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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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.


Greinke’s solid effort goes for naught after 15 innings

June 18, 2012

> These aren’t the type of games you can lose. The Brewers’ fell to the Twins today, 5-4, after an extremely discouraging 15 innings. Despite a solid effort from Zack Greinke, the Brewers couldn’t capitalize on any late-inning RISP chances.

Greinke went eight innings while giving up four runs on eleven hits. He walked two and struck out six. The eleven hits and four runs don’t look too great on the box score, but those numbers are because of a bump in the road in the seventh. Other than that, he had a decent start. But this was just his second time completing eight innings as a Brewer.

The Brewers got on the board quickly against Twins starter Nick Blackburn on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the first inning. But Joe Mauer helped the Twins answer back in the third inning with an RBI single of his own.

Then, in the fifth inning, the Brewers put up their biggest threat of the game. Norichika Aoki led off the inning with a double off the right field wall, and Nyjer Morgan followed that by reaching on a bunt single. That gave the Brewers runners on first and third with no outs, but they nearly wasted the opportunity. Ryan Braun hit a weak pop up to second baseman Jamey Carroll, and Ramirez struck out looking. That brought up Corey Hart, who battled with Blackburn until the count was full. Hart then came through in the clutch and hit a three-run blast over the right field wall, not an easy feat at Target Field. This gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

But then came Greinke’s rough seventh. I don’t want to say he melted down, but he did blow the lead. He started the inning by walking the hot-hitting Trevor Plouffe, which I didn’t mind; it’s better than him hitting another one into the second deck. Greinke then recovered by inducing a Ryan Doumit pop-out and a Brian Dozier groundout, with Plouffe advancing to second on the groundout. Then came a Twins hitting barrage. Carroll drove in Plouffe with an RBI single, and Denard Span followed that with another single to put runners on first and third. Ben Revere then hit an RBI single, which set the stage for another RBI single by Mauer, who once again tied up the game.

No one would have guessed that the next run of the game would come another eight innings later. Tim Dillard was on to pitch the 15th inning, and gave up a lead-off single to Plouffe. He came back to strike out Doumit, but then gave up a single to Dozier. Carroll followed that up with a single that Plouffe tried to score on, but the right fielder Aoki gunned him down at home. This put runners on first and third with one out. Then, Ron Roenicke made yet another questionable move by replacing Dillard with lefty Juan Perez to face the left-handed hitting Span. I still don’t know why, since Dillard appeared to be handling the rest of the lefties in the Twins’ lineup just fine. Naturally, though, Span hit a walk-off single off Perez to give the Twins their win.

> But the Brewers wasted a ton of scoring chances all game, especially in the extra innings they were given. They wound up leaving 17 men on base, which is averaging over one man left on per inning. And they wonder why the aren’t scoring runs.

> Today was an interesting game. The game seemed to be moving along at a reasonable case, although it started raining after the first pitch and continued to drizzle until around the 11th inning. As Kameron Loe was finishing pitching the 11th, the skies opened up, and the tarp was pulled onto the field. So there was a rain delay in extra innings, not something you see very often. But this made the game extend to nearly six hours long.

> Sort of a random note to end on, but that’s about it. The Brewers come back home to start a three-game set with the Blue Jays tomorrow. Here are what the matchups are looking like:

Henderson Alvarez (3-6, 3.87 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.06 ERA)

??? vs. Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA)

??? vs. Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 4.23 ERA)

As you can see, there are a few TBAs on the Blue Jays’ side. That’s because they’ve been having Brewers-injury luck lately. Within a five-day span, three members of their starting rotation were injured- Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison. But, on the bright side, the Brewers won’t have to face Morrow, who was leading the American League in shutouts and appeared to be on his way to an All-Star campaign.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Crew wins slugfest with ChiSox

March 7, 2012

> This is what we’ve been waiting for all spring- a day the Brewers offense breaks out.

I guess saying all spring makes it seem like Spring Training has been going on for awhile, even though this is only the Brewers’ fourth game. But, with the way the Brewers offense had been those first three games (save for those lucky breaks against the Giants), it certainly felt like awhile. Anyway, enough rambling- the Brewers defeated the White Sox today, 10-6. For the most part of the game, the Brewers had been winning be a large margin (at one point it was 8-0), as the White Sox didn’t even draw within four runs until the ninth inning.

The Brewers wasted no time getting on the board, as Alex Gonzalez hit a two-RBI double in the first inning off Sox starter Jake Peavy. The Brewers tagged Peavy for one more run in the second on Norichika Aoki’s long-awaited first hit with the Crew- a RBI triple. The Brewers also added another run in the third on Taylor Green’s RBI single.

The Brewers then had a breakout inning at the plate in the fourth. Mike Rivera and Travis Ishikawa each had RBI singles, and Gonzalez continued his good day at the plate with a two-RBI triple. All four of these runs came off of pitcher Dylan Axelrod, and the Brewers led 8-0 after the fourth.

The White Sox finally got on the board in the fifth on a two-run homer by Jared Mitchell, and a RBI double by A.J. Pierzynski. But the Brewers answered back in the sixth on a two-RBI double by Edwin Maysonet, making the score 10-3. The Sox scored three more runs before the game ended- Trayce Thompson had a RBI groundout in the eighth, Hector Gimenez hit a RBI single in the ninth, and Delwyn Young hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Despite the fact the pitching staff gave up six runs, it looked pretty good once again. Marco Estrada kept the starting pitchers’ scoreless streak alive with two scoreless innings to start the game. John Axford, Kameron Loe, and Juan Perez all also had scoreless innings. Mike Fiers gave up three runs, and Josh Butler gave up two runs, however. Taylor Jungmann also gave up a run in two innings of work, but it was unearned (what a theme that’s been this spring).

A lot of guys who were due to have breakout games at some point did have them today. Along with his triple, Aoki tacked on another hit later in the game and went 2-for-4. Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and showed that he can be an occasional source of power. Eric Farris also went 2-for-4. Meanwhile, Nyjer Morgan finally got his first hit of the spring, and Ishikawa got another hit as he continues to make his case for the opening day roster.

> Corey Hart announced today that hethought that having his knee surgically repaired was the right decision. We all probably already knew that, but it’s good hearing it from the man himself.

> The Brewers will take on the division-rival Reds tomorrow at 2:05 PM CT, and will send Zack Greinke to the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings in the first game of spring against the Giants. The Reds will counter with Mike Leake, who has a 4.50 ERA thus far this spring.

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


Brewers’ first game ends in a tie

March 4, 2012

> Well, it wasn’t exactly the most exciting of games. But baseball season is back, and that’s all that matters.

The Brewers didn’t win or lose against the Giants today, something that wouldn’t happen during the regular season. The game ended in a tie, 1-1. You’d sort of expect the Giants offense to not be running on all cylinders (it never is), but the Brewers collected even less hits than the Giants. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come, with Prince Fielder gone and the impending injury of Corey Hart (I’ll talk about that later this post).

The only run the Brewers scored came in the third inning on a Carlos Gomez RBI single off Madison Bumgarner, which followed a Jonathan Lucroy double. The Giants scored in the fifth inning on Brandon Crawford’s RBI single off John Axford.

Aside from Axford, though, the pitching was solid. Randy Wolf threw two perfect innings. Zack Greinke worked around three hits to toss two scoreless innings. Other than Axford, the relievers who worked- Kameron Loe, Marco Estrada, Juan Perez, and Mike Fiers- didn’t give up a run.

The Brewers play the Giants again tomorrow for a rare Spring Training night game at 8:35 CT. The probable starters are Chris Narveson for the Brewers and Matt Cain for the Giants. This game is going to be televised on MLB Network, probably streamed from CSN Bay Area, the Giants’ feed.

> Now, onto Hart’s injury… again. For the second straight spring, Hart will start the season on the DL, this time because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. After the surgery, Hart will need to recover for 3-4 weeks, which could actually give him a chance to return in time for the Brewers’ season opener against the Cardinals. But, everything would have to go perfect during his recovery, and he probably wouldn’t get enough at-bats to be ready by that time. So, I’m guessing he won’t be on the Brewers’ opening day roster, unfortunately.

Rickie Weeks was also scratched from today’s lineup with a sore shoulder, but he’s day-to-day, and it’s nothing as serious as Hart’s injury.

> There were a lot of Giants fans at today’s game in Maryvale, and they weren’t particularly kind to Ryan Braun. During his first at-bat, they were chanting “Urine sample!” Typical.

I actually think I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but the Giants as a franchise haven’t really impressed me over the past few years. After they won the World Series in 2010, most of the fans became extremely cocky. Then, after Scott Cousins took out Buster Posey in that infamous plate collision, GM Brian Sabaen came out and said that he “wouldn’t mind if Cousins never played another game in the Majors ever again.” Lastly, when the Brewers were in San Francisco for a series last year, Nyjer Morgan was manning center field. After he made a highlight reel catch, he signified that there were two outs. But, Giants fans took it as him flipping off the center field crowd.

Really?

I do know some Giants fans who aren’t like this, but it’s too bad the majority of the fan base is like that.

> Fielder hit his first homer of the spring with the Tigers today. Overall, though, the Tigers hit nine homers off the Braves, and won 18-3. Also, the Tigers nearly no-hit the Braves in their first Spring Training game yesterday. So either the Tigers are off to a hot start, or the Braves are just going to suck this year.

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

Box Score

  AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Carlos Gomez, CF 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 .500
-Cesar Izturis, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Nyjer Morgan, RF 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000
-Eric Farris, 2B 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .500
Ryan Braun, LF 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000
-Norichika Aoki, LF 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Aramis Ramirez, 3B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
-Taylor Green, 3B 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000
Brooks Conrad, 2B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
-Travis Ishikawa, 1B 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Mat Gamel, 1B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
-Caleb Gindl, RF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Alex Gonzalez, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000
-Logan Schafer, CF 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Jonathan Lucroy, C 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 1.000
-Martin Maldanado, C 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
George Kottaras, DH 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000
a- Brock Kjeldgaard, PH-DH 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Totals 29 1 4 1 1 9 6  

a-Struck out for Kottaras in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Lucroy (1, Bumgarner).

TB: Gomez; Farris; Lucroy 3.

RBI: Gomez (1).

GIDP: Gonzalez, Ishikawa.

Team RISP: 1-for-2.

Team LOB: 2.

BASERUNNING

CS: Farris.

PO: Farris.

FIELDING

DP: (Greinke-Gonzalez-Gamel).

  IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Zack Greinke 2.0 3 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
John Axford (BS, 1) 1.0 3 1 1 0 1 0 9.00
Kameron Loe 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Marco Estrada 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00
Juan Perez 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Mike Fiers 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Totals 9.0 7 1 1 1 5 0  

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 1-3, Greinke 1-1, Axford 1-1, Loe 1-1, Estrada 1-1, Perez 2-0, Fiers 2-0.

Batters faced: Wolf 6, Greinke 7, Axford 6, Loe 3, Estrada 4, Perez 4, Fiers 3.


Back at it again…

January 4, 2012

> It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve posted in over two weeks, and my apologies for that. I was on winter break in Florida, which was heaven. Now, it’s back to Wisconsin, where I have to get used to a 60-degree change for the worse in weather. Anyway, BW should start up again on a regular basis after this.

> Not much happened while I was gone, as far as the Brewers are concerned. But, there a few minor things that I’ll go over.

> The Brewers added two peculiar players on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training- shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Juan Perez. Both have a shot at making the Major League club, but I also have my doubts about both.

You’ve probably heard of Izturis at some point. He’s played in the Majors for 11 years, spending time with Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and, most recently, the Orioles. He was once considered a great defensive shortstop, winning the Gold Glove Award in 2004 with the Dodgers. He’s not at that level defensively anymore, but is still considered an above-average defender (and as long as he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, I’ll take it).

The only issue with Izturis  is his extremely weak bat. He has a career .255 average, which isn’t awful, but he has the lowest slugging percentage of an active player at just .322. Over his 11-year career, he only has 15 home runs, never hitting more than four in a season.

Anyway, if Izturis does end up making the Brewers out of Spring Training, he’d probably serve as a backup to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

Perez has played professionally for 12 years, but has only spent part of three seasons in the Majors- two with the Pirates, one with the Phillies, which was last year. He has a career 4.79 ERA, but put up a career low 3.60 ERA with the Phillies in 2011. That was in just five innings over eight games, however.

Perez has a good shot at making the Major League club, though, because the Brewers are still extremely low on left-handed relievers. The three on the roster with Major League experience- Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter- all had injury-plagued years in 2011. Parra missed the entire year with elbow and back problems, Stetter couldn’t recover from a hip injury, and Braddock struggled with a social disorder. Because of all this, the Brewers spent the majority of the final months of the season with a right-handed dominant bullpen. So, Perez gives the Brewers a little left-handed depth in 2012.

> The Brewers shed a bit of light on the Norichiki Aoki situation. They won rights to sign him in mid-December, and have until January 17th to work out a deal, or Aoki returns to his Japanese team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

It turns out negotiations with Aoki have started at around just $1.5 million, which shows the Brewers aren’t extremely interested in him. Aoki has speed and can hit for average, but his weak arm and not much power at the plate probably hold him at a reserve, or fourth, outfielder in the Majors. This shows why the Brewers started negotiations so low.

They plan to work him out at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale sometime within the next few weeks before making their final decision.

> Now, for the piece of news Brewers fans have been worrying about for a while now- the Ryan Braun story. Apparently, an MLB official with knowledge on how the whole appeal process works told Tom Haudricourt that he think the ruling won’t be overturned because of previous cases.

But, you have to take into account that the test results are “unlike any test results seen before,” so this guy’s opinion doesn’t really matter.

I’m still holding out hope that Braun can get this cleaned up and be ready for the start of the season. Because there is a first time for everything.

> One more thing Brewers-related- the Brewers have reportedly approached Zack Greinke about a contract extension. I don’t know if negotiations have even started yet, but this is a good sign, because the Brewers need both Greinke and Shaun Marcum extended by the time the season starts.

> And that’s about everything Brewers-related the took place while I was away. However, there was also some stirring around other teams in the NL Central.

> The Cardinals managed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal worth $26 million. That sort of helps fill the void Albert Pujols left, but not quite.

With Beltran, the Cardinals now have an outfield trio of Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. Normally, this would be a scary trio to have in the lineup offensively, but none of them have very good injury history, so I’m not too worried at this point.

> The Reds and Cubs struck an in-division trade, with the Cubs sending reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for three prospects- starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and second baseman Ronald Torreyes. In my opinion, the Cubs won this trade- the Reds have been giving up way more prospects then they’ve needed to over their past few trades. They also had to give up five prospects to acquire starter Mat Latos from the Padres a few weeks ago.

> The Marlins are reportedly closer to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. And here I thought they were having a productive offseason…

> And I think that’s about it. Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a late merry Christmas and a happy new year. Here’s to hoping for another good Brewers season in 2012. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.