Tagged: Jonathan Broxton

BREAKING: More (Reported) Trades!

Here are the latest two trades breaking this morning:

(with a hat tip to Lookout Landing who heard of the discussions yesterday)

Nothing announced yet on that one.

The other deal, as first reported…

…has been announced.

Brewers Bullpen Prepares Through Communication

BullpenHuddleCropped

Monday night I sent out this tweet.

It wasn’t the first time I saw Francisco Rodriguez more or less holding court. The other three high-leverage pitchers were huddled by the veteran closer’s locker (to be fair, the lockers of Will Smith and Jonathan Broxton aren’t exactly far away from that of Rodriguez, and Jeremy Jeffress need only come down a handful himself) and were locked in a pointed discussion. That is to say that this looked to be more than your light-hearted postgame celebratory chat.

Tuesday, I decided to confirm my presumption and get a bit more insight from some of the men involved and find out what kind of leader the bullpen has in K-Rod and what kind of advice can be gleaned from the veterans who have combined to pitch in parts of 26 MLB seasons.

I first asked lefty Will Smith, the possessor of the Slider of Death, why it’s valuable to have those guys around him. For the record, Smith’s locker is between Broxton’s and K-Rod’s.

“In my case, I ask (Rodriguez & Broxton) because obviously they’ve had a lot of success. They know what they’re doing. So, my thought process: Why not use them as a learning tool?”, said Smith. “We’ll sit and we’ll break down ABs and what you threw to (a certain hitter).”

But what about the fact that they’re right-handed and he’s a southpaw? Does that matter in breaking down hitters? Smith offered that it doesn’t.

“Just because these guys are right-handed doesn’t mean anything. They still help out a tremendous amount with me and (Jeffress) the most, for sure.”

For his part, Jeffress echoed much of Smith’s sentiment when I asked him what exactly they talk about in those mini-meetings.

“We just break down each one of our outings. What we can learn from it. What we can do better. Just how we attack each and every hitter each day.”, Jeffress said. “Then it’s all about coming together as one because we’re all in this together. And at the end of the day we gotta go home and face what we’ve just been through.”

Jeffress then went bigger picture on me by saying that, “We (Smith and Jeffress) pick their brains so much because we know that this game doesn’t last forever for everyone. The next guy is right there so we just wanna take what they learned and what they taught us and just put it in play for the next couple years.”

I brought it back with a question about huddling early in a series because while you may not face the same guy you did last night, you might face who your teammate did. Jeffress responded about Broxton as his fellow power righty. “(Broxton) will tell me that ‘I didn’t pitch him this way, (or) the best way to go about him is that way.’ Just execute your pitches.”

Broxton told me that their huddles are a multi-directional conversation. It’s not just Smith and Jeffress asking for advice. “We just like to sit down and talk and try to pick each others brains. I may try to pick Will’s or K-Rod’s, or K-Rod wants to know what was our thought process out there. We just try to go over it,” Broxton said. “You’re out there trying to read batters and swings and trying to see what each other’s doing and their thought process too.”

As for his having a fellow veteran like Rodriguez in the clubhouse to bounce his own questions off of, Broxton said “That’s what makes (K-Rod) so great. You can sit down and talk to him about anything. Basically just asking him what is he seeing and get his thought process and (then) put yours together and you can come up with a game plan.”

Game plans are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, each guy still has to go out there and execute. Jeffress said that the veterans show faith in the less-experienced to perform every time it’s their name that’s called.

“They give me a lot of trust,” said Jeffress. “They give everyone in the bullpen a lot of confidence, a lot of trust to believe in their self to go and do the job.”

Again, this “think tank” approach is not new to a clubhouse featuring Francisco Rodriguez, nor is it closed to just the four men who got together yesterday. I’ve seen him talking to Brandon Kintzler after games last year, in particular there was a game where Kintzler struggled pretty badly and it looked to me as though Rodriguez called him over to discuss the outing. K-Rod was talking to him about pitch execution and how pitching Kintzler’s game to the best of his ability would be good enough to get the job done.

Suffice it to say, it has piqued my curiosity a few times over the past couple of seasons. After a particularly rough outing for Broxton it felt right that he would be leveraging the experience of Rodriguez, if for no other reason that K-Rod had a much smoother outing the same night.

So finally, I went to the man himself to understand where this activity came from. I had more presumptions. K-Rod confirmed them.

“That’s something that I just learned coming up. I got the opportunity to have one of the best in the game teach me (in) Troy Percival,” Rodriguez said about his mentor with the Angels. “He told me when I was coming up, when he was teaching me everything, to make sure when I get to this stage and I’m a vet to make sure to teach the young guys how to prepare themselves and how to attack and how to compete out there every night. That’s something I do every single day with the young guys. It’s something I like.”

Rodriguez went on to say that he makes sure he talks to anyone in the bullpen after a game in which they pitched. If it’s a good outing, they talk about it. And if it’s a not so good outing? That’s right — they talk about those too.

Pitchers succeed in baseball more often than they fail. After all, even the best hitters are put out more than 65% of the time. But this approach that I suspect happens in far more places than Milwaukee is no doubt a key to those successes and to overcoming any failures.

Preparedness is half the battle in baseball. For a clubhouse with Francisco Rodriguez in it, that preparation is an ongoing, recurring, everyday thing.

(This article originally appeared on Today’s Knuckleball and was republished here with permission.)

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #51 Jonathan Broxton

BBtJN Logo

Today is Saturday, February 14 and we are inside of a week until big league Pitchers and Catchers report! P&C might be the best non-game-day day of the winter. On Deck is great, and Truck Day signifies that Spring Training is drawing nigh, and some players show up at Maryvale Baseball Park early, but “P&C” is when — with apologies to Montell Vontavious Porter — the mitts start poppin’, and the little things be stoppin’.

One man who will officially report on February 20 with all of his pitching brethren and the men who wear the tools of ignorance is today’s profile subject…

Jonathan Broxton.

JonathanBroxton

Jonathan Roy Broxton joined the Milwaukee Brewers via trade with the Cincinnati Reds on August 31 of last season. His cost was the full financial assumption of his contractual obligations and two minor league pitchers (Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin). Broxton was brought over to assume 8th inning duties for Milwaukee, along with possibly closing occasionally if the notoriously durable Francisco Rodriguez ever actually needed a day off when a close game situation arose in the 9th inning.

Broxton had done the setup man’s job incredibly well with the Reds earlier that year. He picked up seven saves — mostly when Aroldis Chapman was on the shelf to start the season — and finished 16 games in all for Cincinnati. He pitched to a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances though his FIP was a troublesome 3.53 before September.

With the Brewers, Broxton saw action in 11 games, totaling 10.1 innings pitched. He allowed five earned runs causing his ERA to balloon to 4.35 with Milwaukee. He had allowed just 10 earned runs in the five prior months combined. Ironically, Broxton’s FIP as a Brewer was much better despite worse results. To paint as accurate a picture as we can, Broxton did give up four of his five September earnies in one outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That coming a day after the “Mark Reynolds didn’t know how many outs there were” game in which Broxton blew a save in the 8th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The results were far more positive than negative for Broxton, but as is the case when you’re pitching late in games that are usually close, the individual bad results loom larger than the sum of the positives. Still, Broxton showed the late-inning mentality rebounding after a few days off to put up a pair of scoreless innings to close out the year.

Broxton’s professional road to Milwaukee is one of some note. If you’ve never looked into Broxton’s path, allow me to fill in some of those mental gaps.

Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Burke County High School in Waynesboro, Georgia, Broxton grew into a 6’4″, 295 pound frame that he used (and uses) to generate a lot of power behind a heavy fastball. A full-time reliever following his 2005 MLB debut for the Dodgers, Broxton has posted career bests in various seasons of 82.0 innings pitched (2007), 36 saves (2009), and a 2.30 ERA (2014).

Twice an All-Star (2009 & 2010), Broxton would pitch parts of seven seasons for the Dodgers before leaving as a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals in 2012. The Royals would trade Broxton to the Reds later that same year. The following winter, Broxton would re-sign with the Reds on a three-year deal (with a mutual option for a 4th year) worth at least $22 million and up to $29 million in base salary. With an eye on the future, the Reds dealt Broxton in the division to the contending, if floundering, Brewers to bring some relief from their bullpen to their budget.

As we sit here today, Saturday, February 14, Broxton is lined up to be the closer when Opening Day rolls around on April 6 (just 51 days away). Whether that holds remains to be seen. The Brewers have been linked repeatedly to current Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon which suggests that Doug Melvin doesn’t completely trust Broxton to handle the 9th inning at this point in his career. In fact, if one Ken Rosenthal report is true, the Brewers even offered Broxton back to the Phillies in one round of negotiations so that the Brewers wouldn’t be taking on quite so much “new” salary if they acquired Papelbon.

For now though, “Brox” will get the ball in the ninth. We all know how volatile that job can be though. Recent history? How about 2014 when Jim Henderson was earmarked for the job until physical limitations thrust K-Rod into the role. It happens all the time.

I had a chance to talk to Broxton’s agent in an interview conducted right after the announcement of the trade came down last season. At the time, B.B. Abbott told me that Broxton was happy to be joining a pennant race and would be content helping the Brewers in any way manager Ron Roenicke wanted to use him. That article can be found here.

Broxton is a competitor though, so I can only imagine how much he’d probably want the 9th inning back if he can get another crack at it. For the Brewers’ sake, you hope it’s because he’s pitched well enough to earn it and it’s not simply by default.

Catch up on the countdown!

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!

Brewers Make First Group of September Call-Ups

pagnozzi

The Milwaukee Brewers have made what is at least their first round of September call-ups prior to Monday’s game in Chicago.

As I first told you on Twitter just before 10pm on Sunday night:

I went on to mention how much sense it makes to have a third catcher in the month of September. Just think back to how the Brewers utilized Yorvit Torrealba, and you’ll get the idea.

In order to clear a 40-man roster spot, which I mentioned they’d need, the Brewers moved infielder Jeff Bianchi to the 60-day Disabled List.

The only other true September call-up at this point is outfielder Logan Schafer, likely recalled a day earlier than he would have been due to the uncertainty surrounding the injured wrist of Carlos Gomez. Gomez said he felt a pop in his left wrist while swinging during an at-bat in the top of the third inning on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. He was pulled from the game after awkwardly finishing his at-bat with a bad swing.

To Schafer’s part, he’s had a whole lot full of better looking swings since getting back in a groove due to his regular playing time with Nashville. When he was demoted following the acquisition of Gerardo Parra, Schafer went back to a .236/.349/.375 slash line in Triple-A. All he’s done is get hits in 19 out of his 23 games (including eight multi-hit affairs) and raised his slash line to .273/.356/.461 which is not an insignificant increase. Schafer still brings his glove with him which he might need early.

As for the other additions made official on Monday, while Jimmy Nelson is technically a September call-up (he was only officially with the Brevard County Manatees on paper while awaiting his scheduled MLB start Monday afternoon), the Brewers otherwise activated both Matt Garza and Wei-Chung Wang off of the 15-day Disabled List.

Garza is scheduled to rejoin the Brewers starting rotation on Wednesday in Chicago. He has been out since being pulled during a brilliant start against the St. Louis Cardinals back  on August 3rd after straining his left oblique. The Cardinals came back to steal that one from the Brewers prompting Garza to say that they “dodged a bullet.” Hopefully it doesn’t take Garza long to round back into that same form. The Brewers are going to need him.

The Brewers probably won’t need much from Wei-Chung Wang though. Wang has been stretching out during his rehab assignment, most recently completing the longest outing (7.2 IP) of his professional career with the Brevard County Manatees. In it, he tied a career-high with eight strikeouts, something he hadn’t done since his first appearance in 2013 in the Pirates’ system. It will be good experience for Wang to be around a pennant push, though I wouldn’t expect him to pitch maybe at all in September. They’ve got more than enough arms to cover themselves and Ron Roenicke rightfully won’t exactly trust Wang with every pitch being so crucial over the next 28 days.

The other new face in the Brewer locker room on Monday is expected to be relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton whom the Brewers officially acquired from the Cincinnati Reds just after noon on Sunday. For more on that deal, check my write-up here as well as my short interview with Broxton’s agent.

Five Minutes With Jonathan Broxton’s Agent, BB Abbott

I wanted to give you a little something extra today as it relates to the newest Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Broxton, so I reached out to his agent, BB Abbott, for a couple of quick questions to gauge how the big right-hander has taken to the news.

BB Abbott with client Chipper Jones

The first thing I asked Mr. Abbott was when they learned about the waiver claim and that the trade had been agreed to. Abbott told me that they “just found out today” when the Reds “brought Jonathan into the office and told him about 1:30 (eastern time).”

I then asked about how Broxton was taking to the news of being traded at all, and specifically to Milwaukee given their position relative to Cincinnati’s. Abbott said that Broxton was “surprised to get traded in the middle of a long-term deal”, mentioning how a player kind of puts down roots in those kinds of situations. But as it set in, Abbott said that Broxton “has realized it’ll be a good spot for him.” He said that Broxton is understandably “excited” to be joining a pennant race and “respects the organization” a great deal given their history on the field over the years.

Finally, I asked Abbott about 2015 and whether that was a thought yet for Broxton. Abbott admitted that being in the closer’s mix makes sense but assured me that Broxton’s “focus is to [join the team] and help the Brewers in any way that they want.” Abbott also stated that Broxton “certainly hasn’t looked past this year and helping the [Brewers].”

BB Abbott is a licensed athlete agent and MLBPA certified baseball agent living in Tampa, FL. He works for Jet Sports Management. He also represents a pair of Brewers prospects, pitcher David Goforth and 2012 Organizational Minor League Player of the Year, Hunter Morris.

Roster News: Brewers Bolster Bullpen By Bringing In Broxton

Brox

Because sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

The official release reads like this:

SAN FRANCISCO – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed reliever Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for two players to be named. Broxton, who is eligible for the Brewers’ postseason roster, will join the team tomorrow in Chicago. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

Broxton, 30, is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 7 saves in 51 appearances this season. Opponents are batting just .190 (32-for-168, 3hr). He has pitched for Los Angeles (2005-11), Kansas City (2012) and Cincinnati (2012-14) during his 10-year career, going 35-29 with a 3.05 ERA and 118 saves in 531 appearances, all in relief.

Even as far back as July, Doug Melvin wasn’t shy about his desire to obtain another bullpen pitcher, preferably one:

  • with closing experience
  • who throws right-handed
  • has some giddy up on his fastball

So how did this come about? The Reds posted Broxton to revocable waivers and the Brewers put in the winning claim. They had until 1:00pm ET today to work out a trade. They did so and the deal was announced by the Brewers at 12:46pm CT. Typically with players to be named later, the two teams agree upon a list of players who are eligible to be chosen to complete the trade and the acquiring team is given some time to scout them and make their decisions. Sometimes the players are already agreed to but need to be called “to be named later” for various reasons. In this case, it appears to be one of both as Reds GM Walt Jocketty has told reporters that the teams have agreed to one player and have a list for choosing the other. Regardless, a pair of prospects will be headed to the Reds by the end of September. The price won’t be super cheap because Broxton is under contract already for 2015, and there’s value in cost certainty. More on that later.

In trading for Broxton, the Brewers are adding a missing element to their 2014 bullpen. They have lacked an experienced, power righty to match up late in games, probably slot in as the primary set up man, and provide additional confidence for manager Ron Roenicke on days where Francisco Rodriguez can’t or shouldn’t be used in save situations. You can see Broxton’s stats above, and they certainly look quite desirable for a team in the Brewers’ situation.

As several of you decided was worth pointing out on Twitter, this trade doesn’t help the lineup or bench. With comments from “tell him to bring a bat” to “this is no help…he can’t hit”, once again people have decided to miss the forest for the trees. Just because Broxton can’t help the Brewers at the plate doesn’t mean that it’s a deal that shouldn’t have been made. It’s still a big immediate help for the Brewers.

Anyway, welcome to “later”. Broxton’s arm will help in 2014 but he’s also under contract for 2015 and as I said right away on Twitter, he’ll be in the mix come February to close for the Brewers in 2015. He’s owed $9 million in 2015, which is a lot but not undoable, as well as a $9 million mutual option for 2016 with a $2 million buyout. So, the Brewers will be paying Broxton some quality coin over a minimum of the next 15 months or so, but it could certainly be worth it if all goes according to plan.