Tagged: Jeff Bianchi

Brewers Finally Starting to Get Healthy

Jeff Bianchi in PittsburghThe 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.

Brewers Announce Opening Day Roster

Milwaukee Brewers

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.

Pitchers (13)

  • 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

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

Infielders (5)

  • Alex Gonzalez
  • Yuniesky Betancourt
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Jean Segura
  • Rickie Weeks

Outfielders (5)

  • 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!

Brewers Almost Down to 25

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers made a handful of additional roster moves in anticipation of paring the list down to 25 men to start the regular season on Monday, April 1st.

Here are the moves:

  • Donnie Murphy exercised an “out” in his contract after learning he would not be making the 25-man roster and was released.
  • Jeff Bianchi was officially placed on the 15-day DL today with left hip bursitis. Bianchi also dealt with a groin injury this spring which caused him to miss the World Baseball Classic. He was to play for Team Italy. Bianchi’s placement is retroactive to 3/22 (the earliest date you can backdate an injury to this year).
  • Corey Hart was officially placed on the 15-day DL today as well, also retroactive to 3/22. Given the original estimate of recovery, the Brewers could have freed up a 40-man roster spot by having Hart start the season on the 60-day DL, but opted to go with the 15-day DL instead which probably means that they are optimistic of a return to the big league lineup prior to May 21st (which is 60 days after March 22nd).

The Brewers have only three more roster decisions to announce, but that won’t come until the team is back in Milwaukee this weekend for exhibition games against the Chicago White Sox.

Still to be decided are:

  • Will the Brewers will begin the season with 13 pitchers? If so, it’s likely that an extra starter will be kept while Kyle Lohse ramps up.
  • Who wins the final two spots in the bullpen? Brandon Kintzler is a lock in my opinion, but technically I suppose there are two spots for him, Alfredo Figaro, and Donovan Hand.
  • Who wins the final bench spot (unless there are two)? With Yuniesky Betancourt, Logan Schafer, and Martin Maldonado locked in, if the team carries only 12 hitters that leaves one spot for either (in my opinion) Blake Lalli or Khris Davis. If the team only carries 12 pitchers, I think they both make it.

To hear who I think will make the team and win those battles, check out the latest podcast which should be posted tonight at some point.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #14 Jeff Bianchi

BBtJN Logo

Two weeks.

Fourteen days.

Roughly 336 hours.

It’ll be Opening Day before we know it and as such we need to begin to finalize our preparations. The Brewers have begun doing so as they announced a cut today. As a result, I have one less profile to write, though you can still expect something with two days to go.

JeffBianchi

Today though we are 14 days away from Opening Day and April 1st and I am profiling…

Jeff Bianchi.

The story of Jeffrey Thomas Bianchi (pronounced: “be-YAIN-kee”) is all too common in baseball. Good defender, capable bat, flashes of power, could reach the show with some luck … … injury derailment, setbacks, releases, second chance, third chance.

Bianchi has had a host of injuries throughout his professional career after being selected in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of high school by the Kansas City Royals. Bianchi was no slouch. He was a capable shortstop defensively with projectability to being a plus defender who should have hit enough to contribute at the plate as well. He was set back though at different times. He had relatively minor injuries along the way like an ankle and a hamstring all the way to major surgeries including shoulder surgery in 2006 and Tommy John surgery in 2010. Add to that a groin strain this spring as a Brewer, but even without it you could argue that he’s more than just “unlucky” at this point.

Yes, the story is the same though the particulars often change. In short, not everybody who “should” reach the Major Leagues even comes close let alone reaches The Show.

The final chapter is usually one of “retired due to injury”. Normally a chapter in a prospect’s novel isn’t “Persevered and eventually realized the goal of reaching the big leagues”, but that’s exactly what happened with Bianchi.

First though, let’s go over how the Brewers even got him in the first place. Bianchi was designated for assignment by the Royals at the end of November in 2011 and was, at the time, claimed by the Chicago Cubs. A month later though, the Cubs needed the 40-man roster spot and exposed Bianchi to waivers once again. This time he reached the Brewers who were awarded his services in January of 2012. The Brewers snuck Bianchi through an outrighting which allowed them to keep his services but remove him from the 40-man roster. That happened in mid-March.

Bianchi, then on a minor-league deal, had his contract purchased by the Brewers over the All-Star break last year. He was hitting .305 for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds at the time of his promotion. What made even more sense about the move at the time was how poorly the other options at shortstop had played for the Brewers after Alex Gonzalez went down with his season-ending ACL tear.

After coming in and not safely reaching base once in his first 12 plate appearances, Bianchi was optioned back to the minors on July 26th. Bianchi would yo-yo twice in August before finally settling in for the rest of the year. He played solid defense but only hit .188/.230/.348 in his admittedly small sample size of 76 plate appearances. He walked just four times and struck out 13 times, but was able to hit three home runs and drive in nine runs.

Bianchi is now out of options. It remains to be seen how the bench will shake out, especially since Bianchi has missed as much time as he has this spring. He’s only received 17 turns at the plate in Cactus League action and, for what it’s worth, is hitting .235/.235/.471 in them. If Bianchi heads north with the Brewers in 10 days it will likely be more for his still developing defensive versatility. A natural shortstop, Bianchi played both second and third last season. His primary competition so far this spring for that role have been Donnie Murphy (who plays the same defensive positions) and, to a lesser extent, Taylor Green who does not play shortstop but very well could be platooning over at first base primarily until Corey Hart returns from off-season knee surgery.

He’s shown throughout his minor-league career that he’s got talent, but for Bianchi to contribute the way that this team needs him to, he’ll have to be plus defensively and hold his own in pinch-hitting situations. Something tells me that Bianchi has the leg up on Murphy as he’s already on the 40-man roster plus Murphy isn’t exactly wowing with the bat right now either.

The days are running out for someone to separate himself from the other. Then again, as the non-roster invitee, the burden really is on Murphy to outperform Bianchi. If all things are equal, the Brewers would have no reason to expose Bianchi to waivers to clear a 40-man roster spot for Murphy. Not that you would want to win a job that way, but a job’s a job.

For Bianchi though the biggest hindrance is his missed time. He needs to round into form soon though in order to be relied on by Ron Roenicke come April 1st.

If there’s anything that Bianchi ha’s proven at all, it’s that he’ll stick with it.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

Brewers Now Sending Fifteen to World Baseball Classic

teamcanada

In news he broke himself on Twitter yesterday, Brewers starting pitching prospect Nick Bucci told the world that he had been asked to join Team Canada after one of their originally selected pitchers had to bow out due to injury.

This presented a bit of a quandary last night because I thought I recalled there being a maximum of 14 players from any one franchise who could be used by teams in the World Baseball Classic. As I reported back in January, the Brewers were at 14.

I was then reminded that the limit is a soft one in that every player beyond 14 who is asked to participate in the WBC may do so with the blessing of their ballclub.

Here then is the updated list of Brewers’ employees who will be representing for their countries during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Team USA (2)

  • Ryan Braun*
  • Jonathan Lucroy* (Twitter: @JLucroy20)

Team Mexico (2)

  • Yovani Gallardo*
  • Marco Estrada*

Team Canada (5)

Team Puerto Rico (2)

Team Dominican Republic (1)

Team Italy (1)

  • Jeff Bianchi*

Team Netherlands (1)

Team Australia (1)

*-active MLB player as of 8/31/2012

2013wbc

Brewers Agree Again With Gonzalez

seabassKen Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has learned that the Milwaukee Brewers have an agreement in place to re-sign veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

You may recall that Gonzalez was inked to be the club’s starting shortstop for 2012 but suffered a season-ending knee injury in early May.

The two sides have been linked all winter because the Brewers obviously like what he brings to the club (or else they wouldn’t have signed him a year ago) but the sticking point was that Gonzalez wanted a starting job if he could find one.

Apparently he wasn’t able to and agreed to a one-year deal to back up now-incumbent shortstop Jean Segura.

The positives for the Brewers are two-fold. First, he provides a proven option should Segura struggle and end up needing a break or demotion for any length of time.

Also, it’s certainly palatable from a financial perspective as Rosenthal tweeted:

That’s a good deal for the money and so long as it doesn’t result in a major stunting of the growth of Segura, which it won’t as many members of the Brewers decision-makers have told us all winter, then I’m happy to welcome Gonzalez back. Furthermore, I can’t imagine that Gonzalez returned to Milwaukee for that small a dollar amount if he was expecting to be the everyday shortstop.

Welcome back, Sea Bass!

This signing will necessitate a 40-man roster move and could have significant impact on the composition of the 25-man roster. Jeff Bianchi, Bobby Crosby and Donnie Murphy won’t exactly be at the forefront anymore, especially with the need to carry a competent backup 1B due to Corey Hart’s injury.

This signing will also not be made official until Gonzalez passes a physical, but I’m told privately that the Brewers want two opinions on Gonzalez’ knee before the contract gets signed. Though given how assistant GM Gord Ash said that Gonzalez was doing so well toward the end of last season that they were considering activating Gonzalez, I’d think that probably a formality.

Early reaction on Twitter came from Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson:

And later from Brewers starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy:

Fourteen Brewers Listed on Provisional World Baseball Classic Rosters

2013wbcThe World Baseball Classic provisional rosters were announced this afternoon live on MLB Network. They’re provisional because rosters don’t lock until February 20th but these are the names that you can expect to see playing in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Pool play begins on March 2nd.

Among those members of the Brewers organization who are participating are nine players who were active on a 25-man roster as of 8/31/2012. The limit from each organization is 10. The overall limit is 14 players from each franchise.

Brewers players will represent seven countries (and Puerto Rico) in the international tournament which began in 2006, was played again in 2009 and now falls into its every-four-years format.

Without further ado, here are the participants along with the team they’ll be representing in 2013.

Team USA (2)

  • Ryan Braun*
  • Jonathan Lucroy* (Twitter: @JLucroy20)

Team Mexico (2)

  • Yovani Gallardo*
  • Marco Estrada*

Team Canada (4)

Team Puerto Rico (2)

Team Dominican Republic (1)

Team Italy (1)

  • Jeff Bianchi*

Team Netherlands (1)

Team Australia (1)

*-active MLB player as of 8/31/2012