by Nathan Petrashek
Well, not exactly. Kyles was euphemistically “dismissed” by Doug Melvin today after four years as bullpen coach, but he seemed pretty at peace with the decision:
“They had to do something. It had gotten to the point where those [relievers], it’s in their heads now that they’re really scuffling with confidence. I completely understood Doug and Gord bringing me in. I have a feeling that this is not what they wanted to do. But it’s something that they had to do, and I absolutely understand it.”
If you think Stan Kyles was responsible for the bullpen’s collective 4.80 ERA (3rd-worst in the majors), you should also give him credit for the bullpen’s shiny 3.32 ERA last year (6th best). So unless he has started telling guys to throw more like Tim Dillard, I find it really, really unlikely that Kyles had anything to do with the bullpen’s failures this year.
But hey, someone has to pay, right? And since you can’t fire the players, you fire the coach. Or so the thinking goes.
You, the fan, should be insulted.
Doug Melvin fired Stan Kyles because he thinks you’re an idiot. He thinks that canning Kyles will show you there is accountability. That the team is doing something to address a bullpen that can’t hold a lead to save its life. That he is a man of action, trying as hard as he can to right the ship.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Dumping Kyles isn’t going to stop John Axford from blowing saves any more than me refusing to drive three blocks to the grocery store is going to stop the polar ice caps from melting. It’s a minor, almost meaningless gesture.
If Melvin really wanted to address the bullpen situation, he would DFA Francisco Rodriguez. He would take advantage of Manny Parra’s pretty good year and flip him to a team in need of a lefty reliever (plenty) instead of trying to work him into a starter role where he has already failed miserably. He would trade or cut Jose Veras and his 1.7 WHIP (not to mention his 5.02 ERA and $2M salary). Pretty much the last person I would look at would be the bullpen coach.
Give me some real accountability. Not public relations.
By: Ryan Smith (@ryanhenrysmith2)
Now that things have died down a bit after the Zack Greinke trade, I thought it would be a good idea to try and get a better idea of who the Brewers acquired last Friday. In my immediate reaction piece of Friday, I did take a look at what these three players have done thus far this season. But statistics can only tell us so much about these players.
In order to get a better idea of what types of players they are, I knew I needed to talk to someone who had some first-hand experience with each player. Thanks to the beauty that is the Twitterverse, I got in touch with Phil Elson, who for 12 seasons has been the radio broadcaster with the Arkansas Travelers, the AA affiliate for the Angels. Phil agreed to take part in a Twitter-based interview to discuss the package that Milwaukee received for Greinke. Here’s what transpired:
RS: Since you’ve had the pleasure of watching Segura, Hellweg, and Pena all season, what was your initial reaction when you heard about the package of players that were being sent to Milwaukee’s organization for Zack Greinke?
PE: Any reaction is split into 2 categories. 1) How it affects the club I cover in Little Rock. 2) How it affect the Angels on the field. For the Travelers it’s devastating because that’s 2/5 of a very strong starting rotation and our starting SS. Segura was probably going to be returning to Little Rock over the next week to 2 weeks. For the Angels…it’s a tremendous trade in the sense they didn’t give up Richards or Bourjos and got an ace like Greinke.
RS: Let’s discuss Segura, the top prospect in the Angels system at the time. What kind of player did the Brewers acquire in Segura?
PE: Segura is amazingly athletic. Rifle arm. Very quick and fast. Power potential. Very strong in the core, hips, legs. Learning to be a more patient hitter and it showed in the last 5-6 weeks.
PE: I’m not big on the player comps either to be honest. It’s not fair to the minor leaguer usually. Think of Segura as a guy who can play SS/2B. Give you the ability to get on base and hit for a solid OPS with some pop.
RS: I think we can live with that. Based on what you’ve seen from him this year, what do you consider to be Segura’s greatest strengths on the diamond?
PE: Quickness. Gets to a lot of balls on the infield. Has the chance to be a special baserunner. And I do think he can hit for some pop too.
RS: Segura has faced injury issues in the past. Were there any organizational concerns that durability might be a concern with him?
PE: Yes, but he’s been fine this year.
RS: There have been some concerns with his ability to stay at shortstop. In his time with the Travelers, how do you think he’s handled short? Is it inevitable that he’ll have to move to 2B or do you feel that he could be a long-term SS?
PE: I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable, but it’s possible for sure.
RS: Moving on to Hellweg, can you give any insight about his repertoire of pitches? What does he bring to the mound?
PE: Johnny has a great FB in the mid 90s. He can get it up to 100, but that’s not all the time. Very good 11-7 curve with bite and improving changeup. He’s a legit 6 foot 9. Tall and lanky. Room to grow. He’s grown 5 inches since signing.
RS: Most reports on Hellweg talk about his command issues. What have you noticed about this? Is it a case of him trying to pick the corners too much or does he go through those phases when it seems like he just can’t throw it over the plate?
PE: Over the last 2 months, for the most part, he commanded just fine. Troubles early, but he started to figure it out. He’s not a nibbler, that’s for sure. Competitive and hard working. A great guy and teammate.
RS: With tall guys like Hellweg, one of the common problems is repeating the delivery consistently. Can you talk about his delivery at all?
PE: Johnny talked about that being an issue throughout his career, especially since he’s grown 5 inches since signing.
RS: You’ve been able to see Hellweg start 21 games this year for the Travelers. Gut feeling: starter or reliever?
PE: Good question Ryan. I think he should be a starter right now. If the command issues creep up later on he might have to convert.RS: Finally, let’s talk about Ariel Pena. Same question as with Hellweg: what does Pena bring to the mound? What are his go-to pitches?
PE: 3 very good pitches. 4-seam FB low-to-mid 90′s. Hard slider that he can slow down. Outstanding change up. Big and strong.
RS: Looking through Pena’s stats for this year, his .264 BABIP jumps out at me. Does he generate a lot of groundballs or has he been on the receiving end of some luck, leading to his impressive 2.99 ERA?
PE: Our home ballpark is an extreme pitcher’s park. Could be part of that. He does leave stuff up a bit much sometimes.
RS: My only experience watching Pena was in the Futures Game this year, where he struggled, to say the least. After that disappointing performance, how did he bounce back in his next few starts for the Travelers?
PE: He was mostly fantastic after the Futures Game. He was all smiles the next day. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. He shouldn’t have been left in that long in the Futures Game.
RS: I agree on you there. Not really fair to him at all. And it’s not like the other World pitchers were blowing away the competition. With Pena, do you think he can stick as a starter or do you feel he might be more of a reliever in the long run?
PE: Starter. He’s always been a starter.
RS: So would you describe this trade as a win-win between these two organizations?
PE: Not yet I wouldn’t. You can’t make any comparisons until this season is over and see how Greinke did. But I think the Angels must resign him because they have no depth of starting pitching in the minors.
RS: Well, they’ve shown that they are willing to spend if they are winning, and I would assume they are confident they can get a deal done. That’s all I have – I’ll let you get ready for today’s game. Thanks again for doing this. We here at Cream City Cables really appreciate it.
PE: My pleasure.
It’s nice to get a little insight on the newest members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization. We here at Cream City Cables would like to once again thank Phil Elson (@ARTravs, @ElsonPhil) for helping us out with this.
Well, the deal is now official, the Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed reliever Fautino De Los Santos from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for the recently optioned George Kottaras. De Los Santos will report to Triple-A Nashville for assignment.
De Los Santos has spent the better part of 2012 with Triple-A Sacramento, where he was 1-3 with a 7.25 ERA in 28 relief appearances after beginning the season on the Athletics’ Opening Day roster and posting a 3.00 ERA in 6 games. He was optioned on April 24.
It is unclear at this point if the plan is to keep De Los Santos in Triple-A for the time being, or if this is just a temporary move on the part of the team while they sort out the mess that currently is the bullpen.
Cream City Cables will continue to keep you updated on all of the latest trades and rumors as we approach the trade deadline.
By Nathan Petrashek (@npetrashek)
A lot of Brewers seem likely to find new digs over the next few days, and we’ll be recapping any credible trade rumors here. Check back often for the latest updates.
Randy Wolf. The Brewers rotation is going to look a lot different next year. Many speculated that Wolf could be moved at the deadline; the only question is, “for what?” ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Brewers will trade him for nothing, “if you take the money.” Wolf is earning $9.5M this year and has a club option for next year at $10M with a $1.5M buyout.
Shaun Marcum. Marcum is still recovering from an injury that has sidelined him since June 14. While Marcum isn’t going to be traded before Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline, he may be a waiver trade candidate after he returns to action.
***UPDATE***: Adam McCalvey reports (on Twitter) that Marcum’s second bullpen did not go well.
Zack Grienke. Opposing GM’s have seemingly done a 180 on Greinke in the last week. After he was skipped in the rotation, execs were quoted as saying they were “concerned,” even going so far as to call him “scary.” Other big-market execs said they wouldn’t touch Greinke because of his known anxiety issue. But after Grienke’s heavily scouted seven-inning masterpiece in Philly, he has become the prize of the trade deadline, especially since Cole Hamels is no longer available. Teams known to be fawning over the righty include the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, and White Sox. The White Sox are pushing hard, but they don’t appear to have the pieces necessary to land Greinke; several league sources have reported that Doug Melvin’s asking price is astronomical and includes a top shortstop prospect. The Braves dropped out after refusing to part with top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, as did the Orioles after Melvin suggested Manny Machado. At this point, it looks to be a two-way battle between the Rangers and the Angels, though Texas appears to be the frontronner and is presumably very motivated after losing the last two world series. Still, their top prospect, shorstop Jurickson Profar, is reportedly off the table, even though the Brewers (and other teams) are no doubt asking about him. The Angels don’t seem too confident in their chances to land Greinke.
***UPDATE***: Greinke was traded to the Angels late Friday for a package that includes three of the Angels’ top-10 prospects: SS Jean Segura (#2), RHP Ariel Pena (#9), and RHP Johnny Hellweg (#4). The Rangers apparently didn’t come close to that offer, refusing to trade Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, or even Martin Perez. In fact, the Rangers’ best offer appears to have been IF Leurys Garcia, LHP Chad Bell, and RHP Justin Grimm; a pittance compared to what the Brewers ultimately wound up with, if I may offer my editorial opinion. The Angels’ decision to include Pena led Doug Melvin to pull the trigger, and the Angels now have perhaps the best rotation in baseball. You can read our own Ryan Smith’s analysis of the trade here.
Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod was looking like a sure candidate to be dealt at the trade deadline, but then he became the closer. Over the last week, he’s allowed 7 earned runs over 3.1 innings of work, with 7 walks against just 4 strikeouts. The Giants were reportedly in on him until they watched him pitch. K-Rod apparently alienated the Brewers, too, as Ron Roenicke announced the team would deploy a closer-by-committee.
George Kottaras. Kottaras was designated for assignment yesterday, a formality designed to open up a roster spot for returning catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Doug Melvin is reportedly attempting to find a new big-league home for the backup catcher; Kottaras was told to stay in Milwaukee while Melvin shopped him around.
***UPDATE***: The Brewers have dealt the lefty catcher to the Oakland A’s, according to Tom Haudricourt. The A’s apparently have to make a corresponding roster move, and the deal will not be announced, nor will we know who the Brewers are receiving, until Sunday. You can read Ryan Smith’s take on George Kottaras’s move here.
Nyjer Morgan. Morgan was a great pickup last year, but this year has been a struggle for the lefthanded hitter; he’s batting just .228/.299/.274. The Brewers would love to move his $2.35M salary, especially with Carlos Gomez playing so well, but there don’t appear to be many suitors right now.
Kameron Loe. Loe may be the only Brewers reliever to be moved before the trade deadline. After a two-inning, three-strikeout scoreless showing on Thursday, Loe should draw some interest from teams looking for bullpen help (i.e. Cincinatti Reds, Rangers, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, etc.). Loe has allowed just two runs over his last nine outings.
Manny Parra. Manny Parra, like Rodriguez, was a great trade candidate until this week. With plenty of scouts in attendance in Philly, Parra walked three on Tuesday and gave up four earned runs. That came on the heels of another three-walk performance the day earlier. It’s a shame, because Parra had pitched well through July up until that point (7.1 ip, 2 bb, 10 k, 1.23 era). Nothing simmering on the trade front here.
***UPDATE***: According to CBS’s Danny Knobler (via Twitter), the Brewers have received some inquiries about Parra, but may keep him and re-convert him into a starter again. That didn’t end well the first time. Parra as a starter is 23-26 with a 5.44 era, 1.692 whip, and 1.71 k/bb ratio. As a reliever, he has a 3.82 era, 1.406 whip, and 2.62 k/bb.
Corey Hart. The Brewers are listening on Hart, but would have to be “bowled over” by the offer to move him, reports Tom Haudricourt. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Hart included in the Greinke deal if it nets the Brewers a top shortstop and pitching prospect.
Aramis Ramirez. Like Hart, the Brewers are listening, but the price is high. The team is not motivated to sell simply to rid their books of the $16M Ramirez is due in 2014 (he’ll earn $10M next season, too). Early reports linked the Dodgers to Ramirez, but they appear to have satisfied their desire for a bat with Hanley Ramirez.
Jose Veras. No doubt the Brewers would love to unload Veras and his 1.72 WHIP, but I can’t imagine a contender that would want to play with that kind of fire. By the same token, I couldn’t figure out why the Brewers would want to play with that kind of fire back in December. Veras has the third-most walks among MLB relievers and I can’t see him going anywhere. K-Rod is tied for fourth, incidentally.
By: Ryan Smith (@ryanhenrysmith2)
And just like that, the Brewers have continued in their role as a trade deadline seller.
Recent reports state that the Brewers have come to an agreement to send catcher George Kottaras to Oakland. Kottaras had been recently designated for assignment (DFA) because of the emergence of Martin Maldonado and the return of The Jonathan Lucroy.A career backup, Kottaras became a fan favorite in Milwaukee this year with his late-game heroics, coming through multiple times to help the Brewers claim victories. His ability to come through in clutch situations even created a buzz around Miller Park and on Twitter, with the verb “Kottaras” being introduced into our lexicon. After a game-winning hit, some fans could be heard saying “You’ve been Kottarased!”
As Kottaras came back to Earth after his hot start to the season, Lucroy started to dominate on a nightly basis. When Lucroy broke his hand, many thought it would be a great opportunity for Kottaras to showcase what he brings to the team. But Kottaras ran into an injury bug as well, and Martin Maldonado was called up. From there, Maldonado impressed everyone with his ability to handle the bat while also providing solid defense from the catcher position. It was only a matter of time before Lucroy would return from his injury, and it became apparent that Kottaras was going to be the odd man out.
When he was DFA, Kottaras was told to remain in Milwaukee, as GM Doug Melvin planned on trying to trade the catcher to another team so he could remain in the majors. Oakland, needing help at the catcher position and currently only 4.5 games behind the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, proved to be the destination Melvin was looking for.
As the backup catcher for Milwaukee over the last three seasons, Kottaras appeared in 174 games, hitting 17 homeruns with 55 runs batted in and 49 runs scored. Over the last few years, Kottaras received a majority of his playing time serving as Randy Wolf’s personal catcher, guaranteeing Kottaras a start every fifth game. In 49 games last season, Kottaras really showed what he could do by producing a line of .252/.311/.459. This season, his numbers dropped a bit, with a line of .209/.409/.360, which is still an upgrade over what Oakland catchers have combined to do on the year (.198/.250/.269). Oakland’s primary catcher, Kurt Suzuki, bats right-handed, so the left-handed Kottaras could create a natural platoon with him.
As of right now, there has been no report as to what Milwaukee will receive in exchange for Kottaras, and Melvin has stated that he doesn’t believe the deal will be finalized until Sunday. Considering Kottaras is a 29-year-old career backup who was recently DFA, I would not expect much in return. The Brewers probably will receive a low-level project prospect or two. This trade was most likely more about Doug Melvin doing Kottaras a favor by sending him to a team that will keep him in the majors.
Check back with Cream City Cables as the Brewers continue to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline.
By: Ryan Smith
It finally happened.After weeks of speculation, including some pretty crazy rumors over the last few days, the Milwaukee Brewers finally traded Zack Greinke.
After watching his stock take a hit with a rough July start followed by a mysterious “shutdown” by Manager Ron Roenicke, the enigmatic right-hander quieted his critics with a truly dominant performance on Tuesday night.
Yes, in only 87 pitches, Greinke put to rest any concerns about his health and his ability, instead causing opposing scouts and GMs to bull rush Doug Melvin’s office door.
The winning bid came from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team that beat out AL West rival Texas for the services of Mr. Greinke.
With the move Greinke will join an Angels rotation that already includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Dan Haren, creating a foursome as dangerous as any in Major League Baseball.
In return, the Brewers will receive three of the Angels top ten organizational prospects, including current top-prospect Jean Segura. Along with Segura, Milwaukee will also receive RHP John Hellweg and RHP Ariel Pena.A few weeks ago, I wrote an article looking at possible trade packages that Melvin would consider in a trade for Greinke. Then, I wrote that a package centered around Segura and Hellweg would have to be considered. Landing another one of Los Angeles’s top prospects apparently put the deal over the top for Melvin, who was using the rivalry between the Angels and the Rangers to up the asking price for the former Cy Young winner.
There were reports that Melvin was looking to land a top shortstop prospect in any deal involving Greinke, and Segura fits that bill. Segura had recently been called up to the big league club for the Angels, but he only appeared in one game at that level. In 94 AA games this season, Segura produced a line of .292/.346/.404 with 7 homeruns and 50 runs scored to go along with 33 stolen bases. While he would be an immediate upgrade over the current shortstop situation in Milwaukee, I would assume the organization would start with at AA Huntsville, at least for a few weeks.Hellweg and Pena also spent all of this season thus far in AA. Hellweg started 21 games, compiling a 5-10 record with a 3.38 ERA, walking 60 while striking out 88. In his first full season as a starter, Hellweg was producing a 6.62 K/9, but he also had a 4.51 BB/9, showing once again that his biggest concern is his command. Standing at 6’9”, Hellweg has some natural downhill plane on his powerful fastball, which typically sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. While he’s still a work in progress – especially with his secondary pitches – Hellweg still represents a welcome addition to the Milwaukee farm system. In 19 starts this season, Pena was 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA, walking 42 while striking out 111. Pena has some more success with the command of his pitches, resulting in a 3.31 BB/9 and an 8.74 K/9. Pena also has a lively fastball, which is reported to sit around 95 MPH with some movement. His slider is also said to be a hard slider that tends to fall off the table, allowing it to miss some bats. His changeup will need some work, as it can tend to be a BP-fastball if he doesn’t control it well. While Pena’s ceiling doesn’t appear to be as high as Hellweg’s, he seems to have a higher floor, especially considering his ability to control his premium pitches at this point in his career.
Overall, I think GM Doug Melvin did what we wanted him to do – he got the best possible return that he could for Greinke. Texas had already stated that top-prospect SS Jurickson Profar was off-limits, and they recently made it clear that 3B Mike Olt would not be available for a two-month rental. Instead of playing a dangerous waiting game with Texas, he used their interest to get the Angels to give up three actual prospects in order to acquire Greinke. As I said before, Segura could step into the everyday lineup for Milwaukee today and be an immediate upgrade, providing Melvin with the shortstop-of-the-future that he was looking for. Hellweg and Pena give the Brewers two very talented arms to work with, and you can never have enough pitching in baseball.
To Zack Greinke, I say this: Good luck. It was a blast having you in Milwaukee.
To Doug Melvin, I say this: Good job. You did what you had to do and brought back a real package that could help this team in the long run.
To the newest Milwaukee Brewers, I say this: Welcome! You’re going to love it here. I hope you like beer.
Who am I kidding – who doesn’t like beer?
By: Ryan Smith
I remember watching Monday’s game against the Phillies fearing that a win would once again convince GM Doug Melvin that this year’s Milwaukee Brewers could be contenders. It didn’t matter that the Phillies currently reside in the cellar of the National League East; a win against Roy Halladay could have been just the type of win that Melvin and Manager Ron Roenicke would have used to say that the team was still in it, even though the Brewers just got swept in their “do-or-die” series over the weekend.
Then Roenicke went to the bullpen.You know the rest. One lead blown. Then another. Then another. With the bullpen for this year’s Milwaukee Brewers, no lead is safe.
After Tuesday’s debacle of a bullpen appearance, many Brewers fans started flooding Twitter and Facebook with claims that this had to be the worst bullpen ever.
This got me to thinking: where exactly does this bullpen rank among other historically bad bullpens?
There’s not really one stat that you can look at to figure this out. Some people would argue that Blown Saves would be the place to start, but that isn’t fair to the terrible bullpens on terrible teams. It also doesn’t take a look at the entire picture because the Save didn’t even become an official stat until 1969. You could look at ERA, but that is oftentimes quite dependent on team defense as well as pitcher performance. I’m sure most Brewer fans would make a case for BB/9 because that seems to be the Achilles heel for this year’s squad.
So since there’s no single stat to tell the story, I decided to look at all of them.
Let’s start by looking at Blown Saves. The Major League record for Blown Saves in an entire season is 34 by the 2004 Colorado Rockies, followed by the 2002 Texas Rangers with 33. As of right now, the Brewers have 18 official Blown Saves on the season, three behind this year’s Rockies. The Crew is on pace for 30 Blown Saves over the span of 162 games, which would be tied for seventh all-time. So in the Blown Saves category, the Brewers are up there, but they are not the worst bullpen ever.
Next, I had to take a look at walks and BB/9 because it seems like Milwaukee relievers can’t take the mound without issuing a free pass or three. On the year, Milwaukee relievers have issued 145 walks, which is the third-highest total in baseball. All-time, the most walks ever issued by a bullpen in a season was 347 by the 1996 Detroit Tigers, with the 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates coming in second with 343. in case you were wondering, the 2012 Brewers are on pace for roughly 242 walks, which wouldn’t even be in the top-30 for most walks ever in a season.
If I look at BB/9, I have to adjust what I’m looking at a bit. If you go all the way back to 1871, the 1908 Brooklyn Superbas (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) had a 108.00 BB/9. Of course, if you look closer, you’ll see that the Brooklyn Superbas only had one pitcher make a relief appearance. That pitcher was Pembroke Finlayson, and he walked four batters in one-third of an inning.If you don’t go back any further than 1970, you would find the 1971 Chicago White Sox with a 6.89 BB/9 and the 2000 Pirates with a 5.92 BB/9. Right now, the Brewers have a 4.39 BB/9, which is the second-highest mark in the league behind the Cubs at 5.00 BB/9. So you can see that, while they are one of the worst bullpens this season when it comes to issuing walks, they are nowhere near the worst bullpen ever in this area.
Finally, I had to look at ERA and True Runs Allowed (tERA) to gauge where this Brewers bullpen ranks among the most ineffective units in the history of the game. This year, the Brewers have the third-worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.76. Once again, I had to limit my research to no later than 1970 because the highest 100 ERAs of all-time all occurred before 1970. Using a more modern-day comparison, the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays had a 6.16 bullpen ERA, which easily beat out the ’96 Tigers (5.97). Once again, this year’s Brewers bullpen is bad, but they are not historically bad when it comes to ERA.
The sample-size for tERA is even smaller because this stat wasn’t even calculated until 2002. Even with this smaller window, you can see that Milwaukee’s tERA of 4.79 is only the fourth-worst mark in baseball in 2012. Historically, the ’12 Crew is no match for the Rockies of 2003 (6.37) and ’02 (6.32).
I do want to point out that at no point during this article was I defending the performance of the Brewers bullpen this year. I spent a good chunk of the early months of the season coming to the defense of John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, telling fans to give them time, to have faith.And now, here I am, feeling like a damn fool.
The harsh truth is that we’re more than likely stuck with these guys for the rest of the season. Whatever trade value Rodriguez had going into this last series was pretty much left for dead in Philadelphia. John Axford has looked better as of late, but I’ll believe he’s figured it out when I see it. Manny Parra can’t find a strike zone big enough to hit consistently. Hell, I’m actually happy when Roenicke calls Livan Hernandez on in relief. Frankly, it’s not pretty out there.
The entire purpose of this article was to point out that, while 2012 has been a frustrating year for the Brewers bullpen, it has not been the worst season ever. Maybe Brewers fans were just spoiled by the 2011 ‘pen that always seemed to come through. LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, and Rodriguez locked down innings six through eight, and we all know how dominant Axford was last season. This year has just been one of those years where anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And it seems that much worse after a year of complete domination.
But let’s slow down the talk of the 2012 Milwaukee bullpen being the worst bullpen ever. Those other squads have quite a lead on our guys.
Then again, if there’s one thing these guys can consistently do, it’s make a lead disappear.
By Nathan Petrashek
The last few days have been filled with trade activity, and there’s no sign of that stopping. This will be a running list of trades that potentially impact the market for pieces the Brewers may wish to move (should they ever decide to make that selling decision). Keep checking back throughout the day for updates.
Cole Hamels. Word early today is that Cole Hamels has accepted a 6-year, $144M contract offer from the Phillies, making him the second-highest paid pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia. That would make Zack Greinke the best starting pitcher available at the trade deadline, and in free agency after the season. Greinke was already petty highly sought after, but expect this to bring a modest bump in the Brewers’ asking price. As I said a few days ago, this eliminates whatever slim hope the Brewers have that Greinke will sign an extension.
Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers were interested in Aramis Ramirez, and moving that backloaded contract would be a nice little prize at the trade deadline. But early this morning, the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. That will more than likely fill their need for an impact bat at 3B, though it is worth noting that Ramirez can play short and the Dodgers are not high on their current SS Dee Gordon. UPDATE: According to True Blue L.A., Ramirez is in the starting lineup at shortstop.
Ryan Dempster. It was kind of a crazy day for Ryan Dempster on Monday, as he learned he was being traded to the Braves through media reports. As a player with 10-and-5 rights, though, Dempster did not sign off on the trade, and is now pushing for a trade to the Dodgers. If a deal gets done with either team, the market for Greinke only improves.
Ichiro Suzuki. In the event that the Brewers decide to trade Corey Hart, who is apparently a highly sought after commodity, there will be one less suitor for a corner OF now that the Yankees have acquired the longtime Mariner. Plenty of interest in Hart remains, though.
Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez was sent to the Pirates last night, further slimming the list of starting pitchers available by trade. Greinke is a different caliber of pitcher, but it certainly is encouraging to see starting pitchers flying off the board.
Hunter Pence. The Phillies may have locked up another ace pitcher, but they’re still considering selling other pieces, including OF Hunter Pence. Pence and Hart are remarkably similar players, but I think most teams would prefer Pence (.290/.342/.481 career) over Hart (.275/.332/.488 career), all else being equal. Indeed, most everything else is equal; both are set to become free agents after the 2013 season, and both are set to make around $10M next season (Pence will be arbitration eligible for the final time, whereas Hart will be in the final year of his contract).
Cliff Lee. Lee is not yet formally available, although there is a steadily growing opinion among GMs that the Phillies will entertain offers for the elite lefty in advance of the trade deadline. Lee is still owed about $87M over the next 3 years, so this would be a long-term trade for any interested team and would likely net the Phils top prospects and the salary relief they desperately need after signing Hamels. If he does go on the block, Lee immediately becomes the top pitcher available despite his rather lackluster year (118 ip, 3.95 era, 4.87 k/bb). Lee’s addition to the trade market will suppress interest in Greinke, as Lee’s additional years of control should be very appealing to teams like the Rangers (who tried to get Lee in free agency, but failed).
By Nathan Petrashek
With the loss last night, the Brewers more or less became sellers at the trade deadline. We should see Francisco Rodriguez, George Kottaras, Shaun Marcum (if healthy), and even Randy Wolf heading for other teams by July 31.
But the big question: Will Zack Greinke be among them?
Greinke has a 5-year, $100M+ (reports are that the offer falls somewhere around $110M) offer on the table from the Brewers. That’s no doubt a lot of money to walk away from, but players on the cusp of free agency have frequently turned down such offers before. Prince Fielder and C.C. Sabathia, for example, were both offered similar contracts and opted instead to test free agency, where they earned monster deals. C.C. Sabathia went on to sign a record contract with the Yankees at 7 years and $161M. The deal included an opt-out clause that went unexercised, adding another year and $30M to his deal. Prince Fielder, of course, moved on to the Detroit Tigers this offseason, somehow working them for a 10-year, $214M contract. In case you were wondering, that’s enough dough to buy 107 million Krispy Kreme Donuts.
There’s the rub. As it stands right now, the market for Greinke is not going to be similar to that of Sabathia or Fielder. Most had Greinke pegged as a 5-year, $85M+ guy heading into the season, at least until Matt Cain’s astonishing extension this April reshaped the pitching market. Cain received the third-biggest contract for a pitcher at 6-years and $127M, although only 5 years and $112M of that was new money. That certainly upped the ante for Greinke, though. Most now expect him to sign something close to the Brewers’ offer. Some writers think Greinke may be worth a Matt Cain deal, but there is a good chance that some GMs see him as worth less because of his performance history and anxiety issues. I would tend to agree that there is more risk to signing Greinke than there would to signing Matt Cain, but, as Fielder showed, it only takes one owner that thinks differently.
“As it stands right now” is a pretty big caveat, though. The wild card is Cole Hamels, who would almost certainly be more coveted than Greinke as a free agent. The Phillies are pushing hard to resign the left-handed ace, and have reportedly offered a 6-year deal in the low $140M range. While that really shouldn’t shock anyone (that’s probably close to what Hamels would pull down in free agency), it doesn’t bode well for the Brewers chances of signing Greinke to an extension. If Hamels signs, Greinke becomes the top free agent pitcher, and that label might very well get him to 6 years and $130M.
The ball is really in Greinke’s court, though I doubt he’ll sign an extension. It appears likely that Hamels will sign with the Phillies, meaning Greinke is in a good position to achieve a 6-year deal worth more than $125M on the free agent market, well in excess of what the Brewers are offering. Perhaps the Brewers can get creative and include an opt-out and some vesting options, but even that may not be enough to entice the righty Cy Young winner. And the Brewers still have to think about having enough money to remain competitive in one of baseball’s smallest markets.
by Kevin Kimmes
On Thursday, Jonathan Lucroy made the all important first step on the road back to The Show, making a rehab appearance for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and sharing the kind of experienced advice with the team that only a tenured player can.
“When the guy ahead of me, (Brandon) Macias, came up with a runner on third, I was like, look, you’ve got to get something out over the plate, be patient, and hit it the other way. For me, with a runner on third and nobody out or one out, you try to get a guy to roll over. I was trying to give the guy a tip, go the other way, hit the ball up in the zone, and he did. He got the ball up in the zone and drove it.”
Lucroy’s guidance was seen on defense as well. While behind the plate, Lucroy assisted starter Matt Miller in putting together a scoreless performance through 5 innings only allowing 2 hits and a walk.
“I just tried to help him through everything, help him with little stuff: keeping his elbow up, working down in the zone. If you can do that, you’re going to be successful. As far as you go up the ladder, if you stay down with those strikes, you’re going to be successful.”
Offensively, Lucroy looked sharp going 2-3 with a single and a double.
So, what is the next step for Lucroy?
“After my first two ABs, our trainer called Pax (Jeff Paxson), who is the trainer here, and said give him another at bat and another inning behind the plate. It let me get that last AB right there. Hopefully we just continue to move up and increase in at bats. I think one day I might DH, I’m not sure. Towards the end of this home-stand, Saturday and Sunday, I’ll probably be in there for the whole game. Then, I go to Nashville after this where I’ll be catching all nine.”
And for those wondering, he has no lingering resentment towards suitcases.
“I still carry one around, but it looks at me weird some times, so I’ve got to watch it.”
More pictures below.