Nothing doing against Zimmermann as Brewers fall

July 29, 2012

> Well, nothing new here. The Brewers lost to the Nationals today, 4-1, a game in which offense was once again hard to come by for the Crew. They might have had an excuse today, but this is still annoying to watch day after day.

Randy Wolf didn’t pitch particularly bad, but it was the long ball that did him in. He went seven innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out six. But, all of the runs Wolf gave up came on home runs, something we’ve become accustomed to seeing.

Jordan Zimmermann, on the other hand, was dominant, as he’s been all season, so there’s nothing new there either. He went six innings while giving up a run on five hits. He walked one and struck out six, lowering his ERA to 2.28. I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of Zimmermann- he seems to be forgotten in D.C., probably due to Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, despite his great numbers. He’s the most consistent pitcher on that staff, and there’s no argument about it.

After Wolf went through the Nats’ lineup without giving up a hit the first time through, the Nationals struck quickly. Corey Brown got his first career hit in the fourth inning, an opposite field solo shot. Later in the inning, Tyler Moore hit a two-run homer to extend the lead to 3-0. The Brewers did answer in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Rickie Weeks, and it looked like they were in for a big inning. But, the .205-hitting Cody Ransom got them out of the inning with a double play. The Nats tacked on one more in the fifth on Ryan Zimmerman’s solo home run.

> If there was one good thing about today’s game, it was that the bullpen didn’t implode like it’s prone to doing. Jim Henderson threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and his high-90’s fastball/dirty slider combo makes him look very promising. Kameron Loe threw a scoreless ninth.

> The Brewers made another trade today, sending George Kottaras to the Athletics. The trade is still pending, but appears likely to happen. Kottaras was designated for assignment two days ago with the return of Jonathan Lucroy. You can read my more detailed story on this at Reviewing the Brew here.

> On another catching note, the Brewers signed former Astro Humberto Quintero to a Minor League deal today. Quintero was traded from the Astros to the Royals this past offseason, but was released before the All-Star break after hitting .232 in 43 games with them. He’ll go to Triple-A Nashville and give the Brewers some catching depth in the system with Kottaras likely gone.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will go for a series split tomorrow, sending Mark Rogers to the mound. He’s making his season debut, and his first Major League appearance since late 2010. He made four appearances (three starts, one relief appearance) that season: a relief appearance against the Cubs, a start against the Marlins, and two starts against the Reds. And I have to admit he didn’t look too bad then. Rogers is just 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA at Triple-A this year, but is pitching better lately.

The Nats will counter with Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13 ERA), another starter who has had success with them this year. But, since the start of June, he has an ERA over 4.00.

Anyway, thanks for reading.



Morgan returns to his roots

February 2, 2012

> If you don’t know Nyjer Morgan’s background already, tell me this- could you imagine him as a hockey player?

I learned this last season after his infamous bench-clearing brawl in Florida while he was with the Nationals. It was ignited when Chris Volstad (who’s now on the Cubs, ironic) threw behind Morgan after already hitting him with a pitch earlier in the game. Morgan charged the mound, but failed, as Gaby Sanchez flew over and laid a clothesline blow to his head.

After that incident, I thought this to myself- why would a shrimp like Morgan (not meaning that in an offensive way) charge the mound, when a 6’8” pitcher in Volstad is waiting there?

That’s when I learned he was a former hockey player. Apparently, he grew up a huge hockey fan, and played junior hockey for awhile. Morgan is from San Jose, and he strongly followed his hometown Sharks.

Morgan never made it past the major junior level in Canada, so he decided to leave his hockey dreams behind for his second favorite sport- baseball.

But now his hockey dreams are coming back- kind of. Earlier today, he got to practice with the Sharks, the team he grew up admiring. You can read the full article about that here, because there are so many different things that happened at that practice that I can’t cover them all.

> Yesterday, I did another post- my third, I believe- on Reviewing the Brew. It got some positive feedback on Twitter, and it was featured on the Brewers blog Brew Crew Ball. You can read it here.

In short, the topic was regarding Taylor Green as an option at first base. I’ve actually mentioned the multiple times on this blog, simply because I’m not completely sold on Mat Gamel- at least not yet. But we’ll see what happens at first in 2012.

> And that’s about it. Very, very slow news day, but hopefully there will be something to report about tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Brewers have reportedly inquired on Ramirez

December 2, 2011

> Not exactly someone I could see the Brewers signing, but I wouldn’t mind if they did.

> According to Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) on Twitter, the Brewers have inquired on free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez had his option for 2012 picked up by the Cubs earlier this offseason, but a clause in his contract gave him a chance to decline the option himself, which he did, hence becoming a free agent.

Ramirez is a 14-season veteran, but has shown over the past few years that he can still produce at the plate (and occasionally on defense). In 2011, he hit 26 home runs with 93 RBIs and a .306 average for the Cubs, being one of the bright spots during their disappointing 71-91 season. Ramirez owns a .284 career average during nine years with the Cubs and six with the Pirates.

In my opinion, the Brewers signing Ramirez would be pretty ironic, actually. Current Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee was acquired off waivers from the Cubs in 2009 because he was blocked at third in the Cubs’ system by Ramirez himself. So, if Ramirez came to the Brewers, it would almost be the same situation McGehee had in Chicago. But, McGehee can also play first base, and, assuming the Brewers don’t re-sign Prince Fielder, he could be an option to play there.

And that was about it for the Brewers news today. Onto some Hot Stove news from around baseball…

> Closer Heath Bell has reportedly signed with the Marlins, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Which is odd, since I thought Bell made a big deal about staying on the west coast to be near his family and home.

Anyway, Bell will replace Leo Nunez– or Juan Carlos Oviedo, whatever the heck that guy’s real name is- in being the Marlins’ closer. This also marks the first big free agent signing by the Marlins this offseason. They’re probably going to make a few more, or at least try, because their payroll is going to raise by nearly $50 million by next year.

> The Red Sox officially made Bobby Valentine their manager today, as he had his press conference. I didn’t see it, but, from what I heard, it must have been pretty good.

I’m still saying that they shouldn’t have let Terry Francona go in the first place, though.

> And that’s about all I’ve got. Today was a bit busier than most of this boring offseason, at least, as yesterday I was reduced to writing about Brewers trades that probably aren’t even going to happen. But it was kind of fun to write about stuff like that, so maybe I’ll do it more often. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


Brewers hire another Narron to be hitting coach

November 29, 2011

> This isn’t exactly the situation I expected as far as the Brewers’ search for a hitting coach goes.

> The Brewers have hired another Narron to be part of the coaching staff- Johnny Narron. He will take over Dale Sveum‘s place as hitting coach, and will be “reunited,” so to speak, with his brother (and Brewers bench coach) Jerry Narron.

Johnny is most famous for turning Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton into the player he is today, from the days Hamilton was with the Reds. I’m hoping he can do the same for a couple struggling Brewers, such as Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt (if he comes back, which I’ve heard he might).

And I don’t know what it is about the Brewers and the Narrons. The Brewers also have a Minor League pitcher- Sam Narron, who I think is the nephew of Jerry (or something along those lines).

> The Astros are apparently trying to revamp their front office. That started today, as the released president Tal Smith and GM Ed Wade. But, it’s just one of those situations where something has to be done after an awful season.

And it wasn’t only Smith and Wade. Last week, Drayton McLane handed the Astros over to Jim Crane. So, by the beginning of next year, the Astros’ front office is going to look completely different- just in time for their move to the AL West.

> The Cardinals are discovering that more and more teams aren’t going to be contenders for free agent Albert Pujols. It’s been reported that they aren’t going to bump up their offer to him, which is supposedly for nine years and around $210 million. And they shouldn’t. Bidding against yourself for the best free agent on the market doesn’t sound very logical to me.

The only other “serious” contenders for Pujols are the Marlins. But honestly, can you see Pujols in a Marlins’ uniform?

> And that’s about it for today. Not much news (and not much to say about the news that there is), but, assuming there isn’t any tomorrow, I should have an article-style post up tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Verlander wins AL CYA; Brewers make a few announcement

November 16, 2011

> Today was actually a somewhat busy day for the Brewers, probably their busiest since the 2011 Hot Stove started. They made a few announcements concerning their free agents. But, before I get to all that…

> Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young Award. Although that was probably clarified a few months ago, it was made official today.

Verlander was pretty much guaranteed the award after winning the AL Triple Crown by leading the league in wins (24), ERA (2.40), and strikeouts (250). A few more of his amazing stats were 251 innings pitched (excluding the postseason), a 0.92 WHIP, and an opponent’s batting average of .192.  His overall numbers were 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA as the ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff that would have been absolutely nothing without him.

Verlander also threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in May. It was the second of his career, the first coming against the Brewers back in 2007.

Anyway, Jered Weaver, James Shields, and CC Sabathia came in second, third, and fourth in the voting, respectively.

> Now, onto the Brewers’ announcements.

> Mark Kotsay has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres, meaning he definitely won’t be coming back to the Brewers. The deal will be worth $1.25 million.

In 2011 with the Brewers, Kotsay hit .270 with three home runs and 31 RBIs in 104 games. While those numbers aren’t bad for a player off the bench, Kotsay made multiple defensive miscues, and most of them ended up costing the Brewers (especially in the games he started in the NLCS). In my opinion, Kotsay should probably be a DH for an AL club, but the Padres need all the offense they can get…

> Doug Melvin was named co-executive of the year today, winning it with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. Melvin was expected to compete with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers for the title, as both completely revamped their respective teams, and ended up facing off in the NLDS this year. But, Melvin bringing in starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to turn the starting rotation into a strength probably won it for him. Not to mention his Trade Deadline acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and Jerry Hairston Jr.

Dombrowski, meanwhile, probably won it because of his Trade Deadline trade for starter Doug Fister. Verlander and Fister combined for a tough 1-2 punch in the Tigers’ rotation.

> Craig Counsell won’t be returning to the Brewers in 2012, Melvin announced today. He’s been a fan favorite for a long time in Milwaukee, and also lives just north of Milwaukee in Whitefish Bay. But, he’s now 41, and is coming off a season in which he hit just .178 off the bench, and was mired in an 0-for-45 streak to tie a Major League record for the longest stretch without a hit. He hasn’t decided whether or not he’s going to retire, though.

> The Brewers’ interest in free agent shortstop Clint Barmes apparently heated back up today. Since it appears that Jose Reyes is going to sign with the Marlins, it’s probably better that they’re interested in Barmes.

Barmes hit .244 with 12 home runs in 2011 with the Astros, but is one of the better defensive shortstops in the NL (especially better than Yuniesky Betancourt). The Astros have shown interest in re-signing Barmes, but their financial situation probably won’t allow it.

> Lastly, Melvin and Scott Boras, Prince Fielder’s agent, talked to each other today, and apparently Boras brought up the importance of the 1-2 punch of Ryan Braun and Fielder. He also said that he wants the Brewers to be involved in the bidding for Fielder. I don’t know what to make of this yet, but hopefully it means Boras is becoming a little more considerate.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave thoughts, if you have any.


Kimbrel, Hellickson take home ROY awards

November 15, 2011

> Needless to say I called this a few days ago.

> Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Hellickson took home the NL and AL Rookie of the Year Awards today (respectively). So for those of you who say that pitchers shouldn’t win this award (or the MVP), then this wasn’t your year.

Kimbrel was thrown into the Braves’ closer role since future Hall of Fame closer Billy Wagner retired before this year started. And he handled it just as Wagner would have; possibly better. Kimbrel set the record for the most saves by a rookie closer with 46, which also tied Brewers closer John Axford for the most in the NL. He put up a 2.10 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Despite the fact Kimbrel technically ended the Braves’ season by blowing a save against the Phillies on the final day, he was still the most deserving of any NL candidate.

I was one of the few (or so it seemed) who actually thought Hellickson would win. And you can’t argue with the numbers. His 13-10 record could have been better, and actually should have been better- he was victim of low run support from a weak Rays offense various times. But, his 2.95 ERA in the AL East was unbelievable, especially for a rookie. Hellickson also ate up 189 innings, the most among rookie starters in the Majors. I don’t know what it is about the Rays and managing to put together all of these homegrown starters who will eventually become aces (David Price being the other standout homegrown ace for them).

> Anyway, onto the Hot Stove news of the day. Unlike the other Hot Stove days thus far this offseason, this one was actually somewhat busy.

> The Dodgers are reportedly nearing an eight-year deal with center fielder Matt Kemp. The deal would be worth $160 million, which is odd, since I heard the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to make any of these gigantic signings until the Dodgers are sold. But it probably has something to do with the fact that Kemp is already on the team.

Kemp is coming off a stellar 2011 campaign, in which he hit .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, and 41 steals. He was just one home run away from the coveted 40/40 season. Kemp also won the Gold Glove for NL center fielders and one of the outfield Silver Slugger Awards as well. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year.

> The Angels are apparently “serious” c0ntenders for free agent starter C.J. Wilson. I find this strange, considering the Angels’ biggest need is obviously offense (as is any team in the AL West not named the Rangers). The Angels already have a trio of aces in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana (if you consider him an ace; I do).

Wilson is coming off a season in which he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers’ staff. The year before, he was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA, but was a reliever every year before that. So it should be interesting to see how he responds to what’s probably going to be a big multi-year deal.

> Theo Epstein, the new Cubs’ president, talked to Carlos Zambrano for the first time today. Epstein announced that Zambrano will have to “work his way back” to earn a spot on the Cubs’ roster for next year.

But honestly, why are the Cubs still even giving this psychopath a chance? He’s put together enough scenes to embarrass the Cubs forever, and was already placed on the disqualified list. I thought the disqualified list would be the last straw, but apparently not.

At the same time, however, I can’t really blame them. Zambrano still has a large portion of his contract left in 2012, and the Cubs won’t want to eat up another huge contract after releasing a player (similar what they did to Carlos Silva before the 2011 season).

> Before I finish, here’s some Hot Stove news related to the Brewers:

> Doug Melvin announced that the Brewers won’t offer Prince Fielder a contract during this week’s GM meetings in Milwaukee. Not like Scott Boras would have accepted an offer, anyway.

> Melvin also said that he hasn’t decided whether or not to meet face-to-face with Jose Reyes and/or his agent. Reports are saying that Reyes is extremely close to signing with the Marlins, but nothing is official yet.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back Yuniesky Betancourt on a contract worth less than what his option for 2012 would have been worth. I hope this a last resort option if the Brewers become that desperate for a shortstop…

> Lastly, the Brewers are also interested in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr., who put up a stellar postseason for the Brewers in 2011.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and free to leave your thoughts.


Matheny to be Cards’ new manager…

November 14, 2011

> I’m definitely going to have at least a little respect for the Cardinals’ new manager in 2012, and possibly years after.

> Former Brewers and Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny has been named the Cardinals’ new manager, replacing Tony La Russa, who retired right after the Cards’ 11th World Series title. This was a somewhat interesting choice, considering Matheny has not Major League managing experience- or even Minor League managing experience. But, he’s one of the most respected guys in the game. He still has my respect, at least, and hopefully I don’t lose that too soon. I don’t want to see this guy pulling any TLR-like shenanigans.

During his Major League career as a catcher, Matheny hit .239 with the Brewers (five years), Cardinals (five years), Giants (two years), and Blue Jays (one year), playing from 1994-2006. He was one of the better defensive catchers during that time, winning four Gold Gloves in his career.

Anyway, the three previous Cards managers- La Russa, Joe Torre, and Whitey Herzog- all had previous Major League managing experience, along with playoff experience. That’s why I find it interesting that they’d just hand the reins over to Matheny, who doesn’t even have Minor League managing experience.

> Anyway, with the biggest news of the day out of the way, let’s get to the Hot Stove news…

> So this Cuban outfielder has literally come out of nowhere over the last few weeks. His name is Yoenis Cespedes, and apparently he’s supposed to be one of the best players in history to emerge from Cuba. The 26-year old is considered a true five-tool player, and many teams are interested in him. The Cubs are going to hold a private workout with him this week, and the other teams interested in Cespedes are the Red Sox, Phillies, Indians, Blue Jays, Pirates, Rangers, Tigers, Nationals, Athletics, Marlins, and Yankees. It doesn’t surprise me that the Brewers aren’t part of that list, since they’re outfield should be set for the next couple of years with Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and the Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez platoon.

But back to Cespedes- he shouldn’t have any problems finding a Major League team to sign with. Apparently, his contract is expected to be similar to that of Aroldis Chapman’s $30 million deal that he signed with the Reds in 2010.

> The Diamondbacks re-signed second baseman Aaron Hill to a two-year deal, reportedly worth $11 million. He hit over .300 after being acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline. Hill had a monster season with the Jays in 2009, hitting 36 homers and considered a MVP candidate, but hasn’t been able to maintain that type of power since.

> Here’s a Brewers-related topic. Tom Haudricourt, a writer for MJS, brought up the fact that, since Prince Fielder rejected the Brewers’ five-year, $100 million offer back in Spring Training, the Brewers’ financial situation has changed a lot. Here’s a list of a few deals and extensions the Brewers are currently in the middle of:

Yovani Gallardo: Signed through 2014 on a five-year, $30.1 million deal

Corey Hart: Signed through 2013 on a three-year, $26.5 million deal

Ryan Braun: Signed through 2020 on two extensions- eight-year, $45 million deal, and five-year, $105 million deal

Randy Wolf: Signed through 2012 on a three-year, $29.5 million deal

Rickie Weeks: Signed through 2014 on a four-year, $38.5 million deal

And those are pretty much the main deals the Brewers are in the middle of. That’s a lot of money invested in core players, and the Brewers also want to extend starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum (or at least one of them) on top of it. That doesn’t leave very much room for Fielder, but he probably wouldn’t have signed anyway.

My only problem is the likelihood of the Brewers just handing the job to Mat Gamel. He has a little Major League experience. When he first came up a few years back, I thought he was going to be the next Braun- a young hitter who could hit for average. But, he was the hampered with injuries and inconsistency when given the chance at the Major League level. Gamel hit .310 in the Minors this year, but went just 3-for-26 during a short stint in the Majors in the middle of the season.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.