You Say You Want a Revolution: Kimmes Making Bid to Become First Brewers Fan in MLB Fan Cave

Over the last several weeks both Bernie Brewer and the Brewers organization have been vocal on Twitter regarding their hopes that 2013 would be the year that Milwaukee finally landed a fan in the cave. The cave you ask? Yes, the MLB Fan Cave.

For the past 2 seasons, baseball fans from around the country have taken their shot at making the ultimate baseball dream a reality: Watching every game of the season from the comfort of New York City’s MLB Fan Cave. The cave is a social media hub for the MLB, a veritable watchtower from which lucky fans are tasked to use social media to interact with the games’ fans and in the process create new, creative and exciting content for the web. As if all of this wasn’t cool enough, “Cave Dwellers” are also given the opportunity to interact with players, both past and present, as well as celebrities and musicians.

This year, Cream City Cables own Kevin Kimmes has taken the call and has thrown his hat in the ring for a shot at fan immortality. Check out this teaser video that he put together earlier today as a sneak peek of his MLB Fan Cave candidacy in 2013.

We at Cream City Cables wish Kevin all the best as he pursues this ultimate baseball dream. Keep checking back over the next several weeks as we will be posting updates and new content regularly regarding his bid to become the next Cave Dweller.

Brewers lose Farris in Rule 5

By Nathan Petrashek

The Rule 5 draft, in which players with the requisite experience who aren’t on a team’s 40-man roster are subject to being plucked by other teams, cost the Brewers a player this year.

Although the Brewers did not select anyone in the draft, they did lose second-base prospect Eric Farris to the Seattle Mariners.  The Mariners are now headed by Jack Zduriencik, the Brewers’ former scouting director.

Farris appeared briefly with the major league club last year, accumulating only nine plate attempts.  At AAA Nashville, Farris hit .286/.329/.377.  He played mostly second, but also appeared in double-digit games at short and in the outfield.

We interviewed Farris last February, which you can read here.  Draft rules require Seattle to keep Farris on the 25-man roster or offer him back to the Brewers, so the draft provides him with an excellent opportunity.  All the best to him.

Some Thoughts on Ryan Dempster

By Nathan Petrashek

Atlanta Braves v Chicago CubsI get the sense that Doug Melvin is one of those newfangled GMs that love advanced baseball statistics but also reserves a place for old-school baseball judgment.  Given that, and his past history with veterans like Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf, it doesn’t exactly surprise me that he’s interested in Ryan Dempster.  Dempster has always dominated the Brewers at Miller Park, throwing over 100 innings of 2.66 ERA ball while holding opposing batters to a .221 average and striking out 8.6 per nine.  MLB Trade Rumors reported today that the sides had mutual interest, although the Suppan and Wolf experiments no doubt convinced Melvin that three or more years on aging pitchers is too great a risk.

Dempster, age 35, is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2012.  Everything about that should scream “red flag.”  His other really good seasons came in 2000 and 2008, but sandwiched between them, he pitched just 790 innings over 7 years (an average of about 113 innings per season).  His fastball has been slowly but steadily losing velocity.  Dempster compensated by throwing fewer of them (which seems to have increased the effectiveness of those he does throw); he’s also developed a pretty good split-finger and, just this past year, a cutter (which was pretty awful).  There’s no sense in diminishing how well he pitched for the Cubs in 2012 (2.25 ERA over 104 IP and a career-low 2.3 BB/9), but Dempster fans also have to acknowledge how poorly he pitched after being traded to the Texas Rangers (69 IP, 5.09 ERA, 1.44 WHIP).  This looks for all the world like a guy at the end of his career who is going to cash in on one more big contract.

And make no mistake, someone is going to give him three years.  Once you get past Zack Grienke, the free agent market is stocked with risky plays like Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Kyle Lohse, and Carl Pavano.  Dempster, particularly after his strong year, looks like a pretty good candidate when stacked up against the field.  Someone will overpay.  Someone always does.

This is not to say that Dempster is a bad pitcher; he’s really not.  But he’s not nearly as good as his 2012 season would suggest, and anyone signing him should expect more modest returns.  The Brewers are wise to limit their risk with him at two years.  I haven’t seen specifics regarding Dempster’s desired contract, but you can be sure that given the way the pitching market has developed the past few years, he’ll be looking at an average annual value exceeding what he earned with the Cubs in 2012 ($14M).  Given the Brewers stated desire to return to an $80M payroll in 2013, that would likely place him outside the Brewers’ price range.

If so, the team might well dodge a bullet.

Dempster to Brewers?

Ryan Dempsterby Kevin Kimmes

The rumors have been circulating for weeks that Milwaukee would be in the hunt to add a veteran arm to what is shaping up to be an incredibly young rotation in 2013. One name that has been mentioned in the discussion is that of former Chicago Cub Ryan Dempster who split time between Chicago and Texas in 2012. Dempster who was 12-8 with an ERA of 3.38 in  28 starts is one of a thin crop of talented free agent starters who could fill a key role for a Brewers team that is looking to make a playoff run in 2013.

To add fuel to the fire is the fact that Brewers’ beat writer Tom Haudricourt has reported that both sides are mutually interested in getting a deal done. The hitch? The length of the deal that Dempster is looking for.

Dempster, who turns 36 next year, is seeking a 3 year deal meaning he would be under contract until the age of 38. The Brewers, however, have made it publicly clear that they would not be interested in offering any potential pitchers a contract longer than 2 years. And frankly, who can blame them?

In the recent past, the team had signed long term free-agent deals for both Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf only to be burned by both deals. Suppan showed diminishing returns each year that he remained in Milwaukee with an ERA that climbed from 4.62 in 2007 to 7.84 in 2010 while his wins fell from 12 in 2007 to 0 in 2010.

Wolf on the other hand managed to put together two 13 win seasons to start his tenure in Milwaukee with an ERA that improved from 4.17 to 3.69 from 2010 to 2011. The wheels, however, came off in 2012 as Wolf was only able to piece together 3 wins in 24 starts while his ERA climbed to 5.69.

Additionally, Dempster comes with some concerns of his own. Beyond the fact of his age is how his season broke down last year. While with the Cubs, Dempster was 5-5 in 16 starts and carried an ERA of 2.25. Impressive! However, once traded to Texas his ERA climbed to 5.09 while posting a 7-3 record over 12 appearances.

So, is Dempster the answer? Maybe, but not at the current asking price.

Restocking The Pen: Brewers Placing Priority on Lefty Reliever at Winter Meetings

by Kevin Kimmes

Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reported via Twitter this afternoon that The Brewers are placing priority on acquiring a left handed reliever this week at the winter meetings. While this should come as no surprise to anyone, especially due to the non-tendering of their last bullpen lefty Manny Parra on Friday, it does raise some discussion regarding which of the available lefties may be the correct choice for a rebuilding Brewers pen.

1) Sean Burnett – Age 30 – 2012 Team: Washington Nationals

Burnett has been a mainstay in the Nationals bullpen after arriving there from Pittsburgh in 2009. In 2012, Burnett posted a 2.38 ERA with a K/9 of 9.1, BB/9 of 1.9, and a WHIP of 1.235 over 56.2 innings in 70 appearances. Over 6 professional seasons he has an ERA of 3.58, K/9 of 6.6, BB/9 of 3.6 and a WHIP of 1.341.

While it was originally reported that Burnett may be looking for a 4 year deal, his agent Jim Munsey shot this down. Most likely Burnett will be looking for a deal similar to that offered to lefty Giants reliever Jeremey Affeldt earlier this offseason (3 years/$18 million).

Other suitors for Burnett currently include Milwaukee’s division rivals, The St. Louis Cardinals, as well as his former team the Washington Nationals.

2) Randy Choate – Age 37 – 2012 Team: Miami Marlins/Los Angeles Dodgers

Choate began his 2012 campaign with the new look Miami Marlins only to be traded to Los Angeles in the later part of the season as part of the Hanley Ramirez deal. While Choate showed ability in Miami (2.49 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 9.6 K/9 and a 0.987 WHIP) the wheels seem to have fallen off in LA. While with the Dodgers his numbers climbed to 4.05 ERA, 6.9 BB/9 and a WHIP of 1.650. Add to this a falling K/9 of 7.4 and you have to believe that Choate either got tired, or just flamed out post trade.

While it has been made clear that the Brewers are looking to go with a smaller 2013 payroll (2012 saw a record 100 million spent), I don’t feel that cheaper here is necessarily better. Choate is 37 years old, and if what was seen in LA last year is any sign, Choate may no longer have what it takes to make a full strong season, something Milwaukee will need since they believe they can make a run in 2013.

3) Mike Gonzalez – Age 34 – 2012 Team: Washington Nationals

Last season, Mike Gonzalez didn’t find a team to play for until May. What a difference a year makes. After posting an ERA of 3.03 with 9.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 35 2/3 innings of work, Gonzalez has attracted quite a few potential suitors for 2013. As of this writing, 10 teams have expressed interest in Gonzalez including Milwaukee and his former team Washington.

It is believed that Gonzalez will be seeking a 2 year deal. Washington has made it clear that they would like to reacquire both Gonzalez and Burnett if possible.

4) J.P. Howell – Age 29 – 2012 Team: Tampa Bay Rays

The youngest of the five potential pitchers, Howell had a season similar to that of Gonzalez. Howell posted an ERA of 3.04 with a 7.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 50.1 innings of work. He has been a part of the Tampa Bay organization since 2006 and missed the entire 2010 season due to shoulder surgery.

It is believed that a handful of teams are currently interested in Howell including the Brewers and Angels.

5) Tom Gorzelanny – Age 30 – Team Washington Nationals

Our final candidate is also our third former National. Gorzelanny was non-tendered by Washington this week setting the stage for his free-agency. He posted a 2.88 ERA with a 1.319 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, and a 7.8 K/9 over 72 innings in 45 appearances.

While he was used as a long relief man in Washington, it is believed that he will be looking for a starting spot with whichever team happens to sign him. Based on this, it is unlikely that he would be the best fit for Milwaukee.

The Winter Meetings kick off tomorrow and creamcitycables.com will keep you in the loop with all of the latest Brewers news as we begin the march to 2013.

Restocking The Pen: Brewers Acquire Tamba Bay Reliever Badenhop

Badenhopby Kevin Kimmes

With the non-tender deadline now past and the Winter Meetings set to begin on Monday in Nashville, Milwaukee has wasted no time in beginning its quest to rebuild a bullpen that at times was more of a liability than an asset in 2012. Their first acquisition comes in the form of former Tampa Bay Rays’ and Florida Marlins’ reliever Burke Badenhop.

Badenhop, a righty, was acquired by The Brewers in exchange for minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi, Jr. Mondesi, who spent 2012 in the Helena Brewers organization, is probably best known for not touching home plate and costing his team an extra-innings comeback victory earlier this year.

Badenhop is coming off of a 2012 which saw him set new career marks in ERA (3.03), WHIP (1.203) and BB/9 (1.7). He holds a career stat line of  16-17 with a 4.08 ERA over 313 innings pitched over 5 major league seasons. Additionally, Badenhop is a ground ball pitcher, a skill which should come in extremely handy in the friendly confines of Miller Park.

Badenhop joins Brewers’ closer John Axford in a bullpen that Milwaukee seems determined to overhaul for the 2013 season. No surprise as the Brewers bullpen ranked last in the Majors last season with a 4.66 ERA and 29 blown saves.

Today’s news comes hot on the heels of the teams decision to non-tender lefty Manny Parra on Friday making him the fifth reliever to be cut loose by the organization this off-season. The team previously cut loose Kameron Loe, Livan Hernandez, Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras.

Stay tuned to Cream City Cables for all of the latest Milwaukee Brewers news as the “hot stove” heats up in anticipation of the 2013 campaign. And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @kevinkimmes, @NPetrashek, and @ryanhenrysmith2.