Friday, December 28, 2007

Your Line-up

Since there is not very much news concerning the Milwaukee Brewers right now, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the batting order to start the season. There are two stipulations we'll have: 1) Don't worry about assigning specific positions. It's not important for this to decide if Braun is playing LF, RF, or 3B...just where he's batting. 2) Use current Brewers, not anyone you're hoping gets signed.

Post your line-ups!!!

To get it started, here's what I have:

1) Rickie Weeks
2) J.J. Hardy
3) Prince Fielder
4) Ryan Braun
5) Corey Hart
6) Bill Hall
7) Gabe Gross / Gabe Kapler
8) Jason Kendall
9) Pitcher Spot

I'll explain why when we get some posts on this one. Start posting!

Astros ink Darin Erstad

Cecil Cooper gets to enjoy another fantastic signing by Ed Wade. This time, Wade inked Darin Erstad to a 1-year, $1M deal.

Anyone who thinks that I was serious about this being a fantastic signing is sadly mistaken. Sure, he has a pretty good glove. He cannot hit a lick, however. What did he hit last year? A measly .248 with 4 home runs and 32 RBIs. That's like having Adam Everett in the outfield. I don't quite understand this move. The Astros need starting pitching, not poor-hitting outfielders. Ed Wade, listen to me when I say this....STARTING PITCHING.

Here's a couple Christmas truths for you:

Melvin > Wade
Brewers > Astros

Thursday, December 27, 2007

No Recent News

Sorry I haven't had much of a chance to update the site in the last few days. I've been out of town for Christmas and such, and I just got home this afternoon. On the bright side, there has been absolutely no new news out there regarding the Brewers.

Melvin made the point that he likes the team he has now, even with no more moves before Spring Training.

He does not see the Crew making any big moves before the season starts in April. "Why plug a hole somewhere if it just creates another hole?" asked Melvin, who doesn't expect to acquire either Rolen or Blalock unless something radically changes. The Brewers are not in any position to create holes in the team they have now, just to appease fans that are waiting for a big move.

With that said, I still see a couple moves in the future for Milwaukee. The Brewers still have an excess in starting pitching, and Capuano, Vargas, or Bush will most likely be moved because of their salaries rising. This comment by Melvin could simply be a ploy, trying to convince teams that he is not desperate, and he does not need to make a move. By saying this, Melvin could be trying to get the asking price down for the players he is searching for.

After many of the free-agent pitchers are signed, Melvin will be receiving many calls regarding the starting pitching that the Brewers have. You can count on that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Brewers interested in Lofton?

UPDATE 12-21-07 3:30pm - Doug Melvin said that he has not talked to Kenny Lofton's agent for weeks.

This is probably because the Brewers just signed Kapler.

As I have speculated for a couple weeks now, the Brewers are believed to have interest in Kenny Lofton. He has a very high OBP and plays great defense, but he his not very good against lefties. I think that the Brewers could give Lofton a little benefit of the doubt on this aspect, though.

This signing could give the Brewers the opportunity to move Bill Hall to 3B and Braun to LF. At least, this is what I've been reading and has been speculated. I cannot imagine that much movement. If Lofton was signed, he would probably just be placed in LF and bat leadoff for the team. I'm still not sure how I would feel about this signing. As one of our readers has put, teams with Lofton on it never NOT go to the playoffs. Maybe he should just be signed for this reason!

It is also reported that the Brewers are interested in Luis Gonzalez. I really like the guy and I think he's a great player, but I hope that is not true. He would be a great leader, but he could not bat leadoff for the Crew. I'd much rather have Lofton.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gabe Kapler comes out of retirement to the Crew

The outfield market has looked terrible the entire winter, and Melvin must have agreed. Because instead of signing or trading for a free agent this offseason, Doug brought 32-year old Gabe Kapler out of retirement and signed him to a contract this afternoon.

Gabe has been very solid throughout his career, even though he retired because he was ineffective enough to find a job. He does have, however, a career .270 BA with a .331 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage. He was a member of the 2004 Red Sox World Series Champions.

“Gabe brings versatility and athleticism to the outfield position,” said Melvin. “He has always been a great teammate and possesses the determination to bounce back and become a valuable player to our club.”

This is obviously a tremendous shock, and nobody saw this signing coming. It makes a certain amount of sense, as he will bring a scrappy, high-ish OBP player who has a winning personality to the team. Melvin must have felt the team needed some more veteran leadership. I cannot imagine Kapler being anything other than a platoon player, but you never know. There is one thing this signing means, at least to me, however: Braun will be staying at 3B next season.


Brewers interested in Lofton

As I have speculated for a couple weeks now, the Brewers are believed to have interest in Kenny Lofton. He has a very high OBP and plays great defense, but he his not very good against lefties. I think that the Brewers could give Lofton a little benefit of the doubt on this aspect, though.

This signing could give the Brewers the opportunity to move Bill Hall to 3B and Braun to LF. At least, this is what I've been reading and has been speculated. I cannot imagine that much movement. If Lofton was signed, he would probably just be placed in LF and bat leadoff for the team. I'm still not sure how I would feel about this signing. As one of our readers has put, teams with Lofton on it never NOT go to the playoffs. Maybe he should just be signed for this reason!

It is also reported that the Brewers are interested in Luis Gonzalez. I really like the guy and I think he's a great player, but I hope that is not true. He would be a great leader, but he could not bat leadoff for the Crew. I'd much rather have Lofton.

Ex-Brewer Jenkins to the Phillies

UPDATE 12-20-07 4:30PM - As someone rightly pointed out, Jenkins actually signed with the Phillies. I had conflicting reports and I cited the source that a separate blog reported. I apologize for the mix-up. Thanks for the tip!

Geoff Jenkins is now a member of the San Diego Padres, reports. It is believed to be a tw0-year deal, worth around $13MM. He is going to play only against righties, as it was with the Brew Crew.

That is a ridiculous amount for a platoon player, I believe. That is why the Brewers did not renew his contract. I still wish him luck with the Padres, but I'm at a loss for why someone would pay that much for a player on the downswing of his career and cannot hit lefties for the life of him. He does play excellent defense...I'll give him that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Melvin singing "Silent Night" on the trade scene

Doug Melvin does not see any trades happening before the New Year, Tom Haudricourt reports. He has hardly talked to anyone at all in the past week, and Melvin does not see that changing before the holiday season.

He's talked once to St. Louis about Scott Rolen, but he does not see that going anywhere...possibly ever.

The same with Hank Blalock from the Texas Rangers. "I don't anticipate anything there, either," Melvin said. "Regular position players aren't easy to get without giving up a regular position player. You create one hole to fill another."

Finally, Melvin was hoping to cajole Los Angeles into parting with Andre Ethier for a couple of our expendable arms. He no longer sees that happening either with the Kuroda signing. "They might be standing pat now," said Melvin. "We'll have to wait and see. Just because there's nothing happening today doesn't mean it won't happen later."

All in all, we're going to see a slow few weeks on the trade front for the Milwaukee Brewers. I believe that Melvin is going to wait for a month or so until teams get desperate for pitching and are more willing to part with someone they wouldn't normally be willing to. "In Melvin we trust," right? I trust that he'll put together a package that will be to the Crew's benefit.

Wise now a Met

Again, I have to apologize for my timeliness lately. I've hardly had any time to sit down and digest any of these rumors, much less post them. A late night fixes that though sometimes!

Here's something new: Matt Wise is now a New York Met. We non-tendered him not even a week ago, and he's already been picked up. No one doubted that Matty Wise would be picked up shortly after his release, but I was not expecting the Mets. He'll be getting a raise from his $1M salary from last year to $1.2M.

Good luck Matt...except against the Crew!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Brewers were interested in Tejada

Reading a recent story on the Milwaukee Brewers homepage, I saw that Melvin was in serious talks with the Baltimore Orioles about acquiring Miguel Tejada. This is completely novel news to me, and I'm happy that we did not go through with it.

"It was going to involve giving up some of our good, young players," said Melvin. "We talked about moving Tejada to third base and Braun to the outfield. [Tejada] would have done that for a team that was a contending club. It was going to be [giving up] some of the players that might have impacted our club; we felt it wasn't the right thing to do.

The Astros had to give up 5 high-quality players to get the former All-Star. FIVE. The Brewers do not have that luxury. Neither do the Astros, but that is another story. Anyway, I thought you all would like to know about the trade-that-could-have-been, the trade I personally am glad that wasn't.

Off-season happenings

I'm finally home from school today, so I actually have time to sit down and analyze some of the interesting transactions in the last couple days. Here's what we have going:
  • Billy Beane has finally pulled the trigger on the Dan Haren deal. The winning suitor? The Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs sent over Carlos Gonzalez, ex-Brewer Dana Eveland, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, and Greg Smith. The A's also sent pitcher Connor Robinson to the D-Backs in the deal.

    Honestly, I'm surprised that Beane didn't wait for a larger market team to get in this conversation. The only "sure-thing" prospect would be Carlos Gonzalez from the D-Backs, and maybe Dana Eveland. Eveland has struggled in the MLB whenever he's been called up. None of the other prospects are sure-things for the A's. Either way, Beane is spreading out his talent over 6 prospects, so it would be very naive to call this a bad deal. I just thought Beane would get more out of Haren. I like the pick-up for the D-Backs here. Haren is flat nasty.
  • More relevant to Milwaukee, the Diamondbacks also sent Jose Valverde to the Astros for Chad Qualls, Chris Burke, and minor league prospect Juan Gutierrez.

    This is a great deal for the Astros. Ed Wade has redeemed himself here from the bad Kaz Matsui signing. Valverde is a shut-down closer who can help the team win for the next 2 years. The Astros are not giving up that much in return either. Chad Qualls has quietly been very solid in his career posting a career 3.39 ERA. The D-Backs are hoping that he can fill Valverde's shoes without the rising paycheck. Chris Burke has relatively no trade value, but perhaps Arizona is hoping he will platoon with Orlando Hudson? Gutierrez is solid, but nothing special. Houston was able to pick up a very good closer for relatively nothing. Kudos to Ed Wade for this move.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals sent Jim Edmonds to San Diego for a low-level prospect, David Freese. Freese is a 25-year old 3B prospect who has not left the single-A level yet. He reportedly has the ability to catch a little bit too, but Freese is not very exciting, as far as prospects go. St. Louis also sent almost $2MM over to San Diego to offset part of Edmond's salary.

    Talk about giving somebody away for nothing! Freese may be a fine prospect, but there was a time Edmonds would have required a boat-load to trade for him. My how times change...
  • Hiroki Kuroda has signed with the L.A. Dodgers for three-years at $36-40MM. He has been regarded as the top free agent pitcher on the market, so this is obviously a good signing for the Dodgers. How does this affect the Brewers? Looks like any Ben Sheets rumors will go by the wayside.

Nothing is cooking on the Brewers' Hot Stove right now, but I will keep an eye out, of course. The only thing I have heard is that Morgan Ensberg's agent could receive a courtesy call from Doug Melvin. I doubt anything will come of that since Ensberg has struggled in the last couple years, but you never know. He could be a stop-gap option that will keep the Brewers from losing anything in a trade. Doubtful though.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Orioles claim Aquino

Sorry I'm late on this one everyone. I've been absolutely swamped today.

The Brewers had signed Greg Aquino to a one-year deal, as reported earlier, but they were hoping that he was going to clear wavers and get to Triple-A Nashville. Unfortunately, this did not pan out. The Baltimore Orioles picked him up very quickly.

This is not surprising. Aquino has a great arm, and he's just waiting for it to click. I expect him to compete for a bullpen position in Baltimore right away. Nice pick up for the Orioles.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gagne named in the Mitchell Report

UPDATE 12-13-07 6:10PM: Bud Selig has promised swift disciplinary action concerning the Mitchell Report, but he says that it will be done on a "case-by-case basis." Former Sen. Mitchell spread the blame around pretty thoroughly in the report, putting it on Bud Selig, players, and management.

It is also worth noting that HGH was not banned by Major League Baseball until January 2005. Gagne's supposed HGH binge was in 2004, so one would think he would be clear of any disciplinary actions. The problem, however, is that Gagne broke federal law if he obtained HGH without a prescription. Since there is no urine test for HGH, it cannot be proven that Gagne did anything. Don't expect public opinion to give him any sympathy though...every player in the Mitchell Report will be considered guilty until proven innocent by the public, which is a shame.

P.S. Scott Boras is not happy about Gagne being accused. It makes for an entertaining read.

Eric Gagne, the newest member of the Milwaukee Brewers, has been named as a recipient of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in the release of the Mitchell Report today. It has been speculated for several days that Gagne would be mentioned, but the Brewers signed him anyway. It sounds like Paul Lo Duca got him in contact with the right people when they were teammates with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Brewers have not made any public comment concerning this report, but I doubt anything's going to happen to Gagne. HGH is still not tested for in the MLB. I cannot imagine he would be suspended for something that cannot be tested for.

In separate news, Turnbow's failed drug test for the U.S. Olympic team has been illuminated in this report. It's pretty much a non-issue as andro was not banned at the time Turnbow was taking it, and he fully admitted to taking the performance-enhancing drug. It seems to be a non-issue.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A look at the NL Central

Well...we don't really have any new Brewers news to discuss as of right now, so I thought we could look at what the other teams in the NL Central have been up to.

Chicago Cubs:
  • The biggest news actually just happened today with the Cubbies. They signed the highly touted Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome today to a 4-year, $48M contract. It's tough for me to be worried about a player that I've never seen play before, but it sounds like this guy is for real. They may have overpaid a bit, but Jim Hendry got the guy he wanted.
  • They resigned Kerry Wood to a one-year deal. This actually concerns me...Wood showed some good stuff out of the pen last year. He and Marmol are going to be tough at the end of games for the Cubs.
Houston Astros:
  • The Astros acquired Miguel Tejada today. I think that classifies as a big time deal. Tejada will play SS for Houston. This would be a great deal in my eyes, except Houston gave up the farm to get Tejada. Baltimore received Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, ex-Brewer Dennis Sarfate, and Michael Constanzo. Houston gave up the farm for a player that is on the downswing in his career. I love it.
  • They also signed Kaz Matsui for a three-year, $16.5M contract. How this seemed like a good idea to the Houston front-office, I'll never know. Matsui's numbers dropped dramatically last year when he played away from Coors Field in Colorado. The Astros can have him.
  • Houston signed reliever Doug Brocail. This guy is solid coming out of the pen, and it was a very good pick-up for the Astros. I imagine the Brewers are not overly excited about facing him.
Cincinnati Reds:
  • Obviously, the biggest news out of the Reds' camp is that they got closer Francisco Cordero away from the Brewers. I personally am happy this happened because the Brewers and Reds were offering way too much money and too many years for him. The life of a closer is too short for a 4-year contract. Still, this signing greatly improves the Cincinnati bullpen.
  • The only other interesting news is the fact that Cincinnati is pushing really hard for Eric Bedard from the Baltimore Orioles. The Reds definitely have the farm system to get it done with Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto, so I would definitely not count them out of the race. A one-two punch of Bedard and Harang would be scary....REALLY scary.
St. Louis Cardinals:
  • The Rolen rumors out of St. Louis have been deafening, and I still expect him to be moved. He and LaRussa do not get along in the least bit. I just hope he does not come to the Brewers. We do not need his injury risk.
  • Other than that, there is not too much news coming out of the Cardinals' camp. They signed Cesar Izturis and decided not to go after David Eckstein. Both of these players are terrible, however, so it's not that big of news.
  • So Taguchi has been released. Again, he's not very good, so oh well.
Pittsburgh Pirates:
  • The Pirates have been a hotbed for rumors this offseason. They are reportedly in very deep talks with the Padres for a multi-player deal that would send Jason Bay to the Padres. This would be a great move for the Padres more than the Pirates, unless they were able to get Chase Headley out of the deal. He has a chance to be very good.
  • As you know, the Brewers traded two minor league pitchers for Salomon Torres from the Pirates. We discussed this earlier, however. Great deal for the BrewCrew.
  • The Pirates have been in the news because they are trying to unload players, not acquire any high-profile players. Names like Matt Morris, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady, Jason Bay, and even Ian Snell have been mentioned this offseason. I don't think the Pirates will be a force to be reckoned with this year.

I highly doubt the Cubs are done, and I fully expect them to pick up a couple players through trades this offseason. The Reds are a very interesting team this offseason, and I think they have a chance to be very good next year. It all depends on their pitching. If they are able to get Bedard or Haren, they'll have a very good shot at the Central this year. Nobody else is really doing anything for me though. The Tejada deal is not a winner in my eyes, and I think the Astros are heading downwards in the standings, not up.

I think Melvin will add a bat this offseason though still. The Brewers have by far been the most active team in the Central this Hot Stove season, and I don't know if that will change. We have some excess pitching to disperse around the league still. The Rolen talks will head up again though too...

What do you all think?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Aquino and McClung sign new contracts

Trusty Tom Haudricourt reports that Aquino and McClung have avoided arbitration and signed new contracts for the 08 season. He speculates that Melvin told the two that they would be non-tendered had they not signed a new contract. It has not been released how much the contracts are worth though.

Catchers Eric Munson and Mike Rivera have both signed new contracts as well.

The big arbitration-eligible players will be: SS J.J. Hardy, RHPs Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas, and LHPs Brian Shouse and Chris Capuano. I still look for a couple of these 5 to be moved in the coming weeks.


I thought it was a bit weird that these arbitration eligible players were being designated for assignment. Tom Haudricourt just clarified with Doug Melvin that Mench and Wise are actually non-tendered, which means that they are effectively released from the Brewers. That means we cannot trade them, obviously. Too bad.

Good luck to Matt and Kevin wherever they end up!!!

Wise Designated for Assignment's not a surprise, but Matt Wise has been designated for assignment. The Brewers now have 10 days to release or trade him.

It is not shocking this happened, as Gagne was introduced as No. 38, the same number Wise was last year. That, and the fact that the Brewers have signed four new relievers (Choate, Gagne, Torres, and Riske).

Wise was very solid in the first half of last year, posting a 2.87 ERA. He absolutely imploded after he hit Pedro Lopez of the Cincinnati Reds in the face in the second half of the year. Wise put up a monstrous 7.31 ERA in his last 19 outings. That, unfortunately, cost him his job in Milwaukee.

Wise was arbitration eligible, so the decision helps the Brewers financially as well. It would be a shame to see Milwaukee lose Wise without getting anything in return. He has been a valuable part of our 'pen for several years now. Hopefully he'll be traded in the next few days. Hank Blalock deal anyone?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Torres NOT Retiring

More good news for the Brewers bullpen after signing Gagne today. Haudricourt reports that Torres told Doug Melvin today that he is going to report to Milwaukee for 08 rather than retire. This is great news for Brewers fans, as it gives us another power arm in the bullpen. Anyone else think that the Gagne signing influenced this decision?

Gagne put on the No. 38 jersey during the press conference today. Does that number sound familiar? It should. Matt Wise had that number last year. That seems to mean that Wise's career is done in Milwaukee. Look for him to be traded soon.

Another thing that is simmering on the Hot Stove season. Seems like things are progressing for a Brewers-Rangers trade that seems to be a mainstay every year. Haudricourt says that he gets the vibe that the Brewers are going to trade for Hank Blalock. This would only make too much sense as the Rangers are looking for some starting pitching, and the Brewers obviously have an excess of pitching. It would also give Melvin the left-handed bat that he is looking for to add to the line-up. Melvin also seems dead set on moving Braun to LF, no matter what he says. He is not talking about any LF options, simply 3B options.

Here's what I see:

Brewers get - 3B Blalock and mid-level prospect
Rangers get - OF Tony Gwynn Jr., RHP Matt Wise, and LHP Chris Capuano

I've also heard reports that the two teams had discussed a trade of Alcides Escobar for Blalock straight up. That seems a little steep for the Brewers, I think. Escobar is one of our top prospects (read below). Perhaps Mat Gamels would be a better fit. He's blocked in the system with Braun and potentially Blalock at 3B.

Thoughts anyone?

Brewers Ink Gagne for $10M

It's official, Tom Haudricourt reports. Eric Gagne is now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He passed his physical this morning in Milwaukee, and he will be introduced at 6:30pm today.

Someone will have to be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Gagne. Unfortunately, I think Matt Wise's time in a Brewers uniform is going to be finished. I would like to think that Melvin has a trade in the works that will protect him, but it's doubtful. Wise only had one bad year, and now he's going to lose his job in Milwaukee. That's unfortunate. I thought he had a chance to bounce back nicely this year.

This Gagne signing is brilliant for the Brewers. Everyone is worried about the baggage he comes with, and my answer is that we are only committed to him for one year. If it doesn't work out, then the Brewers simply do not resign him next year. If he excels (which I believe he will), the Brewers will allow him to cash in big somewhere else next year and take the 2 draft picks we will get because he'll be a Type A free agent. A low-risk, high-reward move like I've said before.

The Brewer bullpen is now looking like a strength for the team this season. I look for Melvin and his crew to shift focus on unloading a couple of our excess pitchers we have. I expect Capuano to be moved relatively soon, and I pray that Vargas is gone soon. Mr. I-can't-pitch-more-than-5-innings can hopefully get us a mid-level prospect...because he's not worth anything more than that.

Mench Designated for Assignment

The Capital Times in Madison reported this morning that Mench has been designated for assignment.

This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, as it has been speculated for weeks. The Brewers now have 10 days to trade him or release him. I don't expect him to be traded, unfortunately. Melvin shopped Mench shamelessly at the Winter Meetings last week, but he found no buyers. Then again...why would anyone trade for him when they can just pick him up after the Brewers release him?

This move was made to make room for Salomon Torres on the 40-man roster. The fact that the Brewers made this move at all suggests that Torres is seriously contemplating coming to Milwaukee instead of retiring, which would be fantastic. Expect another move soon. The Brewers need to make room for Gagne on the 40-man roster.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Top 10 Prospects

Alright...I know Gagne is a big deal, but I think it's time to look at the Brewers farm system a little bit. I'll report on this every once in a while, but here is who I believe to be the 10 ten prospects in the Brewers system:

1) LHP Manny Parra (MLB) - Yes, I know it looks like LaPorta should be the #1 prospect, but Manny Parra has a chance to be something special a lot earlier than LaPorta. He has above average stuff for a lefty and has way above average control. Look for Parra to be in the starting rotation come April. Yost says that it's his job to lose, and I don't expect him to lose it.

2) LF Matt LaPorta (A) - The reason I believe LaPorta to be behind Parra is his drop-off in the Arizona Fall League. In the minors this year, LaPorta put up a .304 BA with 12 HR and 31 RBI. Very impressive. Even more impressive was his move to LF, where he only had 1 error the entire season. Who says he cannot play LF? In the AFL, LaPorta's average dropped to .241, but he still had 6 HR and 22 RBI. The power is clearly there. Now we just have to work on the consistency part of the battle.

3) RHP Jeremy Jeffress (A) - Jeremy can flat out throw gas. He is reported to hit the upper-90s, even 100mph with relative ease. His fastball has a lot of sink on it, as well. Power pitchers who get groundballs move very quickly through the system. If he can develop another pitch, he'll be fast-tracked for sure. He is facing a 50 game suspension for violating the League Substance Abuse Policy, but he's only 21 years old. And on the bright side, the suspension should keep his innings down this year.

4) SS Alcides Escobar (AAA) - This kid is a defensive stalwart. He's got the footwork, the range, and the arm. He also can hit a little bit, which is shown in his .306 BA last year in the minors with 53 RBI. He had an abysmal winter league showing, however, only hitting .100 in 20 AB. That scares me a little bit, but he was pinch hitting all the time. That's a tough thing to get used to. I'm looking forward to seeing what Alcides can do in 08.

5) 3B Mat Gamel (AA) - Mat hits with good power to all fields. He had a .300 BA with 9 HR in the FSL and a .333 BA with 8 HR in the Hawaii Winter League. The potential with the bat is not the question. It's his fielding (which is worse than Braun's) that everyone is concerned about. He had 53 errors in 128 games. That's plain awful.

6) C Angel Salome (A) - He is currently serving his 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, but he's still young (21) and a power hitting catcher with above average defensive skills. He hit .318 with 6 HR and 53 RBI in the Florida State League last year. That's legit for a catcher. We'll see how he comes back after the suspension, but he could be fast-tracked when he gets back.

7) LF Cole Gillespie (A) - Cole is somewhat of a work in progress still, but he has the tools to be a MLB player someday. He is a good hitter, and his power is still developing (12 HR and 62 RBI in Brevard last year). The question is where the Brewers will put him. LaPorta has taken over as the top LF prospect, and Cole does not have the quickness or arm strength to play CF or RF.

8) OF Lorenzo Cain (AA) - This rating is on pure potential. Lorenzo is a defensive standout with great speed, but his offense is starting to catch up now. He only hit .276 last year, but I expect it to be higher next year. The Brewers coaches compare him to Corey Hart. That's saying a lot.

9) SS Brent Brewer (A) - Brent has good speed, a good arm, and good range at SS, but it has yet to come all together for him. He has great power for a SS (11 HR at West Virginia last year), but his plate discipline needs to improve. Yet, he's only 19. He's going to be a top prospect for a few years.

10) 3B Tyler Green (A) - I have a tough time not putting the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year in my top 10, so here he is. Tyler's only 21, and he put up ridiculous numbers in Class A West Virginia. He batted .327 with 14 HR and 86 RBI. What is also impressive is his BB/K ratio (51/65). That shows a lot of maturity for a young hitter. I expect to hear about Tyler a lot in the coming years.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gagne to the Brewers

UPDATE 12-9-07 11:37AM: The AP agrees that Gagne is going to sign a one-year $10M contract. He'll be eligible for up to $1M in incentives. This is a little more than I thought it was going to be, but it's a low-risk, high-reward pick up for the Brewers. If he comes in and pitches lights out, the $10M will not seem like much anymore.

UPDATE 12-8-07 8:41PM:
Doug Melvin has said that a tentative agreement is in place for a one-year deal. Gagne will have to pass a physical before it becomes final.

Thanks to Robert J. for the tip on this one. It seems like Eric Gagne is, in fact, going to Milwaukee Yahoo Sports confirms. Neither side of the deal is willing to comment or commit that the signing is going to happen, but several sources now confirm that a deal is imminent. My guess is that it will be a one-year deal, as Melvin said that he would not do otherwise.

Eric Gagne had his difficulties in Boston when he lost his command, but he was pitching very well in Texas before the trade. Before the trade deadline, Gagne had a 2.16 ERA in 34 games while converting 16 of 17 save opportunities. That's what the Brewers want. The scary thing is that ERAs usually go down a little bit in the National League. Control issues plagued Gagne in Boston, but that is the first time in his career that was a problem. I expect him to come to Milwaukee ready to deal. Yes, injuries are a big concern, but we have plenty of people now to replace him (Riske, Turnbow, Torres, Mota, etc.)

I really like this move a lot. Melvin continues to impress me with these deals. I distinctly remember him saying people like Dotel and Gagne are "like Christmas presents. They get cheaper in January." By January, he meant after the Winter Meetings and after the arbitration deadline. Melvin avoids the pressures to just "do something" when it does not help his team most. He waits until he gets what he wants, and I hope he can get this deal done right. Hats off to you Mr. Melvin!

Gagne a Brewer?

Eric Gagne declined arbitration from the Red Sox. That's not surprising, as he has been expected to do so for some time. What is surprising, however, is that most teams have no interest in him anymore.

Tom Haudricourt reports that the Brewers have a real shot at landing Eric Gagne. There were supposedly three teams that were interested in Gagne. These were: the Rangers, the Astros, and the BrewCrew. The GM of the Rangers has said that they no longer have interest in their former closer. The Astros are still a contender, but the Brewers would probably be the favorite. This is because Gagne is a Scott Boras client and has ties to Prince Fielder (a fellow Boras client). Haudricourt seems to think that this connection makes the Brewers the favorite for Gagne, and Melvin has not indicated that he has no interest in him. This could be interesting.

What also makes this signing more likely/intriguing is the fact that Salomon Torres is now considering retirement. My guess is that if Torres retires, Gagne will become a Brewer. If Torres does not retire, Gagne still may become a Brewer, though less likely. With Eric Gagne, the Brewers bullpen would be:

one of (Capuano, Bush, Parra, or Vargas)

Not too shabby, eh?

Torres to Consider Retirement

So here's some shocking news:

It seems that Salomon Torres (who the Brewers JUST traded for) is now considering retirement instead of coming to Milwaukee. This would mean that the Brewers just lost two prospects for nothing. THAT would be awful...

I'll keep you updated

Friday, December 7, 2007

Brewers acquire Torres from Pirates

Tom Haudricourt reports that the Brewers traded for workhorse pitcher Salomon Torres from Pittsburgh for minor league relievers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.

Melvin said that he was hoping to get one more arm in the bullpen before Spring Training, and he got exactly what he was looking for: a workhorse veteran with closing experience. Last year, Torres started as the closer for the Pirates before losing his job mid-season. He appeared in 56 games, and he went 2-4 with a 5.47 ERA and 12 saves in 18 chances. He was on the DL twice last year with elbow inflammation, and it was the only year he did not appear in at least 78 games.

The Brewers gave up Marino Salas from Triple-A Nashville and Kevin Roberts from Class-A Brevard County. Haudricourt says these two are very good arms from Milwaukee. I know Salas had a future in the Milwaukee system, as he posted a combined 2.77 ERA in the minors last season. He was being groomed as a closer, and probably was the centerpiece of the trade. Roberts was relatively new to the Brewer farm system, but put up a very respectable 3.44 ERA in Brevard ast year. But as we all know, prospects do not always turn into Major League players.

I'm a little tentative about completely praising this deal because of Torres' struggles and injury history last year. He was brilliant between 2004-2006 (2.64, 2.76, and 3.28 ERA, respectively), but that was before elbow troubles. If he is able to bounce back, he will be a vital part of our bullpen and Doug did a tremendous job adding him to the roster. If he is not able to bounce back, it will not hurt too much, as we did not give up much to get him. Salas is a very good prospect, but the BrewCrew will not miss him too much will all the power arms we have. Overall, I like this move, and if Torres can bounce back after a down year, I will REALLY like this deal. Nice job, Doug!

Brewers pick up 3 arms in Rule 5 draft

When telling you all about losing Callix Crabbe, I forgot to tell you what we gained from the draft. We acquired three pretty good arms from the looks of it. They are as follows:

  • RHP Joe Bateman from the Yankees. He's only 27 years old and has a deceptive side-arm delivery. He had a very nice year last year in Double-A Connecticut in the Yankees system. In 56.1 innings of work, Bateman had a 4-1 record with a 2.88 ERA and a 47/21 K/BB ratio. I really like this pick-up, and I think that in a couple years, we could see Bateman knocking on the door for a relievers spot because of his deceptive delivery.
  • RHP Richard Campbell from the Nationals. Campbell, who's only 26, went 3-5 with a 4.91 ERA and nine saves in 47 relief appearances with Double-A Harrisburg last season for the National's affiliate. I'm a little apathetic about this pick up. Perhaps the Brewers see something in him that I'm missing.
  • RHP Juan Sandoval from the Mariners. Sandoval, also 26, was very average in Double-A West Tennessee posting a 4.29 ERA in 26 relief appearances, but got absolutely shelled when promoted to AAA, with a 10.06 ERA in only 14 appearances. I haven't heard about Sandoval before, so maybe his numbers are hiding a power arm that needs maturing. That's what I'm going to tell myself to justify those numbers...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Brewers done in Nashville

Doug Melvin and his crew left the Winter Meetings today without finalizing a deal with any team, but that does not mean a deal or two are not in the works. Let's round out what we've learned:
  • Melvin is not, I repeat NOT, going to trade for a closer this offseason. Melvin said, "We have a closer. Derrick Turnbow." This may not be popular amongst Brewers fans, but I think he's more than capable. People just need to give him a chance and not boo him when he walks onto the field. Yes, he has control problems, and yes, it is annoying. Let's give him a chance though.
  • Sheets has not been seriously discussed with anyone. I guess that takes care of those rumors.
  • Bill Hall has been flying around in tons of rumors, and Melvin indicated that he's listening to proposals for him. He can play plenty of positions, and each team Melvin talks to has a different plan for Hall. If I had to guess, I would say Hall is going to be moved before the season starts. I know it's been said a lot, but I think the L.A. makes a lot of sense for Hall.
  • Finally, even though it was not explicitly said, Tom Haudricourt expects the Cardinals to come back to Milwaukee and lessen their demands. They're going to have to lessen them quite a bit for Doug Melvin to make a move, I suspect.

Mench to be Non-Tendered reports that Mench will be non-tendered by the Brewers. It's sad that we couldn't get anything for him at all, but why would anyone trade for him if they could just pick him up off waivers? It will be nice to dump his $3M+ contract as well. Too bad it never worked out, I was excited to get him when he first came to Milwaukee.

Sheets Rumor

Alright folks, I have some conflicting rumors for you. This is what the Hot Stove season is all about. It surrounds Ben Sheets and the L.A. Dodgers. Here's what I have for you:

  • Yesterday the USA Today reported that the Brewers and Dodgers are in serious talks about sending Ben Sheets and Bill Hall to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. This is reported by a "high-ranking L.A. official."
  • Today, however, Tom Haudricourt says that the Brewers have not talked to the Dodgers about Ben Sheets at all. Interestingly enough, however, Tom does not mention anything about Bill Hall and the Dodgers. No news, in this case, might mean a lot of news in a couple weeks.
Well, these are the conflicting reports that we have. Melvin is usually one to keep his trade talks private, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is talking to the Dodgers and telling us that he is not. Hall and Sheets for Kemp and Ethier though? You'd think we could get a little more than that. Kemp is a fantastic prospect, and that would be awesome. Exactly what the Brewers need, young, cheap, and high potential. I'd like to see the Brewers swing Jonathan Broxton if they were to consider that trade though. And maybe a starting pitching prospect. We have the leverage in this deal...not the Dodgers.

Rule 5 Draft has Brewers lose Crabbe

UPDATE 12-6-07 12:09pm: Okay, so the trusted source that informed me that Callix Crabbe went to the Seattle Mariners conflicts every other report that I have read. and say that Callix was drafted by the San Diego Padres. It looks like the Padres, not the Mariners, sorry for the mix-up!

Although I'm not a big fan of the Rule 5 draft, I have some news for you. The Brewers, as expected, passed on their draft pick. The Crew did lose Callix Crabbe, however, to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have to keep him on the Major League roster all year, or give him back to the Brewers. They also pay $50,000.

I'm happy for Callix. He was putting up solid numbers in Nashville, but was roadblocked in the Brewers system because of Iribarren and Weeks in front of him. In 130 games in Nashville, Crabbe batted .287 with 9 homers and 38 RBI. Not too bad for a 2B at all. The best of luck to Callix in Seattle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Brewers NEED a proven closer?

So Michael Hunt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel went on a little rant this morning, screaming that the Brewers needed to trade for a proven closer, not Rolen or a different 3B.

While this point is obviously valid, I have a few remarks concerning the situation.
  • One, the Brewers do not need a proven closer. We have not had a proven closer for a while now (even Cordero had lost his job in Texas). Kolb, DeJean, and Turnbow were all waiver pick-ups. Melvin has said many times that anyone can get 30 saves. It's the saves after 30 that are the tough ones. I think the Brewers can definitely find someone within the system (yes, even Turnbow) that can save 30 games.

  • Similarly, the closers on the market are either asking too much (Gagne and Dotel) or teams are asking for way too much for proven closers (Nathan and Street). The Brewers are better off staying in the system to find the answer. While yes, we should win now, the Brewers cannot afford to mortgage the future to do so. The Crew is not a large enough market team. Stick in the organization, Doug.

Winter Meetings - Day 3

UPDATE 12-5-11:10pm: Al's Ramblings reports that Gord Ash was on XM radio this morning and "forgot" to mention Bill Hall's name when saying who he had in the outfield. I know I shouldn't read between the lines here...but Dodger-Brewer blockbuster deal perhaps? Sheets-Hall combo would get the Crew a pretty big haul.

Tom Haudricourt has some interesting news for us:

  • Seems like I was a little to quick to get worked up about a deal for Iguchi by the end of the day. Melvin says that he wants to be sure there is a mutual interest before he puts any deal on the table. It sounds like he wants a pure 3B, not someone that would be switching positions.
  • Laynce Nix has been offered a minor league contract from the Brewers. Of course, he would have to clear wavers and report to Nashville, but I think he would provide a great amount of depth for the Brewers system. He has power and speed, as shown in my previous post, but has not been able to put it all together. Maybe another year will put it all together for the kid? I, however, do not expect him to clear wavers. He'll be gone by Spring Training.
  • Expect the rumors of Rolen to the Brewers to resurface. Tony LaRussa called out Rolen today that just exacerbated the entire situation in St. Louis. If no other teams are interested, look for the Cardinals to come back with a lower asking price. My guess is that it will still be too much for the Brewers to pull the trigger, however.

Brewers check out Iguchi and Valverde

It's been reported that the Brewers checked with the D-backs about the availability of Jose Valverde. I guess Arizona knows how much Valverde will demand on the market when he becomes a free agent, and they prefer to get something back other than draft picks. It seems the two GMs have been unable to match up, however. My guess is that Arizona is asking way too much for Doug Melvin's taste, but hey, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Tadahito Iguchi has tripped the Brewers' trigger. Iguchi's agent, Rocky Hall, has said that he expects the Brewers to offer a two-year contract with a club option for a third year by the end of the day. Iguchi has opened up to playing 3B, even though he has been a 2B for quite a while. While struggling with the White Sox to start the year, Iguchi picked up steam with the Phillies. He went .304 with three homers and 12 RBI in 45 games for Philadelphia.

The Brewers could do a lot worse than Iguchi, but I feel that he does not fill the need the Brewers seek. They want a guy that has a high OBP, and Iguchi has only a .347 OBP in his career. I would like to think the Brewers can do much better than Iguchi for less. He is a very good fielder, however, so that could be a plus for the organization.

Further developments to come, however.

Laynce Nix designated for Assignment

Laynce Nix has been designated for assignment by the Brewers, Haudricourt says. This is presumably to make room for Riske on the 40-man roster to protect him before the Rule 5 draft.

This is interesting, however, because Drew Anderson is still on the 40-man roster. I would like to believe that Nix has far more potential than does Anderson. Last year in AAA Nashville, Nix went .268 with 24 home runs and 74 RBI in 95 games. Not a bad season at all, minus the batting average. I would tend to believe that the low batting average is what tipped the scales towards Anderson. Anderson is not going to wow anyone with his power, but he is a contact hitter with good speed and solid defense. The last thing the Brewers need right now is more power without batting average to back it up.

The Brewers have 10 days to either trade Nix, release him, or have him accept a minor league contract. I would like to think that Nix would sign a minor league contract and come back to Nashville next year because he still possesses tons of talent. He has injury problems as well, so he is still in the developmental stage. If I had to guess, however, I would say that Nix will be traded within this window (along with Mench, on a side note).

Dodgers ask Melvin about Hall

The LA Times reports that a league source said the Dodgers asked Doug Melvin about Bill Hall. This could blossom into something, as the underachieving Hall is expensive for the BrewCrew, yet below market price for someone of his talents. Plus, Tony Gwynn Jr. could be the leadoff hitter Milwaukee has been looking for. He certainly is an upgrade defensively.

This made me think of the Dodger's inquiry on Ben Sheets and Melvin's interest in Andy LaRoche. I wonder if the two teams would be able to work something out. That would be really interesting. I say...

Brewers GET:
3B Andy LaRoche
RHP Jonathan Broxton
RHP Chad Billingsly
a mid-level prospect

Dodgers GET:
RHP Ben Sheets
CF/3B Bill Hall
LF Kevin Mench

This would suddenly make the weak bullpen the Brewers have a strength, and it would give us a 3B that is a very good defensive player. Not to mention, a top prospect in Billingsly. The Dodgers, however, would be getting a bonafide ace in Sheets, and a starting player in Bill Hall that still has the ability to produce big. Kevin Mench would be more of a salary drop in this case. I think this could legitimately work. What do you all think?

Riske Signs a 3-year Contract

Well...It's finally official. Tom Haudricourt reports that Riske has signed a 3-year, $13 million dollar deal that has a club option for a fourth year at $4.75 m. Riske agreed to a preliminary deal last week, but the official contract was not signed because he was attending his brother's wedding in Seattle and had not yet taken a physical. It's nice to see Melvin get this deal pushed through. We're getting a nice replacement for Linebrink for $1M and one year less. Nice work, Doug.

Brewers Close to Risk-e Deal

Sorry I could not avoid the bad pun...'s Adam McCalvy reports
that David Riske had a physical in Milwaukee today, signifying that a deal could be done as early as tomorrow. It seems that the two sides are still discussing incentives in the deal.

Nez Belelo, Riske's agent, says that other teams are "absolutely" in play while the details of the deal are being hammered out. It does seem only a matter of time, however, that Riske signs a 3 year deal with the Brewers. A possibility of the closer role opening for Riske is a big factor in his interest in Milwaukee.

I would really like to see this happen tomorrow for the Brewers. I understand that it is a big risk (notice the restraint) to sign a reliever for 3 years, but Riske was one of the anchors in an otherwise below-average Royal bullpen last year. I look for Riske to slot in at the set-up role for Turnbow unless Melvin has something else in the works, which is always possible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Brewers Cool Down on Rolen

Looks Like the Rolen trade between the Brewers and the Cardinals is dead.

The fact that Bill Hall was even included in this conversation was news to me. I was under the impression that it was Capuano and a "top prospect" for Rolen. This would have been a terrible trade for the Brewers, and I'm glad the talks have died. The Cards were not going to eat significant portion of Rolen's salary, and the BrewCrew does not need any more injury risk than they already have with Ben Sheets. Way too much for an injury prone player that is getting up there in age.

Sounds like the Brewers may be targeting Iguchi or Crede. Both of these are very unappealing to me. I have also heard Andy LaRoche and Brandon Inge thrown around. That would be much more interesting and up to the Brewer's speed, young and cheap with tons of potential.