Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Projections: Brewers pitching

With all the starting jobs for the position players being finalized, the main concern for the Milwaukee Brewers is the starting pitching rotation. Who's going to start? Who's going to get traded? Will Parra get sent to the minors? Will Ben Sheets play for most of the year?

We've been hearing the questions for a couple months now, and I think it's time that we look at some projections for Brewers pitching. Using Marcel's system for 2008, here are the projected statistics for each of the candidates for a starting job:

Ben Sheets - 10-7 W-L, 3.93 ERA, 141 IP, 119 K
Yovani Gallardo - 8-5 W-L, 3.76 ERA, 110 IP, 96 K
Jeff Suppan - 11-9 W-L, 4.62 ERA, 206 IP, 107 K
Carlos Villanueva - 6-4 W-L, 3.97 ERA, 93 IP, 76 K
Chris Capuano - 8-10 W-L, 4.53 ERA, 155 IP, 126 K
Carlos Vargas - 10-8 W-L, 4.95 ERA, 154 IP, 106 K
Dave Bush - 10-10 W-L, 4.55 ERA, 172 IP, 126 K
Manny Parra - 2-2 W-L, 4.11 ERA, 46 IP, 37 K

I know these are very crude projections. They are mostly averages that take into account the league average and age, yet it gives us a nice starting point to make comparisons.

It's time for BrewersNation to make their cases for who should be in the starting rotation. You all have been quiet for a few days now, and its time to start the banter. What do you think?

Here's what I have -- Sheets, Gallardo, Suppan, Villanueva, and Bush.

Here's why -- Sheets, Gallardo, and Suppan are all locks. Villanueva has garnered high praise from Yost and Melvin, and he seems to have his foot in the door. It seemed like the Brewers were more comfortable with Villy in the starting rotation at the end of the year. Melvin has said that Carlos pitched very well at the beginning of the season in the bullpen and that the Crew may need his presence there again this year. I don't think that's going to happen, however.

Finally, the last spot is a tough choice. I would really like to see Parra in the final spot. It would first give us a lefty at the end of the rotation, so we are not so right-handed in our starting 5. But more importantly, I believe that Parra is the best pitcher out of the remaining candidates. With that said, however, Parra will probably be sent to Nashville to keep his arm out of trouble. He's been very injury prone, and the Brewers want to be careful with Manny while they can afford to do so.

Being reinforced by Melvin's words the other day, Bush is a strong candidate for the fifth spot. He has the most potential out of any other pitcher left, besides Parra. He does have the tendency to pitch brilliantly for 5 innings and blow up in the sixth, I admit it, but Bush has a fastball with a lot of movement and a nice curve when he can get to it. I would consider Capuano, but I believe he'll be traded before the season starts. I didn't even consider Vargas for the last spot, if you were wondering.

Now it's your turn. What do you think BrewersNation?

Gallardo at risk?

UPDATE 02-06-08 11:11am - It turns out that Sports Illustrated's numbers on Yovani Gallardo were a bit off. They had forgotten to include 12 innings that Yovani pitched in the Class-AA playoffs two years ago. Those innings put his total up to 167 innings in 2006, which would mean his workload only increased by 21 innings, not 33. This saves Yovani from the "danger zone" that SI was so worried about in the article.

Haudricourt also notes that Gallardo's innings are not as taxing as innings by someone like Claudio Vargas. Vargas is known to throw about 100 pitches in 5 innings, and Gallardo is much more economical with his pitch count. It seems that this concern over Gallardo is seemingly unfounded. People are just nervous that the Brewers will overwork their young stud. (Note: Yovani can increase his workload to 218 innings and still be in the "safe zone." That means Ned is free to put the kid on the mound without breaking too much of a sweat.)
Tom Haudricourt checks in for the first time in a few days today. Here's what he has to say:
  • There has been some concern about Yovani Gallardo and his increased workload. He notes that young pitchers are only supposed to increase their workload by 30 innings at most a year. Gallardo is drawing some concern because he pitched 33 more innings than he did in 2006 (an increase from 155 to 188).

    It seems a little ridiculous to assume that Yovani is now at a higher risk of injury because he eclipsed that number by a mere three innings. It's natural to be at least a bit concerned about a young stud like Gallardo, especially when Ben Sheets has found new and interesting ways to get injured every year, but getting worked up about three innings is a overreacting a little bit. With that said, however, Ned Yost would be wise to watch Gallardo this year. He should not be afraid to spot start for him a few times if Gallardo's arm appears fatigued.
  • Dayn Perry wrote an article that names the worst MLB player at every position. Catcher Jason Kendall received this unfortunate honor this year.

    It is important to note that Perry mostly ranked the players on their offensive output. He also only looked at last year's numbers. He does note that Kendall's arm is worse than awful, but the ever-important intangible factor is not addressed throughout the entire article. Melvin signed Kendall to call a good game and foster a comfortable and workable relationship with the pitchers. If Kendall is sub-par offensively, yet calls a great game and the pitchers improve, I'll consider the signing a win for the Brewers. Our offense has enough firepower anyway.

Bush agrees to one-year, $2.55M deal

Dave Bush and the Milwaukee Brewers have officially avoided an arbitration hearing and agreed to a one-year, $2.55 deal this evening. The midpoint between the Brewers' offer and Bush's request was $2.625, so Melvin seems to have gotten a small victory in this contract.

I find it interesting that Tom Haudricourt printed an article this morning that had Doug Melvin shamelessly praising Bush. "We like David; we think he's a good pitcher," Melvin said.

"If you look at the guy, he has won 12 games each of the last two seasons and pitched around 200 innings. He's got a pretty good chance of being in the rotation."

I cannot help but think that this article was directed towards Bush and his agent. Semi-promising a starting spot to him and then signing him to a deal that is below what an arbitration hearing would have gotten him? Seems like a pretty good strategy from my standpoint.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Gallardo at risk?

Tom Haudricourt checks in for the first time in a few days today. Here's what he has to say:
  • There has been some concern about Yovani Gallardo and his increased workload. He notes that young pitchers are only supposed to increase their workload by 30 innings at most a year. Gallardo is drawing some concern because he pitched 33 more innings than he did in 2006 (an increase from 155 to 188).

    It seems a little ridiculous to assume that Yovani is now at a higher risk of injury because he eclipsed that number by a mere three innings. It's natural to be at least a bit concerned about a young stud like Gallardo, especially when Ben Sheets has found new and interesting ways to get injured every year, but getting worked up about three innings is a overreacting a little bit. With that said, however, Ned Yost would be wise to watch Gallardo this year. He should not be afraid to spot start for him a few times if Gallardo's arm appears fatigued.
  • Dayn Perry wrote an article that names the worst MLB player at every position. Catcher Jason Kendall received this unfortunate honor this year.

    It is important to note that Perry mostly ranked the players on their offensive output. He also only looked at last year's numbers. He does note that Kendall's arm is worse than awful, but the ever-important intangible factor is not addressed throughout the entire article. Melvin signed Kendall to call a good game and foster a comfortable and workable relationship with the pitchers. If Kendall is sub-par offensively, yet calls a great game and the pitchers improve, I'll consider the signing a win for the Brewers. Our offense has enough firepower anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Minor League Profile: SS Alcides Escobar

After hearing so much about shortstop Alcides Escobar this off-season from Doug Melvin, I thought today would be a good day to go a little more in depth on Alcides.

Escobar's calling card is definitely his defensive abilities. He has terrific range, soft hands, and a plus throwing arm. His talents have been considered a little raw, but he seemed to turn the corner in that aspect after being called up to Double-A Huntsville. Escobar's fielding percentage jumped significantly from .944 to .981, so most scouts believe that he is now major league ready defensively.

Alcides, now 22-years old, has some issues on the offensive end to work out, however. His major criticisms have been his lack of power and lack of plate discipline. Escobar's lack of power can be seen by the fact he only had 21 extra-base hits in 494 at-bats. Couple that with only 18 BBs in the same time frame, and one can see that Alcides' offense needs to improve before he can legitimately be considered a major league ready prospect. He does have plus speed, but his base stealing skills are still extremely raw. This is shown by only having a 63% success rate (22 steals in 35 attempts). These criticisms can be tempered by the fact that he is only 22-years old, so he does have plenty of time to learn some patience and fill out his frame. He has the potential to be a dangerous offensive player through his ability to make contact and his speed.

With that said, however, Alcides does project very well as a leadoff hitter because of his speed and an extremely solid, if not fantastic, fielding shortstop. After all, it is very easy to overlook the fact that he did hit .283 after being sent up to Huntsville. Doug Melvin does not usually praise prospects as highly as he has Alcides, so management must see something special in this kid. He has been invited to Spring Training this year, so he'll have the opportunity to show what he can do on a bigger stage than what he has been used thus far. I expect to hear much more from Alcides in the next couple years, especially when J.J. Hardy is closing in on free agency.

Juan Gonzalez a Cardinal

This isn't news about the Milwaukee Brewers, but it is just something fun that you all should know. Juan Gonzalez is set to sign a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

I know it's just a minor league deal, but I find it a little hard to believe that the Cardinals could not find anyone better than Juan to fill that vacancy. However, with Ankiel, Rasmus, and Duncan patrolling the field for the Red Birds, it is highly unlikely Juan will ever see the field at the new Busch Stadium.

It's amazing that players like Kevin Mench and Kenny Lofton have not signed with a team, yet Juan Gonzalez has signed a contract. Perhaps this is nothing but a publicity move for St. Louis, as they have done absolutely nothing this off-season. That is, except trade Jim Edmonds to San Diego for a Class-A prospect who will never see the field.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Baseball America's Top 30 Brewers prospects

While everyone is gearing up for the Super Bowl this evening, Baseball America published their Top 30 Brewers prospects for 2008. Here's a rundown for you:

1. OF Matt LaPorta
2. LHP Manny Parra
3. SS Alcides Escobar
4. RHP Jeremy Jeffress
5. 3B Mat Gamel
6. OF Cole Gillespie
7. SS Brent Brewer
8. C Angel Salome
9. OF Lorenzo Cain
10. OF Caleb Gindl
11. RHP Rob Bryson
12. RHP Mark Rogers
13. LHP Zach Braddock
14. RHP Luis Pena
15. RHP R.J. Seidel
16. C Jonathan Lucroy
17. 3B Taylor Green
18. RHP Cody Scarpetta
19. RHP Nick Tyson
20. RHP Alexandre Periard
21. OF Darren Ford
22. OF Lee Haydel
23. 2B Eric Farris
24. OF/1B Michael Brantley
25. OF Stephen Chapman
26. 2B/OF Hernan Iribarren
27. LHP Steve Hammond
28. OF Charlie Fermaint
29. 1B Chris Errecart
30. OF Brendan Katin

I'm still not completely sold that LaPorta is our #1 prospect over Manny Parra, but I can certainly understand why he is ranked there.

A couple notable things:
  • The Brewers' system has 10 pitchers in the top 20 positions. Who says the Brewers need pitching depth down on the farm? Okay...I still think they do. Almost all of those pitchers are still in the Class-A ranks, and they are much too far away to make any sound judgments on. Then again, Jack Z has seven picks coming in the top 100 in the draft next year. Expect some polished arms from that.
  • Milwaukee's first three picks from last year made the list. LF LaPorta is #1, C Jonathan Lucroy is #16, and 2B Eric Ferris is #23.
On a side note, Patrick (a friend of BrewersNation) has some nice things going over at Go give him a look and bookmark him while you're there!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Extensions for young Brewers?

Tom Haudricourt mentions today that Doug Melvin and the rest of the management team are going to seriously be thinking about tying up some of the Brewers' young studs for multiple years. They are specifically going to be looking at Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Corey Hart. Since they will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, Melvin will be looking to lock them up at some type of a discount. This is because salaries consistently jump large amounts in the first year of arbitration-eligibility.

While many fans are quick to say that the Brewers should lock up these players for a long time, there are some significant drawbacks. Here are a few:
  1. If Milwaukee sign these players to a large contract extension, they will be committed to these players even if their production drops off. There is a reason why young players normally do not get contract extensions. The players do not have enough time in the majors to prove some type of consistency for the most part. Weeks, Fielder, and Hart all have spent plenty of time in starting roles, but do Melvin and company think this will continue? Weeks certainly went through a prolonged slump last year. Do the Brewers want to be stuck paying him a large amount of money for mediocre play?
  2. Prince Fielder is a Scott Boras client. Boras clients do not normally sign extensions when they have the opportunity to take a one-year deal and strike it big in free agency. As much as fans love Prince, they will have to realize that Milwaukee cannot afford the paycheck he will be asking for and still craft a quality team around him. Eventually, Prince will be traded for a lot of quality prospects. This is a good thing, however. Don't forget that the Brewers have Matt LaPorta in the system that can switch to 1B very easily. He's got quite the power-stroke too.
  3. Finally, the Brewers are a small market team. Every time a good player comes through Milwaukee, management will eventually have to let him go to a different team because the Brewers cannot afford it. This is not popular with the fan base, but fans need to realize that trading superstars for stars of the future is a pretty good deal. That's how the Oakland A's and the Florida Marlins field competitive teams too. Heck, the Marlins won a World Series, didn't they? I would gladly take five years of losing to go to the World Series every six years. It's not popular, but fans need to look at the big picture.
With all of that said, Melvin will most likely put a fair offer on the table for Prince this offseason. Unfortunately, Boras will probably make Prince reject the deal in favor of arbitration. Weeks could be a candidate for a long-term contract, but don't forget that Hernan Iribarren is a quality prospect that has hit well everywhere he's played. Iribarren could step in for Weeks in a few years. Hart, however, seems to be the likely candidate for a long-term deal. Why? He'll be the cheapest one of the three to sign, and he has the potential to have a breakout year still. If the Brewers sign him before he has the chance to put up big numbers, they will be saving a lot of money.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

LaPorta and Parra in Law's Top 100

Keith Law posted ESPN's Top 100 MLB prospects on his blog today. The Brewers only had two players make the Top 100, Matt LaPorta and Manny Parra. It was interesting that LaPorta, number #37 on the list, checked in ahead of Parra, who made #41. Everyone is scared about all the injuries Parra has had in the last few years, as he has a long delivery with a lot of effort involved, but I believe working with Mike Maddux will straighten out his delivery a bit.

Law also ranked the Top 5 prospects of every organization:

1) Matt LaPorta
2) Manny Parra
3) Alcides Escobar
4) Angel Salome
5) Jeremy Jeffress

Anyone want to take a guess as to who had the most players in the Top 100? Answer: The Tampa Bay Rays. They are absolutely STACKED in their farm system with Evan Longoria, Wade Davis, and David Price. I suppose your farm system should have loads of talent if you get the first pick every year. With their payroll, they will not be able to keep all those studs for too long. They could have the look of the Brewers in a few years. It's too bad that the Rays are stuck in the AL East, because they are quietly putting together a very solid team that would compete in most other divisions.

Jack Zduriencik article

This is a great article about the fantastic work our scouting master, Jack Zduriencik, has done with the few draft picks he's had in the last few years. This year, however, the Brewers will have SEVEN picks in the first 100 picks. That is drastically different from last year, when Milwaukee had one pick in the first 100. Zduriencik and company took Matt LaPorta with that pick. I'm not going to pretend that we're going to get 7 LaPorta's with this year's draft, but we will have the much-needed opportunity to restock our farm system. Give the article a look, it's a good read!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jonathan Lucroy Interview

Jonathan Lucroy was nice enough to answer some questions from some of the readers here at BrewersNation. Here's what he had to say:

As a third-round pick it's obvious you were highly regarded by the Brewers front office, but are you surprised by the attention you've gotten from fans in various Brewers blogs and online communities? Furthermore, did you expect to be fielding interview requests as soon as your first off-season as a pro?

Waukesha, WI

I would say yes, I was very surprised by the fan attention I recieved. I'm from a small town in central florida where we only have about 2500 residents so I'm not used to the attention that I have been getting. Although in college I did recieve some. I try not to read the online blogs and such just because baseball is such a mental game and although I am mentally tough, sometimes the things that are written can affect your performance if you let it one way or the other. I know of a couple guys that I played with that let some negative things a fan said get into his head and it bothered him to a point where he went into a bad hitting slump. Although, my parents try to read them and they tell me some of the things. Pertaining to your second question, I've actually already done a photo shoot and interview for our local newspapers, and our local magazine here in central Florida. I really don't worry about the media just because I'm willing to work with them as much as I can because I don't believe in being a self-centered athlete who thinks he's better then anybody else. I'm willing to share my experiences.

Who is the best pitcher that you have caught for in your first year in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system?

Mount Horeb, WI

Now what I'm thinking is that you want to know the best pitcher I have caught in the Brewers minor league system and not the best I caught in my first year all together. I'm saying that because I caught a Japanese pitcher in Hawaii that was ridiculous. However I would say the best pitcher I caught in my first season would be Donovan Hand. Just because he had very good composure on the mound and knew how to win. I never had to worry about keeping him under control because he could take care of himself very well. A lot of young, inexperienced guys will lose their composure and control, causing them to not to perform well. My job as a catcher is to keep them under control and utilize their strengths at the same time. Donovan's strong and controlled persona along with his stuff, allowed him and I to work together to get the hitters out.

There are so many aspects of the game that catchers are responsible for. What part of your game to you feel brings the most to the table for your team? What skill do you take the most pride in? Thanks Jonathan!

Madison, WI

I would have to say the whole defensive side of my game. Defense in catchers is what is sought after the most. A good hitting catcher is icing on the cake. I take pride in blocking balls, throwing runners out, calling the right pitch to freeze a hitter, etc. I've always felt that hitting(which is essentially hand-eye coordination) comes natural, either you have it, or you don't. Defense on the other hand is a learned and acquired part of the catcher's game that has to be worked on diligently and perfected, because really as a catcher, I won't get to the big-leagues if I can't catch, throw, block, and call a game all at the same time.

What baseball player was your role model growing up? In addition, who would you compare your skills to, or what kind of catcher do you think of yourself as?

Sheboygan, WI

Honestly I never had a role model. I grew up a kid that didn't watch TV alot. I learned how to hit from my dad, and how to catch just through experience. I've been behind the plate going on twelve years now and I've seen alot. Of course I haven't been playing pro ball all that time and I've had supplemental help throughout that helped to tighten my skills. I know I can hit, and that defense is my weak part of my game. I've been called a true-hitting catcher. That won't get me to the big-leagues though.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Odds and Ends

There has been a lull in Brewers news lately, but there have been a few stories today worth mentioning:
  • The Mets have won the Santana sweepstakes, according to USA Today. They are parting with Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber, and Deolis Guerra to get the superstar pitcher. The Mets have a 72-hour window to discuss a contract extension with Santana, however. If a deal cannot be decided upon, the deal will become void. I don't expect that to be the case, however. Santana has made it known that he wanted to go to the east coast all along.

    I am surprised, however, that the Mets could not get more for Santana. Carlos Gomez is a five-tool player and the athleticism to be a star, but he is still very raw. None of these players are a sure thing for the Twins. It seems that the Twins were too patient in this deal. The Red Sox deal with Jacoby Elsbury was by far the best deal the Twins could have asked for, yet the Sox eventually pulled it off the table because they got frustrated with how long the deal took.

    How does this deal relate to the Brewers? After this deal and the Bedard trade get ironed out, the pitching market is going to look quite grim. Melvin will be getting more calls about Vargas, Bush, and Capuano in the coming weeks because nobody else will be available. Rumors about a possible deal with the Brewers could start floating around as early as next week.
  • Alcides Escobar and Hernan Iribarren, currently on the 40-man roster, have agreed to terms on a one-year deal for both. The monetary figures are unknown, but both will be participating in Spring Training for Milwaukee in March.

    Escobar batted a career-high .306 last year, splitting time between class-A Brevard and class-AA Huntsville. He is known for his outstanding defensive skills and his speed. Melvin has repeatedly said that Escobar, only 21, will be playing in the big leagues eventually. Escobar lacks power and plate discipline, however, as he finished last year with only 1 HR and only a .330 OBP. That on-base percentage should be higher than a 24-point differential. It stems from only walking 18 times in 494 at-bats last year. ONLY 18 times...

    Hernan Iribarren, 23, is a much more polished hitter than is Escobar. He hit .307/.363/.430 last year in Double-A Huntsville. Couple that with 18 stolen bases and 53 RBIs in 124 games, and Iribarren had a fine year last year in the minors. Hernan is, however, blocked at second base by Rickie Weeks, but the Brewers have recently been trying him at center field. He definitely has the speed to play the position, and it is clear that Milwaukee is trying to find a place for Hernan at the big-league level in the next couple years.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Koskie slowly improving

I apologize for being M.I.A. for the past couple days. Lawrence University just had its annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest, and my team put up a great fight to place this year. The contest goes for 50 hours of trivia straight, and I'm exhausted. You can check it out here.

Luckily, while I've been away, there hasn't been much news to be kept up to date on, but there was a very nice article written on on Corey Koskie. His life has been a nightmare since that seemingly inconsequential fall after chasing a pop-up. Instead, Koskie has endured a nightmare that he's been waiting to wake up from for over a year. It seems the end could be in sight, however. Here's the article for you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Arbitration: Bush and Hardy

RHP Dave Bush and SS J.J. Hardy are the only players left for Milwaukee that are arbitration eligible. Bush asked for $3M, while the Brewers countered with $2.25M. Hardy, on the other hand, submitted a request for $3.05M, and Melvin countered with $2.4M. Both players must either negotiate a new contract, or they can go to arbitration to allow a third-party mediator to decide the outcome.

Tom Haudricourt reports that the Brewers and Dave Bush have had productive talks regarding a new contract. A contract will most likely be worked out soon, but Bush's agent was not quick to tip his hand. He says that they are simply talking right now, and nothing has been finalized.

J.J. Hardy's agent did not contact Tom with information regarding contract discussions, however. Many people are wondering whether or not the Brewers will negotiate a long-term deal with J.J., rather than sign him to another one-year deal. This stems from the Tulo's signing with the Colorado Rockies. With only 2 years of service, he got a lucrative multi-year deal. I don't expect Melvin to do that, however. Not with J.J., at least. I don't have palpable evidence for that assumption, but it is a gut-feeling that Melvin will not buy high on J.J. after last year. I doubt that he'll be hitting over 20 HRs this year again. If he does, great, but it seems unlikely after his previous years. After Hall's decline last year, I don't see Melvin giving another multi-year deal out so quickly.

On a side note, it sounds like Damien Miller is leaning towards retiring. He was hoping to return to Milwaukee, but the Brewers' roster is full. It sounds like Miller is only considering Milwaukee as a suitor, and if they do not knock on his door, he'll retire. Good luck to Damien. He's always been a great guy, and a fan favorite...not to mention a LaCrosse native!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Melvin interview

Doug Melvin gave an interview today on WSSP Radio and addressed many issues concerning the Milwaukee Brewers. You can listen here. Let me give you a little overview:
  • Melvin believes there will be no competition for starting jobs in Spring Training defensively, as most of the position players are set. He did say that the backup catcher job will be the most competitive battle during March.
  • The Brewers will not include a left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation unless he is clearly one of the top 5 pitchers. Doug said that having a lefty is desirable, but the best 5 pitchers will get the job.
  • During Spring Training, Melvin and company will decide which young players they wish to extend long term offers to. He did hint that J.J. Hardy will not be one of them, however. When asked about giving J.J. a multi-year deal, Melvin brought up Alcides Escobar and how he believes that Alcides will be a major league shortstop one day. Foreshadowing that J.J. may not be a part of the club in a couple years?
  • Like I said before, Alcides Escobar will be a big leaguer someday. Melvin said you can add Matt LaPorta to that list. Big surprise, right?
  • Gwynn Jr., Gross, and Kapler will hold down CF while Cameron is serving his 25-game suspension. Hart may play some games in center, but Melvin does not see that as ideal. Hall will NOT be playing center at all.
  • There are other issues that Melvin discusses as well. Take a listen!
Post your questions for Jonathan Lucroy!!! Ask him anything about being draft, playing in the minors, his big-league aspirations, or whatever comes to mind. I'll choose four or five questions tomorrow, and I'll post the interview for you all to read. Keep the questions coming!

NL Central predictions

With Abraham Nunez as the most intriguing story right now, here are a couple articles covering the Brewers that could interest you:

On a separate note...

I've still been hearing a lot of grumbling about the defensive switches in store for Bill Hall and Ryan Braun. After some thinking, here's another possibility.

Melvin is obviously improving our defense from last year by moving Billy to 3B and Braun to LF. I'm not saying that Braun would never have been a solid third baseman, as Braun's athleticism and some patience by the Brewers faithful would have allowed Ryan to eventually corrected his footwork. Melvin could simply be thinking about the future of the franchise by moving Braun to the outfield. Two of the Brewers' best prospects were blocked at 3B when Braun was there (Mat Gamel and Tyler Green). Unless Hall has an offensive rejuvenation, the Brewers will either be looking to trade him, or simply lose him to free agency in a couple years. By that time, Melvin could be banking on Gamel or Green being ready for the big show. While it doesn't seem like it could be this way on the surface, moving Hall to 3B could actually be opening it up for prospects down the road.

On the other hand, Braun still has something to prove in left field. It's not as easy as many people are making it out to be, but Braun's athleticism should allow him to make the switch. Ryan's speed and his arm should allow him to flourish in the outfield. Eventually, however, Braun will most likely be moving to right field to make room for Matt LaPorta, who has been showing great power in the minors already. This would move Hart to center. The Brewers do have many outfield options in the minor leagues, but I doubt Melvin and company can find a better outfield trio than LaPorta/Hart/Braun. Match those three with Fielder, Weeks, and Hardy, and the Brewers have a lineup absolutely stacked with firepower.

All in all, I think the Cameron move was made to help our defense improve in the short-term, yet Melvin may have solved our positioning problems down the road too. Maybe this Cameron signing isn't so bad after all...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Abraham Nunez invited to camp

The Brewers signed veteran infielder Abraham Nunez to a minor league deal today. They subsequently invited Nunez, 31, to camp to battle for a backup utility player.

Nunez is a fine defender, but he leaves a lot to be desired at the plate. He batted .234 with 16 RBI in 136 games with the Philadelphia Phillies last year. That's not very impressive. Melvin was most likely wooed by the fact that Nunez is a switch-hitter and can play the middle infield positions. The Brewers did not have a bench player that could play second or shortstop, besides Craig Counsell.

The Brewers' 25-man roster is beginning to become very crowded with Gross, Gwynn, Kapler, Dillon, Counsell, Rivera, Munson, and now Nunez. Depth is a good problem to have, obviously, and it's something Milwaukee has not had in many years. Pair depth on the bench with our pitching surplus, and the likelihood of a trade in increasing exponentially in my mind. I cannot figure out if Melvin is going to attempt to replenish the farm system while allowing the Brewers to maintain their "win-now" mentality for this year, or he could trade for a major league ready player. I just don't see who Melvin would go after now Cameron has been signed. Thoughts?

Don't forget to submit questions for Jonathan Lucroy, who's been nice enough to grant BrewersNation with an interview. I have several already, but keep them coming!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Interview with Jonathan Lucroy

UPDATE 01-22-08 8:00 PM - I forgot to mention that you can simply post your question with a Comment page, and I'll gladly consider your questions in that fashion too.

Exciting news for BrewersNation today, as the Brewers' own Jonathan Lucroy has agreed to an interview. Jonathan, a catcher in the minor leagues, was the third-round pick by Milwaukee last year in the first-year player draft. Brewersfan rates him as the Brewers' 13th best prospect right now, and Jonathan lived up to that reputation last year, as he had a fantastic year playing Rookie ball in Helena. He batted .342 in 61 games behind the plate, with a .383 OBP and only 37 Ks. That great start prompted the Brewers to get an invite to play in the Winter League down in Hawaii. Jonathan more than held his own in Hawaii, batting a very solid .299 with 8 RBI and .871 OPS.

Now that you have a small background on Jonathan, I thought that I'd open up the questions to create more of a "mailbag" sort of interview. If you have a question to ask of Jonathan Lucroy, email me at I'll choose the 4 or 5 best questions, and we will hopefully get a response back from Jonathan as soon as he's able.

I'll set an arbitrary deadline for Friday to email me. Include your name and city/state. Send in your questions!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tom Haudricourt's musings

If you haven't seen Tom Haudricourt's column posted yesterday, you really should give it a look. He has some very good incite from Doug Melvin about many of the moves that have happened this offseason. Here's a brief overview:
  • The Brewers are very high on Tony Gwynn Jr. They just don't believe that he is an everyday player yet because his OBP is not high enough to warrant consistent playing time considering his lack of power.
  • Tom also implies that Gwynn will be a major-league player one day, but it is increasingly looking like it will not be in Milwaukee. The Brewers are already grooming a Braun/Hart/LaPorta outfield in the next couple years, as LaPorta will be trying both corner outfield positions to see which spot he feels most comfortable playing.
  • He also notes that Fielder probably will be batting ahead of Ryan Braun this year, so Ryan can get more running opportunities on the basepaths. Last year, he did not get the green light to run very often because it allowed the opposing team to simply pitch around Prince. Look for that to change this year.
That's not all Tom talks about, so you should give it a look.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NL Central news

Even though it has been a slow day for Brewers rumors, we do have a couple news-worthy happenings in the NL Central. Here's what's been going on:
  • According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Cubs put a substantial offer on the table that would have sent both Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts to Chicago for seven Chicago players. Peter Angelos supposedly killed this 7-for-2 deal because Baltimore does not want to package the two players together in one deal. It is also well known that Roberts is one of Angelos' favorite players on the team, so some believe that Roberts has never been in danger of being moved.

    Roch Kubatko, from the Baltimore Sun, finds these rumors to be unfounded. He reiterates that Baltimore does not wish to package the two players in one deal. I'm assuming that Baltimore feels they can get a bigger haul if they separate the two deals. I don't know if they would get 7 players in return, but they would most likely get more top prospects. Interestingly enough, he says that Lou Pinella said that the Cubs will mostly likely not be acquiring an infielder through a trade. Kubatko does say, however, that the Cubs would be willing to move Rich Hill if they could get Bedard and Roberts together. I think that was a given, though. Chicago would not be able to pry both of those players out for just prospects.
  • The Cincinnati Reds signed LHP Jeremy Affeldt to a one-year, $3M deal yesterday. They're hoping that they can use Affeldt in the back-end of the starting rotation, but if that does not work out, they will put him in the bullpen. Affeldt was a part of the Colorado Rockies squad last year that performed so well down the stretch.

    Affeldt was 4-3 last year with Colorado, posting a 3.51 ERA. There's no questioning that he has the stuff to hold down the fourth or fifth spot in the Red's rotation. He has had control problems, however. In 59 innings pitched last year, Affeldt had 46 Ks. That's very impressive for a middle reliever. His control problems shows through his 33 walks given up, though. Overall, its a low-risk, high-reward type of signing for Cincinnati.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Drew Anderson claimed by Cincinnati

Outfielder Drew Anderson was claimed off of waivers by the Cincinnati Reds today. Anderson was designated for assignment this week to make room for the newly-acquired Mike Cameron.

Many people were questioning Anderson's ability to make it at the major league level (myself included), he did catch the eye of the Cincinnati Reds. Anderson, 26, played mostly in Triple-A Nashville last season. In 108 games, he posted a .273 BA with 28 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBI. He also stole 16 bases in 21 attempts.

We, of course, wish Drew the best of luck with Cincinnati (just not against Milwaukee).

Capuano agrees to a one-year contract

Chris Capuano signed a one-year deal worth $3.75M today. The process of arbitration has certain great aspects about it, don't get me wrong, but it also has its obvious shortcomings. The fact that Chris Capuano can get a $500,000 raise after losing his last 22 appearances last year makes very little sense.

Capuano is obviously a skilled pitcher, and he has pitched many quality innings for the Milwaukee Brewers. Nobody is doubting that in the least bit. The fact is that he's being rewarded in a sense for posting a 5-12 record with a 5.10 ERA. The argument is that arbitration is simply attempting to account for what the pitcher would make on the open market, and this holds much credence. Mediocre pitchers are now getting paid much more than $3.75M a year.

With all that said, I believe that Chris can bounce back nicely this year if he can get his pitch-count down. He tends to get a little stubborn and nibble a little too much when he gets ahead in the count. Capuano still has one of the best change-ups in the game, and he has a good enough fastball to compliment it when he's placing it on the corner. Last year, that did not happen enough for Chris. He also possesses a slider, but it is more of a change-up with a little tilt. It needs work, and he doesn't throw it very often.

Tom Haudricourt acknowledges that there will be a starting pitcher or two that will be traded before the season starts, barring any injuries. Unless Parra is lights out in Spring Training, he may be sent back to the minors for a little more seasoning. This is not ideal, since Parra would be a nice addition to the back-end of our rotation, but what Yost and Melving have to do, they have to do. More updates to come on that front, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Minor League Player Profile: RHP - Jeremy Jeffress

The Minor League Player Profile feature is something I will try to do every once in a while to help acquaint Brewers fans with some of the players in the Brewers' farm system. This is to bring some depth into the conversation when talking about trading prospects, and so people know a little about the players that the Brewers will be looking to call up in the upcoming seasons.

We'll start with the first-round pick from 2006, right-hander Jeremy Jeffress:

Jeremy, 20, is routinely recognized as the #3 prospect in the Brewers' organization, just behind Manny Parra and Matt LaPorta. While those players are by no means mundane, Jeffress is the most excited prospect the Brewers have. He has an effortless delivery that takes the strain off his elbow and shoulder, while still hitting the mid-to-high 90s on the gun with ease. I've also heard that Jeffress hit 102 mph last year a few times. Pair that type of velocity with the downward movement of his fastball, Jeremy is able to be a strikeout pitcher that induces many ground balls. Prospects like Jeremy move up the system quickly.

After struggling to a bloated 5.82 ERA and a forgettable 25/37 BB/K ratio in 13 games in his rookie season at the Rookie level Brevard County, Jeremy reminded the organization why he was their first-round pick in 2006. He overpowered hitters in Class-A West Virginia with 95 strikeouts in 18 games and 86.1 innings pitched. Matching that 9+ strikeouts per 9-innings with a 3.13 ERA, Jeffress impressed last season.

While Jeremy is a bona fide flamethrower who can hit triple digits with ease, he has had some consistency issues with his fastball. The control is a little suspect (it did get better last year), but he occasionally has issues maintaining the velocity on his fastball. It will occasionally dip into the high-80s without notice. This can be seen, however, as a nice way to keep the batters off balance, as they will never know what type of velocity the heater will have.

The other knock on Jeremy Jeffress is the inconsistency of his secondary pitches. He will need to develop two secondary pitches to effectively compliment his fastball, and one will need to be a plus pitch to be successful at the major league level. There is no question that Jeffress can throw the secondary pitches. He simply has issues with the control. His change up has great arm motion and deception, but he often leaves it up in the zone. The deception alone may be enough to fool minor league hitters, but those hanging change-ups will be hit out of the park in the majors. He also has a nasty slider, which hits in the high-70s to low-80s on the gun with very effective and late-breaking tilt. Again, Jeremy cannot seem to locate the pitch very well.

Jeremy Jeffress was, however, suspended for 50 games for violating baseball's substance abuse policy. He was not involved in the steroid or HGH scandal, but he did test positive twice for marijuana. Jeremy has cooperated fully with the Brewers' organization and successfully completed the substance abuse treatment program the Brewers enrolled him though. It will be interesting to see if this helps him mature, not as a pitcher, but as a person. He has a bright future ahead of him, and he needs to understand that drugs will only hinder his growth. On the bright side, however, the 50-game suspension will keep his innings down this year, and it will help protect his young arm.

With that said, he improved drastically last year, and he will have a lot of time to dedicate to improving his secondary pitches and his control before stepping onto the mound for the first time in '08. Jeremy will probably be in Double-A by the end of the year, as he is still a couple years away from the majors. More on Jeremy to come this year, I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vargas signs a one-year contract

Claudio Vargas has reached an agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers for a one-year, $3.6M contract. This is quite the raise from last year's $2.5M. I suppose that's what an 11-6 record will get you nearing arbitration.

I understand that his record is fine and all, but he had a 5.09 ERA and the largest run-support of any Brewers' starter. His record seems more of a coincidence than something he earned. Granted, Vargas worked himself out of many jams early in the season with some flair, but it caught up to him by the end of the season.

Vargas gets killed by left-handed pitching, as they hit .320 against the hurler last year. He also only pitched over 6 innings twice last year. High pitch counts contributed to that immensely, and it made many of the relievers have to work more than they should have. Brewers' starters not going deep into games was a large reason the bullpen collapsed last year. He didn't get past the 4th inning five times last year.

If the Brewers do not see him contributing to the starting rotation next year, I can see the Brewers trading Vargas and perhaps a prospect. Tim Dierkes speculated today that the Brewers could use their excess pitching to trade for the young, and highly-touted catcher from Seattle, Jeff Clement. That sounds awfully nice.

Cubs sign Jon Lieber

Ken Rosenthal has the scoop for us on this signing. It happened relatively quickly, as not many rumors were floating around concerning this for the last few days. There were a couple speculative reports saying that the Cubs may target Lieber, but anyway...the Cubs signed Lieber to a one-year deal today.

Lieber, 38, is a crafty veteran for the Cubs to add to the back end of the bullpen. Lieber was 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA last season when he suffered his foot injury on June 24. Jon also started the season on the DL with a strained oblique. He won't be flashy, but that 4.73 will likely go down playing at Wrigley.

Interestingly enough, the Cubs looked set with their rotation with Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and Ryan Dempster (just promoted to the starting rotation). Rosenthal believes that this move is a precursor to either a Marquis trade, or Dempster moving back to the bullpen, otherwise Lieber would have signed with a different team.

As a Brewers fan, I would hope that Marquis is traded. I would much rather face Jon Lieber than Marquis. The Cubs are most likely going to try to unload Marquis' contract on someone else, then use Lieber as a stop-gap until Sean Marshall or Sean Gallagher can enter the rotation in 09. Then again, Dempster is not a force to be reckoned with, so he very well could be moved back to a bullpen that is increasingly looking very formidable at the back end, with Wood, Marmol, and potentially Dempster.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drew Anderson DFA'd

Outfielder Drew Anderson has been designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers to make room for the newly-signed Mike Cameron.

Anderson, 26, batted .273 with four home runs and 36 RBI in 108 games for Triple-A Nashville. He was a 24th round draft pick in 2003.

I don't have too much to say about this move. Anderson does lots of things fairly well, but he does nothing fantastically. He was the odd-man out in the 40-man roster, and we wish him well in the minors of the year. Anderson will probably be called up near the end of the season for outfield depth once again, but nothing more.

Mike Cameron press conference

If you would like to get the audio of the Mike Cameron press conference, here it is.

Monday, January 14, 2008

LaPorta to report to Brewers' training camp

Matt LaPorta is already making a splash on the big league scene, albeit a smaller splash. He has been invited to the Brewers' spring training camp in Arizona, quite an accomplishment for a second-year player (just like Ryan Braun).

Remember that LaPorta, 23, was a controversial first-round draft pick by the Berwers in 2007. Many thought that the Brewers took him way too high, but Milwaukee got they man they wanted and ran with it. It seems like a very good choice so far. He split the minor-league season between the rookie club in Helena and Class A West Virginia, batting .304 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI. He also finished the season with a 14-game hitting streak.

LaPorta then was sent to the Arizona Fall League batting .241 with six homers and 22 RBI in 30 games. Matt was tied for the most HR in the circuit, and he he performed rather nicely for a rookie in the Arizona Fall League. He was playing against much more seasoned players, so it was nice to see him still hit for power. The average will hopefully come with time, as it did during the regular season.

Don't get too excited about Matt making the team this year, however. Braun is firmly planted at LF, and most scouts in the Brewers' system see LaPorta at least a year away from breaking into the bigs. Braun has the speed and the arm to move to either CF or RF, depending on what Melvin and Yost decide to do with young Corey Hart as well. Either way, Braun, Hart, and LaPorta in the near future will be a formidable outfield. Not to mention Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, and Hall in the infield. Not too shabby for a home-grown bunch of talent, eh?

Mike Cameron signing becomes official

Mike Cameron passed his physical as expected today, and the deal has become official. He will be playing center field for the Brewers, and Hall will be moved to 3B and Braun to LF.

Tom Haudricourt has some more statistical insight for this signing:

$1.25 million signing bonus plus $5 million salary in 2008. Incentive bonuses: $175,000 for 325 plate appearances and 375 PAs. $200,000 for 425 PAs and 475 PAs. Club option for 2009 for $10 million with $750,000 buyout. Incentive bonuses: $175,000 for 425 PAs and 475 PAs; $200,000 for 525 PAs and 575 PAs. Limited no trade.

This is a bit misleading, however, because Cameron will not be paid during his 25-game suspension to start the year. He won't make his full $7M. Interestingly enough, Haudricourt comments that Cameron has the same statistical rankings as Andruw Jones, yet the Brewers only paid one-year $7M for opposed to a 2-year $36M contract Jones signed with the Dodgers. If nothing else, it seems that Melvin got quite the deal in that aspect of the free agent market.

The statistical breakdowns of Cameron is starting to make me come around on this deal a little bit, I must admit. If you look at Cameron's stats in NL Central ballparks in the last 3 years, he has been very solid (thanks to Milwaukee JS for this):

Cameron is 12-for-35 (.343) at Miller Park with four home runs and 12 RBI. His on-base average in Milwaukee in the last three years is .452. Much higher than it was at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

PNC Park -- .351 (13-for 37), 2 HR, 9 RBI, .415 OBA

Minute Maid Park -- .340 (16-for 47), 3 HR, 12 RBI, .360 OBA

Wrigley Field -- ..306 (11-for 36), 2 HR, 4 RBI, .375 OBA.

Great American Ballpark -- .217 (5-for-23), 0 HR, 2 RBI, .391 OBA.

This is all great besides the Great American Ballpark, but Cincinnati boasts one of the leagues best hitters' parks. Cameron can easily change those stats there this year.

All in all, this signing is starting to make sense when you start to figure in the statistical facts that Melvin had to work with. Pair these stats with his fine defensive skills, and this signing could work out much better than the majority of us originally thought.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rumblings on the Cameron signing

Buster Olney and Tom Haudricourt give us a couple interesting reactions from Ryan Braun and Bill Hall about the Mike Cameron signing.

Braun is very open to moving to LF for the Brewers. "I'm excited about it," Braun said. "It's in my best interests and in the best interests of the team. Whatever makes us better, I'm all for it. There's no question it's the right move." This is the talk of a quintessential team-player. The type of player that the Brewers have fought to include on their club.

Hall, on the other hand, is not overly excited about moving positions again. "I think every player likes to look out for himself at some point," said Hall. "You want to protect your dignity a little bit." He is talking about the fact that he has been bounced around, while he has been told that he will not be. I can understand this. At the same time, he is getting paid to be a part of the Brewers, so I'm not sure he has the leverage (especially after a down year) to be demanding a certain position.

Olney wonders if the Dodgers might revisit trade talks surrounding Bill Hall. This seems like a possibility because of Hall's discontentment, but Hall would still have to be a 3B in Los Angeles. Hall would really have to want to leave Milwaukee for that trade to be enacted, I think. I don't know what we would get anyway. Hall, Vargas, and a prospect for Andre Ethier and keep Braun at 3B? I just don't see that much swapping happening. Then again...I didn't see Melvin making a move to switch both Hall and Braun's positions.

Cardinals to swap Rolen for Glaus

Ken Rosenthal has been the first on the scene for many major trade rumors these past couple weeks. Here's another tidbit from him today. The St. Louis Cardinals are on the verge of swapping Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rolen's poor working relationship with Tony LaRussa has been well documented, and the Cardinals were scrambling to get something for the veteran 3B. The deal is pending both players passing physicals. Normally this is just a superfluous step before the signing, but it is not the case for this deal. Both players are coming off of major surgeries. Rolen had surgery on his right shoulder, and Glaus had an operation on his left foot.

This seems like a pretty good deal for the Blue Jays in my opinion. The Cardinals are reportedly going to send money to the Blue Jays as well to cover some of Rolen's contract. I thought the Cardinals would get a major-league-ready player like Glaus, but I figured they would score a prospect out of the deal as well. After all, the Brewers were being asked for Capuano, Hall, and a prospect. The asking price must have plummeted. Either way, both teams are getting an injured veteran with a good power stroke (though Rolen's has been declining), but Toronto seems to win in the deal because of the money the Cardinals are willing to send over to cover part of Rolen's contract. Not to mention Rolen is a much better fielder than Troy Glaus.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cameron now a Brewer

UPDATE 01-11-08 7:02 PM - Alright folks, here's what I've got for you on the Mike Cameron signing. He will be getting a $1.25M signing bonus, along with a $5M salary for 2008. What's more is that he will not be getting paid for the 25 games for which he will be suspended for taking a banned stimulant. That comes out to $4.22M plus the signing bonus. That is much less than the $7M that he made last year with the Padres. The Brewers also hold a $10M club-option for 2009, with a $750,000 buyout.

Haudricourt also said that this move is not a precursor to any other type of trade concerning Bill Hall. Hall will be moving to 3B and Braun will be moving to LF. Both players have been informed of this move.

This move should help the Crew's defense a lot next year. Cameron is a 3-time Gold Glove winner, Bill Hall plays a very good 3B, and hopefully Braun will be solid in the corner outfield spot. I'm still wary about Cameron's lack of plate discipline and the fact that he is another right-handed batter. The Brewers' lineup his almost exclusively right-handed (except Prince Fielder), which may be an issue down the road. This move could work out, however, so I'm kind of in "let's wait and see" mode.

If there's anything else you'd like to know about the signing, let me know, and I'll get that information back to you!

Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports and Tom Haudricourt report that Mike Cameron has signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers today, along with a club-option for 2009. The dollar amount is unknown, but he did earn $7M with the Padres last year. The deal is pending a physical.

As I've said before, Cameron hit .242 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs for the Padres last season. Rosenthal believes that these numbers will go up because Cameron has always played in a pitcher's park (like Petco last year). He has a career .251 BA along with a .341 on-base percentage. That is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but Rosenthal points out that it is above-average for a center fielder. Rosenthal also points out that this move to a midwest team will lessen the travel for the veteran, who is now 35 years old.

Of course, the Brewers do have to deal with the 25-game suspension he will face to begin the year. Let's hope that the salary reflects that ban somewhat. I'm going to do a little more research on the signing before I post my opinion on that matter. Until then, however, you all post what you think!

Yankees also a suitor for Cameron

UPDATE 01-11-08 11:10 AM - Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says that you can add the A's to the list of contenders for Mike Cameron. Since trading Nick Swisher to the White Sox, Oakland is looking for an outfielder in the free agent market. She reports that they have serious interest and have had several meetings with Cameron's agent.

What do you all think about the outfield situation?
The stiffest competition for Mike Cameron will be from the New York Yankees, Tim Dierkes from MLB Trade Rumors says. If the Yankees trade Melky Cabrera this offseason, they will need someone to play center-field. It is widely reported that they do not want to stick Johnny Damon back out in the field. This is probably because he has one of the worst throwing arms I've ever seen from an MLB starting CF.

Another interesting aspect about the Yankees in this race is that A-Rod has been privately endorsing Cameron for many weeks now. We don't know how much influence A-Rod has in influencing the Steinbrenners' decision making, but it certainly cannot hurt Cameron's chances from going to New York.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Melvin looking at many free agents

Tom Haudricourt finally got through to Doug Melvin this afternoon, and he's let us know what's going on under the radar screen.

Melvin confirmed that there is a very strong interest in Mike Cameron, but what we did learn is that the serious interest in Cameron is also spread over several other players. Many of these players have not been mentioned concerning the Crew. We have players like: Shawn Green, Brad Wilkerson, and Pedro Feliz, along with the aforementioned Kenny Lofton and Luis Gonzalez.

It's clear that Melvin is looking for a solid, veteran defender to step in to help the Brewers right away. Shawn Green and Luis Gonzalez are very uninspiring to the eye right now, as they have been on the downswing of their career for a couple years now. Brad Wilkerson is a new one to me, and either he or Mike Cameron seem to be the best of the bunch here...and that's not exciting.

Pedro Feliz is the only third baseman Melvin discussed as a possible free agent signing, and I doubt we'll see him in Milwaukee. He is a plus-defender, yes, but his OBP was .290 last year. You read that right. That should be his batting average, not on-base percentage. The Crew does not need another free-swinging player on the team, which would hopefully exclude Mike Cameron as well.

Melvin indicated that he would like to get a deal in place "fairly soon," and he seems to be leaning towards leaving Hall and Braun at their respective positions. If I had to pick a couple free agents, I would have to go with Lofton or Wilkerson. Wilkerson has been been down the last couple years, especially last year, posting a .234 BA last year with 20 HR and 62 RBI. This is very close to the type of numbers that Cameron would bring, but Wilkerson at least has a career .354 OBP. That's not astronomical by any stretch of the imagination, but its not like Pedro Feliz's .290 OBP. Wilkerson perhaps just needs a change in scenery, as hopefully he could regain the form he showed with the Expos in 2004 (32 HR and a .374 OBP). He is a high strikeout guy again, however. Even when he has a career year in 2004, he still had 152 Ks. Here's to hoping we get Lofton to play LF!

Buster Olney

Buster wrote a little piece on the Brewers for ESPN yesterday. It's nice to hear someone talk about how many of the players slumped for the Crew last year, and that we have a real chance to bounce back after a tough second half of the season. It's worth a read: click here. (I almost forgot. You have to be an insider to read the whole thing, however. Sorry.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Brewers showing interest in Mike Cameron?

UPDATE 01-09-08 11:54 PM - Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is echoing the same report. He is calling it a "serious interest." I guess this rumor has much more substance than Haudricourt made it out to have.

Not to inundate you with Haudricourt rumors, but he's posted again saying that Hall would most likely be moved if Cameron is signed. He also notes that because Melvin is not returning his phone calls, it usually means that "something is up and he's not ready to talk about it."

Cameron is searching for a two-year deal, and he made $7M last year with the Padres. That would be a lot of money to pay someone, unless Melvin expects him to start in CF right away (well...after his suspension). The Brewers' defense would certainly improve, and improving the defense is a major goal of Melvin's this offseason.

I'll keep you updated, of course.

I wasn't sure I should post on this rumor, but Tom Haudricourt says its from a very trusted source (that he would not name, by the way). Apparently, the Brewers are showing a very high interest in signing free agent Mike Cameron.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. First of all, the guy will be suspended for the first 25 games of the season. Why would we give a one-year deal to someone who will not play for the first month? Secondly, Cameron cannot make contact to save his life. He hit .245 last year...yes, .245. Sure, he has a lot of power (21 HR and 78 RBI last season), but he also struck out 160 times. That's awful. The Brewers are looking for a left-handed hitting left-fielder who has a high OBP, not a right-handed center-fielder who has a super low OBP (.328). This would also mean that Bill Hall could be moved to 3B and Braun to LF.

This rumor just doesn't make sense on so many levels...yet as I've said before, Tom Haudricourt is the most trusted source on the Milwaukee Brewers that any fan has. It has to have some truth to it. One thing that does add to its chances of validity is that Doug Melvin is not returning Haudricourt's phone calls. Melvin usually makes his move without much notice. I don't think this would be the wisest move for Milwaukee to say the least. I trust Doug Melvin though, so he must know something if this rumor is true.

Shouse inks one-year deal

UPDATE 01-09-08 11:36 PM - The deal has been finalized. Shouse will make $2M next year. That is a lot higher than I anticipated, but I suppose he deserved it!

Shouse has signed a one-year contract with the Brewers. He quietly was perhaps the most important cog in the bullpen last year (minus Cordero).

The exact numbers are not yet known, but the deal is likely to be a little over $1M, as Shouse made $975,000 last year. Shouse, now 39-years old, posted a 3.02 ERA in the pen last year, but that does not indicate how crucial he was at certain points last season, as he stranded almost 77% of his inherited runners. Compare that with Derrick Turnbow, and you will cringe.

Brewers showing interest in Mike Cameron?

I wasn't sure I should post on this rumor, but Tom Haudricourt says its from a very trusted source (that he would not name, by the way). Apparently, the Brewers are showing a very high interest in signing free agent Mike Cameron.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. First of all, the guy will be suspended for the first 25 games of the season. Why would we give a one-year deal to someone who will not play for the first month? Secondly, Cameron cannot make contact to save his life. He hit .245 last year...yes, .245. Sure, he has a lot of power (21 HR and 78 RBI last season), but he also struck out 160 times. That's awful. The Brewers are looking for a left-handed hitting left-fielder who has a high OBP, not a right-handed center-fielder who has a super low OBP (.328). This would also mean that Bill Hall could be moved to 3B and Braun to LF.

This rumor just doesn't make sense on so many levels...yet as I've said before, Tom Haudricourt is the most trusted source on the Milwaukee Brewers that any fan has. It has to have some truth to it. One thing that does add to its chances of validity is that Doug Melvin is not returning Haudricourt's phone calls. Melvin usually makes his move without much notice. I don't think this would be the wisest move for Milwaukee to say the least. I trust Doug Melvin though, so he must know something if this rumor is true.

Shouse inks one-year deal

Shouse has signed a one-year contract with the Brewers. He quietly was perhaps the most important cog in the bullpen last year (minus Cordero).

The exact numbers are not yet known, but the deal is likely to be a little over $1M, as Shouse made $975,000 last year. Shouse, now 39-years old, posted a 3.02 ERA in the pen last year, but that does not indicate how crucial he was at certain points last season, as he stranded almost 77% of his inherited runners. Compare that with Derrick Turnbow, and you will cringe.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DeJesus will not be heading to Milwaukee

I know we have a reader that does not care for my posting rumors from Tom Haudricourt, but he's got the latest scoop on David DeJesus and the Brewers.

Melvin reportedly asked the Royals about DeJesus at the Winter Meetings, and they were asking for a right-handed hitter in return. This is why the Royals signed Jose Guillen, so this problem seems to be fixed for the Royals. That would seem to mean that Kansas City will not be moving the center-fielder. Even Melvin said, "I don't think they're going to move him. They're not shopping him with us."

This sentiment is piggy-backed by Bob Dutton, a reporter from the Kansas City Star. He says that the Royals are trying to bring in free agents (like Jose Guillen, Gil Meche, and Ron Mahay) to instill a winning attitude for the Royals. Dutton also says that the team has to overpay for these players to come in because not many players wish to play in Kansas City. All this means that the Royals are attempting to develop a "win now" mentality. Thus, DeJesus (one of their most consistent performers) would not be moved.

With all of that said, I'm not so sure the Royals are not going to move DeJesus this winter. With Jose Guillen now on the team, they have an excess of outfielders. Joey Gathright is knocking on the door for playing time in Kansas City, and he would be a speedy replacement for DeJesus. The Brewers could perhaps dangle a starting pitcher and a prospect for the outfielder perhaps.

On a side note, Haudricourt says that Melvin is hung up on the defensive positioning of Kenny Lofton. If Lofton must play center-field, Bill Hall will have to be moved again. Melvin has repeatedly said that he does not want to move Hall. If Yost and Melvin decide that Lofton will be a good option in left-field, expect a signing within a couple weeks. He would be the quintessential lead-off hitter that Melvin has been searching for. Still...I would prefer DeJesus over Lofton. It seems unlikely, however.

Cubs looking at Brian Roberts

Here's a bit of news concerning the Chicago Cubs that makes me a little nervous. It's been reported that the Cubs are aggressively pursuing Brian Roberts, even though his name came up in the Mitchell Report.

The Cubs' offer included Sean Gallagher and Matt Murton, as of now. It did not, however, involve Rich Hill or Felix Pie. I would expect the Orioles would want one of these pieces in a trade for an all-star. It has been said that Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall, and Donnie Veal could also be in the mix.

Brian Roberts playing 2B for the Cubs? A scary thought...The one thing that I was sure of concerning the Cubs is that the middle of their infield leaves a lot to be desired. If they can land Roberts, that would take a HUGE step towards fixing that problem. Gallagher and Murton? That seems like a measly return for the Orioles. Sean Marshall is terrible too, so let's hope the Cubs have to keep him.

Cirillo to Milwaukee? Apparently not.

It sounds like Jeff Cirillo really wanted to come back to Milwaukee for a third term of service next year. He personally placed a call to Doug Melvin to see if the Brewers were interested in bringing him back next term. I'm assuming that Cirillo would have even taken a pay-cut to be in Milwaukee, but Melvin said that he doesn't see a good fit for Cirillo in Milwaukee.

The fact that Melvin is not interested in a solid, veteran backup like Cirillo speaks volumes about what he thinks of Joe Dillon. It looks like Dillon and perhaps Vinny Rottino will be anchoring the backup corner infield spot this season. Dillon played very, very well last year, so I'm not surprised Melvin is sticking with him. He has a very short, compact swing that gets the the hitting zone consistently. He's the contact hitter that Melvin is searching for to fill the LF position. Dillon cannot quite start in Milwaukee, but he is more than a serviceable backup.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Milwaukee signs five players from the farm

The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that five players from the farm system have signed newly constructed one-year contracts. These players are pitchers Manny Parra, Luis Pena, and Tim Dillard, along with position players Drew Anderson and Brad Nelson.

Drew Anderson, 26, batted .273 in 108 games last season at Triple-A Nashville. He finished the season with four homers, 28 doubles and three triples. He'll remain there for the beginning of next season. If you want to see Drew at the major league level, I wouldn't hold your breath. He is solid enough in most areas, but not solid enough to make an impact with Milwaukee.

Nelson, a 4th round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, batted .263 in 116 games with 20 home runs, 23 doubles and 65 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville. The raw power is there, but Brad has consistently had problems batting for average. The Brewers need better OBP, so I would not expect Brad to get called up any time soon either.

Tim Dillard finished 8-4 posting a 4.74 ERA in 34 games, including 16 starts, for Triple-A Nashville. He struck out 62 over 133 innings. Not too much to say about Dillard. He's not bad at all, just not great either.

Parra, 25, pitched at the Double-A, Triple-A and major league levels last season. He was 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA at Double-A Huntsville, and made four starts for Nashville, going 1-3 with a 1.73 ERA, including a perfect game. The left-hander was 0-1 with a 3.76 ERA in nine games, including two starts, for the Brewers. I think we all know that Manny will be a part of the big league squad this year. It is simply a matter of whether he'll be a starter or come out of the bullpen. Either way, I'm excited to see what he can do in a full season.

Luis Pena was a combined 5-4 with a 2.63 ERA for Double-A Huntsville and Class A Brevard County last year. The right-hander was 5-0, posting a 2.08 ERA with the Class A team and 0-4 with a 2.89 ERA at Huntsville. In winter league play, Pena pitched in Venezuela and appeared in 13 games with a 4.50 ERA. Pena has the potential to have an impact at the big league level this year. I know it's hard to see that happening with the immense depth Melvin has brought in, but Luis has a very live-arm with great stuff. He needs to work on his location, but that was what people said about Valverde. Big comparison, I know, but I'm just pointing it out...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Brewers interested in Gonzo?

Here's an update of a previous story. Melvin has admitted that Luis Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton are on the Brewers' radar. Not new stuff here.

What is new, however, is that Tom Haudricourt reports that Gonzo is very interested in coming to Milwaukee. Tom has been in contact with Gonzo's agent, and it seems the interest is mutual.

"Luis thinks he'd be a perfect fit in Milwaukee," said agent Terry Bross. "He knows they're looking for a left-handed bat in left field and could benefit from his veteran experience as well."

Looks like Braun could be staying where he belongs: 3B. The more the offseason wears on, the less likely a big trade seems possible. Teams will be coming to Milwaukee for our pitching surplus, but teams are asking way too much for their skilled players to make it worthwhile. Lofton would most likely play CF, but that would mean moving Hall to LF. That is way too much for Hall to have to deal with. Give the guy a position and let him stick with it.

Gonzo, on the other hand, would be a great fit. It sounds like he does not want anywhere near the $7+M he made in L.A. last year. He wants a deal that is incentive-laden, and those contracts are the ones that Melvin loves to give (see Gagne's deal). It would most likely be a one-year...say $4.5M deal.

Would you rather have Gonzo or Lofton?

Recent News

After taking some time off for the holiday season, I think it's time to get things cooking again. Let's see what the Brewers have been up to since Melvin got home from vacation:
  • The Brewers have invited Laynce Nix and Steve Bray to their major league spring training camp. This is good news. Nix is simply looking to make it click still, and who knows when he can break out in the big leagues. He's mostly a power hitter that gets fooled by major league stuff, but at 27 years old, maybe he'll turn the corner. I'm excited that Nix cleared wavers to get invited back to camp.

    Bray, on the other hand, has an outside shot at making the big league bullpen if he continues his good work. Last year in Triple-A, Bray posted a 1.62 earned run average. In 77 2/3 innings, he allowed 59 hits and 26 walks while striking out 73 hitters. Not bad at all. At 27 years old as well, he'll have to turn a corner to continue to be worthwhile.