Tagged: Rickie Weeks

Hot Stove Report: A Pair of Conversations

I woke up this morning to a text message saying that the Brewers met with the Atlanta Braves last night. Despite the previous talk this off-season about the Braves coveting Kyle Lohse, the part of the conversation I was alerted to dealt with another Brewer. That’s not to say there wasn’t more and differing topics on the table, but I was just told what I was told.

Then, later in the morning the same player was brought up in that the Brewers were discussing him with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The player in question is second baseman Rickie Weeks.

The Braves conversation was just that. The sides talked. No word on whether they made progress toward anything.

The conversation with the Blue Jays, however, got a little more specific. I was told that there was a trade discussion centering around Weeks and 1B Adam Lind. While I worked on corroborating that, a Twitter follower let me know that something similar was discussed on Canadian radio. That seemed to puff up to a three-team deal with Lind still coming to Milwaukee but Weeks heading to Kansas City and Billy Butler moving north of the border.

The Weeks part of that equation does make sense. If you recall the Royals expressed some interest in acquiring Weeks during this past season. Also, Ned Yost still manages in K.C. and we all know his affinity for Weeks.

This afternoon though, I was told that currently nothing is building with Toronto as they are reportedly posting a high asking price. To me that sounds like Toronto wants more than just a straight up swap, whether that be two-way or three.

Still, it’s telling that there would be conversations about the veteran second baseman during the Winter Meetings. It may not lead to a deal before the Brewers report to Maryvale, but as they say: feeding your grass before the snow falls often yields a lush lawn come springtime.

Brewer Nation Podcast – Off-Season Primer

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.

Brewers Make Trio of Roster Moves

SantoSanchezRavin

The business of baseball has no off-season.

This was evidenced once again today when the Los Angeles Dodgers made a trade with, of all teams, the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the same Boston Red Sox who are about to take the field for Game 1 of the 2013 World Series.

The Brewers are keeping busy as well, outrighting three players off of the 40-man roster today. As with any outright assignment, the players were first designated for assignment, thereby being exposed to waivers. All three cleared waivers and were assigned outright to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. It was the first DFA for Manzanillo and Ravin so there was no stickiness with regards to rights of refusal for them, but Jesus Sanchez has been outrighted once before (Phillies, 2010) so he could still declare himself a minor-league free agent.

The three players removed are all right-handed pitchers. Santo Manzanillo was added to the 40-man roster before the 2012 season but missed almost the entire year due to injuries suffered in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Jesus Sanchez, a converted catcher, was added to the 40-man before this past season. He pitched well at Nashville in 2013, though not as well as in 2012. Still, he has shown promise. The third player, Josh Ravin, was just acquired by the Brewers off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds organization earlier this month. Ravin was first added to the 40-man roster of the Reds following the 2012 season as well.

It’s basically a paperwork only move as all three pitchers, assuming health, will likely be pitching at Maryvale in Spring Training with the Brewers.

The biggest immediate impact these moves have is clearing space on the Brewers 40-man roster. The roster stands at 35 today with two spots spoken for already and the other three probably already earmarked as well.

Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks will take two spots when they are respectively reinstated. Miguel De Los Santos might take one if he ever comes off of the restricted list. And, among many others to be considered, the Brewers’ last two Minor League Players of the Year — Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers — both require protection from the Rule V Draft for the first time this off-season.

The Brewers should get two more openings when free agents declare, by way of Michael Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt, but Corey Hart may take a spot if he is resigned. In other words, there is still much flux to be unfluxed before the season begins.

Audio: Doug Melvin’s Season Ending Press Conference

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In case you missed it, here’s the audio from Doug Melvin’s season ending press conference which just concluded at Miller Park.

Enjoy!

An Arbitrary Endpoint and A Perfectly Irrational Explanation

Weeks 3B vs Athletics

As promised earlier on Twitter, here is a quick diversion on this night of no Brewers baseball.

Opening Day 2013 saw the following factual things occur.

  • Rickie Weeks went 2-for-4 at the plate.
  • Rickie Weeks scored two runs.
  • Rickie Weeks stole a base.
  • Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch.

Weeks would end the day with a .500 batting average and a .600 OBP. The hangover would last a couple of days and on the third day of the season, Weeks got three more hits to finish at a high water mark of .545/.643/.909 on the early season.

But the fall from the heights was swift, complete, and drastic.

Including April 2nd and May 28th, Rickie Weeks slashed .171/.273/.268 (.541 OPS) while striking out 56 times in 164 AB. In that same window of time, Rickie Weeks was hit by exactly zero pitches.

Weeks lost his every day job, splitting some time with with Jeff Bianchi and others. It was brutal. Nothing seemed to make sense. Inexplicable was tossed around a lot.

Then, on May 29th, the following factual things occurred.

  • Rickie Weeks was 1-for-3 at the plate.
  • Rickie Weeks got hit by a pitch.

Now you can point to a still-blossoming seven-game hit streak that was four games in already but to be fair May 28th was a 1-for-6 performance that dropped even Weeks’ average fractions of a point.

Here now, presented with only one further comment, is Rickie Weeks’ statistical slash line from May 29th to the completion of the series in Cincinnati.

.371/.450/.886 (1.336 OPS)

The key is obviously the hit-by-pitch he suffered. Rickie Weeks is a man who thrives on consistency. As the active leader in hit-by-pitches, Rickie Weeks was obviously thrown off his game when pitchers weren’t hitting him. Now that he got plunked and had his wiring resent, he’s been better off for it.

So thank you, Samuel Deduno, for barely being able to control your pitches. While you hit Jean Segura on the hand, scaring the hell out of the Brewer Nation at the time, and you also unnecessarily plunked Norichika Aoki on the same night, your errant pill fired at the veteran second baseman obviously is saving his season.

Deduno vs Brewers

Samuel Deduno pitching against the Brewers on May 29th, likely having no idea where that baseball in his hand is about to go.

You’ve Seen the Moves, So What Do They Mean?

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.

juanfranciscotrot

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.

ScooterFutures

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.

Roster News and Analysis of Tonight’s Lineup

Catching up on some items I haven’t blogged about but had more to say about them than just tweeting the blurbs, and then some thoughts about tonight’s lineup in Pittsburgh and what its impact could be.

Cue the puns. Puns for the win!

fiers

Stoking the Fiers -or- Tom’s Not Feeling So Terrific

Mike Fiers was recalled from the minor leagues — where he had been optioned on April 18th — to fill a spot in the bullpen vacated by LHP Tom Gorzelanny who succumbed to shoulder tendinitis in his pitching arm. Gorzelanny has been working a lot so far this year as he has been used in everything from LOOGy-friendly spots to straight set up duties. Gorzelanny had pitched 18 times in the first 31 team games, including back-to-back days on four occasions, but never three-in-a-row.

Fiers came back amid a sad familial situation which was documented in numerous places (including here by Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy) and needn’t be rehashed here, though you should read it if you haven’t already. Fiers returned to a bullpen in desperate need of some innings covereage after consecutive short starts by Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos in Cincinnati. He was stretched back out in the minors pitching for both Nashville and Brevard County and offers immediate relief in the long-man division.

Gorzelanny’s injury leaves Michael Gonzalez as the lone healthy left-handed pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen, after they began the year with three (also Chris Narveson).

Konclusion Soon for K-Rod

Francisco Rodriguez was signed to a minor-league contract back on April 17th (read more on that here) and, as part of the agreement, began a 30-day evaluation period after which the Brewers would have to make a determination on whether they will add him to the 25-man roster.

Well, that deadline is rapidly approaching and to that end, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is in Nashville tonight and tomorrow to watch K-Rod pitch. He’ll be looking for a return to something more closely resembling Rodriguez’ 2011 form rather than what he brought to the mound far too often in 2012.

The question though is simple. Can Rodriguez help this team win?

If he can, he’ll be here soon and then the decision is who heads back down to the minors. Given the situation, it wouldn’t shock me if it was Fiers so long as Figaro is rested between now and then and there are no more critically short starts between now and then. But in order to maintain length in the ‘pen and utilize options available, it could be Kintzler down for a short stint if necessary.

Braun and Weeks Sit, Probably Discuss Love, Life, Longballs

Ryan Braun is apparently dealing with a bit of a stiff neck again, similar to the injury that kept him out of the entire Arizona Diamondbacks series the first week of April. Though while it’s a similar injury, it’s not nearly to the severity now as it was then. Braun has been playing with it for a few games and just needed a day off to help rest it.

I would have to certainly hope he didn’t tweak it while helping several others in lifting a wall during a Habitat For Humanity “Blitz Build” event last week. Manager Ron Roenicke stated that Braun didn’t injure himself on the field though, so the charitable activity remains a possible cause.

As for Weeks, fans and media alike have been clamoring for Weeks to get (at least) a day to clear his head and hopefully allow him to get back to doing what his talent says he should be able to do. Weeks though is the kind of guy who will never go the manager and ask for a day off or accept if Roenicke offers a day off. Weeks told the media today that Roenicke has to just sit him if Roenicke thinks Weeks needs a break. Roenicke wanted to get Weeks out yesterday against long-time nemesis Bronson Arroyo but couldn’t. Weeks isn’t significantly better against A.J. Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh tonight, so it was another opportunity which Roenicke utilized.

Hopefully Weeks can make the most of it and break back out at the dish. In a pinch-hitting appearance tonight, Weeks struck out swinging off of a left-handed reliever.

As for filling out the lineup without Weeks and Braun, as I stated on my Monday segment on The Mike Heller Show on The Big 920 & The Big 1070 AM radio stations in Milwaukee and Madison, I liked moving Gomez up to 3 as it kept him in an RBI role. Beyond that, the bottom half of the lineup was a crapshoot. Betancourt and Lucroy both finished without a hit so the order mattered even less tonight than it otherwise would.

Still, the Brewers look to continue their success against Pittsburgh regardless of where they play as they work to get back into the win column and make something out of this road trip.

A Series of Unfortunate At-Bats

Peralta_05022013

Milwaukee – (That’s how I start these things, right?)

Tonight at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the NL Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a four-game set.

The third inning was particularly hospitable to the redbirds as they brought 11 men to the plate and scored six times. It was a rough and often unlucky inning for Wily Peralta who broke multiple bats, and was blooped, flared, and papercut to death by the Cards. There were a couple of hard hit balls as well but the majority of safe strokes would qualify for the “Punch & Judy” Hall of Fame. The six runs that the Cardinals scored in the inning would be all they got for the night, which added even more to the feelings of frustration.

After the game, Roenicke talked about the troublesome inning for Peralta.

“You see weird things and it’s not always fair,” said Roenicke. “(Peralta was) okay. It was definitely not as bad as what those numbers look like.”

As for Peralta’s repertoire, Roenicke admitted that, “his offspeed stuff wasn’t as sharp as I think he needs to get it to. He needs to be able to throw a slider for a strike when he needs to and he needs to be able to bounce it when he needs to. His change ups he’s got to mix in more. His sinker is still really good. I thought it was down most of the night.”

Peralta would eventually get out of the third and pitch into the fifth before putting two on in the fifth. Alfredo Figaro entered and only allowed one hit over the next 2.2 innings.

Peralta for his part understood that he made a bunch of good pitches in the third inning getting a couple of broken bats and suffering several weak hits but that it was obviously the difference in the game.

“This inning (was) the difference in the game”, said Peralta. He said it was particularly upsetting to give up so many consecutive hits with two outs.

He credited the bullpen for allowing the offense a chance to win. “The bullpen did a good job and (held) there.”

As for St. Louis, Jake Westbrook did what Jake Westbrook does on the mound and allowed some baserunners, but only three consecutive fourth inning singles from Weeks, Gomez, and Maldonado were able to scratch a run across off of the Cardinal veteran.

Luckily, “veteran” in this case also means “old” and Westbrook was lifted after 6.0 innings pitched for Joe Kelly. All Kelly did was get charged with two runs in 0.2 IP (raising the 8.31 ERA he entered the game with), and force Cardinal manager Mike Matheny to call on Mitchell Boggs. The new right-hander walked two — the first loaded the bases, the second scored the second run off Kelly — without recording an out. Matheny had to go get Trevor Rosenthal then who struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.

Tom Gorzelanny continued the quality work out of the bullpen this evening with a quick and clean 8th inning.

Rosenthal stayed in for the 8th inning. He got the scuffling Alex Gonzalez to pop out in foul territory to Yadier Molina, but then Blake Lalli scalded one what had to be a good 25 feet between a bewildered Molina and Rosenthal. Norichika Aoki reached on an error with one down, but resident hero Jean Segura could not come through on this night as he struck out swinging, chasing a high fastball.

That brought Ryan Braun to the plate as the new tying run, and he singled up the middle to plate Lalli and put Aoki on third. The legend of Yuni B 2013 took a hit though as he struck out swinging to end the inning. Still, that made the score 6-4 in favor of the Cardinals heading to the 9th.

The 9th saw Burke Badenhop get Carlos Beltran to bounce back to him, strike out Matt Holliday, and break the bat of Allen Craig on a soft liner to Segura.

The last of the ninth, and the game, belonged to Edward Mujica and the Cardinals though. Weeks attempted to cut the lead in half but his deep drive to RF was hit about 30 feet too far left. Gomez singled and eventually would steal second. After Maldonado struck out looking, Gonzalez came through with an RBI single to CF.

That allowed Ron Roenicke to send up Jonathan Lucroy to pinch-hit. Unfortunately, Lucroy would strike out to end the game with the Brewers falling a run short.

After the game, Josh Prince was optioned down to the Nashville Sounds where he will get a chance to play every day. He admitted that at least a part of him was excited to play regularly again.

“That’s what I love to do is play the game. But there’s no better place to play than (the big leagues).”

Prince will work defensively at multiple positions in preparation for his eventual return.

The move opens up a spot on the roster for the returning Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez will rejoin the team officially on Friday and be active for that evening’s game.

It’s April 23rd. (So? Vote Brewers!)

THE 2013 “VOTE BREWERS!” CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY

Online Brewers.com Fan Balloting Begins Tomorrow, Miller Park Firestone Balloting Begins April 29; Participating Entrants will have Opportunity to Win Incredible Prizes 

MILWAUKEE – Brewers fans have the well-earned reputation for filling the ballot boxes with All-Star votes for Milwaukee Brewers players year in and year out. With at least one Brewers player elected to start in five of the last six All-Star Games since 2007, Milwaukee fans demonstrated that it doesn’t take the largest market to be heard as they voted for their favorite Brewers in almost unheard of numbers.

And while it may still be April, it’s time to ramp up and Vote Brewers!  This season, eight Milwaukee Brewers players are featured on the ballot for the 84th Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be held on Tuesday, July 16 at Citi Field in New York City.  Brewers fans will again have the opportunity to show their overwhelming fan support by helping decide which players will be named to the Midsummer Classic through the 2013 MLB In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program and the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot.

Brewers players on this year’s All-Star ballot include C Jonathan Lucroy, 1B Corey Hart, 2B Rickie Weeks, 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Jean Segura, OF Ryan Braun, OF Carlos Gomez and OF Norichika Aoki. 

Beginning Wednesday, fans are able to vote online at brewers.com and beginning Monday, April 29, fans will be able to vote through in-park balloting at Miller Park.

At brewers.com, all fans voting 21 or more times for their favorite Brewers will be entered into a drawing to win Ryan Braun’s Miller Park Suite for a night, complete with tickets, food and a personal visit from the 2011 National League MVP.  There is a maximum of 25 votes per email address.  More information and rules may be found at brewers.com.  Additionally, fans voting online will be eligible to purchase Field Outfield and Club Outfield seats for select Brewers games at a savings of up to 50% (details available after voting at Brewers.com).

Those visiting Miller Park are encouraged to vote early and often via paper ballot at the All-Star Polling District, set up during Brewers home games along the first base concourse. In-park balloting at Miller Park begins on Monday, April 29 and continues through Friday, June 21, comprising 25 home dates.  The Vote Brewers! campaign will feature event staff decked out at home games in promotional t-shirts, and signage along the Miller Park fascia and behind the plate. In addition, media partners FS Wisconsin and Newsradio 620 WTMJ will be promoting the initiative on broadcasts, and the World Famous Klement’s Racing Sausages will help distribute voting information around the city. There will also be voting parties staged during the balloting period.

With every 10 ballots turned in to the All-Star Polling District, fans will receive one raffle ticket that will enter them in a drawing for the opportunity to win a collector’s item daily, ranging from game-used memorabilia to player autographs. A drawing will be held during every home game through June 21 and the winning ticket will be announced during the game.  Rules will be available at the Polling District.

Ryan Braun narrowly missed being elected a starter for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game after finishing fourth in voting among National League outfielders to Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers by just over 100,000 votes.  Braun was later named a starter to replace the injured Kemp.

In 2011, Braun led National League outfielders in voting for the fourth straight season and led all NL players in voting for the first time (5,928,004).  He is the only Brewers player to ever be elected to start in four consecutive All-Star Games (did not play in 2011 due to injury).  Rickie Weeks was selected to his first All-Star Game as the NL’s starting second baseman and Prince Fielder started and made his third All-Star appearance in 2011.  In 2010, Braun and Corey Hart started for the Brewers (Hart was named as a starter after an injury to Atlanta’s Jason Heyward).

In 2009, Braun and Fielder joined Trevor Hoffman as All-Stars.  In addition to Braun in 2008, Hart was named that year to the National League All-Star team via the Monster All-Star Final Vote.  In 2007, Fielder received the second-most votes in the National League en route to his first career All-Star team, becoming the first Brewers player to be voted to the All-Star Game since Paul Molitor was selected at third base in 1988.  A complete list of All-Stars in franchise history can be found on page 277 of the 2013 Brewers media guide.

The 2013 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 7 on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS.  Both the National League and American League teams will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers.

Fans can vote for the Major League All-Stars online at brewers.com through Thursday, July 4 at 10:59 p.m. CT.