(Forgive the relative tardiness of this, but I was busy at Truck Day and finally am at a keyboard.)
The Brewers sent out the following tweet this morning, which worried fans.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss 4-6 weeks of Spring Training with a mild strain of his right hamstring. (continued)
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) February 11, 2015
The injury — a partial tear of his right hamstring tendon near the top of the muscle — flared up when Lucroy began running drills about two weeks ago. Apparently the area bothered Lucroy as early as August of last year, but the Brewer backstop played through the discomfort. The strain is classified as “mild” and both the Brewers medical staff and Lucroy himself feel that the All-Star will be just fine for Opening Day on April 6.
Jonathan Lucroy’s right hamstring first bothered him last August. Flared up two weeks ago when he ramped up his running. — Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 11, 2015
Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger met with the media during “Truck Day” at Miller Park and said that 4-6 weeks is a range and that there’s a good chance that someone as dedicated and diligent as Lucroy could come in on the short side of the same. Schlesinger said that the club won’t rush one of it’s most important players back before he’s healthy. He also chuckled and said that the biggest thing might be slowing Lucroy down so that the catcher doesn’t go too hard too quickly and suffer a setback.
It was revealed to the media that, to aid in his recovery, Lucroy received a PRP injection as well.
Jonathan Lucroy had a PRP injection yesterday to speed the healing of his right hamstring injury. #Brewers
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 11, 2015
The silver lining, according to Gord Ash who met with the media about Lucroy’s injury earlier on Wednesday, is that he won’t be completely shut down from Spring Training activities. He can still field, throw, catch, and do anything that won’t stress the injured tendon. Running is out for the time being and I can’t imagine squatting behind home plate at all is a good thing for him at this point.
From an overall team preparation standpoint, Lucroy missing this time behind the dish won’t be too large of a negative. He’s worked with all the starting pitchers in the past and unless the team does acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies, there are only a handful of new relief pitchers (Cotts, Knebel, Pérez) to get to know. That can be done with side work or even late in camp as there’s more work to go around for the big league guys.
As for Lucroy’s scheduled defensive work at first base, it sounds like he might be slowed, but he won’t be stopped. If he is to get some starts over there against left-handed pitching, he’ll want to get better quickly. Colorado, the Brewers season-opening opponent, could potentially start southpaws in two of the three games of the opening series at Miller Park.
According to a tweet that came in just after midnight CT on Friday morning, the Brewers are in “serious discussions” to acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sources: Milwaukee in serious discussions with Phillies to acquire Jonathan Papelbon. Unclear if Brewers are on Papelbon’s no-trade list.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 23, 2015
The Phillies have been selling off several of their high-priced veterans, and Papelbon fits that M.O. The 6’4″ veteran closer is set to make $13 million in 2015 and has a vesting option for 2016 as a part of his contract as well. The Brewers did just save ~$9 million when they traded Yovani Gallardo, so conventional logic would seem to infer that the Phillies might be paying a portion of Papelbon’s contract in any deal.
The now 34-year-old Papelbon saved 39 games for a Phillies team that only won 79 all season. He pitched to a 2.04 ERA in 66.1 IP. He struck out 63 batters and walked just 15. In stark contrast to the outgoing Brewers closer of 2014, Francisco Rodriguez, Papelbon gave up only two (2) home runs last year. His FIP (2.53) and WHIP (0.905) are encouraging peripherals as well.
Papelbon does have a 17-team no-trade list, but it’s unknown whether the Brewers are on the list.
An acquisition of Papelbon would certainly satisfy Doug Melvin’s oft-stated desire to have multiple guys in the his bullpen who have experience closing games. In fact, Papelbon was a rumored target for the Brewers last season before they ultimately acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, the idea of Papelbon in Milwaukee was panned due to the financial commitment due him. For the record, his 2016 option (also at $13 million) vests if Papelbon finishes 48 games in 2015 as that would bring his two-year total up to 100.
As often happens when one baseball writer breaks news, others react to it by checking in with their own sources and then share what they’ve learned. So far today, that role has been filled by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
To this point, none of those things have occurred. But deal certainly not out of question, given #Phillies’ motivation to move Papelbon.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
Source: Papelbonlikely would require team on no-trade list to guarantee $13M vesting option for ’16. Opt will vest if he finishes 48 games
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
So all that seems to counter, to a degree, what Jeff Passan originally reported. However, Jayson Stark then chimed in.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 23, 2015
Just to clarify, Papelbon would waive no-trade & accept deal to #Brewers but would want option guaranteed if teams agree how to split the $
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 23, 2015
Each year I compile MLB Network’s “Top 100 Players Right Now” which airs annually before the regular season begins.
This year, I decided to supplement those rankings by giving you a place to find all of the Top 10 Right Now positional rankings as well.
I’ll add to this post as the episodes air on MLB Network over the next few weeks.
On Friday, January 10, 2014 the rankings for both Centerfielders and Shortstops were revealed. (See them below.) On Friday, January 17th both Starting Pitchers and Right Fielders were unveiled. Friday, January 24th brought us Left Fielders and First Basemen. Relief Pitchers and Second Basemen were revealed on Friday, January 31st.
Catchers and Third Basemen will be revealed on Friday, February 7th, so look for a couple more Brewers to make it.
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Centerfielders Right Now”
- Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
- Jacoby Ellsbury – New York Yankees
- Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers
- Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
- Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
- Dexter Fowler – Houston Astros
- Coco Crisp – Oakland Athletics
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Centerfielders was Darryl Hamilton. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Trout, McCutchen, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jones, Kemp, Desmond Jennings (TB), Leonys Martin (TEX)
James: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Michael Bourn (CLE), Jennings, Denard Span (WAS)
Hamilton: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Kemp, Jackson, Crisp, Gonzalez, Bourn
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Shortstops Right Now”
- Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
- Jose Reyes – Toronto Blue Jays
- Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jhonny Peralta – St. Louis Cardinals
- Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers
- Ian Desmond – Washington Nationals
- Elvis Andrus – Texas Rangers
- Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves
- J.J. Hardy – Baltimore Orioles
- Alcides Escobar – Kansas City Royal
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Shortstops was Bill Ripken. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Reyes, Desmond, Andrus, Peralta, Derek Jeter (NYY), Simmons, Segura, Everth Cabrera (SD)
James: Tulowitzki, Hardy, Reyes, Jed Lowrie (OAK), Simmons, Andrus, Segura, Ramirez, Erick Aybar (LAA), Escobar
Ripken: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Hardy, Simmons, Desmond, Segura, Stephen Drew (FA), Lowrie, Andrus, Reyes
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Staring Pitchers Right Now”
- Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
- Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
- Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
- Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
- David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
- Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
- Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
- Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Starting Pitchers was John Smoltz. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Kershaw, Verlander, Lee, Hernandez, Wainwright, Yu Darvish (TEX), Scherzer, Fernandez, Madison Bumgarner (SF), Sale
James: Kershaw, Scherzer, Lee, Wainwright, Verlander, Zack Greinke (LAD), Sale, Jered Weaver (LAA), Hernandez, Darvish
Smoltz: Kershaw, Fernandez, Hernandez, Scherzer, Darvish, Verlander, Jon Lester (BOS), Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Wainwright, Price
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now”
- Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
- Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
- Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
- Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals
- Carlos Beltran – New York Yankees
- Jayson Werth – Washington Nationals
- Shane Victorino – Boston Red Sox
- Hunter Pence – San Francisco Giants
- Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Right Fielders was Mark DeRosa. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Braun, Stanton, Puig, Heyward, Werth, Bautista, Craig, Jay Bruce (CIN), Wil Myers (TB), Pence
James: Braun, Bruce, Stanton, Heyward, Pence, Bautista, Victorino, Beltran, Puig, Torii Hunter (DET)
DeRosa: Beltran, Stanton, Bautista, Werth, Craig, Pence, Bruce, Hunter, Puig, Michael Cuddyer (COL)
You read that correctly. Mark DeRosa doesn’t Ryan Braun in his Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now despite Brian Kenny and Bill James both ranking Braun #1 and the Shredder ranking him second. DeRosa says Braun “should be 1” but since he has to earn back the respect of fans, his teammates, etc. DeRosa “hopes” he comes back and performs and is #1 next year, but he couldn’t discount other guys.
As for the Shredder, Brian Kenny said he was shocked not only that Braun wasn’t first but that Puig was. I’m guessing Braun was dinged by the Shredder for how many games he missed last year. That’ll happen in an algorithm.
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now”
- Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
- Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
- Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
- Justin Upton – Atlanta Braves
- Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers
- Starling Marte – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Daniel Nava – Boston Red Sox
- Carlos Quentin – San Diego Padres
- Josh Hamilton – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Brett Gardner – New York Yankees
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Left Fielders was Eric Byrnes. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Harper, Choo, Holliday, Marte, Upton, Gordon, Gardner, Yoenis Cespedes (OAK), Domonic Brown (PHI), Khris Davis (MIL)
James: Choo, Holliday, Gordon, Gardner, Nava, Harper, Upton, Brown, Cespedes, Hamilton
Byrnes: Holliday, Harper, Upton, Choo, Alfonso Soriano (NYY), Gordon, Marte, Hamilton, Nava, Brown
MLB Network’s “Top 10 First Basemen Right Now”
- Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
- Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
- Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
- Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox
- Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
- Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
- Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers
- Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the First Basemen was Sean Casey. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Mauer, Fielder, Davis, Encarnacion, Brandon Belt (SF), Ad. Gonzalez
James: Cabrera, Goldschmidt, Votto, Davis, Mauer, Freeman, Encarnacion, Ad. Gonzalez, Napoli, Eric Hosmer (KC)
Casey: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Davis, Fielder, Ad. Gonzalez, Mauer, Albert Pujols (LAA), Encarnacion
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now”
- Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
- Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
- Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
- Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers
- Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
- David Robertson – New York Yankees
- Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
- Luis Avilan – Atlanta Braves
- Joaquin Benoit – San Diego Padres
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Relief Pitchers was Dan Plesac. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Kimbrel, Holland, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Trevor Rosenthal (STL), Perkins, Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon (PHI), Benoit
James: Kimbrel, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Holland, Nathan, Papelbon, Perkins, Rosenthal, Mark Melancon (PIT)
Plesac: Kimbrel, Holland, Chapman, Uehara, Jansen, Nathan, Jim Johnson (OAK), Perkins, Jason Grilli (PIT), Rex Brothers (COL)
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now”
- Robinson Cano -Seattle Mariners
- Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
- Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
- Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
- Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
- Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers
- Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Marco Scutaro – San Francisco Giants
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Second Basemen was Harold Reynolds. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Cano, Pedroia, Kipnis, Utley, Hill, Zobrist, Kendrick, Kinsler, Walker, Omar Infante (KC)
James: Cano, Pedroia, Zobrist, Kipnis, Utley, Brandon Phillips (CIN), Kinsler, Infante, Jose Altuve (HOU), Kendrick
Reynolds: Cano, Pedroia, Phillips, Kipnis, Kendrick, Utley, Kinsler, Scutaro, Infante, Walker
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now”
- Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
- David Wright – New York Mets
- Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
- Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
- Josh Donaldson – Oakland Athletics
- Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants
- Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers
- Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
- Chase Headley – San Diego Padres
- Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Third Basemen was Mike Lowell. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Wright, Longoria, Beltre, Carpenter, Donaldson, Machado, Zimmerman, Headley, Kyle Seager (SEA), Martin Prado (ARI)
James: Longoria, Beltre, Wright, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Headley, Machado, Prado, Donaldson, Seager
Lowell: Beltre, Longoria, Wright, Machado, Donaldson, Ramirez, Headley, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
Neither Brian Kenny or Bill James included Aramis Ramirez in their personal Top 10.
Best line of the show? Kenny asked James why he put Longoria over Beltre and Wright. James’ response: “Probably fear.” He then admitted that he might be biased by working for the Red Sox.
MLB Network’s “Top 10 Catchers Right Now”
- Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
- Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
- Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
- Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
- Jason Castro – Houston Astros
- Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers
- Carlos Ruiz – Philadelphia Phillies
- Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies
- Wilson Ramos – Washington Nationals
The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Catchers was Dave Valle. Here are their individual Top 10’s.
Kenny: Posey, Molina, Santana, Brian McCann (NYY), Perez, Lucroy, Castro, Ruiz, Russell Martin (PIT), Montero
James: Posey, Molina, Perez, A.J. Pierzynski (BOS), Matt Wieters (BAL), Santana, Rosario, McCann, Lucroy, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA)
Valle: Molina, Perez, Posey, Wieters, Ramos, Martin, McCann, A.J. Ellis (LAD), Lucroy, Castro
So there you have it. All 10 positions worth ranking in MLB by the Shredder and the MLB Network personalities.
There are five Brewers among the 100 names listed by The Shredder. They are: Carlos Gomez (CF, 6th), Jean Segura (SS, 5th), Ryan Braun (RF, 2nd), Aramis Ramirez (3B, 7th), and Jonathan Lucroy (C, 6th)
As I did last year, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.
They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Tuesday, February 26th. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.
As before I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. Last year there were six Brewers on the list. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9.
Based on what has been revealed, it would appear a safe bet that Rickie Weeks has fallen off of the list. And how about John Axford? Could he really be in the Top 40 or did he fall off too? I’m guessing he fell off despite his fantastic 2011 season.
Looks like the Brewers will only have three this year.
The criteria for the list remains the same:
- Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
- Projected 2013 performance
- Defensive position
Here now are the Top 100 Players as listed by MLB Network.
100. Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies
99. Sergio Romo – CL – San Francisco Giants
98. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers
97. Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers
96. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies
95. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers
94. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – Boston Red Sox
93. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers
92. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals
91. Michael Bourn – CF – Cleveland Indians
90. Aroldis Chapman – P – Cincinnati Reds
89. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals
88. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox
87. Mike Moustakas – 3B – Kansas City Royals
86. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays
85. Michael Morse – 1B/LF – Seattle Mariners
84. Allen Craig – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals
83. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers
82. Carlos Beltran – RF – St. Louis Cardinals
81. Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia Phillies
80. Brian McCann – C – Atlanta Braves
79. Miguel Montero – C- Arizona Diamondbacks
78. Curtis Granderson – CF – New York Yankees
77. Jim Johnson – CL – Baltimore Orioles
76. Jason Motte – CL – St. Louis Cardinals
75. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals
74. Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego Padres
73. Adam LaRoche – 1B – Washington Nationals
72. Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers
71. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants
70. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals
69. B.J. Upton – CF – Atlanta Braves
68. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals
67. David Freese – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals
66. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles
65. Kyle Lohse – SP – (FREE AGENT)
64. Wade Miley – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks
63. Johnny Cueto – SP – Cincinnati Reds
62. Jonathan Papelbon – CL – Philadelphia Phillies
61. Mariano Rivera – CL – New York Yankees
60. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox
59. Jason Heyward – RF – Atlanta Braves
58. Austin Jackson – CF – Detroit Tigers
57. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
56. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox
55. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals
54. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals
53. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees
52. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs
51. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies
50. R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays
49. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals
48. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles
47. A.J. Pierzynski – C- Texas Rangers
46. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
45. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants
44. Pablo Sandoval – 3B – San Francisco Giants
43. Josh Willingham – LF – Minnesota Twins
42. Yoenis Cespedes – LF – Oakland Athletics
41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals
40. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers
39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays
38. Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins
37. Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds
35. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves
34. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox
33. Paul Konerko – 1B – Chicago White Sox
32. Aramis Ramirez – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers
31. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds
30. Carlos Gonzalez – LF – Colorado Rockies
29. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals
28. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays
27. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves
26. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals
25. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays
24. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals
23. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles
22. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets
21. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants
20. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
19. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
18. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees
17. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates
16. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays
15. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins
14. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
13. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers
12. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
11. Prince Fielder – 1B – Detroit Tigers
10. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
9. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds
8. Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Yankees
7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners
6. Ryan Braun – LF – Milwaukee Brewers
5. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B – Detroit Tigers
2. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers
1. Mike Trout – LF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Totals by team:
- Philadelphia Phillies – 7
- St. Louis Cardinals – 7
- Washington Nationals – 7
- Detroit Tigers – 6
- Atlanta Braves – 5
- Cincinnati Reds – 5
- New York Yankees – 5
- San Francisco Giants – 5
- Texas Rangers – 5
- Toronto Blue Jays – 5
- Baltimore Orioles – 4
- Boston Red Sox – 4
- Kansas City Royals – 4
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 4
- Los Angeles Dodgers – 4
- Milwaukee Brewers – 3
- Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
- Chicago White Sox – 2
- Colorado Rockies – 2
- Minnesota Twins – 2
- Seattle Mariners – 2
- Tampa Bay Rays – 2
- Cleveland Indians – 1
- New York Mets – 1
- Chicago Cubs – 1
- Oakland Athletics – 1
- Miami Marlins – 1
- Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
- San Diego Padres – 1
- Kyle Lohse – 1
When you have an opportunity to acquire a player who should greatly improve the weakest spot on your team and all that you appeared to have risked was a significantly-valued vesting option of which you already had a built-in deterrent, you pull that trigger.
It looks even better when you work out a situation with the player’s agent to completely remove the vesting option.
It looks better still when the two players-to-be-named-later in the deal going to the trading partner are a guy you picked up off waivers and who performed terribly for you and another low-level pitching prospect that wasn’t exactly on anybody’s radar.
Then when your team goes on to dominate over a lengthy stretch of the season, win its division and advance deep into the playoffs, in no small part because of the dominance of the back end of the bullpen to which the acquisition was added…
That’s the stuff that contract extensions for General Managers are made of.
While it didn’t directly lead to additional years added onto Brewers GM Doug Melvin’s contract, any fan of the Milwaukee Brewers will recognize that all of this rhetoric describes the deal struck late in the evening on July 12, 2011. The deal that resulted in the Brewers acquiring a premium bullpen arm which they utilized as a setup man for incumbent closer John Axford, of course, means we’re profiling #57 on our countdown to Opening Day:
“General Manager Doug Melvin has fired the first salvo in the coming race for superiority in the National League Central Division.
Francisco Rodriguez is now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Following the completion of the All-Star Game, a contest that saw the National League emerge victorious for the second straight year, K-Rod was acquired late Tuesday evening from the New York Mets for two players to be named. This immediately upgrades the Brewers’ bullpen, to say the least.
Given that Milwaukee was owner of 20 losses by members of its bullpen (worst in MLB to this point), it was about as obvious as Prince Fielder’s winning of the All-Star Game MVP tonight that the Brewers needed help. Boy did Melvin ever deliver.
Rodriguez comes to Milwaukee with a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves (of 26 chances) in 42 games.
K-Rod also brings with him to Milwaukee a thirst for winning and an ability to set up should the Brewers choose to have him fill that role.”
I certainly seemed to know what I was talking about. K-Rod was used as the primary setup man to John Axford for the balance of the season following his acquisition. This resulted in many victories being nailed down that, as I referenced in the quote from last year, otherwise may very well have been lost because of the shaky setup options early in the year.
Following the trade, Rodriguez pitched 29.0 innings in 31 games during the regular season. Those innings saw him allow six runs on 23 hits and 10 walks (1.44 WHIP). K-Rod also struck out more than a batter an inning (33 K) while with Milwaukee and tallied 17 holds.
In the postseason, K-Rod gave up on one run in 5.0 innings pitched (1.80 ERA), striking out eight, walking four and allowing five hits.
So with as good as Rodriguez was for the Brewers in 2011, and with a mutual contract option being in play, a casual fan might think that retaining K-Rod would be the no-brainer of the offseason. However, the salary that the mutual option called for was incredibly cost-prohibitive for the Brewers. Therefore, the right-hander was allowed to become a free agent.
Perhaps as a gamble counting on K-Rod’s desire to close games and his agent Scott Boras’ ego to find his players lucrative deals, the Brewers offered salary arbitration to Rodriguez. This offer, when declined, would garner extra draft picks in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft for Milwaukee when K-Rod signed with another team.
This didn’t happen exactly the way that some had predicted.
Rodriguez did apparently have a multi-year offer from San Diego to close games at some point during the offseason, but shortly before the deadline to accept salary arbitration, the deal fell apart. This lead to Boras accepting salary arbitration, a move that while the Brewers claimed they were prepared for, they couldn’t have truly expected it.
Many fans and media members alike immediately worried about the salary that K-Rod might get in an arbitration situation. After all, he had made over $13 million in base salary in 2011. Could Rodriguez get $14 million? $15 million? After all, he had performed very well and performance is usually rewarded with a raise in the arbitration process.
I was never concerned. As archived somewhere in the timeline of my Twitter timeline and on more than one Facebook post, I surmised that his salary would go down for three reasons: First, K-Rod’s last contract was drafted in an off-season of lucrative deals. Second, he wasn’t filling the same role on this arbitrated contract year as he was when he received his last contract. Third, even if you argued that he’d be a closer if not for Axford’s presence (which is true), this was an off-season flooded with closers which resulted in lower than you might otherwise expect deals being signed.
Jonathan Papelbon will average over $10 million on his new deal with Philadelphia, Heath Bell will average $9 million, and even fellow Boras client Ryan Madson only got $8.5 million on a one-year deal with Cincinnati. In other words, the market did not dictate a salary north of $13 million for a setup man…even a great one like Rodriguez.
So, the Brewers and Boras settled on a one-year deal which will pay K-Rod $8 million with up to $625 thousand in incentives.
With all of this positive, though, there is also some negative to remember.
Late last year, Rodriguez said to the media that he was unhappy with the Brewers front office because he was lead to believe that he’d have opportunities to close from time to time. With Axford’s dominance (as summarized a couple of days ago in Axford’s entry) it just never became a defensible option. Rodriguez was probably playing a bit of self-glossing because at the time he was planning on going into free agency as a closer in a couple of months. He was reminding GMs out there that he viewed himself as a closer and that closing is what he wanted to do.
Of course, with any confident and self-assured player (as all elite athletes are to some degree), there is always going to be a certain amount of looking out for number one. Was it perhaps a bit of poor timing in the middle of a pennant race? Yes, but I also believe that K-Rod wasn’t saying what he said in an attempt to disrupt the Milwaukee clubhouse. He was simply hoping to position himself favorably in the coming hot stove season.
Media and fans didn’t take it that way, as a rule, and simply saw a complainer that wasn’t being a team player. Questions came up continually about why K-Rod would do such a thing when he did it. Sentiment was so strong about it, in fact, that when K-Rod accepted arbitration the prevailing commentary was that he gave up all rights to complaining about his setup role for the entire season.
With that, I wholeheartedly agree. He was traded into a setup role in 2011. I understood his frustration when he voiced it. In 2012, however, he chose money and setting up. It was his call, he made it, and now it’s on him as a professional to accept it and play hard in it.
But like I wrote seven months ago, if there’s one thing that I’m sure about Francisco Rodriguez, it’s that he has an unquenchable thirst to win. Money aside, role aside, politics and chemistry aside, K-Rod wants in 2012 what we all want in 2012: a World Series Championship.
Rest assured that he’ll give it everything he’s got to make that a reality.