Tagged: Eric Gagné

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #38

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 Meyer (’70)
Marcelino Lopez (’71)
Bill Champion (’73)
Clyde Wright (’74)
John Henry Johnson (’87)
Don August (’88-’91)
Angel Miranda (’93-’97)
Joel Adamson (’97)
Eric Plunk (’99)
Jaime Navarro (’00)
Santiago Perez (’00)
Brandon Kolb (’01)
Ryan Thompson (’02)
Chris Saenz (’04)
Ben Ford (’04)
Matt Wise (’05-’07)
Eric Gagne (’08)
Chris Narveson (’09-’13)
Wily Peralta (’14-Current)

News and Notes

By: Big Rygg

There are two newsbites that I want to make sure I touch on.
First, Corey Hart agreed to a one-year contract for $3.25 million that avoided what was looking like the first arbitration hearing in the Doug Melvin era as general manager.
This is a good thing for a couple of reasons. The dollar amount is less than Hart could have been awarded had the deal gone to arbitration (not that I think he would’ve won that case), and it lets Hart just play baseball this year.
Also, Hart avoids the dreaded arbitration hearing where it is the team’s task, nay responsibility, to tear the player down and point out every shortcoming in an effort to have the arbiters choose the team’s submitted dollar figure over that of the player.
Hart seemed to struggle enough mentally during the second half of last year. Many times after waving over a pitch low and away it looked like he had resigned himself to always swinging and missing at that pitch. A multi-hour tear down session reminding him of that horrible stretch of games not to mention bringing things up that he had probably already forgotten about from other times in the season…..well, that wouldn’t be very productive for your 20/20 guy, would it?
The other newsworthy item that I want to talk about today is the team’s surprise move to resign relief pitcher Eric Gagné to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
After being courted this offseason, most notably by the Minnesota Twins who had a deal in place which Gagné had agreed to only to then pull it off the table before there was a chance for him to sign it, Gagné returns to the team that he feels he let down in 2008.
It is a no-risk signing for the Brewers. Either Gagné pitches well enough in Spring Training to earn his way into the bullpen by March 25th or he has the option of becoming a free agent again. It’s a similar deal to the one that Jeff Weaver signed last season. The major difference is that while Weaver pitched with AAA Nashville during his Minor League contract, Melvin does not expect Gagné to do the same. He feels that Gagné will exercise the right to become a free agent on March 25th if he hasn’t made the bullpen for certain by then.
If Gagné makes the 25-man roster, he’ll earn a base salary of $1.5 million with the opportunity to earn up to $3 million more in incentives. For the record, $2 million of that is tied to the number of games in which he appears and the other $1 million is tied to the number of games he finishes.
It’s a far cry from the $10 million that he didn’t quite earn (by most people’s definition including Gagné’s own admission) and if you couple all these factors together, we might just be singing Doug Melvin’s praises again when the year is done.
  • The Mitchell Report isn’t hanging over Gagné with the same crushing weight this season
  • Gagné doesn’t haven’t the expectations of fulfilling a $10 million contract nor the expectations of being “the guy” in the bullpen
  • Gagné actually pitched acceptably in the second half of last season in a set up role, a role that was previously blamed for his mighty struggles with Boston in 2007
He may never pitch again in a regular season game for the Brewers, that’s true. But the fact that the Brewers are paying him next to nothing in return for letting him prove himself to both Milwaukee and the 29 other teams around the league in live action is the real value here.
Some people blasted Melvin for handing $10 million to a guy that was more likely to be dominated than dominate. Well, consider this signing as a way to make amends. After all, a two-year $13.5 million contract sound a lot better anyway. And the fact that it was ostensibly front-loaded? Mere semantics at this point. If anything, it would allow the Brewers to have the extra money this season that they needed for all of their arbitration-eligible players…like Corey Hart.

Will “Hell’s Bells” toll in Miller Park this season?

By: Big Rygg

When you think of the statistic known as “Saves”, what comes to mind first? Is it that there are very few closers in the Hall of Fame? Is it that the all-time single seasons Brewers team Save record belongs to Francisco Cordero? Or that the career saves leader in Brewer history is Dan Plesac (who is now a member of the MLB Network crew, by the way, and eligible for the Hall of Fame this year).

Personally, I pay attention to the numbers and try to know the records of baseball as well as I can. So when I think of saves, my mind invariably thinks about the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball history: Trevor Hoffman.

Cutting to the chase (I’ll save the career and recent season breakdown for if we actually sign the guy), but what do you all think about Hoffman and whether or not the Brewers should sign him?

Reports are that Hoffman is discussing terms of contracts with both the Dodgers and Brewers. One major thing working in favor of the Brewers is that Hoffman wants to close, period. We have that opening. The Dodgers, while they could probably slide Hoffman in, have a guy that’s been pretty paitent the last couple of years in Jonathan Broxton. A closer competition is probably not what the all-time saves leader is looking for.

The big question for Milwaukee, of course, is whether or not this is our Gagné move of the off-season.

By that, of course, I mean was Hoffman always our first (or maybe second behind Fuentes) choice? Or is he the only guy with closing experience left on the market and now we’re going to him out of necessity more than want?

I believe he’s got plenty left in the tank, despite one of his worst seasons of his career ERA-wise, because if not for the situation out in San Diego with the sale of the team due to the current owner’s divorce, he’d still be a Padre and there would be no discussion to have. He wasn’t tossed on the scrap heap because he was ineffective (a la Gagné). That’s why I think he’ll be an effective closer for the team that signs him.

And I’d be okay if that was Milwaukee.

But what do you thiink, Brewer Nation?

The Off-Season Cometh

By: Big Rygg

With the World Series having finished (finally), it’s officially the off-season for all of Major League Baseball. That brings a lot of things, but most notably for Milwaukee it brings the impending free agency of several members of the 2008 playoff team.

Let’s review those players and discuss them a bit both in how their 2008 season went and whether or not I think they will (or should) come back to the Brewers for 2009.

3B/OF Russell Branyan – .250/.342/.583, 33/132, 24 R, 8 2B, 12 HR, 20 RBI, 19 BB, 42 K, 1/1 SB
Branyan even being a part of the Brewers’ system was a matter of fortunate coincidence. He didn’t have a job coming into 2008 and because he lived in the same city as his former big league club’s AAA affiliate and said affiliate needed a third baseman…well, it worked out.

It was another matter of good fortune when The Muscle returned to Milwaukee. He had been tearing up the league at AAA Nashville and the Brewers needed a left-handed bat to platoon with Bill Hall at third base because of Hall’s propensity to suck so hard at hitting right-handed pitching this year, Branyan’s bread and butter by the by.

Branyan hit home runs at a near record pace for the Crew for a fair chunk of the year. Eventually, however, Branyan’s numbers began to tail off before he finally wound up on the disabled list for almost the balance of the season after hurting himself during an at-bat.

It was almost poetic the way that Branyan rode to the rescue for a stretch, but at the same time it was just as much happenstance. That being said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Crew could decide to open the year with Hall in the starting infield at 3B with Branyan sitting on the flight deck as the “Ready 5” player. (Note: That’s a reference from Top Gun…I really hope you knew that without me having to tell you.) The bottom line on bringing Branyan back would be how much left-handed hitting they end up with on the roster after the Winter Meetings. Either way, I don’t expect Branyan’s lack of contract situation to be resolved any time soon. Fortunately for The Muscle, the off-season is plenty long enough.

CF Mike Cameron – .243/.331/.477, 108/444, 69 R, 25 2B, 2 3B, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 54 BB, 142 K, 17/22 SB
So here’s the truly mind-boggling thing about Mike Cameron’s 2008 season: He missed nearly an entire month of games (25) due to a suspension but still managed to finish with respectable numbers in several categories. Unfortunately, Cameron also lead the team in strikeouts, beating guys that had at least 140 more at-bats than he did.

The former Gold Glove Award winner, Cameron’s defense was mostly solid this year. There were a few plays that he screwed up, but everybody has a few in a given year. I can’t remember how many times Cameron would go 0-2 in a count and then immediately take that same count to 2-2. Sure, he struck out thereafter an awful lot, but it’s still an interesting quirk of his season.

The issue with Cameron returning to Milwaukee next year is the price of the team option on his contract which stands at $10MM for one year. Yes, we’d have Cameron for 150+ games instead of a maximum of 137, but having already struck out 142 times in just 120 games, it doesn’t bode well for 2009. Cameron, like I’ll explain about Counsell next, might just come down to other roster moves. $750K is a whole lost easier to pay than $10MM, after all. What’s more, General Manager Doug Melvin has made it known that he wants to get more left-handed bats in the lineup to create better balance. The “holes”, so to speak, that we have to fill that we could fill with lefties are at 3B and CF (and possibly 2B depending on your viewpoint). For whatever reason, the Brewers don’t seem willing to give Tony Gwynn a shot despite the fact that he hits lefty, plays solid defense and is more of a prototypical leadoff hitter than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. That could help Cameron come back as a one-year bridge to another propsect being ready (Lorenzo Cain, perhaps, now that Michael Brantley was sent to Cleveland to finalize the CC Sabathia trade).

Time will tell on this one as teams have a deadline to announce whether or not they are picking up options on players.

INF Craig Counsell – .226/.355/.302, 56/248, 31 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 46 BB, 42 K, 3/4 SB
The Craigger (as I call him) or The Schnozz (as my wife does) is a local boy with a flair for coming up big in clutch situations. There’s always some great anticipation when he steps into the batter’s box when the bases are loaded, but quite frankly for the 38-year-old, those situations don’t happen nearly often enough.

He’s got one helluva glove and I routinely find myself assuming an out when the ball gets hit toward him…but the bottom line is that .226 overall isn’t going to get the job done anymore. I’m a big Craig Counsell fan, but realistically can the Brewers afford to carry a $3.5MM (or so) utility infielder? Depending on some of the other rosters moves the team is able to make or chooses to make…it’s probably not feasible. Besides, if things go according to my master plan, we’ll already have an expensive utility infielder in Bill Hall.

2B Ray Durham – .280/.369/.477, 30/107, 21 R, 12 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 23 K, 2/4 SB (with Milwaukee)
Brought it just before the non-waiver trade deadline, Ray Durham added a needed spark to Rickie Weeks at first, but ultimately the two fell into a platoon at 2B. one that doesn’t figure to be repeated in 2009 one way or another. Either the Brewers will recommit to Weeks or they’ll trade for a different double-play partner for J.J. Hardy (or possibly Alcides Escobar depending on how that situation pans out).

Durham missed several games down the stretch which could be contributed to either fatigue, age, bad luck or possibly a bit of all three. Durham is a switch-hitter, which is a nice thing, but the fact that he hits lefties about as well as Weeks hits righties (.238 overall this year vs lefties for Durham). His defense is more solid than Weeks’ too, but the fact is Durham is no spring chicken, or autumn chicken for that matter.

Bottom line on Durham is tha the was brought it to provide some veteran leadership for the stretch run and he delivered just that. If the price is right, he could be a fine bench player whether the Brewers retain Weeks or not.

RP Eric Gagne – 4-3, 5.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 50 G, 10/17 SV/SVO, 38 K, 1.47 WHIP
Fewer financial committments were worse in 2008 than the $10MM, one-year contract that Doug Melvin signed Eric Gagne to. Signed to be the closer after Francisco Cordero skipped town, Gagne struggled right out of the gate, blowing a 3-run lead on Opening Day in Chicago. The Brewers ended up winning that game, but it was the season for Gagne in a nutshell. Struggles, inconsistency, expectations…all in all Gagne just simply didn’t measure up despite falling into a setup role fairly comfortably late in the year after a stint on the DL.

As for next year? I wouldn’t even mind having Gagne back in Milwaukee, but at a much more believable price. I have a feeling that Gagne will listen to offers for a bit before deciding what he wants to do. If he has the chance to be a closer somewhere for closer-type money, perhaps he takes that offer. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Melvin extends Gagne an opportunity to return to Milwaukee.

OF Gabe Kapler – .301/.340/.498, 69/229, 36 R, 17 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 3/4 SB
What a story Gabe Kapler turned out to be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The guy retires, manages for two years, get the itch again, lets people know he’s available, signs a contract with the Brewers that the majority of fans (thank you, I am NOT included in that group) did not understand or agree with. All he did was capably fill in at all three OF positions, hit over .300 and was our best bat off the bench as well. Unfortunately, for many reasons, Kapler’s season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. He could have been extremely useful to spell both Ryan Braun (rib cage) and Corey Hart (mental fatigue perhaps?) down the stretch.

Kapler will be 33 for a little over half the season in 2009, turning 34 on July 31st. That’s definitely not too old, especially for a guy who keeps himself in as good of shape as Kapler does. He is a free agent, and given the state of the league, could probably find a starting job on a few teams. Hopefully, though, the fans and clubhouse here in Milwaukee impressed him enough that he would want to come back. Hopefully, also, Doug Melvin was impressed enough with Kapler’s play that he would want him back. I think it’s a great fit here and if I were on Melvin’s staff, I’d push for a deal to get done quickly.

3B Mike Lamb – .273/.273/.273, 3/11, 2 R, 1 K
Lamb has the option to become a free agent after this year. Based on his lack of starts while he was with the club, along with how they only picked him up off waivers, and there’s very little chance of Lamb not exercising that option.

*UPDATE* Lamb filed for free agency on the first day, as expected.

RP Guillermo Mota – 5/6, 5.11 ERA, 58 G, 57.0 IP, 1/4 SV/SVO, 50 K, 1.40 WHIP
Mota came to the Brewers in what was probably the best trade of Milwaukee’s off-season. Doug Melvin contacted the GM of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya, and struck a deal. He offered Johnny Estrada against a list of players he’d be willing to take back in a one-for-one deal. Minaya picked a guy that the fans in New York booed when he was warming up in the bullpen for crying out loud.

Mota pitched well in chunks for the Brewers, a couple of times falling into old habits in New York that got him into trouble. Pitching Coach Mike Maddux corrected Mota multiple times and made him serviceable. If he’s able to continue pitching like he does when he’s right, he’ll help out whatever team he winds up with.

Now, whether or not that’s the Brewers remains to be seen. I think that Melvin would probably be willing to bring him back for a reasonable price, as he did finish the season as our most consistent bullpen arm and you just can’t overhaul as drastically as they did in 2008..can you?

SP CC Sabathia – 11-2, 1.65 ERA, 17 GS, 130.2 IP, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 128 K, 1.00 WHIP
Um…what would I be able to say here that could possibly come close to stating how incredible CC Sabathia was for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008? The man was flat out amazing nearly every time he took the hill. He won his first 9 decisions in a Brewer uniform and, quite frankly, carried the entire team into the playoffs on his large back.

To say that the Brewers want him back is the understatement of the off-season. But, with CC comes a lot of $$. In fact, there is talk that the Yankees are prepared to offer him 7 years for a total of $175MM (that’s an average of $25MM per year, math majors). The Brewers supposedly are preparing to offer (if they haven’t already) a contract of comparable annual amount though not the years. Some talk has said 4/$100MM another I read said 6/$120MM. Either way, if the Brewers are fortunate enough to sign the unquestioned #1 arm on the free agent market…well…it’ll be a glorious day in the history of the Brewer franchise.

SP Ben Sheets – 13-9, 3.09 ERA, 31 GS, 198.1 IP, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 158 K, 1.15 WHIP
After finally confessing and repenting (if you don’t understand that point, you need to look at our September archive), Ben Sheets won a 13th game for the first time in his career and nearly pitched 200 innings for the first time in a few years. However, Sheets also fell prey to the injury bug yet again.

I personally feel that if this wasn’t a contract year for Sheets, he would’ve allowed himself to get shelved if not more often, certainly earlier in the year than late September. It’s unfortunate, but the guy is hamstrung like very few other players in the game. While Sheets hasn’t missed as much time, a decent comparison could be a Carl Pavano. Loads of talent, seemingly always unavailable when their teams need them most.

Doug Melvin has gone on record as saying that he has spoken to Casey Close (Sheets’ agent) and is going to making an offer to possibly bring Sheets back to the Brewers. Having endured the ups and downs of Sheets’ last few years, it’d sure be nice to have a healthy pitcher with his kind of talent. But the bottom line is that Sheets is NOT that pitcher anymore. Yes, a lot of his injuries are weird and random, but when they keep happening, I’m sorry; that’s a trend. And the bottom line that Melvin has to ask himself is whether or not the Brewers can afford the starts. They can afford the money that Sheets can/will get on the open market, but can they afford to carry six starters so that there is a guy ready to pitch when Sheets inevitably (yes, inevitably) misses a start?

The only way I’m comfortable bringing Sheets back to our mid-range payroll team is for Melvin to sign him to a slightly-below-market-value deal that protects our payroll figure from becoming over-bloated to the point where owner Mark Attanasio doesn’t give Melvin any flexibility to pull off deadline deals like he did this year.

RP Brian Shouse – 5-1, 2.81 ERA, 69 G, 51.1 IP, 2/5 SV/SVO, 33 K, 1.17 WHIP
Our left-handed specialist for the past couple of seasons, Brian Shouse is 41 years old but continues to get the job done coming out of the bullpen. Ned Yost used Shouse in some odd ways at times, but he is simply best utilized by bringing him in to face a lefty in a key situation.

Shouse is looking for a two-year deal which would be impossible to come by given his age if it weren’t for his continued success on the bump. Shouse has said that he would like to return to Milwaukee, but feels that he owes it to himself and his family to see what kinds of offers he’s able to field on the open market just to gauge his “value”.

The Brewers are grooming a replacement for Shouse in fellow lefty Mitch Stetter, but I’d still like to see Shouse return to the Crew for at least one more year. Left-handed relievers never seem to flame out so as long as he’s not given up homer after homer, Shouse will be worth the phone call to the bullpen.

CL Salomon Torres – 7-5, 3.49 ERA, 71 G, 80.0 IP, 28/35 SV/SVO, 51 K, 1.35 WHIP
Torres was traded for in the off-season to be a setup man but also provide more veteran leadership to a group that was sorely lacking in that department in 2007. When Eric Gagne was patently ineffective to begin the year and spent some time on the DL, Torres was handed the reins at the back end up the bullpen and did a stellar job until, quite frankly, he wore out by the end of the year. They say sinkerballers prefer to not be overly rested, but 80 innings over 71 games…that’s a LOT of work, fellow Brewer fans.

The team holds on option to bring Torres back, and I believe that they’ll exercise that option. It’s a reasonable cost at just $3.75MM and he pitched very well. He may not come into the year as the closer, but all that will be hashed out in spring training of course.

***NOTE: Joe Dillon was designated for assignment when the Brewers claimed 3B Casey McGehee off of waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Dillon was claimed by the Oakland Athletics so he is no longer a part of the Brewers’ organization.

How Good is Salomon Torres Anyway???

By: Big Rygg

torres.jpgYes, I am playing off South Side Rob’s article title just one post ago, but it’s fitting. Salomon Torres has been a God-sent for this team and our aspirations of post-season play.

Eric Gagne’s struggles have been well documented this year. Prior to his stint on the disabled list (which is still on-going at the moment), Gagne had put together numbers that look like this:


 1-2, 6.98 ERA, 10 SV (out of 15 opportunities), 19.1 IP, 5 HR, 15 ER, 16 BB, 2.02 WHIP

When Gagne went on the DL, Salomon Torres ended up getting the chance to save games more often than not. Torres’ numbers since taking over for Gagne are:

1-0, 0.64 ERA, 10 SV (out of 10 opportunities), 14.0 IP, 0 HR, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0.86 WHIP

As you can clearly see, Torres has been phenomonal where Gagne has struggled a lot of the time.

torresaction.jpgTorres has had a rubber arm throughout his career, and that rubber has produced plenty of bouncing back for the Brewers this year. Torres has come into the game in the 8th inning a couple of times this year when he’s been needed to get the team out of jams, and has locked down many a clean inning.

But with all this success comes the question: What should the team do upon Eric Gagne’s pending return from the DL?

gagne.jpgI ask “should” because we’ve apparently already been told what the team “will” do. Ned Yost has announced that Torres will remain in the closer’s role until his performance dictates otherwise.

There is an unwritten rule in sports (all sports, not simply baseball) that a player won’t lose his job because of injury. It’s not always followed, but that’s the accepted norm.

An example in Wisconsin sports where it was followed: J.J. Hardy injured his ankle in 2006 when he was trying to slide into home but instead slid into Sal Fasano’s shin guard. Bill Hall became the starting shortstop and went on to team MVP honors backed by a 35 home run season. The next year, the team asked Bill Hall to move to centerfield to accomodate Hardy’s return to the everyday lineup at the shortstop position.

An example in Wisconsin sports where it wasn’t followed: Brett Favre replaced an injured Don Majkowski at quarterback on September 20, 1992. Majkowski never took another snap under center in a regular season game for the Green Bay Packers. Yes, Majkowski had ligament damage in his ankle when he was injured, but instead of coming back to the Packers where his job “should have been there”, Favre performed too well to justify following the unwritten rule so Majkowski wrote his signature on a contract to backup in Indianapolis as a Colt.

I could come up with plenty more examples on both sides of this argument, but my point is simply that it doesn’t all happen whether you believe it should or not.

So I ask you, Brewer Nation, what are your thoughts about this? If Corey Koskie would’ve been healthy enough to play last year following the All-Star break, should he have been inserted back into the starting lineup to supplant Ryan Braun and derail his Rookie of the Year season? Then again, would Mike “Tiny” Felder, had he played well enough, have deserved to permanently replace one Robin Yount in centerfield after Yount went down with a knee injury in 1989?

Again, there are two sides with convincing arguments for both on this topic. I’m looking for your’s, reader.

Personally? I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Both players being equal, you absolutely give the former starter his job back, but I think you have to look at each case on its own.

What do you think?


By: Big Rygg

I was at this afternoon’s nationally-televised game, and I cannot tell you how disappointed I felt upon leaving the stadium.

Let me set this up for you a bit first…

I can handle losing. As a life-long fan of the Milwaukee Brewers, I’ve gotten very good at being able to handle losing. What really gets my goat, sometimes, is how we go about losing.

Tonight, we were down 0-3 through 6 and 1/2 innings. While the bats didn’t exactly come alive in the bottom of the 6th, we did lay off enough pitches to walk two runs in. It was a great display of plate discipline by the men involved. Then, in the bottom of the 8th, Prince Fielder showed one more time why he’s our MVP. His game-tying solo home run was the type of thing that leads us to victory!

Then, with the bases-loaded and only one out (Corey Hart was retired by Russ Springer on a fly ball), Jason Kendall was at the dish and Ned Yost called for a squeeze play on the first pitch. Bill Hall broke from third but Jason Kendall didn’t get the bunt down. In fact, Jason Kendall didn’t even square to bunt and simply took a called strike one.

He missed the sign and Bill Hall was very out.

Possibly liberating was the fact that Kendall grounded out to short to end the inning, and play that may have gone for a double play anyway, but then again as any official scorer will tell you, you can’t assume a double play.

And that, my friends and loyal readers, it what made this afternoon’s game so frustrating. Yes, Gagné could have shut them down in the 9th to give us a real chance to win it in the bottom half or even in extra innings, but the bottom line is that we should have been going into the 9th inning with a lead in the first place. If we take only a one-run lead into the inning, do we possibly lose anyway if Gagné gives up two? Maybe, but had we gotten the squeeze down, who’s to say what else could’ve or would’ve happened in the rest of the 8th?

A missed sign…the possible difference between back-to-back victories and having gained absolutely no ground in the NL Central.

Kendall was rightfully hard on himself in post-game comments to the media, but he deserves mention here specifically as he completely missed the call.

But, tomorrow is another day, and another chance at victory!

And you can bet your *** that Kendall doesn’t miss a sign tomorrow.

One more thing…for all of you fans that love to boo your own players, it doesn’t help. Groan, moan, shout, throw your hands up, sigh…there are lots of ways to express frustration without raining down a chorus of boos. Gagné was terrible today, no doubt about it, but other than making yourselves feel better, what’s the point of booing a guy that’s out there with the intent of helping your team win?