase to Hart’s scheduled $10 million salary in 2013. Hart signed a three-year extension with the Brewers back in late 2010.

After Mat Gamel went down with a season-ending injury early in 2012, Hart stepped in at first base and filled in admirably. He’s always put up solid power numbers in the middle of the lineup, but he appears to be a well above-average defensive first baseman, as opposed to his deteriorating range in right field.

Some are speculating that the Brewers will trade Hart or let him walk after 2013 because ultra-prospect Hunter Morris, who is also a first baseman, appears to be big league ready. However, it’s always a bit of a risk just letting a prospect- no matter his status- walk into a starting role in the Majors, so I think the safe play would be retaining Hart for at least a few more years. Plus, Hart is still relatively versatile, seeing as he could still play right field if needed (though, as mentioned earlier, his defense is certainly declining at that position).

The Brewers and Hart will probably get a deal done before long, especially if Hart does indeed want to stay in Milwaukee.

> The Brewers are reportedly expressing interest in Ryan Dempster, one of the few decent starter options on the market. Between the Cubs and Rangers, Dempster went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA, but had a 2.25 ERA in the NL with the Cubs.

Dempster has had a lot of success at Miller Park, a venue which he’s familliar with, in his career: he has a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts and 12 relief appearances (he used to be a closer) at the Brewers’ home. But Dempster has also owned the Brewers in general in his career, as he owns a 16-6 record with a 2.65 REA against them (three of those losses have come over the past two years). So that’s another positive of signing Dempster: if he’s on the Brewers, he can’t destroy their lineup.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Signed Justin Germano to a minor league deal.
Royals: Signed Ian Gac and Luis Durango to minor league deals.
Mets: Re-signed Mike Nickeas to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Signed Terry Doyle to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Lew Ford to a minor league deal.


Brewers’ BBWAA awards handed out

October 17, 2012

> The Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America handed out their annual awards to Brewers players on Monday. Most of the awards went to the guys you’d expect to receive awards, but there were a few surprises.

Ryan Braun received the MVP award- I want to say unanimously because he received all eight first-place votes, but there were other players to whom the award would have been worthy. Braun backed up an MVP season in 2011 with a 2012 that was just as good: 41 home runs (a career-high for him), 112 RBIs, and a .319 batting average. Braun also stole 30 bases for his second straight 30-30 season. He led the National League in home runs, total bases (356), runs (108), and OPS (.987). He also tied for the league lead in extra-base hits with 80.

Yovani Gallardo took home the best pitcher award, and we can safely say that was unanimous (he also received all eight first-place votes). He put up close to identical numbers to his 2011 season in 2012, going 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA. Those 16 wins led the Brewers by a landslide, and tied him for sixth in the NL. Gallardo also had his fourth straight 200+ strikeout season (204 this year).

Aramis Ramirez won Top Newcomer, taking seven of the eight first-place votes. He hit 27 home runs and had 105 RBIs in his first season with the Brewers. Ramirez also reached the .300 mark on the last day of the season. He led the NL in doubles, was tied with Braun for the most extra-base hits, and was just three shy of Lyle Overbay’s franchise record for doubles. Ramirez was also the best defensive third baseman in the league, as he had the fewest errors and a .977 fielding percentage. Norichika Aoki took the other first-place vote after his sensational rookie season.

Somewhat surprisingly- but deservingly- Marco Estrada won the Unsung Hero award. He went just 5-7, but had a very respectable 3.64 ERA, and was a reliable option after being thrown in the rotation full-time. Carlos Gomez, Martin Maldonado, and Mike Fiers also received first-place votes for the Unsung Hero.

Lastly, John Axford received the Good Guy Award. I’m in agreement with this one since Axford managed to keep a positive attitude through his struggle of a season in 2012. Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, Gomez, and Estrada also received first-place votes for this award.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> There are games in progress right now, but here’s the coverage from the last two days.

> The Giants defeated the Cardinals, 7-1, on Monday. The Giants got their first start of more than six innings, as Ryan Vogelsong threw seven strong. Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense took advantage of some shoddy Cards defense to knock around Chris Carpenter. Angel Pagan hit a lead-off home run, and Marco Scutaro and Ryan Theriot had two RBIs apiece.

> The Yankees’ offense remained dormant, as they lost to the Tigers, 2-1, last night. The fact that Justin Verlander was pitching (8 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 K) might serve as an excuse, but now the Yanks are a game from elimination. The Tigers, meanwhile, can reach the World Series for the first time since 2006.

THE NEWS

> Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba each elected free agency after rejecting their outright assignments.

> The Brewers added Jesus Sanchez, a righty reliever, to the 40-man roster. He had a 1.62 ERA in 71 2/3 innings combined at Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville.

If only Jesus could have saved our bullpen this year.

> Buster Olney suggested that the Brewers are players for Josh Hamilton, who will more than likely be one of the most highly-touted free agents on the market. The Brewers probably don’t have the money, but might be able to sway him since Johnny Narron is one of their coaches. Narron and Hamilton are very close.

> MLB Trade Rumors looked at the offseason situation for the Brewers.

> The minor moves over the past few days:

Cubs: Acquired Marcelo Carreno from the Tigers to complete the August Jeff Baker trade.
Mets: Removed Justin Hampson and Rob Johnson from their 40-man roster, making them both free agents.
Dodgers: Outrighted Blake Hawksworth, who elected free agency.
Blue Jays: Claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Marlins; claimed Cory Wade off waivers from the Yankees; designated Juan Abreu for assignment.
Red Sox: Claimed Sandy Rosario off waivers from the Marlins; designated Che-Hsuan Lin for assignment.
Nationals: Outrighted Carlos Maldonado and ex-Brewer Brett Carroll, both of whom elected free agency.
Orioles: Outrighted Ronny Paulino and Dana Eveland, both of whom elected free agency.
Yankees: Outrighted Justin Thomas, who elected free agency.
Marlins: Outrighted Nick Green, Donnie Murphy, and Gil Velazquez to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> Rumors have been circling ever since Monday’s extra-innings Tigers-Yankees game that Alex Rodriguez was caught flirting with fans while he was in the on-deck circle. Well today it was confirmed, and now there are pictures to go with the story. Turns out one of the blondes he was talking to is a model.


Thoughts from the early offseason presser

October 15, 2012

> This article is well overdue, but I figured it was necessary at some point. A day or so after the offseason, Ron Roenicke, Doug Melvin, and a few others met with the media to discuss their early offseason goals and what we can look for from the Brewers going into 2013. Melvin in particular had some interesting comments, and basically explained what the status of some players are going into 2013.

John Axford is the closer, Corey Hart is the regular first baseman, Alex Gonzalez could be the starting shortstop, and, if he returns, Mat Gamel will serve as a bench player.

These are all some very debatable points. I agree with two of them, I’m relatively neutral with one of them, and then there’s one I think should receive some re-consideration.

The one I favor most is Hart remaining at first base. Following Gamel’s season-ending injury back in May, the Brewers found that Travis Ishikawa wasn’t getting the job done, so they moved Hart in from right field, and it paid off. To go along with his solid offense (which a player needs to be a first baseman), Hart provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position as well. If he plays as well as he did this year at first base in 2013, he’s a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. This move also allowed the Brewers to play Norichika Aoki every day in right field, and that also paid off, as Aoki posted a sensational rookie season.

I also agree with placing Gamel on the bench as a utility player. He’s had plenty of chances to start- the best one coming in 2012- but spoiled all of them with injuries or lazy play. Thanks to his ability to play multiple positions (first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions), however, he still has the opportunity to be a valuable utility player, and a power left-handed bat off the bench.

The one I’m relatively neutral (at least for the time being) on is the possibility of Gonzalez starting at shortstop. I liked what I saw from Gonzalez early in 2012 before his season-ending injury and would have gladly taken him back, but that was before the Brewers acquired Jean Segura. If the Brewers really want Segura to start at short for the long-term, they might as well start doing it now. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gonzalez return as another utility bench player, a role I feel he could play well. But I think what will determine this decision is the kind of spring Segura has.

Lastly, I do NOT want the closer’s role simply handed to Axford to start 2013. I’ll admit he finished sort of strong in 2012, but that doesn’t change the fact that he led the Majors with nine blown saves. His home runs allowed and walks significantly rising from his 2011 season definitely contributed to that. I know the excuse is that the Brewers don’t have anyone else who can take over, but that is a false statement. It’s true that the Brewers are slim in the relief corps at all levels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anybody. For instance, Jim Henderson threw the ball very well down the stretch. The Brewers could also sign an established reliever this offseason. The closer’s job is still Axford’s job to lose, but, especially if he has a bad spring, it shouldn’t be handed to him by default.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Tigers took a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees today. Last night’s game was dramatic as ever, with Jose Valverde blowing a 4-0 lead- which was a non-save situation- including two-run home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. But Delmon Young gave the Tigers the lead in 12th inning, which would win the game. The biggest storyline, however, was Derek Jeter’s ankle fracture, which ended his postseason.

The Yankees’ offense continued to stay ice cold in today’s game, as they were shut out, 3-0. It’s hard to say whether or not Anibal Sanchez threw a gem, or if the Yankees’ offense is just awful. That offense killed a stellar start from Hiroki Kuroda, who took a perfect game into the sixth and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings.

> The Cardinals took the first game of the NLCS with the Giants. Both starters- Lance Lynn and Madison Bumgarner- got knocked around, but the Cards’ bullpen prevailed in tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings. The offensive heroes were who you’d expect: David Freese, who hit a two-run blast in the second inning, and Pete Kozma, who contributed an RBI double in the fourth. Carlos Beltran also had a two-run homer in the fourth.

THE NEWS

> Tom Haudricourt suggested Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, and even Brandon McCarthy as possible veteran starting pitching adds for the Brewers this offseason. I wouldn’t mind any of those, but I would also toss Kuroda into that mix, despite the fact the Yankees will want him back badly. Haudricourt also said that the Brewers will more than likely sign an SP through the free agent market rather than trade for one due to all the prospects the Brewers have had to part with in recent years.

> Haudricourt doesn’t think the Brewers will trade Hart or Rickie Weeks to create payroll flexibility. Hart has expressed his desire to stay in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, while Weeks’ salary isn’t as big of a deal due the Brewers’ current payroll situation.

> Lastly, Haudricourt said that Nyjer Morgan will probably be non-tendered and easily replaced by Logan Schafer, as we all expected.

> Edwin Maysonet and Juan Perez each declared free agency.

> Today’s minor moves:

Rangers: Outrighted Luis Hernandez, who declared free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Matt Palmer, who declared free agency.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.


Brewers eliminated on somber note

October 1, 2012

POSTGAME

> The way the Brewers “hit” today, they deserved to be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. You would have never guessed that they would have been even close to contending the way they played today.

They were embarrassingly shut out by Jordan Lyles and the Astros, 7-0. Lyles, who came in 4-12 with a 5.44 ERA, threw his first career shutout, which was a four-hitter. He also hit a solo home run- and it was murdered.

THE NEWS

> Mike Fiers said this was the “best he felt all year.”  I guess I can understand that in one respect, considering he struck out 10. But he also struggled to miss bats, as he gave up four home runs to Lyles, Fernando Martinez, Jed Lowrie, and Matt Dominguez.

Fiers did wind up finishing the season, however. There were rumors of him getting shut down, but it never happened.

> Wily Peralta, on the other hand, was shut down after reporting more discomfort in his biceps. He would have only made one more start anyway, so I’m not going to flip out too much over this.

> Ron Roenicke doesn’t think Zack Greinke will return to the Brewers this offseason.

> Chris Narveson took his first bullpen session since his shoulder surgery.

> Even if the Brewers would have won today, it wouldn’t have mattered much, since the Cardinals also won.

THE NUMBERS

> Corey Hart’s two-homer game yesterday gave him his second career 30-home run season.

> Lyles needed just 103 pitches to kill the Brewers’ offense.

> The upcoming match-ups for the series against the Padres, the Brewers’ final series of the season:

Clayton Richard (14-13, 3.91 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (6-4, 3.74 ERA)

Casey Kelly (2-3, 6.21 ERA) vs. Tyler Thornburg (0-0, 5.00 ERA)

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (16-9, 3.65 ERA)

BOX SCORE

> So I was at the game today, and I noticed a strange graphic on the scoreboard. While Carlos Corporan was batting for the Astros, his stats showed that he had 17 home runs and 10 RBIs. Maybe FOX Sports Wisconsin runs the scoreboard, too. (Corporan only has four home runs, by the way.)