Burnett, Choate yanked off the market

December 6, 2012

> If the Brewers are still intending to pick up a left-handed reliever this offseason, it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder after today. The Angels snagged Sean Burnett with a two-year, $8 million deal, while the Cardinals signed Randy Choate to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million.

I was hoping the Brewers would find a way to sign Burnett, but I should have known better with the deal they had on the table for him, which was for two years and just $2.3 million (according to the Brewer Nation). From what was made public, the Brewers didn’t have much interest in Choate.

So the two best lefty relievers left on the market are J.P. Howell and Mike Gonzalez. Adam McCalvy wrote that Howell is a name to keep an eye on for the Brewers, while Gonzalez hasn’t been mentioned as a possibility yet. Tom Haudricourt also said he sees Tom Gorzelanny, who had a 2.88 out of the Nationals’ bullpen last year, as a fit. But there’s no doubt that there are also multiple teams in on these guys as well, so the Brewers need to make a decent offer- and fast.

> It doesn’t sound like Jason Grilli is going to be wearing a Brewers uniform next year. Grilli’s agent, who happens to be ex-Brewer Gary Sheffield, said he and his client are going to be “wading through” all of the offers they’ve received. The Brewers reportedly have an offer in place, though I can’t imagine a one-year, $1.1 million deal is going to phase Grilli to come to Milwaukee.

> According to Danny Knobler, the Brewers are listening to trade offers regarding Corey Hart in order to free up money to sign a pitcher (or receive pitching in exchange for Hart). Luckily, it sounds like the Brewers would have to be “overwhelmed” in order to deal Hart, however. 

And I would not support trading Hart at this point. If the Brewers aren’t going to sign Josh Hamilton, then they can’t afford to trade away Hart and expect the lineup to post the same power numbers it did last year.

As much as I want the Brewers to get bullpen help (and possibly a starter), I don’t think they should do it via the trade. I know the free agent market isn’t the best this year, but, unless they can pull off trades similar to the Burke Badenhop one the other day in order to acquire pitching, FAs might be the only way to go.

> It was reported earlier that the Royals and Cubs have joined the Brewers and Red Sox in the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes. But the Royals and Cubs were both quickly erased- we learned that the Royals offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million deal, but it was rejected because the Royals “balked” at adding a third year (similar to the Brewers’ situation). And the Cubs said Dempster didn’t fit into their plans, hence they’re out of the running.

> The Brewers added both pitcher Chris Jakubauskas and infielder Hainley Statia on minor league deals.

> Minor moves: 

Mariners: Signed Jason Bay to a one-year deal.
Angels: Signed Joe Blanton to a two-year deal.
Orioles: Re-signed Nate McLouth to a one-year deal; signed Adam Russell, Conor Jackson, and Jan Novak to minor league deals.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Chavez and ex-Brewer Wil Nieves to one-year deals.
White Sox: Signed Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal.
Pirates: Acquired Andrew Oliver from the Tigers.
Tigers: Acquired Ramon Cabrera from the Pirates.
Rockies: Re-signed Jeff Francis to a one-year deal.
Cubs: Signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal.

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Brewers acquire Badenhop from Rays

December 2, 2012

> The Brewers weren’t expected to make many impact trades this offseason, primarily because their farm system is still depleted from acquiring Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke back in 2010. But, it often goes unsaid that the Brewers have a ton of outfield depth, and today they used that to their advantage to start fixing one of their other needs. 

The Brewers managed to acquire an established reliever in Burke Badenhop, who has been solid for the Rays and Marlins over the past few years. In return, the Brewers only needed to give up minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr., which doesn’t quite break my heart if you consider the numbers he’d been putting up.

Badenhop, who is still just 29, had a career year last year in his first and only season with the Rays, going 2-3 with a 3.03 ERA. He had been a bit inconsistent in his first four years in the league with the Marlins, but, now that he’s put up a few solid seasons in a row, it’s safe to assume he’ll continue his success from last year. Another perk regarding Badenhop is that he’s a groundball pitcher, which will definitely play well at Miller Park. He doesn’t strike out many guys (career 6.7 K/9), but he doesn’t give out many free passes either (career 2.9 K/9).

Anyway, I see Badenhop filling the role that Jose Veras was supposed to take on in 2012 (but failed), which is getting through the seventh inning to pass it on to the setup man and closer. In a perfect world, Badenhop would have the seventh, a young flamethrower like Jim Henderson (or even Michael Olmsted) would throw the eighth, and a rejuvenated John Axford would close it out. It’s unlikely things would go that smoothly early on, however, so don’t be surprised to see Badenhop pitching the eighth (unless the Brewers sign/trade for another setup man).

I saw some people on Twitter complaining about losing Mondesi. But honestly, who cares? The Brewers might have the most outfield depth in the Majors, including four established outfielders at the big league level with another one ready to burst onto the scene. Not to mention Mondesi wasn’t looking much like his father offensively during his three years in rookie ball for the Brewers- he hit just .243 with 12 homers and 76 RBIs in those three seasons.

But perhaps this trade will work for the both teams. While the Brewers filled one of many huge holes in their bullpen, the Rays may have taken a step in replacing B.J. Upton, who just signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Braves. Either way, I’m happy with what the Brewers got out of it.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays

> Another thing worth noting about this trade: with the acquisition of Badenhop, the Brewers now have three guys with guaranteed spots in the 2013 bullpen (yes, I’ve been keeping track of guys who I think have roles already locked up). The other two are Axford and Henderson. Doug Melvin seems confident that Axford will rebound in 2013, and has mentioned Henderson as another guy he hopes to build the bullpen around.

There are a few guys in the minors who I think have very good shots at making the bullpen and thriving, Olmsted being the one I have the most confidence in. It’s true he’s never thrown a pitch above Double-A, but the numbers he put up with Boston’s Double-A affiliate tell me he’ll be throwing a lot of pitches above Double-A in 2013. Then there are Jairo Asencio and Zach Kroenke, both of whom were also signed to minor league deals this offseason, but they don’t have quite as good of track records as Olmsted. The homegrown guys, such as Brandon Kintzler, will also get opportunities. But I think the Brewers need to add at least two more established relievers at the big league level in order for me to feel good about the ‘pen going into 2013.

> The Cubs signed Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, surprisingly. I was convinced the Dodgers or Angels were going to nab him.

This signing is probably going to prompt the Cubs to trade Carlos Marmol. But let’s not give the Brewers any ideas to get involved with that…

> Minor moves: 

Giants: Non-tendered Brian Wilson.
Mariners: Re-signed Josh Kinney and Robert Andino to one-year deals.
Pirates: Re-signed Charlie Morton to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Non-tendered ex-Brewer Wil Nieves.
Rays: Non-tendered Ben Francisco.
Reds: Re-signed Denis Phipps and Kris Negron to minor league deals.
Twins: Re-signed Lester Oliveros to a minor league deal.


Recap of the past few days…

July 29, 2011

3:29p Sorry for not posting for the past few days. I was out of town again and wasn’t able to post. I usually put up some kind of notice before I go, but I forgot to this time, so my apologies for that. But, a lot has happened in the past few days for the Brewers, and they’re starting to stir as the Trade Deadline approaches.

Weeks to 15-day DL

The biggest piece of news is the worst: Rickie Weeks, the Brewers’ starting second baseman, was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday morning. He sustained a severe ankle sprain in the game against the Cubs the day before yesterday, and it was not fun to watch. He was trying to leg out an infield single, and he was safe. But, on his last stride towards first base, he stepped on the wrong part of the bag, and his ankle completely twisted the wrong way. He went flying off the bag in pain and laid on the ground for a while. Weeks was eventually escorted off the field by Ron Roenicke and the medical trainer, but he couldn’t walk by himself and couldn’t put weight on the ankle.

Now, this is NOT the time of year that we need key guys getting hurt. First it was Carlos Gomez, our right-handed center fielder, and now Weeks. We can’t keep losing guys when we’re in the middle of a pennant race.

Anyway, the Brewers have a few options to replace Weeks at second base for the time being. Eric Farris was called up and sent back down to Triple-A within a day, but he remains a candidate to fill in for part of the time. The Brewers also acquired Felipe Lopez, who played for the Brewers in 2009, from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations, and his contract was purchased from Triple-A earlier today, so he’s also an option. Then, there’s versatile infielders Craig Counsell and Josh Wilson, who are both capable of playing second, but their offense is a question mark, especially since Counsell is mired in an 0-for-41 slump.

Brewers sweep Cubs, gain lead in Central

Despite Weeks’ absence for the last game of the series, the Brewers swept the struggling Cubs out of town yesterday, and gained some breathing room in the NL Central. They now lead the Pirates and Cardinals, who are in a tie for second right now, by 1.5 games. The Reds, meanwhile, are quickly falling out of contention. They were just swept in four games by the Mets and are now 6.5 games back. Sadly, we can’t count out the Reds yet, since they have the easiest schedule for the rest of the year out of any of the contending teams in the Central.

Brewers FINALLY get rid of Nieves…

It was music to my ears when I heard this. The Brewers traded, or sold, whichever you prefer, catcher Wil Nieves to the Braves. They supposedly did it to give Nieves a better chance to return to the Majors this year, and to clear a spot in Triple-A Nashville for catching prospect Martin Maldonado.

The Brewers signed Nieves this offseason to have a backup catcher in case something happened to Jonathan Lucroy or George Kottaras. And, sure enough, Lucroy got injured in Spring Training, so Nieves became the Opening Day catcher. Then, when Lucroy got back, the Brewers optioned Kottaras because they thought Nieves was a better defensive catcher than him. Turns out he was awful offensively and defensively. The Brewers finally outrighted him to Nashville after he hit .109 at the Major League level. He also flopped in Nashville, batting .170 until the Brewers traded him.

Anyway, here’s the funny part about this trade: GM Doug Melvin received $1 from the Braves in return for Nieves. That’s right- one dollar, about what you’d pay for a snack from a vending machine. That’s because the Braves have to pay for the remaining $775,000 of Nieves’ salary. But still, one dollar?

I think I’ve covered all of the important things I didn’t post about while I was away (that is, if you consider getting one dollar in exchange for a catcher important). But, there are a few more things I’d like to say before I end the post.

First off, the Brewers are starting a three-game series with the Astros tonight. (We must be blessed to get the Cubs and Astros consecutively at this point in the season.) Randy Wolf (6-8, 3.62 ERA) will go for the Brewers and is seeking his first win since June, and tonight is the perfect time to get it. Wolf, a former Astro, has done well against his former team in his career, going 7-5 with a 3.15 ERA against them.

The Astros will counter with rookie starter Jordan Lyles (0-5, 4.55 ERA). His record is somewhat deceiving, as he’s actually had a few decent starts this year, but hasn’t gotten any run support. This will be his first career start against the Brewers.

Anyway, one more thing before I go- the Cardinals made somewhat of a big trade yesterday, acquiring pitchers Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and outfielder Corey Patterson from the Blue Jays. But, they had to give up a key piece of their outfield- Colby Rasmus. They also parted with relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet, and Trever Miller. Anyway, that doesn’t really have anything to do with the Brewers, I just thought I’d throw it out there.