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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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.


Seven Brewers to participate in WBC

January 17, 2013

> It seems like the list just keeps getting larger. As of right now, seven Brewers are on their respective countries World Baseball Classic rosters: Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Taylor Green, Yovani Gallardo, and Martin Maldonado.

Braun and Luc will play for Team USA (Braun also played for them in 2009). Axford, Henderson, and Green were all selected to Team Canada. Gallardo will play for Team Mexico, and Maldonado for Puerto Rico.

I’m happy for all of these guys, but the one issue with the Classic is that it interferes with Spring Training. I typically don’t have an issue with that, but, as someone on Twitter pointed out earlier today, both of the Brewers’ big league catchers will be participating in the WBC, so the new Brewers pitchers (particularly the relievers) won’t have much time to get familiar with them. That shouldn’t be an issue, but it is something to think about.

Also, the fact that Gallardo will be throwing extra innings due the WBC will probably try and prompt Ron Roenicke to give him some sort of innings limit, knowing his shenanigans. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

> The Brewers added righty reliever Rob Wooten to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. The Brewers’ list of non-roster invitees now stands at 18: pitchers Wooten, Jairo Asencio, Jed Bradley, Darren Byrd, Kelvim Escobar, Donovan Hand, Taylor Jungmann, Arcenio Leon, Travis Webb, catchers Dayton Buller, Anderson De La Rosa, Blake Lalli, Rafael Nada, Adam Weisenburger, infielders Hector Gomez, Hunter Morris, Donnie Murphy, and outfielder Kentrail Davis.

> Four Brewers filed for salary arbitration today: Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez. Axford projects to get the largest contract. The Brewers already avoided arbitration with one of their eligibles, Chris Narveson.

> Minor moves: 

Blue Jays: Signed ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Adam Loewen to minor league deals; designated Tommy Hottovy for assignment; re-signed Colby Rasmus to a one-year deal; signed Denis Villatora to a five-year deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Nolan Reimold and Tommy Hunter to one-year deals.
Phillies: Signed Rodrigo Lopez, Juan Cruz, and Aaron Cook to minor league deals.
Yankees: Released ex-Brewer Chris Dickerson; re-signed Phil Hughes to a one-year deal.
Angels: Signed Fernando Cabrera to a minor league deal; re-signed Jerome Williams to a one-year deal.
Indians: Released Thomas Neal.
Reds: Signed ex-Brewer Cesar Izturis to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Re-signed Jeff Karstens to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed J.J. Putz to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Delwyn Young to a minor league deal; signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal.
Dodgers: Signed Peter Moylan, Jesus Flores, Deivy Castillo, Ariel Sandoval, Ravel Hernandez, and Miguel Urena to minor league deals.
Mariners: Signed Luis Liberato to a minor league deal.
Rangers: Signed Kyle McClellan to a minor league deal.
Marlins: Signed Michael Wuertz, Nick Green, and Austin Kearns to minor league deals.
Tigers: Signed Don Kelly to a minor league deal.
Rockies: Re-signed Wilton Lopez and Josh Outman to one-year deals.


Rauch, Frasor, Farnsworth, Gonzalez on relief radar

December 18, 2012

> Doug Melvin has already missed out on multiple opportunities to sign relievers this offseason, the most notable guys being Jason Grilli and Sean Burnett. But, for the first time this offseason, Melvin himself named off a few relievers that the Brewers are currently interested in. Those names included Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Gonzalez, all of whom were in my relief pitcher article from a few weeks back.

In my opinion, Frasor is by far the most attractive pitcher of those four. He fits the bill of a power arm the Brewers are looking for, and can pitch the eighth inning (I’m not so sure I completely trust Jim Henderson in the eighth yet). Frasor doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but you have to take into consideration that he’s spent the majority of his career with the Blue Jays in the AL East, so a move to the NL might do him good.

Frasor

The other three options Melvin listed are decent, I suppose. Farnsworth had a breakout season in 2011 as the Rays’ closer, but had an injury-plagued 2012. Gonzalez is that coveted lefty the Brewers are looking for (though I’d much prefer J.P. Howell, who I’m surprised Melvin didn’t mention), but the competition for him his; same goes for Howell. And I’d stay away from Rauch- he reminds me too much of Kameron Loe.

But if Melvin does decide to go after one of these guys, hopefully he gives him a substantial offer. Not that I want Melvin to overpay for a reliever, but I felt like he didn’t go hard enough for guys like Grilli or Burnett. However, the four guys Melvin mentioned today should come much cheaper than Grilli or Burnett.

> The Brewers signed utility infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Murphy, who’s pretty versatile in the field, isn’t the greatest at the plate, as he hit just .216 in 129 plate appearances for the Marlins last year, and is a career .205 hitter. But, he does provide some depth at shortstop,a position the Brewers struggled with last year until the acquisition of Jean Segura. After Alex Gonzalez went down, we saw the tandem of Cody Ransom and Cesar Izturis flail miserably.

Anyway, Murphy should compete with guys like Mat Gamel and Taylor Green for one of the back-up infielder spots.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Stephen Drew to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal.
Astros: Signed Carlos Pena to a one-year deal; designated Mickey Storey for assignment.
Cubs: Designated Jeff Beliveau for assignment.
Giants: Signed Santiago Casilla to a three-year extension.
Angels: Signed Luis Rodriguez to a minor league deal.
Royals: Released Ysrael Abreu, Jose Brazoban, Adelso Polanco, and Yerinson Tatis.


Brewers squeeze past Padres to take final series

October 3, 2012

POSTGAME

> All the Brewers needed tonight was Martin Maldonado’s third inning grand slam to defeat the Padres. Their 4-3 win gives them a series win in their final series of the year.

THE NEWS

> As Ron Roenicke announced yesterday, Tyler Thornburg went just four innings today. I thought RRR would let him go five innings and give him a chance for his first career win, but apparently that wasn’t his mindset.

Thorn looked good in his limited work though. He gave up a run on four hits and struck out four, including when he struck out the side in the first inning.

> Josh Stinson is going to start tomorrow. Yep, Yovani Gallardo won’t make his final start or have a bid at his 17th win.

Ron Roenicke, everyone.

> The Brewers will bring back their current coaching staff next year.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers need eight more strikeouts to tie the MLB single-season record for team strikeouts in a season. The record his held by the 2003 Cubs.

> The Brewers start seven rookies- Norichika Aoki, Logan Schafer, Maldonado, Taylor Green, Jean Segura, Jeff Binachi, and Thornburg- and still defeated the Padres. They also used two rookie relievers, Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson. Not to mention they started Travis Ishikawa at first base, which you could say is the equivalent of a rookie.

> Henderson’s string of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped last night.

> Kintzler, a reliever, has four wins in just 14 games. That’s a rather odd ratio for a reliever.

UPDATE: For some reason, Henderson was rewarded the win, despite the fact Kintzler should have received the win.

> Tomorrow’s match-up for the season finale (*sniffle*):

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Josh Stinson (0-0, 0.00)

THE EXTRAS

> Adam Greenberg got his dream at-bat for the Marlins today. But, he was facing R.A. Dickey, so the result was rather predictable.

> Michael Morse may have hit the greatest grand slam ever the other day.


Brewers serve up Gio’s 20th

September 23, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers have seemed invincible recently, but I suppose a good offense and a Cy Young contender can put that to a halt quickly. The Brewers lost to the Nationals today, 10-4, in a game they let get away too early.

Wily Peralta had a very short start- he went just 2 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out four. But you could just tell it was going to be a short outing from the get-go; despite not giving up a run in the first two innings, he needed 42 pitches to get through them. He left the game with 73 pitches after having recorded just two outs in the third.

Peralta gave up consecutive RBI hits to Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Ian Desmond in the third before being taken out in exchange for Livan Hernandez.
But Hernandez got completely murdered by his former team in the fourth, allowing three-run homers to both Ryan Zimmerman and Desmond.

All the while the Brewers’ offense was being silenced by Gio Gonzalez, who became the first 20-game winner of 2012.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun is reportedly dealing with some groin issues after a “rough slide” into home last night. He’s going to play through them for the stretch run, however. Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI today.

> MLB Trade Rumors has continued to mention Alex Gonzalez’s vesting option for 2013 that would have come into play had he achieved 525 plate appearances this season. But, since he went down in May, there’s almost no chance he returns to the Brewers next year.

> The Cardinals defeated the Cubs in extra innings, so the Brewers fall to 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race for the time being. However, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Pirates all lost, so the teams close behind the Brewers will stay pat as well.

THE NUMBERS

> Yorvit Torrealba made his Brewers debut today, replacing Martin Maldonado in the fifth inning. But he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

> Taylor Green hit his third career homer in the ninth inning.

> Peralta had allowed just one extra-base hit in his first three big league starts coming into today. But, he gave up three XBH’s in a row in that rough third inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 6.92 ERA)

Gallardo’s last loss was against the Nationals back in late July, and his record fell to 8-8 after that. Since then, though, Gallardo has been untouchable, going 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts following that outing.

THE EXTRAS

> I don’t think I’ve ever seen MLB refer to a home run as a “downtowner” in a highlight label.


Crew takes series from Bucs; remain 2.5 back

September 20, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did what they needed to do in Pittsburgh: take the easy series, because the road ahead is going to be extremely difficult.

The Crew took down the Pirates again tonight, 3-1. The pitching continued to be as stellar as it’s been the past three games, led tonight by Marco Estrada’s seven scoreless innings.

Estrada also sort of led the way offensively. After Norichika Aoki’s first career lead-off homer in the first inning, Estrada was responsible for the final two runs- he got an RBI single in the fifth and received the benefit of a run-scoring error in the seventh inning.

John Axford was shaky in the ninth, but, after allowing a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen to lead off the inning, settled down to notch his 30th save of the year.

MY TAKE

> Estrada was removed after seven innings, but had just 96 pitches under his belt, and had allowed just three hits. If it were me, Estrada would be back out for the eighth inning, no questions asked. But apparently a starter needs to have below 90 pitches through seven if he wants to go beyond that under Ron Roenicke.

> Even if the Brewers continue to play well, don’t expect them to pick up much ground in the Wild Card over the next week and a half or so. During that span, the Cardinals- currently occupying the second WC spot- have the luxury of a schedule that goes Astros, Cubs, Astros.

THE NEWS

> Peter Gammons wrote about how Doug Melvin has been able to bring the Brewers back into contention during his tenure as Brewers’ GM.

> MLB Trade Rumors inquired on a topic I’ve also been preaching lately: whether or not Shaun Marcum deserves a decent contract come this offseason.

THE NUMBERS

> Estrada has brought his ERA all the way down to 3.56. He’s no slouch out there.

> Aoki’s recent power-stretch has him once again approaching the .300 mark, as he’s brought his average up to .293.

> As mentioned earlier, Axford recorded his 30th save of the year. A few months ago, I never would have guessed he could achieve that milestone this year.

> RRR finally attempted to fix the first base problem by using Taylor Green there today, but the results were basically the same ones Travis Ishikawa has been giving us: 0-for-4.

> The Brewers got another stolen base, but the Pirates also threw out a baserunner! That’s progress (even if the replay showed the runner was actually safe).

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.23 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> So apparently today was the annual International Talk Like A Pirate Day.” That must mean talking like a contender who’s falling out of the race.