Brewers return empty-handed

December 8, 2012

> This year’s edition of the Winter Meetings were a disappointment for the Brewers, to say the least. They offered deals to a few of their targets, including Ryan Dempster, Jason Grilli, and Sean Burnett, but all of them were rejected. Burnett ended up signing with the Angels because they offered him much more cash the Brewers. Grilli hasn’t signed yet, but the Brewers haven’t been in contact with him for over a week for some reason, so he’s off the table. Dempster is still out there, but is holding out for a three-year deal. So far, the parties interested in Dempster- the Brewers, Red Sox, and Royals- have offered him two-year deals, but have been hesitant to add on that third year because of his age.

So that’s about the gist of what happened- rather, what didn’t happen- at the Meetings.

> The Brewers did make a move today, however, signing left-hander Travis Webb to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Webb has spent his entire career with the Reds’ minor league affiliates, never making it to the Majors. He has a career ERA of 4.13 in the minors, but went a sub-par 2-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 2012 at Triple-A. Webb was a starter at the beginning of his professional career, but has since converted into a reliever.

> Doug Melvin said that the Brewers aren’t in on Brian Wilson. We can all take a sigh of relief now.

> Minor moves: 

Rays: Signed Jason Bourgeois to a minor league deal.
Astros: Took Josh Fields from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; took Nate Freiman from the Padres in the Rule 5 Draft; claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Yankees.
Cubs: Took Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft; re-signed Ian Stewart to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Took Danny Rosenbaum from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Justin Berg, Hernan Iribarren, Jeff Manship, Gustavo Molina, and Henry Wrigley to minor league deals.
Twins: Took Ryan Pressly from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Vance Worley and Trevor May from the Phillies; re-signed Jared Burton to a two-year deal.
Indians: Took Chris McGuiness from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.
Marlins: Took Alfredo Silverio from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft; took Braulio Lara from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Red Sox: Took Jeff Kobernus from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Justin Henry from the Tigers; acquired Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates; signed Koji Uehara to a one-year deal; acquired Graham Godfrey from the Athletics.
Mets: Took Kyle Lobstein from the Rays in the Rule 5 Draft.
Diamondbacks: Took Starling Peralta from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Brandon McCarthy to a two-year deal.
Phillies: Took Ender Inciarte from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft; acquired Ben Revere from the Twins.
White Sox: Took Angel Sanchez from the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft.
Orioles: Took T.J. McFarland from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft.
Rangers: Took Coty Woods from the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Randy Wells, Evan Meek, Brandon Allen, and Jake Brigham to minor league deals.
Padres: Acquired Wilfredo Boscan from the Rangers.
Braves: Re-signed Reed Johnson to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year deal; outrighted Jayson Nix to Triple-A.
Reds: Re-signed Ryan Ludwick to a two-year deal.

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Did the Cubs’ rotation improve?

January 20, 2012

> Probably not.

The Cubs had another Cubs-esque year in 2011, going 71-91. The actually had a half-decent offense, as they were near the top of the NL in team batting average.

But why were they so bad? Their pitching; primarily the starting rotation. Practically none of their starters performed to the expectations they were expected. They did deal a few of their starters and acquired a few as well, but I don’t know if it was enough to lift them out of the chasm that is the bottom of the NL Central.

This is how I would assemble the Cubs’ rotation in 2012:

#1 starter- Matt Garza- 10-10, 3.32 ERA

Garza was the only decent starter in 2011, despite the fact Mike Quade named him the #3 starter at the beginning of the season. Garza actually had a career year, setting a career-best ERA. His wins don’t show it, but he didn’t get run support most of the time.

Garza also had a career-high in strikeouts, punching out 197 in 198 innings. His K/9 was exactly 9, which was a huge improvement from his 6.6 K/9 while pitching for the Rays in 2010. Garza, who used to be known as primarily a fly-ball pitcher because of his aggressive use of the high fastball, could be turning into a strikeout pitcher.

For some reason, Garza is on the Cubs’ trade block. If they trade him, their rotation will have close to no hope in 2012, as you’ll see from the pitchers I’m about to talk about.

#2 starter- Ryan Dempster- 10-14, 4.80 ERA

Dempster had an awful 2011, to say the least. In 2010, he went 15-12 with a 3.85 ERA, so his numbers really plummeted in 2011. The only area he was half decent was his innings and strikeouts. He ate up 202 1/3 innings, something the Cubs needed.

Garza has a sinker, splitter, and slider in his repertoire, so he’s known as a groundball pitcher. But, his 8.5 K/9 in 2011 was a career-high, so, like Garza, he could be becoming a strikeout pitcher.

But, since Dempster’s career year in 2008 in which he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA, his ERA has consistently gone down- 2.96, 3.65, 3.85, 4.80. Maybe we could expect worse next year, but I kind of doubt it. Dempster can be a good pitcher, but he just isn’t consistent enough yet, and it may be too late in his career to turn it around.

#3 starter- Paul Maholm- 6-14, 3.66 ERA

After the Pirates opted not to re-sign Maholm, the Cubs picked him up on a one-year deal, and, in my opinion, it isn’t a bad pickup. His 6-14 shows nothing of how well he pitched in 2011- the Pirates didn’t have any offense.

Maholm definitely isn’t a strikeout pitcher, as he had just a 5.4 K/9 in 2011, to go along with 97 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings. I don’t see him pitch very often, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s a groundball pitcher. But it’s fine that he doesn’t strike out many batters- Garza and Dempster have that covered.

I think Maholm will have a decent year in 2012. But that’s just my gut feeling, I could be wrong; he’s been pretty inconsistent over the past few years.

#4 starter- Randy Wells- 7-6, 4.99 ERA

Wells got injured in his first start of the year, so he missed the first few months. When he came back, he struggled, and for most of the year his ERA was well north of 5.00. But, he had a good September that included a shutout against the Giants, and lowered his ERA by a large margin.

Wells is an extreme groundball pitcher, and his K/9 was just 5.5 in 2011. Yet, he somehow found a way to give up 23 homers in just 135 1/3 innings, which means left a few too many sinkers up.

I don’t know about Wells. I don’t see much in him, and have a feeling he won’t have more than an average season in 2012.

#5 starter- Chris Volstad- 5-13, 4.89 ERA

The first thing the Cubs need to to do with Volstad- thank him. He was part of the trade that sent the psychopath- AKA Carlos Zambrano- to the Miami Marlins, so they won’t have to deal with his antics anymore. Anyway, with that aside, I see talent in Volstad. He hasn’t had the best career so far, but he’s still young and has time to turn it around. I think the Marlins gave up on him a bit early, and it was actually their fault for his lack of wins, because they didn’t give him any run support.

Volstad is considered a groundball pitcher, but I don’t really see it, as he gave up 23 homers in 2011. He doesn’t strike out all that many, with his K/9 being 6.4 in 2011. But I think all he needs to do is start missing more bats, and he’ll be successful.

I see a bright future for Volstad, but for some reason I have a feeling he won’t be in Chicago very long.

And that’s how I think the rotation should go. There will be some competition in Spring Training, as Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, and possibly Jeff Samardzija could possibly challenge for a spot in the rotation.

> Today was the day. Ryan Braun finally pleaded his case in front of three arbitrators earlier today, but not much info was released. The decision won’t be made by Saturday, however, so we’ll have to wait a little longer.

The case took place a few days earlier than expected, as it was supposed to happen after Braun received his MVP award at a dinner on Saturday. At least that’s what’s Lance Allen reported earlier this month. But it would be nice if it were all settled before the dinner; it could make things a little less awkward, or ten times more awkward.

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


Marcum dominates Cubs as Brewers lower number to 3

September 21, 2011

The difference between Shaun Marcum’s home and road performances are starting to scare me a bit. But I guess we need that one guy who’s the exact opposite of the rest of the pitchers on the team.

The Brewers defeated the Cubs today, 5-1, and evened up this series at 1-1. The Brewers also whittled their magic number down to three, and it’ll stay that way for the night, as the Cardinals just out-slugged the Mets, 11-6. But, if you think about it, that may be a good thing, since the Brewers are now forced to clinch the Central at home (tomorrow is the last road game of the season).

Marcum continued his road dominance today, going eight innings (tying a season-high) while giving up just one run on five hits. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. Marcum’s road ERA coming into today was 2.31, so I’m guessing it either fell to the low-2.00’s or into the 1.00’s. Anyway, the scary thing is Marcum’s road ERA is more than two runs lower than his home ERA. But, that could be very beneficial for the Brewers in the postseason, and gives them multiple ways to align their rotation, whether or not they start at home or on the road.

Most of the offense for the Brewers came in the third inning, and it all started with Randy Wells giving up a double to Marcum. Corey Hart followed with a RBI double. Then, Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Braun both hit RBI singles to give the Brewers  a 3-0 lead. Rickie Weeks also added a RBI single in that inning. Weeks would later ground into a force out in the fifth inning to give the Brewers their fifth and final run. The only run the Cubs would score was on a Starlin Castro homer in the sixth inning.

Anyway, we all know that Francisco Rodriguez hates pitching in non-save situations. So Ron Roenicke put him into the ninth inning today, but in another non-save situation (which I find kind of funny). But, K-Rod ended up striking out the side in the ninth, so he must not hate it that much.

The Brewers will go for a series win tomorrow at 1:20 PM CT, and will send Randy Wolf (13-9, 3.45 ERA) to the mound. Wolf is coming off a good start against the Reds, in which he went 7+ innings while giving up three runs and picked up the win. He hasn’t had great success against the Cubs in his career- he’s 6-10 with a 4.01 ERA against them- but is doing slightly better this year, as he has an ERA around 2.00.

The Cubs will counter with Matt Garza (8-10, 3.51 ERA). He went nine innings in his last start against the Astros, but still took a no-decision. Garza is 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers.

By the way, sorry for a post shorter than usual tonight. It’s been kind of a stressful week thus far, but I’m still trying to find time to get posts up.


Brewers’ rally against the flameout falls short

September 20, 2011

I see nothing in Carlos Marmol. Absolutely nothing.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs today, 5-2, and their magic number will stay at four for at least another day. That’s because the Cardinals beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies (talk about a worthless bunch). But that’s why I hate the Phillies- when I want them to win, which is rare, they don’t. And they win the rest of the time.

Anyway, back to the Brewers and Cubs. All five Cubs runs were driven in by Geovany Soto, who hit two two-run homers and had a RBI single. The only Brewers runs came on home runs by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Casey McGehee.

Chris Narveson had a very short start today, going just four innings while giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits. But, I guess you can’t blame him- the Brewers have been yanking him in and out of the starting rotation over the past few weeks, plus he was injured before that. Switching a pitcher between the rotation and bullpen rapidly is NOT how you help him recover from an injury. Anyway, Narveson took his first career loss against the Cubs with the loss today.

Casey Coleman, on the other hand, dominated the Brewers- just like all pitchers with ERAs over 7.00 do. He went six innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

The Brewers rallied against Marmol in the ninth inning, starting with a McGehee solo homer. But, Marmol, after giving up back-t0-back hits, would strike out Taylor Green and Corey Hart to end the game.

Anyway, there are a couple reasons I called Marmol a “flameout” earlier. I just don’t see anything in him. First off, the catcher-converted-into-pitcher is having a horrible year. He has a 3.91 ERA- which is actually pretty high for a closer- and has 34 saves. Sure, 34 saves sounds alright- unless you compare it to the 43 opportunities he’s had. That’s nine blown saves. Marmol actually lost the closer’s role for awhile to Sean Marshall, but was recently inserted back into that slot. Anyway, another reason I don’t see anything in Marmol- his signature pitch, the slider, doesn’t even break half of the time. It just spins up to the plate, resulting in hard-hit balls. And, when the slider does break, it breaks way out of the zone. He’s had outings this year where he walks four or more batters this year, and gives up six or more runs. Not something you want to see from a closer.

Anyway, one more thing- Mariano Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman’s save record with his 602nd career save today. That didn’t take too long; Hoffman barely held onto the record for a year. But Rivera is definitely going to have more than 602 saves- he has a 1.98 ERA, and he’s 42. That’s something you don’t hear too often… Anyway, there’s no other active closer even remotely close to 600 saves- the next closest is ex-Brewers Francisco Cordero. But I can’t see Cordero getting to 600 saves.

But who knows. Maybe in 15 years, we’ll be celebrating John Axford’s 600th save. That’s looking pretty far ahead. But, I’d love to see it, no matter when it comes- if it comes, that is.

The Brewers will look to even up this series in Chicago tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’ll be in search for some run support- something he hasn’t gotten over the past month. Marcum has been that one starter that has been amazing on the road for the Brewers, however. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the road this season. Anyway, Marcum has one career start against the Cubs, in which he gave up two runs over six innings and earned the win.

The Cubs will counter with Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93 ERA). Wells hasn’t lost over his last nine starts, but is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in his career against the Brewers.


Lopez to report to Triple-A Nashville

August 30, 2011

This is yesterday’s news, but, since there’s nothing else to post about right now and I forgot to post it yesterday, what better time than now?

It was reported yesterday that Brewers infielder Felipe Lopez accepted his assignment to the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, and started playing for them today. The Brewers designated him for assignment on Wednesday after he was very unimpressive at the Major League level.

The Brewers acquired Lopez from the Rays before the Trade Deadline because they were in need of an extra infielder due to the injury to Rickie Weeks. They were also interested in his versatility, as Lopez can play pretty much any infield position. But, that versatility couldn’t make up for his lack of offense- he hit for just a .182 average during his time with the Brewers this year.

And, on top of that, the Brewers found that they had tons of options to fill in at second base during Weeks’ absence, such as Jerry Hairston Jr., Craig Counsell, and Josh Wilson. All of the names I just mentioned are above average defensively (except maybe Hairston), while Lopez is just plain lazy on the field. None of them are huge hitters, either, but are all hitting over .182 (except Counsell, but that’s courtesy of a 0-for-46 slump).

Anyway, I just finished watching Randy Wells of the Cubs toss a two-hit shutout against the worst offensive team in baseball. Who is that? None other than the reigning World Champions. There’s a reason that the Giants are now 4.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. That reason? Getting shut out by pitchers with ERAs a mile over 5.00.

So, yeah, the reason I wrote this is because the Brewers had an off-day today. I know off-days are great for players, but they are the exact opposite for die-hard fans. Anyway, I’ll see you guys tomorrow for a Shaun Marcum vs. Edwin Jackson matchup in Milwaukee (a game that I’ll actually be at).