On the heels of yesterday’s revelation that Juan Francisco’s locker at Maryvale Baseball Park was empty, the Brewers announced this morning that Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay have been informed that they have made the 25-man roster.
Both men were signed to minor-league deals (with invitations to Major League camp) in the off-season and given the opportunity to compete for what was basically an open position in first base.
Francisco put in a lot of time at first for Milwaukee in 2013, a season which saw a historically poor combined statistical performance. He was learning first base on the fly last year which showed in his lackluster defense. He also struck out at an alarming rate, which caused the Brewers to suggest a change to his batting mechanics, something that was showing improvement over winter ball and so far this spring.
For his part, Francisco hit well this spring — .346/.500/.731 with 8 BB, 9 K in 26 AB, displaying his known power and increased patience albeit while still striking out. There wasn’t much else that he could have done make the roster. It was his track record over parts of five seasons in the big leagues that truly worked against him in the end.
Overbay, 37, hit very poorly this spring — .114/.279/.114 with 8 BB, 15 K in 35 AB — but his bat wasn’t why he was signed in the first place. Long regarded as an above average defender at first base, Overbay gives the Brewers a level of certainty that they at no time had in 2013. Even more than Reynolds who is a natural third baseman but who has played his fair share of first over the last few seasons, Overbay is a true first baseman who can still pick it. His 6’2″ frame adds to his ability to stretch for balls and he’s maintained much of his defensive value.
For the record, Overbay did hit okay against just right-handed pitching in 2013. But he absolutely shouldn’t ever start against a left-handed pitcher. Manager Ron Roenicke should be monitoring the opposing probable starters when determining appropriate days to move Reynolds off of first either to spell Aramis Ramirez at third or just to give Reynolds himself a day off.
As for Francisco’s future? Nothing was announced officially by the team but he won’t be with the team. Whether the specific language is DFA so they have the chance to trade him or simple release waivers, there is the three day window in which other teams have a chance to claim the high-potential, low-results slugger.
Reynolds will be the primary starting first baseman, with Overbay providing relief. Reynolds doesn’t own much of a career platoon split at all. I’ll get more into that tomorrow though as it’ll be Reynolds’ turn in “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” then.
For now, congratulations to Reynolds and Overbay. Let’s hope it’s the right combination for success on the field.
Let’s also hope that losing Francisco doesn’t come back to haunt Milwaukee.
UPDATE: Click for the original JSOnline article for the following quotes from Ron Roenicke regarding the decision. The JSOnline blog post was written by Todd Rosiak.
“We’re going with two guys that their track record is what we’re looking at,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “We feel we have better defense that way. I’ve been frustrated a little bit with the way we’re playing our defense, as has Doug (Melvin).
“We really feel like we’re going to pitch well this season. And because of that, we feel like we need to play good defense. When they talk about your defense being strong up the middle, we think we should be.
“I know how important it is at first base, to make plays there and pick up your pitching staff. That’s kind of what we’ve done. Reynolds is the versatile guy that Francisco was with first and third, and they’re kind of the same guy as power numbers and strikeouts.”
“Spring training is to get in shape. Spring training is not to see who you think should be on the team. If you did that, there would be some weird stuff happening every year,” he said. “Any of these guys, the veterans, could walk in and hit .200. Does that mean you don’t keep them on the team?
“Spring training is not on numbers. It isn’t. That’s the misleading thing that people don’t understand. The people that I look up to in this game always say, ‘Do not be misled by spring training,’ and it’s the truth.
“There is that occasion when you have two guys coming in and you’re not familiar with them and then you may make a decision on spring training.”
“Juan, he has improved. We all saw it,” Roenicke said. “Is some of it because he was coming out of winter ball? I don’t want to downplay what Juan did here because Juan did everything he could to help himself make this team. But the skill set, we feel, of the other two really fits better with what we’re trying to accomplish.”
We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.
Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.
I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?
With that, to the list!
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Kyle Lohse
- Marco Estrada
- Matt Garza
- Wily Peralta
I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.
The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.
Relief Pitchers (7)
(with one more starting on DL)
- Jim Henderson
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Will Smith*
- Brandon Kintzler
- Wei-Chung Wang*
- Rob Wooten
- Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
- Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)
Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.
For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.
Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.
As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.
- Mark Reynolds
- Rickie Weeks
- Jean Segura
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
- Scooter Gennett**
- Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)
Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.
Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.
The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.
For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Ryan Braun
- Logan Schafer**
Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed ---
So there you have it.
I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.
Explanation: I’m apologetic that this article is getting posted so late. I had some major connectivity issues at my home where my wireless router was failing at life. I’m finally reconnected and now that it’s the weekend finally have time to catch back up.
Without further ado, let’s take a gander at…
Standing 6’2″ tall and listed at 240 pounds, Juan Ramon Francisco isn’t hard to find on the baseball diamond. The 26-year-old Dominican made his debut on a Major League Baseball diamond back in 2009 when he was just 22. Back then he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds, the same organization who signed him as a 17-year-old amateur free agent in 2004.
Francisco came to the Brewers during the 2013 season, in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Thomas Keeling. At the time, the Brewers were desperate for another bat and were willing to take a chance that the out-of-favor Francisco could learn first base on the job. It was an experiment that didn’t go very well.
Despite providing a big target, though not as big as say Corey Hart, Francisco struggled with several aspects of his defense. Reaching/stretching for throws, catching the ball, and even fielding grounders — something he should have been fine at being a “natural” third baseman — gave him troubles.
At the plate wasn’t a whole lot better. In 270 plate appearances as a Brewer, Francisco slashed .221/.300/.433 with 24 extra-base hits (13 home runs), 25 walks and an eye-popping 95 strikeouts. He was particurlarly wretched against southpaws, slashing .156/.206/.219 over the entirety of 2013.
All things considered, Francisco didn’t have the season that the Brewers had hoped. The Brewers made a mechanical adjustment to Francisco’s swing late in the year in an effort to increase his effectiveness. It took some adjusting to as Francisco would hit only .121 (4-for-33) in September. However, Francisco took the adjustment with him to the winter leagues where he would hit a combined .260/.351/.393 in 150 at-bats over 40 games in the Dominican Winter League. (Ironically, Francisco hammered left-handed pitching this winter and struggled against righties. .303 AVG & .197 AVG respectively.)
As for 2014, Francisco came to camp in the same position as veteran free agents Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, which is to say that he has the chance to earn at least part of a job playing first base.
He’s unlikely to earn the full-time job, but could make the team as the primary backup corner infielder or perhaps that Mark Reynolds would man the hot corner while Francisco spells Aramis Ramirez in the lineup.
So far this spring, Francisco has slashed .333/.391/.667 with two home runs (which came in his first two at-bats). However the strikeouts are still most certainly a part of his game as he’s got as many whiffs this spring as hits — seven — in his 21 at-bats.
Given his MLB history at the plate, Francisco’s best role on the 2014 Brewers could end up being starts against some right-handed pitching and the big power pinch-hitter off the bench late in games.
That could be enough if everything else falls into place around him.
You can follow Juan Francisco on Twitter: @j_francisco25
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #22 Matt Garza
- #23 Rickie Weeks
- #24 Lyle Overbay
- #25 Hunter Morris
- #26 Kyle Lohse
- #27 Carlos Gomez
- #29 Jim Henderson
- #30 Tyler Thornburg
- #32 Tom Gorzelanny
- #38 Wily Peralta
- #40 Johnny Hellweg
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Alfredo Figaro
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #47 Rob Wooten
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #50 José De La Torre
- #51 Wei-Chung Wang
- #52 Jimmy Nelson
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Michael Blazek
- #58 Ariel Peña
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez
Effectively on the heels of the Mark Reynolds signing, the Milwaukee Brewers announced Monday that they have signed another option for a growing competition for the job of “First Baseman” in 2014.
Much like the nWo in the defunct World Championship Wrestling, the Brewers’ faction of first basemen continues to rapidly expand. Joining the men already in the employ of Mark Attanasio et al (Juan Francisco, Sean Halton, Taylor Green, Hunter Morris, Jason Rogers, Mark Reynolds) will be another new face but also a familiar one.
The Brewers have signed their all-time franchise single-season doubles leader, and the man traded away to make room for some guy name Prince following the 2005 seasons: Lyle Overbay.
Overbay played in 142 games in 2013 for the New York Yankees where he posted a slash line of .240/.295/.393 primarily at first base. While those numbers no longer excite on their own, Overbay is a left-handed bat which helps balance and could offer a more consistent if less spectacular platoon partner with a righty (a la Reynolds) than would Francisco. Overbay also is still plus defender even at the advanced age of 37 (which he’ll turn on the 28th of this month).
Doug Melvin has said that they’re expecting an open competition at first base when the team reports to Maryvale Baseball Park next month. Overbay, whom the Brewers missed out on signing last year after expressing interest following the loss of Hart and again with Gamel, took the Brewers up on their offer of a reunion this year.
We’ll see what he’s got back in the Cactus League.
Arbitration season in Major League Baseball officially began this week with the eligible players filing for the same back on Tuesday. In all, 146 players filed for arbitration. With 30 MLB clubs, that works out to an average of nearly five players per team. Following a trade and some other transactions, the Brewers came in beneath the average with just two players: pitcher Marco Estrada and corner infielder Juan Francisco.
Following Tuesday’s filing deadline was a deadline of Friday at noon CT before official figures would need to be exchanged between Estrada, Francisco and the Brewers.
It was reported earlier this week that the Brewers were optimistic about avoiding the exchange of salary amounts. To do that meant agreeing on at least a one-year contract with both Estrada and Francisco before noon Friday.
That work got done and it was formally announced just after noon that both deals were signed.
Joel Sherman tweeted the following contract figures for both players.
#Brewers avoid arb with Marco Estrada ( $3,325M, $100,000 available in IP bonuses), Juan Francisco ($1.35M).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 17, 2014
Marco Estrada: $3.325 million base salary with $100 thousand in available bonuses based on innings pitched.
Juan Francisco: $1.35 million base.
Tom Haudricourt then added information about Francisco saying that he too had available incentives, but didn’t specify for what nor how lucrative they are.
First and foremost, I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m always open to answering questions directly on Twitter, Facebook, or via email. When someone takes the time to seek out my opinion, they deserve a response…even if I don’t know. But, in a way to give thanks to my followers and friends I put out a call for questions so I could answer them here on the blog. This not only will hopefully advertise that I’m always willing to chat Brewers, but it’s also a little tip of the cap to give members of the Brewer Nation some pub too along with giving longer-form responses than Twitter allows.
If I don’t answer your question here (or some similar variation of it), I will respond to you via the social media forum you posed it in.
— Packman (@Packman1265) November 29, 2013
Over the past few seasons, the Brewers have emphasized competing now over planning for the long-term future. Bringing in veteran free agents, trading top prospects for rental pitchers, eschewing development for experience in many cases. This past season was ultimately an exception but more due to circumstance than design. The Brewers were structured to compete in 2013 and it was a long run of unfortunate events that wound up costing them a shot at a wild card berth.
Now, all that said, to the question: The Brewers appear like they’re preparing to take one final shot with this core group of big leaguers. They may resign Corey Hart on a one-year deal. They may give Rickie Weeks one more chance to sink or swim in 2014. They’ll give it a go for April, and probably May. If they’re in it, this is their “near future” chance. They don’t have a ready replacement at third base when Aramis Ramirez likely departs after 2014. They are light in impact prospects to fill any position over the next couple of seasons. Should the Brewers fail in 2014 (and even if they play well, they need a lot of other teams to falter), they’re next likeliest window is at least a couple of years down the road.
@BrewerNation How should the Brewers pitch to Kottaras? 🙂
— Jαmie Krueger (@jamielkrueger) November 29, 2013
Four outside and take your base. (Editor’s note…which is also me: Kottaras was recently acquired by the Chicago Cubs.)
@BrewerNation Would Aoki have more value as a trade chip, or a 4th OF/Lefty bat off the bench?
— Aaron McCabe (@acmccabe) November 29, 2013
This would be assuming the Brewers would move Ryan Braun to right field and start Khris Davis on a regular basis in left. If that’s the case, Norichika Aoki would be very valuable as a pinch-hitter, especially when you simply need a ball put in play. He is capable of defending at all three defensive positions as well.
However, the Brewers already have a much better defender to back up all three spots in Logan Schafer and as a fifth outfielder, Caleb Gindl has shown a little bit of pop. Couple that he’s ultimately expendable with his extremely affordable 2014 contract, and Aoki could fetch the Brewers a decent return despite turning 32 before the season. In my opinion, the better value is in moving him.
@BrewerNation Is anyone on the management or coaching side of the organization on the hot seat this year? Melvin, Ash, Roeneke?
— Dylan Wendt (@BeerBratBrewers) November 29, 2013
If there was to be a change during or after the 2014 season (because they would have made changes by now if they were going to before it), it would likely be a second-tier change like a coach or some scouts. It can’t be ignored though that Mark Attanasio inherited Doug Melvin when his group bought the team and the principal owner went directly against the suggestion of his GM when he made the call to sign Kyle Lohse. It didn’t feel all season like it was the beginning of any dissension, but ultimately you never know.
@BrewerNation what do you see as a viable first base solution if Hart is not resigned?
— Earl Barker (@ebarker111) November 29, 2013
First of all, I don’t see them not resigning Hart. He wants to be here and I given the injury risk I can’t see someone else giving him a ton of guaranteed money instead of the kind of “modest base salary with a lot of incentives” contract I reported that the Brewers were preparing a couple of weeks ago.
If that somehow falls apart though and Hart plays elsewhere in 2014 I think the Brewers would be best served committing to someone capable of handling the position for the entire season. No converting shortstops or relying on the Yuniesky Betancourts of the league. I also think that Hunter Morris would benefit from a bit more time in Nashville before getting the full-time gig in Milwaukee. If the Brewers want to compete though, they can’t afford a offensive black hole like in 2013 or even to platoon the position.
@BrewerNation Even though he’s against it, would moving Braun back to 3B make sense to make room for Davis with Ramirez possibly gone?
— Jake Smith (@jksmth) November 29, 2013
No. If a player is against something like that, especially when those adverse feelings come from experience, it’s likely to be a bad situation. Ryan Braun was terrible defensively at third base, so much so that it almost cost him the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2015, when Ramirez is likely gone, hopefully someone will have stepped up to fill the void at third base, be that Taylor Green or maybe as a bridge to one of the low-level minor leaguers with a high ceiling, or otherwise.
@BrewerNation will scooter gennett be the opening day starting second baseman, if so where does rickie weeks end up.
— Matt (@mje_96) November 29, 2013
In his season-ending press conference, Doug Melvin mentioned specifically that Gennett probably had a leg up in the second baseman’s competition entering 2014. It will be a closely monitored situation all spring training long. So many variables are at work. Gennett played solid defense and hit right-handed pitchers very well, two shortcomings of Weeks’ game at this point. Gennett also couldn’t hit southpaws to save his life, or possibly his job as an everyday option. Then again, Weeks is coming off of a serious leg injury (and successful surgical repair) and his ability to play everyday will be scrutinized as well. A platoon feels like a viable option as we stand today on the last day of November, but Weeks is a veteran who gets out of slumps in the batter’s box. The team could also benefit from Weeks regaining some trade value if they do decide to go with Gennett, which could lead to early at-bats for Weeks.
Should Gennett win the outright starting job for one reason or another early enough in camp, expect Weeks to be featured often in Cactus League play in an effort to get him moved elsewhere. The Rays had interest a year ago around this time and the Royals at least were reportedly sniffing around before the trading deadline. There could be options, but it takes two to tango, as they say.
@BrewerNation if you were GM, would you deal Braun for lottery tickets? Or try to win now while he’s still in his prime?
— Will Hsu (@wphsu) November 29, 2013
There’s no way I’d try to trade Braun right now. I wouldn’t be able to get proper return on the value because he’s seen as somewhat of an unknown right now. Teams think he’ll perform when on the field but the question is how healthy he’ll be able to stay. Even if I were going to look to trade Braun at some point in his contract, it couldn’t be until he has a typical 2014 season and I’d be able to ask for and get a package of high-ceiling, can’t-miss, solid-gold prospects.
@BrewerNation I would like to see the crew get a lefty starter. Anyone available?
— Tom Neises (@NeisesTom) November 29, 2013
Several available, but how good do you want that starter to be? Free agent Chris Narveson is drawing some interest after pitching well in the Caribbean this off-season. He’s certainly familiar with the organization and they with him. But some of the other names available aren’t exactly exciting given their circumstances. You’d be looking at a fifth starter with most of the arms out there and is that worth denying the youth a chance?
And now from Facebook:
“Steven Linkins: Any idea how big a player the brewers plan to be in free agency? they don’t have many holes but it would sure be nice to have a contender again”
Doug Melvin is taking things slowly this off-season as he tends to do. Despite a flurry of activity elsewhere in the league, the Brewers are biding their time while they wait for Corey Hart to receive his medical clearance, expected to come on December 3rd. He is their primary target this winter. Should that fall through, the Brewers would have a need at first base and at least some money to spend.
“Carlo Marinello: Do you think the rumor of Aoki being traded and Braun playing RF is a high probability?”
I think the latter half of that is likely. The only reason it wouldn’t happen is if Braun is completely uncomfortable and they want to make sure he can focus on his offense in 2014. Whether Aoki gets traded or falls into a platoon of sorts in left field with Khris Davis will depend on how strong the offers are which Melvin will certainly field between now and March 31st.
“Ryan Hewitt: If Aoki isn’t traded, do you think he would be okay with being a 4th OF?”
Any competitive athlete wants to be on the field as much as possible but Aoki has proven to be a quality teammate in every respect. He didn’t join the Brewers in 2012 as a starter and if he fell into a platoon or fourth outfielder role to begin 2014, I’m sure he’d continue to play hard to earn his playing time back.
“John Suess: why not Braun at first; you have three other qualified outfielders ready now (plus others in the minors). Braun has played infield and he can also then sub in the outfield. I’d never get rid of Aoki – he does too many things right.”
Braun is an above average outfielder, one who gives you an advantage offensively as well. There’s no reason to force him to first base at this point of his career. He may well one day be better off there but for now he can run, defend, and still hit well above average as an outfielder. His bat doesn’t profile with as much premium at first base either.
“Scott Underwood: Are the Brewers better off resigning Corey Hart or moving on?”
Much better off resigning him. He’s the best bat available at first base on the market that doesn’t come with the loss of a draft pick, he’ll come much cheaper for 2014 than they will anyway, they don’t have a ready option in-house, and if he fails they can justifiably move on in 2015.
“Robert Boese: Any Chances Of The Brewers Changing Logo Or Uniforms For Next Year?”
Other Than What Seems To Be A Special “Japanese” Uniform Day Coming The Weekend Of The Aoki Bobblehead, They’re Sticking And Staying With What They’ve Currently Got.
“T.m. Ryan III: You may know the answer any reason why #17 hasnt been retired or ever used since Gumby had it. If memory serves me correctly hes the last to have it”
The Brewers have only retired five numbers in franchise history, and all of the players for whom they’ve done so are members of the Hall of Fame. They haven’t issued #17 since Jim Gantner last wore it in 1992, true, likely out of respect for what he meant to the franchise. It’s more of a “soft” retirement if anything.
“Adam Mrozek: Are the Brewers really shopping Ryan Braun? If so, my Brewer cap is getting burned.”
Your cap is safe. Braun is not being shopped.
“David Hannes: Could Rickie Weeks or Aramis Ramirez play first base this year?”
Ramirez would be well-served to move to first base if he wants to extend his career much longer, but this doesn’t seem to be the season for it. He’ll rightfully want to enter his what could be his final free agency as a third baseman.
Weeks has hard hands, is a small target, isn’t particularly flexible to stretch for balls, and wouldn’t make much of a first baseman…especially if his offensive woes continue.
“Terry Fraser: Are the Brewer looking at Garrett Jones? Perfect bench player for us- power off the bench, plays 1B, LF, RF, lefty bat vs closers.”
Jones is certainly versatile and would be a welcomed addition to the bench in Milwaukee, in my opinion, at the right price. However, other teams that could use his skills will be able to offer him much more than the Brewers would (or really should). Sean Halton can provide similar defensive coverage and some of the offensive ability for a fraction of Jones’ cost. Taylor Green covers you at even more spots than Halton does and also hits left-handed.
Robinson Cano. Short of that, would Hart and O’Flaherty work?
So that wraps it up for the first edition of Brewer Nation Q&A. I hope you enjoyed the format and will participate in the future if you didn’t this time.
As always, I’m available on social media for questions as I stated earlier. Find the links at the top.
Do you have a follow up question or something else you’d like to know? Disagree with my answers? There’s a wonderful comments section right here on the blog. Put it to work!
Recorded on location last night, here is the latest Brewer Nation podcast.
Check the tags for some of the players mentioned during this hour-long clip.
So you’ve seen the moves (as listed here) but what do they all mean for the individual players involved?
First the easy one.
Alex Gonzalez will be unconditionally released through the waiver system. He wasn’t getting the job done at the plate and his defense didn’t continue to progress the way that the team had hoped back in Spring Training. He does have one W to his credit this season though. His two-run double against A.J. Burnett in the game the Brewers won 2-1 back on May 24th.
Second up is Mike Fiers. He was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. What does that mean? He’ll start for the Sounds as he looks to regain his confidence which manager Ron Roenicke said was noticably absent from his recent outings. Despite having more success as a relief pitcher this year, he has experience starting successfully so the Brewers will certainly give him an opportunity to contribute in a place where they lack ready depth.
Moving into that spot in the rotation will be Alfredo Figaro. Figaro was a starter in Japan for the last two seasons along with much of his minor league career. Figaro had a spot start last week against the Minnesota Twins.
Now for the moves that resulted in new pieces on the big league roster.
Third baseman Juan Francisco, 25, is a 6’2″, 240 lb Dominican who was acquired via trade following his having been designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves. Once being touted as having the potential to be their “Pablo Sandoval”, Francisco didn’t hit for much average in Atlanta and was the expendable piece when the Braves needed an extra arm called up for the bullpen.
Hopefully the Braves’ discard is the Brewers’ treasure. Doug Melvin told the media that the plan is to start Francisco at first base, something that he, while not having much experience doing it, is willing to do. After all, Brewers’ 1B this season have combined to slash .193/.229/.288 so far. That’s putrid. Francisco posted a .241/.287/.398 slash line himself. He is a left-handed bat though and will help balance out the lineup to a degree when he plays.
And finally, the clamoring has been answered as Doug Melvin recalled second baseman Ryan “Scooter” Gennett from the minor leagues. Scooter’s addition accomplishes two things right away. It finally gives the Brewers a full bench of hitters but also allows for a soft platoon at the keystone with the incumbent and favored lightning rod Rickie Weeks.
Gennett bats left-handed and again offers some lineup balance on days he starts. More over, it allows Roenicke to pick and choose his match ups for Weeks even more finely and really get the veteran in there on days which he should benefit in an effort to continue to build upon his mild resurgence over the past week plus.
So there you have it. Weeks and Gennett will somewhat platoon at second for the time being. It won’t be a strict Gennett vs RHP and Weeks vs LHP all the time. Francisco will start a lot at first base with Yuniesky Betancourt as his soft platoon partner and primary back up. Jeff Bianchi become the primary back up for shortstop and some combination of he, Betancourt and Francisco will back up Ramirez at third. And Figaro takes over in the rotation for the demoted Fiers.
Send Minor League Pitcher Thomas Keeling to the Braves
—– Infielder Alex Gonzalez Released; Infielder Scooter Gennett Recalled; Pitcher Mike Fiers Optioned —–
The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired third baseman Juan Francisco from Atlanta for left-handed minor-league pitcher Thomas Keeling. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Francisco, 25, is a career .254 hitter with 19 HR and 77 RBI in 209 games with Cincinnati (2009-11) and Atlanta (2012-13). He batted .241 (26-for-108) with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 35 games this season with the Braves, making 31 starts (29g at 3B, 2g at DH). He was designated for assignment on May 30. Francisco will wear uniform #21 and is expected to report to the team tomorrow.
Keeling, 25, was selected by Milwaukee in the 18th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 1 save in 17 relief appearances at Double-A Huntsville this season.
In other transactions, the team has asked for waivers for the purpose of the unconditional release on infielder Alex Gonzalez, who batted .177 (20-for-113) with 1 HR and 8 RBI in 41 games this season with the Brewers, making 27 starts (16g at 1B, 9g at 3B, 2g at SS). In addition, second baseman Scooter Gennett has been recalled from Triple-A Nashville (50g, .297, 1hr, 13rbi, 8sb). He will make his Major League debut and wear uniform #2. To make room for Gennett on the 25-man roster, right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers was optioned to Nashville.