We’ve finally made the move to Bloguin official — earlier today, we launched TheBrewersBar.com, which joins an impressive roster of baseball blogs at Bloguin.com.
Due to the move, we (obviously) won’t be posting anymore on this WordPress blog — all new updates will be at the new site, and all of our archives have been transferred over. Thanks for sticking with us through all the moves — we needed a place to reside after MVN shut down while we waited to work out the details of the Bloguin site. Now that everything’s resolved, we hope to see you there!
There will be a lot of groans from casual fans when they hear the knews, but to me, there’s really no argument — this is a great, great deal. Does Davis have poor peripheral stats? Sure, but he always has. I poked fun at Doug Melvin’s comments a few days ago about his “new thing” being pitchers who throw a lot of quality innings. Say what you want about Doug Davis, but he fits that mold better than Jeff Suppan or Braden Looper.
Is he going to drive us nuts with a ton of walks? Sure. I can almost guarantee you that I’ll gripe about it in a post at some point during the 2010 season. But he’s also going to put up a lot of good innings, and he’s going to be doing it at an obscenely cheap salary compared to what he’s been making.
Davis made $8.75 million with the Diamondbacks last year. Not only will the $4.25 million he’ll be making this year be less than he’s earned every year since leaving Milwaukee, but it’s actually less money than what the Brewers paid Looper last year in a very similar deal. Even if this signing doesn’t work out, I’d be hard pressed to call it a bad signing. Like Looper’s deal, at worst it’s a one-year commitment, and the Brewers will be free to explore better options next offseason if they so choose.
Maybe it’s just a case of classic Offseason Optimism, but I really like the way the rotation looks heading into next season. Gallardo-Wolf-Davis-Bush-Suppan/Parra, while unspectacular, is still a pretty big improvement over last year’s staff. At the very least, the week won’t pass at a snail’s pace while we wait for Yo’s next start.
Considering what the pitching market looked like at the start of the season, getting Davis on this kind of deal should be considered a win for Doug Melvin & Co. — at least for the time being. At the very least, we know what we’re going to get. No more signing Cardinals castoffs and hoping there’s still some Dave Duncan pixie dust left (here’s looking at you, Joel Piniero). No more looking at injury risks, hoping they’re ready to throw off a mound by May. Signing Davis at least gives the Brewers a better idea of what the rotation will look like heading into camp in less than a month, and perhaps even puts some pressure on Dave Bush to avoid arbitration.
I’ll be the first to admit that at first, I loved it when they brought back the old 1982 uniforms for weekly “Retro Nights”. It’s easy to get bored with your usual uniform, especially when the current garb was more closely synonymous with 90-loss seasons than postseason appearances. I thought the updated ball-and-glove pinstripes looked sharp, and the look differentiated them from quite a few teams (how many clubs are wearing navy blue these days?).
But it got played out. Once a week was a bit much, which is why I was thankful to see the team scale it back to the first Friday home game of every month last season. Frequent enough to not be forgotten, but not so frequent that they allow some people to think they were bad luck. Add in the few times a year they wear the “Cerveceros” and Negro League uniforms (another favorite of mine), and there was a nice blend of new and retro. But we were still seeing the same two or three alternate uniforms.
That’s why I was so glad to see today’s announcement about the team’s plans for the 40th anniversary season.
Another weekend wearing the usual ’80s garb? Okay, fine. But Robin Yount and Paul Molitor on hand for pregame festivities and autographs? That’s pretty cool. So is Seattle wearing their road blues from the early ’80s.
Hell, I’m so excited about the variety that I’m happy to see the otherwise forgettable “MB” uniforms from the 1990’s being brought back. They’ll wear those in a weekend series against the Nationals, which is kind of a bummer. Couldn’t they at least choose an opponent that was around in the ’90s? Or even make the Nats wear an old Expos uniform from that era?
They’re also doing a “2000s Retro Weekend,” which seems a bit pointless since both the Brewers and the Pirates will be wearing their current uniforms. Couldn’t we make the Bucs bring back the vests for a series to re-live that 2000s fad?
It looks like the 40th anniversary series will also include a bobblehead capturing a key moment from every decade, which sounds like a cool idea. Included are Hank Aaron (755th HR), Cecil Cooper (game-winning RBI in the ’82 ALCS), Robin Yount (3000th hit), and CC Sabathia (wildcard-clinching out in 2008).
All in all, sounds like a cool marketing campaign. Personally, I’d like to see the Brewers bust out some road retro uniforms, but I’d be willing to settle with “modern” road threads that just say “Milwaukee” on the front instead of “Brewers”.
Thanks to Tom Haudricourt, we know that Coffey is asking for $2.45 million, while the team offered him $1.7 million. The midpoint between these two figures is $2.075 million. A one-year, $2 million deal seems reasonable for a guy who was probably the second most valuable arm out of the bullpen behind Trevor Hoffman.
Corey Hart asked for $4.8 million while the club submitted a figure of $4.15 million. The midpoint there would be $4.475 million. To me, this seems to be the toughest case — Hart wants a raise of $1.55 million. In other words, he wants to be paid like his numbers didn’t decrease for a second consecutive season.
Dave Bush is asking for $4.45 million, while the club offered $4.125 million. The midpoint with Bush would be $4.2875 million, which seems like a reasonable enough number. While Bush fell out of favor with a lot of people last year, I still think he can be a very productive #4 pitcher — even a passable #3 — if he can stay healthy for a full season. While he struggled after being hit with a line drive last season, let’s not forget how dominating he can be when everything is clicking.
Finally, Villanueva wants to be labeled a millionaire for the first time, submitting a figure of $1.075 million. Given his struggles last year, the club is offering $800,000, placing the midpoint at $937,500. When all is said and done, I think Villa makes less than a million in 2010, but then again I couldn’t imagine Carlos Gomez’s salary making such a spike.
When you factor in what the Brewers have already committed to the three players who’ve signed, if the Brewers were to go to arbitration with each of the remaining four and lose, they’d pay a combined $18.625 million to the seven arby-eligibles. If they went to arbitration and won every case, they’d only be on the hook for $16.625 million. Considering Doug Melvin has said he’s anticipating arby cases to cost between $17 and $18 million, that could mean some extra money that could be spent luring Jarrod Washburn or Doug Davis to Milwaukee.
If the Brewers can agree to contracts with the remaining four at the midpoint amounts, they would pay a total of $17.625 million — pretty much right in the middle of Melvin’s estimation, which would mean he had a pretty good idea what each player would be asking for. Given Melvin’s history of avoiding arbitration hearings, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about more signings in the next few days. It seems like only a matter of time before Villanueva and possibly Bush sign, but it could take longer to lock up Hart and Coffey, considering the large gaps between the figures presented.
It’s also important to remember that these contracts are not completely guaranteed — the Brewers could release any of these players in Spring Training and only be on the hook for a fraction of the salary — you may remember this happening to Claudio Vargas a couple springs ago, when it was clear that he wasn’t going to make the rotation out of camp and was due to make a starter’s salary. Why do I bring this up? Because something similar may happen to Bush if the Brewers find enough money in their budget to add another free agent pitcher, as the rumors seem to indicate they will. In that scenario, another option might be to option Manny Parra to Triple A, but the Brewers would free up a good amount of money by just letting Bush walk and keeping the much cheaper Parra in the majors.
Weeks will make $2.75 million in 2010, a $300,000 raise over last season’s salary. It could be argued that Weeks’ injury saved the Brewers a good chunk of change, because if he continued to play the way he did before his season-ending wrist injury, he’d be in line to make well over $3 million. In my arbitration guesses post, I had Weeks pegged for $3.5 million, so obviously I’m thrilled with this outcome. A healthy Rickie Weeks is a bargain for this price.
The contract details for Gomez are still unknown, but since he’s a first-year arby-eligible player as a Super Two and hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers, it’s probably safe to say he won’t be making over $1 million. The deal, like Weeks’, is for one year. In semi-related news, J.J. Hardy agreed to a one year deal with Minnesota for $5 million, so it’s possible that the Gomez-for-Hardy swap saved the Brewers enough money to possible sign another starting pitcher.
Tom Haudricourt seems to think that these two signings will be it for the day, but if there are more signings we’ll pass along the news (either here or via Twitter @BrewersBar). Doug Melvin was apparently planning on spending between $17 and $18 million on arbitration cases, and with 3 of the 7 under contract already, it appears they’ve only spent a little more than $5 million of that (depending on how much Gomez will make). Not too bad, even if we’re expecting Bush and Hart to make most of that budgeted money.
Update: Tom Haudricourt tweets that Gomez will make $1.1 million. Needless to say, that’s quite a bit more than I was expecting. It also means the Brewers have paid $5.85 million combined to Gerut, Weeks, and Gomez so far out of that $17-$18 million they’re planning to spend. TH also has the figures submitted by the team and remaining four players — Todd Coffey seems to be the furthest from reaching a deal.
Gerut made $1,775,000 last season, hitting .236/.299/.373 in 177 plate appearances for the Brewers after being acquired via trade for Tony Gwynn. Gerut hit a bit better against righties, putting up a .245/.309/.395 line against them. While the numbers aren’t impressive, he did manage to finish the year strong after a slow start to his stint in Milwaukee. He figures to be the 4th outfielder this season, due to his ability to play every outfield position. As of now, his 2010 salary hasn’t been announced.
Gerut’s signing leaves six arbitration eligible players, and it’s good to see the Brewers take care of one of their “easy” cases early. I suspect it will be harder reaching deals with the likes of Corey Hart and Dave Bush, who have performed well in the past but didn’t live up to their salary last season (but will still likely be looking for raises). The Gerut signing keeps Doug Melvin’s streak of avoiding arbitration alive — since taking over as the team’s General Manager, he has never had to go to all the way to an arbitration hearing to decide a player’s salary.
Update: McCalvy reports that the contract is for $2 million (via Twitter). In my “Guessing the Arby Outcomes” post a couple days ago, my guess was for $2.2 million, so I was over by a couple hundred thousand. The $2 million figure for 2010 means he’s getting a $225,000 raise.
Tom Haudricourt crammed a lot of information into his recent blog post about the Brewers’ pursuit for pitching. Among topics discussed were Mark Mulder (they’ll talk contract once Mulder can throw off a mound), Ben Sheets (sending scouts to his throwing session), and Doug Davis (both sides are interested). There was one quote from Doug Melvin that did catch my eye, though, and it was a doozy that might fire up the guys at Fire Doug Melvin:
“Our new thing is that we’re not just looking for innings. We’re looking for quality innings. We like our offense and our bullpen. We just need quality innings from our starters.”
Admittedly, I don’t have the experience that Doug Melvin has. I’m just a guy who likes watching and writing about my favorite baseball team. But to me, saying that your “new thing” is “looking for quality innings” is like saying your “new thing” is looking for people who can hit or catch the ball. Isn’t this something that you should have been looking for all along?
We all know that Melvin has always had a fascination with innings eaters. When Jeff Suppan was signed, one of the things that Melvin was most attracted to was his ability to throw a lot of innings. It was also a factor in the Braden Looper signing last year — the fact that Looper was so cheap and could throw so many innings was seen as a bonus. Seeing his pitching staffs over the past few years get torpedoed by injury problems probably only made him want a rotation of innings eaters even more.
Of course, last season we saw what putting together a rotation of innings eaters without regard to the quality of those innings gets you. Braden Looper ate a lot of innings, but gave up a lot of home runs while doing it. Mike Burns ate innings as an injury replacement, but did it while pitching below replacement level. When Suppan and Dave Bush weren’t injured, they ate innings while pitching like they were. While the Brewers did have injuries in their rotation last season, things were so bad when everyone was healthy that it was pretty clear that something needed to be done this offseason to upgrade the rotation.
So far, we’ve seen that. Randy Wolf will pitch just as many innings as Looper did last year — if not more, due to less short outings — and likely do so without walking a couple guys before giving up a home run. If the Brewers sign someone like Doug Davis or Jarrod Washburn to a one year deal, they’ll likely represent an improvement over some of Manny Parra’s rough outings last season. While it’s nice for Melvin to acknowledge the change in philosophy, it’s a little disturbing to hear what the previous philosophy was.