Tagged: Salomon Torres

Happy International Prospect Signing Day

Happy 2nd of July!

(You’re a couple of days early — aren’t you?)

How about Happy International Signing Day!

(Happy what now?)

Okay, let me explain.

I know that for many fans of just the Milwaukee Brewers, July 2nd hasn’t carried a whole ton of meaning until recently, and only recently if you’ve followed the organization’s renewed efforts to identify and sign international (read: latin american) talent. That renewed effort coinciding with the opening of their academy in the Dominican Republic, in a partnership with former Brewer closer Salomon Torres.

The Brewers have signed some players but their first real splashes came last July 2nd when they inked a couple of guys to team record Latin American signing bonuses. Those kids, Dominicans Franly Mallen and Nicolas Pierre then each just 16 years old, were ranked 22nd and 29th respectively on MLB.com’s list of top international prospects. They were signed to contracts worth $800,000 apiece, and the Brewers were seen as players again in the region.

Well, a report all the way back in February from Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel had the Brewers tied to an even bigger target in Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara, who he has said is arguably the top international prospect this year.

(Here’s a link to the February column from McDaniel: http://sbb.scout.com/2/1373523.html)

He’s ranked 4th on MLB.com’s international prospects list and is said to have a physically mature body, lending itself to safer projectability. Regardless, he was reported at the time to be a lock to blow the $800,000 franchise record out of the water. In fact, it was seen that Lara could quite easily get $3,000,000 and probably would get a bit more.

While that’s great news for the Brewers, the unfortunate side effect is that since a franchise cannot officially have even a verbal agreement in place prior to July 2nd, the leaked information could put the team at risk of at least having another franchise swoop in to offer more, or at worst costing the organization some sanctions.

While it luckily appears that both of the situations have been avoided because multiple outlets (including ESPN’s Enrique Rojas and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez) reported that Lara has indeed formally agreed to and subsequently signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, something that appears inevitable for now is the Brewers soaring past their “soft cap” for international signings. That number for 2014 is just $2,611800 which would mean Lara alone would already put the Brewers into the realm of financial penalty.

The financial penalties break down thusly (as borrowed from Jesse Sanchez’s MLBlogs.com blog):

  • Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.

For the record, if Lara got the $3.2 million he was reportedly set to sign for today, that puts the Brewers more than 15% over their pool allotment. The Brewers could possibly alleviate some of that by trading for pool space, but that remains to be seen. For now, that’s a worry for 2015.

For the rest of 2014, Lara can be expected to report to the Brewers Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, but per rule he won’t be eligible to play in Dominican Summer League games until next year. Lara is a high-ceiling kid, one whose abilities on the baseball diamond have gained significant attention for a reason. He’s also still just 16 years old and it needs to be understood that even in a great string of events and success, he wouldn’t be playing on United States’ soil until 2016 at the earliest. Still, should he realize the potential that is worth more than $3 million of signing bonus and contract, it will be an investment worth its weight in time and expense.

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #16

Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.

#16

Gus Gil (’70-’71)
Ron Theobald (’71-’72)
Ken Berry (’74)
Sixto Lezcano (’75-’80)
Marshall Edwards (’81-’83)
Juan Castillo (’85)
Mike Felder (’85-’90)
Kevin D. Brown (’90)
Pat Listach (’92-’95)
Jesse Levis (’96-’98)
Lou Collier (’99-’01)
Lenny Harris (’02)
Salomon Torres (’08)
Chris Duffy (’09)
Jason Bourgeois (’09)
George Kottaras (’10-’11)
Aramis Ramirez (’12-’15)
Domingo Santana (’15-Current)

Torres to Hang Up Spikes?

By: Big Rygg

Let me precede what I’m about to post with the following statement:

I know that the Brewer Nation is just a weblog (and a MySpace page with plenty of friends and a Facebook entity that you can become a fan of) and that a lot of the media out there consider blogs to be places where any Tom, Dick or Harry can come to spout off on whatever they want without official recourse for bogus “news” or postings.
Now, having said that, someone mentioned something to me that makes a lot of sense.
Salomon Torres supposedly told the Brewers as early as July that 2008 would be his last season in baseball before retiring again.
Let’s break that down.
First, we all know that when Doug Melvin traded for Torres prior to the 2008 season that Torres was seriously contemplating retiring so as to avoid uprooting his family after so many years in Pittsburgh. He decided to pitch and we all know how well he filled in as closer before his amount of work seemed to catch up to him.
Second, the Brewers hold a club option on Torres’ contract at a reported $3.75MM. That is quite inexpensive for a pitcher of Torres’ skill and track-record given today’s contracts. The Brewers have until November 15th to exercise that option to bring Torres back at that cost. So why would they wait unless they didn’t exactly want to pay a guaranteed $3.75MM to a retired player?
I believe my source to be not only credible (they most definitely could/would have knowledge of this situation) but also there is no real reason to believe that they would lie about the issue since Torres’ situation doesn’t necessarily affect any of their situations directly.
Now, if Torres had said that 2008 would be his last season for sure as early as July, the only reason I can see as to why he hasn’t already announced that decision is because 2008’s success and playoff appearance is making Torres at least think about reconsidering his position.
Bottom line is that if Torres wants to play in 2009 and the Brewers don’t exercise his option, I’ll question the decision all year. That being said, there is a deadline on Torres to make up his mind whether or not he wants to play next year if he continues to be the professional that he has shown himself to be. In other words, it’d be pretty shady for him to say he wants to retire so the Brewers don’t pick up his option only to turn around and sign with someone else for more money. I wouldn’t expect Salomon Torres to do something like that.
Time will ultimately tell on this situation as with all other off-season happenings, but this twist needed to be mentioned just in case it happens that way.
In other news, CC Sabathia has reportedly talked to Yankee Captain Derek Jeter about what it’s like to play in New York City for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees, bankrolled by oodles of revenue from their new stadium along with so much money coming off of their payroll from last year, are expected to make an enormous contract offer to Sabathia as early as Friday (when the moratorium on exclusive free agent negotiating rights is lifted). Sabathia will have quite the decision to make, and is covering his proverbial bases like any smart man would.
I’m still hopeful, though I know how unlikely it is, that CC will decide to help Milwaukee keep their window open a little wider for a little longer. We’ll all find out what the Brew Crew is up against as far as dollars and cents in a few days.

The Off-Season Cometh

By: Big Rygg

With the World Series having finished (finally), it’s officially the off-season for all of Major League Baseball. That brings a lot of things, but most notably for Milwaukee it brings the impending free agency of several members of the 2008 playoff team.

Let’s review those players and discuss them a bit both in how their 2008 season went and whether or not I think they will (or should) come back to the Brewers for 2009.

3B/OF Russell Branyan – .250/.342/.583, 33/132, 24 R, 8 2B, 12 HR, 20 RBI, 19 BB, 42 K, 1/1 SB
Branyan even being a part of the Brewers’ system was a matter of fortunate coincidence. He didn’t have a job coming into 2008 and because he lived in the same city as his former big league club’s AAA affiliate and said affiliate needed a third baseman…well, it worked out.

It was another matter of good fortune when The Muscle returned to Milwaukee. He had been tearing up the league at AAA Nashville and the Brewers needed a left-handed bat to platoon with Bill Hall at third base because of Hall’s propensity to suck so hard at hitting right-handed pitching this year, Branyan’s bread and butter by the by.

Branyan hit home runs at a near record pace for the Crew for a fair chunk of the year. Eventually, however, Branyan’s numbers began to tail off before he finally wound up on the disabled list for almost the balance of the season after hurting himself during an at-bat.

It was almost poetic the way that Branyan rode to the rescue for a stretch, but at the same time it was just as much happenstance. That being said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Crew could decide to open the year with Hall in the starting infield at 3B with Branyan sitting on the flight deck as the “Ready 5” player. (Note: That’s a reference from Top Gun…I really hope you knew that without me having to tell you.) The bottom line on bringing Branyan back would be how much left-handed hitting they end up with on the roster after the Winter Meetings. Either way, I don’t expect Branyan’s lack of contract situation to be resolved any time soon. Fortunately for The Muscle, the off-season is plenty long enough.

CF Mike Cameron – .243/.331/.477, 108/444, 69 R, 25 2B, 2 3B, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 54 BB, 142 K, 17/22 SB
So here’s the truly mind-boggling thing about Mike Cameron’s 2008 season: He missed nearly an entire month of games (25) due to a suspension but still managed to finish with respectable numbers in several categories. Unfortunately, Cameron also lead the team in strikeouts, beating guys that had at least 140 more at-bats than he did.

The former Gold Glove Award winner, Cameron’s defense was mostly solid this year. There were a few plays that he screwed up, but everybody has a few in a given year. I can’t remember how many times Cameron would go 0-2 in a count and then immediately take that same count to 2-2. Sure, he struck out thereafter an awful lot, but it’s still an interesting quirk of his season.

The issue with Cameron returning to Milwaukee next year is the price of the team option on his contract which stands at $10MM for one year. Yes, we’d have Cameron for 150+ games instead of a maximum of 137, but having already struck out 142 times in just 120 games, it doesn’t bode well for 2009. Cameron, like I’ll explain about Counsell next, might just come down to other roster moves. $750K is a whole lost easier to pay than $10MM, after all. What’s more, General Manager Doug Melvin has made it known that he wants to get more left-handed bats in the lineup to create better balance. The “holes”, so to speak, that we have to fill that we could fill with lefties are at 3B and CF (and possibly 2B depending on your viewpoint). For whatever reason, the Brewers don’t seem willing to give Tony Gwynn a shot despite the fact that he hits lefty, plays solid defense and is more of a prototypical leadoff hitter than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. That could help Cameron come back as a one-year bridge to another propsect being ready (Lorenzo Cain, perhaps, now that Michael Brantley was sent to Cleveland to finalize the CC Sabathia trade).

Time will tell on this one as teams have a deadline to announce whether or not they are picking up options on players.

INF Craig Counsell – .226/.355/.302, 56/248, 31 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 46 BB, 42 K, 3/4 SB
The Craigger (as I call him) or The Schnozz (as my wife does) is a local boy with a flair for coming up big in clutch situations. There’s always some great anticipation when he steps into the batter’s box when the bases are loaded, but quite frankly for the 38-year-old, those situations don’t happen nearly often enough.

He’s got one helluva glove and I routinely find myself assuming an out when the ball gets hit toward him…but the bottom line is that .226 overall isn’t going to get the job done anymore. I’m a big Craig Counsell fan, but realistically can the Brewers afford to carry a $3.5MM (or so) utility infielder? Depending on some of the other rosters moves the team is able to make or chooses to make…it’s probably not feasible. Besides, if things go according to my master plan, we’ll already have an expensive utility infielder in Bill Hall.

2B Ray Durham – .280/.369/.477, 30/107, 21 R, 12 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 23 K, 2/4 SB (with Milwaukee)
Brought it just before the non-waiver trade deadline, Ray Durham added a needed spark to Rickie Weeks at first, but ultimately the two fell into a platoon at 2B. one that doesn’t figure to be repeated in 2009 one way or another. Either the Brewers will recommit to Weeks or they’ll trade for a different double-play partner for J.J. Hardy (or possibly Alcides Escobar depending on how that situation pans out).

Durham missed several games down the stretch which could be contributed to either fatigue, age, bad luck or possibly a bit of all three. Durham is a switch-hitter, which is a nice thing, but the fact that he hits lefties about as well as Weeks hits righties (.238 overall this year vs lefties for Durham). His defense is more solid than Weeks’ too, but the fact is Durham is no spring chicken, or autumn chicken for that matter.

Bottom line on Durham is tha the was brought it to provide some veteran leadership for the stretch run and he delivered just that. If the price is right, he could be a fine bench player whether the Brewers retain Weeks or not.

RP Eric Gagne – 4-3, 5.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 50 G, 10/17 SV/SVO, 38 K, 1.47 WHIP
Fewer financial committments were worse in 2008 than the $10MM, one-year contract that Doug Melvin signed Eric Gagne to. Signed to be the closer after Francisco Cordero skipped town, Gagne struggled right out of the gate, blowing a 3-run lead on Opening Day in Chicago. The Brewers ended up winning that game, but it was the season for Gagne in a nutshell. Struggles, inconsistency, expectations…all in all Gagne just simply didn’t measure up despite falling into a setup role fairly comfortably late in the year after a stint on the DL.

As for next year? I wouldn’t even mind having Gagne back in Milwaukee, but at a much more believable price. I have a feeling that Gagne will listen to offers for a bit before deciding what he wants to do. If he has the chance to be a closer somewhere for closer-type money, perhaps he takes that offer. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Melvin extends Gagne an opportunity to return to Milwaukee.

OF Gabe Kapler – .301/.340/.498, 69/229, 36 R, 17 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 3/4 SB
What a story Gabe Kapler turned out to be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The guy retires, manages for two years, get the itch again, lets people know he’s available, signs a contract with the Brewers that the majority of fans (thank you, I am NOT included in that group) did not understand or agree with. All he did was capably fill in at all three OF positions, hit over .300 and was our best bat off the bench as well. Unfortunately, for many reasons, Kapler’s season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. He could have been extremely useful to spell both Ryan Braun (rib cage) and Corey Hart (mental fatigue perhaps?) down the stretch.

Kapler will be 33 for a little over half the season in 2009, turning 34 on July 31st. That’s definitely not too old, especially for a guy who keeps himself in as good of shape as Kapler does. He is a free agent, and given the state of the league, could probably find a starting job on a few teams. Hopefully, though, the fans and clubhouse here in Milwaukee impressed him enough that he would want to come back. Hopefully, also, Doug Melvin was impressed enough with Kapler’s play that he would want him back. I think it’s a great fit here and if I were on Melvin’s staff, I’d push for a deal to get done quickly.

3B Mike Lamb – .273/.273/.273, 3/11, 2 R, 1 K
Lamb has the option to become a free agent after this year. Based on his lack of starts while he was with the club, along with how they only picked him up off waivers, and there’s very little chance of Lamb not exercising that option.

*UPDATE* Lamb filed for free agency on the first day, as expected.

RP Guillermo Mota – 5/6, 5.11 ERA, 58 G, 57.0 IP, 1/4 SV/SVO, 50 K, 1.40 WHIP
Mota came to the Brewers in what was probably the best trade of Milwaukee’s off-season. Doug Melvin contacted the GM of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya, and struck a deal. He offered Johnny Estrada against a list of players he’d be willing to take back in a one-for-one deal. Minaya picked a guy that the fans in New York booed when he was warming up in the bullpen for crying out loud.

Mota pitched well in chunks for the Brewers, a couple of times falling into old habits in New York that got him into trouble. Pitching Coach Mike Maddux corrected Mota multiple times and made him serviceable. If he’s able to continue pitching like he does when he’s right, he’ll help out whatever team he winds up with.

Now, whether or not that’s the Brewers remains to be seen. I think that Melvin would probably be willing to bring him back for a reasonable price, as he did finish the season as our most consistent bullpen arm and you just can’t overhaul as drastically as they did in 2008..can you?

SP CC Sabathia – 11-2, 1.65 ERA, 17 GS, 130.2 IP, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 128 K, 1.00 WHIP
Um…what would I be able to say here that could possibly come close to stating how incredible CC Sabathia was for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008? The man was flat out amazing nearly every time he took the hill. He won his first 9 decisions in a Brewer uniform and, quite frankly, carried the entire team into the playoffs on his large back.

To say that the Brewers want him back is the understatement of the off-season. But, with CC comes a lot of $$. In fact, there is talk that the Yankees are prepared to offer him 7 years for a total of $175MM (that’s an average of $25MM per year, math majors). The Brewers supposedly are preparing to offer (if they haven’t already) a contract of comparable annual amount though not the years. Some talk has said 4/$100MM another I read said 6/$120MM. Either way, if the Brewers are fortunate enough to sign the unquestioned #1 arm on the free agent market…well…it’ll be a glorious day in the history of the Brewer franchise.

SP Ben Sheets – 13-9, 3.09 ERA, 31 GS, 198.1 IP, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 158 K, 1.15 WHIP
After finally confessing and repenting (if you don’t understand that point, you need to look at our September archive), Ben Sheets won a 13th game for the first time in his career and nearly pitched 200 innings for the first time in a few years. However, Sheets also fell prey to the injury bug yet again.

I personally feel that if this wasn’t a contract year for Sheets, he would’ve allowed himself to get shelved if not more often, certainly earlier in the year than late September. It’s unfortunate, but the guy is hamstrung like very few other players in the game. While Sheets hasn’t missed as much time, a decent comparison could be a Carl Pavano. Loads of talent, seemingly always unavailable when their teams need them most.

Doug Melvin has gone on record as saying that he has spoken to Casey Close (Sheets’ agent) and is going to making an offer to possibly bring Sheets back to the Brewers. Having endured the ups and downs of Sheets’ last few years, it’d sure be nice to have a healthy pitcher with his kind of talent. But the bottom line is that Sheets is NOT that pitcher anymore. Yes, a lot of his injuries are weird and random, but when they keep happening, I’m sorry; that’s a trend. And the bottom line that Melvin has to ask himself is whether or not the Brewers can afford the starts. They can afford the money that Sheets can/will get on the open market, but can they afford to carry six starters so that there is a guy ready to pitch when Sheets inevitably (yes, inevitably) misses a start?

The only way I’m comfortable bringing Sheets back to our mid-range payroll team is for Melvin to sign him to a slightly-below-market-value deal that protects our payroll figure from becoming over-bloated to the point where owner Mark Attanasio doesn’t give Melvin any flexibility to pull off deadline deals like he did this year.

RP Brian Shouse – 5-1, 2.81 ERA, 69 G, 51.1 IP, 2/5 SV/SVO, 33 K, 1.17 WHIP
Our left-handed specialist for the past couple of seasons, Brian Shouse is 41 years old but continues to get the job done coming out of the bullpen. Ned Yost used Shouse in some odd ways at times, but he is simply best utilized by bringing him in to face a lefty in a key situation.

Shouse is looking for a two-year deal which would be impossible to come by given his age if it weren’t for his continued success on the bump. Shouse has said that he would like to return to Milwaukee, but feels that he owes it to himself and his family to see what kinds of offers he’s able to field on the open market just to gauge his “value”.

The Brewers are grooming a replacement for Shouse in fellow lefty Mitch Stetter, but I’d still like to see Shouse return to the Crew for at least one more year. Left-handed relievers never seem to flame out so as long as he’s not given up homer after homer, Shouse will be worth the phone call to the bullpen.

CL Salomon Torres – 7-5, 3.49 ERA, 71 G, 80.0 IP, 28/35 SV/SVO, 51 K, 1.35 WHIP
Torres was traded for in the off-season to be a setup man but also provide more veteran leadership to a group that was sorely lacking in that department in 2007. When Eric Gagne was patently ineffective to begin the year and spent some time on the DL, Torres was handed the reins at the back end up the bullpen and did a stellar job until, quite frankly, he wore out by the end of the year. They say sinkerballers prefer to not be overly rested, but 80 innings over 71 games…that’s a LOT of work, fellow Brewer fans.

The team holds on option to bring Torres back, and I believe that they’ll exercise that option. It’s a reasonable cost at just $3.75MM and he pitched very well. He may not come into the year as the closer, but all that will be hashed out in spring training of course.

***NOTE: Joe Dillon was designated for assignment when the Brewers claimed 3B Casey McGehee off of waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Dillon was claimed by the Oakland Athletics so he is no longer a part of the Brewers’ organization.

How Good is Salomon Torres Anyway???

By: Big Rygg

torres.jpgYes, I am playing off South Side Rob’s article title just one post ago, but it’s fitting. Salomon Torres has been a God-sent for this team and our aspirations of post-season play.

Eric Gagne’s struggles have been well documented this year. Prior to his stint on the disabled list (which is still on-going at the moment), Gagne had put together numbers that look like this:

 

 1-2, 6.98 ERA, 10 SV (out of 15 opportunities), 19.1 IP, 5 HR, 15 ER, 16 BB, 2.02 WHIP

When Gagne went on the DL, Salomon Torres ended up getting the chance to save games more often than not. Torres’ numbers since taking over for Gagne are:

1-0, 0.64 ERA, 10 SV (out of 10 opportunities), 14.0 IP, 0 HR, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0.86 WHIP

As you can clearly see, Torres has been phenomonal where Gagne has struggled a lot of the time.

torresaction.jpgTorres has had a rubber arm throughout his career, and that rubber has produced plenty of bouncing back for the Brewers this year. Torres has come into the game in the 8th inning a couple of times this year when he’s been needed to get the team out of jams, and has locked down many a clean inning.

But with all this success comes the question: What should the team do upon Eric Gagne’s pending return from the DL?

gagne.jpgI ask “should” because we’ve apparently already been told what the team “will” do. Ned Yost has announced that Torres will remain in the closer’s role until his performance dictates otherwise.

There is an unwritten rule in sports (all sports, not simply baseball) that a player won’t lose his job because of injury. It’s not always followed, but that’s the accepted norm.

An example in Wisconsin sports where it was followed: J.J. Hardy injured his ankle in 2006 when he was trying to slide into home but instead slid into Sal Fasano’s shin guard. Bill Hall became the starting shortstop and went on to team MVP honors backed by a 35 home run season. The next year, the team asked Bill Hall to move to centerfield to accomodate Hardy’s return to the everyday lineup at the shortstop position.

An example in Wisconsin sports where it wasn’t followed: Brett Favre replaced an injured Don Majkowski at quarterback on September 20, 1992. Majkowski never took another snap under center in a regular season game for the Green Bay Packers. Yes, Majkowski had ligament damage in his ankle when he was injured, but instead of coming back to the Packers where his job “should have been there”, Favre performed too well to justify following the unwritten rule so Majkowski wrote his signature on a contract to backup in Indianapolis as a Colt.

I could come up with plenty more examples on both sides of this argument, but my point is simply that it doesn’t all happen whether you believe it should or not.

So I ask you, Brewer Nation, what are your thoughts about this? If Corey Koskie would’ve been healthy enough to play last year following the All-Star break, should he have been inserted back into the starting lineup to supplant Ryan Braun and derail his Rookie of the Year season? Then again, would Mike “Tiny” Felder, had he played well enough, have deserved to permanently replace one Robin Yount in centerfield after Yount went down with a knee injury in 1989?

Again, there are two sides with convincing arguments for both on this topic. I’m looking for your’s, reader.

Personally? I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Both players being equal, you absolutely give the former starter his job back, but I think you have to look at each case on its own.

What do you think?