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.


Braun takes home fifth consecutive Silver Slugger

November 9, 2012

> Apparently there’s one award that a false PED accusation can’t take away from Ryan Braun, and that’s one of the three outfield Silver Slugger awards. Braun has basically had this award locked down ever since he arrived in the Majors, this season being the fifth consecutive in which he took home an outfield SS. (The reason I say “one of the outfield awards” is because there is no specific left field award; the awards just go to the three top offensive outfielders regardless of which outfield position they play.)

But Braun winning this award doesn’t make it any better that he was robbed of the Hank Aaron Award, and will be robbed of the MVP. Just something we’ll have to live with for likely the next few seasons.

Anyway, here are the rest of the Silver Slugger winners at their respective positions:

American League

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski

First Base: Prince Fielder

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

Outfield: Mike Trout

Outfield: Josh Willingham

Outfield: Josh Hamilton

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

National League

Catcher: Buster Posey

First Base: Adam LaRoche

Second Base: Aaron Hill

Third Base: Chase Headley

Shortstop: Ian Desmond

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen

Outfield: Jay Bruce

Outfield: Braun

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg

Now for a few pieces of news I’ve missed over the last few days…

> Hunter Morris was named the Topps Southern League Player of the Year. He just can’t stop winning awards; now let’s hope he isn’t falsely accused of using steroids sometime this offseason.

> Carlos Gomez was given the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award for the Brewers.

Defense appears to be second sense to him; now let’s see if Gomez can build off his solid offensive campaign in 2012. If the Brewers don’t sign Hamilton, Gomez is the guy they’re going to fall back on.

> Brock Kjeldgaard left the Arizona Fall League with a broken foot. He is going to have surgery this week, but will be ready for Spring Training.

> Santo Manzanillo also left the AFL due to a sore right shoulder. He got murdered for seven runs in just two innings over the course of three AFL games.

But poor Manzanillo never really managed to get healthy all year. He got into a car accident in late 2011, which affected his arm, and probably his performance.

> Minor moves:

Diamondbacks: Signed Garrett Mock to a minor league deal.
Mets: Signed Greg Burke to a minor league deal.
Indians: Outrighted Kevin Slowey, who elected free agency; signed Hector Rondon and Luis Hernandez to minor league contracts.
Red Sox: Signed Mitch Maier to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Signed Darren Ford and Jared Goedart to minor league deals.
Royals: Re-signed Manny Pina to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Acquired ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress from the Royals; signed Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal; designated Scott Maine for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired Tommy Hottovy from the Royals.
Angels: Signed ex-Brewer Mitch Stetter to a minor league deal.
Reds: Outrighted Bill Bray and Wilson Valdez, both of whom elected free agency.
Phillies: Re-signed Kevin Frandsen to a one-year deal.


Season ends in KC

June 15, 2012

> Last night, the title of my article was “Taking ‘Embarrassment’ to a whole new level.” My apologies for not seeing this coming, because THIS is embarrassment. Our season might as well be over.

> And it sure feels like it. The Brewers’ season may have very well have ended tonight in their 4-3 loss to the Royals. They blew it in the ninth for the second consecutive night, but I’m having a tough time blaming it all on John Axford tonight.The defense did plenty of things behind him to make sure that he, once again, couldn’t get it done.

Just like last night, the Brewers played eight great innings. Shaun Marcum turned in a stellar start, going 7 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out five. Francisco Rodriguez got the last out of the eighth to preserve his lead.

Once again, though, everything fell apart in the ninth inning. Axford struck out the first guy he faced, Mitch Maier, but Martin Maldonado couldn’t block it, and Maier reached first base. That, of course, wasn’t Axford’s fault, and neither was the next play. He induced a Mike Moustakas groundout, but first baseman Cody Ransom (why he was playing there is beyond me) bobbled the ball and could only get the out at first instead of getting the lead runner. Axford then came back to strike out Alcides Escobar, the man who got him last night, on the nastiest slider I’ve ever seen him throw. But, he followed that up with a walk to the light-hitting Jarrod Dyson, which was a no-no. Axford then gave up what should have just been a game-tying hit to Brayan Pena, but the Brewers’ great defense made sure that wasn’t the case. Left fielder Norichika Aoki fielded the ball fine, and threw it back second baseman Rickie Weeks just fine. But Weeks dropped the ball, and by this point Dyson was at third. He decided to test Weeks and try for home, which was a great choice, since we all know Weeks can’t throw home. So, what does he do?

Throws it past Maldonado, and Dyson scores.

Good game, guys.

> I’m really starting to regret the Brewers signing Weeks to a long-term deal. Our four-year, $56 million man is hitting .164, and is a liability half the time defensively (especially on throws to home). Obviously, this season isn’t Weeks’ fault, but he’s part of the struggling cast.

> But this season keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Just when I think the Brewers have hit their low point, they do something that makes them look even worse. Which makes me wonder what they’re going to do tomorrow in Minnesota.

> I could go on and on about how terrible things are going, but the bottom line is everyone (except the starting pitchers) is to blame. I’m not going to blame injuries anymore. I’m done finding excuses for this team; they’ve dug themselves their own whole, and now it doesn’t appear they’ll be able to resurface.

That’s baseball sometimes though, unfortunately. We helpless fans can’t do anything about it.

> The Brewers start a three-game series against the Twins in Minnesota tomorrow. I predicted that the Brewers would sweep the Royals (which they could have done easily if not for all the late-inning bloops), but look where that got me. So I might as well say the Twins are going to sweep the Brewers. Anyway, here are the pitching match-ups for the series:

Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 4.21 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.45 ERA)

Michael Fiers (1-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. ???

Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.96 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68 ERA)