Packing a Medium-sized Moving Van

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The MLBlogs Community has been handed down the decision to move to Medium.com’s growing presence. I haven’t done much in the way of blogging over the course of the last couple of months and as such am behind the times when it comes to making the official move.

There are benefits and deficiencies with the move but I would be remiss if I didn’t continue writing as a part of that community which gave birth to this outlet.

As such, please bookmark medium.com/brewernation and continue to follow along there.

All of the previously published content in this location will be migrated over there soon enough and any ongoing updates (such as the Uniform Number Repository) will find new updates only at Medium.

I will, of course, continue to share my links on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ so if that’s how to receive my content, little will change for you other than the format of how things are on your screen.

Thank you, and let’s take the next step in writing in 2017 just like the Brewers are working to do on the field.

Brewers Ship Thornburg Up to Boston

thorny

Reports from the 2016 Winter Meetings in Maryland say that the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to trade closer Tyler Thornburg to the Boston Red Sox for three named players in return as well as either a player to be named later or cash.

Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Herald, Evan Drellich, started off the news with this:

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com quickly confirmed that relief pitcher as Thornburg:

Then folks began finding out who was headed to the Brewers in return:

So, all that breaks down to the following deal:

TO BOSTON: RHP Tyler Thornburg
TO MILWAUKEE: 3B Travis Shaw, SS Mauricio Dubon, RHP Josh Pennington

Unless you’re a Milwaukee Brewers fan, you may not know what the Red Sox are getting in Thornburg. You may need to have it pointed out to you that he held opponents to a .541 OPS overall including a .130/.223/.190 line against left-handed hitters. You may need it mentioned that he pitched to a 2.15 ERA in 67 innings while piling up 90 strikeouts against just 25 walks.

As for what the Brewers are getting, it highlights both the cost of high-leverage pitching as well as the fact that Thornburg was just that in 2016.

In Shaw, Brewers GM David Stearns finds a starting option at third base and a left-handed hitter at that. After adding Eric Thames last week, Craig Counsell’s lineup can be significantly more left-handed on a given day against right-handed pitching — a discrepancy which Counsell has called out in the recent past.

Shaw, 26, is controllable for five more seasons and can first be eligible for salary arbitration following the 2018 season. He is the son of former big league pitcher Jeff Shaw and was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 9th round of the 2011 draft out of Kent State.

On the field, Shaw has posted a career .251/.312/.442 line in 778 plate appearances. The on-base percentage is a bit lower than you’d like to see (it was just .306 in 530 PAs in 2016) but Shaw’s power should play up at Miller Park. You also must consider that his splits are fairly significant (.187/.235/.364 vs LHP in 2016) despite small sample sizes, but the Brewers have a guy in Hernán Pérez who needs at-bats — and will get them at multiple positions — who can share time with Shaw at the hot corner and some of Shaw’s offensive deficiencies are mitigated.

Dubon is a 6’0″, 160 lb, SS prospect who finished the 2016 season with Double-A Portland at the age of 22. He shares a birthday with me (which you don’t care about but I find awesome). MLB Pipeline has given Dubon grades of 55 for his hit tool, running, throwing arm, and fielding. His reevaluated though still low power (40 grade) sees his overall grade settle in at 50 (up from 45). Dubon hit .339 in the Eastern League and actually slugged .538 as well with 20 doubles, six triples and six home runs.

Having played a even split of games (62 each) in High-A and Double-A last season, Dubon responded well to the midseason (June) promotion up to Double-A. Dubon has steadily progressed through Boston’s system since being drafted out of high school back in 2013 (26th round). Considered by MLB Pipeline to have been the Red Sox’s “best shortstop prospect” as he is more well-rounded than others.

It certainly sounds like Stearns has acquired yet another capable up-the-middle prospect as he continues to build a minor league system capable of providing a sustainable source of Major League contributors.

As for the third known player, Josh Pennington is a RHP listed at 6’0″. Drafted in 2014, Pennington has a big fastball (70 grade – much about the velocity) along with a plus curveball (55) and developing changeup.

Just 21 years old, Pennington sure reads on paper like someone we know. Smaller in stature with a big fastball, good curve, and questions as to whether he’ll be able to stick in a rotation. Kind of sounds like someone for whom he was just traded, Tyler Thornburg.

Stearns, as you would expect, spoke highly of the return he secured for the services of Thornburg.

“We are pleased to add three young and talented players to the organization, ” said Stearns. “Travis (Shaw) provides another left-handed power bat, bringing balance to the lineup. Mauricio (Dubon) is a highly regarded prospect who brings us speed and plate discipline, and adds further infield depth. Josh (Pennington) is a promising young prospect who further improves our stock of power arms throughout the system.”

So as Thornburg enters arbitration and sees his salary jump, the Brewers may have acquired a reimaged Thornburg along with another shortstop prospect (Dubon) and a MLB contributor for 2017 in Shaw, and, lest we forget, possibly another player as well. That’s quite the haul for another elite bullpen pitcher who finds himself on the move after his position once again finds itself being in high demand.

The other more immediate impact on the field for the Brewers in 2017 is who becomes the closer (or perhaps just the lead dog in a committee). Corey Knebel makes a ton of sense for that job. Knebel has a closer pedigree having done so in college and relieved his entire pro career, but more than that he has shown that, when healthy, he can lock in and bear down in high-leverage spots. Knebel posted his best opponents’ against numbers against in high leverage (per Baseball-Reference) situations. Opponents slugged just .364 against Knebel in those situations.

But please take that “immediate” with a grain of salt. While it wouldn’t be expected of the Brewers to trade for a closer this off-season, a lot can still happen between now and the opening of Spring Training in February.

Brewers Sign Free Agent 1B Eric Thames

BREWERS SIGN FREE AGENT FIRST BASEMAN/OUTFIELDER ERIC THAMES

Lefty Slugger Batted .348 With 124 HR and 379 RBI Over Three Seasons in KoreaOfficial Release

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed free agent first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames (pronounced thaymz) to a three-year contract with a club option for 2020. He will wear uniform #7 and be introduced to the media today at Miller Park at 10 a.m. CT. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated first baseman Chris Carter for assignment. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.
 

“Eric brings to the organization a left-handed power bat that is a good fit for our lineup,” said Stearns. “His ability to play first base along with both corner outfield positions adds versatility to the roster. Eric has been extremely impressive over his last three seasons in Korea, and we look forward to his return to the Major Leagues in 2017.”
 
Thames, who turned 30 on November 10, spent the last three seasons playing for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), where he batted .348 with 124 HR, 379 RBI and 64 stolen bases in 388 games. He batted .317 with 40 HR, 118 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 121 games this season.
 
Thames was named KBO Most Valuable Player in 2015 as he produced the first 40/40 season in league history and won the batting title, hitting .381 with 47 HR, 140 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 142 games. He owns a career 1.171 OPS in Korea.
 
Selected by the Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Thames has batted .250 with 21 HR and 62 RBI in 181 Major League games with Toronto (2011-12) and Seattle (2012). The Santa Clara native attended Pepperdine University and was originally selected by the Yankees in the 39th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft (did not sign).

Carter, 29, batted .222 with 41 HR and 94 RBI in 160 games during his only season with Milwaukee. He is eligible for arbitration.

Brewers Unveil 2017 Spring Training & Exhibition Schedule

The 2017 Cactus League schedule for the Brewers has been released!

The email with the announcement came at 11am CT. This tweet exchange happened this morning.

Figures. Ha!

Highlights:

  • I will watch “Major League” on Valentine’s Day this year (sorry Mrs. Nation) because that’s when Pitchers & Catchers are officially set to report
  • Position players must report within three days of P&C with a February 17 deadline
  • Brewers once again play a warm-up against the UW-Milwaukee Panthers (on 2/24) before Cactus League play begins the following evening
  • The Brewers are back at Miller Park for a pair of exhibitions!
    • Games are against the Chicago White Sox
    • Friday, March 31 (7:10pm first pitch) and Saturday, April 1 (1:10pm)
  • If you’re scheduled to head out to Maryvale, tickets will be on sale beginning December 5

brewerscactusleaguesched2017Please note that games and times are subject to change. (Home games are in bold.)

Tickets for Spring Training games at Maryvale Baseball Park will go on sale at 9 a.m. CT on Monday, December 5 at Brewers.com and by phone at 1-800-933-7890. Sales at the Maryvale Baseball Park Box Office will begin on Monday, February 6.

The Spring Training calendar can be found here.

Date Time (CT) Opponent Location
Fri, Feb 24 2:05 p.m. vs. UW-Milwaukee Maryvale
Sat, Feb 25 6:10 p.m. at Los Angeles Angels Tempe
Sun, Feb 26 2:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Maryvale
Mon, Feb 27 2:05 p.m. at Texas Rangers Surprise
Tue, Feb 28 2:05 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals Maryvale
Wed, March 1 2:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds Maryvale
Thu, March 2 2:05 p.m. at Seattle Mariners Peoria
Fri, March 3 2:05 p.m. at Los Angeles Angels Tempe
Sat, March 4 2:05 p.m. vs. Texas Rangers Maryvale
Sun, March 5 2:05 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies Maryvale
Mon, March 6 2:05 p.m. at Cleveland Indians Goodyear
Tue, March 7                                      OFF DAY
Wed, March 8 2:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Maryvale
2:05 p.m. at Chicago White Sox Glendale
Thu, March 9 2:05 p.m. at San Diego Padres Peoria
Fri, March 10 2:05 p.m. vs. Chicago White Sox Maryvale
2:10 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks Talking Stick
Sat, March 11 2:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres Maryvale
Daylight-Saving Time Begins Sunday March 12
Sun, March 12 3:05 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds Goodyear
Mon, March 13 3:05 p.m. vs. Seattle Mariners Maryvale
Tue, March 14 3:05 p.m. at Chicago Cubs Mesa
Wed, March 15 3:10 p.m. at Colorado Rockies Talking Stick
Thu, March 16 3:05 p.m. vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Maryvale
Fri, March 17 3:05 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals Maryvale
Sat, March 18 3:05 p.m. vs. Chicago Cubs Maryvale
Sun, March 19 3:05 p.m. at San Francisco Giants Scottsdale
Mon, March 20                                     OFF DAY
Tue, March 21 3:05 p.m. at Los Angeles Dodgers Glendale
Wed, March 22 3:05 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants Maryvale
Thu, March 23 3:05 p.m. at Oakland A’s Mesa
Fri, March 24 3:05 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds Goodyear
Sat, March 25 3:05 p.m. at Kansas City Royals Surprise
Sun, March 26 3:05 p.m. vs. Oakland A’s Maryvale
Mon, March 27                                      OFF DAY
Tue, March 28 3:05 p.m. vs. Cleveland Indians Maryvale
Wed, March 29 2:05 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Angels Maryvale
Thu, March 30                                      OFF DAY
Fri, March 31 7:10 p.m. vs. Chicago White Sox Miller Park
Sat, April 1 1:10 p.m. vs. Chicago White Sox Miller Park
Note: Daylight-Saving Time Begins on March 12

2017 Brewers Giveaways Calendar

OFFICIAL RELEASE

Uecker Magic 8-Ball Headlines Five All-Fan Giveaways; Two All-Kid Giveaways Introduced;
Eight Additional Giveaways on Tap for First 20,000 Fans

 

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced a variety of promotional items for the 2017 season, including five All-Fan Giveaways, two All-Kid Giveaways and eight additional promotions for the first 20,000 fans in attendance. The schedule is highlighted by three Bobbleheads, a Bob Uecker Magic 8-Ball, a replica batting practice pullover and much more.

 

The Brewers will continue to offer “Free-Shirt Fridays” for the first 20,000 fans, marking the fourth straight season of the popular giveaway. Five different T-shirts will be given away throughout the season, including one per month on select Friday home games from April through August. The designs include a long sleeve T-shirt on April 28, a ¾ sleeve T-shirt on May 26, a fan design T-shirt on June 16 (more details to be announced), a replica jersey on July 14 and a performance T-shirt on August 11.
 
The All-Fan Giveaways begin with a Jonathan Villar Bobblehead on April 23 when the Brewers host the St. Louis Cardinals. The Bobblehead features Villar as the stolen base champion after he led the Major Leagues with 62 stolen bases in 2016. Villar became the third player in franchise history to lead the majors in stolen bases, joining Tommy Harper (73 in 1969) and Scott Podsednik (70 in 2004). The Bobblehead comes complete with a counter to tally up the steals for the Brewers infielder.

 

On April 30, all kids will receive an Orlando Arcia face portrait wristband. This is the first of two All-Kid Giveaways scheduled in 2017 with kids ages 14 and under eligible for the giveaways.
 
Eight giveaways are designated for the first 20,000 fans in attendance (including the five Free-Shirt Fridays). The first of these will come on Mother’s Day, May 14, as the first 20,000 fans will receive a Brewers wristlet.
 
All fans in attendance for the May 28 game will receive a Robin Yount Motorcycle Bobblehead. Yount, an avid motorcyclist, is depicted on the Bobblehead with the memorable image of him riding around the County Stadium warning track following the 1982 World Series celebration.

 

On June 4, the first 20,000 fans will receive a replica batting practice pullover as the Brewers host the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two weeks later on Father’s Day, the first 20,000 fans at the June 18 game against the San Diego Padres will receive a Brewers golf umbrella.
 
The third All-Fan Giveaway will be distributed on July 2 when the Brewers host the Miami Marlins on Zach Davies Bobblehead Day. In his first full Major League season in 2016, Davies led the team with 11 wins, which ranked tied for second among Major League rookies.
 
On July 16, all fans will receive a 1982 American League Championship replica ring in commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the Brewers’ pennant-winning season.

 

Fans won’t want to miss the game on Sunday, August 13 against the Cincinnati Reds as all fans in attendance will receive a Bob Uecker Magic 8-Ball. This giveaway is a nod to Uecker’s #8 jersey, which he wore with the Milwaukee Braves from 1962-63, and will feature a variety of famous “Ueckerisms” from “Mr. Baseball.” The item is modeled after the classic toy, but with a Brewers and Uecker twist.
 
The second All-Kid Giveaway is set for September 3 against the Washington Nationals. All kids will receive a Velcro Toss and Catch Game with the paddle in the shape of the Brewers “ball-in-glove” logo.
 
The complete promotional schedule for the 2017 season will be announced at a later date. For more information about the 2017 giveaway schedule and information on various ticket plans, fans are encouraged to visit Brewers.com/giveaways.

Brewers Announce Major Miller Park Upgrade

OFFICIAL RELEASE

In a press conference held this morning, the Milwaukee Brewers unveiled plans for a complete transformation of the food and beverage hospitality experience at Miller Park. The project will be the single largest upgrade to Miller Park by the club in every measure, from scope to financial investment, since the facility opened in 2001. The announcement was made by Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger.
The new food and beverage program is inspired by the Brewers organizational mantra to “cherish our fans,” and promises to enhance Miller Park’s status as baseball’s top entertainment destination.
 
“Our promise to the fans is that we will further enhance what we believe is a best-in-class entertainment experience at Miller Park, and we know that the food and beverage program is central to this,” Schlesinger said. “We are going to completely transform the food and beverage experience for 2017 throughout Miller Park, from new concession stands and bars to reimagined offerings that reflect the traditions of Wisconsin and elevate the program to an even higher level of quality.”
 
Schlesinger was joined in speaking at today’s press conference by John Sergi, Co-Founder and Principal at Howard & Sergi, a consultancy that focuses on the F&B hospitality experience at sports venues; and Joe Sorge, President of Hospitality Democracy, a local company that owns and operates a number of highly-acclaimed Milwaukee restaurants. The Brewers have partnered with Howard & Sergi and Hospitality Democracy, as well as concessionaire Delaware North, to reimagine everything connected to the food and beverage experience at Miller Park.
 
The project will be funded entirely by Brewers ownership and Delaware North.
 
The initiative will feature a comprehensive rebuild of Miller Park’s food and beverage infrastructure. It will encompass an architectural redesign throughout the ballpark, including a total of 11 concession stands in the brand new “First Base Ward” and “Third Base Ward” on the Field Level and two brand-new Field Level full-service bars with a variety of MillerCoors offerings and views of the field. The construction and rebranding of new stands, which will span all seating levels of the ballpark, will leverage the rich architectural history of Milwaukee. The project will install state-of-the-art equipment in the permanent concession stands and portable locations to enhance the quality of the offerings, as well as offer 33% more points of sale for faster service.
 
Another exciting element of the redesign is the “Local Brews” Bar on the right field side of the Loge Level. This new gathering spot will feature an expanded beer program with 30 taps serving craft beers from across Wisconsin for fans to enjoy.
 
For the concession menu, the Brewers will draw on Milwaukee’s rich food traditions and burgeoning restaurant scene to expand beyond the typical ballpark fare. Hospitality Democracy is a key part of the Milwaukee dining scene; the restaurant group features many popular brands such as AJ Bombers Hamburgers, Smoke Shack Barbeque, Zaffiro’s Pizza and Holey Moley Coffee and Doughnuts. Fans will not only be able to enjoy items from these restaurants at Miller Park, they will also experience offerings that the project team collectively worked to identify with feedback from fans. Many of those items will have ties to Wisconsin culinary tradition and include Mac and Cheese, Frozen Custard, Cheese Curds, plus Tacos and a new line of All-Natural Klement’s Sausages only available at Miller Park. These items will have expanded distribution from locations on all seating levels of Miller Park.
 
The press conference was completed today with a ceremonial demolition of one of Miller Park’s original concession stands, and construction on the redevelopment will begin immediately.
 
Uihlein-Wilson Architects is serving as the project architect and Hunzinger Construction is general contractor.
 
Fans looking for more information about the exciting changes coming to Miller Park can visit brewers.com/concessions.

Brewers Announce New Class A-Advanced Affiliation

OFFICIAL RELEASE


The Milwaukee Brewers have announced a two-year player development contract with the Carolina Mudcats of the Class-A Carolina League. The new contract will run through the 2018 season. The announcement was made jointly by Brewers General Manager David Stearns and Mudcats President and Majority Owner Steve Bryant.

 
“The Brewers are excited to announce a partnership with Steve Bryant and the Carolina Mudcats,” said Stearns. “The organization is committed to developing young talent and we strongly believe that the Mudcats will help us achieve that goal. We look forward to working with our new partner in the Carolina League.”
 
The Mudcats are a member of the Carolina League’s Southern division. The team plays their home games at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, North Carolina.
 
“Having met with the Brewers, and in looking at their system, we are confident that we are getting an organization that is loaded with young, talented prospects that we feel will enhance our program” said Bryant. “We are very impressed with the Brewers in that they share with us a desire to develop young talent at the Minor League level.”
 
This is the first time that the Brewers will have an affiliate in the Carolina League.