Brewers, Parra go their separate ways

December 1, 2012

> As expected, the Brewers officially cut ties with their second-longest tenured player, Manny Parra. The Brewers had five arbitration eligibles, the others being John Axford, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, and Carlos Gomez, and Parra was the only one to be non-tendered.

Parra, a lefty who has always had great stuff, had a very frustrating Brewers career, to say the least. He went 10-8 with a 4.39 ERA in his first full season in 2008, but has posted a 5.61 ERA in the years since. In 2009, 2010, and 2012 (he missed 2011 because of injuries), he had an ERA above 5.00. It appeared Parra was going to blossom into an ace, especially after he threw a perfect game in his first Triple-A start back in 2007, but he never panned out.

Maybe Parra just needs a change of scenery, and that’s probably something he’s going to get. Though a lot of Parra’s career stats are alarming- his 5.12 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, and 1.645 WHIP are the highlights of them- he has a career 8.4 K/9. That, coming from a power lefty who also has a splitter, is going to draw interest from teams regardless of the other stats.

So best of luck to Parra wherever he ends up; it simply didn’t work out in Milwaukee.

Parra

> There have been a few mega-deals/large extensions signed over the past few days. Today, David Wright’s seven-year, $122 million deal with the Mets followed Evan Longoria’s six-year, $100 million extension with the Rays. Both of these are similar to the extensions Ryan Braun and Joey Votto signed in recent years.

> Minor moves: 

Diamondbacks: Released Brad Bergesen.
Angels: Acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves; claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Mariners.
Braves: Acquired Jordan Walden from the Angels; claimed David Carpenter off waivers from the Red Sox; non-tendered Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.
Marlins: Claimed Joe Mahoney off waivers from the Orioles.
Indians: Claimed Mike McDade off waivers from the Blue Jays; designated Chris Seddon for assignment; signed Fernando Nieve to a minor league deal; non-tendered Rafael Perez and Jack Hannahan.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Cory Wade, who elected free agency; outrighted Joel Carreno and Mike McCoy to Triple-A.
Astros: Claimed Philip Humber off waivers from the White Sox.
Yankees: Claimed Jim Miller off waivers from the Athletics; designated Mickey Storey and Jayson Nix for assignment.
Orioles: Acquired Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates; designated Stuart Pomeranz for assignment; non-tendered Omar Quintanilla and Mark Reynolds; re-signed Taylor Teagarden, Steve Pearce, and Alexi Casilla to one-year deals.
Pirates: Acquired Jhondaniel Medina from the Orioles; acquired Zach Thornton from the Athletics; non-tendered Jeff Karstens.
Athletics: Acquired Chris Resop from the Pirates; re-signed Daric Barton and Adam Rosales to one-year deals; designated Sandy Rosario for assignment; non-tendered Jermaine Mitchell.
Cubs: Non-tendered Ian Stewart, Jaye Chapman, and Zach Putnam; outrighted Casey Coleman to Triple-A. Padres: Non-tendered Juan Oramas.
Mets: Non-tendered Mike Pelfrey, Andres Torres, and Manny Acosta.
Phillies: Non-tendered Nate Schierholtz.
Royals: Outrighted Ryan Verdugo and Adam Moore to Triple-A; re-signed Chris Getz to a one-year deal; non-tendered Derrick Robinson.
Twins: Outrighted Deolis Guerra to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Non-tendered Rich Hill, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Atchison.
White Sox: Non-tendered Anthony Carter and Dan Johnson.
Tigers: Non-tendered Daniel Schlereth.
Nationals: Non-tendered John Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, and Jesus Flores.

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Brewers reward Greinke in extras after vintage duel

June 23, 2012

> Today, a Brewers starter went nine innings for the first time since April of 2011. Yet, the Brewers still don’t have a complete game since April of 2011.

> The Brewers defeated the White Sox today, 1-0, in ten innings. This was by far the best pitchers’ duel the Brewers have been involved in this year. You knew it was going to be a duel coming in, with Zack Greinke going for the Crew and Chris Sale for the Sox. Both are having All-Star campaigns, and continued their remarkable seasons today.

Greinke may very well have had his best start in a Brewers uniform today. He fired nine shutout innings while giving up just three hits, all singles. He walked one and struck out four. While the strikeout numbers may have been down, these are the types of starts that Ron Roenicke must be looking for: pitching to contact and keeping the pitch count down, which is exactly what Greinke did today. He threw exactly 100 pitches through nine, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him go out for the tenth. Anyway, it didn’t matter that the strikeouts were down for Greinke tonight, because he didn’t even allow a runner to reach second base. Yeah, he was that dominant.

Sale, on the other hand, also had a stellar start. He went eight shutout innings while giving up four hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The Brewers had a few chances to score against him, particularly in the fifth and seventh innings, when they had a runner on second with one out in each inning. But Sale weaved his way out of trouble in both situations.

Sale was removed in favor of Addison Reed in the ninth, and I was worried that if the Brewers didn’t score that inning, Greinke wouldn’t factor in the decision. Reed did toss a perfect ninth, but Greinke came back for the ninth and matched him.

Aramis Ramirez led off the tenth with a double off Jesse Crain, his second double of the night. He was pinch-run for by Nyjer Morgan. Corey Hart then struck out. But, with Rickie Weeks batting, Crain threw a wild pitch that allowed Morgan to advanced to third. Weeks took advantage of it and slapped an RBI single to left field, which would be the only run of the game.

I was honestly hoping for Greinke to come back out and pitch the tenth, but instead struggling closer John Axford was on. And it looked like he was going to have another rough night, as he walked Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning. But he came back to strike out the American League leader in home runs, Adam Dunn, which was a huge out. But he still had to deal with another great hitter in Paul Konerko. Axford may have caught a bit of luck with him- he hit a ground ball down the line, but third baseman Taylor Green had him positioned perfectly, and from there the Brewers turned a game-ending double play.

> Prior to today’s game, the Brewers reportedly sign veteran starter Livan Hernandez to a one-year contract. But the news was leaked in an odd way- ex-Brewer utility man Bill Hall announced it via Twitter after he ran into Livan at an airport.

Anyway, Hernandez has been around for quite some time. He was most recently released by the Braves on June 18th after putting up a 4.94 ERA out of their bullpen. But Livan could be of help for the Brewers, who could need an extra starter if Shaun Marcum does end up hitting the disabled list, or if Marco Estrada has a setback in his rehab. If neither of the situations happen, though, Hernandez could be a long reliever.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the second game of their last Interleague series tomorrow at 6:15 PM CT. They’ll send Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.11 ERA) to the mound, who has had just terrible luck his past three starts. He should have won all of them, but the bullpen found a way to blow it each time. So don’t be deceived by the numbers; he’s been a lot better as of late.

The White Sox will counter with Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 3.52 ERA), who will make a spot start in place of the injured Philip Humber.

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


Brewers take series from Jays

June 21, 2012

> The Brewers completed a much-needed series win today, as they took two out of three from the Blue Jays. I haven’t had time to post over the past few days, so I’m just going to quickly recap all three games, then talk about a few things after as well.

> The Brewers took the first game, 7-6, in a hard-fought win. The game started in a way the Brewers weren’t hoping to see- Brett Lawrie, the former Brewers farmhand, hit a lead-0ff home run off Randy Wolf on the second pitch he saw. But the offense broke out against Jays starter Henderson Alvarez, scoring six runs in just the first two innings. This included RBIs from Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Norichika Aoki, and Aramis Ramirez. But, with the score 6-3 in the seventh and two men on, Jose Bautista hit a game-tying home run (I’ll go more in depth on that situation later). The Brewers then answered back the next inning on an overturned home run by Ramirez. It was a line drive shot that was actually lower than the top of the wall in left field, but it hit off the yellow strip of padding that extends below the foul line. The ball was first called foul, but Ron Roenicke went out to argue, and the umpires eventually overturned the call after going in to look at the replay.

> Last night’s game, the Jays’ 10-9 win, should have been a fairly easy win for the Brewers, but the bullpen made sure that didn’t happen (again, I’ll talk about our bullpen issues later this article).

The Jays were leading 6-5 in the sixth inning, and after the Brewers loaded the bases with one out, they put in Jason Frasor to pitch to Ramirez. Ramirez then came through with yet another clutch hit, just as he had the night before. But this one was a grand slam to give the Brewers a 9-6 lead. Unfortunately, a combined four runs given up by Manny Parra and John Axford (yet another blown save for him) would end up being the fate of the Brewers.

> Today’s game was yet another offensive outburst for the Brewers, which is a good sign for them, considering the scored at least seven runs in all three of these games. After Edwin Encarnacion homered in the top of the second, the Brewers answered back with five in the bottom of the inning, getting home runs from Corey Hart, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez. Braun also hit a home run in the seventh inning for his 20th of the year.

> Last night (the 10-9 loss), Tyler Thornburg was making his Major League debut in place of the injured Shaun Marcum, who may actually hit the disabled list. Anyway, his debut appeared to be going fine, but it appeared to me (I was at the game) that nerves may have gotten to him in the sixth. He gave up three consecutive home runs to Colby Rasmus, Bautista, and Encarnacion. But it turned out it might not have been nerves; it may have been a serious drop in velocity, which is a cause for concern. The scoreboard at Miller Park had Thornburg topping out at 96 MPH, and I noticed the scoreboard had him clocked in the mid-to-high 80’s on all of the home run balls. Because of the angle I was at, I just assumed he had hung a couple of sliders due to nerves, but those actually might have been Marcum-speed fastballs. Those type of fastballs can be effective, but, since Thornburg had been throwing in the mid-90’s previous to that and he probably wasn’t getting much movement on them, you can imagine why it was easy for the Jays hitters to start picking him up.

> Despite the fact the Brewers won this series, the bullpen continued to slump. In the first game of the series, Wolf left the game with a 6-3 lead, hoping to pick up his first win since the end of April (despite he’s pitched well enough to win his past three or so starts). But he would have no such luck- Kameron Loe came in and promptly gave up the game-tying shot to Bautista.

Then, last night, after Thornburg’s debut, Tim Dillard came in and gave up a run to finish the sixth. Like I said earlier, Parra pitched the seventh inning of that game, giving up two runs to cut the Jays’ deficit to one run. After Francisco Rodriguez, who has been pitching a lot better as of late, threw a scoreless eighth last night, Axford came in and blew yet another save, giving up back-to-back home runs to Rasmus and Bautista.

Today the bullpen wasn’t as bad, but Dillard did allow an inherited runner to score, which charged an extra earned run to Yovani Gallardo.

But it goes without saying that the bullpen has been flat-out terrible lately. Loe is supposed to enter the game and get groundball outs against power hitters, not give up go-ahead or game-tying home runs. And I have no idea what’s going on with Axford; he may be getting the Brewer-closer syndrome. Previous victims of this include Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow, Eric Gagne, and Trevor Hoffman. I don’t know what it is; it feels like we have closers who are stellar for a year and a half, then it’s like they go out there and forget how to pitch. Anyway, maybe Axford shouldn’t be listed with those other names yet, but I can’t imagine the Brewers are going to stand for this much longer.

By the way, just an interesting note from the end of today’s game: Michael Fiers pitched the last inning. He was scheduled to start the first game of the White Sox series, but maybe this means Marco Estrada will be back by then. That, or the Brewers have different plans that we don’t know about.

> As I said earlier, Marcum may be on his way to the disabled list. He experienced shoulder tightness prior to his would-have-been start against the Blue Jays, his former team, so Thornburg was called up for the emergency start.

But this is why I question taking Fiers out of the rotation (assuming he has been taken out). Unless Thornburg is staying to take Marcum’s spot in the rotation until he comes back, which the Brewers hinted they wouldn’t do, I can’t imagine why they would remove Fiers in a situation like this.

> Anyway, that’s about it. The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, then start their final Interleague series, this one against the White Sox. Here’s what the matchups are looking like:

Michael Fiers? (2-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (8-2, 2.46 ERA)

Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.10 ERA) vs. Philip Humber (3-4, 6.01 ERA)

Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.11 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (2-1, 1.53 ERA)

UPDATE: Actually, I recall Brian Anderson saying during today’s broadcast that Greinke got bumped up in the rotation to face Sale, but will be pitching on regular rest because of the off-day. So, either the Brewers are skipping Fiers’ spot in the rotation this time around, or they’re just going to go with a four-man rotation until Estrada returns.


After slow start, Brewers storm back to crush Rox

April 22, 2012

> The Brewers’ offense has lookedextremely shabby early on this season, as three of their regulars came into today hitting below .200. For the first four innings of the game today, it looked like that trend was going to continue. But, from the fifth inning on, the Brewers put on one of their best offensive runs of the season, and showed they weren’t screwing around.

> The Brewers took down the Rockies today, 9-4. By that blowout score, you wouldn’t have thought that the offense struggled at all. But it did- especially during the first four innings, like I said before. But, after managing to put up a few runs in the middle innings, the bats broke out in the seventh inning, unlike they ever had prior to this game.

Marco Estrada got the start today in place of the injured Chris Narveson (more on that later). The news had just come to him yesterday, so no one knew how he would react. But, like he always does when he’s thrown into the fire that is the starting rotation, Estrada had a stellar start. He went five innings while giving up a run on two hits. He struck out nine and walked none. The reason he only went five innings is because Ron Roenicke put a pitch limit of around 80 pitches on Estrada, but he definitely could have gone longer with the way he was throwing the ball.

Onto the offense. For the first four innings, Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz was perfect, and it looked like he was going to throw the second perfecto of the day (also more on that later). He was finally given a run to work with in the fourth on Troy Tulowitzki’s solo home run. But, in the fifth, I don’t know what happened, but Pomeranz just lost it. He started the inning by walking Aramis Ramirez- who is hitting .151 now- on four pitches. Corey Hart followed that up with a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third with no outs. After that, Pomeranz gifted the Brewers a tie game on a wild pitch. Alex Gonzalez then hit an RBI double to make the score 2-1. Despite the fact Pomeranz would go on to walk two more batters and his defense would make a few errors behind him, he didn’t give up another run that inning.

In the sixth inning, Roenicke made yet another idiotic bullpen move: he put in Manny Parra in a 2-1 game. He naturally struggled and gave up a run, then Mike McClendon, who came in after Parra got two outs, gave up the lead, making it 3-2. But, in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Braun tied the game with a solo homer, which broke him out of a huge slump- he didn’t have a hit the entire homestand prior to that at-bat.

But the seventh inning is when the Brewers broke loose. Rickie Weeks hit an RBI triple to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead, followed by a Carlos Gomez RBI single. Braun then hit the second RBI triple of the inning to make the score 5-3. Then, after an intentional walk to Hart, Gonzalez murdered a line drive blast into the Brewers’ bullpen to pretty much put the icing on the cake for the Brewers.

The Brewers definitely needed a game like this, though. Despite the fact they have the highest team ERA in the NL, their pitching has been pretty good lately; the bats just haven’t quite heated up yet. After today, it looks the offense will start to pick it up.

> The reason Estrada was starting today was because of an injury to Narveson. Apparently, the morning after he got shell-shocked by the Braves, Narveson said his shoulder was sore. He got an MRI, which revealed at least one significant tear on his rotator cuff, a vital part of the shoulder. If this holds true, Narveson will more than likely have season-ending surgery, which is too bad, since he just had surgery at the end of last season.

But I wonder if the MRI got it wrong for once. I’m pretty sure if you tore your rotator cuff, your shoulder would be a little more than just “sore.” So maybe it’s just a pulled muscle or something. But I guess I wouldn’t know; I’ve never torn my rotator cuff, and hopefully never will.

Anyway, McClendon was recalled from Triple-A because of this (which is why I question Roenicke’s decision to throw him into a pressure situation like that right away). The Brewers also called up prospect Wily Peralta because Kameron Loe is taking a bereavement leave, and will be gone at least three days. So that’s probably just a temporary move, but I’d like to see Peralta get some action in the Majors for once.

> This doesn’t have to do with the Brewers, but Philip Humber of the White Sox threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history today. It came against the Mariners, who can’t score runs to save their lives anyway, but it’s a historic feat nonetheless.

The 27th out of the game was ex-Cardinal Brendan Ryan, who struck out swinging (sort of) on an awful 3-2 pitch. Had he not swung, Ryan would have walked, and broken up the perfect game. He check-swung, though, and we may never know if he swung or not, but it was called that he broke the plane. It was an awful pitch, though, so I don’t even see how he could have even moved that bat at a pitch like that.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the rubber game of this series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT. Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 4.58 ERA) will go for the Brewers, coming off a decent start against the Dodgers. But he’s been awful in his career against the Rockies, going 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA against them. Most of those bad numbers have come at Coors Field, though, where Gallardo’s career ERA is miles over 10.00.

The Rox will counter with Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 7.79 ERA), whom they acquired from the Orioles during the offseason. Guthrie has never faced the Brewers in his career.

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