Seven Brewers to participate in WBC

January 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Minor moves: 

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

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Brewers, Parra go their separate ways

December 1, 2012

> As expected, the Brewers officially cut ties with their second-longest tenured player, Manny Parra. The Brewers had five arbitration eligibles, the others being John Axford, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, and Carlos Gomez, and Parra was the only one to be non-tendered.

Parra, a lefty who has always had great stuff, had a very frustrating Brewers career, to say the least. He went 10-8 with a 4.39 ERA in his first full season in 2008, but has posted a 5.61 ERA in the years since. In 2009, 2010, and 2012 (he missed 2011 because of injuries), he had an ERA above 5.00. It appeared Parra was going to blossom into an ace, especially after he threw a perfect game in his first Triple-A start back in 2007, but he never panned out.

Maybe Parra just needs a change of scenery, and that’s probably something he’s going to get. Though a lot of Parra’s career stats are alarming- his 5.12 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, and 1.645 WHIP are the highlights of them- he has a career 8.4 K/9. That, coming from a power lefty who also has a splitter, is going to draw interest from teams regardless of the other stats.

So best of luck to Parra wherever he ends up; it simply didn’t work out in Milwaukee.

Parra

> There have been a few mega-deals/large extensions signed over the past few days. Today, David Wright’s seven-year, $122 million deal with the Mets followed Evan Longoria’s six-year, $100 million extension with the Rays. Both of these are similar to the extensions Ryan Braun and Joey Votto signed in recent years.

> Minor moves: 

Diamondbacks: Released Brad Bergesen.
Angels: Acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves; claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Mariners.
Braves: Acquired Jordan Walden from the Angels; claimed David Carpenter off waivers from the Red Sox; non-tendered Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.
Marlins: Claimed Joe Mahoney off waivers from the Orioles.
Indians: Claimed Mike McDade off waivers from the Blue Jays; designated Chris Seddon for assignment; signed Fernando Nieve to a minor league deal; non-tendered Rafael Perez and Jack Hannahan.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Cory Wade, who elected free agency; outrighted Joel Carreno and Mike McCoy to Triple-A.
Astros: Claimed Philip Humber off waivers from the White Sox.
Yankees: Claimed Jim Miller off waivers from the Athletics; designated Mickey Storey and Jayson Nix for assignment.
Orioles: Acquired Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates; designated Stuart Pomeranz for assignment; non-tendered Omar Quintanilla and Mark Reynolds; re-signed Taylor Teagarden, Steve Pearce, and Alexi Casilla to one-year deals.
Pirates: Acquired Jhondaniel Medina from the Orioles; acquired Zach Thornton from the Athletics; non-tendered Jeff Karstens.
Athletics: Acquired Chris Resop from the Pirates; re-signed Daric Barton and Adam Rosales to one-year deals; designated Sandy Rosario for assignment; non-tendered Jermaine Mitchell.
Cubs: Non-tendered Ian Stewart, Jaye Chapman, and Zach Putnam; outrighted Casey Coleman to Triple-A. Padres: Non-tendered Juan Oramas.
Mets: Non-tendered Mike Pelfrey, Andres Torres, and Manny Acosta.
Phillies: Non-tendered Nate Schierholtz.
Royals: Outrighted Ryan Verdugo and Adam Moore to Triple-A; re-signed Chris Getz to a one-year deal; non-tendered Derrick Robinson.
Twins: Outrighted Deolis Guerra to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Non-tendered Rich Hill, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Atchison.
White Sox: Non-tendered Anthony Carter and Dan Johnson.
Tigers: Non-tendered Daniel Schlereth.
Nationals: Non-tendered John Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, and Jesus Flores.


Brewers pay tribute to Uecker nicely

September 1, 2012

POSTGAME

> Fittingly, on one of the greatest days in Brewers history, the Crew pummeled the Pirates, 9-3. They jumped all over Jeff Karstens for four runs in the first inning, including a Corey Hart two-run blast. Karstens was removed in the first inning with a lingering groin issue, but the Brewers kept it going against their bullpen, with a two-run shot from Aramis Ramirez and RBI hits from Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, all in the eighth inning.

THE NEWS

> The headline today was the debut of Bob Uecker’s statue outside of Miller Park. He’s now immortalized on the same land as Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and- *grimace*- Bud Selig.

Ueck grew up in Wisconsin and played part of his career for the Milwaukee Braves. He’s been calling Brewer games ever since the franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1970, and will continue to do so for as long as he can.

So congrats to the Ueck; he deserved it.

> Cody Ransom was claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks. This means the strikeout machine has finally returned to the team from which he came.

> Norichika Aoki was a late scratch from the lineup due to a stiff neck, likely due to his collision with Nyjer Morgan in yesterday’s game. Morgan manned right field today.

THE NUMBERS

> Mark Rogers won his third consecutive start. Oddly enough, he hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of them; pitch count has caught him each time.

Also, rumor has it tonight could have been Rogers last start before being shut down.

> Morgan went 3-for-5 in a rare start for him.

> Ramirez and Hart each went 3-for-4.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.67 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-5, 4.02 ERA)


The blowpen strikes back

August 30, 2012

POSTGAME

> The bullpen was in mid-season form today, managing to blow what was once a 9-3 lead and turned it into an 12-11 loss to the Cubs. And it’s too bad, because there were a lot of great storylines for the offense.

Shaun Marcum wasn’t himself today, and it showed early, as the Cubs got RBI hits from Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and David DeJesus in the first two innings. But the Brewers stormed back against Cubs starter Brooks Raley, posting a five-run third inning that included a grand slam from Jonathan Lucroy. Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer the next inning.

The Brewers tacked on two more on a Lucroy single in the sixth, but the bullpen had another episode, allowing six runs. There were extra-base hits, bases-loaded walks, and basically everything you don’t want to see.

Cody Ransom promptly gave the Brewers the lead on a solo shot in the seventh, however. Lucroy tacked on another RBI in the eighth for a seven-RBI day.

With John Axford for some reason unavailable after pitching the last two games, Francisco Rodriguez was put in for the save. After striking out Joe Mather to start the inning, K-Rod gave up a double to DeJesus, walked Luis Valbuena, gave up an RBI single to Castro, an RBI double to Rizzo, then a walk-off single to Alfonso Soriano. Yep, went from good to bad pretty quickly.

MY TAKE

> Why K-Rod was used in the closer’s role today is beyond me. He had been pitching great in the eighth inning recently, having not given up a hit in his last eight appearances. So, instead of keeping K-Rod where he had been producing, Ron Roenicke used Jim Henderson in the eighth, where he threw a scoreless inning.

But I don’t get why Henderson isn’t the back-up closer (or just the regular closer). K-Rod has proven he’s not going to get better this year, and he’s definitely not coming back next year. So why bother using him there?

> I’ve been a Manny Parra-backer for pretty much his entire career, but what a pile of junk he’s turned into. After being removed from the starting rotation in late 2010 following a 3-10 record and an ERA over 5.30, he was put into the bullpen, where he threw well until the end of the season. He didn’t pitch at all in 2011 due to a series of back and elbow injuries, but was going to be relied on heavily as the one lefty in the ‘pen this year.

And he’s been terrible. He has a 4.62 ERA, and hasn’t been able to touch the strike zone half the time. That showed again today, as he walked two in a third of an inning while allowing some of Livan Hernandez’s runs to score.

But what gets me is that Parra came out earlier this year and, following a bullpen explosion similar to this one, that he “was having a good year, no matter what anyone else said,” and that the breakdown was a fluke.

Nope, it happens every other outing. Parra better be sent packing along with K-Rod at season’s end.

THE NEWS

> Roenicke said he wasn’t bothered by the lack of complete games. I love how he just keeps brushing off this stat nonchalantly, continuing to say that our bullpen should be able to pick up one or two innings.

Well guess what, Ron? The Brewers have no complete games, and the worst bullpen in baseball. Those two things do NOT add up. This is what people who continue saying this season isn’t RRR’s fault are failing to understand.

> The Brewers will unveil the new Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park tomorrow.

THE NUMBERS

> Lucroy hit his second grand slam of the year. It was also his second seven-RBI game of the year.

> Rickie Weeks went a perfect 5-for-5.

> Ransom went 3-for-4. I was hoping I’d be able to write here that he didn’t strike out for once, but the one time he was retired- in the ninth inning- was via the strikeout.

> Hernandez and Parra gave up a combined six earned runs in that disaster sixth inning.

> The match-ups for the upcoming Pirates series:

Jeff Karstens (5-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Mark Rogers (2-1, 4.28 ERA)

Marco Estrada (2-5, 4.02 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.67 ERA)

James McDonald (12-6, 3.57 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.52 ERA)


Marcum gets screwed over in return

August 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> It looked like Shaun Marcum was going to have a solid return from the disabled list tonight, but his defense had other ideas in the Brewers’ 4-0 loss to the Pirates. All four runs came in the fifth inning, none of them charged to Marcum.

Carlos Gomez started the inning by dropping what would have been a routine line drive out, and instead allowed Neil Walker to reach. Of course that run had to come around to score, as Michael McKenry doubled two batters later. Then Marcum let his frustration get to him, allowing three straight RBI hits to Jeff Karstens (the pitcher), Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider.

The Brewers never really posed much of a threat against Karstens all night. They got back-t0-back singles against him in the eighth inning before he left with an injury, but the Pirates’ bullpen bailed him out.

MY TAKE

> I haven’t seen anything in Jeff Bianchi. He got two hits in final two at-bats tonight, but had been 0-f0r-18 prior to that. He also made an error behind Marcum (he should have had three errors, actually). One of them came when he completely missed a cut-off throw from Norichika Aoki (it wasn’t the greatest throw, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have caught it) in the third inning. Then he botched another cut-off throw in the fifth, which definitely should have been an error. The only error he was actually charged with was a Yuniesque play in which the ball went under his glove on a routine play.

In other words, he’s basically been a Brooks Conrad 2.0. Maybe Jean Segura was unavailable tonight (or Ron Roenicke was giving him a “breather”), but I don’t want to see much more of this guy at shortstop.

> Marcum didn’t throw the ball too bad at all for his first start since June. He gave up a few hard-hit balls here and there, but definitely didn’t deserve this fate.
THE NEWS

> Bullpen coach Lee Tunnell is confident that John Axford will get back to his former self eventually.

“It’s a different thing [making adjustments] here than in A-ball. I think he’ll get it figured out. There’s flashes of it. His last three games were pretty solid, so it’s just a matter of staying locked in, I think.”

“If he goes through this tough year the right way, it’ll help him the rest of his career. Look at how he got to us- he has resilience. He has that in his personality.”

If you didn’t know, Tunnell was named the bullpen coach after Stan Kyles was unfairly fired.

> The Brewers outrighted Mike McClendon to Triple-A to make room for Bianchi on the roster.

> The huge blockbuster trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox was approved today. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto will head to LA in exchange for Rubby De La Rosa and four other Minor League players.

> Zack Greinke had his first legitimate good start for the Angels yesterday, going 7 2/3 innings while giving up one run against the potent Tigers lineup.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers out-hit the Pirates 9-7, yet were shut out and lost by four runs.

> Brewers pitchers didn’t give up an earned run today.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mark Rogers (1-1, 5.02 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (7-13, 4.76 ERA)

 


Loe picks up Axford in shaky ninth

August 25, 2012

POSTGAME

> It was another bullpen classic tonight. The Brewers squeezed past the Pirates, 6-5, in a game that should have been a much easier win. They had a three-run lead going into the ninth inning, but, after a dominating performance on Wednesday, John Axford couldn’t handle it today.

The Brewers jumped on Wandy Rodriguez early, with back-to-back RBI hits from Corey Hart and Jonathan Lucroy to give them a 2-0 lead. But the Pirates answered back on an Andrew McCutchen two-RBI single in the fourth.

It was a pitchers’ duel between Mike Fiers and Rodriguez until the Brewers finally broke the game open in the seventh. Rodriguez was removed with a runner on second and two outs in favor of Jared Hughes, who got his head blown off by the Brewers. He started by hitting Rickie Weeks with the first pitch he threw, then walked Ryan Braun to load the bases. Aramis Ramirez made him pay with a bases-clearing double.

The Brewers had a 6-3 lead going into the ninth, so Axford was put in for what looked like an easy save situation, especially after his save Wednesday. But nothing is easy for him nowadays. He walked McCutchen and Garrett Jones to start the inning, then gave up an RBI single to Neil Walker. Axford seemed to find it for two batters, notching back-to-back strikeouts of Pedro Alvarez and Jeff Clement. But then he gave up another RBI single to Michael McKenry, and Ron Roenicke decided to yank him for Kameron Loe, who struck out Gaby Sanchez to record the save.

AXFORD CAN’T HANDLE IT ANYMORE

> I wrote an article yesterday regarding Axford’s confidence coming back after he recorded back-to-back saves. I also mentioned that he himself went up to Roenicke and personally asked for the closer’s role back.

But I guess I was wrong. Axford just no longer has the ability to string together good outings. I want to say he’ll get better, but each blown save (or practically blown save, which was the case tonight) just lessens my confidence in him more and more.

Yes, I know it’s probably too early to judge him, and there’s no reason that he can’t still turn it around before season’s end. But, at the same time, there’s no reason that he can’t become the next Derrick Turnbow, which, scarily enough, seems to be exactly what’s happening to him. Axford had a ton of saves last year and sub-2.00 ERA, and now can barely string together two good outings.

Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds very familiar. The exact same thing happened to Turnbow. And we all saw what happened to Turnbow after this happened to him.

I hate to be all negative about Axford, because he has great stuff, and still has the potential to be that dominant closer. But, just like Turnbow, he can’t get it together mentally anymore.

(Sorry if I brought back any bad memories with that photo.)

THE NEWS

> Randy Wolf said the Brewers organization treated him with respect and “has been outstanding” even after they released him. He’ll return to his home in Los Angeles to work out and hopefully wait on another big league opportunity.

> Shaun Marcum was offically reinstated from the disabled list today and will make his first start since early June tomorrow.

THE NUMBERS

> Fiers bounced back nicely after two rough outings against the Rockies and Phillies. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out 10, which tied a career-high.

In Fiers’ two previous starts, he had a whopping 15.43 ERA.

> Braun got walked three times tonight, one of those times intentionally. Ramirez made the Bucs pay for all of those by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

> Jean Segura’s average has fallen to .189.

> Fiers finally recorded his first career hit, which was a bunt single to ignite the seventh inning rally.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79 ERA)


Ax saves back-to-back games; Wolf cut loose

August 22, 2012

POSTGAME

> Today was the ideal Brewers win: the starter goes seven strong, and the setup man and closer each throw scoreless innings to seal the win.

That’s been very uncommon this year thanks the bullpen, but it happened today in the Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Cubs, as the brooms were brought out. Yovani Gallardo won his fifth straight decision, going seven solid innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out nine.

Yo gave up a lead-off home run to David DeJesus, but buckled down until giving up another solo homer to Bryan LaHair in the seventh. After the Cubs took the early 1-0 lead, the Brewers responded in the bottom of the first with three straight doubles off Travis Wood from Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart. The Brewers added on another run on Braun’s solo home run in the sixth.

Jim Henderson pitched the eighth and struggled a bit with his command, but put up the zero. John Axford struck out the side in the ninth to record his 20th save, so maybe he’s on his way back to being a dominant closer.

THE NEWS

> In a somewhat shocking move, Randy Wolf was released prior to today’s game. With the numbers Wolf was putting up this year, it was extremely unlikely the Brewers were going to pick up his $10 million option for 2013 anyway, but he wasn’t expected to go this early.

Wolf was victim to nine blown saves behind him, but the 5.69 ERA speaks for itself. He was just flat-out ineffective this year and couldn’t duplicate the 2011 season in which he went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA, while also getting a clutch win in the NLCS against the Cardinals.

He went 13-12 with a 4.17 ERA in 2010, including a 2.67 ERA in the second half, which was his first year with the Brewers. Wolf finishes with a career 29-32 record as a Brewer with a 4.37 ERA.

I hope Wolf gets picked up by someone (maybe a contender) down the stretch. He was a real class act, but just wasn’t getting it done for the Brewers this go around.

> In a corresponding move, the Brewers once again recalled Jeff Bianchi.

> Jean Segura was out of today’s lineup, and was witnessed limping in the clubhouse. Last night, Carlos Marmol covered first base the wrong way while fielding a Segura groundout, and Segura stepped on his foot. Segura did stay in the rest of the game.

Cody Ransom got the start at shortstop today, and the Brewers called up Bianchi just in case.

> Axford reportedly asked Ron Roenicke to return to the closer’s role. That’s a very good sign, because it means Ax’s confidence is starting to come back.

> Bartolo Colon, currently pitching for the contending Athletics, was hit with a 50-game ban today. It’s crazy how many players have been suspended this year. It was the second Bay Area player to get knocked out, with Melky Cabrera receiving a suspension last week.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun has been hot since snapping his slump, and continued that with a 3-for-4 day. His average now sits at .308.

> Ransom actually got a hit in his start, going 1-for-2. But, he naturally struck out the one time he was retired.

> Since his record evened at 8-8 following a rough start against the Nationals, Gallardo has won five consecutive decisions, only giving up more than two earned runs in one of those starts.

> Brewers pitchers struck out a cumulative 37 Cubs batters this series (12 in the first two games, 13 today).

> Wolf was released on his 36th birthday. Ouch.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-game set against the still-contending Pirates. Here are the probables:

Mike Fiers (6-6, 2.90 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (8-12, 4.00 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79 ERA)

Mark Rogers (1-1, 5.02 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (7-13, 4.76 ERA)