Through a series of tweets by beat writers Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), Tom Haudricourt & Todd Rosiak (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel), several decisions which directly impact the 25-man roster of the Milwaukee Brewers were disseminated from Spring Training on Sunday morning.
With an opt-out decision looming today, first and foremost relief pitcher Blaine Boyer was told that he has made the 25-man roster. The move will eventually require a corresponding 40-man roster move as Boyer was in camp on a Minor League contract, but there are a handful of 60-day DL candidates so finding a spot (or two or three) won’t be difficult.
The other player who got the best news was OF/1B Ramon Flores who was also told he’ll make the 25-man roster. Flores was acquired this off-season in trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas in a swap of players who were likely to be waived by their original clubs. Flores had a strong Cactus League and also showed a little versatility in being able to potentially backup Chris Carter at first base.
As there are ultimately so few spots, many more players get the proverbial red ticket in their locker.
Among those informed that they’ll begin the regular season in the minors are catchers Josmil Pinto and Manny Piña who were told they’ll be in Triple-A. Catcher Adam Weisenburger will apparently join them, giving Colorado Springs a trio of backstops.
Will Middlebrooks was informed today that he’ll also be assigned to Triple-A after vying for a spot as a backup corner infielder. Once there he is expected to rotate at the corner infield positions with Andy Wilkins and Garin Cecchini.
Joining them in the high-altitude infield will be Jake Elmore who was hoping to make the big league team as a reserve but came up short.
In the outfield competition, Eric Young Jr. was told that he’ll also head to the Centennial State when camp breaks. He’ll be joined officially by Shane Peterson who, after passing through waivers earlier this winter, was also in camp on a minor-league deal.
And finally, one official optioning came down as reliever David Goforth was sent out. Even with all the injuries to the bullpen recently, Goforth having minor league options was likely a key factor as others in the running for just a couple of spots had less team control due to no options or contract opt-outs like Boyer.
All told, this leaves the following combination of players in camp:
- Yadiel Rivera, Rule 5 Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitee Hernan Perez are competing for what is likely two open infield jobs.
- Keon Broxton (options remaining), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (no options), and Alex Presley (NRI) competing for likely two backup outfield spots.
- Chris Capuano (opt-out), Franklin Morales (opt-out), Ariel Peña (no options), Tyler Cravy (options remaining) are in play for two bullpen jobs
First and foremost, I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m always open to answering questions directly on Twitter, Facebook, or via email. When someone takes the time to seek out my opinion, they deserve a response…even if I don’t know. But, in a way to give thanks to my followers and friends I put out a call for questions so I could answer them here on the blog. This not only will hopefully advertise that I’m always willing to chat Brewers, but it’s also a little tip of the cap to give members of the Brewer Nation some pub too along with giving longer-form responses than Twitter allows.
If I don’t answer your question here (or some similar variation of it), I will respond to you via the social media forum you posed it in.
— Packman (@Packman1265) November 29, 2013
Over the past few seasons, the Brewers have emphasized competing now over planning for the long-term future. Bringing in veteran free agents, trading top prospects for rental pitchers, eschewing development for experience in many cases. This past season was ultimately an exception but more due to circumstance than design. The Brewers were structured to compete in 2013 and it was a long run of unfortunate events that wound up costing them a shot at a wild card berth.
Now, all that said, to the question: The Brewers appear like they’re preparing to take one final shot with this core group of big leaguers. They may resign Corey Hart on a one-year deal. They may give Rickie Weeks one more chance to sink or swim in 2014. They’ll give it a go for April, and probably May. If they’re in it, this is their “near future” chance. They don’t have a ready replacement at third base when Aramis Ramirez likely departs after 2014. They are light in impact prospects to fill any position over the next couple of seasons. Should the Brewers fail in 2014 (and even if they play well, they need a lot of other teams to falter), they’re next likeliest window is at least a couple of years down the road.
@BrewerNation How should the Brewers pitch to Kottaras? 🙂
— Jαmie Krueger (@jamielkrueger) November 29, 2013
Four outside and take your base. (Editor’s note…which is also me: Kottaras was recently acquired by the Chicago Cubs.)
@BrewerNation Would Aoki have more value as a trade chip, or a 4th OF/Lefty bat off the bench?
— Aaron McCabe (@acmccabe) November 29, 2013
This would be assuming the Brewers would move Ryan Braun to right field and start Khris Davis on a regular basis in left. If that’s the case, Norichika Aoki would be very valuable as a pinch-hitter, especially when you simply need a ball put in play. He is capable of defending at all three defensive positions as well.
However, the Brewers already have a much better defender to back up all three spots in Logan Schafer and as a fifth outfielder, Caleb Gindl has shown a little bit of pop. Couple that he’s ultimately expendable with his extremely affordable 2014 contract, and Aoki could fetch the Brewers a decent return despite turning 32 before the season. In my opinion, the better value is in moving him.
@BrewerNation Is anyone on the management or coaching side of the organization on the hot seat this year? Melvin, Ash, Roeneke?
— Dylan Wendt (@BeerBratBrewers) November 29, 2013
If there was to be a change during or after the 2014 season (because they would have made changes by now if they were going to before it), it would likely be a second-tier change like a coach or some scouts. It can’t be ignored though that Mark Attanasio inherited Doug Melvin when his group bought the team and the principal owner went directly against the suggestion of his GM when he made the call to sign Kyle Lohse. It didn’t feel all season like it was the beginning of any dissension, but ultimately you never know.
@BrewerNation what do you see as a viable first base solution if Hart is not resigned?
— Earl Barker (@ebarker111) November 29, 2013
First of all, I don’t see them not resigning Hart. He wants to be here and I given the injury risk I can’t see someone else giving him a ton of guaranteed money instead of the kind of “modest base salary with a lot of incentives” contract I reported that the Brewers were preparing a couple of weeks ago.
If that somehow falls apart though and Hart plays elsewhere in 2014 I think the Brewers would be best served committing to someone capable of handling the position for the entire season. No converting shortstops or relying on the Yuniesky Betancourts of the league. I also think that Hunter Morris would benefit from a bit more time in Nashville before getting the full-time gig in Milwaukee. If the Brewers want to compete though, they can’t afford a offensive black hole like in 2013 or even to platoon the position.
@BrewerNation Even though he’s against it, would moving Braun back to 3B make sense to make room for Davis with Ramirez possibly gone?
— Jake Smith (@jksmth) November 29, 2013
No. If a player is against something like that, especially when those adverse feelings come from experience, it’s likely to be a bad situation. Ryan Braun was terrible defensively at third base, so much so that it almost cost him the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2015, when Ramirez is likely gone, hopefully someone will have stepped up to fill the void at third base, be that Taylor Green or maybe as a bridge to one of the low-level minor leaguers with a high ceiling, or otherwise.
@BrewerNation will scooter gennett be the opening day starting second baseman, if so where does rickie weeks end up.
— Matt (@mje_96) November 29, 2013
In his season-ending press conference, Doug Melvin mentioned specifically that Gennett probably had a leg up in the second baseman’s competition entering 2014. It will be a closely monitored situation all spring training long. So many variables are at work. Gennett played solid defense and hit right-handed pitchers very well, two shortcomings of Weeks’ game at this point. Gennett also couldn’t hit southpaws to save his life, or possibly his job as an everyday option. Then again, Weeks is coming off of a serious leg injury (and successful surgical repair) and his ability to play everyday will be scrutinized as well. A platoon feels like a viable option as we stand today on the last day of November, but Weeks is a veteran who gets out of slumps in the batter’s box. The team could also benefit from Weeks regaining some trade value if they do decide to go with Gennett, which could lead to early at-bats for Weeks.
Should Gennett win the outright starting job for one reason or another early enough in camp, expect Weeks to be featured often in Cactus League play in an effort to get him moved elsewhere. The Rays had interest a year ago around this time and the Royals at least were reportedly sniffing around before the trading deadline. There could be options, but it takes two to tango, as they say.
@BrewerNation if you were GM, would you deal Braun for lottery tickets? Or try to win now while he’s still in his prime?
— Will Hsu (@wphsu) November 29, 2013
There’s no way I’d try to trade Braun right now. I wouldn’t be able to get proper return on the value because he’s seen as somewhat of an unknown right now. Teams think he’ll perform when on the field but the question is how healthy he’ll be able to stay. Even if I were going to look to trade Braun at some point in his contract, it couldn’t be until he has a typical 2014 season and I’d be able to ask for and get a package of high-ceiling, can’t-miss, solid-gold prospects.
@BrewerNation I would like to see the crew get a lefty starter. Anyone available?
— Tom Neises (@NeisesTom) November 29, 2013
Several available, but how good do you want that starter to be? Free agent Chris Narveson is drawing some interest after pitching well in the Caribbean this off-season. He’s certainly familiar with the organization and they with him. But some of the other names available aren’t exactly exciting given their circumstances. You’d be looking at a fifth starter with most of the arms out there and is that worth denying the youth a chance?
And now from Facebook:
“Steven Linkins: Any idea how big a player the brewers plan to be in free agency? they don’t have many holes but it would sure be nice to have a contender again”
Doug Melvin is taking things slowly this off-season as he tends to do. Despite a flurry of activity elsewhere in the league, the Brewers are biding their time while they wait for Corey Hart to receive his medical clearance, expected to come on December 3rd. He is their primary target this winter. Should that fall through, the Brewers would have a need at first base and at least some money to spend.
“Carlo Marinello: Do you think the rumor of Aoki being traded and Braun playing RF is a high probability?”
I think the latter half of that is likely. The only reason it wouldn’t happen is if Braun is completely uncomfortable and they want to make sure he can focus on his offense in 2014. Whether Aoki gets traded or falls into a platoon of sorts in left field with Khris Davis will depend on how strong the offers are which Melvin will certainly field between now and March 31st.
“Ryan Hewitt: If Aoki isn’t traded, do you think he would be okay with being a 4th OF?”
Any competitive athlete wants to be on the field as much as possible but Aoki has proven to be a quality teammate in every respect. He didn’t join the Brewers in 2012 as a starter and if he fell into a platoon or fourth outfielder role to begin 2014, I’m sure he’d continue to play hard to earn his playing time back.
“John Suess: why not Braun at first; you have three other qualified outfielders ready now (plus others in the minors). Braun has played infield and he can also then sub in the outfield. I’d never get rid of Aoki – he does too many things right.”
Braun is an above average outfielder, one who gives you an advantage offensively as well. There’s no reason to force him to first base at this point of his career. He may well one day be better off there but for now he can run, defend, and still hit well above average as an outfielder. His bat doesn’t profile with as much premium at first base either.
“Scott Underwood: Are the Brewers better off resigning Corey Hart or moving on?”
Much better off resigning him. He’s the best bat available at first base on the market that doesn’t come with the loss of a draft pick, he’ll come much cheaper for 2014 than they will anyway, they don’t have a ready option in-house, and if he fails they can justifiably move on in 2015.
“Robert Boese: Any Chances Of The Brewers Changing Logo Or Uniforms For Next Year?”
Other Than What Seems To Be A Special “Japanese” Uniform Day Coming The Weekend Of The Aoki Bobblehead, They’re Sticking And Staying With What They’ve Currently Got.
“T.m. Ryan III: You may know the answer any reason why #17 hasnt been retired or ever used since Gumby had it. If memory serves me correctly hes the last to have it”
The Brewers have only retired five numbers in franchise history, and all of the players for whom they’ve done so are members of the Hall of Fame. They haven’t issued #17 since Jim Gantner last wore it in 1992, true, likely out of respect for what he meant to the franchise. It’s more of a “soft” retirement if anything.
“Adam Mrozek: Are the Brewers really shopping Ryan Braun? If so, my Brewer cap is getting burned.”
Your cap is safe. Braun is not being shopped.
“David Hannes: Could Rickie Weeks or Aramis Ramirez play first base this year?”
Ramirez would be well-served to move to first base if he wants to extend his career much longer, but this doesn’t seem to be the season for it. He’ll rightfully want to enter his what could be his final free agency as a third baseman.
Weeks has hard hands, is a small target, isn’t particularly flexible to stretch for balls, and wouldn’t make much of a first baseman…especially if his offensive woes continue.
“Terry Fraser: Are the Brewer looking at Garrett Jones? Perfect bench player for us- power off the bench, plays 1B, LF, RF, lefty bat vs closers.”
Jones is certainly versatile and would be a welcomed addition to the bench in Milwaukee, in my opinion, at the right price. However, other teams that could use his skills will be able to offer him much more than the Brewers would (or really should). Sean Halton can provide similar defensive coverage and some of the offensive ability for a fraction of Jones’ cost. Taylor Green covers you at even more spots than Halton does and also hits left-handed.
Robinson Cano. Short of that, would Hart and O’Flaherty work?
So that wraps it up for the first edition of Brewer Nation Q&A. I hope you enjoyed the format and will participate in the future if you didn’t this time.
As always, I’m available on social media for questions as I stated earlier. Find the links at the top.
Do you have a follow up question or something else you’d like to know? Disagree with my answers? There’s a wonderful comments section right here on the blog. Put it to work!
If you follow on Twitter, you’ve seen me comment on reports over the last couple of weeks that the Brewers appear to be performing due diligence on veteran starting pitchers around the league.
From a scout attending a game in which Aaron Harang was pitching to the scouting of Scott Kazmir to the reported interest in Javier Vazquez before he was shut down due to injury, it seems as though the Brewers are making sure they are up to speed on where several considerable options stand in their preparation for the season.
While this could make it seem as though the Brewers don’t have faith in their in-house options, I really feel as though this is mostly simply keeping tabs just in case. If the guys competing for rotation spots step up, I think Doug Melvin probably is comfortable entering the season with all of this inexperience in the starting rotation. However, if enought of those same competitors don’t begin to round into form before long, you might see the front office look to supplement the group currently working at Maryvale.
The thing about it though is that the Brewers are confident in many of their arms that are beginning to reach the upper levels of the minor leagues. So much so that entering into a long deal with a free agent pitcher doesn’t seem to make sense at this time. That being said, one of the jobs of the front office is planning for the present as well as the present. For example, is keeping a Hiram Burgos down at Nashville for an extra season worth it to sign a free agent if you have to tack on an extra season to his deal?
But I promised you a rumor at the top, and I’m sure that’s why you clicked on the link.
I’ve been told that the Brewers’ diligence has extended beyond the three names that have been in the media lately. Two specific names were mentioned to me. They’ve both been discussed to varying degrees on my different platforms at different times.
The first name will come as no surprise. I was told that there has been at least one additional conversation between the Brewers and Scott Boras about Kyle Lohse. I wasn’t told the details of the conversation, but I would guess that it was basically a “What are you asking at this point?” kind of a talk.
If you sign Lohse, you’re committing to, one would think, at least two seasons with a seven-figure average annual value. You’d also be surrendering your first-round draft pick in June. That means the player you’d draft and the portion of the draft pool compensation that goes along with the slot.
Look, despite all of the costs, doesn’t it feel like if the Brewers really wanted to sign Kyle Lohse, that they simply would have by this point? I understand the reluctance and I sincerely hope that the Brewers don’t feel forced into something that they really don’t want to do.
Secondly, a name that many of us discussed after Zack Greinke agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Brewers and Dodgers have reportedly been in contact about veteran starting pitcher Chris Capuano. A fan favorite in his time in Milwaukee, “Cappy” would make much more sense to me than Lohse would.
Capuano is in the final guaranteed season of a two-year free agent contract he signed with the Dodgers before the 2012 season. There is a mutual option on that contract for 2014. Unlike the potential annual cost of a Lohse free agent deal, Capuano’s contract pays him “just” $6 million in 2013. And after consecutive seasons with 31+ starts, there should be no reservations anymore another year removed from his second Tommy John surgery.
There are two schools of thought though.
What do you value more? The packages are put together like this:
- Money to spend elsewhere, a first-round draft pick, no commitment beyond 2013
- Retaining the assets already in your system, stability in the rotation (assuming performance)
Personally, I think that Capuano makes more sense for this team for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being the ability to move on as early as 2014 should that be necessary. There are have been a number of long-term free agent contracts given out by Doug Melvin that haven’t worked out in the last year of the deal, and recent history (Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf) rings loudest.
Now, these are only conversations and I’m not even close to saying that either of those conversations will lead to anything, but I wanted to pass along the info. I’m also not exactly sure when the conversations took place, for the record.
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.
Bob Bolin (’70)
John Felske (’73)
Bill Champion (’74-’76)
Danny Frisella (’76)
Danny Thomas (’76-’77)
Lary Sorenson (’77-’80)
Dan Boitano (’79)
Paul Hartzell (’84)
Tim Leary (’86)
Len Barker (’87)
Tom Filer (’88-’89)
Dave Parker (’90)
Matias Carrillo (’91)
Rafael Novoa (’93)
Bob Scanlan (’94-’95)
Terry Burrows (’96)
Bryce Florie (’96-’97)
Eric Plunk (’98)
Eric Owens (’98)
Chris Jones (’00)
Angel Echevarria (’00-’01)
Glendon Rusch (’02-’03)
Chris Capuano (’04-’07, ’10, ’16)
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
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
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
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)
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)
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)
By: Big Rygg
The Hot Stove season in baseball can be a very exciting time. It’s the first real baseball-heavy stretch of time in the sports media since the end of the World Series and, chance are, the first time you’ve really heard much about your team since the end of the regular season.
The big event during the off-season in baseball are the four days collectively known as the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings are a gathering of all of Major League Baseball’s General Managers (amongst other MLB officials). A ton of agents and even usually a handful of players make the trip as well. It is a chance for everybody to meet face to face and, thusly, to get a LOT accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. Groundwork is laid, dialogue is begun, negotiations get underway and, when all the stars align, players get signed to contracts.
In 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers were a part of the big storyline of the Winter Meetings, that of course being the CC Sabathia sweepstakes (congratulations to CC for winning a World Series Championship, by the way). That didn’t work out in Milwaukee’s favor, but it certainly was fun to have all the national media focused on the Brewers for a couple of days.
Last year, Doug Melvin was focused pretty much solely on Sabathia during the Winter Meetings and didn’t really accomplish anything. This year, however, Melvin is casting a much wider net into the free agent waters, specifically into the Sea of Starting Pitching. It has been said that the Brewers are basically looking into every available free agent pitcher. Having signed two arms already (the rehabbing Chris Capuano along with John Halama), the Brewers have gotten started fairly quickly this year. The Winter Meetings don’t even start until this coming Monday, for what it’s worth.
But, two pitchers that are questionable at best if one were to rely on them to start 20 games in 2010 (and for Capuano that games-started number could be one) is not enough for this team. Fortunately, Melvin, assitant GM Gord Ash and the rest of the front office realize this fact.
And, since pitching isn’t the only need for this organization, the Brewers have been active in areas other than pitching too. The Brewers made a trade in acquiring a new center fielder, Carlos Gomez, from the Minnesota Twins for SS J.J. Hardy. They signed a 16-year-old (pending age verification) shortstop, a young OF prospect who had a taste of the big leagues last year in Trent Oeltjen and a new starting (more on that later) catcher in the tastefully-named Gregg Zaun.
Allow me to focus on the new backstop in Milwaukee for a bit. There has been much discussion amongst fans already as to what exactly the Brewers are gaining by signing Zaun as opposed to simply retaining the services of two-year starter Jason Kendall instead.
First and foremost to this off-season’s agenda of acquiring as much starting pitching help as possible, this move saves the Brewers money. Kendall earned $5 million last year. With so many servicable options available on the upcoming market, Melvin made the decision that the team couldn’t afford to pay $5 million for a catcher again. There was never a report on whether Kendall flat out told Melvin to take a hike or whether he would’ve considered resigning at a reduced rate. Kendall was said to have greatly enjoyed his time as a Brewer, so it’s nice to think that he would’ve at least considered it.
To focus on what actually happened, though, is to realized that Gregg Zaun was approached by as many as six teams in this first week of free agency. He has said that the Brewers separated themselves pretty quickly from the pack. It helped that Milwaukee could offer a chance to be the primary starter. nearly-40-year-old catchers (or ballplayers of any position at that age) seldom hear those words. Now, Manager Ken Macha has seemed to be a no nonsense guy in his first year. That would seem to indicate that if Zaun isn’t performing at an acceptable level, then he would lose a start or two per week as whomever the backup winds up being will gain that playing time. Zaun is veteran enough in this league to know that performance is what hangs onto a job.
Should Zaun falter and his backup be called on…well, I don’t know what to tell you at this point because there is no certainty who that backup will be. Rumors flew (and continue to fly) since the end of the season about giving highly-touted prospect Jonathan Lucroy a shot to make the leap from AA to the big leagues. Then again, had prospect Angel Salome not missed so much combined time in 2009 due to injuries, might it be his name that would’ve been getting ballihooed about? There’s also the realization that Mike Rivera has been a decent backup the last few seasons as well at the big league level, thereby making him the devil they know, so to speak. Backup catcher is a much more important decision this year because Gregg Zaun will not be starting 130+ games.
Enough sidebarring. What else is the team gaining with Gregg Zaun behind the dish? How about more power, a higher batting average and, since Zaun is a switch-hitter, a second left-handed bat against right-handed pitchers. A little more balance can make a big difference.
As for the things Kendall excelled at (blocking the plate, blocking up pitches in the dirt, calling a game), Zaun is good at all of those things too. Let me put it this way, without going to find defensive statistical numbers… When you’re 38 years old and still playing in the big leagues, it’s usually not because of your stick anymore, especially behind the dish. Why do you think Henry Blanco is still playing? A cannon arm is among the top reasons why.
So when you add it all up, is there really any debate as to whether or not the Brewers made the right call? Of course there is. That’s the beauty of baseball and of all sports. Until the games are played on the field/court/rink/etc, you never know. But at least in baseball, statistical analysis provides a pretty darn good idea.
Despite all of this, though, the team needs more help. Formally offering a contract to Craig Counsell is a good start (depending on the value of said contract), but it’s hardly enough. The Winter Meetings begin in Indianapolis, Indiana in three days. With Doug Melvin and company being able to spread their focus around in 2009, let’s all hope that more irons in the fire yield better results in the long run.