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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Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


NLCS draws even

October 22, 2012

> The Giants just continue to win elimination games, and their 6-1 win over the Cardinals tonight added to that streak. The NLCS is now tied at 3-3, with the deciding Game 7 to be played tomorrow.

Ryan Vogelsong was the story tonight, as he went seven innings while giving up a run on four hit. He walked one and struck out nine. He finishes with a 2-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in the NLCS, and has been the one consistent pitcher for the Giants this postseason.

The offense for the Giants wasn’t bad, either. Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Belt each had two hits. In Scutaro’s case, it was his fifth multi-hit game of this series alone, and he has at least one hit in every game. If the Giants wind up pulling this off tomorrow, Scutaro could almost win the NLCS MVP by default (that, or he and Vogelsong should be co-MVPs).

That Giants offense was helped by the Cardinals’ defense, though, who screwed over Chris Carpenter again. Tonight it was shortstop Pete Kozma’s error in the second inning that blew open a four-run frame for the Giants.

THE NEWS

> The Diamondbacks made a pair of early-offseason trades yesterday. First, they acquired shortstop Cliff Pennington and infield prospect Yordy Cabrera from the Athletics in exchange for outfielder Chris Young. Then, the D-backs turned around and traded Cabrera to the Marlins for reliever Heath Bell.

I have to question this series of moves- particularly the Bell move- but Kevin Towers usually seems to know what he’s doing.

> The Red Sox hired John Farrell as their new manager.

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised Curtis Granderson’s option for 2013.
Diamondbacks: Exercised J.J. Putz’s option for 2013; designated ex-Brewer Takashi Saito for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Wilking Rodriguez and Rich Thompson to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Sent Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays as part of compensation for Farrell.
Blue Jays: Sent David Carpenter to the Red Sox, also part of the Farrell deal.

THE EXTRAS

> I realized today that this Reds commercial has disappeared from TV stations broadcasting the postseason. Makes sense, since the Reds were eliminated, but man am I happy it’s gone.

> The only way Drew Brees can make himself look good: star in a commercial with One Direction.


Greatest moment since 1982…

October 8, 2011

At the beginning of the season, every sports magazine predicted a Red Sox-Phillies World Series. The moment I saw that, I counted them both out. And I guess I was right- neither of them even made it out of the NLDS. What a bunch of busts.

Anyway, let’s move on from the busts. The Milwaukee Brewers are going to the NLCS for the first time since 1982, and it’s going to be eerily similar to 1982. The Cardinals, who just finished off the Phillies’ season, will oppose the Brewers. Where have we heard that before? Oh, just the 1982 World Series. Obviously, it’s impossible for them to face off in the World Series, since they’re in the same league, but this is as about as close as it gets.

Before I get into the Cards-Brewers NLCS, let’s recap this crazy Brewers-Diamondbacks game first. It was a rematch of Game 1- Yovani Gallardo vs. Ian Kennedy- and both had decent starts. Gallardo needed 112 pitches for just six innings, but gave up just one run, nonetheless. That one run was a Justin Upton homer.

Anyway, it was a 2-1 game going into the ninth, and John Axford, owner of 44 consecutive saves, was in to finish it off, and clinch the Brewers’ first CS appearance since 1982. But not so fast- the Snakes weren’t going down that easily. Gerardo Parra led off the ninth with a double, and Sean Burroughs followed with a single, giving the D-backs guys on first and third with no outs. Then, Willie Bloomquist laid down a squeeze bunt. Prince Fielder might have had a play at the plate, but Axford somehow tripped him (still trying to figure out how that happened), so Fielder couldn’t make the play. And there’s Axford’s first blown save since April against the Phillies.

At that point, I thought the Brewers’ season was over. The last thing I wanted was for the Brewers’ season to end today, and then I’d have to wait until next April to see another game. But, Axford wound up getting out of the ninth inning jam, and came back out to pitch a scoreless 10th. He also received the win, and you’re about to figure out why.

Doug Melvin acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals in late March, just a couple days before the season started. At that point, I was actually against this trade. I wasn’t too familiar with Morgan then, and the only reason I knew him was because of the bench-clearing brawl he caused in a game against the Marlins. I wasn’t too impressed with that, and I was worried he would be a bad influence. I honestly don’t think I’ve been more wrong about anything in my life.

Morgan had a few walk-off wins during the regular season, but none were as big as this. The D-backs put in their closer- J.J. Putz- to pitch the 10th inning. Carlos Gomez, who has been swinging an extremely hot bat lately, reached on a one-out single off Putz. Then, catcher Henry Blanco (if you were a Brewers fan in the late 90’s, you probably remember this guy) couldn’t handle one of Putz’s pitches, and that allowed Gomez to go to second base. That set the stage for Morgan’s walk-off single, which is definitely going to go down as one of the biggest hits in Brewers history.

Anyway, now I’ll move onto the NLCS, which, as I said earlier, is going to be a rematch of the ’82 Series. The Cardinals rode Chris Carpenter’s shutout to the the NLCS, but that means he’s not going to be available until Game 2, at the earliest. Same goes for Gallardo for the Brewers, however.

So that means Zack Greinke is going to be starting Game 1 for the Brewers. I’m guessing the Cardinals are going to go with Kyle Lohse or Jaime Garcia, but I would guess it’s going to be Lohse, because he hasn’t pitched since Game 1 of the Phillies series. Anyway, here’s to the beginning of one of the most exciting series since 1982.

One more thing before I conclude- I never really thought about this up until I heard it on MLB Network, but the final four teams in the playoffs are from the Midwest. That’s right- every “beast of the east” (ugh, I hate basketball terms) is gone. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Phillies, Braves- all gone. And we’re left with the Brewers, Cardinals, Tigers, and Rangers. So screw all the east coast bias- the midwest has it this year.

I haven’t really taken the time to say anything like this yet on here, but the Brewers are having an incredible season. I know the defense can be frustrating at times and the offense has been inconsistent, but the pitching. If you compare our pitching now to what it was last year, there’s practically no comparison. Gallardo, Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson is one of the best rotations in baseball. Compare that to last year- Gallardo, Wolf, Narveson, Dave Bush, and a mix of Manny Parra, Doug Davis, and Chris Capuano. You could say that the Brewers didn’t even have a rotation last year.

But they do this year. And that’s why we are where we are- and have the potential to go even further.