The business of baseball has no off-season.
This was evidenced once again today when the Los Angeles Dodgers made a trade with, of all teams, the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the same Boston Red Sox who are about to take the field for Game 1 of the 2013 World Series.
The Brewers are keeping busy as well, outrighting three players off of the 40-man roster today. As with any outright assignment, the players were first designated for assignment, thereby being exposed to waivers. All three cleared waivers and were assigned outright to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. It was the first DFA for Manzanillo and Ravin so there was no stickiness with regards to rights of refusal for them, but Jesus Sanchez has been outrighted once before (Phillies, 2010) so he could still declare himself a minor-league free agent.
The three players removed are all right-handed pitchers. Santo Manzanillo was added to the 40-man roster before the 2012 season but missed almost the entire year due to injuries suffered in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Jesus Sanchez, a converted catcher, was added to the 40-man before this past season. He pitched well at Nashville in 2013, though not as well as in 2012. Still, he has shown promise. The third player, Josh Ravin, was just acquired by the Brewers off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds organization earlier this month. Ravin was first added to the 40-man roster of the Reds following the 2012 season as well.
It’s basically a paperwork only move as all three pitchers, assuming health, will likely be pitching at Maryvale in Spring Training with the Brewers.
The biggest immediate impact these moves have is clearing space on the Brewers 40-man roster. The roster stands at 35 today with two spots spoken for already and the other three probably already earmarked as well.
Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks will take two spots when they are respectively reinstated. Miguel De Los Santos might take one if he ever comes off of the restricted list. And, among many others to be considered, the Brewers’ last two Minor League Players of the Year — Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers — both require protection from the Rule V Draft for the first time this off-season.
The Brewers should get two more openings when free agents declare, by way of Michael Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt, but Corey Hart may take a spot if he is resigned. In other words, there is still much flux to be unfluxed before the season begins.
Can you believe that we’re sitting here on August 1st already? The season is two-thirds gone (wait…weren’t we just entering the “second half” two weeks ago? I keed, I keed.) and despite the Brewers lack of success in posting W’s it still seems to be flying by.
About that light Wins column though, that and plenty of other things have been more than enough to make some of the staunchest Brewers supporters yearn for fake football games to get underway. (Yes, a four-game preseason is second only to the Pro Bowl in pointlessness.)
This post, however, is intended as the start of a series of items about which Brewers fans and baseball-first fans can still anticipate and appreciate.
Today we sit on August 1, exactly one month away from the first topic that brought this series into my mind: September call-ups.
A little explanation for more casual readers first. On any given day (except for scheduled doubleheaders) a team’s Major League or “active” roster can have a maximum of 25 players available on it. They can be any combination of positions or any other way you choose to categorize the members. Now normally those up-to-15 players are assigned to various minor league affiliates of a parent club to play games daily. (I’m not going to get into ways that players don’t count against the 40-man limit or option years in this space.)
However, a codicil kicks in on September 1 whereas any player on the 40-man roster can be active for a Major League game. This period of time, give or take one month calendar month, is utilized in a handful of ways. Contending teams can bring up a couple of specialists to bolster their team. Maybe a pinch-runner or an extra lefty for the bullpen as two examples.
For teams like Milwaukee this season, however, the time is often used to get some players a little exposure to big league life, games, clubhouse, travel, etc and to see how they stack up in games against MLB-quality opponents. Many a player has made his debut in “the show” during September.
So, back to this season. How does this affect the Brewers? Well, plenty of players have already made their MLB debuts for Milwaukee already this season. Any of those could come back up to finish out the season. There are a number of others who haven’t yet debuted and also a couple of players (like the recently added Rob Wooten, and non-debuted Kyle Heckathorn) who the Brewers need to decide whether to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They could add someone to the roster for September to help them arrive at a decision.
Here are some names in groups with a little extra commentary…
Healthy players currently in the minors but who have spent time with Milwaukee this season:
Josh Prince, Sean Halton, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Blake Lalli
Healthy players on 40-man who haven’t yet been up this season:
Jesus Sanchez, Michael Olmsted, Ariel Peña, Santo Manzanillo
The Brewers have one spot currently open on the 40-man but could easily open another by moving Mike Fiers to the 60-day DL, for example. The Brewers may also have their hand forced on one spot should Mark Rogers return to health before season’s end.
The point being: Doug Melvin has some room to maneuver and get glimpses. That is something to look forward to. After all, given the results this season it’s all about the future at this point.
Henderson, who is nine-for-nine in Save opportunities this season, was pitching in Friday night’s game when he strained his right hamstring on a pitch. The play resulted in the second out of the top of the ninth inning but with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead and seeing their first victory of the season when they scored three or fewer runs, Henderson could not physically continue.
Manager Ron Roenicke called on the recently added Francisco Rodriguez to face Neil Walker in an attempt to get the final out. Rodriguez induced a ground ball to the second baseman and the Brewers won the day. For Rodriguez it was his first Save of the year and the 295th of his MLB career.
After Friday’s game, Henderson spoke to the media and felt that he might be ready to go after a few days of rest but Roenicke countered by saying that Henderson would see the doc and they’d make their decision based on roster considerations as well as health. In other words, the Brewers couldn’t afford to carry another down pitcher if Henderson was going to miss even a handful of games.
The doctor made his diagnosis and recommendation on Saturday afternoon. With no time to get a replacement to town, and with a decision still to be made on who that would be anyway, the Brewers waited until Saturday night to DL their current closer.
So who comes up from the minor leagues for Sunday’s afternoon affair? Well, that all depends.
Do the Brewers just call up their choice for Tuesday’s starting pitcher? Do they summon a reliever for two days and exchange him for that same starter after Monday’s game? Or will Alfredo Figaro start on Tuesday so a relief pitcher can come up and just stay through until later in the week?
It’d be easier to know what they are going to do if we knew who was coming, but they’re probably deciding on what before they pick who.
If they go get a starter, I’d still expect it to be Tyler Thornburg despite his early season struggles with Triple-A Nashville. Thornburg would be the least affected by the situation, methinks. Furthermore, his next turn is scheduled for Monday so he’d be on close-to-regular rest.
If they choose to summon a bullpen arm, some names I’d watch for are Jesus Sanchez and Michael Olmsted. Sanchez has solid numbers so far for Nashville which works in his favor. Olmsted was the darling of Spring Training and one of the final cuts from camp.
That announcement will come prior to Sunday’s game though so keep it tuned to your favorite fan blogger (or me, if they’re unavailable) for all the details in the morning.
Certainly getting anxious for the season to begin, especially with the temperatures we’ve endured here in Wisconsin over the past couple of days.
Alas, there are 68 days to go but the good news is that there are still a boatload of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” articles to be posted.
Today’s subject joined the Brewers for the 2011 season, already a veteran of five minor league seasons to that point, but today he’s still just 25 years old.
Jesus Enrique Sanchez is a 5’11”, 202 lb, right-handed relief pitcher. That has not always been the case during his professional career.
While I’m sure the height and weight have stayed relatively steady, Sanchez was originally in the New York Yankees farm system as a catcher. He made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2005. The next year he was traded as part of a package to the Philadelphia Phillies. It was with the Phillies where he would undergo his reassignment from receiving pitches to throwing them.
That move came in 2009 as a member of the Lakewood Blue Claws (hence the chose photo), the Class-A affiliate of the Phillies. They started Sanchez 26 times that year with promising results. In 2010 at Class-A Advanced nearly all of Sanchez’ peripherals improved but he was on the Phillies’ 40-man roster and they needed the space. On December 7, 2010 the Phillies released him.
After signing a minor league deal with the Brewers, Sanchez was assigned to Double-A Huntsville. He started 14 games along with making 16 relief appearances. The results were a mixed bag. He started his first nine games struggling to a 5.40 ERA. After switching to the bullpen for the majority of the rest of the season, he managed to whittle his ERA down to 4.91 but it wasn’t an encouraging campaign.
2012 was a different story though. Sanchez began the year in the Huntsville bullpen and the only change he made was when he was promoted to Triple-A Nashville’s bullpen at the beginning of July (a common time for promotions to happen in the minors). Combined between the two stops, Sanchez pitched to a 7-3 record with a 1.63 ERA in 52 games over 71.2 IP. His WHIP was 1.102 and while he wasn’t striking opponents out at an elite rate, 8.0/9 is still pretty good. When you factor in a K/BB of nearly three (2.91) and that he kept the ball in the yard (0.3 HR/9 overall with a “John Blutarsky” at Nashville), he was really an effective pitcher.
The time came in December where the Brewers would need to protect Sanchez from Rule V Draft exposure by means of rostering him on the 40-man. They chose to do so and Sanchez was subsequently invited to big league Spring Training as well.
Sanchez will begin the 2013 regular season where he ended 2012, in Nashville’s bullpen, but a strong showing with the Brewers’ coaching staff watching your every performance could go a long way in determining who gets the first call up to Milwaukee due to ineffectiveness or injury.
Coming with Sanchez wherever he pitches in 2013 should be the same excellently commanded low-90s fastball, solid change, and a work-in-progress slider. He reportedly commands all of his pitches well, which of course is a necessity when your velocity is a bit below average.
Sanchez is a candidate for some regression at Triple-A, but mainly due to the eye-popping totals he posted in 2012. He’s certainly in the Brewers plans at this point.
You can follow Jesus Sanchez on Twitter: @JSanchez2409