Posts Tagged ‘J.J. Hardy’

Brewers Season Grades: Bottom of the Class

October 5, 2009 3 comments

There were a lot of disappointments during the 2009 season, but the following players were especially mediocre and/or disappointing.  Despite the large amount of unfulfilled expectations, only two players earned F’s for the year, and it’s probably not too hard to figure out who they are.  As always, feel free to chime in with your comments below.

Mike Burns (D-): Had a couple good starts filling in when he had to, but he was also far from spectacular.  If I had to bet, the journeyman will have to journey to another organization next season.  Nothing against him, but guys like him are a dime a dozen, and the Brewers already have candidates for spot starts next year in their system.
Dave Bush (D): Injuries made Bush’s 2009 season maddingly inconsistent.  At times, he looked like the guy who shut down the Phillies in the playoffs last year.  At other times, everything he was throwing was getting hit hard.  I don’t think he’ll get non-tendered in the offseason, but it’s no longer out of the question that he could be replaced in the offseason — not because he’s the one that needs to be replaced, but because he’d be much easier to get rid of than Jeff Suppan or Braden Looper.
Braden Looper (D+): Loop set a new club record for home runs allowed, and for whatever reason, never showed the velocity he had in St. Louis the past couple years.  If he did, perhaps he could’ve at least been a serviceable bottom-of-the-rotation guy, but good outings were few and far between, despite the high number of wins.  Here’s to hoping he opts out and some other GM will be suckered in by the W-L record, instead of looking at all the other stats.
Manny Parra (D+): Disappointing year overall for Manny.  When most were expecting him to take another step forward, he instead took one or two steps backward, struggling with mechanics and injuries for most of the season.  There was a stretch of a few weeks where he was showing a lot of the promise we all know he has, but those starts were far too infrequent.
Carlos Villanueva (D): After a surprisingly strong season as a reliever last year, Villanueva struggled to get much of anything going this year, at times seeming incapable of putting up a scoreless inning.  Gets bonus points for putting together an outing good enough to keep the Cardinals from getting homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Mike Rivera (D+): We’d all probably be more upset about Jason Kendall getting so many starts at catcher if Rivera had done much at the plate this year. In twice as many games played as last year, he’s hit nearly 80 points lower and barely edged out Kendall in OPS.
J.J. Hardy (D-): How bad was Hardy this year?  The only thing separating him from Jason Kendall is the fact that Hardy was still above average defensively.  At the plate he looked completely lost all year, and didn’t seem too interested in finding a way out of his slump.  Here’s to hoping that the Brewers can find a taker for him in the offseason now that Alcides Escobar has shown he can hold his own.
Jeff Suppan – Rejoice, Brewers fans…there’s only one more year left on that horrible contract, and with any luck, another team might be willing to take him off the Brewers’ hands if Milwaukee picks up the tab on most of the salary.  I don’t know if anyone saw Suppan’s time in Milwaukee playing out any differently, though.  It was a bad deal from the start, and it’s tied the hands of the club financially.
Jason Kendall – Last year, Kendall was at least good enough defensively to put up with his pathetic .651 OPS.  This year, he wasn’t nearly as lucky when it came to throwing out runners and hit even worse, OPSing .636.  If it wasn’t for Willy Taveras, Kendall would be the worst offensive player in the game.  There’s really no other grade to give him, and he’s the last player many fans would want to see back next season.

Brewers Make Two Call-Ups

September 1, 2009 1 comment

With the roster limit expanding to 40 today, the Brewers are only making two additions to the active roster.

As previously reported, J.J. Hardy returns to the team following a 20-day stint in the minors that will cost him a year of service time.  The struggling shortstop didn’t fare much better in Nashville than he did in Milwaukee, hitting .254/.284/.451 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI in 18 games.

The only other current call-up is Chris Smith, who put up a 3.62 ERA in 23 appearances with the Brewers earlier this year.  Smith was used primarily as the mop-up guy in his first go-around, often pitching multiple innings in blowouts.  We can probably assume he’ll take on a similar role now that he’s back.

Tom Haudricourt has the story, and notes that more call-ups are likely once Triple A Nashville finishes their season.  They’re currently in the middle of a playoff chase with the Memphis Redbirds, and need key players like Mat Gamel and Angel Salome to play out the rest of the season.

In the mean time, it’ll be interesting to see just how often Hardy plays this September.  He’s made it known he’s unhappy with the underlying reasons for his demotion (aside from poor play), but the Brewers really don’t have anything to gain from playing Hardy every day at shortstop.  We’ll have a better idea of where the Brewers stand after this series against the Cardinals, but if they fall any further out of the race, Alcides Escobar needs to be playing every day.  You could probably even make the argument that Escobar gives the Brewers a better chance to win than Hardy to begin with, so there’s really no excuse for Ken Macha to sit him.  The same should be true for Gamel once he returns.

If I had to guess, Hardy will get a couple starts a week in an attempt to drive up his trade value.  If he has a solid month (coupled with the extra year of service), the Brewers could potentially get a better deal for him in the offseason.  If he struggles, you quietly sit him more often and say you want to see what you have with Escobar before making a decision on Hardy’s future this winter.

The Brewers start that crucial series with the Cards tonight, and need to sweep the series — and likely the rest of their games against St. Louis this year — in order to stay alive in the playoff race.

Hardy Continues to Struggle

While Alcides Escobar continues to hit well in the majors — he went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in Washington tonight — J.J. Hardy continues to struggle mightily at the plate for Triple A Nashville.  The scuffling shortstop went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the Sounds’ 8-4 loss to Albuquerque, dropping his batting average to .147.

Hardy now has seven strikeouts in nine games played in Triple A, and has only managed five hits in 34 at-bats. Two of those five hits have been home runs, but based on the numbers it appears as though he’s still pressing too hard at the plate.

It’lll be interesting to see what happens come September 1st.  As I wrote before, the Brewers are in a tough situation when it comes to Hardy’s service time.  If they don’t bring him back up to Milwaukee on September 1st, Hardy’s free agent eligibility after next season may be in jeopardy.  If he stays in the minors for more than 20 days, the Brewers will hold onto Hardy’s rights for an additional year, meaning he won’t be a free agent until after the 2011 season.  While it might be a smart move for the organization, it would no doubt leave Hardy disgruntled and make the team’s front office look unnecessarily frugal.

On the other hand, if Hardy continues to hit this way in Triple A, the Brewers will easily be able to say he hasn’t earned his promotion back to the majors.  While an additional year of team control may help Hardy’s trade value in the offseason, anything gained from that extra service year may be lost by his poor performance in the minors.  He’s certainly not providing a lot of hope that he’ll figure things out and start hitting like an All-Star again.

What Should Melvin Do With Hardy?

August 16, 2009 1 comment

J.J. Hardy homered for Triple A Nashville on Saturday night, going 1-for-4 with a walk in his first start since being demoted.  While he looks to recalibrate his swing and get back on the track that made him an All-Star, an interesting storyline may potentially be developing.

As reported when Hardy was sent down on Wednesday, if Hardy stays in the minors for at least 20 days, he will fall short of the required number of days on the active roster to get credit for a full service year.  If that were the case, the Brewers would control Hardy through the 2011 season, not 2010.  This could have a huge effect on Hardy’s future with the club, but much more importantly, it could also have a huge effect on his trade value.

Read more…

Is Macha Next?

After all the events on what was called “Black Wednesday” at One Brewers Way, one man managed to escape with his job — manager Ken Macha.  While Bill Castro, J.J. Hardy, and Bill Hall were all shown the door yesterday, Macha will continue to manage this team.  Of course, the question is just how long he’ll be the manager.

During yesterday afternoon’s press conference, Doug Melvin sounded less than enthused about Macha’s performance at this point in the season.  When asked whether Macha should feel nervous, Melvin alluded to the fact that changing managers (again) will be considered.

Some of you will remember that Macha signed a two-year deal upon securing the job this past offseason, a contract that many found as an early sign that the Brewers’ front office wasn’t entirely confident in their new hire.  The Brewers, like most Major League teams, don’t like having their managers answering questions about job security when they’re in the last year of their contract.  As a result, they typically give an extension before the manager enters that final season — it happened with Ned Yost, and many anticipated Macha to get that extension with a reasonably successful season this year.  The only problem?  Macha hasn’t done much to warrant that extension.

We saw what happened to Castro when the entire pitching staff except Yovani Gallardo and Trevor Hoffman underperformed compared to their career numbers.  Hitting coach Dale Sveum may be on the chopping block considering how poorly most of the roster has hit this year, too.  Macha has seemed out of touch with his players at times this year, and has shown a propensity to prefer crappy veterans over promising prospects in his starting lineups — something you don’t want to see when you’re running a small-market club.  The fact that Melvin had to sit Macha down and explain to him that Alcides Escobar will be starting 4 or 5 times a week seems to indicate that the front office wasn’t pleased with how Macha handled Mat Gamel’s time on the active roster and wanted to make sure Craig Counsell wasn’t going to be the everyday shortstop with Hardy in the minors.

The only staff member who’s seemingly done their job well this year is Willie Randolph, who’s connected well with many of the team’s younger players and made the likes of Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder passable defensive players.  It’s only speculation, but to me, it seems logical and entirely possible that Willie Randolph could be this team’s manager at the start of 2010.

I’m curious to know what others think.  Should Macha be brought back?  If not, who should the Brewers target to replace him?

Is Another Trade Coming?

Here’s one for the folks who like to look for any small signs of a trade — super prospect Alcides Escobar was removed in the 6th inning of tonight’s Nashville Sounds game.  And there is no longer a team listed next to his name when you search for him on  

Uh oh.
Perhaps it isn’t as bad as it looks for those of us who absolutely do not want to see Escobar traded in the next week.  After all, if you click on his name in that same search, the Nashville Sounds logo is still on his player profile.  And there’s the possibility that if a trade was made, it includes J.J. Hardy — not Escobar — and Esco is just on his way to join the Major League squad.
What we do know is that trade talks between the Brewers and the Seattle Mariners have heated up in the past 24 hours.  Jarrod Washburn — a native Wisconsinite — is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday for the Mariners.  The Brewers have not committed to a Tuesday starter despite calling up Tim Dillard prior to the series finale against Atlanta.  Tom Haudricourt has confirmed that the Brewers are interested in Washburn.  Adam McCalvy spoke to Ken Macha earlier today, and it seems like the Brewers’ manager is convinced something is going to happen soon.  
If there is a move, we’ll likely hear about it in the next 24 hours, due to Washburn’s schedule. Let’s just hope the Brewers aren’t going to give up Alcides Escobar in a trade for a mediocre lefty with a lifetime 4.00+ ERA.  I wouldn’t even be happy to see Hardy go in that trade, unless Washburn was just part of a package coming back to Milwaukee.  We’ll see what ends up happening, but you can’t say things aren’t getting interesting in the final week before the deadline.