Tagged: Elian Herrera

Roster News: Another Starter Hits the DL

Gennett

The Brewers announced Tuesday morning that Scooter Gennett has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List (retroactive to Monday, April 20) due to the left hand laceration he suffered during a post-game shower in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Taking his place on the active roster will be Elian Herrera. Herrera’s contract was purchased from the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox which gets him back on the 40-man roster. Herrera has been scorching hot for the Sky Sox after an impressive spring training…

To clear a spot on the 40-man, RHP Brandon Kintzler was designated for assignment. Kintzler was just activated off of Colorado Springs’ disabled list Tuesday morning after a reported fingernail avulsion.

Broken News: Cotts Contracts With Crew

OFFICIAL RELEASE

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed free agent left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to a one-year contract. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

To make room for Cotts on the 40-man roster, the team designated infielder/outfielder Elian Herrera for assignment.

Cotts, 34, went 2-9 with a 4.32 ERA and 2 saves in a career-high 73 relief appearances last season with the Texas Rangers. He owns a career record of 20-24 with a 4.05 ERA and 4 saves in 415 games (5 starts) with the White Sox (2003-06), Cubs (2007-09) and Rangers (2013-14).

Over the past two seasons, he is holding opponents to a .223 batting average with 128 strikeouts in just 123.2 innings pitched.

Cotts enjoyed his best Major League season just two years ago as he went 8-3 with a 1.11 ERA and 1 save in 58 relief appearances with Texas. His ERA in 2013 was the second lowest in the Major Leagues among relievers and marked the lowest by a reliever in Rangers franchise history. His win total that season tied for the most among Major League relievers, and opponents batted just .180.

A member of the 2005 world champion Chicago White Sox, Cotts appeared in each game of the 2005 World Series (4 games), earning the
victory Game 2 against Houston.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

BBtJN Logo

My annual countdown to Opening Day will return for another season!

There has been some decent 40-man roster turnover since Spring Training. I mark the passage of time from (roughly) the turn of the calendar until Brewers Opening Day by previewing players who wear a certain uniform number on the corresponding day.

We’re 98 days away from Opening Day, so we won’t get underway on this thing quite yet, but once the countdown coincides with a jersey, you’ll see the first column go up.

I call the series “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and it works a little something like this:

  • Opening Day is April 6, 2015.
  • March 29th is eight days before April 6th.
  • Ryan Braun wears number 8 on his jersey.
  • I’ll write an article reviewing Ryan Braun’s 2014 and looking ahead to his 2015 and post it on March 29, 2015.

Make sense? Here’s another example:

  • Jonathan Broxton wears number 51.
  • 51 days before April 6th is February 14th.
  • I’ll post my Broxton column on February 14th.

I do a column on every player who is on the Brewers 40-man roster along with most Spring Training non-roster invitees. I’ll update this space with a full schedule once the uniform numbers for the newest 40-man additions are announced. I’ll update it again as non-roster invitees are revealed.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me this winter. BBtJN is a very popular series and I thank you for that. Stay tuned!

Demonstrating a Willingness To Change

A few funny things have happened on the way to June.

While the Brewers have been slogging through a seesaw month of May (two and six in their first eight, five and one in the next six, one and five in the six after that, five and two in the most recent seven games entering play on May 31st), they’ve tinkered and toyed with some things that we simply wouldn’t see — because we haven’t — in recent history.

First, the Brewers posted their May 24th lineup and it featured a major change. After a day off to rest his tweaked oblique, rightfielder Ryan Braun was back in the lineup but he was hitting second. It’s a move that sabermetricians would love as there is plenty of statistical evidence that the second spot in the lineup is the most efficient and productive spot for your “best” hitter. Braun and his offensive brethren would falter in that game from a run production standpoint as they would only score once despite 11 hits. (It was Braun that scored the run, for what it’s worth.) But this would not be a one day trial that manager Ron Roenicke would abandon due to lackluster results in the columns of R or W.

Roenicke explained his thoughts after the game, more or less, and confirmed that this was the plan for a while. Truth be told, it started in phases even though that might not have been by design. Season-long leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez needed a day off two days earlier on May 22. It was that day that Roenicke moved Jean Segura up to lead off for Milwaukee. Segura responded by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored in a loss to Atlanta. When Gomez returend on May 23, Roenicke left Segura at the top and inserted the powerful Gomez in the cleanup position. That was seen as a reaction to Braun being out and moving Jonathan Lucroy up to Braun’s customary third spot. It was seen as a blip and scarcely even mentioned let alone thought deeply about. Then Braun returned on May 24 and Segura, Lucroy and Gomez held their positions as Braun slid in at number two.

The offense has been on a tear since that 22nd of May, tying a franchise record with at least 10 hits in 10 straight games. All this has happened without Aramis Ramirez, and it’s almost June 1, which we collectively know as Aramis Ramirez Day. If he comes back (scheduled for Wednesday in Minnesota and likely DHing) and doesn’t take long to warm up, the offense could really make a splash early in the second third of the season.

But there is more going on than just a significant lineup change.

On that same May 24 in Miami, the Brewers outrighted Jeff Bianchi to Triple-A Nashville after he cleared waivers. Bianchi, who is out of options, has been outrighted off of a 40-man roster before in his career and therefore had the right to refuse this assignment thereby electing free agency. He eventually decided to stay, but the point here is that there was more going on than simply swapping one utility infielder for another (they called up Irving Falu, but you know that).

The Brewers of the recent past would not risk losing an asset, even one grossly underperforming as was Bianchi, by outrighting them. This is a front office displaying more of a sense of urgency than even they themselves did this off-season by signing Matt Garza and bolstering a rotation that many assumed they’d just fill in house with five readily identified arms.

That they were willing to shake up their lineup, one that had been struggling to score runs shortly beforehand, and outright Bianchi at all speaks to the team’s desire to sustain their position atop the National League Central. They are not going to stand idly by, subscribing to the Ned Yost School of Thought that once infamously and dismissively reminded worriers that his Brewers were “still in first place”.

No. These Brewers, while still in first place, were seeing a once large lead begin diminshing as perennial division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals began to find their stride a bit while the Brewers scuffled. Their lead was down to 1.5 games as recently as May 27. Milwaukee is certainly striding right at the moment as they’ve won their last three with St. Louis losing its last three and the division lead entering play on the last day of May was back up to 4.0 full games.

Complacency and status quo are not seemingly in the toolbox of the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers. Kudos to them for yet another day alone in first place (where they’ve been since April 9) but more so they deserve accolades and attention for not just thinking that was good enough.

What’s more? They aren’t necessarily done.

They could consider changes in their first base platoon, including dumping the defensively solid but weak-sticked Lyle Overbay. They could juggle their bullpen pieces a bit which they’ll have to do when Tom Gorzelanny is ready but there’s certainly room for more if they desire. They could certainly continue to tweak their bench and bring in a more powerful option their the currently versatile yet light-hitting duo of Falu and Elian Herrera. And if someone doesn’t perform in that rotation or if they need to use a piece to get a piece elsewhere, they could make the decision to go with Jimmy Nelson at some point.

The bottom line is that if they decide to stand pat this season it won’t be due to a lack of want to change nor will it be due to any apprehension thereof. This is a front office that not only sees the benefits in making moves, but certainly won’t be lured in by making a change for the sake of change.

It’s a different feeling than we’re used to as fans over recent history, but it’s certainly a welcome one.

Roster News: Nelson Optioned, Falu’s Contract Purchased

IrvingFalu

Following his season debut (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K), spot starter Jimmy Nelson was optioned back down to the minor leagues. As I said on Twitter at the time, it was an exciting glimpse at a piece of the Brewers future.

Nelson had a number of high leverage moments in his start and got through them all with high marks.

In his place, the Brewers filled their opening on the 40-man roster and strengthened their bench by purchasing the contract of infielder Irving Falu from their Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. Falu fills the open spot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster that was vacated when utility man Jeff Bianchi was outrighted to Nashville following Saturday’s game in Miami.

Falu, 30, will join the Brewers as they arrive home following their season-long 10-game road trip. He brings with him a .280/.342/.333 slash line in 38 games for the Sounds. He has also appeared in 14 games defensively at shortstop, including 12 starts. That’s a key note because when the Brewers decided to outright Bianchi to Nashville, they did so knowing that they preferred a replacement who could help fill the void as a backup defenseman, especially at the crucial position of shortstop. Falu is skilled at second base and third base as well, once again providing quality versatility.

(For more on Falu’s background, check out his “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” entry from Spring Training.)

Like Elian Herrera who has also been tapped more than once this season in no small part because of his defensive versatility, Falu is a switch-hitter. Unlike Herrera, Falu’s career handedness splits aren’t as drastic at all. In 2014 for Nashville to this point though, he’s slashing .314/.386/.392 as a right-handed hitter but only .259/.315/.296 as a left-handed hitter.

Still, Falu should be capable of proving a nice boost off the bench where Bianchi had been faltering of late. It remains to be seen exactly how Ron Roenicke orders his defensive depth chart, but the Brewers field manager is on record as liking the game of Falu who was one of the final players cut in Spring Training.

Hopefully he performs better and more consistently than did his predecessor.

Nelson Officially Recalled, Infielder Outrighted to Nashville to Make Room

JeffBianchiPhotoDay

Jimmy Nelson will be officially recalled to make his season debut for the Milwaukee Brewers before Sunday’s series finale in Miami. That much we knew since yesterday.

What needed to happen though was a player being removed from the 25-man roster one way or another to make room.

Here’s what we found out after the game on Saturday…

Jeff Bianchi has been outrighted off of a 40-man roster before in his career and why that matters is that he has the right to refuse the assignment thereby becoming a free agent. The Brewers have expressed a desire to keep Bianchi in the organization, but he has said that he’ll talk things over with his agent before making a decision.

Bianchi was originally acquired by the Brewers on January 11, 2012 via waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had claimed Bianchi on December 9, 2011 from the Kansas City Royals, his original organization.

For the foreseeable future, it looks like the Brewers will retain switch-hitting utility man Elian Herrera as their primary backup at the key shortstop position. Herrera can play all three outfield spots, third base, and second base as well.

Brewers Injury Updates: Braun, Segura, Schafer, Kintzler

Here’s the latest from Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Brevard County.

Braun Having Relationship Issues With Rib Cage, Intercostal Discourse At Fault?

After he laid down a bunt base hit late in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park, Ryan Braun was caught by television cameras explaining the action to first base coach Garth Iorg.

And while I don’t think he exactly said, “I only did that because my oblique is [feeling a bit off of normal],” the fact remains that Braun has a slight strain of his intercostal. It’s an ailment that’s plagued him in the past, including in both 2011 and 2012.

Braun was originally diagnosed as “day-to-day”. However, after Sunday’s game, manager Ron Roenicke reclassified him as likely to miss the next “three-to-five days”. Those are keys divisional road series in St. Louis (Monday thru Wednesday) and Cincinnati (Thursday thru Sunday).

The Brewers will miss his bat against the Cardinals. As such, Roenicke was non-committal about starting Elian Herrera in right field for all the games Braun misses, however many that turns out to be. When prompted with Mark Reynolds’ name, Roenicke recounted how Reynolds did play a game in right field for the Brewers during Cactus League play this year.

*** UPDATE – 5:03pm CT *** Adam McCalvy tweets that Braun underwent an MRI last night. Turns out the injury is to his oblique as opposed to the intercostal. Doesn’t necessarily change much with timeframe but they know how to specifically treat it now.

Segura Fortunate to Avoid More Serious Injury

Starting shortstop Jean Segura met with reporters following Sunday’s game to talk about his injury. He did so with a swollen right cheek and a gash on the same currently sealed up with stitches. Roenicke told the media on Saturday that his All-Star had avoided a concussion and any fractures.

It could have been much worse for the Dominican native, and he feared so at the time. “When it happened, I thought it was something bad. Today, I feel much better and thank God nothing was worse.”

When asked on Sunday about his vision, Segura said that he could see fine but that the swelling would need to go down before he could play. He was then asked if he thought he’d be able to play this week coming up.

“Definitely.”

Schafer Eyes Saturday Return

I spoke to injured Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer after the game on Sunday. He told me that he was set to test out his healing hamstring today (Monday) and then join the Class-A Advanced affiliate Brevard County Manatees for a rehab assignment.

The Brewers could use Schafer’s defense as well as his bat to be available again. Elian Herrera has filled in well enough defensively but hasn’t contributed much at the plate (2-for-13, both singles, .154 AVG with no walks) since being recalled 10 days ago.

Assuming Braun and Segura avoid the DL as is currently the plan publicly, Schafer’s return will likely come with the demotion of Herrera back to Nashville. That would likely be predicated on at least Segura returning to the field before then, as currently Herrera is the backup shortstop to Jeff Bianchi.

Schafer is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, May 3rd in Cincinnati.

Kintzler Returns, Falls From the Unscored Upon

Relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler returned from the DL prior to the just completed weekend series with the Cubs at Miller Park. He made one appearance in the set, an inning of work on Sunday. In it, he allowed his first run of the season when Starlin Castro took him deep to left field. It ended Kintzler’s run with fellow setup man Will Smith and closer Francisco Rodriguez as Brewers relievers who had yet to surrender a run.

Having not gone on a rehab assignemtn, Kintzler will be eased back into setup work while recapturing any lost sharpness.