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Posts Tagged ‘2009 Offseason’

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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Narveson still on Brewers’ radar

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

JSOnline.com’s Tom Haudricourt posted that Doug Melvin has spent his 2010 budget already, so any pitching additions will likely be via the trade route or a low cost, last minute signing (same would be true for the last outfielder spot I imagine).

But buried in the post was this quote from Melvin:

“I said I’d like to get two (starters). I’m not going to promise to get two. Right now, we have five starting pitchers and (Chris) Narveson would be six. But you never know.”

Two things come to mind–Melvin is backpedaling a bit on his goal on adding a second starter (unless he is just trying to downplay his need to other teams), and that Chris Narveson is still in consideration for the rotation in 2010.

I’d still like to see them make a run at Justin Duchscherer, although the Yankees are rumored to be interested. If the Yankees sign Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, then Duchscherer may be had at a lower price. If the Yanks sign Chapman or Duchscherer, then Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin become expendable for the Yankees.

Still nothing on the fifth outfielder…my hunch is that Melvin is waiting for Frank Catalanotto’s price to come down before making him an offer. No word on a back-up in case Catalanotto signs elsewhere. Adam Heether could be used as an IF/OF option, but an experienced outfielder would be nice.

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Monday’s signings leave 3 undecided roster spots for Brewers

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

With Monday’s signing of pitcher Randy Wolf and utility infielder Craig Counsell, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin seems to only have three spots to fill to round out the 2010 25-man roster:

1. The last pitcher spot

2. A reserve infielder spot

3. A reserve outfielder spot

11 of 12 pitchers’ spots have been filled by Gallardo, Wolf, Parra, Suppan, Bush, Hoffman, Villanueva, Stetter, Riske, Coffey, and Lofgren. Presumably, the last spot is being reserved for Claudio Vargas.

But if Melvin achieves his goal of adding another starting pitcher–meaning that either Suppan or Bush would go to the bullpen–then one of the currently sloted pitchers would have to be traded, released, or sent to the minors. The easist solution would be to return Lofgren to Cleveland.

The last infielder spot will be up for grabs among Hernan Iribarren, Mat Gamel, and Adam Heether.

Finally, the Brewers need one more outfielder to replace Frank Catalanotto. This is the most intriguing vacancy, as it appears Lorenzo Cain isn’t ready yet. Who would you like to see in the outfield for the Crew?

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Brewers non-tender Mike Rivera…their only experienced catcher

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin–along with skipper Ken Macha–opted not to bring back Mike Rivera by not offering him arbitration on Saturday, the deadline for doing so. Rivera now becomes a free agent.

At first, I admit I was puzzled as to why you wouldn’t want to bring back at least one of the catchers that worked with your pitching staff the past season. After all, ’09 starting catcher Jason Kendall was not offered arbitration earlier this year and eventually signed with the Royals.

But then I started compiling some reasons why the Brewers decided not to bring back Rivera:

1. New pitching coach Rick Peterson wants a completely clean slate in establishing batteries–in other words, no pre-conceived opinions by his catchers of what each pitcher throws and does not throw well.

2. They want to leave the back-up spot easily accessible to Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy can now easily start the year playing everyday in AAA Nashville, and then be called up in June to be the back-up to Gregg Zaun. Lucroy will no longer be replacing the “regular” back-up catcher from the past 3 seasons…just George Kottaras, who will only have been on the roster for two months. This will mean Gregg Zaun will get the bulk of the starts during the first half of the season and get spelled by Lucroy as the season grinds on.

3. Rivera would have cost the Brewers at least $300,000 more than Kottaras.

4. Rivera only hit .228 last year…and will be 34 in September.

Each of these by themselves are pretty good reasons to let Mike Rivera go…combined, I can see why they needed to make the move.

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