The Milwaukee Brewers today relieved bullpen coach Stan Kyles of his duties. Lee Tunnell will replace Kyles on an interim basis and report to the team tomorrow. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.
“It is important that we make every effort to try to improve our bullpen performance,” said Melvin. “While Stan is not solely responsible, I felt that this change was the first step and was necessary. Stan has been a loyal member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization for 11 years. His hard work and dedication has been an integral part of the Brewers’ success and is greatly appreciated. His professionalism, personality and knowledge will be missed.”
Tunnell, in his fourth season in the organization, had been Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Prior to that role, he spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds as interim bullpen coach (2006) and pro scout (2007-08). He also coached in the Rangers organization for nine seasons (1997-2005).
Brewers relievers have gone 15-26 with a 4.80 ERA this season. The bullpen has recorded the most losses and blown saves (20) in the Major Leagues and ranks 28th in ERA and 29th in opponent batting average (.274).
Kyles had served as bullpen coach for the Brewers since the 2009 season.
We’re inside six weeks, faithful (or first-time) readers. If you look to the right-hand side of the page, and are reading this on the day it was first posted, you’ll also notice that we’re a week away from on-field action against another team.
It’s an exciting time of the year to be sure. One where, in a normal set of meteorological circumstances, we’d be talking more about the trading of the seasons from winter to spring.
Do you see what I did there?
One off-season removed from the trading which brought us Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, today “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profiles the only trade acquisition this current off-season:
Acquired in exchange for 3B Casey McGehee back in December, Jose Enger Veras was recently described on Twitter by Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy as “gigantic” when he reported to Maryvale for the start of Brewers Spring Training. In the tradition of reporting that a player has reported to camp in the “best shape of his life”, the term was met with some worry by those that read it. McCalvy clarified that he simply meant that Veras, who stands 6’6″ and is listed at 240 pounds, is every bit of human that his bio suggests.
Veras, 31, pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year for the Pittsburgh Pirates (as he has throughout his professional career) where he posted a line of 2-4, 3.80 ERA, 71.0 IP, 54 H, 32 R (30 ER), 6 HR, 34 BB, 3 IBB, 79 K. He held opponents to a .206 batting average, and his WHIP totaled 1.24 for the year. He was 1-for-8 in Save opportunities for the Pirates, and hasn’t saved a game since 2007 when he was 2-f0r-2 for the New York Yankees. In other words, neither incumbent closer John Axford, nor incumbent setup man Francisco Rodriguez need worry about their jobs.
That isn’t to say that Veras doesn’t have late-inning value. He was the primary setup man for Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan and appeared in 79 games. His talents and level of ability definitely fit better in the 7th inning, which for the record is where the Pirates would’ve pitched Veras in 2011 had Evan Meek been healthy the entire season. The 7th inning just so happens to be a spot where the Brewers have an opening (actually, two) created by the free-agent departures of LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito.
It’s extremely early in the process to determine anything definitively, but if camp broke today and the Brewers faced the Cardinals tomorrow and the starter could only make it through six…it would be a safe bet that Jose Veras would get the ball first in a close game where the Brewers had the lead.
Veras features a big fastball (range: 92 MPH – 97 MPH with a 94.1 MPH average velocity), curve ball (range: 75 MPH – 82 MPH, average: 78.6 MPH), and split-fingered fastball (80-86 range, 83.8 average).
He is a strikeout pitcher, as evidenced by his 79 strikeouts in 71.0 innings last year and his career 249 strikeouts in 247.1 innings pitched. When batters put the ball in play against him, the ball tends to head skyward. His career ground-out-to-fly-out ratio is 0.81 and was actually 0.68 in 2011.
Bottom line: He’ll contribute positively much more often than not, but like any relief pitcher is prone to give up runs in bunches. In the 19 appearances in which Veras allowed runs to score on his record, he allowed multiple runs nine times. To put it another way, he seems to be a very on or very off pitcher (just based on hard numbers), so it will be part of manager Ron Roenicke’s job with the help of bullpen coach Stan Kyles, to make sure they can identify the days when they might be getting an off Veras.
Three of the last four days in our player preview countdown to Opening Day have been lost to Brewers coaches. Yesterday’s culprit was bullpen coach Stan Kyles who wears #53 when in uniform.
Today however, and for the next seven days following today, a player wears the number in question. That would make it eight straight for “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, a stretch which shall not be broken this year and which is only duplicated once, but this stretch includes a non-roster invitee to Spring Training who I’m still debating on whether to profile. Unless I hear an outcry of want, that player, Juan Perez who was assigned #46 when the Brewers acquired him, probably won’t be previewed.
I won’t be holding my breath while waiting for his fan base to cry out in support, but I still haven’t officially made up my mind. After all, I strive to preview players on the 40-man roster and/or those who could contribute to the 25-man roster at some point in 2012. The only thing working in Perez’ favor is his handedness.
But enough about those other members of the Brewers organization; as it is 52 days until Opening Day, we are here today to discuss the player who wears 52:
Working as a starting pitcher for each of 23 appearances in 2011 as a member of the Double-A Huntsville Stars, Cody Michael Payne Scarpetta posted a season linescore of 8-5, 3.85 ERA, 100 H, 61 R (50 ER), 8 HR, 61 BB, 98 K, 1.38 WHIP over 117.0 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .234 batting average.
Scarpetta’s play in the first half of the minor league season earned him a reward of sorts. With a bit of an overworked bullpen just before the Major League All-Star Game break, Milwaukee officially optioned Mat Gamel back to the minor leagues on July 10, 2011 and called up Scarpetta for a game that same night against the Cincinnati Reds.
With the game tightly contested the entire way (eventually won by the Brewers with a bottom of the ninth walk-off from Craig Counsell), Scarpetta didn’t enter the game and therefore has no official Major League career to speak of yet. The fact remains that Scarpetta was in uniform for the game and no doubt learned plenty from his 24-hour tour of Milwaukee.
The level of performance that earned him that one-day callup would not carry over to the 2011 Arizona Fall League where, in five appearances (four starts) as a member of the Peoria Javelinas, Scarpetta lost three games and allowed 16 earned runs on 13 walks and 14 hits, two of which were home runs, in just 7.1 innings pitched. That was bad for an ERA of 19.64 and a WHIP of 3.68!
Small sample size or not, and regardless of the fact that the AFL is littered with on-the-cusp talent, it’s clear that Scarpetta simply didn’t have much of anything to offer in Arizona. The future remains bright enough for Scarpetta, though, and he likely could contribute out of the bullpen if needed in 2012.
For a look at how he got to this point, let’s go back and review Scarpetta’s early years as a professional.
Scarpetta was originally drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Guilford High School and forewent a commitment to Creighton University to sign with the Brewers organization. In an odd circumstance, Scarpetta (who is still only 23 years old today) had his original deal voided because of an injury and when the team resigned him it was forced to add him to the 40-man roster at the end of the same year (2008) or risk losing him to the Rule V Draft.
What that also means is that Scarpetta’s minor league options began having to be used up immediately to keep him in the system beginning with the 2009 season. Normally a player has three options but with the unique circumstances of Scarpetta’s situation, the league granted a fourth minor league option to the Brewers on Scarpetta therefore allowing them to stash him in the minors for one more year before doing so would require exposing him to waivers first.
As you can surmise, 2012 will be an important year in Scarpetta’s development as his final minor league option will be used.
Scarpetta will be working on a fastball that’s already been described as “very good” and sits in the low 90s, a plus curveball that was described as “the best in the system” by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season and a changeup which, while improved, is still developing. He’ll need all three of those pitches to profile well if he’s to get a legitimate shot at joining a Brewers rotation that could, technically, have four openings in 2013. As it stands today, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum will both be free agents at the end of 2012, Randy Wolf could become of a free agent if the Brewers decline their 2013 option and Chris Narveson becomes arbitration-eligible prior to the 2013 season which could always lead to a non-tender if Narveson doesn’t perform well enough this year.
Preparing for that final step, Scarpetta will take the next step in 2012 by most likely beginning the year in the rotation for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. If he doesn’t start in Triple-A, he’ll likely be one of the first looks for an early-season promotion thereto.
To be successful at the highest minor league level, Scarpetta will have to overcome the command and delivery issues that have some baseball people saying that his best (or possibly only) path to the majors is a complete dedication to the bullpen. It’s been said that Scarpetta has “enough stuff” to start, but you have to be able to control that stuff to be successful at starting.
Listed at 6’3” and 244 pounds, Scarpetta has good size and a build that should hold up well throughout a season regardless as to his eventual role. Naturally everyone in Milwaukee hopes Scarpetta can be an effective contributor in the rotation, but again it remains to be seen if he’s got those kinds of chops.
With pitchers and catchers set to officially report to Spring Training in just five days, and all the uncertainty beginning in 2013 both individually and with the big league pitching staff, the most important season so far in Cody Scarpetta’s career is about to get underway.
What he does with it could make all the difference.
By: Big Rygg
So have we finally seen enough? Wait…wrong question. We definitely have. Allow me to rephrase…
So…have they finally seen enough?
Of course the “they” in the revised question refers to Milwaukee Brewer Manager Ken Macha and General Manager Doug Melvin. And whatever might I be talking about when I ask if enough of it has been seen?
That’s a simple answer as well.
Julio almost single-armedly threw the Milwaukee Brewers from a series-opening (and road trip-beginning) victory into a loss. Between walks, hitting a couple of batters and general ineffectiveness all the way around, Julio was ultimately charged with four earned runs without recording a single out.It skyrocketed his ERA from 5.71 (still poor by itself, don’t get me wrong) to 7.79.
Now, to be fair, over his last four outings, Julio had put together 5.2 innings of scoreless ball. This was is mostly low pressure situations. Monday night should have been another low pressure spot again, just bridging the gap between Jeff Suppan who Houdini’d his way around trouble for the most part but did so by racking up 100 pitches in just 5 innings. All Julio was charged with was pitching through the 6th so that Coffey, Villanueva and (if necessary) Trevor Hoffman could take the game over and close the door.
But what did Julio accomplish? He loaded the bases, pushed a run across whether the Marlins wanted it or not, and finally gave way to Coffey who couldn’t stop the bleeding and actually allowed a run of his own in the inning as well. But with a a four run lead, facing the bottom of the order…you just can’t do what Julio did tonight and expect to stick in the big leagues very long.
I’ll admit that after seeing the numbers Julio put up in Atlanta at the end of last season, I was optimistic when the Brewers signed him in the off-season.
After a rough spring, Julio surprised everyone by making the 25-man roster when the team headed north to San Francisco for the opening series of the 2009 regular season. That could be as much of a matter of timing that he’s stuck with the team as long as he has. Julio made the team in the first place primarily because Hoffman was injured so there was an opening. When Hoffman was ready to come back, David Riske needed time on the DL (from which he’s still rehabbing). Even now, when the rumors are that the Brewers will be calling up someone from the minors to help the bullpen out, there’s talk that Mark DiFelice might have to go on the DL due to some elbow inflammation.
But truly, I don’t see how the stars continue to align to allow Julio to ply his trade at the Major League level. Maybe it’s because he does have a live arm and can throw very hard. Maybe it’s because every now and then he comes out and has a few appearances in a row where he doesn’t allow any runs to score.
Therein lies the problem, however, is because you just don’t know who is coming to the mound from the bullpen on a given night despite Ken Macha having Bill Castro call Stan Kyles with the exact same name.
Julio’s earned runs allowed over his last 10 appearances? 0, 0, 1, 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 4. How can a manager be expected to trust that arm?
So, to quote some lyrics from the song that the Miller Park audio crew has been using for when Jorge Julio is summoned from the bullpen:
“Well, I’m on my way
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m on my way
I’m takin my time but I don’t know where”
Allow me to respond to those lines the way Doug Melvin should have tonight after the game in Miami…
You’re going to the waiver wire because you’ve been designated for assignment. Oh, and as for taking your time? Don’t bother. Get to steppin’.
(I mean seriously…could you see Doug Melvin say “Get to steppin'”? That’d be hilarious.)