If you’re otherwise unable to keep up on news as it happens throughout the day (via social media, or however), allow me to catch you up on the all the roster news coming out of One Brewers Way over the past several days.
(I’ve tweeted all of this as it happened, but this is a quick summary so it’s all in one place.)
- October 27th
- 3B Luis Jiménez claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- October 30th
- Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
- Zach Duke
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Lyle Overbay
- Mark Reynolds
- Francisco Rodriguez
- A report came out that the 2015 contract option on Yovani Gallardo had been exercised
- Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
- October 31st
- Brewers confirm picking up Gallardo’s option
- Rickie Weeks officially became a free agent when the team declined the 2015 option on his contract
- Brewers officially exercised their half of the mutual 2015 option on the contract of Aramis Ramirez
- Ramirez officially has three (3) days — read Monday — to decide whether he will opt in as well or decline the option to become a free agent
- C Juan Centeno claimed off waivers from the New York Mets
Quick thoughts (because you can get a list anywhere):
Jiménez sounds like a great glove with some power who carries a higher average than Reynolds. Truly feels like Doug Melvin found a player worth replacing the veteran with.
Speaking of the free agents, the Brewers could look to bring back either Duke or Gorzelanny (though likely not both) but there’s certainly a tenable position that with Duke’s performance and Gorzelanny’s recent health concerns that they choose to let both sign contracts elsewhere. I’d lean toward them re-signing Duke of the two, though Gorzelanny could be cheaper. Overbay has said publicly that he’s leaning toward retirement. As for Reynolds, when he was simply passed over down the stretch last season, it felt like he dropped out of favor. He was streakier at the plate than I think the Brewers anticipated.
Gallardo’s option getting picked up makes all the sense in the world. I covered that move specifically here before it was confirmed Friday morning.
Rickie Weeks leaving Milwaukee is truly a notable moment. He’s been in the franchise for a long time, and was really the first of the high draft picks which ultimately led to winning seasons and playoff runs. While he never did realize the level of a #2 overall draft pick due mainly to injuries, he was the consummate professional in his time in Milwaukee. I wish him consistent success wherever his career takes him next.
Wanting to bring Ramirez back makes sense to a degree as the Brewers haven’t yet developed an internal replacement at third base. Should he decline his option to seek a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Brewers could turn to Jiménez or another internal option like Jason Rogers who played there in 2014 for the first time since college, or even, assuming he stays as has been rumored, Taylor Green? (Yes, that’s how thin the hot corner has been for the Brewers.)
Finally, as for Centeno, I haven’t had much of a chance to read up on him but I did see that he was a tremendous defensive season in 2013 in the minors though he reportedly regressed this past season. He hit pretty well in the minors in 2014 though. Without another catcher on the 40-man roster outside of the MLB level duo of Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, it’s nice to have someone readily available who also has minor league options remaining.
Anyway, there’s your end of October round up of the Brewers roster moves over the past few days. Also noteworthy in roster news is that the Washington Nationals declined their option on 1B Adam LaRoche, making him a free agent. He could be a top target in free agency for Doug Melvin
The Milwaukee Brewers announced their postseason award winners today as voted by members of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). A total of seven ballots were cast for each award, assigning five points for first place, three for second and one for third.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy earned Brewers Most Valuable Player with all seven first-place votes (35 points). Lucroy was followed by center fielder Carlos Gomez, who received all of the second-place votes (21 points). Also receiving consideration was pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (3 points), pitcher Wily Peralta (2 points), right fielder Ryan Braun (1 point) and third baseman Aramis Ramirez (1 point).
Lucroy, a first-time All-Star selection this season, batted .301 with 13 HR and 69 RBI in 153 games. He led the team in games played (153), at-bats (585), batting average (.301), hits (176), extra-base hits (68), doubles (53), walks (66), on-base percentage (.373) and OPS (.837). With his franchise-record-tying 53 doubles, he became the first primary catcher to lead his league in that category. His 46 doubles as a catcher set a Major League record.
Jonathan Lucroy (28 points) also earned the Good Guy Award for the second straight season. He received five first-place votes. The other first-place votes went to pitcher Kyle Lohse (13 points). A total of seven players received votes.
Wily Peralta was voted Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher as he received six first-place votes (33 points). He was followed by Francisco Rodriguez (17 points). The other first-place vote went to Mike Fiers (5 points). Also receiving votes were Kyle Lohse (7 points), Will Smith (2 points) and Zach Duke (1 point).
Peralta went 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 32 starts. He led the team in wins (17), innings pitched (198.2), quality starts (22) and strikeouts (154). His 17 wins tied for fifth in the National League. Peralta had a pair of career-high five-game winning streaks this season, coming from June 5-26 and July 13 to August 7.
Pitcher Zach Duke (17 points) earned Brewers Top Newcomer ahead of Francisco Rodriguez (15 points). Duke received just one first-place vote, but was named on every ballot. Rodriguez received three first-place votes. The remaining first-place votes went to pitchers Matt Garza (14 points), Will Smith (9 points) and Jeremy Jeffress (6 points).
Duke went 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 74 relief appearances. He recorded 74 strikeouts in just 58.2 innings pitched. Duke was the only non-roster pitcher to make the Opening Day roster. From April 12 to May 10, he made 14 consecutive scoreless appearances (13.1ip). From June 22 to July 30, he had 16 consecutive scoreless appearances (14.2ip).
Zach Duke also earned Brewers Unsung Hero honors with four first-place votes (25 points). Also receiving first-place votes were pitchers Mike Fiers (17 points) and Will Smith (11 points) and second baseman Scooter Gennett (6 points). Also named on ballots were pitchers Jeremy Jeffress (3 points) and Yovani Gallardo (1 point).
Here is a listing of the MLB salaries of the 26* men earning MLB-level pay from the Milwaukee Brewers as of Opening Day.
Quick math: The figures below total $101,219,338.00
Aramis Ramirez $15,137,803
Matt Garza $12,209,424
Rickie Weeks $12,000,000
Yovani Gallardo $11,500,000
Ryan Braun $11,111,111
Kyle Lohse $11,000,000
Carlos Gomez $7,000,000
Marco Estrada $3,325,000
Francisco Rodriguez $3,250,000
Tom Gorzelanny* $3,150,000
Jonathan Lucroy $2,100,000
Mark Reynolds $2,000,000
Lyle Overbay $1,500,000
Zach Duke $850,000
Jean Segura $534,000
Wily Peralta $515,000
Jim Henderson $512,000
Brandon Kintzler $507,000
Logan Schafer $505,000
Tyler Thornburg $505,000
Scooter Gennett $504,000
Khris Davis $503,000
Jeff Bianchi $ 502,000
Martin Maldonado $ 502,000
Will Smith $502,000
Wei-Chung Wang $500,000
*Tom Gorzelanny is on the 15-day Disabled List to begin the season
Source: USA Today
Here is the breakdown of the Opening Day 25-man roster.
59 Zach Duke* – LHP
41 Marco Estrada – RHP
49 Yovani Gallardo – RHP
22 Matt Garza – RHP
29 Jim Henderson – RHP
53 Brandon Kintzler – RHP
26 Kyle Lohse – RHP
38 Wily Peralta – RHP
57 Francisco Rodriguez – RHP
13 Will Smith – LHP
30 Tyler Thornburg – RHP
51 Wei-Chung Wang – LHP
20 Jonathan Lucroy
12 Martin Maldonado
14 Jeff Bianchi
2 Scooter Gennett
24 Lyle Overbay
16 Aramis Ramirez
7 Mark Reynolds
9 Jean Segura
23 Rickie Weeks
8 Ryan Braun
18 Khris Davis
27 Carlos Gomez
1 Logan Schafer
DISABLED LIST (1)
32 Tom Gorzelanny LHP (left shoulder)
10 Ron Roenicke – Manager
33 Mike Guerrero – Coach
35 Garth Iorg – 1B Coach
39 Rick Kranitz – Pitching Coach
36 Jerry Narron – Bench Coach
37 Johnny Narron – Hitting Coach
6 Ed Sedar – 3B Coach
31 John Shelby – Outfield Coach
43 Lee Tunnell – Bullpen Coach
56 Joe Crawford – Coaching Assistant
55 Marcus Hanel – Bullpen Catcher
We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.
Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.
I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?
With that, to the list!
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Kyle Lohse
- Marco Estrada
- Matt Garza
- Wily Peralta
I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.
The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.
Relief Pitchers (7)
(with one more starting on DL)
- Jim Henderson
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Will Smith*
- Brandon Kintzler
- Wei-Chung Wang*
- Rob Wooten
- Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
- Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)
Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.
For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.
Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.
As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.
- Mark Reynolds
- Rickie Weeks
- Jean Segura
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
- Scooter Gennett**
- Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)
Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.
Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.
The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.
For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Ryan Braun
- Logan Schafer**
Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed ---
So there you have it.
I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we’re two months away from Opening Day!
Welcome back in to “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, my annual blog series counting down to Opening Day by way of profiling the players wearing the matching number to how far away we are from it. Today is Friday, January 31st and since February is thankfully so short, we are 59 days away from Brewers vs Braves at Miller Park.
That’s not a typographical error in the title of this post. After a few somewhat starcrossed years as a Brewers reliever, John Axford has moved on to Cleveland. The new owner of #59 is also a relief pitcher, but that’s where the similarities pretty much end.
With that, let’s dive deeper into a welcoming for non-roster invitee…
Zachary Thomas Duke is a 6’2″, 210 lb southpaw who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2001. As a 20th round draft pick, it was thought that Duke might be bound for college. Instead, he signed with the Pirates and at the tender age of 19 went 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 starts with their rookie ball team in 2002. Duke advanced to Class-A Hickory in 2003 and posted good numbers, but not the eye-poppers of the year prior. Those numbers came back in 2004 as the 21-year-old twirled 148.1 innings, struck out 142 batters and walked just 30. All told, Duke had a 1.46 ERA between Class-A Advanced Lynchburg and Class-AA Altoona.
Finally, following a 12-3 record in 16 starts with Class-AAA Indianapolis in 2005, Duke was promoted to the big leagues. He answered the bell in 14 starts with a 1.81 ERA, 233 ERA+, 1.205 WHIP, 2.52 K/BB. Those stats and others resulted in Duke finished fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting along with being dubbed a future ace in Pittsburgh.
Outside of small sample size situations, those 2005 numbers would be career bests.
Duke lasted five more seasons in Pittsburgh, making a total of 159 starts for the Pirates. His ERA as a Pirate would finish at 4.54 which is 0.03 lower than his career mark of 4.57. After his time in the steel city, Duke moved on to Arizona via trade. He made nine starts as a Diamondback and entered out of the bullpen in his 12 other appearances. The results weren’t great and Arizona let Duke walk away following the 2011 season.
He signed with the Houston Astros in January of 2012 but was released on March 27th. Two days later he’d wind up signing with the Washington Nationals. He pitched for the Nationals organization for a season and a half, totaling 20 big league appearances with just one start. The rotation had passed him by and he was fully committed to bullpen work. In 2012, Duke seemed like he’d be just fine as a full-inning or even multi-inning reliever. He showed no adverse platoon split and actually had better numbers against right-handed hitters, though in a very small sample. In the minors in 2012, Duke had a more traditional platoon split but it still wasn’t crazily slanted to LOOGy-dom.
In 2013 at the big league level, Duke allowed an .854 OPS against right-handed hitters and a .728 OPS against lefties. Duke’s bigger splits came between home vs. road appearances. Duke limitied opposing hitters to a .615 OPS at home and allowed a massive .948 OPS on the road. It should be noted that “home” for Duke was also split in 2013 as he began the year in Washington but after being released signed with Cincinnati. Something else to point out in 2013 is that against those same-sided southpaw hitters, Duke walked just one and struck out 14 in 50 total plate appearances. He was less effective that way against righties, walking nine while striking out just four in 92 total plate appearances.
In short (too late!), now is the time for Duke to focus on the specialist role out of the bullpen. There are other left-handed relievers who will be in big league camp this spring including Will Smith and Rule V choice Wei-Chung Wang. Then there’s Tom Gorzelanny who has a spot reserved whenever he’s cleared following his off-season shoulder surgery. Still, Duke’s stuff appears to still be playing up when he has the platoon advantage and he needs to capitalize on that if he is to contribute to Ron Roenicke’s bullpen instead of Rick Sweet’s bullpen in Nashville.
You can follow Zach Duke on Twitter: @zach_duke
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez
Earlier today, the Brewers finally announced the jersey numbers that the players coming to big league camp will be wearing whilst at Maryvale.
The majority of the players who saw time at the MLB level in 2013 have not changed numbers, though two did. One coach gave up his number for a player. And of course the newest acquisitions and non-roster invitees all need number assignments as well.
Here are all the changes. (Keep in mind that my uniform number repository only counts players wearing a specific number while on the big league roster. I’ll update those pages after camp breaks.)
New Players on 40-Man Roster:
- #50 – Jose De La Torre
- #63 – Brooks Hall
- #60 – Kevin Shackelford
- #13 – Will Smith
- #51 – Wei-Chung Wang
- #25 – Hunter Morris
- #61 – Jason Rogers
- #3 – Elian Herrera
Players on 40-Man Roster Last Year With New Numbers:
- #30 – Tyler Thornburg (switched from #63)
- #38 – Wily Peralta (switched from #60)
- #58 – Ariel Pena (switched from #73)
Both New Non-Roster Invitees (Players on MiLB contracts invited to big league camp) and Repeat Invitees w/New Numbers:
- #59 – Zach Duke
- #77 – David Goforth
- #70 – Dustin Molleken
- #66 – Robinzon Diaz
- #72 – Cameron Garfield
- #68 – Matt Pagnozzi
- #71 – Adam Weisenburger (switched from #91)
- #65 – Irving Falu
- #24 – Lyle Overbay
- #7 – Mark Reynolds
- #67 – Eugenio Velez
- #73 – Kentrail Davis (switched from #93)
- #75 – Mitch Haniger
- #76 – Kevin Mattison
It was announced Wednesday afternoon that the Brewers have signed a veteran left-handed pitcher to a minor-league contract with an official invitation to big league camp.
That pitcher should be well-remembered by Brewers fans as he made 159 starts over six full seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate to begin his career. Now 30, the Brewers will be his fifth professional organization following additional stops in Arizona, Washington, and Cincinnati.
He is Zach Duke.
A full look will be coming in “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” once he gets a number assigned, but here’s a quick take on last season at least.
Duke didn’t exactly have success in Washington over 12 appearances in 2013, posting an ERA of 8.71 with a 1.887 WHIP in 20.2 innings pitched. Following his release by Washington and subsequent free agent signing by the Cincinnati Reds, Duke posted a 0.84 ERA and 0.938 WHIP in 10.2 IP over 14 games.
Small sample sizes both, but certaily worth paying attention to.
You can follow Zach Duke on Twitter: @zach_duke