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.

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Brewers have reportedly inquired on Ramirez

December 2, 2011

> Not exactly someone I could see the Brewers signing, but I wouldn’t mind if they did.

> According to Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) on Twitter, the Brewers have inquired on free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez had his option for 2012 picked up by the Cubs earlier this offseason, but a clause in his contract gave him a chance to decline the option himself, which he did, hence becoming a free agent.

Ramirez is a 14-season veteran, but has shown over the past few years that he can still produce at the plate (and occasionally on defense). In 2011, he hit 26 home runs with 93 RBIs and a .306 average for the Cubs, being one of the bright spots during their disappointing 71-91 season. Ramirez owns a .284 career average during nine years with the Cubs and six with the Pirates.

In my opinion, the Brewers signing Ramirez would be pretty ironic, actually. Current Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee was acquired off waivers from the Cubs in 2009 because he was blocked at third in the Cubs’ system by Ramirez himself. So, if Ramirez came to the Brewers, it would almost be the same situation McGehee had in Chicago. But, McGehee can also play first base, and, assuming the Brewers don’t re-sign Prince Fielder, he could be an option to play there.

And that was about it for the Brewers news today. Onto some Hot Stove news from around baseball…

> Closer Heath Bell has reportedly signed with the Marlins, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Which is odd, since I thought Bell made a big deal about staying on the west coast to be near his family and home.

Anyway, Bell will replace Leo Nunez– or Juan Carlos Oviedo, whatever the heck that guy’s real name is- in being the Marlins’ closer. This also marks the first big free agent signing by the Marlins this offseason. They’re probably going to make a few more, or at least try, because their payroll is going to raise by nearly $50 million by next year.

> The Red Sox officially made Bobby Valentine their manager today, as he had his press conference. I didn’t see it, but, from what I heard, it must have been pretty good.

I’m still saying that they shouldn’t have let Terry Francona go in the first place, though.

> And that’s about all I’ve got. Today was a bit busier than most of this boring offseason, at least, as yesterday I was reduced to writing about Brewers trades that probably aren’t even going to happen. But it was kind of fun to write about stuff like that, so maybe I’ll do it more often. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


A few things to note about the Cardinals

September 13, 2011

The Cardinals lost to the Pirates today, 6-5. This gives the Brewers a 6.5 game lead in the NL Central, which is big, and their magic number also falls to single digits, at long last. Anyway, Marc Rzepczynski blew the Cards’ lead and ended up taking the loss, while Fernando Salas served up the go-ahead double to Pedro Ciriaco.

But, I’m sure that Cards fans aren’t too worried about this loss, since something better happened for them today- Chris Carpenter is now guaranteed to be a Cardinal next year. And the year after. The Cardinals and Carpenter reportedly agreed to two-year extension worth $21 million, and the first year of that contract replaces his $15 million option that the Cards probably would have picked up for next year anyway. Carpenter has been pitching for the Cardinals since 2004, and owns a 93-42 record with a 3.10 ERA. He also won the 2005 Cy Young Award. Before coming to the Cards, Carpenter wasn’t having any success with his old team, the Blue Jays, going 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA with them. Anyway, Carpenter is having a somewhat of a down-year this year, as he’s 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA. The ERA is respectable, but you’d expect the record to be better.

This signing pretty much defines what the Cards’ rotation will look like over the next few years. This is what it will look like (plus their numbers this year):

Adam Wainwright (Didn’t pitch in 2011)

Chris Carpenter (9-9, 3.75 ERA)

Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.68 ERA)

Kyle Lohse (13-7, 3.62 ERA)

Jake Westbrook (12-8, 4.61 ERA)

Edwin Jackson is also in the rotation right now, but, with Wainwright returning from Tommy John Surgery next year and everyone else already signed, that pretty much forces Jackson to leave via free agency. Which is ironic, since his 3.39 ERA with the Cardinals is the best out of that entire rotation. I’m sure they’d take him over Westbrook any day, but they kind of have to keep him.

Anyway, some games to keep an eye on- the Braves are losing to the Marlins in the 12th inning, 5-4, but they have a guy on second against Leo Nunez. I guess we’ll have to wait to see how that one turns out. On the other side of the country, the Dodgers are beating the Diamondbacks, 1-0, in the fifth inning. If the D-backs lose, they’ll fall a full game behind the Brewers for the second best record in the NL. If they win, they’ll tie the Brewers for the second best. (Oh, by the way, Ted Lilly has a no-hitter going against the D-backs through 4 1/3. I probably just jinxed it, but I’m just putting that out there.)