By Nathan Petrashek
John Axford is the only Brewers player I’ve booed. I don’t remember when exactly it was, but I suspect it was some time in June or July of 2012, when his every other outing seemed to end in a (BS). I’ve felt kind of guilty about that for a while now, because I’m usually a guy that likes to back up good players during their struggles. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
Axford was traded to the Cardinals today, so his time as a Brewer appears about over. The trade for a player to be named later was really more about finances than anything else. Axford was pretty good trending to okay, but he was making $5M this year and has three years of arbitration eligibility left.
The money would have been easy to swallow if Axford was still pitching like it was 2011. In the year that brought the Brewers to the brink of another World Series, Axford delivered a microscopic 1.95 ERA over 73 innings, all while striking out better than a batter per inning. He placed 17th in the MVP vote, a showing that I didn’t (and still don’t) think truly represented just how absolutely crucial he was to winning the division that year. It was one of the most memorable season-long pitching performances I’ve seen. To say Axford was a lockdown closer that year doesn’t give him half the credit he deserves.
But Axford has his share of fleas too, and that’s why I’m fully on board with jettisoning him. We kind of suspected it at the time, but 2011 looks increasingly like a well-timed aberration. Where Axford once had three brilliant pitches, only his slider ranks as above average this year (and just barely). And though he hasn’t really lost much velocity on his fastball, Axford’s biggest bugaboo is the same today as it was when he took over for Trevor Hoffman in 2010: command. 2011 aside, Axford has always allowed too many batters to reach via the walk, which is a real problem when you have a propensity for giving up the long ball.
And then there were the character issues. Much of the time, Axford was fun, easygoing, and entertaining, and he usually owned it after he blew a save. But man, when that guy took to Twitter, he could troll with the best of them, often responding in kind to neanderthal tweets. To his credit, he’s scaled back on that a lot this year.
For me, John Axford does not leave a complicated legacy. I’m going to carry those memories of 2011 fondly, one of the greatest relief seasons I’ve had the pleasure of watching in person. But today, Axford is just a guy who makes too much money. That (and the lack of a long-term contract) makes him expendable. Though I wish Axford well with the evil empire, the Brewers made the right move.
By Nathan Petrashek
Ryan Braun’s long awaited statement on his suspension has finally arrived, and it’s a doozy. Literally. The most remarkable thing about the statement is that it took him 943 words to say what could have been said in 17:
- He’s sorry.
- He’ll never do it again.
- He did it only that one time.
- He’s really sorry.
At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter what Braun had to say. He destroyed every shred of credibility he had with his victory speech, so I won’t hold it against anyone if they believe he started doping at the University of Miami, or whenever. His story has a lot of loose threads.
And what is Braun’s story, you ask? Hampered by a calf strain in the summer of 2011, Braun said simply that he used “a cream and a lozenge” to speed his recovery. Of course, he failed his test in October, so that must have been some strain. And we don’t know how Braun hooked up with Tony Bosch and Biogenesis in the first place, though that’s probably (hopefully?) of greater interest to MLB in its quest to rid the sport of PEDs than to Braun’s ever-dwindling fan base.
Braun explains his actions following his failed test as “self righteous” and stemming from his belief that he was “wronged and attacked.” This part of the statement I take at face value. I’m sure in the months following his positive test, he did convince himself that he was in the right. That even though he brazenly flouted the Joint Drug Agreement, Dino Laurenzi’s decision to store his sample in a plastic tub in his basement for days was somehow so much worse. I’m sure Braun rationalized, diminished, even denied his own drug use until, encouraged by the false confidence he had instilled in others, Braun somehow believed he stood on the moral high ground.
And so Braun’s most grievous sin is not his drug use, it’s his arrogance. He believed he could beat a system in which he had been caught red-handed. And he did, for a time, but not before smearing Laurenzi who, even if he didn’t exercise the best judgment in handling Braun’s sample, certainly didn’t deserve the inference of tampering Braun tried to create. Notably, Braun did not say he had “privately expressed” his apologies to Laurenzi, as he did to MLB and Players’ Association officials.
Braun’s ego was the problem, and it may still be. But he can’t dodge the cameras and questions forever. And when they finally catch up to him, he’s going to wish a calf strain was his biggest worry.
By Nathan Petrashek
With those words, the Ryan Braun PED saga finally reached its conclusion on Monday, as Braun accepted an unpaid 65-game suspension from MLB and will sit out the remainder of the season.
For more than a year, Braun has steadfastly maintained his absolute innocence, denying any connection to banned substances after a failed 2011 drug test. That test was thrown out in a 2012 appeal, and Braun went on to declare himself vindicated, claiming, ”If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.’” Many wanted to believe him. It was an unbelievable performance.
But as I’ve written previously, his spring training presser raised plenty of questions. Braun attacked the character of the sample collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr., saying, ”a lot of things we learned about the collector, the collection process … made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.” That Braun was attempting to create an inference of tampering was undeniable. But what motive could Laurenzi have possibly had? And what about MLB’s claim that the sample arrived at the testing agency sealed, intact, and undegraded? Braun only made matters worse when he declared there was a “real story” known only to his friends and family.
Braun, of course, did not offer any evidence to support those strong statements, and they so infuriated MLB that when Braun’s name was linked to an alleged doping clinic in Miami, it left no stone unturned in its subsequent investigation. It made a sweetheart deal with the clinic’s drug-peddling owner, Tony Bosch, and ponied up cash to get testimony and documents from employees with equally dubious backgrounds. And even though this mafia-style “investigation” looked like payback for Braun’s victory, there’s no doubting this: it was effective to the point that the union virtually conceded during the All-Star break that it would not put up much of a fight should MLB decide to issue suspensions.
That doesn’t make it right, though. For those of us who defended Braun’s procedural rights throughout his appeal and the Biogenesis saga, Braun’s admission is a bit of a slap in the face. Not because we thought he was innocent, but because he, and any other player, deserved the protections built into the Joint Drug Agreement. I recognize that many knowledgeable baseball minds will disagree, but I wholeheartedly endorse strong discipline, including the possibility of a lifetime ban, for PED use. But such strong punishment – depriving a player of his livelihood – deserves equally strong procedural safeguards. Unfortunately, “effective” is now all anyone will remember about the MLB investigation.
As for Braun, he deserves what he has coming to him. To anyone with a skeptical mind, it isn’t much of a surprise that he’s guilty; too many connected dots, and too many incomplete explanations. I hope his acts of contrition include apologies to the teammates and front office personnel he personally deceived, and Laurenzi, whose name he publicly dragged through the mud.
And hopefully that’s the way one of the longest, most-scrutinized off-field dramas in Milwaukee Brewers history will end.
By Nathan Petrashek
Bud Selig has been on a whirlwind public relations tour over the All-Star break, but he just can’t seem to keep focused on the All-Star game. Instead, everyone wants to know when the other shoe will drop in the Biogenesis investigation, a wide-ranging probe in the now-defunct anti-aging clinic that baseball believes supplied banned substances to some of the game’s brightest stars.
“This sport is cleaner than ever,” declared Selig at a POLITICO-sponsored breakfast interview. It’s common to hear Selig speak of baseball’s drug agreement as the “toughest drug-testing program in America,” with harsh penalties and strict enforcement.
You have to wonder: if that were true, why is Biogenesis even a thing?
Keep in mind what baseball is desperately trying to do here. They’ve doled out loads of money to consultants, private investigators, and drug peddlers in an effort to come up with something, anything, tying players to PEDs. And there are apparently a lot of players caught up in this fishing expedition; if you believe media reports, anywhere between 20 and 100. And though Selig has declined to say how many players might be suspended, he confirmed David Letterman’s hunch that a “day of reckoning” was on the horizon. Those aren’t exactly words you use if you’re talking about a couple of fringe players.
And yet, as far as we know, not one of the players whose head is on the chopping block has actually failed a drug test. Well, excluding Ryan Braun. But even that test was thrown out because it was handled improperly – which is, by the way, evidence that the “toughest drug-testing program in America” really isn’t.
Is it really a clean sport if you have a huge segment of your playing population implicated in a drug scandal and yet can’t produce one positive test to corroborate circumstantial evidence of use?
By Nathan Petrashek
The non-waiver trade deadline is less than a month away, and the Brewers are securely locked away deep down in the division’s dungeons. The end of July should raise their spirits a bit, with games against fellow inmates like the Cubs and Marlins, but first they’ll have to face the Reds and Diamondbacks. In short: hope for any type of sustained winning is dim. The Brewers remind me a bit of those pirates of Disneyworld, frantically trying to get the cell key from the guard’s dog. The desperation is palpable.
Soon the Brewers will begin trading off what they can. It’s fun to conjure up grand scenarios involving high-end prospects for players like Yovani Gallardo and Aramis Ramirez, but the reality is likely to be more mundane. It takes a prefect alignment of interests to make trades of that caliber work, and it seems the front office is still evaluating whether to take the full plunge on rebuilding.
So with preliminary matters out of the way, here are the three players the Brewers are most likely to trade before July 31. And they’re all relievers.
RHP Francisco Rodriguez
Rodriguez blew up a bit against the Pirates on Sunday, but that shouldn’t deter many suitors. After failing to secure a major-league deal to begin the season, K-Rod has shown he still has plenty left in the tank with a sparkling .96 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 18.2 innings. His 2.69 FIP suggests he has benefited from some excellent defense, but it shouldn’t hurt his stock much. Teams like Cleveland and Detroit should be looking for cheap relief help, and with with K-Rod due somewhere around $1MM for the rest of the season, he fits the bill.
LHP Tom Gorzelanny
Milwaukee took a stab at Gorzelanny hoping he could replicate his 2.88 ERA 2012 season with Washington, and he’s more than delivered. Gorzelanny has never been a hard thrower, but his velocity is up just a tick this year over past seasons, which is important given how frequently he uses his fastballs. All four of his pitches rank above average, and his 8.8 K/9, 2.31 ERA, and 1.07 WHIP could certainly play in long relief. Gorzelanny performs much better against righties than lefties, so its possible some teams could see him as a LOOGY. He’s slightly more than a rental, as he’s signed through 2014. He’s earning $2.6MM this year and will make $2.8MM in 2014.
LHP Michael Goznalez
Oh, Mike Gonzalez. As much as he’s frustrated Brewers fans, there’s actually a reasonable chance a contender will view him as useful, as the results don’t necessarily reflect what the eye sees. A 3.30 ERA isn’t terrible, nor is Gonzalez’s 12 K/9. He’s not the typical southpaw, though, as he’s struggled against lefties, but held right-handed batters to just a .228 average. That’s the exact opposite of last year, so it’s possible interested teams may not quite know what to make of him. Gonzalez is currently signed to a 1-year, $2.25MM contract.
That might not be the most exciting list, as the three relievers aren’t standout names and won’t draw a whole lot of intriguing prospects back. But those factors also make them the most likely to be moved at the deadline.
By Nathan Petrashek
It has been 24 days since the Great Grindy Scooter Experiment began under the premise that he was somehow a more reliable option than Rickie Weeks. What have we learned in 24 days?
Scooter is not even who we thought he was.
People who really liked batting average loved Scooter. ”He’s hitting .300 at Nashville! That’s like .150 points better than Rickie!” they said. And he struck out less than Rickie, so Scooter was anointed the Second Baseman of the Future by these folks.
People who liked power, plate discipline, on-base percentage, and basically everything that keeps a player in the major leagues for ten years (has it been that long? Oh, Rickie, how time flies!) did not love Scooter.
But Scooter arrived anyway, and formed the left-handed component of a loose platoon at second base. Here’s how Scooter and Rickie have fared in nearly equal playing time since June 3.
Scooter: 44 PA, .220/.256/.366, 3 XBH, 1 HR, 2 BB, 7 K
Rickie: 43 PA, .447/.512/.947, 8 XBH, 5 HR, 4 BB, 6 K
Scooter isn’t hitting anywhere near .300 in the bigs. In fact, his batting average is even worse than Weeks’s now is for the season. Gennett’s nearly 90% contact rate and .242 BABIP suggests that should rise, but the fact is he looks in over his head against major league pitching. So he’s pretty much been even worse than we thought.
Neither is a good bench bat.
Off the bench, both players have been pretty much useless. Shockingly, Weeks has only made seven appearances off the bench. It seems like a lot more, but I could be recalling times I’ve been throwing things and yelling, “Bring in Weeks!” And then imagining he hit a home run, like he has been for most of June. But I digress.
Weeks has made only seven appearances off the bench, and he has a hit and a walk. And he apparently needs to spend a lot of time in the cages to keep focused when he’s not starting. But hey, might as well burn all those swings on the bench, right? Fun fact, by the way: Weeks is seeing 4.09 pitches per plate attempt this year. Scooter? 3.43.
Actually, Scooter has been useless off the bench, too. He doesn’t have a hit or a walk in 5 opportunities.
Neither is a good fielder.
Finally, neither player is good on defense. Like I said, we’ve been watching Rickie for 10 years, so we know he comes with some pretty glaring defensive shortcomings. A few nice plays aside, Gennett has been every bit the butcher Weeks is at the position.
A player with all of Weeks’s flaws and none of his strengths has pretty much evenly split playing time with him over the last 24 days.
UPDATE: And after 24 days the Great Grindy Scooter Experiment ends. Scoots was optioned to Nashville. The second base gig is Rickie’s full time once again.
By Nathan Petrashek
I intended to sit down last night after the game and write about the controversy that divides Brewer nation: Rickie Weeks vs. Scooter Gennett. Instead, just before I arrived at the game, an even more controversial topic was revived by an ESPN report claiming that MLB “will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal,” including Ryan Braun.
As Kyle Lobner over at Brew Crew Ball observes, that isn’t really news. MLB has been “seeking to suspend” Braun for over 1 1/2 years. What is news is that the former head of the now-defunct clinic has reached an agreement with MLB and will cooperate with MLB’s investigation. Presumably, this includes providing information and documents about his clinic’s activities; according to ESPN, Bosch will provide “anything in his possession that could help MLB build cases against” players. In exchange, MLB will drop a lawsuit it filed against Bosch, a suit that could have had legs but was pretty clearly intended to use the judicial process to obtain the documents Bosch has now agreed to provide. Bosch also gets indemnification for his clinic’s potential liability and personal security. But it seems the thing Bosch fears most is federal prosecution; his attorneys, who checked in with the Department of Justice during negotiations, also bargained for MLB’s promise to help with any future criminal charges. Which isn’t a small benefit, because MLB was the one attempting to bring federal authorities into this mess in the first place.
Bosch hasn’t yet sung; word is he’ll meet with attorneys and officials on Friday, and it’s not clear when any document disclosures will take place. The ESPN report seems to project a pretty ambitious timeline, then, in anticipating that suspensions will be levied in just two weeks. Probably not going to happen. And since we have virtually no facts about the clinic, Bosch, MLB’s investigation, or what might be revealed about individual players, including Ryan Braun, it makes little sense to speculate whether a suspension is justified at this stage. What I want to do here is outline the process of Braun’s inevitable appeal should he be suspended.
Section 2 of the Joint Drug Agreement prohibits players from “using, possessing, selling, facilitating the sale of, distributing, or facilitating the distribution of” any prohibited substance. This means that the complicated testing process we’ve all come to know is just one aspect of enforcing the JDA; a positive test will indicate the presence of a banned substance in a player’s body, but MLB can’t prove commission of any of the other offenses by virtue of a chemical test.
So how much evidence does MLB need to punish a player for possession, sale, or distribution of a banned substance in the absence of a positive test? We have no idea. The JDA doesn’t specifically say. The “Discipline” section appears to gives the Commissioner pretty much unfettered discretion to prosecute players for these acts. With respect to sale or distribution, the Commissioner only needs evidence of participation. Absent a criminal conviction or positive test, the Commissioner only needs “just cause” to suspend for use or possession. We have no idea what “just cause” is because the JDA doesn’t say.
This obviously leaves substantial room for Braun and the union to argue against any non-analytical suspension. The process for challenging a suspension will look familiar to those who followed Braun’s earlier appeal. An arbitration panel consisting of an impartial arbitrator (and perhaps two party arbitrators) will be appointed. The panel will decide independently (i.e. without deference to the Commissioner) the appropriate level of discipline and whether that discipline was supported by “just cause” – again, whatever that means. There are special rules governing the timing of these “just cause” appeals. The panel has to convene a hearing as soon as practicable but no later than 20 days after the appeal. The panel then must make “all reasonable efforts” to finish taking evidence, close the hearing, and reach a decision within 25 days. It then has 30 days to reduce that decision to writing.
What this should tell you is that, even if MLB levies a suspension against Braun within the next two weeks, it will be months before there is any definitive resolution of the matter. The legal issues-like the meaning of “just cause”-arising from the JDA’s poor drafting could elongate that timeline even further. In short: there isn’t going to be a quick resolution, and Braun could well have another lengthy fight on his hands.
By Nathan Petrashek
We’re tardy by a couple weeks on this, but earlier this month, @akschaaf from Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball got busy handicapping a JSOnline chat with Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt. It’s always fun to watch a trainwreck, and especially fun to watch it with the RRSMB guys, so make sure you check out their continuing series of posts. But one question in particular caught my eye. Steve in Cedarburg wanted to know who’s in charge of replay at Miller Park, and complains that there’s “never a replay of a close play-ever!” And he wants to know if this is because the Brewers are just stingy, or part of some MLB-imposed mandate to obscure the truth.
A few years ago, Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger (then Executive Vice President of Business Operations) addressed this topic at a Marquette University Law School forum (video here). It’s a long interview, but there’s some fantastic inside baseball stuff there. Anyway, at the time, the Brewers were getting ready to debut their shiny new 5,940 square-foot marvel of a scoreboard, and Schlesinger was asked about replay:
Q: When you’re talking about the scoreboard and instant replay, having gone to Bucks and Packers games, you can always see controversial plays on their scoreboard, but you can’t for the Brewers. I’m guessing that’s the umpire’s union?
A: That’s one of the areas where I think Major League Baseball rules are antiquated, and behind the times, and need drastic reform. Think about it, you go to another sporting event and you can see replays of controversial plays. You go to a baseball game, and because of MLB regulations, very restrictive guidelines about what we can show, we’re not allowed to show controversial plays where the umpires made the wrong call. It’s really a vestige of the old “Kill the Ump!” mentality, which I think expired in 1947 or 1948 but still exists in the minds of some of those in baseball.
The other thing I find somewhat funny is that you have people at the game watching our game feed; if there’s a bad call by the umpires, you’re seeing it 7 or 8 times on replay on Fox Sports Wisconsin, whether you’re in your seat on a handheld device,* or in a suite, or in the concourses. So you already have a segment of our market in the ballpark, seeing what other people can’t see, and now I have this 5,940 square feet of high definition scoreboard, and we’re restricted with what we can show. I have talked to the Commissioner, and I know other teams have as well. There’s sensitivity because of the umpires, but I think technology doesn’t really care about sensitivities, and I expect those rules to be reformed. I’ve also told our people candidly that we can push the envelope. I mean, we want to play by the rules, we’re in Milwaukee two miles from the Commissioner’s office, and I don’t want to get fined, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sort of go right up to the edge of what’s allowed. And if we get a warning letter from MLB that we’re being a little too aggressive with replay, well … okay. So I totally agree with you, I would love to change the rules. It will happen, it’s just not happening as fast as I would like.
Naturally, you might be asking, “What are those rules?” Truth be told, we don’t know. According to Schlesinger, they’re not for public consumption, but he told me they try to balance the “fans’ interest in seeing replays of close plays while protecting the safety of the umpires and avoiding inciting arguments on the field.” Don Walker from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel appears to have gotten his hands on the MLB rules in 2010, but it’s not clear if this is the official guidance given to clubs or if these rules are still current. In any case, he wrote:
The Brewers rely on MLB policy, which states, “Clubs must continue to use good judgment not to ‘show up’ the umpires, incite the crowd or distract players, but this admonition does not preclude showing close plays. Close plays may be shown, using good judgment and all plays must be reviewed by the scoreboard operator prior to being replayed on the scoreboard (and video monitors).”
Additionally, MLB won’t allow certain plays. They are: replays showing called balls or strikes from the current game or series; brushback pitches; or any instance where an umpire has clearly made an incorrect call.
Close plays can only be shown once and no close plays may be shown in slow motion or freeze frame.
If that is official MLB policy, it seems to leave plenty of wiggle room to show controversial plays at Miller Park. The universe of absolutely prohibited replays is pretty small. No balls and strikes, no pitches designed to move the batter off the plate, and no replays where the umpire has “clearly” made an incorrect call. But “clearly” implies discretion and should be read hand-in-hand with the directive that a replay only be shown once and at game speed. Say, for example, the runner is called out on a close play at first. The scoreboard operator could replay if, at game speed, it appears the catch arrived simultaneously with the runner – even if super slow motion would show the runner beating the catch by a hair.
So, are the Brewers just stingy, or is it a massive MLB cover-up? The answer seems to be “both.” MLB doesn’t want fans at the game to see what *really* happened because they’re afraid of fan (or perhaps even player or manager) retaliation. But despite Schlesinger’s calls for increased latitude, the team just doesn’t seem interested in pushing the envelope as far as they could. Based on my own personal experience, as an attendee of a good 30+ games every year, any play that could reasonably be called controversial seems to be off-limits at Miller Park. Of course, without some system to compare the use of in-stadium replay to the television feed, it’s impossible to evaluate whether the team is appropriately blocking bad calls or taking a more expensive view of the rule. Then again, if the team only refused to replay clearly incorrect calls, it’d be pretty obvious when there was an umpshow.
Even if the Brewers could do more within current policy, though, the underlying justification for the policy in the first place seems to have eroded. Perhaps the rule made sense when there was a real fear of fan retaliation. But as anyone who checks John Axford’s Twitter timeline can tell you, today’s fan is just as likely to be incited by a blown save as a blown call. Yet I don’t see anyone lining up to prohibit road teams from hitting walk-off home runs. Hell, I barely see anyone brave security to have their 30-second run on the field anymore. Games are a very tightly controlled environment and fans just aren’t likely to risk their own well-being to physically engage an umpire or player.
But more than that, today’s high definition world values more information. What fans won’t get at the game, they can get on TV or online instantly – and why would any team want to make attending a game less attractive? Everyone knows umpires are not infallible, and most fans will understand (if not forgive) an occasional lapse in judgment as long as the umpire shows some sign of humility. That’s exactly the trait Jim Joyce demonstrated when he apologized for blowing one of the biggest calls in history a few years ago, depriving Armando Galarraga of a perfect game with one out remaining.
So what is MLB really protecting with its restrictive replay policy? Nothing more than the right of the umpire to be wrong and arrogant. Unfortunately, there are plenty of those types already in baseball. Let’s not encourage them to remain that way.
*Mr. Schlesinger was perhaps unaware of MLB.tv’s draconian blackout policy.
By Nathan Petrashek
That’s not unwarranted. Weeks is batting .189/.302/.297 on the young season, and his defensive lapses are well documented. So what gives? Why are the Brewers still starting this guy?
To help answer that, let’s take a look at a couple other guys struggling through May 7.
Player A: .208/.255/.296
Player B: .242/.293/.435
Player A is Josh Hamilton, a career .300/.359/.539 hitter. Guess what? Hamilton’s still starting. Player B is Adrian Beltre, who you probably saw tonight. For his career, he’s at .279/.330/.475. But they’re bums, right? Bench them all!
Historical performance plays a big role in determining how long a leash a struggling player gets. Weeks isn’t Hamilton or Beltre, but he’s been a very solid offensive player during his career, slashing .249/.348/.425. Fangraphs says he’s been worth 17.3 wins above replacement (Hamilton is at 23.5 over a slightly shorter period). Point being: we know Weeks’ ceiling, and it’s pretty damn good, particularly at a position not ordinarily known for offensive prowess.
Of course, I doubt anyone would be complaining too forcibly if Weeks hadn’t had the worst year of his career last year. And it got bad last year; really bad. On May 31, 2012, Weeks was batting just .158/.292/.294. And you know what? After that, he looked a lot like the familiar Rickie Weeks, slashing .260/.344/.445.
But even more compelling is the absence of an heir apparent at second base. Scooter Gennett is doing just fine at AAA Nashville, but he’s a hit-first kid who doesn’t really play second well, doesn’t display much power, and doesn’t walk. He’s also played just 24 games at AAA, and is a complete unknown at the major-league level. Yuniesky Betancourt has done fine as an emergency fill-in at first and third bases, but he’s barely played any second base and his .306 OBP just barely tops Weeks’ .302. Betancourt is also a career .260/.290/.395 hitter. It’s all fun and games while he’s whacking home runs, but you’re nuts if you think he’s going to continue that kind of pace all year.
You can argue about where Weeks should be in the lineup right now, but there’s no question he should be in it for the time being. Let’s have this conversation in June.
By Nathan Petrashek
There are about to be a whole lot of roster moves, a reflection of just how crippled the Brewers have been for the first month of the season. Some of them have happened already, some of them will happen tomorrow, some of them will happen during the month of May. Here’s the latest on the Brewers fallen:
Jeff Bianchi activated; Khris Davis optioned: IF Jeff Bianchi was placed on the DL this spring with left hip bursitis, which sounds pretty epic but is really just inflammation that can cause joint stiffness. His unavailability led in part to the Brewers to pick up Yuniesky Betancourt, who’s knocking the stuffing out of the ball, so I guess we should all be thankful for that. In any case, Bianchi is back now, which means the Brewers currently have four – count ‘em, four! – shortstop types on the active roster. OF Khris Davis, who has received just a handful of plate attempts, was sent down to AAA Nashville. Bianchi hit .188/.230/.348 with the Brewers last season, although he sports a minor league career triple slash of .286/.340/.411.
Aramis Ramirez activated; Josh Prince optioned: Ramirez was down for a month after sliding awkwardly into second base. Despite missing nearly all of April, the team will bring him right back into the fold, though he will probably see plenty of time off early on. Josh Prince is being sent down to Nashville in a corresponding move.
Chris Narveson: Narveson has been playing catch as he rehabs a sprained finger on his pitching hand. He’s slated to return in Mid-May.
Mark Rogers: Rogers, officially placed on the DL with “right shoulder instability,” but unofficially with loss of velocity, command, and everything else that makes a pitcher go, started a rehab assignment on April 23. The Brewers will need to decide whether to activate him to the major league club or cut ties with him by May 23; he’s not likely to clear waivers. For what it’s worth, Rogers has not pitched well since beginning his rehab stint; he’s walked 6 over 3.2 innings against just 1 strikeout, and has allowed at least 1 run in 2 of his 3 appearances.
Corey Hart: Hart had right knee surgery in January. He just rejoined the team and is currently throwing, doing water aerobics, and exercising to strengthen his quads. Hart, on the 60-day DL, is eligible for reinstatement on May 30, but it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll make that goal.
Taylor Green: Green started the season on the DL with a hip injury. He elected to have season-ending surgery in late April.
Mat Gamel: Gamel had season-ending knee surgery on March 8.