Archive

Archive for the ‘2009 Offseason’ Category

Doug Davis Signing a Steal

January 20, 2010 1 comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=doug+davis&iid=5014565″ src=”3/c/6/8/Diamondbacks_vs_Mariners_622a.JPG?adImageId=9335400&imageId=5014565″ width=”234″ height=”203″ /]Adam McCalvy broke the news via Twitter: Doug Davis is returning to Milwaukee. McCalvy notes that Double D will earn a base salary of $4.25 million in 2010, with a mutual option for 2011 worth $6.5 million (or a $1 million buyout). Looks like the rumors about the Brewers being close to signing another starter turned out to be true.

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.

Crunching the Numbers on Arby Offers

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=corey+hart&iid=5007345″ src=”0/2/f/5/Milwaukee_Brewers_at_fd5a.JPG?adImageId=9308851&imageId=5007345″ width=”234″ height=”337″ /]Here is what we know right now: Jody Gerut, Rickie Weeks, and Carlos Gomez have all avoided arbitration thanks to one-year deals totaling $5.85 million. As far as the four remaining arbitration-eligible players are concerned, Todd Coffey seems to be the furthest away from striking a deal, while Carlos Villanueva appears to be the closest.

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, Gomez Also Avoid Arby

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=rickie+weeks&iid=4699636″ src=”d/9/f/4/DiamondbacksBrewers_c871.JPG?adImageId=9301396&imageId=4699636″ width=”234″ height=”314″ /]Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez join Jody Gerut as players who have already avoided arbitration, agreeing to one year deals earlier today. The signings mean that only four arbitration-eligible players remain for the Brew Crew — Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva, and Corey Hart.

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 Avoids Arby

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=jody+gerut&iid=5616624″ src=”c/a/7/9/NationalsBrewers_014c.JPG?adImageId=9219712&imageId=5616624″ width=”234″ height=”163″ /]While Brewers eligible for arbitration get ready to submit their demands tomorrow, there’s one that won’t have to. Outfielder Jody Gerut has avoided arbitration, signing a one-year deal (confirmation tweets from McCalvy and Haudricourt).

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.

Guessing the Brewers’ Arby Outcomes

January 16, 2010 2 comments

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=dave+bush+brewers&iid=6300132″ src=”6/3/1/d/Milwaukee_Brewers_vs_ea17.JPG?adImageId=9098488&imageId=6300132″ width=”234″ height=”288″ /]The Brewers’ seven arbitration-eligible players filed with the player’s union Friday — Adam McCalvy has the story at brewers.com. The players that will be looking for raises are Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva, Rickie Weeks, Jody Gerut, Corey Hart, and Carlos Gomez. As McCalvy notes, this is the first year of arby eligibility for Villanueva and Gomez (Gomez qualifies for arby due to his Super Two status). The players will swap figures on Tuesday, according to McCalvy, and from there will have until the date of the hearing to iron out a contract.

Doug Melvin has never had to go to an arbitration meeting in his tenure as General Manager, and hopefully that trend continues this year. He won’t have to worry about working out a deal with Scott Boras for Prince Fielder this offseason, thanks to the two-year deal he got Fielder to sign last winter that locked in his 2010 salary. He will, however, have to deal with a couple of players that underachieved last season but will still be looking for raises anyway — here’s looking at you, Dave Bush and Corey Hart. Below is a table listing this year’s arby-eligible players and what they made last season, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Read more…

Keith Law Chat: Brewer Items

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Keith Law held his weekly chat on ESPN.com this afternoon, and there turned out to be a fair amount of Brewer-related content. Alcides Escobar and Mark Mulder were a couple players that were mentioned.

Steve (Chicago): A. Escobar Or S. Castro
Klaw (1:55 PM): Castro.

(snip)

Brian (Madison): Not liking Escobar’s bat?
Klaw (1:57 PM): He doesn’t walk and isn’t going to hit for power. Castro’s bat is special.

He’s definitely not the first scout to say something to that effect, and we’ve known for awhile that Esco’s lack of patience is a concern and he’ll be lucky to hit more than a few homers a year. Hard to argue this point, even if Castro is entering his age 20 season and seems to be a year or two away from the majors.

Paul (Richfield WI): Do you think Mulder can contribute at a big-league level in 2010?
Klaw (2:01 PM): No.

Short and to the point, and again, hard to disagree with. While it would be great to see the Brewers take a chance on Mulder and get rewarded for it, it doesn’t seem likely. Mulder hasn’t pitched in more than three games in a season since 2006, and hasn’t pitched well since 2005. He turns 32 this year. If the Brewers get anything out of him this season, it’ll probably be a sign that things are really going their way. It’ll be nice to get him under contract, but he (or Chris Capuano, or John Halama) should not be counted on to do much for the big league club.

If anything, they should keep looking for that fifth starter in the free agent market as long as asking prices continue to tumble. Hey, Doug Davis says he’s interested.

Royals Hire Yost as “Special Advisor”

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As manager of the Brewers, Ned Yost had a lot of flaws. He tended to leave starters in too long and push them to the point of breaking down. He was too loyal to his starters, reluctant to bench those who were struggling. He was brash and confrontational when anyone — the media, the fans, or his own players — questioned his decisions.

What he is, though, is a good manager for a young team. Feelings about two late-season collapses make it hard to remember this, but he was exactly the type of manager the Brewers needed when he came in. After previous managers preferred to play crappy veterans instead of struggling newcomers, Yost stuck with guys like J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks, even after they struggled in their first taste of big league action. He helped changed the team’s mentality from feeling lucky to win to expecting to win. While the rah-rah act grew old with his players by the time he was let go, it was exactly what they needed to hear at the time. In short, he was the kind of guy you wanted to bring in to turn things around, but wasn’t the guy able to carry them over the hump.

Looking at the Kansas City Royals now, doesn’t it look familiar? Of course, Yost isn’t being hired to be the team’s manager…yet. But he is joining the organization as a “special advisor to baseball operations,” General Manager Dayton Moore announced today. Royals execs are still apparently confident that Trey Hillman is their guy, even if it looks like they may have just added his eventual replacement to the organization’s payroll.

If there’s one thing about this announcement that’s more surprising than anything, it’s that Yost would take a job when Bobby Cox is set to retire in Atlanta after this season. Yost has long been rumored to be a candidate there, even going back to his day’s as the team’s third base coach. It’s certainly possible that this move doesn’t eliminate him from consideration for managing jobs elsewhere, but after being linked to (and not getting) positions in Seattle and Washington, perhaps he’s just looking to get back into the game.

While many Brewer fans probably still hold negative feelings about Yost, I do hope he eventually gets another chance to manage. It would certainly be fun to see if he could do what he did for the Brewers for another team, especially a team like the Royals that — like the Brewers — lost a lot of the luster it once had in the 1980s. For now, though, it looks like he’ll just do some scouting for the team and won’t serve in an on-field capacity.