Tagged: Wil Nieves

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #33

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.

#33

Marty Pattin (’70-’71)
Mike Ferraro (’72)
Bob Gardner (’73)
Tom Bianco (’75)
Doc Medich (’82)
Jay Aldrich (’87, ’89)
George Canale (’89-’90)
Ron Robinson (’90-’92)
Troy O’Leary (’93-’94)
Ron Rightnowar (’95)
Jamie McAndrew (’95, ’97)
Bobby Hughes (’98)
Lyle Mouton (’99-’00)
Will Cunnane (’01)
Mark Sweeney (’01)
Jim Rushford (’02)
Curtis Leskanic (’03)
Wes Obermueller (’04-’05)
Carlos Villanueva (’06)
Johnny Estrada (’07)
Gabe Kapler (’08)
Wil Nieves (’11)
Eric Farris (’11-’12)
Chris Carter (’16-Current)

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #9 George Kottaras

Would you look at that? We’re in the single digits, folks!

Regular season baseball is almost here.

Well, regular season Brewers baseball that is. See, they’re playing games that matter today in Japan. The Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners are playing a regular season series outside of North America.

It’s not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last, I’m sure. That fact doesn’t make it less silly though.

Anyway, you didn’t come here to read about any of that. No, you’re here to read about the man who is wearing jersey number 9 for the first time as a Milwaukee Brewer (or as a big leaguer at all):

George Kottaras.

The backup to Jonathan Lucroy, George Kottaras is a 6’0″,  200 pound catcher who hails from Scarborough, Ontario. Though Canadian by birth, he is of Greek descent and played on the 2004 Greek baseball team in the Olympics.

Kottaras is an offensive catcher who possesses a bit of power from the left-handed batters box. He is streaky in his offense, though when he’s on he’s usually very on.

In fact, Kottaras had a very significant offensive achievement in 2011 when he hit for the cycle in a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston against the Astros.

It was an event that might not have happened for him had everything gone to plan.

Kottaras, along with Wil Nieves, broke camp with the team in 2011 because Lucroy was shelved with a broken finger. The incumbent starter was ready to return eventually and the team later needed to open a roster spot. The decision came down to who would backup Lucroy.

Nieves, proven to be superior defensively to Kottaras, was chosen to remain on the team as the backup catcher and Kottaras was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. It was a move which would prove fruitless for the Brewers and Kottaras rejoined the club when Nieves was completely useless at the plate. Nieves was traded to Atlanta shortly thereafter.

While catching games in 2011 for the Brewers, the pitchers he caught posted a 3.59 ERA. That would be 101 earned runs in 253.0 innings. Kottaras started 31 times, catching left-hander Randy Wolf in 22 of them. The Brewers were 20-11 in games where Kottaras was in the starting lineup.

Like was mentioned, though, Kottaras was on the roster for his stick. He batted .252 with 5 home runs and 17 RBI in 49 games. A far cry from starting catcher material, but a significant improvement over Nieves.

Still, Kottaras was a candidate after the season for non-tendering. The Brewers have another solid catching prospect in minor-leaguer Martin Maldonado and Kottaras was set to be arbitration-eligible, thereby greatly increasing his compensation.

Instead of being non-tendered, Kottaras agreed to a 1-year contract which he signed on 12/12, thereby avoiding arbitration and guaranteeing himself a job (at least going into spring).

Kottaras has had a good spring this year, and has all but assured himself of the backup catching job. He has hit .316 (12-for-38), scored 7 runs and driven in 7 as well, including a 5-RBI game on March 14. He’s walked four times and has even stolen a base.

As for the outlook for this year, it’s the same as last but with more time on the 25-man roster. He’ll likely catch every fifth day when Randy Wolf pitches, and occasionally a day game following a night game. The only difference might be that manager Ron Roenicke stated to the media that he intends to use Kottaras more in a late-inning pinch-hitting role.

All that is well and good, and I know that this won’t be a popular statement with the ladies, but 2012 could very well be the final season for Kottaras in Milwaukee.

He’s arbitration-eligible again after the season and with Maldonado having another year to get better in the minors, it might be time to pull that trigger.

Bottom line though, Kottaras should contribute a bit on offense, be torched badly by the majority of would be base stealers, and the subject of plenty of “personal catcher” tweets throughout the year.

After signing a new five-year contract extension, the Brewers will be looking for Lucroy to increase his games this year for sure, so Kottaras shouldn’t have too much exposure. And while I’ve got faith that Kottaras will win at least one game this year with his bat…

A lack of exposure of his weaknesses is better for everyone.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #20 Jonathan Lucroy

Today is St. Patrick’s Day in the United States of America, but at least as important, if not more so, is the fact that today is 20 days away from Opening Day!

You read that correctly. There are less than three weeks to go, Brewer Nation!

Today while you’re likely out partaking in some adult beverages and/or watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s Round of 32, be safe. Getting hurt (or God forbid worse) simply isn’t worth missing out of Opening Day.

But sometimes playing it safe can’t keep you injury free and you might miss Opening Day after all.

Such was the case last spring with today’s subject:

Jonathan Lucroy.

During a normal drill during Spring Training last year, Jonathan Charles Lucroy broke the pinkie finger on his throwing hand. (Lucroy bats and throws right-handed.) It caused Lucroy to begin the year on the disabled list as Wil Nieves and George Kottaras began the season as the two catchers on the 25-man roster.

Lucroy was reinstated to the active roster on April 10th and immediately worked back into the starting role. He had a nine-game hitting streak to begin the season once he got back to Milwaukee and was named the team’s Player of the Month for May.

Overall for the year, Lucroy batted .265/.313/.391, in 430 at-bats over 136 games (114 starts). He scored 45 runs, drove in 59, and totaled 114 hits (16 doubles, 1 triple, 12 home runs) while striking out 99 times and only walking 29 times.

More important for a catcher though is how he performs defensively. In that regard, the Brewers had a 3.63 ERA when he caught (1043.2 innings, 421 earned runs) and went 68-46 when he started. Lucroy threw out 21 of 98 runners attempting to steal, good for a 21.4% rate.

What’s more is that there have been more than a couple of articles written over the winter about Lucroy’s ability to frame pitches and help get borderline strike calls for his pitchers.

He was also inserted late in games which he did not start to pair up with the late-inning relievers. He is much more defensively sound than George Kottaras and those late changes helped evidence that.

Lucroy joked at one point during the season that he was the closer off the bench for the closers in the bullpen.

Back to the bat, Lucroy is having by far the best Spring Training of his career. Coming into today, Lucroy is batting .571 (12-of-21) and slugging .857 by way of three doubles and a home run. He’s also recorded his first Cactus League stolen base.

It’s been related by the beat writers that Lucroy has really taken well to the instruction from first year Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron. If the results in the regular season and over the course of the long summer reflect the improvements he’s made so far, it’ll be a banner year for third year big-leaguer at the plate.

If there is any knock on the way Lucroy has performed to this point in his career, it’s in the fact that he is only the starting catcher 80% of the time. He might get more days off than that of course with day games following night games, or the occasional double-header, but he’s only the #1 option for four of the five starting pitchers in Milwaukee’s rotation.

That’s not entirely Lucroy’s fault, of course, but the face remains that he and left-handed starter Randy Wolf have been unable to get on the same page. Wolf likes to pitch a game a certain way. He has a very specific game plan and knows what he wants to throw in any situation. Lucroy hasn’t gotten it yet. He needs to work harder to be able to catch Wolf and not force manager Ron Roenicke into having to catch Kottaras  (or more accurately “not Lucroy”) against tough left-handed pitchers.

Lucroy and Wolf have been paired together this spring and it seems to be working well enough so far. Having said all that, every catcher not named Jason Kendall needs some days off and catching Kottaras every fifth day all the time at least helps keeps Lucroy fresher.

As for being on the club on Opening Day, things are looking good for Lucroy there as well. Getting the start on the mound on Opening Day will likely be Yovani Gallardo, one of the four that Lucroy catches.

What all that means is that when Miller Park announcer Rob Edwards is rattling off the members of the Milwaukee Brewers prior to first pitch 20 days from now, it’ll be Lucroy’s name he calls out in the batting order as “in the bullpen” while he’s warming up Gallardo.

It may be a small thing, but making your first Opening Day roster means something to a ballplayer. But there’s something special about Opening Day.

For Jonathan Lucroy, it doesn’t signifying anything that we don’t already know. He’s the starting catcher and will be so for the majority of 2012.

But you just never know what it might mean to the individual. Hopefully in 20 days, we’ll find out what it means for Lucroy together.

Milwaukee Brewers 25-Man Roster Comes Into Focus…For Now

By: Big Rygg 

After a flurry of moves today the 25-man roster heading north with the parent club has become as clear as it’s been all spring. Justin James and Mike McClendon were optioned to the minor leagues and once GM Doug Melvin traded minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra for OF Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Boggs was placed on waivers.

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When those moves were completed, there were 27 players officially left in Major League camp though two of them (Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart) are expected to be officially placed on the DL shortly.
As for the current 25-man roster, it’ll break down like this:
Four (4) Starting Pitchers
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Shaun Marcum
  • Randy Wolf
  • Chris Narveson
Eight (8) Relief Pitchers
  • John Axford
  • Takashi Saito
  • Kameron Loe
  • Sean Green
  • Zach Braddock
  • Mitch Stetter
  • Sergio Mitre
  • Brandon Kintzler
Two (2) Catchers
  • George Kottaras
  • Wil Nieves
Six (6) Infielders
  • 1B – Prince Fielder
  • 2B – Rickie Weeks
  • SS – Yuniesky Betancourt
  • 3B – Casey McGehee
  • Bench – Craig Counsell
  • Bench – Erick Almonte
Five (5) Outfielders
  • LF – Ryan Braun
  • CF – Carlos Gomez
  • RF – Mark Kotsay
  • Bench – Jeremy Reed
  • Bench – Nyjer Morgan
Now, obviously things will change throughout April quite a bit. Five expected roster members will be starting the season on the 15-day Disabled List. These are pitchers Zack Greinke, Manny Parra and LaTroy Hawkins, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and right-fielder Corey Hart.
All of the DL placements will be retroactive to March 22nd (the earliest date allowed by league rule) which means that the men on it to start the year will be eligible to come back to the active roster as of April 6th. Not everyone will be ready by then, but two or more might be.
When Lucroy returns, one of the other catchers will be removed from the roster. Kottaras and Nieves are both out of options and, in reality, Lucroy’s injury is simply delaying the inevitable for one of them. With Martin Maldonado and Mike Rivera set to share the catching duties at Triple-A Nashville, one has to wonder whether the person Lucroy pushes out will even choose to remain with the organization should he clear waivers.
Hart’s situation is much the same though it seems much more clear who loses their job when he returns. Spring Training non-roster invitee Jeremy Reed made the club based on his performance over these past few weeks, but with the Brewers having recently traded for the younger, more talented, team-controlled (contract-wise) Nyjer Morgan, it appears fairly obvious that, barring injury, Reed will be the odd man out when Hart is deemed ready to go.
As for the pitchers, it’s a bit more muddled. The team is only taking four starters north because they don’t need a fifth one until April 6th. That being said, unless they choose to have recently acquired swingman Sergio Mitre make that first spot start, someone will have to be sent out to make room for the fifth starter. If someone is sent out, it’ll likely be Brandon Kintzler because not only does he have options remaining but they aren’t going to keep eight relief pitchers all year anyway.
If they choose to go with Mitre on the 6th of April, Kintzler will survive a while longer. A fifth starter isn’t need again after that until the 16th.
So if we go down the diverging paths another step, we get to the two relief pitchers, Hawkins and Parra. If Mitre makes the spot start, Kintzler will be optioned down as soon as Hawkins is ready to come back. When Parra is deemed healthy he’ll replace one of the other left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, either Braddock or Stetter. Who is sent down to Nashville due to his return will probably rely a great deal on performance over these first couple of weeks.
Of course the elephant in the room is the eventual return of Zack Greinke. When he is ready to contribute the bullpen shrinks back to seven members. No ifs ands or buts about that. If he’s somehow the first pitcher to return, Kintzler again goes. If he’s second behind Parra it could be Mitre who goes because they’d have their long-man back. If Hawkins is on the roster too it could be an interesting decision to say the least.
But for now the 25-man roster is very clear…for at least a week or so anyway.