Earlier today the Brewers announced the winner of the Player and Pitcher of the Month Award winners for the month of May 2013.
Here they are with some of the statistical support behind the decisions.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Jean Segura
Jean Segura won the Player of the Month Award for the second time in 2013…out of two opportunities. His season has been great to this point. Segura has posted a line of: 52 G, 224 PA, 209 AB, 31 R, 74 H, 7 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 15 SB, 2 CS, 11 BB, 29 K, 51 TB
He’s slashed .354/.393/.550 (.943 OPS) through May 31st as well, but this isn’t about his entire season.
In May on its own, Segura slashed: .345/.373/.538 while posting 41 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 8 SB, 4 BB, 17 K, 64 TB in 126 PA over 28 games.
Segura has also been the maker of some fantastic defensive plays despite a making five errors in May. It’s becoming the norm to see Segura ranging far to either side before making a strong and accurate throw to put out a runner stretching for first base. But the more it happens, it still doesn’t seem like he’ll get to some balls that he does.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Michael Gonzalez
After a first appearance in 2013 (against Colorado on April 2nd) that saw Gonzalez charged with three earned runs in 0.0 innings pitched, and allowing a pair of inherited base runners to score on April 5th, the fans of the Brewers were understandably restless with this new bullpen piece who was signed as a free agent. After that ugly first game though, Gonzalez has made 29 appearances and only allowed his own runs in three of them. Yes. T-H-R-E-E.
At the end of May, Gonzalez had gotten his ERA all the way down to 2.61 from that April 2nd mark of INF (infinity). In fact, May 31st saw Gonzalez give manager Ron Roenicke five outs on 14 pitches and drop his ERA by 23 points.
Gonzalez’ combined line for the month of May looked like this:
17 G, 12.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 17 K, 0.973 WHIP
It was a tremendous month for the southpaw and a well-deserved honor for new Brewer.
Adam McCalvy just posted a blog where he broke down the incentives available on top of the $2.25 million guaranteed in new Brewers reliever Mike Gonzalez’ contract.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 8, 2013
McCalvy explains that there are up to $400,000 in bonuses, that figure according to the Associated Press.
Gonzalez can earn $50,000 if he finishes 25 games, another $75,000 for finishing a total of 30 games, an additional $75,000 if he finishes 35 games, $100,000 if he finishes 40 games and another 100 grand should he finish 50 games in 2013.
These incentives are clearly designed to compensate Gonzalez should he have to close games for any reason.
I make a full post today though to discuss the implications thereof.
To me, it would seem to indicate that should injury befall John Axford, Brewers GM Doug Melvin would be expecting field manager Ron Roenicke to turn to Gonzalez to close games. He is the most experienced secondary option in the bullpen to be sure (he has 56 career Saves) but at this point in his career he is also cover-your-eyes awful against right-handed hitting. Obviously in the closer’s role, you face plenty of hitters from both sides. One would think that having Gonzalez close wouldn’t be the best choice long-term choice.
Hopefully that isn’t a bridge we ever come to though.
BREWERS SIGN LEFTY RELIEVER MIKE GONZALEZ
Free Agent Agrees to One-Year Deal
The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez to a one-year contract today. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated right-handed pitcher Arcenio Leon for assignment. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Gonzalez, 34, went 0-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 47 relief appearances with Washington last season. He held opponents to a .237 batting average, including .179 to left-handed hitters, and recorded 39 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched. He signed with the Nationals as a free agent on May 8 after recovering from October 2011 surgery on his left knee.
Gonzalez has gone 17-21 with a 2.94 ERA and 56 saves in 434 career appearances with Pittsburgh (2003-06), Atlanta (2007-09), Baltimore (2010-11), Texas (2011) and Washington (2012). All of his appearances have come in relief. Gonzalez has produced 451 career strikeouts in just 394.1 innings pitched. He has held opponents to a .217 batting average, including .209 to left-handed hitters.
Gonzalez will wear uniform number 51, previously worn by right-handed reliever Jim Henderson, who has been switched to number 29.
It’s the final day of 2012.
This was a year which saw the Milwaukee Brewers attempt (unsuccessfully) to defend a division championship for the first time since 1983. It was the first time that the Brewers featured their very own defending league Most Valuable Player since 1990. They entered the season with an intact rotation which used the fewest different arms (6) to make all 162 starts. Arguably the league’s most fearsome bullpen back-end was returning as well with only a couple of key veterans taking jobs elsewhere. And sure, Prince Fielder followed the money to Detroit but this was going to be Mat Gamel’s breakout year and Aramis Ramirez would pick up most of the slack…at least once May rolled around, he would.
Alas, we all know how things turned out in 2012 so I shan’t recap the trials, tribulations, trade, and triumphs that resulted in 83 victories a year after winning a franchise-record 96 games.
No, for this column we look forward. We look forward to 2013. We look forward to P&C. We look much too far forward to Opening Day with this set of projections.
If the season started tomorrow, the following things would be true:
- I’d be extremely happy that I wouldn’t have to still be counting down to Opening Day (91 days as of this writing).
- I’d be extremely cold while tailgating outside of Miller Park for a few hours on my wife’s birthday.
- I’d have failed miserably in posting my season preview “Brewers By the Jersey Numbers” articles.
But really, I’m posting today to take a look at how the current roster stacks up and what I think a 25-man roster would look like when the games started counting.
I gotta tell you all that I would normally not make this projection for quite some time but with Doug Melvin’s declaration that they were “coming to the end” of acquiring free agents (or however he exactly worded it), chances are the majority of options at the team’s disposal today are going to be the same options they are presented with in 43 days when Pitchers and Catchers officially report.
Of course, and it should go without needing to be said, a ton can change between now and then anyway despite appearances. Somebody could be traded. Somebody could be signed as a veteran backup where currently only inexperience resides. Somebody could injure themselves in a pickup basketball game. Et cetera. But if we accounted for every “if” that we could, nobody would ever project anything. That’s simply not much fun.
Assuming everyone is through rehab successfully, here is how my 25-man roster would look if the season started tomorrow. (Players listed alphabetically within their position group.)
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Chris Narveson*
- Mark Rogers
I know what you’re thinking. “Free Wily Peralta!” I agree that he’s likely one of the best five options available to fill a spot in the rotation but based on the necessary evil of depth maintenance and with respect to the rules on minor league options, this just feels like the rotation that will head north from Arizona. Gallardo is a lock. Estrada was mentioned more than once this off-season as having an advantage in the competition. (He also isn’t hurt by the fact that his manager really likes his pitching.) Fiers did more than enough throughout most the season to be given a shot from the get. After adding two left-handed relievers to the bullpen, sticking Narveson in there doesn’t make sense anymore (if it ever did). Rogers is out of options and I really want to see him get a shot to contribute as a starting pitcher. He won’t make it through waivers to Nashville. Peralta has options remaining and that’s what this should come down to. Don’t doubt for a minute though that if Fiers struggles for a few starts early and it appears that the end of 2012 was due to being “figured out” more so than simply fatigue, he’ll be optioned down to Nashville in favor of the young Dominican.
Tyler Thornburg will get a look this spring but I feel like they don’t want to mess with him as a reliever this year at all. They’ll give him a full season starting in Triple-A. Hopefully with the regular and steady work he was used to, he’ll be able to avoid the arm fatigue that slowed his development in 2012. Hiram Burgos, just added to the 40-man roster, should also pitch in games in big league camp to start the spring, but after skyrocketing through the system this year, he’ll be in Nashville’s rotation when camp breaks.
Relief Pitchers (7)
- John Axford (Closer)
- Burke Badenhop
- Mike Gonzalez*
- Tom Gorzelanny*
- Jim Henderson
- Brandon Kintzler
- Michael Olmsted
One open spot for competition. Many feel that the aforementioned Peralta should be in the rotation and that either Narveson or Rogers will become the default long reliever as a effect. For me, the final spot in the ‘pen will come down to one of the recent high-ceiling additions which Melvin and his staff have picked up this off-season. If I had my druthers, Michael Olmsted gets first crack at it. Spring Training performance might dictate that he isn’t ready for the jump over Triple-A, and this might be specifically adjusted in March, but based on minor league numbers, projectability, and stuff, Olmsted appears to be at the top of the influx of opportunity-seekers. Olmsted is already on the 40-man roster too, something that would come into play should someone like a Jairo Asencio continue to impress.
Last year’s swingman Josh Stinson has an option remaining so he’ll head to the minors. Likewise Miguel De Los Santos. One other note, as of this posting the Mike Gonzalez deal still hadn’t been made official. When it is, someone must come off the 40-man roster. I think that will be Fautino De Los Santos. So, if he’s even still with the organization, he’ll be tucked away in the minors to begin the year.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
Need there be a lengthy explanation? How’s this: no other catchers on the 40-man; these two played very well all year (when healthy); next best options coming to camp are Blake Lalli and Dayton Buller. Next!
- Jeff Bianchi
- Mat Gamel**
- Corey Hart
- Donnie Murphy
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
A “traditional” roster usually consists of six infielders and five outfielders. I’ve split this roster differently for a couple of reasons though. First, Mat Gamel and Jeff Bianchi are both out of minor league options. Bianchi performed okay last year in his first big league action, but really what the Brewers will be holding onto is depth at shortstop. Sure, they wouldn’t have to add Donnie Murphy to the 40-man roster at all and could just stash him in the minors to begin the year but he is the superior defender to Bianchi and can more capably cover defensively at the hot corner. Furthermore, the team has made no secret of the designs to have Gamel play in the corner outfield spots this spring along with Corey Hart’s obvious ability to fill in should an emergency arise.
Taylor Green will once again be the victim of circumstance, but he is more valuable to the organization playing everyday anyway even if that’s at Nashville. He can stay ready at the plate and be called upon if an injury creates a need.
- Norichika Aoki**
- Ryan Braun
- Carlos Gomez
- Logan Schafer**
To elaborate a bit on my point from above, Logan Schafer can play all three defensive outfield positions very well. He can take over for any of the regulars when they need a day off and can be utilized in double-switches late in games. It’d be the same way that the Brewers played the majority of 2012 defensively once Hart moved to first base. Assuming that day’s starting outfield was Braun-Gomez-Aoki, Nyjer Morgan was the only “true” outfielder remaining on the roster. Schafer can do more than Morgan could defensively and still brings at least as much at the plate from the same left side.
For the record, if the Brewers did decide to carry five outfielders, I’d guess that Murphy would begin the season in the minors for depth and the extra outfielder would be Caleb Gindl. This seven IFs and four OFs configuration can work, though, with the proper personnel. The Brewers would have that group in 2013 should they choose to go that route. I would.
Opening Day Lineup
- Rickie Weeks
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Aramis Ramirez
- Corey Hart
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Carlos Gomez
- Jean Segura
- Yovani Gallardo
On Opening Day I foresee manager Ron Roenicke looking to do a couple of things with his lineup. I think he’d like to have Weeks back up near the top and despite how Aoki performed so well while leading off in 2012 I think he’ll play the same card he did once he moved Weeks down the lineup last year to justify the order I have listed. You may recall that on days when Carlos Gomez started in center, Aoki batted second because Aoki handled the bat better to move the leadoff hitter over should he reach base. When Morgan started in center Roenicke felt that Aoki’s patience resulted in a better chance to get on base for the rest of the lineup. As we know, despite typically low batting averages, Weeks gets on base. His .350 career OBP is 99 points higher than his career batting average and only .005 lower than what Aoki did in his rookie season. What’s more, despite the struggles Weeks had for a majority of 2012, he still managed to walk 74 times (and reached based 13 more times after being hit by a pitch).
That being the situation near the top, I think it affords Roenicke the opportunity to begin with Gomez further down the order where he won’t hurt the Brewers early on in the season should he regress from last year’s breakout. If Gomez proves that 2012 is the baseline going forward then Roenicke will have a good problem with which to deal.
Segura is still young, still growing into his skills and performed well enough in the oft-dreaded “spot before the pitcher” that he could flourish there to begin the year. His winter league numbers are also encouraging regardless of the competition level. If he can develop more patience, he’ll be contributing plenty out of the 8th spot all season.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed
So that’s how I see things shaking out if the season started tomorrow.
The overhaul of the Brewers bullpen continues.
Following their signing of Tom Gorzelanny last week, the Milwaukee Brewers were thought to possibly have acquired the only left-handed relief pitcher that they would carry to begin the 2013 season. This was an inaccurate thought.
Source: #Brewers agree with Mike Gonzalez.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 28, 2012
The Brewers were connected to Gonzalez (6’2″, 215 lbs) this off-season, even as specifically as Doug Melvin mentioning the veteran relief pitcher by name, but have shown interest in the past as well. Before he signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 2010 season, the Brewers had chased Gonzalez a bit at the 2009 Winter Meetings.
This could be a significant acquisition for the Brewers on a couple of levels. Not only does it provide manager Ron Roenicke with a LOOGy option out of the bullpen, but it allows him to use Gorzelanny differently as well. You don’t have to necessarily save Gorzelanny for a specific late-inning matchup because a tough left-handed hitter is looming down the batting order. Gonzalez can handle that situation late. Conversely, if there’s a high-leverage situation earlier in the game that needs the touch of a lefty out of the ‘pen, Roenicke wouldn’t have to burn Gorzelanny before he’d prefer to.
Obviously as with any signing, the money and year(s) will factor into how “good” the signing is, but from a production standpoint I like this signing a lot by the Brewers.
Gonzalez will have to be utilized properly though by Roenicke to make the most out of whatever Gonzalez is being paid.
Gonzalez vs. LHH: .179/.257/.269, 67 AB, 12 hits, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 23 strikeouts, 7 walks
Gonzalez vs. RHH: .297/.378/.484, 64 AB, 19 hits, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 16 strikeouts, 9 walks
Those are splits worth adhering to strictly.
A veteran of parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues, Gonzalez enters 2013 at age 34. The Brewers will be his sixth team following the Pirates, Braves, Orioles, Rangers, and Nationals. He owns a career 17-21 record, along with a 2.94 ERA, a 144 ERA+, a 10.3 K/9 ratio, and a 2.51 K/BB ratio.
Of note, the Brewers 40-man roster is full so once the Gonzalez deal becomes official, a corresponding roster move must be made. That isn’t expected to take place until after the first of the year though because the Brewers offices are technically closed for the rest of 2012.
***UPDATE (1:13pm): Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the deal is for just one year. That’s great to hear!***
Gonzalez deal with #Brewers is for 1 year.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 28, 2012
***UPDATE 2 (1:20pm): ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets the base contract value.***
Mike Gonzalez deal is $2.250 m plus incentives…
— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 28, 2012
I know he’s 34, but he also made $6 million in each of the last two seasons. If Bowden is right and it’s $2.25 million base (with incentives), and that’s after “beating out” the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals for Gonzalez’ services…that’s quite a good deal financially.
Well, it looks like the Brewers and Doug Melvin and finally found a left-handed relief pitcher for the 2013 bullpen.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 20, 2012
Following the non-tender of Manny Parra, the Brewers had been connected closer with a trio of left-handers (Sean Burnett, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell) and were basically mentioned when talking about any of the other free agent lefties available.
This morning’s news from Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt would appear to tie a bow on those proceedings. The bow could be untied, of course, if Gorzelanny fails his physical.
The team hasn’t yet announced the deal which they cannot do until the physical is complete per Major League Baseball’s rules. The announcement is expected to happen on Friday.
Gorzelanny, 30, offers the ability to be more than just a LOOGy, something which Ron Roenicke has noted he prefers in the past. He has stated that he doesn’t want a lefty just to have a lefty, and the feel of using up a spot in the bullpen on a specialist doesn’t jive with that idea. The aforementioned Parra was thought to be able to fill that role given his ability and repertoire on the mound but proved ineffective and inconsistent.
As with many left-handers, perhaps Gorzelanny has taken a while to find his best role and really come into his ability. As a full-season starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 24, Gorzelanny had a strong season but hadn’t been able to duplicate those results, let alone better them, until his full-time switch to the bullpen in 2012. (Okay, so he started one game on October 2nd to help allow the Nationals to best set their postseason rotation but 44 out of 45 appearances out of the bullpen is full-time enough for me.)
In 2012, Gorzelanny posted a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA and one Save. In his 44 bullpen appearances he struck out 57, walked 28, gave up 61 hits in 68.1 innings, good for a 1.302 WHIP. Gorzelanny held left-handed hitters overall to a .237/.298/.398 (.687 OPS) and a .298 wOBA. As mentioned before, he wasn’t a slouch against right-handers either, holding them to a .245/.343/.397 (.740 OPS) and a .326 wOBA. The biggest disparity is the on-base against righties. That’s in large part to his drastically increased walk rate against them. He walked right-handed hitters twice as often as lefties in 2012.
The other thing Gorzelanny offers is a bit of coverage for the rotation should the need for a spot-start arise. He has started for the majority of his career but certainly appears much more suited to the bullpen. But he has the ability to go multiple innings which is another quality that Roenicke appreciates in his relievers. In fact, Gorzelanny recorded more than just three outs in over half (23-of-44) of his relief appearances last season.
We don’t know the money yet, but assuming that Gorzelanny realized he wasn’t going to get the same kind of contract signed by Burnett with the Angels, it shouldn’t be a figure which hamstrings the Brewers in any way.
Therefore, for now, I’ll say that this signing makes a ton of sense for the Brewers and should help everyone forget about the repeated poor bullpen performances of 2012.
***UPDATE: The following tweet came from FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi regarding a dollar amount for Gorzelanny.***
Tom Gorzelanny’s deal with #Brewers will be worth close to $6MM over two years, source says.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 20, 2012
Gorzelanny made $3 million in 2012 and $2.1 million in 2011 as a member of the Washington Nationals for the last two years so this dollar amount sounds fair.
***UPDATE 2: Full contract value breakdown was tracked down by Tom Haudricourt***
#Brewers deal with LHP Tom Gorzelanny guarantees $5.7 million: $300,000 signing bonus, salaries of $2.6 M in ’13 and $2.8 M in ’14.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 21, 2012
Assuming the deal becomes official, Gorzelanny will fill the only currently open slot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.