Brewers could be done with ‘pen renovations

January 9, 2013

> For a while, I was worried that the Brewers weren’t going to be able to pick up a lefty reliever this offseason. They haven’t had a consistent left-handed arm out of the bullpen in years, and Manny Parra being non-tendered left them with almost no possibilities on their 40-man roster.

But, while I was away, the Brewers turned it around and signed two left-handers with very solid track records: Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez.

Gorzelanny, a name Brewers fans may know from his time with the Pirates and Cubs, thrived out of the Nationals’ bullpen last season, his first full season as a reliever. He went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 45 games (72 innings). He won’t strike out a hoard of batters, but hasn’t had a K/9 below 7.3 since 2008. Gorzelanny also gives the Brewers a bit of versatility out of the ‘pen- he can be a lefty specialist, a long reliever, or even a spot starter. Gorzo’s contract is for two years and $6 million.

Gonzalez, on the other hand, is a true lefty specialist, or “LOOGy” (lefty-one-out-guy). He was also with the Nats last year, but didn’t sign until midseason. In 47 games (35 2/3 IP), he posted a 3.03 ERA. But the primary stat to look at for a guy like Gonzalez how left-handed batters fare against him, and in 2012 they didn’t have much success. Gonzalez held them to just a .179 average. He did allow righties to hit .297 against him, but, assuming Ron Roenicke uses him correctly, that won’t be much of an issue.

Gonzalez

The additions of these guys should seal up the revamped Brewers bullpen, which is actually starting to look like a strength, in my opinion. If the season started tomorrow, this is how I’d assemble it:

John Axford (closer)
Jim Henderson (primary setup man)
Burke Badenhop
Mike Gonzalez
Tom Gorzelanny
Brandon Kintzler
Michael Olmsted

The first five are locks, but the last two spots could be up for grabs in Spring Training. The Brewers actually have a wealth of power righties to choose from for those two spots, however- aside from Kintzler and Olmsted, there’s Johnny Hellweg, Josh Stinson, Jesus Sanchez, or even Mark Rogers (I’ll touch on his case in the coming days). But Kintzler, who has parts of three big league seasons under his belt, will definitely be a favorite. Same goes for Olmsted, who posted god-like numbers at Boston’s Double-A affiliate in 2012.

> The Brewers also signed multiple players to minor league deals while I was away: right-handed reliever Jim Hoey, shortstop Ozzie Martinez, and outfielders Rene Tosoni and Cole Garner.

> Arcenio Leon was designated for assignment yesterday after the Brewers made the Gonzalez signing official.

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Brewers end it somewhat fittingly

October 4, 2012

POSTGAME

> I don’t think the Brewers could have finished their season in a more fitting way. After an early 6-0 lead, they fell to the Padres, 7-6, to end a season in which this situation so often plagued them.

The Brewers scored six runs in the first three innings, with four of those runs coming from Travis Ishikawa (in what was likely his final game in a Brewers uniform). But after that, things went downhill quickly. The Padres got five runs between the fourth and six innings, including home runs from Chris Denorfia and Cameron Maybin. They then took the lead in the seventh off of Jim Henderson with an RBI triple from Chase Headley and a Yonder Alonso sacrifice fly.

MY TAKE

> I have to wonder if Ron Roenicke even tried to win this game. A day after taxing his bullpen by letting Tyler Thornburg go just four innings, he sits his ace, Yovani Gallardo, who could have easily given him at least seven innings. RRR instead started Josh Stinson, who he also let go only four innings, forcing his bullpen to go at least five innings again.

So obviously the bullpen was going to get rocked, and I worried about that from the start. In this case, it is DEFINITELY the manager’s fault, and there’s no argument against it.

THE NEWS

> Aramis Ramirez left the game early after reaching the .300 mark. The standing ovation he got was pretty cool.

> The Wild Card play-in games are tomorrow. It’ll be the Cardinals against the Braves (Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen) and the Orioles against the Rangers (Joe Saunders vs. Yu Darvish).

> Former Brewer Ben Sheets made what was probably his final big league appearance yesterday. He pitched the first inning of the Braves-Pirates game and struck out two.

THE NUMBERS

> Headley secured his RBI title with two RBIs yesterday. He finishes at 115, while Ryan Braun stayed at 112.

> The Brewers needed eight strikeouts to tie the Major League strikeout record set by the 2003 Cubs, but only got six (despite Stinson not striking out a batter). If Gallardo starts, it’s almost guaranteed the Brewers at least tie the record.

> Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years.

With the regular season over and the Brewers not in the playoffs, there are going to be changes here at BWI in order to better fit offseason news. From now until the beginning of Spring Training 2013, here will be the new format: the biggest news story of the day (whether or not it’s a Brewers headline or not) or an opinionated article, the regular news section (Brewers news will always come first), postseason coverage (up until it ends), and the extras. The numbers might pop back every now and then, but I doubt there will be enough statistics to report over the offseason to consistently keep it is a section.

I already have some opinionated articles in mind, but I’ll save those for days in which there’s nothing else to write about.

THE EXTRAS

> The FOX Sports Wisconsin analysts continued the tradition of wearing bowties on the last day of the season.


Brewers squeeze past Padres to take final series

October 3, 2012

POSTGAME

> All the Brewers needed tonight was Martin Maldonado’s third inning grand slam to defeat the Padres. Their 4-3 win gives them a series win in their final series of the year.

THE NEWS

> As Ron Roenicke announced yesterday, Tyler Thornburg went just four innings today. I thought RRR would let him go five innings and give him a chance for his first career win, but apparently that wasn’t his mindset.

Thorn looked good in his limited work though. He gave up a run on four hits and struck out four, including when he struck out the side in the first inning.

> Josh Stinson is going to start tomorrow. Yep, Yovani Gallardo won’t make his final start or have a bid at his 17th win.

Ron Roenicke, everyone.

> The Brewers will bring back their current coaching staff next year.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers need eight more strikeouts to tie the MLB single-season record for team strikeouts in a season. The record his held by the 2003 Cubs.

> The Brewers start seven rookies- Norichika Aoki, Logan Schafer, Maldonado, Taylor Green, Jean Segura, Jeff Binachi, and Thornburg- and still defeated the Padres. They also used two rookie relievers, Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson. Not to mention they started Travis Ishikawa at first base, which you could say is the equivalent of a rookie.

> Henderson’s string of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped last night.

> Kintzler, a reliever, has four wins in just 14 games. That’s a rather odd ratio for a reliever.

UPDATE: For some reason, Henderson was rewarded the win, despite the fact Kintzler should have received the win.

> Tomorrow’s match-up for the season finale (*sniffle*):

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Josh Stinson (0-0, 0.00)

THE EXTRAS

> Adam Greenberg got his dream at-bat for the Marlins today. But, he was facing R.A. Dickey, so the result was rather predictable.

> Michael Morse may have hit the greatest grand slam ever the other day.


Nothing doing for Brewers against JJ

September 6, 2012

POSTGAME

> I missed most of today’s game because I was in school (day games late in the year drive me insane). But, I didn’t miss much, as the Brewers scuffled to do anything in today’s 6-2 loss to the Marlins, forcing them to settle for a split of the four-game series.

Marco Estrada was knocked around a bit. The Marlins tagged him for four runs on seven hits over five innings. That included a very rough first inning, in which Estrada allowed three consecutive hits- two doubles- to Bryan Petersen, Donovan Solano, and Jose Reyes to start the game. The only Brewers runs came on sacrifice flies from Ryan Braun and Norichika Aoki in the third and seventh innings, respectively.

THE NEWS

> Estrada claimed that he “wasn’t ready” for today’s game, saying he lost track of time and to rush through his pregame routine.

“I rushed a little bit. By the time I was done, the game had already started and (Josh) Johnson had a pretty quick inning. It’s my fault, I can’t let things like that happen.”

I don’t know how he “lost track of time,” but, regardless of what happened, it’s pretty inexcusable.

Again, I wasn’t watching today’s game, but looking at the box score, Johnson had a hit batter and a walk in the first inning. Both came without the assistance of a double play, so the inning couldn’t have gone that quickly. But I don’t know. This is one of the stranger excuses I’ve seen.

> Aramis Ramirez was held out of the lineup with a lower back/oblique strain. He was pulled from the game when he was in the on-deck circle for his final at-bat last night.

> A few September call-ups made their season debuts today. Josh Stinson threw a third of an inning, and Logan Schafer got a pinch-hit single following an eight-pitch at-bat in the ninth inning.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun now sits at 99 RBIs on the season.

> No one in the lineup had more than one hit today.

> Match-ups for the upcoming Cardinals series:

Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.81 ERA)

Mike Fiers (8-7, 3.19 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (13-10, 3.93 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (5-6, 3.54 ERA)

Gallardo- who’s 1-9 with a 7.05 ERA in his career against the Cardinals- is pitching this series. Wouldn’t be surprised to see his ERA sail over 4.00 after that game.


Peralta rewarded with W in first start

September 6, 2012

POSTGAME

> If Wily Peralta had any nerves tonight, they certainly didn’t show, as he was a key to the Brewers’ 8-5 win over the Marlins. He tossed six solid innings, giving up three runs on five hits while walking four and striking out three. Peralta was given more than enough offensive support, with Rickie Weeks slugging two home runs- both two-run shots- while he was in the game.

The bullpen tried to blow it in the seventh, allowing the Marlins to put up a four-spot with RBIs from Greg Dobbs, Bryan Petersen, Donovan Solano, and Jose Reyes. That slimmed the lead to 6-5, but Corey Hart- who also had a two-run blast in this game- buried the Marlins with a two-run double in the ninth.

MY TAKE

> Peralta looked decent tonight, and showed flashes of the ace-type stuff he has. His running fastball was consistently 95-96 MPH, and he touched 98 twice. He hung his slider a few times, but they didn’t hurt him; and when the slider was down in the zone, it was filthy. He didn’t use his change-up much, but did throw one great one to strike out Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth inning. Peralta also reportedly has a curve, but I didn’t see it at all tonight.

THE NEWS

> Aramis Ramirez was in the on-deck circle for his at-bat in the ninth inning, but quickly retreated to the dugout prior to his at-bat. He then disappeared into the clubhouse. It’s still unknown what happened, but it was speculated that he could have been sick. Jonathan Lucroy pinch-hit for him.

> The Brewers called up their second batch of September prospects yesterday: Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Stinson, and Logan Schafer.

Peralta will take Mark Rogers’ spot in the rotation for likely the rest of the season. Thornburg could see some spot starts here and there, but he’ll be used out of the bullpen for the time being. Stinson, who has seen Major League time with the Mets, went 11-9 with a 3.16 ERA at Double-A; he’ll also likely be used out of the ‘pen. Lastly, Schafer is a highly-touted outfield prospect who we saw a bit of last September.

> Hunter Morris won the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year award, and Hiram Burgos won the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Brewers have already hinted that Morris won’t be called up, but didn’t rule out the possibility of Burgos seeing big league time this month.

> Alex Gonzalez is ahead of schedule of his rehab from his torn ACL. I guess this has some significance in case Jean Segura and Jeff Bianchi don’t pass the Brewers’ expectations in Spring Training of next year.

THE NUMBERS

> This was Weeks’ first multi-homer game since June of 2010.

> Segura went 0-for-4, lowering his average to .198. He’s been good defensively, but I can’t imagine the Brewers are satisfied with his offense.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (2-5, 3.85 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (7-11, 3.86 ERA)

Yes, Estrada has a lower ERA than JJ, somehow.

In personal news, school started for me yesterday. That shouldn’t affect BWI yet, but the work will pile on as the weeks go by. As for the reason there wasn’t an article last night, I was having computer problems I simply didn’t have time to fix. But that’s all cleared up now.