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)
Late start to writing, no time for a fluffy open. We’re 26 days away so let’s talk…
As we enter the third and final year of the contract negotiated between Scott Boras and Mark Attanasio in early 2013 for Kyle Lohse’s services, I could take this time to look back at Lohse’s career as a Milwaukee Brewer to this point. I’ll save the full analysis for Q4 2015, but for now allow me to remind everyone that how well Lohse would perform over these last two years wasn’t much of a question back in ’13 amongst “Brewers Twitter”. Instead, it revolved more around year three and the associated cost of the forfeited draft pick. Suffice it to say that Lohse has so far lived up to the financial outlay. And while the draft pick has largely been forgotten (as happens to draft picks), the upcoming Championship Season will tell the ultimate tale in many fans’ eyes for how the Lohse contract will be remembered.
It happens all the time, of course. A player can have a good or even great couple of years but if the lasting taste in a fan’s mouth is one of disdain, then the early successes will often be ignored. Lohse’s 2014 is under scrutiny here though, and it should be remembered that it was a good season for the veteran right-hander.
Lohse missed a couple of weeks in August after rolling his ankle while batting in an August 13 start against the Chicago Cubs but still managed to make 31 starts as the #2 starter for Ron Roenicke. He pitched 198.1 innings (just one out shy of matching his 2013 total) in one fewer game. Lohse recorded two shutouts on the season which were his only complete games. Lohse compiled the following stats as well: 1.0 HR/9, 3.13 K/BB, 1.150 WHIP and an ERA+ of 107. All that supported his winning 13 games with an ERA of 3.54. Notable was that Lohse struck out the second highest total in his career (141) in posting his best K/9 (6.4) since 2006 when he was a different pitcher in a different role.
2015 could very well be Lohse’s final year in Milwaukee. He’s getting older and though he’s still pitching well enough to continue his career, there comes a time when every athlete faces the decision of retiring. Should his play fall off or he suffer an injury, there’s a chance he may get pushed into things. Regardless, with 2015 being the final year of his now very reasonably priced contract, Lohse could look elsewhere to continue his career. Similarly, the Brewers could decide that someone among their younger crop of starting pitchers is ready to step into the rotation much like how they traded Yovani Gallardo to give a full-time spot to Jimmy Nelson prior to this off-season.
We should be able to expect steady results from Kyle Lohse once again in 2015, with hopefully a bit more health for both his sake and the sake of the Brewers. Topping 200 innings and making 33 starts would be a welcome increase out of the Brewers’ probably Opening Day starter.
As for the end, the final day of the 2015 regular season will be Lohse’s 37th birthday. Let’s hope we get to help him celebrate with confetti and preparations for postseason play returning to Milwaukee.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleLohse26
Catch up on the countdown!
- #27 – Carlos Gomez
- #28 – Gerardo Parra
- #29 – Jim Henderson
- #30 – Tyler Thornburg
- #35 – Dontrelle Willis
- #38 – Wily Peralta
- #40 – Johnny Hellweg
- #46 – Corey Knebel
- #47 – Rob Wooten
- #48 – Neal Cotts
- #50 – Mike Fiers
- #51 – Jonathan Broxton
- #52 – Jimmy Nelson
- #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
We got a boatload of information in tweet form and in longer-form pieces from the Brewers beat writers fortunate enough to already be down at Spring Training covering the Brewers as camp opened up over the weekend.
Here’s a compilation of what you might have missed if you weren’t paying attention.
P&C weekend began with Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy reminding us just how beautiful green baseball fields are.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 20, 2015
Then the information started coming. We learned that Tyler Thornburg, less than a week removed from being labeled as hopefully a “viable candidate” for the bullpen by Asst. GM Gord Ash, was expecting to open camp with no restrictions.
From there, McCalvy talked to Jonathan Lucroy about the All-Star’s expected workload this spring.
The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak also spoke to Lucroy along with Kyle Lohse after the Friday morning announcement about the changes related to the game’s perceived “pace of play” issues.
Tom Haudricourt posted a series of tweets with a quote from the talkative Lohse regarding the team’s collapse. Lohse had said at Brewers On Deck that he would talk to his teammates about it when they got to Maryvale and then move on.
Lohse as transcribed by Haudricourt: “Hopefully we have a group of guys that are pissed off about way things ended.”
Lohse: “We had an excellent 4 ½ months. I’m pissed. You don’t get that many opportunities to get to the playoffs.”
Lohse: “When you have it that close, it should help drive you. Let’s learn from it and not let that happen again.”
The official Twitter account of the Brewers Player Development staff got in on the news making by dropping this tweet on Friday.
The Brewers have signed IF Donnie Murphy and C Beau Bishop to minor league contracts.
— Brewers Player Dev (@BrewersPD) February 20, 2015
But of course, we already knew about half of that the night before. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
Day Two of camp opened with some news about a potential #7 starter in the person of Michael Blazek.
Michael Blazek will stretch out as a starter this spring. He’s another “sixth starter” candidate with Jungmann for #Brewers.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 21, 2015
Speaking of starting pitchers, Rosiak told us that Johnny Hellweg, just 9.5 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is throwing off a mound and should be in games before April.
Johnny Hellweg, 9 1/2 months removed from TJ surgery, should be pitching in games by end of camp. — Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Rosiak also talked to Ash about Thornburg and Jim Henderson.
Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg are both throwing well already. They’ll be protected early, Ash said, but all signs are encouraging.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Haudricourt checked back in on Twitter with a reminder about the backup corner infielder spot.
As for the back-end of the bullpen? Well, at least for now…
While Jonathan Broxton is the most likely candidate for the role, Brewers will hold off until probably mid-camp in naming their closer.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Ron Roenicke spoke with reporters. Todd Rosiak tweeted that the hot corner could have more games started by not Aramis Ramirez than in years past.
Roenicke acknowledged that giving Ramirez more days off this upcoming season might be way to go in order to get the most out of him.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Adam McCalvy worked his beat hard on Saturday, and on Sunday we saw the results of some of his efforts. Included among them was this conversation with Dontrelle Willis, who is aiming to make the Brewers on a minor league deal.
From outside the Brewers beat, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal checked in with this Sunday evening tidbit.
And this clarification…
BREWERS ON DECK TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Event to Feature Community Book Drive; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force
Nearly 50 Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 25 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
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. 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.
This year the event will feature a community book drive that will help support Next Door’s Books for Kids program. The goal of the Books for Kids campaign is to help all children in Milwaukee’s central city, regardless of their family income or education levels, have books they can call their own. Local author Marla McKenna will help host the event. Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used children’s books to donate. In appreciation for their contribution, fans who donate a book will receive a free copy of McKenna’s newest publication, “Mom’s Big Catch,” a story based upon events that took place at Miller Park.
Once again food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task. 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.
Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Juan Centeno
- Matt Clark
- Clint Coulter
- Khris Davis
- Mike Fiers
- Scooter Gennett
- David Goforth
- Carlos Gomez
- Hector Gomez
- Brooks Hall
- Jim Henderson
- Jeremy Jeffress
- Taylor Jungmann
- Brandon Kintzler
- Corey Knebel (just added)
- Adam Lind
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Kyle Lohse
- Jimmy Nelson
- Gerardo Parra
- Wily Peralta
- Shane Peterson
- Jason Rogers
- Luis Sardiñas (just added)
- Logan Schafer
- Will Smith
- Michael Strong
- Tyler Thornburg
- Rob Wooten
- Darnell Coles (Hitting Coach)
- Joe Crawford (Video/Scouting)
- Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers Mgr.)
- Mike Guerrero (1st Base Coach)
- Marcus Hanel (Bullpen Catcher)
- Rick Kranitz (Pitching Coach)
- Jerry Narron (Bench Coach)
- Ron Roenicke (Manager)
- Ed Sedar (3rd Base Coach)
- John Shelby (Outfield Coach)
- Lee Tunnell (Bullpen Coach)
- Jerry Augustine
- Cecil Cooper
- Craig Counsell
- Rob Deer
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
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 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.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) 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 District. 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 $10 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 next week. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. 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.
A detailed schedule of all Brewers On Deck events will be released next week.
***UPDATE! Here is the schedule…***
Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Bob Uecker will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry card which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center. The Premier Entry card will be exchanged for a numbered coupon and 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 $10 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. A schedule is listed below:
PREMIER AUTOGRAPH SCHEDULE
Player Signing Time Stage
Bob Uecker 12:30 – 1:15 5
Ryan Braun 1:00 – 1:45 6
Jonathan Lucroy 2:30 – 3:15 3
Carlos Gomez 3:00 – 3:45 1
Players and staff not included in the above autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of those players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10.
The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player (BOLD ITALICS – Premier Autograph).
Autograph Schedule – MAIN STAGES
10:30 – 11:15 Scooter Gennett ($10)
12:00 – 12:45 Logan Schafer ($10)
1:30 – 2:15 Mike Fiers ($10)
3:00 – 3:45 Carlos Gomez ($10)
12:30 – 1:15 Jim Henderson ($10)
2:00 – 2:45 Gerardo Parra ($10)
3:30 – 4:15 Will Smith ($10)
11:30 – 12:15 Adam Lind ($10)
2:30 – 3:15 Jonathan Lucroy ($10)
3:45 – 4:30 Wily Peralta ($10)
10:30 – 11:15 Brandon Kintzler ($10)
12:00 – 12:45 Rob Wooten ($10)
1:30 – 2:15 Khris Davis ($10)
11:00 – 11:45 Jimmy Nelson ($10)
12:30 – 1:15 Bob Uecker ($10)/Mark Attanasio ($0)
3:30 – 4:15 Jeremy Jeffress ($10)
11:30 – 12:15 Tyler Thornburg ($10)
1:00 – 1:45 Ryan Braun ($10)
3:45 – 4:30 Kyle Lohse ($10)
Players who are not listed above will sign free autographs on the Bonus Stage all day long.
Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.
The 620 WTMJ Stage will broadcast live from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will include interviews with Brewers players and coaches.
New this year, fans are invited to stop by the Social Media Stage for fun and games. Fans can also post their photos from the event to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #BrewersOnDeck for a chance to win prizes such as a trip down Bernie Brewer’s slide, game tickets and more. For contest rules, visit brewers.com/onDeck.
Children are invited to visit the Farm Teams Infield for free batting and hitting clinics scheduled throughout the day. Brewers alumni and players will be on hand for the instructional sessions. Kids can run around the field or try a quick game of ping pong with Brewers players.
Klement’s Main Stage Schedule
10:15 a.m. – Welcome – Brewers television broadcaster Craig Coshun will welcome fans to Brewers On Deck. The winners of the seven T-Shirt Friday designs will be introduced to fans.
11:15 a.m. – Meet the Coaches – Third base coach Ed Sedar will host a Q&A session with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff.
12:30 p.m. – The Brewlywed Game – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show to see which pair really knows each other the best. Joe Block will host the show.
2:00 p.m. – Meet the Management and Newest Players – Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio, President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin, Vice President – Assistant General Manager Gord Ash will join the newest Brewers acquisitions – Corey Knebel, Adam Lind and Luis Sardinas – in a question and answer session with Brewers fans. The session will be hosted by Brian Anderson.
3:15 p.m. – Call to the Pen – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show, similar to Pictionary. Joe Block will host the show.
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!
From my partner Legends of the Field (look to the right for their logo which links to their website), here are the autographed photos I’m giving away.
I have two prints of each player to give away, so there will be four winners on each platform (and no, I won’t let you win twice but you can certainly enter on both), so your odds of winning are pretty good.
For an extra entry, leave a comment on the blog with your social media username. You need a free account to do that, but taking the time shows you care.
Oh, and if you don’t win, go to their website, find something you want to buy, use my code at checkout and save 15%! The code: BREWERNATION15
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.
We’re rounding a crucial turn in the marathon off-season. We’re inside of four weeks until Opening Day, Cactus League games are underway, people are making crazy predictions based off of a handful of appearances…
Yup, Spring Training is like few other things in sports. However, a year ago at this time, jersey number 26 wasn’t being worn on the big league fields of Maryvale Baseball Park.
The man who would wear it in the regular season didn’t show up until the week before camp broke, though that wasn’t all his fault as he wasn’t signed until then either. He would go on to become a fast leader in the home clubhouse and have a solid first season in Milwaukee.
Of course, I’m talking about…
As starting pitchers go, Kyle Matthew Lohse was a bit of a late bloomer. He makes no bones about that fact and is quite forthcoming in his career resuscitation with Dave Duncan in St. Louis. These last three seasons have been pretty good ones for the 35-year-old Northern California native and 13-year MLB veteran.
Lohse got paid off of his 2012 season when, despite the reduced emphasis on such things, he posted 16 Wins against just three Losses with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts. That came with career bests in innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, home run rate, walk rate, and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
So why did it take so long for him to be signed?
Lohse was a 34-year-old free agent seeking three-year contract. And against the prices this off-season, his average annual value request seem even more reasonable today than it did a year ago. So it wasn’t his asking price.
Kyle Lohse carried with him two problems as a free agent. First, there was the question of how real this late-career renaissance really was. More on that in a minute. The second issue was that when the Cardinals decided not to retain Lohse, they extended him a qualifying offer under the brand new free agency system. That meant that any team signing Lohse would forfeit a draft pick and, in the Brewers case that ended up being a first-round choice. The Brewers surrendered the 17th overall pick in 2013 First-Year Player draft, so the cost to acquire their best pitcher last year cost them more than just money.
As for whether Lohse could succeed outside of the spacious Busch Stadium, he answered that well in 2013. And while he fell off from his career year in 2012, which is called such because it happens once, he still put up the following line despite a moribund month of May while dealing with a pair of injuries:
11-10, 3.35 ERA, 32 starts, 198.2 IP, 196 H, 78 R (74 ER), 26 HR, 36 BB, 125 K, 1.168 WHIP, 117 ERA+
Lohse matched his career best walk rate (1.6), so his control was still present, but he did give up 10 and seven more home runs than the two respective years prior.
So was the signing worth it for Milwaukee?
You can’t truly ever assess what was lost in the draft pick, and the team suffered collectively through that May and ended up with just 74 wins. Well, Lohse is still on the team for this 2014 run and didn’t cost another draft pick. But more than that, Lohse was routinely named by his new teammates as a leader who was willing to share what he had learned over a long career and downs and ups.
For a team that ended up relying on a calvacade of young players who were inexperienced at the big league level and for a team that dealt with many major injuries and a couple of off-the-diamond problems as well, Lohse’s steadying guidance was extremely valuable. The team will be better for it in the long run.
Post another solid season on a team and with a bit more luck, his leadership and performance could be worth far more than one extra draft pick ever could be.
2014 is a year full of potential for the Milwaukee Brewers. Lohse will be at the forefront of it all as the Brewers look to make some noise in a tough NL Central.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #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