Tagged: Alcides Escobar

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now” Rankings Entering 2014

Each year I compile MLB Network’s “Top 100 Players Right Now” which airs annually before the regular season begins.

This year, I decided to supplement those rankings by giving you a place to find all of the Top 10 Right Now positional rankings as well.

I’ll add to this post as the episodes air on MLB Network over the next few weeks.

On Friday, January 10, 2014 the rankings for both Centerfielders and Shortstops were revealed. (See them below.) On Friday, January 17th both Starting Pitchers and Right Fielders were unveiled. Friday, January 24th brought us Left Fielders and First Basemen. Relief Pitchers and Second Basemen were revealed on Friday, January 31st.

Catchers and Third Basemen will be revealed on Friday, February 7th, so look for a couple more Brewers to make it.


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MLB Network’s “Top 10 Centerfielders Right Now”

  1. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  2. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury – New York Yankees
  5. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers
  7. Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
  8. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
  9. Dexter Fowler – Houston Astros
  10. Coco Crisp – Oakland Athletics

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Centerfielders was Darryl Hamilton. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Trout, McCutchen, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jones, Kemp, Desmond Jennings (TB), Leonys Martin (TEX)

James: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Michael Bourn (CLE), Jennings, Denard Span (WAS)

Hamilton: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Kemp, Jackson, Crisp, Gonzalez, Bourn


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MLB Network’s “Top 10 Shortstops Right Now”

  1. Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
  2. Jose Reyes – Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Jhonny Peralta – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers
  6. Ian Desmond – Washington Nationals
  7. Elvis Andrus – Texas Rangers
  8. Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves
  9. J.J. Hardy – Baltimore Orioles
  10. Alcides Escobar – Kansas City Royal

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Shortstops was Bill Ripken. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Reyes, Desmond, Andrus, Peralta, Derek Jeter (NYY), Simmons, Segura, Everth Cabrera (SD)

James: Tulowitzki, Hardy, Reyes, Jed Lowrie (OAK), Simmons, Andrus, Segura, Ramirez, Erick Aybar (LAA), Escobar

Ripken: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Hardy, Simmons, Desmond, Segura, Stephen Drew (FA), Lowrie, Andrus, Reyes


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MLB Network’s “Top 10 Staring Pitchers Right Now”

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
  3. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
  4. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
  5. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
  6. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
  7. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
  8. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
  9. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
  10. Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Starting Pitchers was John Smoltz. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Kershaw, Verlander, Lee, Hernandez, Wainwright, Yu Darvish (TEX), Scherzer, Fernandez, Madison Bumgarner (SF), Sale

James: Kershaw, Scherzer, Lee, Wainwright, Verlander, Zack Greinke (LAD), Sale, Jered Weaver (LAA), Hernandez, Darvish

Smoltz: Kershaw, Fernandez, Hernandez, Scherzer, Darvish, Verlander, Jon Lester (BOS), Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Wainwright, Price


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MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now”

  1. Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
  5. Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals
  6. Carlos Beltran – New York Yankees
  7. Jayson Werth – Washington Nationals
  8. Shane Victorino – Boston Red Sox
  9. Hunter Pence – San Francisco Giants
  10. Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Right Fielders was Mark DeRosa. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Braun, Stanton, Puig, Heyward, Werth, Bautista, Craig, Jay Bruce (CIN), Wil Myers (TB), Pence

James: Braun, Bruce, Stanton, Heyward, Pence, Bautista, Victorino, Beltran, Puig, Torii Hunter (DET)

DeRosa: Beltran, Stanton, Bautista, Werth, Craig, Pence, Bruce, Hunter, Puig, Michael Cuddyer (COL)

You read that correctly. Mark DeRosa doesn’t Ryan Braun in his Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now despite Brian Kenny and Bill James both ranking Braun #1 and the Shredder ranking him second. DeRosa says Braun “should be 1” but since he has to earn back the respect of fans, his teammates, etc. DeRosa “hopes” he comes back and performs and is #1 next year, but he couldn’t discount other guys.

As for the Shredder, Brian Kenny said he was shocked not only that Braun wasn’t first but that Puig was. I’m guessing Braun was dinged by the Shredder for how many games he missed last year. That’ll happen in an algorithm.

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now”

  1. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
  3. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
  4. Justin Upton – Atlanta Braves
  5. Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers
  6. Starling Marte – Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Daniel Nava – Boston Red Sox
  8. Carlos Quentin – San Diego Padres
  9. Josh Hamilton – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  10. Brett Gardner – New York Yankees

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Left Fielders was Eric Byrnes. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Harper, Choo, Holliday, Marte, Upton, Gordon, Gardner, Yoenis Cespedes (OAK), Domonic Brown (PHI), Khris Davis (MIL)

James: Choo, Holliday, Gordon, Gardner, Nava, Harper, Upton, Brown, Cespedes, Hamilton

Byrnes: Holliday, Harper, Upton, Choo, Alfonso Soriano (NYY), Gordon, Marte, Hamilton, Nava, Brown

MLB Network’s “Top 10 First Basemen Right Now”

  1. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
  2. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
  6. Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox
  7. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
  8. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
  9. Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers
  10. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the First Basemen was Sean Casey. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Mauer, Fielder, Davis, Encarnacion, Brandon Belt (SF), Ad. Gonzalez

James: Cabrera, Goldschmidt, Votto, Davis, Mauer, Freeman, Encarnacion, Ad. Gonzalez, Napoli, Eric Hosmer (KC)

Casey: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Davis, Fielder, Ad. Gonzalez, Mauer, Albert Pujols (LAA), Encarnacion

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now”

  1. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
  2. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
  3. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
  5. Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers
  6. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
  7. David Robertson – New York Yankees
  8. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
  9. Luis Avilan – Atlanta Braves
  10. Joaquin Benoit – San Diego Padres

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Relief Pitchers was Dan Plesac. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Kimbrel, Holland, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Trevor Rosenthal (STL), Perkins, Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon (PHI), Benoit

James: Kimbrel, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Holland, Nathan, Papelbon, Perkins, Rosenthal, Mark Melancon (PIT)

Plesac: Kimbrel, Holland, Chapman, Uehara, Jansen, Nathan, Jim Johnson (OAK), Perkins, Jason Grilli (PIT), Rex Brothers (COL)

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now”

  1. Robinson Cano -Seattle Mariners
  2. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
  3. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
  5. Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
  6. Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers
  7. Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  8. Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks
  10. Marco Scutaro – San Francisco Giants

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Second Basemen was Harold Reynolds. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Cano, Pedroia, Kipnis, Utley, Hill, Zobrist, Kendrick, Kinsler, Walker, Omar Infante (KC)

James: Cano, Pedroia, Zobrist, Kipnis, Utley, Brandon Phillips (CIN), Kinsler, Infante, Jose Altuve (HOU), Kendrick

Reynolds: Cano, Pedroia, Phillips, Kipnis, Kendrick, Utley, Kinsler, Scutaro, Infante, Walker


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MLB Network’s “Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now”

  1. Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
  2. David Wright – New York Mets
  3. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Josh Donaldson – Oakland Athletics
  6. Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants
  7. Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers
  8. Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
  9. Chase Headley – San Diego Padres
  10. Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Third Basemen was Mike Lowell. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Wright, Longoria, Beltre, Carpenter, Donaldson, Machado, Zimmerman, Headley, Kyle Seager (SEA), Martin Prado (ARI)

James: Longoria, Beltre, Wright, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Headley, Machado, Prado, Donaldson, Seager

Lowell: Beltre, Longoria, Wright, Machado, Donaldson, Ramirez, Headley, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Pedro Alvarez (PIT)

Neither Brian Kenny or Bill James included Aramis Ramirez in their personal Top 10.

Best line of the show? Kenny asked James why he put Longoria over Beltre and Wright. James’ response: “Probably fear.” He then admitted that he might be biased by working for the Red Sox.

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Catchers Right Now”

  1. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
  3. Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
  4. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
  5. Jason Castro – Houston Astros
  6. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers
  7. Carlos Ruiz – Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks
  9. Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies
  10. Wilson Ramos – Washington Nationals

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Catchers was Dave Valle. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Posey, Molina, Santana, Brian McCann (NYY), Perez, Lucroy, Castro, Ruiz, Russell Martin (PIT), Montero

James: Posey, Molina, Perez, A.J. Pierzynski (BOS), Matt Wieters (BAL), Santana, Rosario, McCann, Lucroy, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA)

Valle: Molina, Perez, Posey, Wieters, Ramos, Martin, McCann, A.J. Ellis (LAD), Lucroy, Castro

So there you have it. All 10 positions worth ranking in MLB by the Shredder and the MLB Network personalities.

There are five Brewers among the 100 names listed by The Shredder. They are: Carlos Gomez (CF, 6th), Jean Segura (SS, 5th), Ryan Braun (RF, 2nd), Aramis Ramirez (3B, 7th), and Jonathan Lucroy (C, 6th)

 

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #21

Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.

#21

Tommy Harper (’70-’71)
Curt Motton (’72)
John Vukovich (’73-’74)
Bob Sheldon (’77)
Lenn Sakata (’77-’78)
Buck Martinez (’79-’81)
Don Sutton (’82-’83)
Bill Schroeder (’83-’88)
Jerry Reuss (’89)
Dennis Powell (’90)
Cal Eldred (’91-’99)
Jamey Wright (’00-’02)
Keith Osik (’03)
Chad Moeller (’04-’06)
Drew Anderson (’06)
Alcides Escobar (’08-’10)
Zach Braddock (’11)
Cody Ransom (’12)
Juan Francisco (’13)
Irving Falu (’14)
Jeremy Jeffress (’14-’16)

Reviewing Milwaukee Brewers Prospects in MLB.com’s Top 50 Rankings

By: Big Rygg

MLB.com released its updated list of their Top 50 Prospects today. While 28 of 32 organizations have at least one man on the list, the Brewers are one of 17 clubs that have at least two.

This is a quick review of that pair of prospects who just so happened to be teammates already when they took the field together in the 2009 All-Star Futures Games in St. Louis.

I will include some comments about the players along with offering a bit of my own opinion about their futures. I won’t claim to know whether or not they should be higher or lower because I don’t pay enough attention to other team’s farm systems, so the ranks themselves will simply get mention here.

SS – Alcides Escobar – #12 Ranking

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Believe it or not, despite a batting average over .300, albeit in a truncated Major League demonstration, slick-fielding shortstop Alcides Escobar actually fell three spots from 2009’s list.

This drop also came after Escobar won the batting title in the Venezuela League this winter. Escobar practically sprayed the ball all over South America while posting a .393 batting average. He added an on-base percentage of .440 which was good for fifth in the league. Add in his 16 steals (3rd in the league) and it becomes quite evident that Escobar was busy displaying all of his tools this winter.

This offseason Doug Melvin cleared the way for Escobar to seize the starting shortstop job when J.J. Hardy was traded to the Minnesota Twins for new starting centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Hardy had a terrible season in 2009 even earning a demotion to the minors for a brief stay. The end result was Hardy being jettisoned to Milwaukee’s interleague “regional” rival and Escobar realizing the role of the Next Big Thing.

By all accounts a stellar defender, Escobar’s bat definitely took longer to be considered ready for the big leagues. In fact, some people still don’t think it’s quite ready and that Escobar may only accumulate a .260/.300/.350 type of line.

Let’s just say I hope those naysayers out there have a decent recipe for crow.

Prediction: Obviously, Escobar will be filled in as position #6 on manager Ken Macha’s Opening Day lineup card. Where he’ll hit in the order is a bit of a mystery for now, however.

With the teammates that make up the rest of the order, Escobar really has the chance to be hitting in one of four spots in the order to begin 2010. Those spots are 2, 6, 7 or 8. I personally believe that Escobar will eventually settle in to either 1 or 2, but that might take some time, especially given Macha’s propensity for letting young guys gain experience by batting lower in the lineup.

Escobar’s best chance to start the year off in the 2-hole would be to follow the Casey McGehee blueprint of tearing the cover off the ball all spring long. Even still, I expect Macha to slot Escobar in at number 7 to begin the regular season.

As far as his long-term prospects? Shortstop is the latest rockstar position in the majors and Escobar could fit right in with the game’s best if he reaches the potential that scout after scout has seen in him.

Do I see Escobar’s #21 hanging underneath the track of Miller Park’s retractable roof next to #19 and #4? Not yet, but winning a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010 would be a good way to begin changing my mind.

2B – Brett Lawrie – #26 Ranking

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A former 1st round pick (16th overall), Brett Lawrie was selected out of high school as a catcher. He requested the switch to 2B during his first minor-league season in part because 2B stood out to him as his quickest path to the majors.

After finishing the 2009 minor league season already with the Brewers’ AA affiliate Huntsville Stars, Lawrie apparently has the right idea. Incumbent 2B Rickie Weeks has had a history of inconsistent play and a few significant injuries as well. Should he falter again or lose another season to injury, he might just find himself pushed right out of town by the brash, young Canadian.

Lawrie has played for Team Canada in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic as well as participating in the 2009 All-Star Futures Game as a member of Team World alongside Alcides Escobar.

While he doesn’t even consider himself the best athlete in his own family (Lawrie says his older sister has that honor), he definitely seems poised to legitimately take over as the system’s best.

Prediciton: MLB.com has Lawrie projected to reach the majors in 2013. This is no doubt mostly due to his still learning to play second. He is a pure athlete at heart and should have no problem continuing his ascent.

Lawrie has shown flashes of a full toolbag and, given time, he ought to be able to ply those wares in the big leagues for a while.

I’m personally going on record as saying that 2012 could be the year that we see Lawrie get his first significant stint in the big leagues. By all accounts he’d preferred to reach the majors on April 5th of this year, but I’m sure the realist in him knows that the competitor is being a bit irrational.

So there you have it. It’s a simple review, but it’s a review nonetheless. The main things we can hope for going forward are for more and more of our players to continue to warrant consideration for this list.

After all, players rarely make the big leagues without being recognized as a top prospect first as some point along the way.

All Decade By the Numbers

By: Big Rygg

I know that this idea is a bit corny and overdone already, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t taken a fair amount of time to compile the information that that led me to the decisions that I have made regarding my (and since I’ve been the entirety of the written Brewer Nation for quite some time now) and the Brewer Nation’s….

ALL-DECADE 25-MAN ROSTER!!! (which will come in the next post)

But first, some interesting tidbits for you all to digest followed by some high and low statistical totals for the decade of 2000-2009. A lot of these numbers helped me figure out my all-decade roster.

  • There have been 111 non-pitchers that have have at least one plate appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers this decade.
  • There have been 131 individuals that have pitched at least one-third of an inning for the Milwaukee Brewers this decade, including two position players (Trent Durrington and Mark Loretta).
  • The most common first name amongst Brewers in this decade is “Chris” (11 players). Second place goes to “Mike” (10 players).
  • Most seasons (or parts of seasons) played with the Brewers in the 2000s was 8, a record held by Geoff Jenkins, Bill Hall and Ben Sheets

Hitting Mosts (you might notice some themes here):

Games Played: 1015 – Geoff Jenkins
Plate Appearances: 4154 – Geoff Jenkins
At-Bats: 3698 – Geoff Jenkins
Runs: 558 – Geoff Jenkins
Hits: 1021 – Geoff Jenkins
Doubles: 232 – Geoff Jenkins
Triples: 21 – Corey Hart
Home Runs: 182 – Geoff Jenkins
Total Bases: 1835 – Geoff Jenkins
Runs Batted In: 594 – Geoff Jenkins
Stolen Bases: 113 – Scott Podsednik
Times Caught Stealing: 35 – Bill Hall
Walks: 345 – Prince Fielder
Intentional Walks: 66 – Fielder (Five more than Jenkins, but more than triple third place)
Strike Outs: 970 – Geoff Jenkins
Times Grounding into a Double Play: 90 – Geoff Jenkins
Times Hit By a Pitch: 86 – Geoff Jenkins
Sacrifice Hits: 21 – Mark Loretta
Sacrifice Flies: 32 – Prince Fielder (One more than Jenkins in far fewer PAs)

Hitting Highests (minimum 100 plate appearances):

Batting Average: .320 – Felipe Lopez
On-Base Percentage: .407 – Felipe Lopez
Slugging Percentage: .574 – Ryan Braun
On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage: .931 – Ryan Braun

Hitting Worsts:

Games Played: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
Plate Appearances: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
At-Bats: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
Runs: 0 (8 players never scored but Pete Zoccolillo was on base the most times without scoring – 6 times)
Hits: 0 (4 players, Robert Perez had most Plate Appearances without a hit – 5)
Doubles: 0 (10 players with at least one hit had no doubles. Tony Fernandez had 18 hits without a double)
Triples: 0 (48 players with at least one hit had no triples. Carlos Lee had 275 hits without a triple)
Home Runs: 0 (20 player with at least one hit had no home runs. Tony Gwynn had by far the most without a home run with 60. Next closest? Nine.)
Total Bases: 0 (4 players. Robert Perez had 5 plate appearances without a base.)
Runs Batted In: 0 (11 players had at least one plate appearance without an RBI. Brad Nelson had 31 for the most.)
Stolen Bases: 0 (Since you can’t steal if you don’t try, 12 players had at least one attempt without a stolen base. Wes Helms and Felipe Lopez tied for the most with 3.)
Times Caught Stealing: 0 (16 players with at least one stolen base were never caught. Santiago Perez and Mel Stocker each stole 4 bases without getting caught.)
Walks: 0 (9 players never walked. Israel Alcantara had the most plate appearances without drawing a walk with 32.)
Intentional Walks: 0 (49 players never were intentionally given first base including Alex Sanchez who had 684 plate apperances without one.)
Strike Outs: 0 (5 players never struck out as a Brewers this decade. Nelson Cruz had the most PAs as a Brewers with 7. The fewest Ks with at least 100 PAs? Lenny Harris who only struck out 17 times in 215 PAs.)
Times Grounding into a Double Play: 0 (17 players never grounded into one this decade. Alcides Escobar had the most plate appearances without a GIDP with 138.)
Times Hit By a Pitch: 0 (36 players were never hit by a pitch. Marquis Grissom had the most plate appearances without ever getting plunked as a Brewer this decade with 640.)
Sacrifice Hits: 0 (58 players had none with Geoff Jenkins topping the list by having 4154 plate appearances.)
Sacrifice Flies: 0 (41 players never hit a sac fly this decade. John Vander Wal had 374 plate appearances without even a single sac fly.)

Hitting Lowests (4 players had zeroes in all categories, Robert Perez having the most plate appearances (5) without any stats, so the following is the lowest among players with at least one hit):

Batting Average: .067 – Chris Barnwell (2 Hits in 30 at-bats)
On-Base Percentage: .071 – Corey Patterson (1 Hit in 15 plate appearances)
Slugging Percentage: .067 – Chris Barnwell (2 singles in those 30 at-bats)
On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage: .143 – Corey Patterson

Pitching Mosts:

Wins: 86 – Ben Sheets
Losses: 83 – Ben Sheets
Games Played: 224 – Luis Vizcaino
Games Started: 221 – Ben Sheets
Games Finished: 129 – Derrick Turnbow
Complete Games: 18 – Ben Sheets (Sabathia had 2nd most in the decade in one-half season: 7)
Shutouts: 4 – Ben Sheets (Sabathia had 2nd most in the decade in one-half season: 3)
Saves: 65 – Derrick Turnbow
Innings PItched: 1428 – Ben Sheets
Hits Allowed: 1402 – Ben Sheets
Runs Allowed: 650 – Ben Sheets
Earned Runs Allowed: 591 – Ben Sheets
Home Runs Allowed: 160 – Ben Sheets
Walks Issued: 313 – Ben Sheets
Intentional Walks Issued: 25 Tie (Ben Sheets & Jeff Suppan though Suppan did it in far fewer innings – 1428.0 IP to 546.0 IP)
Strikeouts: 1206 – Ben Sheets
Batters Hit: 54 – Dave Bush
Balks: 5 – Chris Capuano
Wild Pitches: 49 – Ben Sheets

Pitching Bests:

Earned Run Average: 0.00 – 6 players (Chris Saenz pitched the most innings: 6.0)
Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitches: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Best by an actual pitcher? Mike Crudale with 0.75)
Hits Allowed Per 9 Innngs: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Best by an actual pitcher? Mike Crudale with 0.96)
Home Runs Allowed Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – 11 players (Mike Crudale pitched most innings without allowing a home run: 9.1 IP)
Walks Issued Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – 3 players (Jesus Colome pitched most innings without issuing one: 6.1 IP)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings: 18.00 – Mark Loretta (Best by an actual pitcher? Allan Simpson with 16.88)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 5.12 – CC Sabathia (of pitchers that issues at least one walk)

Pitching Leasts:

Wins: 0 – 42 Players (Chris Smith pitched most games without a win: 35)
Losses: 0 – 29 Players (Chris Smith pitched most games without a loss as well)
Games Played: 1 – 4 Players (Trent Durrington, Mark Loretta, Chris Saenz, Chris Mabeus)
Games Finished: 0 – 5 Players (of players who relieved at least once – Chris Mabeus, Josh Butler, Mike Matthews, Kyle Peterson, Jimmy Haynes)
Complete Games: 0 – 42 Players (of players who started at least once – Jimmy Haynes started most games without a complete game: 62)
Shutouts: 0 – Jeff Suppan (Most games started without a shutout: 95)
Saves: 0 – 82 Players (of players with at least one relief appearance – Jose Capellan had most relief appearances without a save: 85)
Innings PItched: 0.1 – Trent Durrington (Actual pitcher with least? Chris Mabeus – 1.2 IP)
Hits Allowed: 0 – Trent Durrington
Runs Allowed: 0 – 3 Players (Chris Saenz pitched most innings without allowing a run: 6.0 IP)
Earned Runs Allowed: 0 – 3 Players (Chris Saenz pitched most innings without allowing a run: 6.0 IP)
Home Runs Allowed: 0 – 11 Players (Mike Crudale pitched most innings without allowing a home run: 9.1 IP)
Walks Issued: 0 – 3 Players (Jesus Colome pitched most innings without issuing a walk: 6.1 IP)
Intentional Walks Issued: 0 – 37 Players (CC Sabathia pitched most innings without issuing an intentional pass: 130.2 IP)
Strikeouts: 0 – Trent Durrington (Two pitchers only had 1 K but Jared Fernandez threw most innings with fewest strikeouts: 6.1 IP)
Batters Hit: 0 – 34 Players (Nick Neugebauer pitched most innings without hitting a batter: 61.1 IP)
Balks: 0 – 102 Players (Carlos Villanueva pitched the most innings without balking: 372.1 IP)
Wild Pitches: 0 – 27 Players (David Weathers pitched most innings by far without a wild pitch: 158.0 IP)

Pitching Worsts:

Earned Run Average: 27.00 – Bob Scanlan (5 Earned Runs in 1.2 IP)
Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitches: 4.20 – Chris Mabeus (4 hits, 3 walks in 1.2 IP)
Hits Allowed Per 9 Innngs: 32.40 – Bob Scanlan (6 hits in 1.2 IP)
Home Runs Allowed Per 9 Innings: 5.59 – Brandon Kolb (6 HR in 9.2 IP)
Walks Issued Per 9 Innings: 16.20 – Chris Mabeus (3 walks in 1.2 IP)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Worst by Actual pitcher was Jared Fernandez who had 1 K in 6.1 IP for a 1.42 ratio)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 0.25 – David Manning (2 Ks to 8 walks)

Quick Hops: Non-Tenders, Counsell, Rumors

By: Big Rygg

Plenty to talk about as I roll out a new title here. When I have several things to discuss and I choose to put them in one post instead of several, it’ll be called “Quick Hops” as I hop from topic to topic. Oh, and if you don’t know, hops are an ingredient in beer…and the team is the Brewers…I hope you’re following me.

Anyway, let’s get to it!

Non-Tender Choices Add Intrigue to Spring Training

The Milwaukee Brewers chose not to tender contracts to injured relief pitcher Mark DiFelice, pitcher Seth McClung and catcher Mike Rivera. This makes the three men free agents, able to sign a contract with any team. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you understand the arbitration system and what the meaning of the non-tender is.

The system that is in place in Major League Baseball allows for a team to “control” a player for six seasons of service time (in the majority of cases). During the first three years of team control (again, in most cases) the team has 100% control over what they pay a player provided that the salary is at least as much as the league-mandated minimum. Typically teams negotiate salaries with players on a year-to-year basis anyway in an effort to involve the player in their money-dealings, but the team has the final say if they and the player cannot reach an accord. If that happens, then the team “renews” the player’s contract at whatever number they deem fair. This can upset players greatly if they feel they outperformed a certain level of pay with their level of play. Prince Fielder is the Brewers’ most recent example of that situation when, after becoming the youngest player in the history of the league to slug 50 home runs in a single season, he felt he was deserving of much more than the contract that he was offered. The two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, so the team renewed Fielder’s contract at a rate that was in line with their team’s pay scale for non-arbitration eligible players.

Being eligible for arbitration is what leads to the non-tendering of contracts if it’s going to happen. When a player becomes eligible for arbitration, salary is no longer completely up to the team. There are a lot of details that I could bore you with, but the basics are that the team and player negotiate to reach a salary for the upcoming year. If the two sides cannot agree on a number by a certain, pre-determined date then they exchange figures. These figures are those that they will submit to a salary arbiter before the season begins. Arbitration hearings are scheduled over a few days in the spring. The team and player can continue to negotiate up to the beginning of the hearing to reach an agreement. If they do, great. The player signs the contract and plays under its terms. If they don’t, a three-member arbitration panel hears the case and chooses one of the figures the sides submitted several weeks prior. (To note: During Doug Melvin’s tenure as General Manager of the Brewers, no player has gone to a hearing.)

Now, the reason that arbitration eligibility can lead to a non-tender is because the contracts a player gets go up in value significantly during arbitration. The jump in salary in the first year of eligibility is often a multi-million dollar one. What’s more, is that arbitration salaries are often influenced simply by service time itself more so than performance. For example, former Brewer J.J. Hardy made around $4MM in 2009. His 2009 season was terrible. It was terrible statistically and it was terrible peripherally. Hardy is not worthy of even the same salary let alone an increase in salary. However, with the system that’s in place, it is an unbelievable rarity that a player’s salary goes lower.

To summarize this entire Hop, allow me to say this: While Mark DiFelice was non-tendered under the rare case where he wasn’t arbitration eligible (he had shoulder surgery which will most likely cost him his entire 2010 season), the increases in salary that McClung and Rivera (who is eligible for arbitration for the first time) stand to receive are more than the Brewers want to pay for those positions for next year. McClung might have been a combination of high-salary/low-performance with the adding of LaTroy Hawkins and needed a spot on the 40-man roster for him, but most likely they could’ve kept McClung anyway with the injury to DiFelice. As for Mike Rivera, the Brewers are finally able to move on from the career backup. Rivera has been a servicable backup backstop during his time with this franchise however he has never been the future at the catcher position. The Brewers knew this when Damian Miller retired and they brought in Jason Kendall for the last two years with Rivera backing him up. Finally, however, the Brewers feel that they have talent at the position in the minor leagues such that they can promote from within and, with a season or two of tutelage at the Major League level, have a home-grown starting catcher for the first time since Mike Matheny.

This should make for a fun battle to watch during Spring Training. The Brewers have two catchers that might be ready to make the jump. Angel Salome has been the most talked about catching prospect in the system for a couple of years now, especially when he put up such gaudy offensive numbers as part of that stacked AA Huntsville club from two seasons ago that included Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and others. He was the starting catcher for AAA Nashville last year. The catching prospect that has gotten the most talk lately, howevere, has been Jonathan Lucroy who was the starting catcher for Huntsville in 2009. The consensus seems to be that Lucroy might be more ready for the big leagues now with his better plate discipline and what not, but that Salome’s ceiling might still be higher. The Brewers did also claim George Kottaras on waivers early in the off-season as well, so if both youngsters are unable to show anything in spring training that wins them the job, Kottaras might end up being the defacto big league backup while the kids get some more seasoning down on the farm.

Any way it ends up, it ought to be a fun ride. Stay tuned.

The Craigger Set to Stay Put, Announcement to Come Monday?

Monday is shaping up to be a big day for Doug Melvin’s staff. The reports from Indianapolis at the Winter Meetings this past Monday through Thursday were that free-agent pitcher Randy Wolf would be announced to the media as the Brewers’ latest acquisition this coming Monday after passing his required physical examination.

The Brewers, though, just might have two names to announce on Monday. While free-agent signee LaTroy Hawkins was rumored to be announced this coming Tuesday, veteran infielder and team leader Craig Counsell has reportedly agreed to stay in Milwaukee for what might be the balance of his career.

I couldn’t be happier about this move. Even if Counsell doesn’t duplicate his offensive production from 2009, his ability to play three infield positions very well defensively is a huge asset to this team. With inexperienced (at the major league level) starters at SS and 3B in Escobar and Casey McGehee respectively along with Rickie Weeks one bat waggle away from season-ending surgery, having Counsell to spell all three positions is as invaluable for 2010 as having him has proven to be over the past couple of years as well.

Welcome back, Craigger! The Brewer Nation is glad you never left.

Rumor Burner Stays Warm on Hot Stove

Doug Melvin has made no bones about his desire to add two starting pitchers during this off-season. Signing Randy Wolf to a free agent contract gives him one. Where the second one comes from has been a matter of some opinion.

There are still plenty of free agents on the market to be sure. Given the Brewers’ projected payroll, some of them are out of the team’s price range. However, there are several that can be had for a reasonable rate that have great chances to put up better numbers than most members of the Crew’s 2009 starting rotation. In this realm, names like Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer, Wisconsin-native Jarrod Washburn and the recently non-tendered Chien-Mien Wang to name a few.

Pulling off a trade is another possibility that is open to Melvin et al. The Brewers still have a handful of trade chips that they can deal to interested teams to get a starting pitcher in return. It’s all about making something work for all teams involved. The biggest rumor that has been floating around since the Winter Meetings is a trade involving the New York Mets which would send Corey Hart to the Big Apple in exchange for John Maine. This makes sense for a couple of different reasons for both teams, but the biggest thing for Milwaukee’s point of view is that it gets us another starting pitcher. It also relieves us of Corey Hart and his waning value. He performed poorly last year but has had recent success and could still have plenty of upside. Maine has worked with new Brewer pitching coach Rick Peterson before when Peterson was in the same role with the Mets. The pairing led to Maine’s best season as a pro so it’s reasonable that it could produce positive results should the two be reunited in Milwaukee.

The Brewers are rumored to be preparing for this possible trade by readying offers to a handful of right fielders. They haven’t offered contracts to any of them yet, of course, because Corey Hart is still on the roster and would start in right field is no move is made. However, I have been told that guys such as Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady and recent 2009 Brewer Frank Catalanotto (who has one of the best batter walkup tunes EVER!). It’ll be interesting to see if the Brewers need to make an offer to one of these players or to another outfielder altogether. Even if they keep Hart, they carried five outfielders for the majority of 2009 and they currently only have four on the 25-man roster in Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Jody Gerut and Hart.

Whether a trade or signing is next on the horizon for this team remains to be seen, but the Hot Stove League shouldn’t cool down for Milwaukee for a bit yet.

Just an FYI here to finish things up, the next Brewer Nation podcast with yours truly and Cary Kostka should be recorded at some point this month, schedules permitting. We’ll definitely keep you posted though here at the blog so come back often and thanks for your continued (or brand new) readership!