Brewers capitalize on first inning mistakes to take series

July 19, 2012

> Despite a very discouraging first game of this series, the Brewers managed to battle back and take a much-needed two-of-three from the Cardinals. They sealed the deal today with a 4-3 nail-biter win. And we’d better get used to these nail-biters- they’ll be happening pretty often with Francisco Rodriguez assuming the closer duties.

The Cardinals have been slumping hard- and I mean hard– recently. If not for John Axford wrapping the gift to give them in the first game of this series, they would be 0-6 since the All-Star break. I thought Axford blowing the game like that was going to give the Cards a new hope and they were going to go on a hot streak from there, but that hasn’t appeared to be the case.

The sloppiness that has been Cardinals baseball the past few days showed up again today, mostly in the first inning. Norichika Aoki got on base to lead off the game, courtesy to an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal. After Nyjer Morgan hit a single, Adam Wainwright hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Corey Hart then came through with a broken bat, two-RBI single to give the Brewers the early lead. Two batters later, one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen occurred. Carlos Gomez hit your routine groundball to Furcal, and he fielded it cleanly. It looked at first like his throw was going to be fine, but it tailed off at the end, forcing first baseman Lance Berkman to come off the bag. But, Berkman’s momentum must have been a lot greater than I thought, and he tumbled over and nearly did a somersault. Not only that, but the ball flew out of his glove as he was rolling. This error allowed two runners to score and gave the Brewers a nice 4-0 lead to work with for the rest of the game.

And that was all they would need. The Cardinals got two runs off Tyler Thornburg: a David Freese solo home run in the second and an Allen Craig solo blast in the third. Other than those two runs, the Brewers’ bullpen shut the Cards down for the most part.

But K-Rod saves are always interesting, and the tale was no different today. After striking out Skip Schumaker to start the inning, Carlos Beltran hit a pinch-hit double. K-Rod then walked Furcal, but came back to strike out Matt Holliday (who was also pinch-hitting). But K-Rod walked Craig to follow that up, and the Cards’ third run came on Freese’s bases-loaded walk. To be honest with you, though, I was fine with that- better off walking him and giving up one run than letting him hit an opposite field bases-clearing double. Anyway, K-Rod finished the game by getting Berkman to fly out.

> Thornburg was making a spot start today in place of Zack Greinke, who is taking ten days off to “recharge” (although I think something else is going on behind the scenes). Thornburg’s start didn’t go all that well: he went just 4 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out five. Those numbers aren’t bad, but he needed 103 pitches to get through just 4 2/3 innings. He also served up two home runs, which brings his season total to seven home runs given up in just twelve innings. But all of the home runs are coming on elevated fastballs in the low 90’s, which, if not set up by the correct pitches, can mean trouble. Thorn has shown flashes of a great breaking ball and a decent change-up, though, which leads me to believe he can be successful in the future.

> But the bullpen managed to pick up Thornburg. Axford, removed from the closer’s role two days ago, came in and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the fifth and sixth innings. Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Jose Veras had a 1-2-3 eighth, and K-Rod got the save, despite walking three batters in the process.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers move into their final series of this crucial stretch everyone has been talking about- a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Brewers would probably need a sweep to get out of there as legitimate contenders, which I can’t see happening. But it’s worth hoping for, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s what the matchups for the series look like:

Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (8-6, 3.93 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. ???

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Everything goes right for Crew in much-needed win

July 18, 2012

> The Brewers definitely needed this after last night’s disaster. They defeated the Cardinals today, 3-2, to even the three-game series at one apiece. For once, everything went right. Randy Wolf got his first win since April 30th, the bullpen didn’t blow his lead, and the offense was just enough to get by.

Wolf definitely should have more than three wins, but the bullpen has gone all out the past few months to make sure that it didn’t happen until now. But this may have been Wolf’s best outing, at least recently- 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out six.

It appeared the Brewers were going to have a rough day after the start Wolf got off to. After retiring Rafael Furcal to start the game, he gave up a single to Allen Craig, then nailed Matt Holliday in the knee with a fastball. Holliday was rolling on the ground in pain, but stayed in the game (he was removed later in the second inning). But, Wolf got Carlos Beltran to ground into a double play, and that was when you knew the Brewers had a chance.

Corey Hart gave the Brewers the lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. The Cardinals answered back with two in the third inning on a Jon Jay RBI double and Beltran’s sacrifice fly, but Aramis Ramirez knotted the game up in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single.

The Brewers dealt the big blow in the fourth inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run to make the score 3-2. It appeared to be Weeks’ way of venting out all of the frustration of his sub-.200 season, as the homer traveled 460 feet to left center field.

And, believe it or not, it was the game-winning RBI. After Wolf was done, the bullpen did something it hadn’t done for quite some time: hold the lead. Jose Veras got the last out in the seventh inning, Manny Parra had a 1-2-3 eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez got the save.

> Not exactly the order we usually see the relievers used, right? Well, it appears John Axford has finally put Ron Roenicke over the limit. After Ax’s blown save last night- his sixth of the year already- Roenicke decided to move K-Rod into the closer’s role.

It’s about time. Axford hasn’t been the same after his 49-save streak was snapped. He’s completely lost control of his breaking ball, which makes his high fastball extremely ineffective.

K-Rod hasn’t been great this year, but he’s been a lot better as of late, lowering his ERA down to 3.59. He’s a much better option than Axford at this point.

> Here’s a cause for concern. Ryan Braun left the game early with what is now considered a right groin strain. Braun said it’s been a chronic thing all year, but he’ll see how it is in the morning, and that will determine if he’s good to go or not.

> And that’s about it. There are obviously a ton of things going on behind the scenes with the Brewers that we don’t know about right now, primarily the whole Zack Greinke situation (I actually heard some pretty interesting news about that from a friend who works at Miller Park). But I’ll save that for now, just because I’m not completely sure if it’s true, and I don’t want to go publishing false information.

But it’s a trade rumor about Greinke; I’ll say that much.

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


Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

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


Brewers’ bullpen can’t hang on against Cards

April 9, 2012

> The Brewers had somewhat of a repeat of the first game of the season today, losing to the Cardinals 9-3. Like the first game, the Brewers’ bullpen blew up late, and didn’t give the offense much of a chance to try and catch up. Marco Estrada gave up two runs in two innings, Tim Dillard gave up a run, John Axford gave up two runs in his 2012 debut, and Kameron Loe gave up a run. In other words, every pitcher the Brewers used today gave up a run, which is never good.

Randy Wolf was on the hill for his 2012 debut, and didn’t pitch particularly bad. He went five innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Wolf managed to strand a lot of St. Louis baserunners, but had to work for it, as he threw 108 pitches in just five innings.

The Cards got on the board right away in the first on Matt Holliday’s RBI double. They got another run in the fourth on a Rafael Furcal RBI single, and another in the fifth on David Freese’s RBI single. The Brewers scored in the fifth on yet another Corey Hart home run, this one a solo shot. He’s currently tied for the league lead with three home runs.

The Cardinals got two more runs on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer in the seventh. They also picked up another one in the eighth on Tyler Greene’s RBI single. The Brewers got their second run of the game in the eighth on Alex Gonzalez’s first hit (and RBI) as a Brewer, which was an RBI double. That followed Norichika Aoki’s first hit in the MLB.

The Cards tacked on three more in the ninth on Shane Robinson’s three-run blast, which pretty much put away the game. Ryan Braun hit his first home run of the year in the ninth inning, but the game was already over by then.

Oddly enough, the Brewers just couldn’t hit Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter’s temporary rotation replacement. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

Then again though, the Brewers have a history of not being able to hit rookie pitchers for their lives, so this start could mean nothing, for all we know.

> I’m glad this series is over. Now theBrewers move onto a hopefully easier opponent- the Cubs. They’re playing them in Chicago, however, a venue the Brewers haven’t had much success in over recent years. Anyway, here are the pitching matchups (the statistics are from 2011):

Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (5-13, 4.89 ERA)

Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (6-14, 3.66 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. ???

Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) vs. ???

Gallardo will probably be facing Ryan Dempster, and Greinke should be up against Matt Garza, but the Cubs haven’t officially announced it yet.

Anyway, all four of these pitchers have above-average career numbers against the Cubs, so this should be a good series for the Crew.

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

 


Gallardo chased by Cards in Opening Day loss

April 7, 2012

> The good news is, baseball is officially back. The bad news? The Brewers just virtually relived Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS.

The Brewers got crushed by the reigning World Champion Cardinals today, 11-5. Yovani Gallardo, who was making his third consecutive Opening Day start, still couldn’t win on the occasion, as he was hammered early. He gave up six earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings, while walking five and striking out three. The five walks show that his command clearly wasn’t there, and there may have been some nerves. Either that, or he just plain sucks against the Cardinals like he always does, which is probably the case.

The Brewers got on the board first on Carlos Gomez’s RBI triple off Jaime Garcia in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez followed that with an RBI groundout for his first RBI as a Brewer. This gave the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. But things went downhill from there.

Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a solo shot off of Gallardo to cut the score in half. Then, in the third, Gallardo gave up not one, not two, but three home runs to the Cards- they came from Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and David Freese. Freese tacked on another RBI with a single in the fourth. Another run wouldn’t come until the seventh on Shane Robinson’s RBI single. The Cards got two more in the ninth on RBI doubles by Matt Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

The Brewers got three more runs in the ninth on a George Kottaras three-run blast, but by then the game was already too far out of reach.

> I’m really starting to worry about Gallardo. I know you can’t judge a pitcher based on one game, but I’m not basing this on one game- it’s starting to become a trend. Gallardo gave up a career-high 27 home runs last year, 15 more than his 2010 total. I was hoping he’d be able to put that behind him, but then he starts the year by giving up four home runs in less than four innings- that isn’t a good sign.

I’ve been saying this all along, but he hasn’t been consistent ever since the first half of 2010. Following an oblique injury after the All-Star break, he was just never the same since then. Yes, I know he went 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2011, but that was because he either had a great outing, or got shelled. He’s just never been consistent. I’m not saying he has to be Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee consistent, but just something better than he is now.

And, despite the fact I’m tempted to use the excuse that Gallardo is just historically bad against the Cardinals (he was 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA against them coming into today), I don’t think that was it today. Like I said earlier, he had no command, hence the five walks, and everything was out over the plate.

I’m sorry for freaking out over one game (and I’m actually not really, I’m just worried about what Gallardo is turning into). I know there are 161 games left. But Gallardo’s outing today really puts worries into my mind about his future.

> None of the newcomers to the Brewers did much offensively today, with Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez both going 0-for-4. Although you could tell the defense on the left site was much improved. On the bright side, though, Mat Gamel went 2-for-4, so hopefully that’s a precursor of a good season to come for him.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers play the second game of this series tomorrow at 3:10 PM CT (and remember it’s on regular FOX, not FSWI). The Brewers will send Zack Greinke to the mound, who went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA last year. He’s been better against the Cards in his career than Gallardo, to say the least, so hopefully we won’t see a merciless beating again tomorrow.

The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright, who missed all of last year due to Tommy John Surgery. We’ll see how he bounces back in his first Major League start since the end of 2010.

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


Gonzalez IS better than Yuni

December 10, 2011

> It was reported the other day that the Brewers have signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal, and that he’ll take over Yuniesky Betancourt‘s role.

But I’ve really been surprised with the amount of skepticism of this deal from a few major sources, such as MLB Network.

I was watching their show called “Hot Stove” the other day, a show in which a few of MLB Network’s hosts/reporters sit down and talk about the signings/trades of that day, and then give their opinions about them. And, surprisingly, a few of the hosts weren’t very impressed with the Gonzalez signing, as opposed to bringing back Betancourt.

I think it was Harold Reynolds who criticized the move the most. He said something along the lines of, “I’m a little confused here. I thought Betancourt was finally finding his way in the big leagues, and he came up big in situations for the Brewers this year. But now the fans in Milwaukee are rejoicing that he’s gone? Come on!”

Just for the record, Reynolds is actually one of my favorite guys to watch and listen to on MLB Network. But I highly disagree with him on this.

Maybe he didn’t watch too many Brewer games this year, but Betancourt rarely ever came up big. The only time I remember him getting a hit that actually mattered was a game-tying home run against the Rockies in a 14-inning game back in May, but, other than that, most of his hits weren’t very clutch.

And the only month where he truly hit on a consistent basis was his hot stretch in August, in which he brought his average all the way from the .220’s to around .270. I’ll admit, that impressed me, but he couldn’t maintain it for the rest of the year, as his average finished at .252. Betancourt also had a decent postseason, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Brewers from embarrassingly losing to the Cardinals.

Not to mention that, whenever Betancourt came up with the bases loaded, he hit a weak infield pop-up (or into the shallow outfield). It was always a pop-up. Except one time he hit into a double play with the bases loaded to end an inning, but that wasn’t really progress.

And then there was Betancourt’s defense. He made a few highlight reel plays, but then easily misplayed the routine ones.

And that’s the difference-maker as to why Gonzalez is better than Betancourt. Gonzalez is a similar hitter, but a far superior defender. And that’s what the Brewers needed. Casey McGehee, Betancourt, Rickie Weeks, and Prince Fielder made up the Brewers infield last year, and they’re all awful defenders. Weeks and Fielder made up for it by what they did at the plate, and McGehee can too, if he bounces back next year.

Anyway, back to Gonzalez. Last year, his offense was arguably worse than Betancourt’s, but you have to take into consideration that he was hitting in the pitcher-friendly Turner Field for half of the year. His 15 homers last year could translate into a 20-homer year at the hitter-friendly Miller Park.

So that’s my opinion on why Gonzalez will benefit the Brewers more than Betancourt did. Whether or not you agree with all of it, you’ll be seeing better defense at shortstop this year- I guarantee it.

> I read on MLB Trade Rumors earlier today that the Rangers have some interest in McGehee to play for first base for them next year, which I found interesting. Their young first baseman, Mitch Moreland, got injured a few weeks ago, and might miss the first few months of the regular season. But why McGehee?

I’m confident that McGehee will have a bounce-back season next year, regardless of who he’s playing for. I’ve kind of been hoping that the Brewers will keep him, and, assuming they can sign Aramis Ramirez to play third, move McGehee to first base. That puts Mat Gamel out of the picture, but I have no idea what to think of him anymore.

Anyway, if the Rangers end up trying to make a deal for McGehee, the Brewers better get something decent in return, such as a first baseman or third baseman to fill McGehee’s hole.

> The Cardinals re-signed shortstop Rafael Furcal today on a two-year deal. A few days ago, I wouldn’t have been that happy with this, but, now that the Brewers have Gonzalez, I’m fine with it.

> And that’s about all I’ve got for now. Before I go, thanks for the 200+ hit day yesterday- it was the first one in Breaking Wisconsin history (a history that dates back to only June of this year). We also reached the 1,000 hit mark last night, which I was very proud of. So thanks again to everyone who takes their time to read my posts.

It’s still early in the day, so expect updates as the day rolls on. But, for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their optionsĀ  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their optionĀ  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.