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Move to Bloguin Official

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Melvin’s “New Thing”

January 16, 2010 1 comment

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.

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Braun Named Jewish Player of the Year

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Given there are only 14 Jewish players in the Major Leagues, this probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but Jewish Major Leaguers named Ryan Braun its player of the year on Wednesday. Jewish Major Leaguers is a non-profit organization based out of Massachusetts, so maybe it should be considered a small upset that Kevin Youkilis wasn’t named for the honor. Texas’ Scott Feldman was named the Jewish Pitcher of the Year.

Youkilis won the award last year, with John Grabow nabbing the pitching honors. Braun finished second to Youkilis in the voting for last season’s award, but the Brewers did have a representative elsewhere, with Gabe Kapler winning the Comeback Player award for his reserve role in the Brewers’ outfield during the 2008 season. Kapler struggled this year for Tampa Bay, hitting .239/.329/.439 in 99 games.

Hey, it’s not much, but we’ll settle for some Brewers news over no Brewers news as we get ready to head into the new year.

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Brewers’ shopping After-Christmas sales?

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Now that Christmas is over, there are still 30 free agent pitchers on the shelf…and 29 GM’s evaluating their worth (I’m assuming the Yankees are finally done adding starters). Here’s the list of who is still available:

Erik Bedard, Paul Byrd. Aroldis Chapman, Bartolo Colon, Jose Contreras, Doug Davis, Shawn Estes, Jon Garland, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Livan Hernandez, Shawn Hill, Randy Johnson, Braden Looper, Mark Mulder, Pedro Martinez, Eric Milton, Dustin Moseley, Brett Myers, Russ Ortiz, Vicente Padilla, Joel Pineiro, Sidney Ponson, Tim Redding, Jason Schmidt, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz, Chien-Ming Wang,
Jarrod Washburn, Todd Wellemeyer

Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin should (and probably has) grouped these into three categories: “Unaffordable” (e.g. Chien-Ming Wang and Aroldis Chapman), “Not At Any Price”, and “If The Price Is Right.”

For most of these, I suspect that Melvin would want the same deal that he had with Braden Looper for ’09–a one-year deal with a club option for a second year…this would give the Brewers’ the flexibility they desire should their gamble pay off. Melvin is also likely not willing to go over $1.5 million for ’10–but could add some incentives to sweeten the deal.

Five ex-Dodgers are on the list: Shawn Estes, Jon Garland, Eric Milton, Vincente Padilla, and Jason Schmidt. The Dodgers are likely to add at least one from the above list–and have first-hand knowledge of both the pluses and minuses with each, making their decision a bit easier. The Brewers’ have already stolen the Dodgers’ ace from last season, and Randy Wolf may be able to provide some general insight as to which of his former teammates would be a good fit for the Brewers.

The Reds, Cubs, and Astros are likely candidates to also add a name from above, as are the Mets and Marlins.

Signings will come fast and furious after the start of the New Year, as teams see Spring Training reports dates fast approaching. Melvin will spend a disproportionate time signing arbitration players before their hearings, so he may use this as a “reason” to wait to see what is left near the end. But we’ll find out within the next couple of weeks.

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What the Brewers Need from Santa

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

We’ve already gotten the early gifts of Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, and while they’re nice to have, it’s a little like your grandma getting confused with some of the items on your wishlist and buying you “Free Willy” on DVD instead of “Kill Bill.” It resembles what you really wanted, and you’re not really happy with it, but you have to suck it up and smile for the photo anyway because you’re stuck with it.

Things weren’t made much better when we saw Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer sign cheap incentive-laden deals and Javier Vazquez traded to the Yankees for peanuts and relief prospects. Still, here are a few things still on my Brewers Christmas wish list for the next year:

  • A 5th Starter: This one’s the most obvious need, but it’s looking like the Brewers will have to settle for something they already have, despite recently getting a $4 million gift card from Randy Wolf in the form of deferred salary that doesn’t have to be paid this year. As it stands, Jeff Suppan will likely win the 5th starter job, unless someone like Chris Narveson makes a strong spring training push. Suppan wouldn’t make for a terrible 5th starter in terms of production, but I think most people would like to see him off the roster. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Brewers are in a position to eat much salary in a trade.
  • Another Reserve Outfielder: Unless Frank Catalanotto comes back for another season at a dirt-cheap rate, the Brewers are going to need another outfielder on the bench. Jody Gerut will be tendered a contract for next season and likely will serve as insurance for Carlos Gomez in centerfield, but if his lefty/righty splits are any indication, he’ll need a platoon partner. With the budget already stretched to its limits, the solution will likely have to come from inside the organization.
  • Strong Attendance Numbers: It seems highly unlikely that the Brewers will top 3 million fans for the third straight year, but if the Brewers are going to continue to operate with a $90 million payroll, they’re going to need to draw nearly that many fans every year. It’s too early to say what the attendance for 2010 will look like, but given the fact that many families in the area are still trying to recover from the recession and another losing season, it seems inevitable that we’ll see a dip in attendance. Of course, winning solves most of the attendance issues — people are more willing to part with their money if they’re paying to see a winner.
  • More Bad Cubs Trades: The Carlos Silva acquisition was a nice start. He’s like their version of Suppan now, except he’s fatter and a worse pitcher. Sure, we’ll miss seeing Milton Bradley throw balls into the stands with two outs, but this was the best possible outcome from the Brewers’ perspective.
  • Matt Holliday Signing Outside the Division: Come on, Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman. You know you want to lure him out of St. Louis. The rest of the NL Central would love to see the only real complement to Albert Pujols skip town for that huge contract, and while the Cards seem to be making a competitive offer, in the end Holliday should (we hope) take annual salary instead of a large amount of guaranteed years.
  • Keep Dusty Baker in Cincinnati: This is the gift that keeps giving. Here’s to another few years of Willy Taveras hitting leadoff and young players like Joey Votto being told to swing at anything close. And thank goodness they chased off that bases-clogging Adam Dunn a year ago. I certainly didn’t need to see him launching shots into the Dew Deck every time the Reds come to town.
  • A Wrist for Rickie, a Knee for Casey, and some Ribs for Ryan: If the Brewers are going to compete in the NL Central in 2010 — and the thought isn’t absurd as it sounds, especially if Holliday leaves — they’re going to need a clean bill of health. They can’t afford to have Ryan Braun’s intercostal strains knock him out of action for a week at a time. They can’t have Casey McGehee’s knee affect his defense and keep him out of the lineup (although they do have Mat Gamel as insurance). And they certainly can’t have Rickie Weeks’ wrists give out again. They’re going to need to replace the pop that Mike Cameron took with him to Boston, and a full season of Weeks reaching his potential could be all that’s needed — they just need to keep him on the field.

Happy holidays, everyone. That’s my wishlist — what are some others?

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Minor Move Friday

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Claudio Vargas passed his physical, making his one-year deal official. Per Tom Haudricourt, Vargas will make $900,000 in base salary, with a possible additional $400,000 in incentives. As I wrote a couple days ago, the additions of Vargas and LaTroy Hawkins mean there’s likely only one spot open in the pen to start the year if David Riske is ready to go.

The Brewers added another pitcher today, inking former Rangers pitching prospect Kameron Loe to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. Loe was 19-23 with a 4.77 ERA in 5 seasons with the Rangers, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story — he struggled with a conversion to the starting rotation (5.08 ERA in 256 innings), but was passable as a reliever (3.83 ERA in 87 innings, and a WHIP nearly 0.2 lower than his starting WHIP). To me, this seems like another John Halama signing, mostly made for Triple A depth with a spring training invite just in case he impresses. Aside from being a former Ranger and Doug Melvin draftee, Loe may be best known for his size (somewhere between 6’7″ and 6’8″, depending on where you look) and his pet boa constrictor. I cannot make this stuff up. He spent last season pitching in Japan.

The Brewers handed out another minor league contract to catcher Matt Treanor, who will also be getting a big league spring training invite. By my count, that makes roughly 35 catchers in camp for the Brewers, so it’s hard to see him as being anything but a veteran presence in the minors. On the bright side, if he does make the big league roster, the Brewers may get a new celebrity fan — his wife is Olympic gold medalist beach volleyball player Misty May.

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Figuring Out This Bullpen

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Before we get into the business of breaking down the possible makeup of the 2010 bullpen, a bit of news: Mark DiFelice, who was non-tendered over the weekend, agreed to a minor league contract with the Crew so he can rehab with the team’s trainers with eyes set on the 2011 season. Considering similar arrangements the past couple seasons with Chris Capuano, the move probably doesn’t come as a surprise (I for one, was expecting it, but I can’t speak for others). DiFelice will make $100,000 in the deal while he rehabs…here’s to hoping he’s back to baffling righties with his cutter again in 2011. His backstory is just too good for his career to end this way.

Turning our attention to members of the bullpen who will be able to pitch next season, it appears — for better or worse — that the Brewers are going to be spending some major coin on the bullpen.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized