Pitching shines in spring opener

February 24, 2013

> No, I’m not dead. Just your typical month-long absence. Things have been hectic for me recently, and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on BWI nowadays. But I figured I owed at least one article after not even checking on the site in over a month.

A lot has happened since I’ve been away, with the most significant thing pertaining to Ryan Braun and his second straight eventful offseason. But first, let’s talk positives: it’s hard not to be positive when baseball is getting back into full swing.

> The Brewers’ had their first Spring Training game yesterday, and squeezed past the Athletics in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The A’s recorded just five hits off the Brewers’ pitching staff, while the Brewers themselves managed just three. But patience at the plate was what gave the Brewers the edge: they drew seven walks against an otherwise-solid Athletics pitching staff.

Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a home run in his first (and only, as it turns out) ST at-bat. The second Brewers run came on Jean Segura’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning. In the seventh, prospect Michael Choice drove in the only Athletics run.

> So offense wasn’t exactly the Brewers’ strong point yesterday: the only players to pick up hits were Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Caleb Gindl. However, Carlos Gomez and Taylor Green drew back-to-back walks twice in the game. Hopefully this foreshadows that Gomez will be a bit more patient at the plate this year.

But the pitching was nothing but stellar. Aside from Santo Manzanillo allowing a run in 2/3 innings of work, the staff shut down the A’s. Mike Fiers worked around a shaky 26-pitch first inning to toss two scoreless innings. From there, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, Michael Olmsted, and Jesus Sanchez- who recorded the save- all had scoreless outings as well.

> Speaking of Olmsted, he’s received a lot of clamor and praise from players early on in Spring Training. He pitched the eighth yesterday and recorded two strikeouts. Hopefully that’s a role we’ll see him playing during the regular season.

> With that out of the way, let’s move onto the news that’s made this past month somewhat miserable for the Brewers.

> So there’s this pharmacy in Miami that’s been referred to as the “Biogenisis clinic.” Roughly a month ago, news broke out that it had allegedly sold PEDs to six players: Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of these players- A-Rod, Melky, Colon, and Grandal- had all been linked to PEDs (and, in some cases, suspended for use of them) in the past.

Since this incident was first reported by Yahoo!, however, more players have come out to be linked to Biogenesis.

Braun was one of them. But you knew it had to happen since he had said just a few days before that he was enjoying his non-eventful offseason.

To be honest, though, I’m not nearly as worried about this case as I was about the whole fiasco last offseason. Braun has not been directly linked to PEDs in this case- at least not yet. His name is on some extremely sketchy piece of paper next to a sum of money, but it does not say that he bought PEDs. According to Braun, he reached out to Anthony Bosch- the Biogenesis founder- for help during his trial last offseason. Why would he link himself to someone like that? Beats me. But all I know is that he hasn’t been linked to PEDs directly yet, and, until he is, he’s completely innocent.

Braun2

> There was a 1/10 chance that Mat Gamel was going to re-tear his surgically repaired ACL. But, since he’s Mat Gamel, that automatically becomes a 10/10 chance, which it did. Now he’s going to miss the whole 2013 season after getting knocked out of the 2012 season in May.

That leaves the Brewers with two injured first baseman to start the 2013 season, as Corey Hart will likely miss at least a month as well. The Brewers hope to tread water internally at first base until Hart returns, and are primarily looking at Alex Gonzalez (re-signed to a Major League deal to play a utility role), Hunter Morris (has never played above Double-A), and Bobby Crosby (former Rookie of the Year, signed to a minor league pact).

Personally, I’d like to see Morris get a chance, but I can see where the Brewers wouldn’t want to waste an option on him and start his free agency clock early just so he can fill in for a month.

> And that’s about it for now. The Brewers take on the Indians later today at 2:05 PM CT. Mark Rogers will take the hill as one of the many Brewers competing for a spot in the rotation. Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland.

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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.


Fiers dominates once again

August 30, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers pretty much let Mike Fiers and the Cubs’ defense do the work tonight in their 3-1 win. Fiers had yet another stellar performance, going 7 1/3 innings while giving up a run on four hits. He walked one and struck out six.

The Brewers got on the board in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI fielder’s choice. The Cubs answered back in the second inning on a Darwin Barney RBI groundout, and from there it was a pitcher’s duel. Fiers was dominant, but so was Jeff Samardzija, who struck out 10 over seven innings.

But the Cubs’ defense unraveled behind him in the seventh. After Samardzija himself allowed Nyjer Morgan to reach on an error, Jean Segura drove in the go-ahead run with a single. Then the Cubs defense did something that I can’t really explain, so you can watch it here.

Manny Parra finished off the eighth for Fiers, and John Axford recorded his 22nd save.

MY TAKE

> Fiers had 82 pitches through seven innings, so, thankfully, Ron Roenicke put him back out for the eighth. He gave up a single to Barney to lead off the eighth, and almost erased him with a double play (Corey Hart botched that and a few other plays tonight).

Roenicke took out Fiers after that when he was at just 87 pitches. I was hoping tonight would be the night we see the first Brewers complete game since April of 2011, but now I’m starting to think we’ll never see one over the tenure of RRR.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers set up their Arizona Fall League roster. The prospects going are Nick Bucci, Kyle Heckathorn, Santo Manzanillo, Jimmy Nelson, Hunter Morris, Khris Davis, Brock Kjeldgaard, and Johnny Hellweg. Mat Gamel could also be ready in time.

> The Orioles won’t make the Randy Wolf signing official until Friday.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers eight-game streak of 10 or more strikeouts ended. They recorded seven tonight.

> Jonathan Lucroy had a rough night, going o-for-4 with three strikeouts.

> The Reds won their Major League-leading 80th game.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19 ERA) vs. Brooks Raley (1-2, 6.64 ERA)

Keep in mind this could be Marcum’s final start as a Brewer, as he was placed on waivers yesterday.


Brewers probably won’t make big moves at Winter Meetings

November 30, 2011

> Sorry for such a late post. I’ve been busy today, but I’m just going to try and quickly go through the Brewers’ news released today.

> Doug Melvin announced earlier today that the Brewers won’t be major players at the Winter Meetings this year. I guess this was expected, although the Brewers do have a few holes to fill, such as a shortstop and relievers. Not nearly as many as they did in 2010, however.

By the way, if you don’t already know, the Winter Meetings are in Dallas this year from December 5-8.

> The Brewers just can’t get a break as far as Minor League pitching goes. Pitching prospect Santo Manzanillo separated his right shoulder in a car crash earlier today in the Dominican Republic. This came a few days after Manzanillo was put on the 40-man roster for protection from being plucked away in the Rule 5 Draft.

Anyway, who knows what this injury is going to do to his arm. It could affect him a lot because he’s a power pitcher, shown by his numbers- 1.75 ERA and 17 saves between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville.

Notice how this occurred in the Dominican Republic. At this point, I’m starting to get shaky about Major League players leaving the country to return to their native countries for offseason exercising or winter ball, because it seems like bad things continue to happen. Wilson Ramos, Greg Halman, and now this. I hope this is the end of it.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news. There were some major signings around the rest of the MLB, however.

> The Red Sox may have finally found a new manager in Bobby Valentine. Reports are saying that both sides are close to a deal. Plus, it was reported that Gene Lamont is no longer a contender for their managerial position, leaving Valentine as the only choice.

> The Royals signed former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to a one-year deal today. Broxton, typically a closer, is probably going to set up for All-Star closer Joakim Soria.

I’m always tempted to make jokes about Broxton’s weight (he weighs 300 pounds) even though I know I shouldn’t; then I remember his insanely high strikeouts per innings pitched. He has struck out 503 batters in just 382 innings, which is 11.55 strikeouts per nine innings.

> The Cubs are apparently interested in both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Hopefully they’re smart enough to know they can only sign one.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. Again, sorry for such a late post; I’ll probably update this with more links tomorrow. But thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


News from MLB over the past few days…

November 20, 2011

> There really hasn’t been much news in baseball over the past few days, which is why you didn’t see a post last night. So, here’s a bit of a recap of what’s happened, but it isn’t much…

> The biggest piece of news was Matt Kemp signing an eight-year deal with the Dodgers. There were rumors that the Dodgers were close to signing Kemp earlier this week, but it was just finalized yesterday.

Kemp had an unbelievable season in 2011, hitting .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs. He also had 41 stolen bases, making him a 30/30 player, and nearly a 40/40 player. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year, which is going to be announced on Monday.

> Carlos Zambrano was hit in the face by a line drive today during a winter ball start in Venezuela today. Apparently, he was having his best start since he started pitching this fall, but needed to exit the game after being hit.

So you can add yet another chapter to the odd career of the usually-psychotic Cubs pitcher. It seems like every possible negative thing in baseball that can happen to a player happens to Zambrano. Most of the time, it’s his fault, but this time it isn’t.

Zambrano is in winter ball because he missed the last month and a half of the 2011 season after being placed on the restricted list by the Cubs. This all started because he threw inside multiple times to Chipper Jones in a start against the Braves, in which he was getting crushed and was letting his frustration out. He was ejected, and while the benches cleared and his team was fighting for him, Zambrano simply walked off the field laughing. He then walked into the clubhouse, cleaned out his locker, and told the reporters that he was going to retire.

That may have been the break the Cubs were looking for, but, of course, Zambrano didn’t follow through with it.

In reaction to this performance, the Cubs placed Zambrano on the restricted list, as I mentioned earlier, which makes a player ineligible to be around the team or be paid for 3o days. Even after Zambrano’s time on the restricted list was finished (wow, sounded like he was in jail when I put it like that), he didn’t return to the team.

Anyway, that’s the story. Zambrano was having a crappy season as it was, definitely the worst of his career. It was the first time he had an ERA over 4.00, but still posted a winning record. Theo Epstein has announced that Zambrano is going to have to “work his way back” to get a spot on the Cubs’ roster next year, but I think we all know that he’s probably going to be there anyway.

> The Blue Jays have announced that they’re going to have a new logo for next year, and they’re basing it off their traditional logo. Which is awesome, because that Blue Jays logo is my second favorite logo in MLB history (only to the Brewers retro glove logo). Hopefully, it gives them some luck to win the AL East (or at least the Wild Card).

> The Twins signed catcher Ryan Doumit to a two-year deal, which pretty much means they’re expecting Joe Mauer to get injured at this point. Can you blame them?

Anyway, the Brewers had seen Doumit, the former Pirates’ catcher, a lot over the past few years. He tended to be a Brewers-killer, so it’s good that he’ll be out of the league.

> Dale Sveum has been officially named the Cubs’ new manager. You can read my post the other day about my take on that, because it would be a waste of time for me to do it again right here.

> Onto some minor Brewers moves from yesterday and today.

> The Brewers have added four prospects to their 40-man roster yesterday. They are outfielder Caleb Gindl, first baseman Brock Kjeldgaard, right-handed pitcher Santo Manzanillo, and third baseman Zelous Wheeler. With these additions, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 35. And, because these players were added to the roster, they can’t be taken by other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> I noticed the other day that Yovani Gallardo came in seventh place in the NL Cy Young Award voting. That has to be the best any Brewers’ pitcher has done in the voting in years. Gallardo wasn’t quite good enough to win, but his win total and strikeouts probably put him in the race (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts in 207 innings were his overall numbers).

> And that’s about all I’ve got right now. But, before I go, I just want to explain something new that I might be doing on this blog soon.

With the lack of news around MLB some days, I’m finding myself with nothing to post about. That’s happened to me twice over the past week, and definitely isn’t helping this blog get any more popular. So, I’m thinking about writing about things in Brewers’ history on days that there isn’t much news. By “things,” I mean historical seasons, players, events, top 10 players at a certain position, and so on. I think that would be something good to mix it up once in awhile, because up to now I’ve really just been blogging about news. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I love doing it, but I just want to try something different.

> Anyhow, feel free to leave you thoughts, if you have any.