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.
It’s been just four business days since the Milwaukee Brewers played their final game of the 2013 Major League Baseball regular season. A number of transactions — both at the 40-man roster level and elsewhere in the organization — have happened so far this week, so here’s a full “recappening” to make sure you’re up to speed.
I include my tweets about the bullet items to illustrate that the best way to get this information quickly is to just follow me on Twitter (@BrewerNation).
During the week of September 12-18:
- RHP Arcenio Leon was signed to a 2014 MiLB contract (but it would be announced officially by the team finally on 10/1).
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) September 21, 2013
Tuesday, October 1
- RHP Austin Blaski (21st round draft pick in 2012) retired from professional baseball. Blaski was a 2013 All-Star for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers before an arm injury cost him the rest of his season. He had surgery and retired, no doubt, as a result.
- The Brewers announced the minor league resigning of several players to 2014 contracts
- The aforementioned Arcenio Leon.
- C/3B Robinzon Diaz
- SS Hector Gomez
- INF Eugenio Velez
- OF Eric Patterson was released.
#Brewers announced that Eugenio Velez, Robinzon Diaz & Hector Gomez were signed to 2014 contracts today. All receive big league camp invite.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 1, 2013
Wednesday, October 2
- LHP Chris Narveson elected minor league free agency
- C/1B Blake Lalli (who was DFA’d more than two weeks prior) elected minor league free agency
- RHP Dylan Brock (34th round draft pick in 2013) was suspended 50 games for violating the MiLB drug policy.
Thursday, October 3
- 1B Mat Gamel was lost on waivers to the Chicago Cubs. Gamel was waived to open up a spot on the swollen 40-man roster. (The Brewers have until five days after the World Series to reinstate any players not currently counted against that roster due to 60-day DL designation, suspension, etc.)
- INF Taylor Green was reinstated from the 60-day Disabled List.
- Green, OF Josh Prince, and RHP Nick Bucci were outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 3, 2013
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) October 3, 2013
Friday, October 4
- (THIS SPACE WILL BE UPDATED WITH ANY TRANSACTIONS SHOULD THEY OCCUR ON FRIDAY)
A couple of notes about the transactions this week:
- The removal of Prince and Bucci from the 40-man roster opens two spots on it. It currently stands at 38.
- The Brewers have at minimum two players to add back in Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun.
- Two spots should open when Michael Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt declare free agency following the World Series.
- There will be some names requiring protection from the Rule V Draft that will be added as the weeks progress as well.
- Nick Bucci’s removal from the 40-man roster shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He was only added after last season following a breakout campaign. A shoulder injury cost him almost the entirety of 2013 (he got into one game and recorded two outs) and position him for a good amount of work. It’s significant that he was outrighted to Nashville despite never having pitched above High-A. That means that though he will be exposed to the Rule V Draft in December, any team selecting him would need to add him to their MLB roster and keep him there the entire 2014 season. That’s quite frankly unlikely to happen.
Following today’s final exhibition game (a victory over the Chicago White Sox), the Milwaukee Brewers announced their 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Here is the breakdown by position.
- John Axford
- Burke Badenhop
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Alfredo Figaro
- Yovani Gallardo
- Michael Gonzalez
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Jim Henderson
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Chris Narveson
- Wily Peralta
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
- Alex Gonzalez
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Logan Schafer
The Brewers will also be carrying four (4) players on the big league 15-day disabled list to begin the season (Jeff Bianchi, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers) and one (1) on the 60-day DL (Mat Gamel).
Special congratulations go out to Alfredo Figaro, Mike Fiers, Jim Henderson, Jean Segura, Khris Davis, Wily Peralta, Martin Maldonado, and Logan Schafer who are all making their first Opening Day MLB roster!
Welcome back to “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, my annual countdown to Brewers Opening Day by way of the numbers being worn in Spring Training by 40-man rosterees and many non-roster invitees as well.
April 1st is 24 days away and as such today I profile the player who lately has appeared to be the unluckiest man in the organization…
Last night on Twitter, I asked the masses whether or not they’d want today’s column to even be written given that there isn’t exactly a whole lot to discuss. The responses were mixed, but I decided to do it anyway because he’s still on the 40-man roster today and there’s at least something to discuss even if it isn’t how I think he’ll perform in 2013. That said, this will be a fairly short post.
First of all though, this time last year Mathew Lawrence Gamel was finally getting his shot. Prince Fielder followed his wallet to Detroit (don’t infer bitterness from that), and there was a wide-open position at first base which just so happened to be a position Gamel had spent some time learning in the minors in 2011. It’s almost like someone was anticipating Fielder’s departure. Zany idea, I know.
Gamel had an okay Cactus League in 2012, displaying some power be dropping six “Matomic Bombs” (a phrase I coined for the occasion of a Gamel home run) despite only hitting at a .238 clip with a .324 on-base percentage. Still, he came to camp healthy and in the best shape of his life after re-dedicating himself to his craft in the preceding off-season.
Opening Day 2012 came and Gamel trotted out in the starting lineup for the first time in his career. (“I remember…because I was there.”) Gamel went 2-for-4 that day with a run scored and everything was off to a great start.
Gamel would make it through the month of April, posting a .246/.293/.348 slash line. He totaled 17 hits, four of which were extra-base hits (sadly only one home run though), and 15 strikeouts in 69 AB. He walked four times, scored 10 runs, and drove in six.
May was far less kind.
Playing in San Diego, Gamel was chasing hard after a foul ball when the ACL in his right knee would give out. Gamel crumpled to the field and the worst was immediately feared by Brewers fans. Gamel was done for the year and had surgery on May 22nd to repair the injury.
Guys like Travis Ishikawa and Taylor Green would fill in at first base for a little while but eventually the move was made to have Corey Hart fill in there as the regular starter.
Gamel worked hard at his rehab and, by all accounts, was healthy and exactly where he should have been as late as when he first reported to camp. His knee went through a normal checkup and graded out fine. The other good news for Gamel on a professional level was that the man who took over at first base was going to be missing the first month or so of the regular season so Gamel had a starting job waiting for him again.
Then, the unluckiest guy had another black cat cross his path. He began working out at camp but was scratched from team workouts one morning after he tweaked his knee.
It was on February 18th when manager Ron Roenicke delivered the news that Gamel’s surgically-repaired ACL had suffered what is known as a “failure”. ACL repairs do fail around 10% of the time in life anyway, but Gamel’s was of particular peculiarity because the ligament didn’t re-tear at one end or the other but in the middle. It just snapped in two. What happened to Gamel is rare.
His 2013 is over before it ever truly began and his months-long rehabilitation of his knee was for naught. He had to start over and is ironically scheduled for surgery today to again repair his knee.
Gamel was in unexpectedly calm spirits in the days following the injury. He knows it happens and that it was unlucky but he realized that being upset about it wasn’t going to help him overcome it.
But the bottom line for Gamel’s career is that his time in Milwaukee as a Brewers might end when he’s given a clean bill of health.
After the 2013 season, Mat Gamel becomes eligible for arbitration. A player’s first year of arbitration eligibility sees a significant spike in salary. There have been many players over the years non-tendered in this situation. Their performance and production simply don’t warrant the salary for a team with a relatively limited budget like Milwaukee.
So, after years of being unable to breakthrough or stay healthy enough, Gamel could be jettisoned and forced to sign a minor league deal with another club in order to prove his health and his ability to contribute in an entirely new environment with an entirely new organization.
There are some fans who won’t mind that and others will probably cheer it, but the fact remains that all Gamel did throughout his minor league career was hit. He was the organization’s top prospect for a couple of years but simply couldn’t put it all together.
If Gamel returns to Milwaukee, I would think it would be under the circumstance of a very small raise, something Gamel would have to agree to. Furthermore, Gamel’s role on this team as a starter is probably done. Even if Hart leaves in free agency after 2013, the Brewers have a possible replacement in Double-A Southern League MVP Hunter Morris — who will be starting the year in Triple-A Nashville — to consider for the job as well.
Just something to keep in mind going forward as the 2013 regular season gives way to the 2013 postseason.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #27 Carlos Gomez
- #29 Jim Henderson
- #31 Burke Badenhop
- #32 Tom Gorzelanny
- #37 Mark Rogers
- #38 Chris Narveson
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Kelvim Escobar
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #48 Donovan Hand
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #51 Michael Gonzalez
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Josh Stinson
- #57 Khris Davis
- #58 Josh Prince
- #59 John Axford
- #60 Wily Peralta
- #61 Darren Byrd
- #63 Tyler Thornburg
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Miguel De Los Santos
- #67 Santo Manzanillo
- #68 Jesus Sanchez
- #70 Nick Bucci
- #71 Johnny Hellweg
- #73 Ariel Peña
- #74 Michael Olmsted
- #75 Travis Webb
- #77 Jed Bradley
- #78 Taylor Jungmann
- BONUS ARTICLE: #91-94 Adam Weisenberger, Hunter Morris, Kentrail Davis, Rafael Neda
Shortly after the morning team meeting today at Brewers Spring Training, Ron Roenicke addressed the media and told them that Mat Gamel is “probably going to miss the season” due to a re-tear of his surgically-repaired right knee ACL.
There will be no “matomic bombs” hit at Miller Park this year, Tiny Tim.
This comes as a bit of shock in a couple of ways. First and foremost, Gamel had good checkups on the knee both when he was in Milwaukee for “Brewers On Deck” last month, the team’s annual winter fan fest, and again just last week at down at Maryvale. Secondly, the failure of the repair occurred in the middle of the ligament. Repairs fail around 10% of the time, but if they do happen it is usually at one end of the ligament or the other. The Brewers head physician, Dr. William Raasch, explained the failure scenario to team officials and then assistant GM Gord Ash relayed that assessment to the media.
From here, Roenicke told the media that Doug Melvin’s plan is to review internal options first. That means a longer look for Taylor Green, perhaps more looks for Alex Gonzalez and Martín Maldonado, an a more significant look at Brewers 2012 Minor League Player of the Year and Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Another name you’ll see in the box score on the big league side now is Sean Halton who started at 1B for the Nashville Sounds last year. To that end, Gord Ash told Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy that Hunter Morris “will be a strong candidate” to play first base at the start of the season.
There are a couple of unsigned free agents with first base experience in Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff, but there is doubt that either would want to come to a situation where they’re basically guaranteed to lose the job as soon as Corey Hart is healthy enough to return. Other externals options include recently DFA’d players. Mike Carp and Daric Barton fit that description.
What would you do, Brewer Nation?
In many conversations I’ve had over the past several days about the Brewers roster composition, backup first baseman was of particular interest.
Following Corey Hart’s knee surgery, Mat Gamel was promoted from his assumed role of reserve first baseman — along with third baseman and corner outfielder — back to the starting first baseman’s job he held last season when the team headed north after Spring Training.
The initial talk was about how quickly Hart could and would return. Then it moved to whether Gamel was a capable starter for the span of time Hart would be missing. Soon though that the Brewers didn’t have an official backup first baseman anymore was quickly realized by many fans.
First, the Brewers openly courted former Brewer Lyle Overbay, but to no avail as he signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox. More quietly they were interested in Juan Rivera who logged time in 54 games at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Rivera agreed to a free agent contract with the New York Yankees instead.
This sent up some flares signaling that the Brewers didn’t outwardly appear all that interested in heading to the season with the relatively inexperienced (and left-handed hitting, like Gamel) Taylor Green as the primary backup.
Talk moved to Hunter Morris and whether he would be given a chance to compete for the job. I’ve done my best to point out that Morris isn’t even on the 40-man roster this year and it would be extremely out of character (and in my opinion foolhardy) to waste an option year and start Morris’ arbitration clock for the time which Hart would miss. And that was to the people who were suggesting Morris as the starter over Gamel. To those who think they’d burn the same to make use of Morris as a backup, all I can say is that I don’t exactly foresee that either.
With all this talk, I reached out to a source about the role and it was suggested to me that backup catcher Martín Maldonado could be the man to fill in against some lefty starters in Gamel’s stead. The source went so far as to say that Maldonado was told specifically to get a first baseman’s glove to bring Spring Training. To that end, Maldonado is on record as saying that he enjoyed the time that he got to play first base last year.
One potential problem is that it is quite unlikely that Maldonado will see any reps at first base while away at the World Baseball Classic — where he will back up Yadier Molina for Team Puerto Rico — so he’d miss that time. Plus, as his time with the Brewers will be limited overall this Spring, Maldonado will likely be called on to catch plenty when he is with Milwaukee so he can develop his rapport with his new pitchers and reestablish the bonds with the returning Brewers hurlers.
Still, it would make sense if Maldonado is up to the task. He surprised most people with his offensive numbers last season and played passable-at-worst defense at first when called on.
So basically, keep that in mind when and if you see Maldonado’s name start popping up in Cactus League boxscores with a “1B” near it.