The Numbers Game: Lucky Number 7?

Don Moneyby Kevin Kimmes

Welcome back loyal readers to another volume of The Numbers Game, the series in which I look at past Pilots/Brewers players based on their jersey numbers and hopefully impart a little baseball knowledge or trivia in the process. Today, we look at one of the most transient numbers thus far, the number 7. With the exception of 3 players (Don Money, Dale Sveum and J.J. Hardy), no Brewer has worn the number for more than 2 seasons, and in the case of Danny Perez, he took his “cup of coffee” and promptly spilled it in his lap. So, let’s get started shall we?

Seattle Pilots:

No player was assigned the number 7 in the Pilots organization in 1969.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Russ Snyder – 1970: Snyder played the final year of his 12 year major league career with the fledgeling Brewers in 1970 as an outfielder. He batted .232/.270/.315 across 124 games with 64 hits and 16 walks.

Danny Walton – 1971: Walton, who had worn number 12 for the Pilots in 1969 and the Brewers in 1970, would change his number to 7 for the 1971 campaign. With his season just underway for Milwaukee, Walton would be traded to the Yankees on June 7th, 1971 for Bobby Mitchell and…

Frank Tepedino – 1971: Received in the trade for Walton from the Yankees, Tepedino would take Waltons former number for the 1971 season. He would play in 53 games for the Brewers recording a sub-Mendoza batting average of .198 with 21 hits and 4 walks in 106 at bats. On March 31, 1972 his services were purchased back from Milwaukee by the Yankees.

Ron Clark – 1972: Ron Clark is one of  the shorter tenured player to put on a Brewers uniform. Acquired on June 20th, 1972 from Oakland for Bill Voss, he would bat a paltry .185 across 22 appearances before being traded on July 28th, 1972 to the Angels for Joe Azcue and…

Syd O’Brien – 1972: O’Brien’s 4 year major league career made it’s final stop in Milwaukee where he would bat .207/.230/.293 recording 12 hits and 2 walks across 31 appearances.

Don Money – 1973-83: The transient nature of the number 7 would finally halt as it would stay on the back of Don Money for 11 seasons. A 4 time All-Star selection (1974, 1976-78), Money arrived in Milwaukee due to the Phillies needing to make room for future Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.

In his first All-Star campaign in 1974, Money would set career marks in hits (178), doubles (32), and at bats (629). His third All-Star campaign highlighted his ability to hit for power as he set career marks in homeruns (25), RBI (83), slugging (.470), and total bases (268). Finally, his fourth All-Star campaign was about consistency as he set career marks in batting average (.293), OBP (.361), and sacrifice hits (14).

After retiring from active play, Money went on to manage for the Brewers in the minor leagues, first for the Single-A Beloit Snappers from 1998-2004, then for Double-A Huntsville from 2005-08, and finally with Triple-A Nashville from 2009-11. After the 2011 season, Money became Milwaukee’s special instructor of player development.

No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization in 1984.

Paul Householder – 1985-86: In 2 seasons with Milwaukee, Householder batted .249/.313/.398 with 94 hits and 34 walks in 121 games.

Dale Sveum – 1987-91: Best known to younger Brewers fans as the current coach of the Cubs, and for being accidentally shot in the ear last year by Robin Yount, Sveum wore number 27 in 1986 before switching to number 7 for his five remaining seasons in Milwaukee. He would bat .243/.299/.382 with 413 hits and 137 walks for the Brewers in his 5 seasons on the team.

It should also be noted that he took over as interim skipper after Ned Yost was fired by the Brewers en-route to their 2008 NLDS appearance against the Phillies. As a manager he has a post season record of 1-3, a record which may not change anytime soon as the manager of the Cubs.

No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization from 1992 to 1995.

Danny Perez – 1996: Perez appeared in 4 games in 1996. In 4 plate appearances he did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a strikeout. Just a statline with a lot of zeroes. Moving on.

Brian Banks – 1996-97: The last player to wear number 7 in the AL for Milwaukee (he would wear 25 in 1998 and 23 in 1999), Banks played in 161 games for the Brewers over the course of his 4 seasons. He would bat .248 with 78 hits and 36 walks before being granted free agency on March 28th 2000.

Dave Nilsson – 1998: One of 4 different number that Nilsson would wear in his 8 years with Milwaukee (he would also wear 11, 13 and 14), Nilsson would don the number 7 en route to batting .269/.339/.437 with 83 hits and 33 walks in 1998.

Sean Berry – 1999-2000: Signed by Milwaukee prior to the 1999 season, Berry would play in 106 games and bat .228/.281/.301 with 59 hits and 17 walks. He would struggle mightily in 2000, batting only .152, leading to his release on June 21st, 2000.

Tony Fernandez – 2001: If Fernandez’s Brewers’ tenure was a headstone, it would read: “Signed 02-08-2001, Released 05-29-2001″. Tony, we hardly knew ya!

Alex Sanchez – 2001:  Claimed off of waivers by Milwaukee in 2001, Sanchez played in his first game on June 15th, 2001. Despite a disappointing year offensively in 2001 (he batted .206), Sanchez found himself in the role of starting center fielder, wearing number 22 for the Brewers, in 2002 and 2003.  His erratic defensive play and bad attitude would get him traded to Detroit during the 2003 season.

On April 3rd, 2005 Sanchez would acquire the dubious distinction of being the first person suspended under the MLB’s newly adopted drug policy.

Eric Young – 2002-03: In 247 games as a Brewer, Young batted .271/.340/.392 with 244 hits and 87 walks. His 15 homeruns in 2003 were a career best which nearly doubled his previous high of 8.

No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization in 2004.

J.J. Hardy – 2005-09: A 2007 National League All-Star, Hardy’s career with Milwaukee was marred by injury. In 2004, while still in the minors, Hardy suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum which cost him his season. Then on May 16th, 2006, Hardy would severely sprain his ankle sliding into Phillies’ catcher Sal Fasano at home, resulting in his placement on the 15 day DL. Upon returning to play, Hardy realized that the tendon kept popping in and out of place resulting in the team shutting him down for the season on July 18th, 2006.

In 2007, Hardy would begin to develop some power in his bat hitting 26 homers in 2007 and 24 in 2008. After signing a 1 year extension prior to the 2009 season, Hardy would suffer a power outage that would see him be sent down to the minors on August 12th, 2009. He would be recalled on September 1st and would finish his 2009 campaign batting .229 with 11 homers.

Chris Dickerson – 2010: Acquired on August 9th, 2010 in a trade with the Reds for Jim Edmonds, Dickerson would bat an unimpressive .208 with 5 RBIs in 25 games. To nobody’s surprise, Dickerson was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2011 season for pitcher Sergio Mitre.

Felipe Lopez – 2011: Lopez’s second stint with Milwaukee, he wore number 3 in 2009, was to be short lived. Acquired on July 28, 2011, for cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Rays, he would be designated for assignment on August 21st, 2011 after hitting .182 in 51 plate appearances for Milwaukee.

Jeremy Reed – 2011: Reed appeared in 7 games for Milwaukee in 2011 recording no hits in 7 at bats while striking out twice.

Norichika Aoki – 2012: In his first of hopefully many MLB seasons, Aoki proved why he was a batting champion in his native Japan. Being able to seemingly deliver clutch hits at will, Aoki batted .288/.355/.433 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, 81 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. Not too shabby for a 30 year old rookie!

So there you have it, all of the players who had the fortune (or misfortune) to wear the number 7 for Milwaukee. Come on back tomorrow for part 8.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

2012 NL Central Division Preview: Chicago Cubs

By: Ryan Smith

You can usually predict the type of season a team is going to have based on that team’s biggest offseason move. The Angels? They signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, so they’re going to push Texas to the brink for the AL West crown. The Tigers? Signing Prince Fielder pretty much puts them in the driver’s seat in the AL Central. The Marlins? Bringing in Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell indicates that they’re going to push for a playoff spot this season.

That brings us to the Cubs; a team whose biggest offseason move didn’t involve adding anyone to their 40-man roster. After years of bloated contracts to past-their-prime players, GM Jim Hendry was finally shown the door.

Epstein and Hoyer bring a feeling of hope to the Cubs and their fans.

The Cubs decided to follow the model laid out in 2002 by another thought-to-be-cursed franchise, hiring wunderkind Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and Jed Hoyer as new General Manager.

So what can we make of that type of offseason move?

Well, for the first time in a few years, Cubs fans have cause to be optimistic. Just not about this year.

Epstein and Hoyer have already started to work on some of the shortcomings of the previous regime, sending Carlos Zambrano to Miami and bringing in potential first basemen-of-the-future Anthony Rizzo from San Diego. They also snagged beloved Dale Sveum from the Crew to become their new manager.

With Epstein and Hoyer in place, you can expect the Cubs’ farm system to improve dramatically, as both men place a strong emphasis on building from within. The days of the drastically overpaid veteran might be over as well. Sorry, Alfonso Soriano.

But enough about the promising future of the Cubs. This article is about what to expect on the field in 2012. And 2012 could get ugly down in Wrigleyville.

(All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com)

2012 Projected Opening Day Lineup

Infield – 1B Bryan LaHair, 2B Darwin Barney, SS Starlin Castro, 3B Ian Stewart

Analysis – LaHair put up impressive numbers over the last two years in AAA. His 2011 line of .331/.405/.664, as well as his .443 wOBA, can give fans a reason for hope that the Cubs will finally have found their replacement for Derrek Lee. Still, Epstein and Hoyer trading for star prospect Anthony Rizzo should be proof enough that they don’t fully believe in the future potential LaHair. 2012 will be a season-long audition for LaHair, who might have to be looking over his shoulder the entire time…Barney seemed to win the favor of Cubs fans last season. His decent glove (5.8 UZR/150) and overall helpfulness to the club (2.2 WAR) surely led to that endearment with the fans. The problem is, while he doesn’t take much off the table, he doesn’t bring that much to it either. He’s really nothing more than pedestrian at second base…Castro is the unquestioned star of this team. While he has his struggles in the field (-8.8 UZR/150), he knows how to handle himself at the plate, as suggested by his .307 batting average. I’m sure the Cubs would like to see a little more power out of his bat, but he’s only had two full seasons with the big league club. He’s going to keep getting better in 2012…Stewart gets the unenviable task of replacing Aramis Ramirez, who now calls Miller Park home. Stewart never tore the cover off the ball during his tenure in Colorado, but last year was just abysmal. Between AAA and the big league club, Stewart played in less than 100 games. While with the Rockies, he posted a pathetic .156/.243/.221 line. He’s going to have to learn how to hit again, and soon, or Cubs fans will be calling for his replacement pretty quickly.

Outfield – LF Alfonso Soriano, CF Marlon Byrd, RF David DeJesus

Analysis – It seems like everyone knows about the issues with Soriano. He has three years remaining on his contract at $18 million annually. He doesn’t bring speed to the base paths like he used to (only 2 stolen bases last year). He strikes out too much (22.2% K Rate). He doesn’t get on base at a respectable clip anymore (.289 OBP). Problem is, the Cubs don’t have any better options in their system at this point…Byrd will start in center on opening day, but he most likely won’t be with the Cubs by the end of the year. Prospect Brett Jackson seems destined to finally get his shot with the Cubbies in 2012, which means Byrd may be spending the first few months of the season auditioning for his role as trade bait…DeJesus spent last season in Oakland, and if you are at all familiar with Oakland’s reputation on offense, you should know that he won’t be adding a lot of value at the plate (.240/.323/.376). However, he does seem to know his way around right field, as shown by his UZR/150 mark of 14.2.

Rotation – RHP Matt Garza, RHP Ryan Dempster, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Randy Wells, RHP Chris Volstad

Carlos Zambrano will take his particular brand of crazy to Miami, which should sound wonderful to the Cubs.

Analysis –
Garza has had an interesting offseason. His name has been dangled as a potential trade piece in more than a few rumors. For the moment, he’s still with the Cubs, which gives them a pretty good arm at the top of the rotation. Garza’s 10-10 record in 2011 is deceiving; he pitched much better than his record indicates. He posted a 3.19 xFIP, and his BABIP of .306 was slightly above league average, meaning that a poor supporting cast and some bad luck were more to blame for his win-loss record than Garza’s actual pitching…Dempster, much like Garza, was a victim of the lack of talent around him more than his own pitching, as his 10-14 record doesn’t seem justified with a 3.70 xFIP. His BB/9 did continue to rise in 2011 and he was also rather unlucky with a .324 BABIP. Still, as a Brewers fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing this Brewer-killer’s bad luck continue in 2012…Maholm stays within the division, coming over from Pittsburgh. He doesn’t blow hitters away (5.38 K/9) but doesn’t give up free passes too much either (2.77 BB/9). The drop-off after the top two in the rotation is noticeable…Wells posted a below average xFIP of 4.45 and gave up the long-ball too much (1.53 HR/9), yet he finished with a winning record in 2011 (7-6). Wells reminds me of Dave Bush during his last few seasons with the Brewers; you don’t hate having him on the mound but don’t expect him to carry the load too often…Volstad comes to the Windy City from the Marlins in the Zambrano trade. In 29 starts last season, Volstad only pitched 165.2 innings, while posting a 3.64 xFIP. He was a little unlucky (.310 BABIP) but he also was below average when he had runners on base, with a 68.9 LOB%. Even if he has some struggles at Wrigley, I think Volstad will be an example of addition-by-subtraction, because the circus known as Carlos Zambrano won’t be distracting the team on a seemingly daily basis.

Catcher – Geovany Soto

Analysis – Soto has been a picture of consistency for the Cubs over the last few years. And by saying that, I mean he’s been consistently inconsistent. In the last four years, his batting average has gone from .285 to .218 to .280 to .228. So, the good news for Cubs fans is that Soto is due for another good season at the plate. His .987 fielding percentage last season was well below his typically impressive average, so he’s going to have to figure out what went wrong in 2011. In the end, it really doesn’t matter which Soto the Cubs get in 2012; he’s one of the few players on this team who doesn’t have to worry about someone taking his spot in the lineup.

Epstein and Hoyer already succeeded in acquiring first baseman-of-the-future Anthony Rizzo.

Bench/Bullpen Analysis – Carlos Marmol had 35 Saves last season, but he’s also responsible for raising the collective blood pressure of Cubs fans every time he steps onto the mound…Kerry Wood isn’t who he used to be; he’s simply a decent arm that will have his good days and his bad days. Basically, he’s your typical over-30 bullpen arm…Jeff Samardzija is another arm that simply isn’t consistent enough to count on every day. You don’t typically want to bring a guy in to a high-pressure situation when he posts a 5.11 BB/9…I mentioned Brett Jackson before. The centerfielder is ranked #89 on Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects List, and he’ll soon be patrolling out by the ivy…Anthony Rizzo is back with the guy who initially drafted him (Epstein in Boston) and the guy who first traded for him (Hoyer in San Diego). Rizzo shows up on Law’s list at #36, and while he struggled while with the Padres last year (.141/.281/.242 in 49 games), he absolutely crushed the ball in AAA (.331/.404/.652, 26 homeruns in 93 games). Oh, he can also play some defense too (10.2 UZR/150). And it’s also important to remember that this guy is still only 22 years old, and he pretty much missed all of 2008 when he battled with Hodgkin lymphoma. Acquiring guys like this is one of the reasons that, as a Brewer fan, I’m not thrilled that Epstein and Hoyer now call Chicago home.

Overall Analysis – As I stated at the beginning of this article, the future looks bright for Chicago, if only because Epstein and Hoyer are going to bring in a much-need culture change. Epstein’s success in Boston is well-noted, but Hoyer also left San Diego with the top-ranked farm system, according to ESPN’s Keith Law. There is no quick fix for the Cubbies, but bringing in the guys who know how to turn an entire system around is a damn good first step.

2012 will be filled with more than a few headaches, and there will be times when Cubs fans will find themselves just hoping to stay ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings. The Cubs just simply won’t contend for anything worthwhile this year, but with Epstein and Hoyer calling the shots, things could get interesting when the trade deadline approaches. Byrd, Garza, and Dempster are just a few guys who could find themselves in new locations by August, if the right trade package is presented.

My advice for Cubs fans is this: be patient. 2013 and beyond look bright. For now, you’ll all have to adopt an all-too-familiar slogan for this season.

2012: Maybe Next Year.

Prediction: 75-87, 4th Place in the NL Central

Next Up: 2012 Cincinnati Reds Preview

Offseason 2012: Odds ‘n Ends

A few stories from Brewer nation worth highlighting to sum up a busy week and a half:

Braun wins NL MVP

The Baseball Writers Association yesterday announced that Ryan Braun was the winner of the 2011 National League MVP award.  Braun received 20 first place votes and 12 second place votes.  He finished with 388 points to Matt Kemp’s 332, despite Kemp’s stronger statistical showing during the season.  The award shows decisively that team context counts; the Brewers were a playoff team, while the Dodgers barely managed a .500 season.

A chasm separated Kemp and the third-place finisher, Prince Fielder, with 229 points.  John Axford garnered only 7 points and came in 18th in the voting, behind such head scratchers as Pablo Sandoval and Shane Victorino.  I know the award means different things to different people, but can you imagine the Brewers in the playoffs without Axford’s 43 consecutive saves and and 1.95 ERA?  I thought Axford deserved a far better showing.

Sveum lands with the Cubs

The Cubs tabbed Brewers hitting coach and former player Dale Sveum for their managerial opening last week.  The Cubs are in full-on rebuilding mode, so it might be a while before Sveum sees a winning season.  He has a three-year contract, with a fourth-year option.  Sveum was reportedly a top candidate in Boston as well, but took their time and the Cubs obviously wanted to avoid a competing offer.

The Cubs have also asked to interview AAA pitching coach (and also former Brewer) Chris Bosio, presumably for their pitching coach vacancy.

New CBA

The MLB this week announced a new collective bargaining agreement, which many predict will harm small-market teams like the Brewers.  Ryan Topp of Bernie’s Crew has an excellent summary here.

The most significant changes revolve around draft pick compensation.  There are no more Type A or B free agents; now, in order to receive draft pick compensation, teams must submit a qualifying offer to departing free agents.  That offer must be equal to the average salary of the highest 125 players in the game (something along the lines of $12-13MM right now, if I remember correctly).  But the draft pick compensation doesn’t even go the player’s former team; now, it dumps into a pool, and a lottery is held to determine precisely which small-market team is going to receive picks.  The new CBA also discourages draft spending by imposing a cap, with teams that go over budget heavily taxed.  The net effect is to make it extremely difficult for teams to build through the draft.

Baseball’s divisions finally become balanced in 2013 under the new CBA.  The imbalance has been something of a pet peeve of mine for a long time, and shifting the Astros to the AL’s West division makes perfect sense.  In the short term, the move hurts the Brewers because Houston is a terrible major league team.  In the long term, the Brewers will have one less team competing for the NL Central title.

The new CBA also adds a wildcard playoff, a single game in which the two wildcard teams face off “winner-take-all” style.  Implementation may occur as soon as this upcoming season.

Four added to 40-man roster

The Brewer protected four players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster: OF Caleb Gindl, IF Zelous Wheeler, P Santo Manzanillo, and OF Brock Kjeldgaard.  The team’s 40-man currently stands at 35, with several positions to fill prior to the start of the 2012 season.