Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90’s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league 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.


Recent signings and trades open, close doors for Brewers

December 13, 2011

> Yesterday was a productive day for the Brewers’ front office. In the morning, they signed free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Then, by night, they traded third baseman Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. Both of these moves will have a huge impact on the Brewers will look next year- and it’s probably going to be much different than they looked in 2011.

> But these moves also opened up a few opportunities for young players, while closing them for other players.

The question at third base in 2012 was obviously answered when the Brewers signed Ramirez. After McGehee, who’d been the Brewers starting third baseman from 2009-2011, had a rough year last year, there were questions about whether or not the Brewers would get decent production from that position. McGehee had been one of the Brewers’ most consistent hitters in 2009 and 2010, hitting .301 and .285 (in the respective years). But, he slumped down to a .223 average in 2011, and, by the playoffs, had lost his starting position.

Despite the fact he’s 33, Ramirez should give the Brewers good production at third base. He hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs in 2011, and has proved over the years that he can hit 25-30 homers on a consistent basis. Which is what the Brewers needed to fill in the void that Prince Fielder left in their lineup.

Speaking of Fielder. The Ramirez signing pretty much closed the door on the possibility of Fielder returning to the Brewers in 2012. But, as much as we all wanted him back, I think we knew he was as good as gone.

And, with Fielder and McGehee officially gone, that opens an opportunity at one of the most important offensive positions- first base.

The Brewers seem determined to give Mat Gamel a shot at first. Gamel’s been stuck as a “prospect” for awhile now, as he’s torn up the Minors over the past few years. But, he’s been pretty inconsistent at the Major League level when given the chance.

Maybe consistent playing time will do him good, though. When he was given a chance in the Majors, he didn’t get consistent playing time, which probably didn’t help.

Another good thing about Gamel is that he’s versatile. While he’s most likely to play first base, he can also play third and the corner outfield positions, which could give him the ability to be a utility player if he doesn’t win the job at first.

Taylor Green may also be given a chance at first base. We saw a bit of him at the Major League level this year, and it looks like he’ll have a bright future. He’s also torn up the Minors, especially this year, when he hit .336 before being called up at the end of August. Green is also somewhat versatile, as he can play third, second, and first base.

The shortstop question was also answered this week, as the Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal, and he’s much better than Yuniesky Betancourt. I did an article a few days ago explaining my opinion on why Gonzalez was better than Betancourt, but, to sum it up in one sentence: Gonzalez is a far superior defender to Betancourt.

Onto the bullpen, which appeared to be going downhill when Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Diamondbacks and Angels, respectively. The Brewers began to address that last night in acquiring Veras from the Pirates, but I think they’ll need at least one or two more solid relievers to make me feel good about the bullpen, and more help to set up for the 1-2 punch of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

And that’s about it. I think the Brewers did a good job of addressing all of their major needs early in the offseason, which could give them time to ponder additional moves and trades over the rest of the offseason.

> By the way: the Brewers tendered the contracts of all their arbitration-eligible players. That means George Kottaras, Shaun Marcum, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Rodriguez, Veras, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan all avoided arbitration.

> The Brewers also announced this week that they’re still interested in extending both Marcum and Zack Greinke, another one of their top priorities this offseason.

> I don’t have much to say about the Braun issue today, as most of the news is the same as it was yesterday. But, if you’re worried that he’ll still receive that 50-game suspension, read this article– it definitely made me feel better.

> And one last thing- I heard today that the Rockies are interested in free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. That has nothing to do with the Brewers, I know- but if a team other than the Cardinals signs him, it’s beneficial to us.

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


K-Rod will probably accept arbitration

December 8, 2011

> Well, this is just great.

> Multiple sources are telling me that reliever Francisco Rodriguez is probably going to accept arbitration. The deadline for accepting or declining arbitration is 11 P.M. CT (in other words, about a half hour), but Rodriguez has yet to decide. But, it’s likely that he will accept, unfortuantely.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it weren’t for the financial situation it puts the Brewers in (and Rodriguez’s attitude doesn’t really help either). If Rodriguez does accept, it will definitely force the Brewers to look into the trade market to fill their holes, because they’ll barely have any money left to spend on the free agent market.

Which is too bad, because I was hoping the Brewers would sign third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But, Rodriguez accepting arbitration won’t allow the Brewers to meet Ramirez’s terms.

But at least it’ll be a seven inning game again in 2012, assuming K-Rod isn’t going to whine about his setup role again. John Axford is going to be the Brewers’ closer for awhile, so we can’t have Rodriguez asking for save situations. The only situation that Rodriguez would actually get a chance to close is if Axford goes into a slide where he’s struggling to find the plate (he does have a history with that, but it hasn’t shown up in awhile). But, then again, Rodriguez can be a bit erratic at times as well.

Back to the contract situation, though. The case with arbitration contracts it that the player can be cut during Spring Training, and the team would only have to pay one-sixth of the player’s contract. Now, I highly doubt this is going to be the case with Rodriguez, but, if he keeps being a jerk and a bad influence on the team, that could cost him.

> All of a sudden, the Marlins are out of the running for Albert Pujols. Wasn’t it just last night that they were demanding a response from Pujols on a monster 10-year deal?

Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, called the Marlins earlier today to inform them that they were out of the running. In response to that, the Marlins went out and signed Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million deal. That adds to the collection already made up of Heath Bell and Jose Reyes.

Anyway, back to Pujols. The Angels have replaced the Marlins as the top contender (aside from the Cardinals) to land Pujols, and that actually makes sense for a few reasons. First off, Los Angeles is a pretty big market (don’t let the Dodgers fool you, they’re just bankrupt). Second, the Angels need offense, just like every other west coast team. So it’s a pretty good fit.

I’ve been hearing there are also a few mystery teams involved with Pujols, but it’s still unknown who th0se teams are.

> LaTroy Hawkins is officially leaving with the Brewers. The Angels are supposedly putting finishing touches on a one-year deal with him because they need veteran presence at the back end of their bullpen (something the Brewers could use right now as well).

So, farewell, LaTroy. Thanks for your time with the Crew, and good luck with the Angels, and wherever else you end up after that.

> And that’s about it. There were tons of minor trades and signings today, such as Erik Bedard signing with the Pirates, and Huston Street being traded to the Padres, but I can’t go in depth on those right now. When Prince Fielder and Pujols are on the market, deals like that just get overlooked.

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


Brewers make a few announcements on first day of Meetings

December 6, 2011

> The first day of the Winter Meetings were highlighted by the Miami Marlins, as they officially announced their major signings of Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. The Brewers also made a few announcements, but nothing near the caliber of those top-tier free agents.

> Jerry Hairston Jr. won’t be returning to the Brewers. Earlier today, he signed a two-year deal with Dodgers.

Hairston hit .274 with the Brewers after being acquired from the Nationals at the Trade Deadline, and was a great fit with the Brewers. He filled in at second base while Rickie Weeks was injured, in center field while Carlos Gomez was injured, and at third base (particularly in the postseason) while Casey McGehee was slumping.

Hairston was also valuable in the postseason, hitting .333 and getting big hits when the Brewers needed it. However, he also made some defensive miscues that may have cost the Brewers a few games in the postseason.

> The Brewers announced that lefty reliever Zach Braddock is part of their future bullpen plans. Braddock missed most of 2011, but, when he did pitch, he wasn’t very effective, as he put up a 7.27 ERA in 25 games. He was hampered with disorders and personal issues all season as well, as he went on the disabled list two different times due to a sleeping disorder (which was based similarly to the disorder that Zack Greinke has). Then, while in the Minors, Braddock was placed on the inactive list for matters that the Brewers kept private. I’m kind of surprised that nothing about that leaked at all.

Anyway, Braddock has potential. In 2010, his rookie season, he put up a 2.94 ERA in 46 games. I’ll be satisfied if he can get back to that point, but that could take awhile.

> If Prince Fielder doesn’t re-sign with the Brewers, Weeks might slide down to the four-hole in the lineup, Ron Roenicke announced today.

This makes me shiver, just a bit.

Nothing against Weeks, but he’s more of a lead-off hitter, in my opinion. And we all saw how unproductive he was in the five-hole, but then again, that was a trend throughout everyone on the Brewers.

Weeks is going to need to become much more consistent for me to be comfortable with him in the four-hole. Primarily, he needs to bring his average up and strike out less.

But hopefully it doesn’t come to that. If the Brewers can somehow manage to sign Aramis Ramirez, he would slide perfectly into the four-hole behind Ryan Braun. If the Brewers can’t get a decent four-hole hitter and leave Braun in the three-hole, he’s going to be walked like crazy, being the reigning NL MVP.

> Unfortunately for the Brewers, the Phillies are actively pursuing Ramirez as well. If the Phillies are after him, odds are they’re going to get him.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back reliever Todd Coffey. I don’t know about this, since he’s just never been the same since that injury in 2010. But hey, I’d rather have him setting up than Kameron Loe.

On another reliever note, the Brewers have apparently displayed no interest in bringing back LaTroy Hawkins. Yes, let’s not bring back one of our most consistent relievers all year, right? I hope this changes.

> So at least there was some news today. There should be a lot of news this week, as the Winter Meetings will be going on for the next few days. Maybe we’ll see another top-tier free agents sign (hopefully with someone other than the Marlins).

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


Brewers to make a few offers prior to Winter Meetings

December 3, 2011

> The Brewers are supposedly not going to be very active during the Winter Meetings this year, but they might be before the Winter Meetings.

> According to the Brewer Nation (@BrewersNation), the Brewers are going to make contract offers to two players this weekend- one relief pitcher, and one infielder. It isn’t known the amount of money or how many years they’re for, and it isn’t even known who the infielder is.

But, the relief pitcher is thought to be Takashi Saito, who pitched for the Brewers last year as well. He was injured until around late June, but was effective upon his return, going 4-2 with a 2.02 ERA. Saito typically shared the seventh inning role with LaTroy Hawkins in 2011, but, unless the Brewers don’t get another reliever capable of setting up, he’ll probably be pitching the eighth inning in 2012.

The only issue about Saito is his injury history (which I already mentioned) and his age. He’s 41 right now, and will be 42 by opening day of 2012. But, if he can still be productive, I don’t care what his age is- let him pitch.

> The Brewers have also supposedly made an offer to utility infielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who they acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Nationals. He didn’t do much during the regular season, but had a few key hits in the playoffs. He also had some misplays in the playoffs, however.

> Yesterday, the Dodgers signed former Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano to a two-year deal worth around $10 million. After the Brewers told Capuano that he wouldn’t be able to start for them prior to the 2011 season, he elected to become a free agent, and was signed by the Mets. He went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA for the Mets in 2011, and had a career 4.34 ERA during his five years with the Brewers.

There was some speculation before the 2011 season that the Brewers should have opted to keep Capuano as the fifth starter, instead of going with lefty starter Chris Narveson, who could have also been used out of the bullpen. But Narveson ended up having a slightly better season than Capuano, as he went 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA.

> And that’s about it. It’s been a slow past few days… Actually, who am I kidding? It’s been a slow few weeks. But, I’m happy to announce that, the day before yesterday, the record for views in a single day on Breaking Wisconsin was shattered by over 100 views. So thanks to everyone who checked this site out that day, and thanks to everybody who’s taken the time to look at it for as long it’s existed.

Anyway, feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


Brewers offered K-Rod arbitration without “gentleman’s deal”

November 25, 2011

> If this doesn’t turn out the way the Brewers want it to, they could be on the hook for a lot of money.

> Doug Melvin said this morning that the Brewers and free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not strike a “gentleman’s deal,” as they’re called, before the Brewers offered him arbitration. This could be more dangerous than they think.

> Rodriguez has expressed his interest in closing, but has also expressed interest in money. Rodriguez could probably make more money by accepting the Brewers’ arbitration offer than signing with a team on the open market, meaning taking setting up over closing. Rafael Soriano made a similar move last offseason, as he signed with the Yankees as a setup man (obviously, that didn’t go over well) instead of signing with another team to close.

> Anyway, my point is the Brewers are already close to being in financial trouble. I doubt they’ll get there, but it’s possible. Though it’s unlikely they’ll sign him, the Brewers are obviously in the bidding for Prince Fielder. If they do wind up signing him somehow, that lowers the likelihood of extending starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, another offseason priority for the Brewers. If Rodriguez ends up accepting arbitration, that puts the Brewers in a bad situation.

> But I highly doubt all of these pieces will fall into place. I’m 80% sure that Fielder and Rodriguez will be in different uniforms next year, and the Brewers will manage to extend both Greinke and Marcum. But, they’ll also need to look for some relievers, as they’re also losing Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins.

> Anyway, that was all the news for today. Sorry it came later than usual, but I was out celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and friends, and hopefully you were too, instead of sitting on the Internet all day.

> And on that note, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and I thank you for reading.