Catching up on a couple of news items from yesterday in advance of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his musical counterpart of the same name would never do it, but the Brewers Corey Hart was forced to surrender the rest of the season. While furiously rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee, Hart’s left knee began swelling and giving him problems during and after workouts. It finally became bad enough that he sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal El Attrache.
Surgery was the recommended option and Hart will undergo such soon. It’s the same surgery that he needed on his right knee so the obviously Hart has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Hopefully everything goes cleanly for him after this.
The biggest question for Hart now is where his career goes from here. While he should be healthy before spring training next year the fact is that he’s a free agent after this one. And with multiple knee surgeries (both in terms of surgeries and knees), the 31-year-old veteran faces an uncertain future at a time when he should be preparing to cash in on a free agent contract.
The Brewers could extend a qualifying offer to him in an attempt to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, but the risk there is that if he accepts and the knee injuries limit his effectiveness in 2014, then they’d be paying him somewhere north of $13.5 million to sit. That’s probably not a risk that they can take unless Hart can prove himself 100% healthy before the deadline to decide this off-season.
Gindl Optioned, Thornburg Returns
This feels like deja vu all over again.
The last time the Brewers started a long stretch of consecutive games, the team dealt with a number of short starts out of its rotation members at the beginning of the run. The bullpen was worked hard and an extra arm was brought up to help alleviate some of the strain. It’s happened again and Caleb Gindl was the victim of the numbers game this time. He hit okay while he was here, tallying both his first hit and first RBI in his first turn in the Major Leagues, but his defense in an unfamiliar left field was shaky. With Carlos Gomez back after his scary wall collision just a few days ago, Logan Schafer can shift back to starting every day in left with the usual starters of Gomez and Norichika Aoki in center and right. The back up outfielder on the roster though is one who has only played it extensively this season for the first time in Sean Halton. They’d never put him in center and would prefer to keep him out of right. In fact, Ron Roenicke specifically mentioned that with how big the Pittsburgh left field is, he’d question putting Halton in there defensively at all in this series. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a spot where Roenicke’s hand is forced in any direction.
Returning as that extra bullpen arm is Tyler Thornburg who has seen time up with the parent club already this year after making his MLB debut last season. Thornburg had been struggling in the Nashville rotation but pitched very well in relief with Milwaukee during his previous stay. The Brewers will be looking for Thornburg to provide them length after both Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop went multiple innings in relief of Johnny Hellweg’s short outing in his debut on Friday night.
As promised earlier on Twitter, here is a quick diversion on this night of no Brewers baseball.
Opening Day 2013 saw the following factual things occur.
- Rickie Weeks went 2-for-4 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks scored two runs.
- Rickie Weeks stole a base.
- Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch.
Weeks would end the day with a .500 batting average and a .600 OBP. The hangover would last a couple of days and on the third day of the season, Weeks got three more hits to finish at a high water mark of .545/.643/.909 on the early season.
But the fall from the heights was swift, complete, and drastic.
Including April 2nd and May 28th, Rickie Weeks slashed .171/.273/.268 (.541 OPS) while striking out 56 times in 164 AB. In that same window of time, Rickie Weeks was hit by exactly zero pitches.
Weeks lost his every day job, splitting some time with with Jeff Bianchi and others. It was brutal. Nothing seemed to make sense. Inexplicable was tossed around a lot.
Then, on May 29th, the following factual things occurred.
- Rickie Weeks was 1-for-3 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks got hit by a pitch.
Now you can point to a still-blossoming seven-game hit streak that was four games in already but to be fair May 28th was a 1-for-6 performance that dropped even Weeks’ average fractions of a point.
Here now, presented with only one further comment, is Rickie Weeks’ statistical slash line from May 29th to the completion of the series in Cincinnati.
.371/.450/.886 (1.336 OPS)
The key is obviously the hit-by-pitch he suffered. Rickie Weeks is a man who thrives on consistency. As the active leader in hit-by-pitches, Rickie Weeks was obviously thrown off his game when pitchers weren’t hitting him. Now that he got plunked and had his wiring resent, he’s been better off for it.
So thank you, Samuel Deduno, for barely being able to control your pitches. While you hit Jean Segura on the hand, scaring the hell out of the Brewer Nation at the time, and you also unnecessarily plunked Norichika Aoki on the same night, your errant pill fired at the veteran second baseman obviously is saving his season.
With a tip of the hat to Craig Glaser (@sabometrics on Twitter), here is an image of what the Brewers’ edition of the 2013 All-Star Game figurine — believed to be currently residing outside of the Commissioner’s Office — looks like.
Fitting image given the game is being held at Citi Field this year.
You may recall that this isn’t the first time something like this has been done either. Miller Park displays both the Mickey Mouse statue and one of the Statue of Liberty which were produced for the games held in Anaheim (2010) and the Bronx (2008), respectively.
Hopefully this big apple makes its way to Milwaukee when it’s all said and done. I wonder where they’d put it?
That picture above? That’s of the replica figurines available for purchase on MLB.com. Here is what the actual apple looks like on the streets of New York. You can follow the photographer of these pictures on Twitter: @thatgirlmegan
Brewers & Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Honor Lourdes Castillo and James Novak
The Milwaukee Brewers announced details for the Eighth Annual Cerveceros Day events at Miller Park, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 as the Brewers take on the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:15 pm.
Cerveceros Day is hosted in conjunction with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (HCCW). On June 8, the Brewers will take the field in jerseys with the traditional “Brewers” script replaced by the Spanish language translation “Cerveceros.”
The event coincides with the HCCW’s 27th Annual “Fiesta Tailgate,” and the ballpark will take on a Latin flair all day with bilingual PA announcements and scoreboard features, mariachi bands and much more.
Additionally, the Brewers along with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin will honor Lourdes Castillo and James Novak as recipients of the 2013 HCCW Cerveceros Legacy Award. Castillo began working at Vieau School in 1967 and was named principal in 1993. She retired in 2008. Under her tenure, the school achieved a 95% attendance rate at the bilingual school on Milwaukee’s South Side. Castillo is still involved in education, helping teach and mentor the next generation of teachers at Cardinal Stritch University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and MATC.
Novak graduated from Vieau school in 1960 where he eventually returned to teach physical education. Novak attended South Division High School and later the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he received a degree in Education. He helped many youths over his 38-year career with Milwaukee Public Schools and retired in 2008. Novak continues to work with youth as adjunct faculty at MATC.
Brewers Community Foundation will auction off the commemorative “Cerveceros” uniforms worn by the players and coaches. The online auction at Brewers.com begins on Tuesday, June 11 at Noon CT and concludes on Monday, June 17 at 5 p.m. CT. The money raised will go directly to Brewers Community Foundation and will be earmarked for the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin Scholarship Fund and the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee Scholarship Fund.
“Bernie’s Barrelman Ale” to be Served Exclusively at Miller Park Beginning Next Week; Name Selected in Online Vote
By an overwhelming margin, “Bernie’s Barrelman Ale” was selected as the name for a new beer that celebrates a partnership between the Milwaukee Brewers and Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. The limited-release beer will be available exclusively at Miller Park beginning this Monday, May 27. Over 10,000 votes were received and 55% voted for the winning name.
“With Milwaukee’s heritage of brewing beer, an ale made exclusively for the Brewers was a great opportunity to pursue,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We appreciate the work that Leinie’s and our partners at MillerCoors put into this initiative, and were thrilled with the response of the fans in naming the new beer.”
The new beer is an ale, brewed with pale and roasted caramel malts along with Cascade, Nugget and Willamette hops. It will be available exclusively at Miller Park and fans will be able to purchase the “New Brew” at locations on the Field Level behind sections 103, 118 and 125; on the Loge Level behind home plate and sections 206 and 213; and on the Terrace Level outside sections 413, 420 and 432.
“A great beer deserves a great name, so we’re thankful for the teamwork from the Brewers and fans,” said Jake Leinenkugel, President of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. “We’re sure fans will have many opportunities to raise a glass of Bernie’s Barrelman Ale to toast the Brewers’ success.”
In addition, Bernie’s Barrelman Ale will be available for tasting by credentialed media in the Media Dining Room prior to Monday’s Memorial Day game against the Twins.
The other names up for a vote included “Brew Crew Brew” (which netted 35% of the vote) and “Brewers All-Star Ale” (10%).
For more information, please visit Brewers.com/newbrew.
Fans Can Enter to Win One-of-a-Kind Prizes and Help Support the Brewers Community Foundation
The cliché “one of a kind…” is heard all too often, but the “2013 Milwaukee Brewers Ultimate Fan Experience” is something that would be next to impossible to replicate.
Through the sweepstakes, one lucky fan will be chosen to receive the following prize package:
– A Bob Uecker Game-Worn Sweater—a colorful, warm piece of history worn by a colorful man. The sweater comes complete with a Major League Baseball authentication hologram that shows Mr. Baseball wore the sweater during a Brewers radio broadcast this year.
– Yovani Gallardo’s Game-Worn 2013 Opening Day Jersey that was donned by the Brewers righthander for his fourth consecutive Opening Day start. The jersey is authenticated by Major League Baseball.
– Four Round-Trip Southwest Airlines Tickets to or from Milwaukee (any destination served by Southwest Airlines).
– Four Field Diamond Box Tickets to any 2013 Milwaukee Brewers regular season game at Miller Park.
– A Chance to Slide Down Bernie Brewer’s Slide along with three of your friends.
– Bob Uecker Meet and Greet – Your group of four will meet “Ueck” on the field during batting practice before a Brewers game at Miller Park. You will then be able to watch batting practice on the field and have your photo taken in the Brewers dugout.
– Your Own Bobblehead – The Brewers will create a bobblehead in your image and produce the item for your personal collection.
Sweepstakes tickets are just $1, and the more times you enter, the better chance of winning. Tickets will be available at Brewers.com/ultimatesweeps beginning today at 10 a.m. CT through Tuesday, June 11 at 10 a.m. CT. No purchase necessary. Entries are also accepted by writing to: Brewers Ultimate Fan Experience Sweepstakes, c/o Brewers Community Foundation, One Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214.
“We wanted to offer a package that was truly unique, and it all starts with an item like Ueck’s game-worn sweater,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We think this will be a very popular contest with an appeal to Brewers fans of all ages.”
The winning name will be drawn on or around Monday, June 17. Net proceeds from the sweepstakes will benefit the programs supported by the Brewers Community Foundation. For complete rules and more information, please visit Brewers.com/ultimatesweeps.
The Milwaukee Brewers and their “natural” interleague rival Minnesota Twins are set to renew pleasantries at the end of May.
Different this year, however, is that the teams play each other just four times instead of six with all four games this year being mid-week affairs. That aspect has to be frustrating for the fans of both teams who enjoy traveling to their neighboring state for the annual series.
What won’t be frustrating at all, at least in my opinion, is that the final game of the set (game two in Minnesota on Thursday, May 30th) will feature these awesome jerseys as modeled in this image I pulled from the excellent Uniwatch blog.
These are jerseys from the American Association which operated until 1997. The Brewers of that era operated from 1902-1952 and won eight pennants in those 51 seasons, spent at old Borchert Field.
They had a number of major league affiliates over the years, coincidentally enough feeding the Boston Braves from ’47-’52.
When the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves in 1953, the minor league Brewers moved to Toledo, Ohio where they were re-labeled as the Sox or called the “T-Sox”.
The Twins will be honoring St. Paul’s old affiliated team, the St. Paul Saints.
Catching up on some items I haven’t blogged about but had more to say about them than just tweeting the blurbs, and then some thoughts about tonight’s lineup in Pittsburgh and what its impact could be.
Cue the puns. Puns for the win!
Stoking the Fiers -or- Tom’s Not Feeling So Terrific
Mike Fiers was recalled from the minor leagues — where he had been optioned on April 18th — to fill a spot in the bullpen vacated by LHP Tom Gorzelanny who succumbed to shoulder tendinitis in his pitching arm. Gorzelanny has been working a lot so far this year as he has been used in everything from LOOGy-friendly spots to straight set up duties. Gorzelanny had pitched 18 times in the first 31 team games, including back-to-back days on four occasions, but never three-in-a-row.
Fiers came back amid a sad familial situation which was documented in numerous places (including here by Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy) and needn’t be rehashed here, though you should read it if you haven’t already. Fiers returned to a bullpen in desperate need of some innings covereage after consecutive short starts by Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos in Cincinnati. He was stretched back out in the minors pitching for both Nashville and Brevard County and offers immediate relief in the long-man division.
Gorzelanny’s injury leaves Michael Gonzalez as the lone healthy left-handed pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen, after they began the year with three (also Chris Narveson).
Konclusion Soon for K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez was signed to a minor-league contract back on April 17th (read more on that here) and, as part of the agreement, began a 30-day evaluation period after which the Brewers would have to make a determination on whether they will add him to the 25-man roster.
Well, that deadline is rapidly approaching and to that end, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is in Nashville tonight and tomorrow to watch K-Rod pitch. He’ll be looking for a return to something more closely resembling Rodriguez’ 2011 form rather than what he brought to the mound far too often in 2012.
The question though is simple. Can Rodriguez help this team win?
If he can, he’ll be here soon and then the decision is who heads back down to the minors. Given the situation, it wouldn’t shock me if it was Fiers so long as Figaro is rested between now and then and there are no more critically short starts between now and then. But in order to maintain length in the ‘pen and utilize options available, it could be Kintzler down for a short stint if necessary.
Braun and Weeks Sit, Probably Discuss Love, Life, Longballs
Ryan Braun is apparently dealing with a bit of a stiff neck again, similar to the injury that kept him out of the entire Arizona Diamondbacks series the first week of April. Though while it’s a similar injury, it’s not nearly to the severity now as it was then. Braun has been playing with it for a few games and just needed a day off to help rest it.
I would have to certainly hope he didn’t tweak it while helping several others in lifting a wall during a Habitat For Humanity “Blitz Build” event last week. Manager Ron Roenicke stated that Braun didn’t injure himself on the field though, so the charitable activity remains a possible cause.
As for Weeks, fans and media alike have been clamoring for Weeks to get (at least) a day to clear his head and hopefully allow him to get back to doing what his talent says he should be able to do. Weeks though is the kind of guy who will never go the manager and ask for a day off or accept if Roenicke offers a day off. Weeks told the media today that Roenicke has to just sit him if Roenicke thinks Weeks needs a break. Roenicke wanted to get Weeks out yesterday against long-time nemesis Bronson Arroyo but couldn’t. Weeks isn’t significantly better against A.J. Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh tonight, so it was another opportunity which Roenicke utilized.
Hopefully Weeks can make the most of it and break back out at the dish. In a pinch-hitting appearance tonight, Weeks struck out swinging off of a left-handed reliever.
As for filling out the lineup without Weeks and Braun, as I stated on my Monday segment on The Mike Heller Show on The Big 920 & The Big 1070 AM radio stations in Milwaukee and Madison, I liked moving Gomez up to 3 as it kept him in an RBI role. Beyond that, the bottom half of the lineup was a crapshoot. Betancourt and Lucroy both finished without a hit so the order mattered even less tonight than it otherwise would.
Still, the Brewers look to continue their success against Pittsburgh regardless of where they play as they work to get back into the win column and make something out of this road trip.
The injury pandemic inside of the Brewers clubhouse has reached the epicenter.
If you missed the breaking news earlier, it was discovered by Greg Matzek of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had to go to the hospital this morning after his back “froze up” on him.
Matzek called Roenicke for their normal Tuesday morning radio hit when he was informed of the news.
Roenicke received treatment and though the Brewers skipper very well could have foregone his duties for this one, he is expected to be at Wrigley tonight too manage as usual. In a scenario where he’d miss a game, bench coach Jerry Narron would almost assuredly assume those duties.
More on this as information is made available.
Tonight, the full-season affiliates of the Milwaukee Brewers (and other organizations as well, but you’re here for a reason so let’s focus) begin their respective regular seasons for 2013. The Brewers have four such affiliates so let’s give you a quick rundown of each one along with some quick hit info.
Nashville Sounds – Class-AAA Affiliate
The Nashville Sounds begin their 34th season of play and their 9th season as the Brewers’ top affiliate. Last year the Sounds got off to a poor start both at the plate and on the mound, but turned it around a bit as the season advanced. They technically wound up with a second-place finish in their Pacific Coast League, American Conference, Northern Division, but only sporting a 67-77 record for the campaign and falling well short of the playoffs.
While the Sounds had just one All-Star in 2012 (current Brewers reliever Jim Henderson), plenty of the parent club’s current players have made a stop in Music City, U.S.A. on their way to The Show. One man who has already debuted in the big leagues but is hoping to eventually carve himself out a permanent spot on Milwaukee’s pitching staff is the Sounds’ 2013 Opening Day starting pitcher: Tyler Thornburg.
Thornburg had an interesting 2012 as a professional with a run of oddly timed promotions which threw off his schedule and a shift in role which threw off his routine and ultimately led to some physical problems. With what is expected to be a full season of starting games again, the Brewers are hoping Thornburg can once again show the form that resulted in an 8-1 first-half record with Huntsville compete with a selection to the Double-A All-Star Game.
Thornburg will be followed in the Sounds’ rotation by 40-man rosterees Hiram Burgos and Johnny Hellweg, Zach Kroenke as the four, with Frankie De La Cruz rounding things out.
For more on Tyler Thornburg, check out his profile in my “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series: #63 Tyler Thornburg
Filling out the batting order are such recognizable names as Scooter Gennett, Blake Lalli, Hainley Statia, Caleb Gindl, and Southern League (AA) MVP Hunter Morris. The Sounds have a nice mix of up-and-comers along with guys on the precipice of MLB service time.
The same can be said for the bullpen which is likely to be anchored by Donovan Hand who almost won a spot in the Brewers ‘pen to begin the season.
Huntsville Stars – Class-AA Affiliate
***UPDATE: The Stars’ opener was rained out tonight. Nelson will start tomorrow.***
Starting on the bump for the Stars tonight will be Jimmy Nelson, he of the 2010 draft class (second round). Nelson began the 2012 season with the High-A Manatees and was advanced up the ladder during the summer. Combined in 2012, Nelson posted a 6-8 record with an ERA of 2.83 in 127.1 innings across 23 starts. With his success in High-A, Nelson made himself the primary candidate to move up when promotion time came around and Huntsville had an opening.
While he struggled early with Huntsville, not much should be read into it. Many baseball people concur that other than the jump from Triple-A to the bigs (of course), the step between High-A and Double-A is the biggest one that a professional player makes. That being said, a heavy ball plays so long as it can be controlled. Following a brief appearance in the Arizona Fall League where it was clear that he was worn out, Nelson enters this season with elevated expectations as he continues along his career track. The Brewers have confidence in him, he has confidence in himself, and with his ability those things ought to come together pretty well in 2013.
Brevard County Manatees – Class-A Advanced Affiliate
The Manatees of the Florida State League play their home games at Space Coast Stadium. That’s awesome. Their rallying cry is “Fear the Sea Cow”. That’s even more awesome. From a production standpoint, the FSL is notoriously brutal on hitters, but the Manatees only got mediocre production from some of their pitching last year. That was en route to a 63-72 record. Looking to start the turn around on the right foot will be Opening Day starter and 2011 1st round draft pick, southpaw Jed Bradley.
Bradley had a rough go of things in 2012 after starting off well initially. More on his 2012 season can be found in his BBt(J)N profile here: #77 Jed Bradley. If the Georgia Tech product can remain injury/issue free in 2013, he’ll hopefully be able to flash more of the ability which led to his selection as the 15th overall choice 22 months ago.
Joining Bradley (who spent all of 2012 with Brevard County) will be a bevvy of graduates from Matt Erickson’s prep school in Appleton, Wisconsin. All they did together was win their league championship last year. Hopefully the magic sticks with the players as they spend some time in south Florida to begin the season.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – Class-A Affiliate
The 2012 Midwest League Champion Timber Rattlers will begin their title defense with a series in Peoria, Illinois before coming home for an April 8th tilt which features a bobblehead giveaway with the likeness of manager Matt Erickson holding the MWL Championship trophy. It’s sharp.
Off the field, the local owners of the facility pumped a bunch of money in and many structural improvements were made to the structure around the field. The press box was expanded, the broadcast booths were segregated and moved; it was a nice facility before, but now it’s even better.
On the mound, 2012 draft choice (4th round) Tyler Wagner gets the starting nod. It sounds like Erickson will once again be employing the “piggyback” technique where another starting pitcher knows he will be pitching for sure on a given day despite not starting in the first inning. To that end, Mike Strong will follow Wagner on the bump.
As for at the plate, the Timber Rattlers begin the year featuring a treasure trove of prospects. Most top choices from the 2012 draft (Clint Coulter, Mitch Haniger, Tyrone Taylor, etc) will be there right away. They’ll be joined by prospect darling Orlando Arcia with slugger Victor Roache expected to be not far behind as he gets a little time in extended spring training in Arizona.
There are many more names in the system that I could call out, but on this Opening Day I just wanted to highlight a few including the focus on the Opening Day starting pitchers for each affiliate.
While the Brewers system is widely panned by the experts — I think the highest rank I saw out of 30 was 23rd best — there are some pieces to be excited about. Follow along if you choose to, but rest assured that help is developing throughout the minor league affiliates which begin play tonight. After all, there is no substitute for game action in baseball.
Good luck to the Sounds, Stars, Manatees, and defending champion Timber Rattlers! Maybe the Brewers will have some more rings to give out before the 2014 season.