Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90’s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league deals.

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Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


NLCS draws even

October 22, 2012

> The Giants just continue to win elimination games, and their 6-1 win over the Cardinals tonight added to that streak. The NLCS is now tied at 3-3, with the deciding Game 7 to be played tomorrow.

Ryan Vogelsong was the story tonight, as he went seven innings while giving up a run on four hit. He walked one and struck out nine. He finishes with a 2-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in the NLCS, and has been the one consistent pitcher for the Giants this postseason.

The offense for the Giants wasn’t bad, either. Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Belt each had two hits. In Scutaro’s case, it was his fifth multi-hit game of this series alone, and he has at least one hit in every game. If the Giants wind up pulling this off tomorrow, Scutaro could almost win the NLCS MVP by default (that, or he and Vogelsong should be co-MVPs).

That Giants offense was helped by the Cardinals’ defense, though, who screwed over Chris Carpenter again. Tonight it was shortstop Pete Kozma’s error in the second inning that blew open a four-run frame for the Giants.

THE NEWS

> The Diamondbacks made a pair of early-offseason trades yesterday. First, they acquired shortstop Cliff Pennington and infield prospect Yordy Cabrera from the Athletics in exchange for outfielder Chris Young. Then, the D-backs turned around and traded Cabrera to the Marlins for reliever Heath Bell.

I have to question this series of moves- particularly the Bell move- but Kevin Towers usually seems to know what he’s doing.

> The Red Sox hired John Farrell as their new manager.

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised Curtis Granderson’s option for 2013.
Diamondbacks: Exercised J.J. Putz’s option for 2013; designated ex-Brewer Takashi Saito for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Wilking Rodriguez and Rich Thompson to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Sent Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays as part of compensation for Farrell.
Blue Jays: Sent David Carpenter to the Red Sox, also part of the Farrell deal.

THE EXTRAS

> I realized today that this Reds commercial has disappeared from TV stations broadcasting the postseason. Makes sense, since the Reds were eliminated, but man am I happy it’s gone.

> The only way Drew Brees can make himself look good: star in a commercial with One Direction.


Brewers’ lineup appears set

March 4, 2012

> It’s a little early to say for sure, but it sounds like the Brewers lineup and starting rotation for the regular season is set.

Ron Roenicke debuted the lineup earlier today during an intrasquad game, and he talked a bit about how the rotation would look. The lineup should look something like this: Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy, and the pitcher. That’s how I expected it to look, although we’ll have to see what happens with the leadoff spot. Weeks and Hart have both expressed interest and liking to the spot, but Weeks specifically said that he didn’t want to hit fifth, which leaves him leading off.

Then there’s the rotation. Here’s how it’ll go: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, and Chris Narveson. The reason Wolf is ahead of Marcum in the rotation is because of the opening series of the season against the Cardinals. Wolf has been solid against the Cards in his career, and pitched well against them in the postseason last year. Marcum, meanwhile, was pounded by them during the postseason. Marcum and Narveson will pitch the first two games in the next series against the Cubs. Both pitchers have had success against the Cubs in their career (I believe Narveson is 6-1 with an ERA below 3.00). To be honest with you, I almost wish Gallardo was pitching against the Cubs and Narveson was pitching against the Cardinals, though. Gallardo gets mauled by the Cards every time he pitches against them, although the departure of Albert Pujols may help a bit. And Gallardo is a strikeout machine against the Cubs. Narveson, meanwhile, has a career ERA under 2.00 against the Cardinals. One of my favorite things to watch in all of baseball is Chris Narveson pitching against the Cardinals, because I find it hilarious how they can’t hit him at all, and they’re the ones who drafted him. Hopefully the two get matched up sometime later in the season.

Also, the starting pitchers for tomorrow’s Spring Training game against the Giants have been announced. Wolf will start and pitch a few innings, then Greinke will pitch a bit as well in relief. Madison Bumgarner will be starting for the Giants.

> Bench coach Jerry Narron brought back his Japanese lineup card writing for Norichika Aoki during today’s intrasquad game. Narron has been doing this ever since 2001 when Ichiro Suzuki arrived in the Majors, and he says he does it “out of respect.” Aoki said this helped him “fit in” to the clubhouse better.

Narron also did this for Japanese reliever Takashi Saito, who pitched for the Brewers last year. Unfortunately, he left via free agency for the Diamondbacks.

> One more thing before I go- I put up another article on Reviewing the Brew earlier today. I can’t remember if I’ve explained it on this blog before, but, if I haven’t, here’s how it works. The six writers (including me) at RtB are doing a collaborative project in which we pick one Brewers prospect to watch during Spring Training, and then write articles about that player’s progress throughout spring. My pick was starting pitcher Amaury Rivas, who I’ve been avidly watching for about three years now. I thought this would be a good choice since I’ve already got a bit of background knowledge about Rivas, and he’s arguably my favorite Brewers prospect. Anyway, here’s a link to the article.

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


Recent signings and trades open, close doors for Brewers

December 13, 2011

> Yesterday was a productive day for the Brewers’ front office. In the morning, they signed free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Then, by night, they traded third baseman Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. Both of these moves will have a huge impact on the Brewers will look next year- and it’s probably going to be much different than they looked in 2011.

> But these moves also opened up a few opportunities for young players, while closing them for other players.

The question at third base in 2012 was obviously answered when the Brewers signed Ramirez. After McGehee, who’d been the Brewers starting third baseman from 2009-2011, had a rough year last year, there were questions about whether or not the Brewers would get decent production from that position. McGehee had been one of the Brewers’ most consistent hitters in 2009 and 2010, hitting .301 and .285 (in the respective years). But, he slumped down to a .223 average in 2011, and, by the playoffs, had lost his starting position.

Despite the fact he’s 33, Ramirez should give the Brewers good production at third base. He hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs in 2011, and has proved over the years that he can hit 25-30 homers on a consistent basis. Which is what the Brewers needed to fill in the void that Prince Fielder left in their lineup.

Speaking of Fielder. The Ramirez signing pretty much closed the door on the possibility of Fielder returning to the Brewers in 2012. But, as much as we all wanted him back, I think we knew he was as good as gone.

And, with Fielder and McGehee officially gone, that opens an opportunity at one of the most important offensive positions- first base.

The Brewers seem determined to give Mat Gamel a shot at first. Gamel’s been stuck as a “prospect” for awhile now, as he’s torn up the Minors over the past few years. But, he’s been pretty inconsistent at the Major League level when given the chance.

Maybe consistent playing time will do him good, though. When he was given a chance in the Majors, he didn’t get consistent playing time, which probably didn’t help.

Another good thing about Gamel is that he’s versatile. While he’s most likely to play first base, he can also play third and the corner outfield positions, which could give him the ability to be a utility player if he doesn’t win the job at first.

Taylor Green may also be given a chance at first base. We saw a bit of him at the Major League level this year, and it looks like he’ll have a bright future. He’s also torn up the Minors, especially this year, when he hit .336 before being called up at the end of August. Green is also somewhat versatile, as he can play third, second, and first base.

The shortstop question was also answered this week, as the Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal, and he’s much better than Yuniesky Betancourt. I did an article a few days ago explaining my opinion on why Gonzalez was better than Betancourt, but, to sum it up in one sentence: Gonzalez is a far superior defender to Betancourt.

Onto the bullpen, which appeared to be going downhill when Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Diamondbacks and Angels, respectively. The Brewers began to address that last night in acquiring Veras from the Pirates, but I think they’ll need at least one or two more solid relievers to make me feel good about the bullpen, and more help to set up for the 1-2 punch of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

And that’s about it. I think the Brewers did a good job of addressing all of their major needs early in the offseason, which could give them time to ponder additional moves and trades over the rest of the offseason.

> By the way: the Brewers tendered the contracts of all their arbitration-eligible players. That means George Kottaras, Shaun Marcum, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Rodriguez, Veras, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan all avoided arbitration.

> The Brewers also announced this week that they’re still interested in extending both Marcum and Zack Greinke, another one of their top priorities this offseason.

> I don’t have much to say about the Braun issue today, as most of the news is the same as it was yesterday. But, if you’re worried that he’ll still receive that 50-game suspension, read this article– it definitely made me feel better.

> And one last thing- I heard today that the Rockies are interested in free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. That has nothing to do with the Brewers, I know- but if a team other than the Cardinals signs him, it’s beneficial to us.

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


Brewers reportedly sign Ramirez to three-year deal

December 12, 2011

> Something good had to happen for the Brewers in light of all the horrible Ryan Braun news.

> And it did. The Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez this morning, and the deal appears to be for three years and somewhere between $34-37 million. This helps the Brewers offense a lot, especially because of the departure of Prince Fielder (this deal pretty much closes the door on the possibility of him returning to the Brewers).

Ramirez hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs last year- not bad for a 33-year old third baseman. He can hit 25-30 home runs on a consistent basis as well, something the Brewers need to help their offense.

Anyway, this move kind of decides the fate of Casey McGehee. He’s either going to play first base next year, be moved into a utility player-type role, or be traded. Unless the Brewers are determined to let Mat Gamel start at first base next year, the most likely option for McGehee is to simply move him across the infield, and hope he has a bounce-back year. However, the Rangers have shown interest in McGehee, and it sounds like the Brewers could get something decent in return from them. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

> The Braun issue- day three. I heard yesterday that, in the history of the drug prevention program in the MLB, that the results that Braun had were never seen before. This is because his testosterone level was two times as high as the previous highest testosterone level.

If that doesn’t tell you that this whole thing is “B.S.,” as Braun said, then I don’t know what to tell you.

I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t humanly possible to have a testosterone level as high as the results said Braun’s was (without being extremely sick or dying, of course). But this just proves that the whole thing is stupid and a waste of time, and, if Braun actually receives that 50-game suspension to start 2012, I’m going to be pretty pissed. (Sorry, I don’t usually used language like that on BW, but this has just gotten way out of hand.)

Plus, these preliminary results shouldn’t have even been released in the first place. This is why I hate ESPN- they have to release information that’s probably false before they even know anything about it.

> The Brewers made a few minor moves earlier today, signing catcher Mike Rivera and first baseman Travis Ishikawa to Minor League deals. Rivera saw a little time in the Majors with the Brewers this year, while Ishikawa hasn’t played in the Majors since 2010 with the Giants.

> Zack Greinke reportedly fired his agent(s) today, and hasn’t chosen a replacement yet. Let’s all pray that he doesn’t choose Scott Boras…

And we also have to hope that the Brewers get he and Shaun Marcum extended this offseason, because both hit the free agent market after 2012.

UPDATE- As of about an hour ago, the Brewers have traded McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. I definitely didn’t see this coming- not tonight, and not McGehee going to the Pirates. I feel a bit bad for him…

Anyway, Veras is a decent pickup, I guess. He set up for All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan while with the Pirates last year, but can be a bit erratic at times. But, he’s a hard-throwing right-hander, and can probably be used in a seventh inning role to set up for Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

> This move also makes up for the fact that the Brewers aren’t going to be able to bring back Takashi Saito, unfortunately. He’s reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks.

> And that’s about it. Barring any late-night news, that’s everything. So thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers to make a few offers prior to Winter Meetings

December 3, 2011

> The Brewers are supposedly not going to be very active during the Winter Meetings this year, but they might be before the Winter Meetings.

> According to the Brewer Nation (@BrewersNation), the Brewers are going to make contract offers to two players this weekend- one relief pitcher, and one infielder. It isn’t known the amount of money or how many years they’re for, and it isn’t even known who the infielder is.

But, the relief pitcher is thought to be Takashi Saito, who pitched for the Brewers last year as well. He was injured until around late June, but was effective upon his return, going 4-2 with a 2.02 ERA. Saito typically shared the seventh inning role with LaTroy Hawkins in 2011, but, unless the Brewers don’t get another reliever capable of setting up, he’ll probably be pitching the eighth inning in 2012.

The only issue about Saito is his injury history (which I already mentioned) and his age. He’s 41 right now, and will be 42 by opening day of 2012. But, if he can still be productive, I don’t care what his age is- let him pitch.

> The Brewers have also supposedly made an offer to utility infielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who they acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Nationals. He didn’t do much during the regular season, but had a few key hits in the playoffs. He also had some misplays in the playoffs, however.

> Yesterday, the Dodgers signed former Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano to a two-year deal worth around $10 million. After the Brewers told Capuano that he wouldn’t be able to start for them prior to the 2011 season, he elected to become a free agent, and was signed by the Mets. He went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA for the Mets in 2011, and had a career 4.34 ERA during his five years with the Brewers.

There was some speculation before the 2011 season that the Brewers should have opted to keep Capuano as the fifth starter, instead of going with lefty starter Chris Narveson, who could have also been used out of the bullpen. But Narveson ended up having a slightly better season than Capuano, as he went 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA.

> And that’s about it. It’s been a slow past few days… Actually, who am I kidding? It’s been a slow few weeks. But, I’m happy to announce that, the day before yesterday, the record for views in a single day on Breaking Wisconsin was shattered by over 100 views. So thanks to everyone who checked this site out that day, and thanks to everybody who’s taken the time to look at it for as long it’s existed.

Anyway, feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.