Marcum open to returning in 2013

December 13, 2012

> For the first time this offseason, Shaun Marcum has said that he would be open to re-signing with the Brewers. Perhaps this is because the other teams that have expressed interest in him include the Twins, Royals, Padres, and Cubs.

Unlike some other fans who have unfairly hated on Marcum just because of his bad postseason run in 2011, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back on something like a two-year deal. But I’ve just gotten the impression that, ever since around January of 2012, Marcum and the Brewers’ front office have a bad relationship. The reason I say that is because Marcum appeared to be complaining that the Brewers hadn’t offered him a contract extension yet (which they still haven’t, nor have they given him a known offer this offseason).

There’s always the injury factor with Marcum, something that was exposed this year when he missed two months because of an elbow issue (he was originally only supposed to miss one start). But, looking at the numbers, he’s been nothing but a solid pitcher since coming to Milwaukee- he’s 20-11 with a 3.60 ERA in his two seasons with the Brewers. I wouldn’t mind taking him back as a solid #3 starter.

Marcum

> The Reds, Indians, and D-backs pulled a blockbuster three-team trade yesterday. Arizona is receiving Didi Gregorious, Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson, while the Indians are getting Trevor Bauer (wow), Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and Drew Stubbs. But the biggest part of this trade was the Reds’ acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo, who will play center field for them. If it wasn’t already clear before, the Reds, who also received Jason Donald in the deal, are going to once again contend in 2013.

> The Pirates re-signed Jason Grilli to a two-year deal, meaning he’s officially off the market.

> Minor moves: 

Tigers: Signed Brayan Pena to a one-year deal; designated Matt Hoffman for assignment.
Twins: Signed Kevin Correia to a two-year deal.
Royals: Signed Willy Taveras, George Sherrill, and Dan Wheeler to minor league deals.
Blue Jays: Signed Luis Jimenez, Rich Thompson, Eugenio Velez, and ex-Brewers Claudio Vargas and Juan Perez to minor league deals.
Yankees: Signed Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki to one-year deals.
Red Sox: Signed Jack Hannahan to a two-year deal.
Cubs: Claimed Sandy Rosario off waivers from the Red Sox; signed Chang-Yong Lim to a split contract.
Rangers: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Dodgers: Acquired Skip Schumaker from the Cardinals; designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment.
Cardinals: Acquired Jake Lemmerman from the Dodgers.

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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.


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’ lineup appears set

March 4, 2012

> It’s a little early to say for sure, but it sounds like the Brewers lineup and starting rotation for the regular season is set.

Ron Roenicke debuted the lineup earlier today during an intrasquad game, and he talked a bit about how the rotation would look. The lineup should look something like this: Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy, and the pitcher. That’s how I expected it to look, although we’ll have to see what happens with the leadoff spot. Weeks and Hart have both expressed interest and liking to the spot, but Weeks specifically said that he didn’t want to hit fifth, which leaves him leading off.

Then there’s the rotation. Here’s how it’ll go: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, and Chris Narveson. The reason Wolf is ahead of Marcum in the rotation is because of the opening series of the season against the Cardinals. Wolf has been solid against the Cards in his career, and pitched well against them in the postseason last year. Marcum, meanwhile, was pounded by them during the postseason. Marcum and Narveson will pitch the first two games in the next series against the Cubs. Both pitchers have had success against the Cubs in their career (I believe Narveson is 6-1 with an ERA below 3.00). To be honest with you, I almost wish Gallardo was pitching against the Cubs and Narveson was pitching against the Cardinals, though. Gallardo gets mauled by the Cards every time he pitches against them, although the departure of Albert Pujols may help a bit. And Gallardo is a strikeout machine against the Cubs. Narveson, meanwhile, has a career ERA under 2.00 against the Cardinals. One of my favorite things to watch in all of baseball is Chris Narveson pitching against the Cardinals, because I find it hilarious how they can’t hit him at all, and they’re the ones who drafted him. Hopefully the two get matched up sometime later in the season.

Also, the starting pitchers for tomorrow’s Spring Training game against the Giants have been announced. Wolf will start and pitch a few innings, then Greinke will pitch a bit as well in relief. Madison Bumgarner will be starting for the Giants.

> Bench coach Jerry Narron brought back his Japanese lineup card writing for Norichika Aoki during today’s intrasquad game. Narron has been doing this ever since 2001 when Ichiro Suzuki arrived in the Majors, and he says he does it “out of respect.” Aoki said this helped him “fit in” to the clubhouse better.

Narron also did this for Japanese reliever Takashi Saito, who pitched for the Brewers last year. Unfortunately, he left via free agency for the Diamondbacks.

> One more thing before I go- I put up another article on Reviewing the Brew earlier today. I can’t remember if I’ve explained it on this blog before, but, if I haven’t, here’s how it works. The six writers (including me) at RtB are doing a collaborative project in which we pick one Brewers prospect to watch during Spring Training, and then write articles about that player’s progress throughout spring. My pick was starting pitcher Amaury Rivas, who I’ve been avidly watching for about three years now. I thought this would be a good choice since I’ve already got a bit of background knowledge about Rivas, and he’s arguably my favorite Brewers prospect. Anyway, here’s a link to the article.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


After Aoki’s workout, decisions still to be made

January 10, 2012

> Norichika Aoki’s long-awaited workout took place yesterday in Maryvale, Arizona, at the Brewers Spring Training complex. They didn’t release all that much info about it, except for the fact that it will take “a few more days to decide whether or not he fits the roster.” Which makes sense, considering the Brewers’ roster already has four proven MLB outfielders- Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Carlos Gomez. (Ok, maybe Gomez isn’t proven, but you get the point.)

But, judging by Brewers officials’ reactions to the workout, it really doesn’t sound like Aoki is anything special. GM Doug Melvin described him as “what you would expect from a player from Japan.” That’s pretty vague, because that could mean Ichiro-type material, or Tsuyoshi Nishioki-type material, and there’s a pretty big gap of talent between those two. However, Melvin didn’t specifically say how good Aoki looked during the workout, which leads me to believe it was average at best.

If it weren’t for the Braun situation, I would probably say the Brewers don’t need him (unless they’ve secretly put Morgan or Gomez on the trade market). Unfortunately, we won’t know whether or not Braun will be available for the first 50 games of next year until after the deadline to sign Aoki. If it were me, I would probably sign Aoki just in case Braun does get banned. But, if he doesn’t, then they could just trade someone like Morgan or Gomez (preferable Gomez), and keep Aoki as the fourth outfielder.

But I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this all turns out. This has been quite a stressful offseason so far…

> The Brewers signed utility infielder Brooks Conrad to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training yesterday. Conrad hit just .223 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 92 games last year, and his defense is just pitiful. So, if you know this guys history, this isn’t a signing to get too excited about.

> As far as Prince Fielder rumors go- ever since I heard last week that the Nationals were almost a guarantee for him, there’s been absolutely nothing.

And, I know this sounds crazy, but at some point, Fielder might be tempted to come back to the Brewers for one more year. It might be his only chance for a job, in the end.

> Barry Larkin, a great defensive shortstop during his era and a career .295 hitter, was inducted into the Hall of Fame today, so congratulations to him.

Unfortunately, at least 10 of the players on next year’s ballot have been, in some way shape or form, involved with drugs (Barry Bonds, Roger Clements, etc.). So next year will definitely be a controversial ballot.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers win bidding for Japanese outfielder Aoki

December 18, 2011

> This came out of nowhere, but it may save the Brewers’ offense, if it gets done.

> According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers have won the bid for a chance to sign Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. I didn’t even know this guy was posted; he must have been sucked up in all the Yu Darvish and Tsuyoshi Wada talk. Anyway, the Brewers won the bid with just $2.5 million, which is an unusually low bid to win rights to sign a Japanese player.

Aoki has won three batting titles in Japan, and has a .336 batting average over seven professional seasons in Japan. But, he hit just .292 this year, which could explain the low posting fee (not saying that .292 is bad or anything, but it’s considerably lower than .336). Anyway, Aoki is said to be the “most pure hitter” out of Japan since Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, who has been one of the few successful Japanese players in the Majors.

As I said earlier, Aoki is an outfielder, and, from what I’ve heard, can play an outfield position. He has good defensive range, but a weak arm, which probably makes him fit for left field. Obviously, that spot is already vacated by Ryan Braun (unless he does receive that 50-game suspension, but I doubt he will). And, the Brewers are set in the rest of the outfield positions with the Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez platoon in center, and Corey Hart in right. People are saying that the signing of Aoki would be to use him off the bench, or give the Brewers an opportunity to trade an outfielder, but I have another idea, although it’s very unlikely to happen. (I also made up this idea assuming Braun doesn’t get suspended, so bear with me here.)

Since Aoki would fit best in left field, the Brewers could put him there for the best defensive production. Then, they could move Braun to right field, since he already has a good arm, and right field is the outfield position that requires a good arm. That would push Hart out of right field, but, since he actually came up as a first baseman, the could slot him there, with the departure of Prince Fielder. That would probably keep Mat Gamel and Taylor Green in the Minors, but at least the Brewers would know they have proven players at every position, if they used this plan.

Odds are, though, that isn’t going to happen. I can’t see the Brewers having Braun switch position again; that was kind of wishful thinking. But, if they want the best defensive production from Aoki, then they would kind of be forced to do that. Or, they could leave Braun alone, and push the Morgan/Gomez platoon over to right field, since both are capable of playing right (despite Morgan’s noodle arm). With Aoki’s supposed good range, they could put him in center, which is the outfield position that needs the best range. But, again- it probably won’t happen.

Anyway, Aoki hits more for average than power, but the Brewers already took care of replacing some of the power of Fielder with Aramis Ramirez last week.

After winning the posting fee, teams usually have 30 days to sign Japanese players, meaning the Brewers have until around mid-January to sign Aoki. Japanese players usually sign with the teams that win the bid. The only player that comes to recent memory who didn’t sign with the team who won signing rights for him was pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, whom the Athletics couldn’t come to terms with prior to the 2011 season.

Anyway, I just hope Aoki doesn’t turn out like Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had similar numbers to Aoki before coming to the Majors. But, Nishioka came to the Majors and had an injury-plagued year with the Twins, and also hit below .200. I doubt that’s going to happen, though.

> The Reds struck a five-player trade with the Padres today. The main part of the deal was pitcher Mat Latos going to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Edinson Volquez.

The Reds finally might have a legitimate ace in Latos, which is something they’ve been looking for over the past two years.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, I have absolutely no idea what the Padres were thinking in giving up their best pitcher for a sad excuse for a pitcher- if he even is a pitcher- in Volquez. Maybe they haven’t seen him pitch before, but they’re in for quite a ride- and I mean that in a bad way.

Anyway, the reason I’m even talking about this trade on here is because now the Brewers will be seeing a lot of Latos next year, and maybe years after, with the Reds being division rivals. I can only remember one occasion when the Brewers faced Latos- it was Zack Greinke‘s Miller Park debut, and he beat Latos. I think Latos only gave up two or three runs, though.

> And that’s about all the news for today. So, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. (Seriously, please leave your thoughts- I feel like I don’t get comments anymore.)


Not much Brewers news over the past few days…

December 17, 2011

> Well, we’re again experiencing one of the major downsides of the offseason- no news to talk about. That’s part of the reason I haven’t posted in a few days, but I also had midterms for most of the week (I’m in high school, if you don’t know). Those prevented me from posting, let alone even get on the computer.

> Anyway, there was one somewhat significant piece of news that was Brewers-related this week- John Axford won the 2011 Tip O’Neill Award, along with co-winner Joey Votto.

The Tip O’Neill Award is presented by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame every year, which is why it’s usually given to the best Canadian players in the MLB. Axford is from Simcoe, Ontario, while Votto grew up in Toronto, also in Ontario.

> Since there’s nothing else Brewers-related, I’ll talk about the Japanese pitcher who’s completely changing the free agent market- Yu Darvish. The posting fee for Darvish ended yesterday, and his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters (oh, how I love the names of Japanese baseball teams), is still reviewing the bids. Bids were reportedly submitted by the Yankees, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Rangers, at least the major bids.

Darvish’s numbers in Japan over the past few years have been unbelievable. In 2011, he went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, and has a 1.99 ERA in his seven-year career. But, history of Japanese pitchers making the transition to the MLB hasn’t been all that promising. Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu, and Daisuke Matsuzaka are premier examples of failed attempts at pitching in the Majors after moving from Japan. The hitters from Japan, such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, seem to have a bit more success. But the only pitcher from Japan who has had success that I can think of is Hiroki Kuroda.

Anyway, people think Darvish will be different, because he’s supposedly half-Japanese, half-Iranian, giving him a stronger body-build than a regular Japanese man. Darvish’s repertoire is also said to consist of many different pitches- three different fastballs, at least three different breaking balls, and possibly a change up. I feel bad for whoever his catcher is going to be…

> And that’s about all the major news. But, before I go, I have a bit of a story to tell.

So today I went on Breaking Wisconsin for the first time in two days (I couldn’t go on because of midterms, as I said earlier), and I expected to see no hits because I hadn’t posted advertising links on Twitter or anywhere. But, I noticed that today was actually a record-breaking day, as far as views go, despite the fact I’d been inactive over the last few days. And I couldn’t figure out why.

But, a few hours later, I was browsing MLB Trade Rumors, and noticed that they’d mentioned me under their “Baseball Blogs Weigh In” section, which explained the outburst in views. So I’d like to thank them for mentioning me on their site, it’s definitely the greatest accomplishment Breaking Wisconsin has achieved so far. Let me tell you, it’s one of the coolest things ever to see your own site on a popular site you read every day.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.