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!
It’s been just four business days since the Milwaukee Brewers played their final game of the 2013 Major League Baseball regular season. A number of transactions — both at the 40-man roster level and elsewhere in the organization — have happened so far this week, so here’s a full “recappening” to make sure you’re up to speed.
I include my tweets about the bullet items to illustrate that the best way to get this information quickly is to just follow me on Twitter (@BrewerNation).
During the week of September 12-18:
- RHP Arcenio Leon was signed to a 2014 MiLB contract (but it would be announced officially by the team finally on 10/1).
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) September 21, 2013
Tuesday, October 1
- RHP Austin Blaski (21st round draft pick in 2012) retired from professional baseball. Blaski was a 2013 All-Star for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers before an arm injury cost him the rest of his season. He had surgery and retired, no doubt, as a result.
- The Brewers announced the minor league resigning of several players to 2014 contracts
- The aforementioned Arcenio Leon.
- C/3B Robinzon Diaz
- SS Hector Gomez
- INF Eugenio Velez
- OF Eric Patterson was released.
#Brewers announced that Eugenio Velez, Robinzon Diaz & Hector Gomez were signed to 2014 contracts today. All receive big league camp invite.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 1, 2013
Wednesday, October 2
- LHP Chris Narveson elected minor league free agency
- C/1B Blake Lalli (who was DFA’d more than two weeks prior) elected minor league free agency
- RHP Dylan Brock (34th round draft pick in 2013) was suspended 50 games for violating the MiLB drug policy.
Thursday, October 3
- 1B Mat Gamel was lost on waivers to the Chicago Cubs. Gamel was waived to open up a spot on the swollen 40-man roster. (The Brewers have until five days after the World Series to reinstate any players not currently counted against that roster due to 60-day DL designation, suspension, etc.)
- INF Taylor Green was reinstated from the 60-day Disabled List.
- Green, OF Josh Prince, and RHP Nick Bucci were outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 3, 2013
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 3, 2013
Friday, October 4
- (THIS SPACE WILL BE UPDATED WITH ANY TRANSACTIONS SHOULD THEY OCCUR ON FRIDAY)
A couple of notes about the transactions this week:
- The removal of Prince and Bucci from the 40-man roster opens two spots on it. It currently stands at 38.
- The Brewers have at minimum two players to add back in Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun.
- Two spots should open when Michael Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt declare free agency following the World Series.
- There will be some names requiring protection from the Rule V Draft that will be added as the weeks progress as well.
- Nick Bucci’s removal from the 40-man roster shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He was only added after last season following a breakout campaign. A shoulder injury cost him almost the entirety of 2013 (he got into one game and recorded two outs) and position him for a good amount of work. It’s significant that he was outrighted to Nashville despite never having pitched above High-A. That means that though he will be exposed to the Rule V Draft in December, any team selecting him would need to add him to their MLB roster and keep him there the entire 2014 season. That’s quite frankly unlikely to happen.
If only because we’ve had a day off to hopefully unwind, here’s a recap of what we learned this week as it relates to the roster, lineup, rotation and injuries…
Playing it safe
Kyle Lohse was officially scratched from his next scheduled start with what was described as “elbow irritation” by the team. They said it was minor, that they aren’t worried and that Lohse is penciled in to make a start against Minnesota next week. However, and understandably regardless of what they said, Lohse underwent a precautionary MRI to determine whether there was any structural damage to the elbow. It was reported that the elbow is “structurally sound” but that the areas of inflammation causing the irritation are not to be messed with. So after pitching with this ailment for a couple of starts, rest has become a necessity. Lohse has been the Brewers best starting pitcher so far this season. Whatever it takes to get him back on the field quickly must be done. After all, they can’t afford (financially or performance-wise) for things to get to the worst-case scenario.
Back on the front burner
As for the short term, that missed start — Saturday against the Pirates — will be made instead by Mike Fiers. Fiers has pitched in relief since rejoining the Brewers almost two weeks ago but was starting down in the minors after having been optioned due to ineffectiveness. Fiers began the season in Milwaukee’s rotation but was moved to the bullpen and eventually sent down after just one start. So much like last season, Fiers gets his second chance filling in for a pitcher with a balky elbow. Hopefully though Lohse will only miss one start unlike Shaun Marcum last year who missed many more than that.
Batting practice, running part of a Hart healthy diet
Speaking of missing a lot of time, we got an update on another Brewer on the comeback trail from injury, Corey Hart. Hart was recently cleared to run without restriction and began taking light batting practice and fielding grounders hit right at him. If he continues to respond well the target right now is for him to begin a rehab assignment in roughly 10 days from right now. It was also reported that Hart will make the next road trip with the Brewers to continue preparations for that assignment. It’ll be a long enough rehab stint to hopefully have Hart firing on all cylinders when he returns.
Injured southpaws on the mend
It was learned that Tom Gorzelanny threw live batting practice this week and could return to the roster as early as tonight. (Stay tuned!) The bullpen has been pitching very well lately despite his absence but before hitting the DL with shoulder tendinitis Gorzelanny was pitching key innings for manager Ron Roenicke.
Chris Narveson has also begun to throw as he rehabs the sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. Narveson may throw live batting practice prior to tonight’s game and be sent out on rehab assignment soon.
If you’re asking me, I’d be shocked if Narveson doesn’t ramp back up to start despite his initial role this season having been as a reliever. After all, the team said that part of the reason Narveson was in the bullpen to start the year was to limit his innings coming off of shoulder surgery. It’ll be mid-June before he’s back. He’s missed plenty of innings.
The Brewers announced this morning that utility infielder Jeff Bianchi was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list where he had been since before the season started. Bianchi originally had a groin strain in spring training which forced his withdrawal from participation in the World Baseball Classic. While that had healed, he then developed hip bursitis, forcing the DL stint.
The corresponding move to activate Bianchi was the optioning of Khris Davis to Nashville where he’ll be able to actually get some playing time and consistent at-bats. As I said last night at the time, Davis simply couldn’t adjust to the role of staying sharp with such irregular PT. He’s hardly alone in that struggle though. Countless players can’t adjust which is why those veterans who can flourish in a bench role, relatively speaking, continue to have such value in the game.
Bianchi’s return is the first in a list of several players expected to heal and contribute to the team’s successes this season. In other words, the Brewers are starting to get healthy.
The key to the timing of these additions is that the guys who have been there have kept the team within striking distance in the division. The Brewers enter play today 1.5 games behind the division-leading Cardinals, whom they face beginning tonight in a four-game series. Play well, and the Brewers will at worst remain where they’re at.
But the Brewers are getting a huge boost back in the lineup for Game 2 in this series as they expect to activate third baseman, cleanup hitter, and professional batsman Aramis Ramirez on Friday.
Ramirez was crucial to the Brewers success last season, especially once he overcame a slow start. He was off to a good start at the dish this year before re-injuring his knee on a slide into second base. Hopefully the games he missed will be the slow ones and he’ll hit the field running on all cylinders this weekend.
And the Brewers won’t stop there. They are still awaiting Corey Hart’s return at the end of the month following off-season knee surgery and Chris Narveson’s from an in-season finger injury.
Hart especially will be akin to trading for a quality player two months before the trading deadline. Hopefully he’ll shake the rust off in his rehab stint in the minors and reenter the lineup sharp.
Good things are coming, Brewer Nation. We’ve been biding our collective time and the team has been winning enough. When the bats are all back in, let’s look for another nice run.
Following today’s final exhibition game (a victory over the Chicago White Sox), the Milwaukee Brewers announced their 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Here is the breakdown by position.
- John Axford
- Burke Badenhop
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Alfredo Figaro
- Yovani Gallardo
- Michael Gonzalez
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Jim Henderson
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Chris Narveson
- Wily Peralta
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
- Alex Gonzalez
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Logan Schafer
The Brewers will also be carrying four (4) players on the big league 15-day disabled list to begin the season (Jeff Bianchi, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers) and one (1) on the 60-day DL (Mat Gamel).
Special congratulations go out to Alfredo Figaro, Mike Fiers, Jim Henderson, Jean Segura, Khris Davis, Wily Peralta, Martin Maldonado, and Logan Schafer who are all making their first Opening Day MLB roster!
Recorded last night over dinner and during a fantasy baseball draft, my podcast partner Cary Kostka and I get you ready for Opening Day!
We discuss the 25-man roster projection, lineup for Opening Day, rotation, Kyle Lohse, Yuniesky Betancourt and more!
Click here to download the podcast: Brewer Nation Podcast – 2013 Opening Day Preparedness
Good day to you and yours. Today is Friday, February 21st and we, together, are 38 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park.
A big step happens today for the Brewers as they prepare for that Opening Day matchup against the Colorado Rockies… the annual intrasquad game.
Unfortunately, today’s profile subject isn’t scheduled to start for either squad. That’d be too perfect and convenient.
Perfect and convenient aren’t the style of…
Well, to be fair, the perfection has been there for Christopher Gregg Narveson in his baseball life. As I pointed out last year, he didn’t lose a start in final two years of high school ball. But since becoming a professional, Narveson has experienced some ups and downs following his selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.
Narveson had Tommy John surgery back in 2001, was traded twice, allowed to become a minor league free agent, pitched in the Mexican Pacific League, and finally signed as a free agent with the Brewers in before the 2008 season. Making it back to the big leagues in 2009 (after a brief debut in 2006) was quite an accomplishment given his route.
After two basically full seasons on the mound in 2010 and 2011, Narveson faced another down when following an outing on April 15th he landed on the disabled list pitching again. Narveson said at the time he was having trouble getting loose on game day and it was ultimately revealed that it was because of a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
Shoulder injuries for pitchers can be tricky. They are hard to overcome and unpredictable. The good news in Narveson’s case is that it happened early enough last year that by all reports and accounts so far this spring — including his own — he is throwing normally.
Narveson told members of the media at Maryvale Baseball Park that “It feels like (I’ve) got a new arm.” As early as last September, he said that throwing off the mound for the first time since the surgery “felt great. It’s a long time coming, that you come to the field with a smile on your face, ready to get back after it.”
This will be a big season for Narveson so far as his career with Milwaukee is concerned. There is a decent amount of pitching that’s beginning to reach the upper levels of the organization. Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, Tyler Thornburg, and Mike Fiers all started games with the Brewers last year. Hiram Burgos rocketed through the minors last season pitching his way from High-A to Triple-A. So, for the 31-year-old Narveson, the time is now to prove not only health but to demonstrate effectiveness on the mound this year. Working in Narveson’s favor is his handedness — none of the aforementioned pitchers throw left-handed — and his consistency when healthy.
Bottom line: Despite being capable of twirling a gem when he toes the rubber, no one is expecting the Colorado native to perform like an ace every time he pitches. Pitching every fifth day is plenty important for Narveson though as the tenets of a back-half starting pitcher are availability, reliability, and steadiness. Keeping him healthy won’t just be on Narveson though. The training staff will have to work closely with him, especially during the dog days of summer, to ensure that he isn’t throwing too much and is getting adequate rest. After all, Narveson only threw 158 pitches in regular season Major League games in 2012.
With all that said, the question is: Will Chris Narveson be in the rotation when camp breaks?
Since Narveson appears healthy, what the team will need to see out of him this Spring is control and command. Velocity may be down and he may have to work through a longer dead-arm period than he normally would, depending on how his shoulder responds to the increased workload. The velocity will need to be there by the end of camp for sure, but command and control are traditionally the biggest worries when a pitcher is coming back from a major shoulder injury. And make no mistake, a torn rotator cuff is a major injury.
I’m on record in more than one medium that I think Narveson breaks camp in the rotation. I think having a southpaw in the rotation is a benefit. I think Narveson hasn’t performed all that well coming out of the bullpen in his time with Milwaukee, though admittedly that’s mostly based on 2010 memories as he only relieved twice in 2011.
Still, 2013 will go a long way in determining the future for Narveson both in role and, to a lesser degree, in employer. Quality pitching depth is important and while I definitely don’t worry for Narveson if he’s healthy all year, it’s something to keep an eye on.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Kelvim Escobar
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #48 Donovan Hand
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #51 Michael Gonzalez
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Josh Stinson
- #57 Khris Davis
- #58 Josh Prince
- #59 John Axford
- #60 Wily Peralta
- #61 Darren Byrd
- #63 Tyler Thornburg
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Miguel De Los Santos
- #67 Santo Manzanillo
- #68 Jesus Sanchez
- #70 Nick Bucci
- #71 Johnny Hellweg
- #73 Ariel Peña
- #74 Michael Olmsted
- #75 Travis Webb
- #77 Jed Bradley
- #78 Taylor Jungmann
- BONUS ARTICLE: #91-94 Adam Weisenberger, Hunter Morris, Kentrail Davis, Rafael Neda