Tagged: Ron Roenicke

Brewers Post-Game Audio: September 22, 2013

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Here is post-game audio from the final home game of the season. This includes my exclusive with Donovan Hand after the Brewers’ 6-4 win over the rival Cardinals.

Enjoy it all!

Ron Roenicke’s Post-game Press Conference

Jim Henderson on the game, facing Matt Adams with the game on the line, the realization of his dreams, Mariano Rivera, etc.

Exclusive! Donovan Hand on coming in to a tough situation on Sunday, and how he views his role moving forward in his career

Scooter Gennett on confidence, coming through in the clutch, and goals for the off-season and 2014

Another Pitcher Hits DL

hendersoninjuredIn an expected though no less unfortunate move, the Milwaukee Brewers officially placed relief pitcher Jim Henderson on the 15-day Disabled List following Saturday afternoon’s game.

Henderson, who is nine-for-nine in Save opportunities this season, was pitching in Friday night’s game when he strained his right hamstring on a pitch. The play resulted in the second out of the top of the ninth inning but with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead and seeing their first victory of the season when they scored three or fewer runs, Henderson could not physically continue.

Manager Ron Roenicke called on the recently added Francisco Rodriguez to face Neil Walker in an attempt to get the final out. Rodriguez induced a ground ball to the second baseman and the Brewers won the day. For Rodriguez it was his first Save of the year and the 295th of his MLB career.

After Friday’s game, Henderson spoke to the media and felt that he might be ready to go after a few days of rest but Roenicke countered by saying that Henderson would see the doc and they’d make their decision based on roster considerations as well as health. In other words, the Brewers couldn’t afford to carry another down pitcher if Henderson was going to miss even a handful of games.

The doctor made his diagnosis and recommendation on Saturday afternoon. With no time to get a replacement to town, and with a decision still to be made on who that would be anyway, the Brewers waited until Saturday night to DL their current closer.

So who comes up from the minor leagues for Sunday’s afternoon affair? Well, that all depends.

Do the Brewers just call up their choice for Tuesday’s starting pitcher? Do they summon a reliever for two days and exchange him for that same starter after Monday’s game? Or will Alfredo Figaro start on Tuesday so a relief pitcher can come up and just stay through until later in the week?

It’d be easier to know what they are going to do if we knew who was coming, but they’re probably deciding on what before they pick who.

If they go get a starter, I’d still expect it to be Tyler Thornburg despite his early season struggles with Triple-A Nashville. Thornburg would be the least affected by the situation, methinks. Furthermore, his next turn is scheduled for Monday so he’d be on close-to-regular rest.

If they choose to summon a bullpen arm, some names I’d watch for are Jesus Sanchez and Michael Olmsted. Sanchez has solid numbers so far for Nashville which works in his favor. Olmsted was the darling of Spring Training and one of the final cuts from camp.

 

That announcement will come prior to Sunday’s game though so keep it tuned to your favorite fan blogger (or me, if they’re unavailable) for all the details in the morning.

Has the Real John Axford Stood Back Up?

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John Axford began the 2013 season as the Milwaukee Brewers closer and, more telling, as the longest tenured member of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. Gone were holdovers and friends, colleagues and mentors, teammates and Brew-Tang Clan members.

After struggling through much of 2012, the playoff push that the Brewers put together in August and September last season was fueled in no small part by the resurgence of Axford as closer. He was good again.

He entered 2013 coming off of an okay run with Team Canada and a handful of lukewarm outings in Cactus League play, but he was the closer. There was no doubt that he would start the season firing on all cylinders.

Except that then he didn’t.

I take some guff on Twitter for when I support Axford in Save opportunities. I tweet a simple hashtag when he’s entering the game in a Save opp. “#JohnAxfordSaves” is all it reads. It was a play off of his follicle situation in 2011 when he got on his incredible consecutive Saves streak. He had long hair, great facial hair, and was saving games. It worked. No one complained in 2011. People would wait for the tweet, expect the tweet, and retweet the hell out of it. We had fun. Then 2012 happened and Axford blew a whopping. astronomical, unbelievable, unfathomable, ridiculous, asinine… nine Saves. He saved 35. But those nine failures in a game of failure led a handful of people to whine about the use of the hashtag. I kept it going this year in the lone opportunity that he had. I’ll use it again in his next opportunity.

I make mention of the hashtag situation because the next opportunity Axford gets certainly seems like it’ll be coming sooner rather than later.

In comments to the media this past week, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that it might not take much to give Axford the closer’s job back in Milwaukee. I won’t break down bullpen roles and personnel utilization here, but let’s focus on why Roenicke felt it was okay to make that statement.

John Axford appears to be back.

In his first four appearances of 2013, Axford’s results were pretty bad. Ironically, his best outing of the group was the one in which he blew his only Save chance this year when Dexter Fowler (who has since shown a much more powerful approach this season) jumped a first-pitch fastball in a bad location for a solo home run. Ax struck out the side around that pitch, including walking no one. Then, over the next three games Axford allowed a combined eight earned runs on eight hits and two walks over just 2.1 innings pitched. His ERA sat at 24.30 and some fans who only remembered the number nine instead of 35 and 46 were calling for his role, job, spot on the roster, and anything else within (and a couple completely outside of) reason.

I said it during last season, but Axford was so good in 2011 that he was set up to disappoint casual fans in 2012. He simply couldn’t be expected to maintain that level of success. There’s something called “sustainability” when looking at trends and averages and the like in statistical analysis of this great game. Guys hit well over .400 for stretches during the season, as an example, but there’s a reason nobody has hit .400 over an entire season in such a long time. In short, Axford shouldn’t have been expected to go 46-for-48 again, but some people did expect it and wildly jeered him when he didn’t deliver.

When Axford is “right”, he’s got upper-90s velocity, he keeps his fastball down in the zone as the norm, and can throw both of his off-speed pitches for strikes. His fastball has always been a bit straight, but location helps and being able to keep hitters off of it with the curveball and slider is important as well. When Axford was struggling to start the season, his velo was down and despite having relatively good command, he was getting hit pretty hard.

Axford has put together a run of six scoreless outings since that early-season blowup. He’s thrown 5.1 innings and allowed exactly two hits and zero walks. Over that same span he’s also struck out six batters. The first couple of games in this mini-run were certainly encouraging, but Axford would still give up some hard hit balls and his fastball would sit 93 and touch 95. Then the appearance in San Diego really started to puts some doubters — though somehow not most — at ease.

Coming out of the visitor’s bullpen to work an ultimately clean inning, Axford had the velo back. He was hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun and kept the ball down in the zone. It was a truly vintage Axford performance.

Following Roenicke’s comments about the closer’s job though, Axford was talked to by the media to get his thoughts about the job. He told reporters that, “(Current closer) Jim (Henderson) has my vote of support. If that’s what’s working now, it’s definitely the best thing. You don’t want to fix anything that’s not broken, that’s for sure.”

Those are words that fans would definitely prefer to hear right now as Henderson has been perfect in Save opportunities so far in 2013, but given Axford’s disposition and attitude, you have to think he isn’t just blowing the proverbial smoke.

Reporters then asked Axford about the rediscovery of his lost velocity. Axford admitted that there was “a very subtle change” in his mechanics that both pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell helped identify and fix.

“It was a small adjustment of literally being more athletic, the way Lee told me to do it in the first place in 2009,” said Axford. “I was getting too upright on the mound, and now I’m making sure I’m more athletic and over my body. It was just a matter of being more comfortable with it.”

With the big fastball back and still commanding all of his pitches, Axford certainly has the look of someone who has returned to the form that netted him both Cy Young and MVP votes after the 2011 season.

Will there be hiccups along the way? Yes. Expect some, don’t freak out every time something goes wrong, and you’ll enjoy these games a lot more.

As for the hashtag, it’ll be there in all its superstitious glory just as soon as it’s accurate to do so.

Burgos Effective, Controlled in MLB Debut

Hiram Burgos delivers his first career Major League pitch, a strike, in his debut on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Hiram Burgos delivers his first career Major League pitch, a strike, in his debut on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Miller Park was buzzing on Saturday night as the Brewers’ 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Hiram Burgos, made his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs.

Burgos’ first pitch was a strike, but despite allowing his first batter faced to reach on a bloop single, Burgos faced the minimum through three. A true test though would be the second time through the order. The hitters made a bit more contact, though none of it solid, in the fourth inning, leading to a Cubs’ run and a tie game.

He was sharp throughout, keeping the visitors off balance with his repertoire of pitches. Back in February, Burgos told me that he throws four pitches: a fastball that sits between 88-92 MPH, a change up between 83-84, a cut fastball of 86-87 MPH, and a curveball down around 73 MPH. He utilized everything he had on this night, working through five full innings and not walking any hitters. He’d have gone farther as he finished the fifth at just 83 pitches, but Ron Roenicke pinch-hit for the young Puerto Rican as the offense had put runners at 2nd and 3rd with just one out.

The Brewers ended up scoring two runs in the inning, putting Burgos in line for his victory MLB victory. Then Brandon Kintzler entered and locked the Cubs down in their half of the sixth before the Brewers tacked on two more runs in the sixth courtesy of the Cubs defense.

All in all, an impressive night for Burgos who had this to say following the game:

“It’s been my dream to play in the big leagues. I’m happy to just help the team win. Six games in a row now.

Burgos said that he was anxious to go out and warm up prior to the game, but once he threw his first pitch, he was comfortable again. He said that the plan he and catcher Jonathan Lucroy were working off of helped him settle in.

The offense and bullpen gave Burgos the support he needed. Brandon Kintzler worked two perfect innings, striking out three. Michael Gonzalez struck out the side in his scoreless 8th inning, despite getting himself into a little trouble along the way. After allowing the lead off hitter to reach in the 9th, Gonzalez was lifted in favor of Burke Badenhop who retired the three Cubs hitters he faced in order to lock up a 5-1 victory. The W goes to Burgos who is now 1-0 in his career with a 1.80 ERA.

Burgos full linescore: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB, 1 K

Getting his first victory in  his first career start when it takes some guys a long time (if ever) was something that didn’t escape Burgos.

“It’s a blessing. I thank God and my teammates. We were able to score some runs. It’s always good when you get some runs of support.”

Having met Hiram Burgos on more than one occasion, I’m impressed by him. He’s a humble, grateful person who really appreciates the opportunity that he’s earned through impressive play.

Those five runs came courtesy of some opportunistic offense who capitalized when Chicago defenders made errors. Officially there were three errors awarded in the game and they directly led to the Brewers scoring a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.

The other run on the day was a no doubt solo home run off the bat of the white hot Jonathan Lucroy in the bottom of the second inning. Early runs can be crucial in helping a young pitcher settle in, so leave it to Burgos’ batterymate in the game to get it done.

As for what’s next, Burgos wasn’t sure other than that he’s coming to Miller Park tomorrow. Roenicke also said that it needed to be looked at to determine whether Burgos could move into the bullpen between now and the next time the team requires a fifth starter, which is April 30th. Another possibility, though less likely from the sound of it, would be to not skip the turn when it could come up next. The third option would be to send Burgos back to Nashville where he’d make his next start and perhaps call up a relief pitcher for the next 10 days.

Roenicke said that they talk about it on Sunday to “see where we are and what we want to do.” Roenicke admitted that the chance exists to not keep Burgos up for the next week and a half.

But those are decisions for the management to make. For the players, a crisp victory in under three hours sends everybody home happy.

Well, maybe not the Cubs.

Roenicke Goes to Hospital Early This Morning

The injury pandemic inside of the Brewers clubhouse has reached the epicenter.

If you missed the breaking news earlier, it was discovered by Greg Matzek of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had to go to the hospital this morning after his back “froze up” on him.

Matzek called Roenicke for their normal Tuesday morning radio hit when he was informed of the news.

Roenicke received treatment and though the Brewers skipper very well could have foregone his duties for this one, he is expected to be at Wrigley tonight too manage as usual. In a scenario where he’d miss a game, bench coach Jerry Narron would almost assuredly assume those duties.

More on this as information is made available.

Ron Roenicke Comments on Braun, Yahoo Sports’ Report

The media spent some time with Ron Roenicke at Maryvale Baseball Park today on the first full day of workouts of Spring Training. Among his comments, he addressed the Yahoo Sports report that exposed Ryan Braun’s name as being written among the records of Tony Bosch’s defunct Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Here is the original full article where this quote is taken from, by Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy: Roenicke: Braun story “shouldn’t be out there”

Says Roenicke:
“It’s a pet peeve, I guess, of mine: Don’t bring up anybody’s name and put it in there if you’re questioning it,” Roenicke said. “If there’s something going on and there’s a

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definite [transgression], fine, that’s your job to put it out there. But don’t bring up names that you’re not sure of and then retract it later, because it never is retracted from the fans or the people that are out there. Never. There are some people who will say, ‘OK, they shouldn’t have put it out there,’ but for the majority, it’s still there in their mind. So it shouldn’t be out there.

“That’s what I have an issue with. You want to bring up somebody’s name, then you’d better be sure when you’re bringing it up. It’s very unfair to the player, and that’s what I have an issue with. It’s not right.

“To be honest with you, I’m not really thinking about handling it or anything until there’s more information on what is there,” Roenicke said. “I can’t make comments on something I know nothing about. I talked to Ryan, he’s coming in and I know he’s going to have to deal with some press issues, but we’re just going to move on with it as if nothing’s there. …

“It was different last year. We knew what the specifics were last year,” Roenicke said. “I knew what to address, what I wasn’t supposed to talk about. I knew where he was on those issues. I don’t know anything [now]. Let’s see where we are. It may be nothing. If it’s just the thing with the lawyer and payments, then it’s nothing.”

Personally, I’m in agreement with Roenicke on this. Braun was not listed with any apparent connection to any wrongdoing in the records, so there wasn’t reason to release his name. That goes the same for the other players who weren’t listed with any mention of banned substances, illegal drugs, or anything else. Just being written down on a piece of paper does not imply guilt nor should it be a decision-maker regarding innocence or guilt to anyone with journalistic integrity.

As I’ve said before on radio appearances, on Twitter, and other media, nothing that came out of Miami and Biogenesis should sway your opinion because it is explainable simply as a piece of information about what happened in Braun’s successful suspension appeal.

Official Release: Brewers On Deck To Feature Over 50 Players, Coaches

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Thirty-two current Milwaukee Brewers players from the 40-man roster plus a host of alumni, Minor League prospects, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place Sunday, January 27 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Delta Center.  The event is presented by Time Warner Cable.

Brewers On Deck is the annual Fan Fest that bridges the gap between winter and Spring Training.  Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include the following (all subject to change):

PLAYERS

COACHES

  • Ron Roenicke
  • Joe Crawford
  • Marcus Hanel (@Markoos55)
  • Garth Iorg
  • Rick Kranitz
  • Jerry Narron
  • Johnny Narron
  • Ed Sedar
  • John Shelby
  • Lee Tunnell

MINORS

ALUMNI

  • Jerry Augustine (@jaugie46)
  • Jim Gantner
  • Larry Hisle
  • Gorman Thomas
  • Bob Uecker

Tickets for Brewers On Deck are currently on sale.  Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children ages 14 and under. 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. On the day of the event, only cash will be accepted for purchases made at the door.  Tickets the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under.

Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family.  Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, interactive games in the Kids Area, Q&A sessions and game shows with coaches, players and staff, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

The same system for autographs will be used for Brewers On Deck that was used last year.  Recipients of any “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Numbered coupons to be entered into the random selection process will be available the day of the event only and will be distributed beginning at 8 a.m. at the Delta Center. Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted later this month.

Fans can receive one coupon per event admission ticket and can use that coupon to enter the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding coupons that are chosen must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the PREMIER autograph sessions.

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. 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 regarding the lottery process, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.

All 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.

Details on Gonzalez’ Contract Incentives

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.

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.

If The Season Started Tomorrow…

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.

dougmelvinI 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

Gallardo

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

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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.

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

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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!

Infielders (7)

  • Jeff Bianchi
  • Mat Gamel**
  • Corey Hart
  • Donnie Murphy
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Jean Segura
  • Rickie Weeks

segura

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.

Outfielders (4)

  • Norichika Aoki**
  • Ryan Braun
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Logan Schafer**

braunaction

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

  1. Rickie Weeks
  2. Norichika Aoki
  3. Ryan Braun
  4. Aramis Ramirez
  5. Corey Hart
  6. Jonathan Lucroy
  7. Carlos Gomez
  8. Jean Segura
  9. 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.

And you?

Brewers Sign Another Veteran Reliever

Mike Gonzalez

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.

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!***

***UPDATE 2 (1:20pm): ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets the base contract value.***

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.