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.

Advertisements

Kimbrel, Hellickson take home ROY awards

November 15, 2011

> Needless to say I called this a few days ago.

> Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Hellickson took home the NL and AL Rookie of the Year Awards today (respectively). So for those of you who say that pitchers shouldn’t win this award (or the MVP), then this wasn’t your year.

Kimbrel was thrown into the Braves’ closer role since future Hall of Fame closer Billy Wagner retired before this year started. And he handled it just as Wagner would have; possibly better. Kimbrel set the record for the most saves by a rookie closer with 46, which also tied Brewers closer John Axford for the most in the NL. He put up a 2.10 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Despite the fact Kimbrel technically ended the Braves’ season by blowing a save against the Phillies on the final day, he was still the most deserving of any NL candidate.

I was one of the few (or so it seemed) who actually thought Hellickson would win. And you can’t argue with the numbers. His 13-10 record could have been better, and actually should have been better- he was victim of low run support from a weak Rays offense various times. But, his 2.95 ERA in the AL East was unbelievable, especially for a rookie. Hellickson also ate up 189 innings, the most among rookie starters in the Majors. I don’t know what it is about the Rays and managing to put together all of these homegrown starters who will eventually become aces (David Price being the other standout homegrown ace for them).

> Anyway, onto the Hot Stove news of the day. Unlike the other Hot Stove days thus far this offseason, this one was actually somewhat busy.

> The Dodgers are reportedly nearing an eight-year deal with center fielder Matt Kemp. The deal would be worth $160 million, which is odd, since I heard the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to make any of these gigantic signings until the Dodgers are sold. But it probably has something to do with the fact that Kemp is already on the team.

Kemp is coming off a stellar 2011 campaign, in which he hit .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, and 41 steals. He was just one home run away from the coveted 40/40 season. Kemp also won the Gold Glove for NL center fielders and one of the outfield Silver Slugger Awards as well. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year.

> The Angels are apparently “serious” c0ntenders for free agent starter C.J. Wilson. I find this strange, considering the Angels’ biggest need is obviously offense (as is any team in the AL West not named the Rangers). The Angels already have a trio of aces in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana (if you consider him an ace; I do).

Wilson is coming off a season in which he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers’ staff. The year before, he was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA, but was a reliever every year before that. So it should be interesting to see how he responds to what’s probably going to be a big multi-year deal.

> Theo Epstein, the new Cubs’ president, talked to Carlos Zambrano for the first time today. Epstein announced that Zambrano will have to “work his way back” to earn a spot on the Cubs’ roster for next year.

But honestly, why are the Cubs still even giving this psychopath a chance? He’s put together enough scenes to embarrass the Cubs forever, and was already placed on the disqualified list. I thought the disqualified list would be the last straw, but apparently not.

At the same time, however, I can’t really blame them. Zambrano still has a large portion of his contract left in 2012, and the Cubs won’t want to eat up another huge contract after releasing a player (similar what they did to Carlos Silva before the 2011 season).

> Before I finish, here’s some Hot Stove news related to the Brewers:

> Doug Melvin announced that the Brewers won’t offer Prince Fielder a contract during this week’s GM meetings in Milwaukee. Not like Scott Boras would have accepted an offer, anyway.

> Melvin also said that he hasn’t decided whether or not to meet face-to-face with Jose Reyes and/or his agent. Reports are saying that Reyes is extremely close to signing with the Marlins, but nothing is official yet.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back Yuniesky Betancourt on a contract worth less than what his option for 2012 would have been worth. I hope this a last resort option if the Brewers become that desperate for a shortstop…

> Lastly, the Brewers are also interested in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr., who put up a stellar postseason for the Brewers in 2011.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and free to leave your thoughts.


Braun, Fielder take home Silver Slugger Awards

November 3, 2011

The Brewers don’t have good defense. That’s why nobody on the Brewers received any of the Gold Glove Awards that were handed out yesterday.

But you can’t argue with the fact that- despite its inconsistency- the Brewers have a rather destructive offense. So, it was fitting that a few Brewers took home the offense-related awards that were handed out today.

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder both won the 2011 Silver Slugger Award at their respective positions: outfield and first base. It’s the second straight season that they had multiple winners, as Braun also won last year, along with pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

Braun had a career year in multiple categories. He hit 33 home runs with 111 RBIs, and also had a .332 batting average- a new career best for him, and second in the NL in 2011. Braun also led the NL in OPS at .994, and led in slugging percentage at .597. Not to mention this is Braun’s fourth year in a row winning the Silver Slugger Award.

This was Fielder’s second Silver Slugger Award, as he also won in 2007. Fielder winning it this year broke Albert Pujols’ three-year streak of winning the award at first base. Anyway, Fielder hit 38 home runs with a 120 RBIs. He also hit .299, which tied a career-high.

Both of these guys definitely deserved it. I know there are people out there arguing that Pujols or Joey Votto should have won at first base, but Pujols’ injury dampened his chance at winning for the fourth straight year, while Votto just didn’t have as good of a year as Fielder. Anyway, here are all of the winners at each position in the AL and NL:

American League

Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Curtis Granderson, Yankees; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves

First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

Pitcher: Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks

I think most of these guys were deserving of winning it.

Anyway, before I go, here’s all the Hot Stove news from today:

Cubs manager Mike Quade finally got fired. Newly appointed president of the Cubs, Theo Epstein, flew to Florida to tell Quade personally that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cubs in 2012. In Quade’s only full season with the Cubs, he went 71-91, which obviously wasn’t going to cut it.

Anyway, I guess I didn’t expect this, but it doesn’t appear that Epstein is going to do much screwing around while he’s the president of the Cubs. He wasted no time firing Quade, so we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll make any other surprising moves. (Actually, the Quade move wasn’t very surprising. Never mind.)

Oh, and one more thing related to the Cubs and Epstein- the Cubs and Red Sox still haven’t agreed on compensation for Epstein leaving the Sox with time still left on his contract. At first, the Sox wanted Matt Garza from the Cubs, which was just plain stupid. But now I guess they can’t even agree on a Minor Leaguer.

Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers today. Apparently, the team is going to be auctioned off.

But it’s about time. I’m not big into the Dodgers, but those fans- and the players themselves- have had to suffer enough under that dink McCourt. A baseball team shouldn’t have to suffer because of the owner’s personal issues (if you didn’t know already, this all started when McCourt and his wife- who was the president of the Dodgers- got divorced).

Anyway, a few other moves- the Nationals are close to re-signing starter Chien-Ming Wang, who has missed the better of the last two years with injuries. Also, John McDonald, a great defensive shortstop, re-signed for two years with Diamondbacks.


Gold Glove Awards handed out, no Brewers win

November 2, 2011

Isn’t this a surprise. The 2011 Gold Glove Awards were handed out today, and nobody on the Brewers won.

Normally, I’d try to defend the Brewers and at least attempt to make a case that someone on the team should win (which I’ll actually do for three players later in this article). But, other than those three players, I can’t make a case for any infielder on the Brewers. If I remember my stats correctly, third baseman Casey McGehee, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and first baseman Prince Fielder all led the league in errors at their respective positions. I don’t think second baseman Rickie Weeks led the league in errors at second base, but I’m pretty sure he was up there.

Not to mention the outfield. Corey Hart has a cannon arm (although it isn’t always accurate), but, other than that, he looks like a fool in right field. Platoon center fielders Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan each had their share of highlight reel plays, but also made costly misplays.

Then there was that awful inning in the Brewers’ last game of the postseason- game 6 of the NLCS- where the Brewers made about five errors in two plays (but were only charged for three; the error is such a pathetic stat). That pretty much closed the book for me on the Brewers’ 2011 defense, and hopefully that’s Doug Melvin’s top priority this offseason.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about how awful the Brewers’ defense was, here are the actual 2011 Gold Glove winners:

American League

Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Shortstop: Erick Aybar, Angels

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Alex Gordon, Royals; Nick Markakis, Orioles

National League

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Base: Joey Votto, Reds

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks

I didn’t get to see all many of these guys play very often this year to judge how good their defense actually was, but really- Gerardo Parra over Ryan Braun? And Kershaw is pretty much a lock for the NL Cy Young Award, does he really need a Gold Glove too?

From the Brewers, I think Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum at least deserved consideration for the Gold Glove Award at pitcher. Marcum was on the highlight reel all the time, while Greinke was just a good defender. But again, I can’t judge how good Kershaw’s defense really is, because I don’t watch “Dodgers Baseball!” (as Vin Scully would say) very often. But I never saw him on a highlight reel.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Before I go, here’s the Hot Stove news from today:

The Cardinals picked up and declined some options today. They picked up Molina’s option, which was expected, but they declined shortstop Rafael Furcal’s and Octavio Dotel’s options- something I didn’t expect. Maybe they intend to bring back Furcal for less money- either that, or they’re stuck with Ryan Theriot at short again, and we all know how that turned out. And Dotel was a great right-handed reliever, but he’s aging, which is probably why the Cards declined his option.

Brian Cashman is going back to what he’s done best over the past few years for the Yankees- spend as much money as possible and taunt the best players in the game to come to the Yanks. I’ve never really said this on this blog before, but I’m not a huge Cashman fan. Anyway, he’s back on three-year deal for them.

Lastly, the Cubs formally introduced Jed Hoyer as their new GM, and Jason McLeod as the head of scouting and player development. The only reason these guys are there is because of the Cubs’ new president- Theo Epstein. Together, these three created a World Series team in 2004 for the Red Sox.


Looking onwards to Game 3…

October 12, 2011

If you saw the Brewer game last night, you probably know why I titled this post the way I did.

A day after taking the all-important game 1 of the NLCS, the Brewers were destroyed by the Cardinals in game 2, 12-3. But, in my opinion, the Brewers didn’t lose to the Cardinals- they lost to Albert Pujols. The Machine went 4-f0r-5 with three doubles, a two-run homer, and five RBI. The only Brewers pitcher to retire Pujols was Chris Narveson, who made him ground out in the eighth inning. After that out, the Milwaukee crowd stood up and gave a standing ovation, probably with a sense of sarcasm. Anyway, two Pujols’ four hits came off struggling Brewers starter Shaun Marcum, who is in the middle of a horrible stretch.

Now, there are a couple theories as to why Marcum is having such a tough time on the mound right now. My first guess is that he’s just running out of gas, because he’s never pitched this many innings in his career. Marcum threw 200 2/3 innings this year, which was a career-high for him. If you include his two awful postseason starts, he’s thrown 209 1/3 innings. The other theory is that he’s just nervous because this is his first time in the postseason- his former team, the Blue Jays, were rarely ever contenders while he was there.

Anyway, despite this blowout game by the Cardinals, Tony La Russa still found a way to use practically every pitcher in his bullpen. He removed starter Edwin Jackson after just 4 1/3 innings because his pitch count was getting high early, and he didn’t trust Jackson to get out of a fifth inning jam. So, from there, La Russa went on to use Arthur Rhodes, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte. This has to be the first time I’ve seen the team on the winning side of a blowout game manage to use six relievers (seven total pitchers). Even the Brewers only had to use five pitchers, despite Marcum going just four innings. And Kameron Loe pitching one third of inning while giving up four runs (that 108.00 ERA fits him well).

Tomorrow will be a battle of aces- Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (11-9. 3.45 ERA). This should be an interesting matchup, considering neither has had much success against the opposing team. Gallardo is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in his career against the Cards, while Carpenter is 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Jeff Suppan is apparently going to be throwing out the first pitch before game 3. I don’t know if this is the Cardinals’ way of making fun of the Brewers, but I don’t see why they’d have any other reason to let this former bust throw out the first pitch. Anyway, if you don’t know the story of Suppan and the Brewers, well- actually, just consider yourself lucky.

Oh, and here’s another funny thing before I go- Theo Epstein is more than likely becoming the general manager of the Cubs. I let you laugh at that yourself instead of giving a long explanation. Because even I can’t explain why the Red Sox GM would want to become the Cubs GM.