Brewers once again Hart-broken

January 20, 2013

> Yesterday, when I got home from school, I saw a tweet regarding Corey Hart and how much he hates Spring Training, but I didn’t take it literally. So I tweeted a joke about how I’d be waiting to hear the news about more of his knee injuries come ST.

But I wouldn’t have to wait very long. In fact, a few seconds later, I checked out the MLB news of the day- something I probably should have done first- and found that Hart will be out for 3-4 months with knee surgery.

Yep, we can’t catch a break. This is the third straight ST in which Hart will have been injured for at least part of the time, and the second time over the past three years that he’ll miss at least the first month of the season.

Anyway, this injury certainly affects how I view the possibility of the Brewers extending Hart. While he’s been a power-threat in the Brewers’ lineup ever since his break-out 2010, I don’t know how much longer the team can put up with his constant early season injuries. Also, if Hart misses more than just the first month of the season- which some speculate he will- it’ll hurt the sort of deal he gets, should he hit the free agent market at the end of 2013.

As for the Brewers, though, it would appear they’re going to give Mat Gamel yet another chance to start at first base. First base prospect Hunter Morris might get a closer look during ST, but it’s unlikely the Brewers would burn one of his options just so he could fill in for Hart for a month or so. Another internal option is Taylor Green, who, along with Gamel, was supposed to be fighting for a bench role going into ST.

Bottom line is, though, that this was a year Hart should have been a bit more careful. There’s evidently chronic issues with his knee that should have been fixed for good by now.

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks

> The Brewers’ list of World Baseball Classic players grew after the rosters for each country were announced on Thursday. 14 players were chosen: Ryan Braun (USA), Jonathan Lucroy (USA), Yovani Gallardo (Mexico), Marco Estrada (Mexico), Martin Maldonado (Puerto Rico), Hiram Burgos (Puerto Rico), Carlos Gomez (Dominican Republic), Jeff Bianchi (Italy), Hainley Statia (Netherlands), Mike Walker (Australia), John Axford (Canada), Jim Henderson (Canada), Green (Canada), and Rene Tosoni (Canada). All but three of the players- Statia, Walker, and Tosoni- are currently on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.

> The club has also avoided arbitration with all of its eligibles. Gomez received $4.3 million, Axford $5 million, Estrada $1.955 million, and Burke Badenhop $1.55 million. All were one-year deals. The Brewers had already avoided arbitration with their other eligible, Chris Narveson, a few weeks back.

> The Brewers signed catcher Robinson Diaz to a minor league deal.

> Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan is going to be inducted into the Brewers’ Walk of Fame.

> Today was an extremely sad day for baseball: former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and Cardinals legend Stan Musial both passed away. Weaver was 82 while Musial was 92.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Will Venable, Joe Thatcher, and Everth Cabrera to one-year deals; signed Brad Hawpe and Lucas May to minor league deals.
Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a one-year deal; re-signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan, and Jacoby Ellsbury to one-year deals; re-signed Craig Breslow to a two-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension; re-signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year deal.
Twins: Re-signed Drew Butera to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Designated Zach Stewart for assignment; re-signed Garrett Jones to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Tony Sipp and Ian Kennedy to one-year deals.
Astros: Signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal.
Mets: Re-signed Bobby Parnell and Ike Davis to one-year deals; signed Landon Powell to a minor league deal.
Reds: Re-signed Logan Ondrusek to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Re-signed Drew Storen and Craig Stammen to one-year deals.
Yankees: Re-signed Joba Chamberlain to a one-year deal; signed Bobby Wilson and Reegie Corona to minor league deals.
Athletics: Re-signed John Jaso and Seth Smith to one-year deals.
Angels: Re-signed Alberto Callaspo to a two-year deal; re-signed Jason Vargas to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Re-signed Matt Garza to a one-year deal.
Giants: Re-signed Jose Mijares, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey to one-year deals.
Indians: Re-signed Drew Stubbs and Chris Perez to one-year deals; signed Ryan Raburn to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Matt Wieters to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Re-signed Josh Thole to a two-year deal.
Tigers: Re-signed Rick Porcello to a one-year deal.
White Sox: Signed Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league deal; signed Matt Lindstrom to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Singed Matt Downs to a minor league deal.

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Brewers could be done with ‘pen renovations

January 9, 2013

> For a while, I was worried that the Brewers weren’t going to be able to pick up a lefty reliever this offseason. They haven’t had a consistent left-handed arm out of the bullpen in years, and Manny Parra being non-tendered left them with almost no possibilities on their 40-man roster.

But, while I was away, the Brewers turned it around and signed two left-handers with very solid track records: Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez.

Gorzelanny, a name Brewers fans may know from his time with the Pirates and Cubs, thrived out of the Nationals’ bullpen last season, his first full season as a reliever. He went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 45 games (72 innings). He won’t strike out a hoard of batters, but hasn’t had a K/9 below 7.3 since 2008. Gorzelanny also gives the Brewers a bit of versatility out of the ‘pen- he can be a lefty specialist, a long reliever, or even a spot starter. Gorzo’s contract is for two years and $6 million.

Gonzalez, on the other hand, is a true lefty specialist, or “LOOGy” (lefty-one-out-guy). He was also with the Nats last year, but didn’t sign until midseason. In 47 games (35 2/3 IP), he posted a 3.03 ERA. But the primary stat to look at for a guy like Gonzalez how left-handed batters fare against him, and in 2012 they didn’t have much success. Gonzalez held them to just a .179 average. He did allow righties to hit .297 against him, but, assuming Ron Roenicke uses him correctly, that won’t be much of an issue.

Gonzalez

The additions of these guys should seal up the revamped Brewers bullpen, which is actually starting to look like a strength, in my opinion. If the season started tomorrow, this is how I’d assemble it:

John Axford (closer)
Jim Henderson (primary setup man)
Burke Badenhop
Mike Gonzalez
Tom Gorzelanny
Brandon Kintzler
Michael Olmsted

The first five are locks, but the last two spots could be up for grabs in Spring Training. The Brewers actually have a wealth of power righties to choose from for those two spots, however- aside from Kintzler and Olmsted, there’s Johnny Hellweg, Josh Stinson, Jesus Sanchez, or even Mark Rogers (I’ll touch on his case in the coming days). But Kintzler, who has parts of three big league seasons under his belt, will definitely be a favorite. Same goes for Olmsted, who posted god-like numbers at Boston’s Double-A affiliate in 2012.

> The Brewers also signed multiple players to minor league deals while I was away: right-handed reliever Jim Hoey, shortstop Ozzie Martinez, and outfielders Rene Tosoni and Cole Garner.

> Arcenio Leon was designated for assignment yesterday after the Brewers made the Gonzalez signing official.


Brewers can’t hold on to early lead, drop series to Twins

July 3, 2011

4:28p Brewers-Twins Wrap-Up

All of the possible worst case scenarios happened to the Brewers today.

Zack Greinke had another rocky start, the bullpen faltered, and the offense couldn’t rally. All of these things diminished what was looking to be a series win for the Brewers early on, and an end to Interleague play on a high note. But the Twins chase of Greinke and late inning rallies against the bullpen ruined that ending, as the Brewers lost 9-7.

Everything was going right for the Brewers early on, except for Jim Thome’s homer off Greinke in the 3rd, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Brewers immediately answered, however, as Mark Kotsay crushed a home run off Twins starter Nick Blackburn. It was his first homer as a Brewer, and tied the game at 1-1.

But the huge rally began in the 4th inning, after Nyjer Morgan reached third on a throwing error by second baseman Alexi Casilla and an intentional walk of Prince Fielder. Mat Gamel hit a double, driving in Morgan and advancing Fielder to third. Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a rocket of an infield single that shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka couldn’t handle, which scored Fielder. Mark Kotsay continued his good day at the plate after that with a two RBI triple. Then, after Jonathan Lucroy drove in Kotsay with an RBI single, Blackburn finally got out of the mess. It would be his last inning, as he only went 4 innings while giving up 6 runs on 6 hits. He struck out 2 and walked 1.

But, Greinke began to struggle in 4th inning, when Rene Tosoni smacked a 3-run homer to tighten the screws of a now 6-4 game. Greinke would give up another run in the bottom of the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single, but had a shutdown 6th inning. He finished with 6 innings, 5 runs (4 earned), 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.

In the top of the 6th, Rickie Weeks hit his 15th homer of the year with a solo shot off reliever Anthony Swarzak, which made the game 7-5. That run would prove not to be enough insurance, however.

Things started to fall apart for the Brewers bullpen in the 7th. Zach Braddock had been in in relief of Greinke, but left with two outs and two runners on. Then, Kameron Loe was summoned from the bullpen in an odd spot, considering he’s typically the 8th inning reliever. Things did not go well for Loe, as he first gave up an RBI single to Cuddyer to make it a 7-6 game. He then walked Thome to load the bases. On the next batter, Danny Valencia hit a single to Kotsay. Kotsay, however, couldn’t handle the ball, and it rolled all the way to the track. The bases cleared, and Valencia wound up at third. It was now 9-7, and that was how the game remained.

Matt Capps, who blew the save yesterday, was in to try again, but after allowing back-to-back baserunners and with Prince Fielder on deck, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to bring in lefty specialist Glen Perkins. Perkins struck out Fielder and pinch-hitter Casey McGehee to end the game. McGehee’s struggles were visibly continuing, as he broke his bat over his knee after striking out.

Greinke gets more run support, but struggles continue (and a bit of venting about Loe)

The Brewers, as usual, gave Greinke seven runs of support today, but it proved not to be enough as his struggles continued. Greinke did not take the loss, but his ERA rose a touch to 5.66. If you’re wondering, Loe ended up taking the loss. He’s now 2-7 with a 4.72 ERA. Not to mention he has five blown saves. Yeah, not the greatest numbers for a setup man, if you can even call him that at this point.

Thome wasting no time trying to get to 600

If you were watching the game today, you probably noticed that Thome’s homer off Greinke was on the first pitch. He’s also took a few home run swings at pitches well out of the zone, which shows that he’s trying to get to 600 pretty bad. During this series, he hit his 594th off of Yovani Gallardo, and the one off Greinke today was #595.

McGehee still visibly frustrated about slump

McGehee pinch-hit for Gamel in the 9th inning today to try and get something going against the lefty Perkins. He struck out, however, and, as I mentioned earlier, broke his bat over his knee on the way back to the dugout. That clearly didn’t help his self-esteem, and now there’s no telling how many more days off Ron Roenicke is going to give him.

Braun’s hitting streak on hold

Ryan Braun sat out today’s game nursing a calf strain, so he did not get to continue his hitting streak. He may or may not play in tomorrow’s opener against the Diamondbacks, but his hitting streak remains on hold at 22, the longest active in the Majors.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will open a home series (thank goodness) against the Diamondbacks tomorrow. Shaun Marcum (7-3, 3.16 ERA) will get the start as he tries to bounce back from his below average start against the Yankees. Over Marcum’s past three starts, he has pitched a total of just 9 innings because of worries of a hip strain. Hopefully those are behind him now. The Diamondbacks will send Daniel Hudson (9-5, 3.49 ERA) to oppose Marcum. Hudson, in my opinion, is the ace of the Arizona staff, despite getting off to an 0-4 start this year.

Elsewhere around the division…

-The Reds finally beat the Indians today, 7-5, to avoid an Interleague sweep. They are 2 games back.

-The Pirates blew out the Nationals, 10-2. They are now just 1.5 games back, as they continue to be a surprise contender in the Central.

-The Cardinals lost to the Rays, 8-3. The Brewers still maintain a tie atop the central because of this.

-The Astros lost a close one to the Red Sox, 2-1. They are 16 games back.

-The Cubs defeated their southside counterpart, the White Sox, 3-1. They are 10 games back.