These are the archived videos aired on MLB Network on March 4th as Greg Amsinger and Milwaukee’s all-time Saves leader Dan Plesac visited Brewers’ camp at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Arizona as a part of the Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series previewing the 2016 season.
GM David Stearns sits down with Amsinger & Plesac
Ryan Braun talks about his bounce back 2015 and looking ahead to 2016
Jimmy Nelson with Dan Plesac
Domingo Santana talks about his fresh start
Will Smith on the bullpen
Ryan Braun demos base running/stealing with Plesac
Chris Carter talks to Greg Amsinger
Lucroy talks 2016 with Amsinger
Matt Garza talks youth and rotation with Plesac
Counsell with Plesac
Brewers Prospects with Jonathan Mayo
Brewers Fan Vote
This was finished late, so no real intro. It was intended for posting on Friday, February 12 when we were 52 days away from Spring Training, a day on which we would have profiled…
What a difference two years can make. At this point in 2014, James Jacob Nelson was coming off of a September call-up but faced a full big league rotation. He would end up starting the season at Class-AAA Nashville, dominating the top minor league circuit en route to an All-Star Game selection and eventual Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award for the Pacific Coast League. He would eventually be promoted due to the ineffectiveness of Marco Estrada.
A year ago at this time, the 6’6″ right-hander from the University of Alabama was ticketed for the starting rotation but realized that he needed to be more consistent with his pitch sequencing and execution. He also was tinkering with a new pitch to compliment his fastball/slider combination for when he change-up proved ineffective during games.
The mystery pitch turned out to be a knuckle-curve, also called a spike curve. He broke it out during the spring and it was an excellent offering. In fact, he rode its effectiveness to an opponent slash line of .216/.318/.270 over his first four starts in 2015. Despite the weak results, Nelson still found himself with a 1-2 record in four starts and a 4.03 ERA on May 1st.
May was a far worse story for Nelson in many ways as the .430 slugging against was due to 15 extra-base hits including seven home runs, more than double any other month. Despite all that, his ERA was actually better at 3.83 in 40.0 innings pitched across six starts. Still, come June 1, Nelson was sitting with a 2-5 record.
Nelson’s best month of the year, for what it’s worth, was by far July. Not only did he hold opponents to a .294 on-base, but he struck out 32 against 12 walks in 33.0 innings pitched, and allowed just eight extra-base hits. He allowed just six earned runs all month which was good for a 1.64 ERA and 3-1 record.
Every statistic almost became moot though on Thursday, September 17. That was the day where Nelson took a line drive off the side of his head. It was a 108 MPH line drive off the bat of Tommy Pham. I was in the ballpark that night. Nelson went down and laid motionless seemingly forever. He would recount after the game that he chose to lay still until the athletic trainer reached him and they told him not to move initially as well. He rolled up onto his knees and walked off the field a lot sooner than any of us thought he would.
After staying in the hospital for observation for a short time, Nelson was released none the worse for wear, however his season would end on that play. There simply wasn’t a reason to risk any physicality for Nelson after that kind of situation.
All told for his first (nearly) full season in the big leagues, Nelson would finish 11-13, 4.11 ERA, 30 GS, 177.1 IP, 163 H, 89 R, 81 ER, 18 HR, 65 BB, 148 K, 13 HBP (led the league), 1.286 WHIP. All that equates to a 96 ERA+ meaning that Nelson was four percent worse than league average overall.
Nelson broke though to the big league in 2014 and cemented himself in the rotation in 2015, but there is room to improve. Nelson will tell you, as he told me, that he knows he needs to get more consistent results by way of more consistent execution. Four of his final five starts are ones Nelson will tell you aren’t good enough. In the four combined, Nelson threw 15.1 IP and allowed 18 ER. They would balloon his season ERA from 3.60 on August 25th to the 4.11 at which he finished. Nelson also took the loss in all four of those games.
As for his future outlook, Nelson should be fine mentally going forward. He wanted to pitch before the season was over last year and has no doubt been itching to get back on the mound in a game setting. He’ll be counted on to help lead this rotation that despite the rebuilding efforts returns primarily intact. Both Mike Fiers (trade) and Kyle Lohse are gone from the Opening Day rotation, but both pitchers were out of the rotation for the final two months of the year. The biggest change is the addition of Chase Anderson to round things out instead of, for example, Zach Davies who finished the season in the rotation or one of the other young starters.
Regardless, Nelson will be in the front part of the rotation and will be looked at to take another step or more forward as the team positions itself for contention in a couple of years.
Just remember going in that wins and losses really won’t matter much for individual pitchers this year. It’s definitely more about how they’re pitching and how their development continues at the big league level. That’s as true for Nelson as it is for Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann, and even Anderson.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
List is subject to change but here’s the original list as released by the Brewers.
Orlando Arcia(canceled 1/30 due to illness)
- Jacob Barnes
- Yhonathan Barrios
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Keon Broxton
- Chris Carter
- Garin Cecchini
- Trent Clark
- Clint Coulter
Tyler Cravy(canceled 1/30 due to illness)
- Zach Davies
- Ramon Flores
- Matt Garza (added 1/20)
Scooter Gennett(removed 1/26 due a conflict)
- David Goforth
- Junior Guerra
- Josh Hader
- Adrian Houser
- Jeremy Jeffress
- Taylor Jungmann
- Corey Knebel
- Jorge Lopez
Damien Magnifico(canceled on 1/29 due to illness)
- Martin Maldonado
- Jimmy Nelson
- Shane Peterson
- Brett Phillips
- Michael Reed
- Domingo Santana
- Will Smith
- Tyler Thornburg
- Jonathan Villar (added 1/20)
Tyler Wagner(traded to ARI 1/30)
- Colin Walsh
- Craig Counsell
- Darnell Coles
- Joe Crawford
- Derek Johnson
- Marcus Hanel
- Jason Lane
- Pat Murphy
- Ed Sedar
- Carlos Subero
- Lee Tunnell
- Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers manager)
- Don August
- Jerry Augustine
- Jeff Cirillo (added 1/21)
- Rollie Fingers
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Davey Nelson
- Ken Sanders (added 1/20)
- Gorman Thomas
- Greg Vaughn
- Paul Wagner (added 1/20)
Robin Yount(canceled 1/22 due to personal conflict)
Here is some additional information from the official release about Brewers On Deck:
Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under. Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under. On the day event, cash is the only accepted form of payment for admittance. A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office by calling the Brewers ticket office at (414) 902-4000 or online at Brewers.com/ondeck through Friday, January 29.
Once again, food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task Force. Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and Klement’s Main Stage game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
During the event, the Brewers will unveil a new book – Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood Our City. The Book is published by SHARP Literacy, Inc. and is sponsored by Brewers Community Foundation and Ryan Braun. It tells the story of two children who share their differing experiences of Milwaukee and are attempting to figure out how they fit in. It also features informational sections that weave together iconic Milwaukee institutions and neighborhood-based landmarks with important themes in common.
SHARP Literacy, Inc. is a non-profit organization that enhances future life success by energizing urban children and motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands on interaction and visual arts.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted later. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
Just prior to the close of the business day Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced six players as no longer being a part of its 40-man roster by way of outright assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
New general manager David Stearns has been discussing his ongoing evaluation of the organization’s talent pool. Now almost a month into his official tenure, the first wave of changes are underway in earnest.
Five of the players could have remained under team control for 2016. Four of those five appeared in the big leagues in Brewers uniforms this season along with the sixth player who won’t be back with the club in any capacity.
- RHP Johnny Hellweg
- LHP Cesar Jimenez
- C Juan Centeno
- 1B Matt Clark
- OF Logan Schafer
- RHP Kyle Lohse (declared free agency)
Lohse’s declaration should come as no surprise given how his tenure in Milwaukee ended this year. All five of the outrighted players now also have the right to declare minor league free agency, though they could sign minor league contracts for next year should they choose to do so.
Despite a new man in charge and disappointing results following Tommy John surgery and rehab, you would think the Brewers would prefer retaining Johnny Hellweg on a minor league contract. They have, after all, put quite a bit of time and money into him after he was acquired as the second piece in the Zack Greinke-to-Los Angeles deal. Hellweg was also the Brewers MiLB Pitcher of the Year once upon a time.
Jimenez’s outright is probably the only somewhat unexpected move as he performed acceptably for the majority of his time in Milwaukee. That said, he’s certainly a veteran player who doesn’t have a ton of business on a rebuilding roster at the end of the day.
Centeno was passed over for a September call-up after appearing in 10 games early in the year. While it’s not a bad thing to have a third catcher on the 40-man roster, that spot is much more valuable this off-seaosn for Rule 5 Draft protection than for a guy who is inconsequential while there are no games being played.
After being sold a bill of goods never fulfilled, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Matt Clark look for his next opportunity elsewhere. He’s flashed a solid set of tools and I believe he could help a team at the MLB level. That said, at 29 years of age next season, he’ll be outside of the range wherein the Brewers would best benefit from his skills before they deteriorate.
As for Logan Schafer, he’s always been a great guy and he still plays top flight defense (when he’s sharp) but given where he’s at in his career against where the Brewers are in their rebuild, this one just felt kind of inevitable. Schafer is a solid 5th outfielder, in my opinion, but outfield just so happens to be one of the deepest positions in the organization right now both in terms of players currently on the 40-man roster and those hopefully on their way through the minor (Brett Phillips, Tyrone Taylor, Trent Clark).
The Brewers have plenty more decisions to make as the weeks and months pass following the completion of the World Series. For now, Stearns has decided he needs the room on his 40-man roster. After all, two of the spots would appear to be spoken for already as RHPs Jimmy Nelson and Michael Blazek will likely be reinstated from the 60-day Disabled List soon enough and will, as a result, fill two of the current openings.
Nelson and Blazek were reinstated from the 60-day DL on Monday as assumed. That officially puts the 40-man roster at 36 players with four open spots.
***END OF UPDATE***
Ron Burgundy may never have heard Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,’” but David Stearns obviously has, and he’s willing to make the moves he deems necessary to regain Milwaukee’s footing in the ultra-competitive National League Central division.
Up next for Stearns? It could be a decision on whether to pick up the $8 million club option on first baseman Adam Lind. That decision must come by the close of business Wednesday.
Each season, every city’s chapter of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America votes on team awards for the respective clubs based there. Milwaukee is no exception. As such, the seven members of the Milwaukee BBWAA chapter voted on the standard awards as they always do. The winners of the same were announced this morning.
Here is a breakdown of the voting (where provided in the official press release) for each of the five awards.
Most Valuable Player – Ryan Braun
- Ryan Braun (Seven (7) 1st place votes – 35 points – Unanimous)
- Adam Lind (Six (6) 2nd place, One (1) 3rd place – 19 points)
Most Valuable Pitcher – Franciso Rodriguez
- Francisco Rodriguez (35 points – Unanimous)
- Jeremy Jeffress – (14 points)
- Jimmy Nelson (11 points)
Top Newcomer – Adam Lind
- Adam Lind (31 points)
- Taylor Jungmann (22 points)
Unsung Hero – Jeremy Jeffress
- Jeremy Jeffress (24 points)
- Will Smith (15 points)
“Good Guy” Award – Jonathan Lucroy
- Jonathan Lucroy (35 points – Unanimous)
- Kyle Lohse (14 points)
- Scooter Gennett (12 points)
The last 36 hours of my personal life have been crazy. While that doesn’t affect you, it does mean that I need to cut this profile short to get it posted.
Wearing #52 for the foreseeable future is…
After making his big league debut as a September call-up in 2013, James Jacob Nelson would find himself on the outside looking in when camp broke in 2014. He would instead start the year at Class-AAA Nashville, quickly establishing himself as the staff ace. Nelson would end up pitching in 17 games for Nashville in 2014, compiling a 1.46 ERA across 111.0 innings pitched. That’s just 18 earned runs allowed. His batting average against for Nashville was a miniscule .179 with a 0.92 WHIP and 114 strikeouts. In 431 batters faced as a Sounds pitcher, Nelson allowed just three home runs.
Great strikeouts per nine (9.2), good walk rate (2.6), heavy ground ball tendency (57.3%) and skinny line drive rate (12.5%)? Yes please.
When the trade deadline was approaching and Milwaukee holding a lead of a couple of games in the National League Central, there were many questions surrounding Nelson. Would he be offered in trade to secure a starting pitcher? Would he come up to bolster Milwaukee’s rotation or bullpen? Was he ready for the big leagues despite clearly having nothing left to prove in the minors?
To that point in the season, Nelson had made four starts. He had a spot start in May against the Miami Marlins which he pitched worse than his numbers show but still ended up with a scoreless outing and a win. He then joined the rotation when Marco Estrada was demoted to the bullpen just before the All-Star break. He was hammered by St. Louis in that first July start but showed better after that putting up “quality starts” (defined as at least 6.0 innings pitch with three or fewer runs allowed) in his next five turns. In fact, he dropped his ERA from 5.40 to 3.86 over those five outings, three of which the Brewers won.
In August, both Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza would lose time to injuries and Nelson found himself smack dab in the middle of the divisional race and responded well enough for a rookie. Nelson would be sent to the bullpen following a start on September 7 against the Cardinals. He fared better than back on July 12, but still wasn’t pitching to the level the Brewers needed him to be. When the rotation was at “full strength” following the injury bug, it was Mike Fiers and not Nelson who remained as the fifth guy.
Nelson made two appearances out of the bullpen before making one final start on September 26, once it was clear that the Brewers were sunk.
Nelson’s trial by fire season was complete. All told, it was a 4.93 ERA in 69.1 innings across 12 starts and 14 games pitched for the rookie right-hander out of the University of Alabama. His inexperience was evident at times and, by his own admission, he got away from his pitch sequencing and selection that worked so well for him in the minors. He was primarily, overwhelmingly a two-pitch pitcher in his 2014 Brewers campaign. He knows he needs to feature his change up more, and reports are that he’s working on another pitch as well to really give him more weapons on the mound. His slider can be and was a wipeout offering at times with Milwaukee in 2014, but the consistency needs to come around on it.
A 2nd round pick in 2010, Nelson was often overlooked by prospect mavens but consistently improved year after year in the minors, eventually assuming the mantle of “top pitching prospect” after Wily Peralta graduated. After Dylan Covey decided not to sign with the Brewers from the first round of Nelson’s year, and 2011 co-first-rounders Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley both lagging behind their projections to this point, Nelson emerging as a dependable rotation option would be a nice win for Milwaukee’s scouting and development staffs. Granted, you probably expect a second-rounder to be there anyway, which keeps Nelson from being some unearthed gem, but a win is a win and getting any homegrown starting pitchers to the majors is a good thing.
Nelson has reached the top level. Staying there is up to him.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson
Catch up on the countdown!
- #53 – Brandon Kintzler
- #54 – Michael Blazek
- #58 – Wei-Chung Wang
- #60 – Matt Clark
- #62 – Luis Sardiñas
- #63 – Brooks Hall
- #64 – Shane Peterson
- #65 – Yadiel Rivera
- #66 – Juan Centeno
- #67 – Nevin Ashley
- #68 – Ariel Peña
- #70-#75 – Matt Long, Adam Weisenburger, Cameron Garfield, Taylor Williams, Hobbs Johnson, Tyler Cravy
- #76 – Mike Strong
- #77 – David Goforth
- #78 – Taylor Jungmann
Here is a boatload of audio recorded on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at Brewers On Deck in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Right fielder Ryan Braun
Relief pitcher Jim Henderson
Manager Ron Roenicke
New Brewers first baseman Adam Lind
Starting pitcher Wily Peralta
Newest member of the starting rotation Jimmy Nelson
All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez
Second baseman Scooter Gennett
All-Star starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy
General Manager Doug Melvin met with the assembled media
EXCLUSIVE with 40-man pitcher Michael Blazek
Prinicpal Owner Mark Attanasio addressed the media
This is the full audio from one of the Main Stage events, a panel discussion (with fan questions!) featuring Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, Adam Lind, Corey Knebel, and Luis Sardinas