2014 Position Preview: Jean Segura, Shortstop

by Kevin Kimmes

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in Cream City Cables’ 2014 position preview series. Other positions: catcher, center field, left field, and right field.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

If Jean Segura’s 2013 season can be summed up as a Charles Dickens’ novel, it would be “A Tale of Two Halves”. A quick glance at the numbers and you’ll see what I mean:

1st Half: .325/.363/.487, 121 H, 54 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 27 SB

2nd Half: .241/.268/.315, 52 H, 20 R, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 17 SB

Now before I get accused of trying to cook the books regarding Segura’s numbers, I fully realize that injuries in the 2nd half of the season limited the number of games that he appeared in (92 in the 1st half compared to 54 in the 2nd). That said, here are how some of the above stats adjust accordingly on a per game basis:

1st Half (per game): 1.315 H, 0.587 R, 0.120 HR, 0.391 RBI, 0.293 SB

2nd Half (per game): 0.963 H, 0.370 R, 0.018 HR, 0.241 RBI, 0.315 SB

Across the board, Segura’s production is markedly depleted in the 2nd half with the exception of a slight increase in stolen base numbers. Some of this can be attributed to a young player playing in his first 162 game season. As time goes on, the body becomes fatigued and production begins to slow. This seems to be the situation with Segura.

Heading into 2014, many have wondered if Segura would be healthy enough to go when the Brewers take on the Braves in the season opener at Miller Park tomorrow. Lingering pain in his throwing shoulder has limited his spring, however that pain seems to be subsiding in recent days. As of right now, expect Segura to appear as the Opening Day shortstop.

So, which version of Segura can we expect to see this season? I’m going to go with neither. I believe what we will see is a more balanced Segura and the experts seem to agree:

2013 Recap

623 PA, 74 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 44 SB, 4.0 BB%, 13.5 K%, .294/.329/.423, 107 wRC+

2014 Projections

Steamer: 611 PA, 71 R, 11 HR, 58 RBI, 33 SB, 5.1 BB%, 12.8 K%, .278/.320/.404, 98 wRC+

ZiPs: 580 PA, 70 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 35 SB, 4.7 BB%, 14.1 K%, .284/.322/.422, 103 wRC+

Contact Status

2014-15: Pre-arb. Eligible, 2016-18: Arb. Eligible, 2019: Free Agent

All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.

The Kids Are All Right: Finding The Positives In The Brewers’ Lost Season

20130817-193406.jpgby Kevin Kimmes

Every year spring blooms eternal and nowhere is this more apparent than in Major League Baseball. Opening Day means a clean slate on which everyone is equal and anything is possible. Just ask your average Brewers fan.

On April 1st, Milwaukee set the stage for their 2013 campaign with an extra innings victory over the Colorado Rockies in the friendly confines of Miller Park. While not the prettiest of wins (with Gallardo showing some signs of a post WBC hangover and incumbent closer John Axford unable to pick up the save), a win was a win was a win.

The lineup was one that Brewers fans had become accustomed to over the last several seasons:

1) RF Norichika Aoki
2) 2B Rickie Weeks
3) LF Ryan Braun
4) 3B Aramis Ramirez
5) C Jonathan Lucroy
6) 1B Alex Gonzalez
7) CF Carlos Gomez
8) SS Jean Segura
9) RHP Yovani Gallardo

The win however, came with a certain sense of discomfort. There was a palpable sense of unease in Milwaukee that afternoon, but no one could quite say why. The Brewers, now 1-0 on the young season had just sent the Opening Day crowd happy, or should have if not for the lingering sense of dread that many, myself included, left the park with that afternoon.

Was it the absence of Corey Hart, the right fielder turned 1st baseman, who had become a regular fixture in Brewers lineup over the years, who was recovering from knee surgery? Was it that Hart’s backup, Mat Gamel, had already fallen victim to the injury bug with a season ending injury to his ACL? Or what about the fact that Gamel’s backup Taylor Green, was also on the DL with hip issues? Maybe it was a lingering sense of doubt from the end of 2012, a season in which Milwaukee was in the hunt for the Wildcard until the final weekend of the season?

It wouldn’t take long for the sense of dread that we all felt to become something much more tangible, the kind of thing that stuck to your ribs and followed you around for months on end.

By April 5th, Ryan Braun was suffering from neck spasms. On April 6th, 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez sprained his knee. April 7th saw Jean Segura leave the game with a bruised left quad and pitcher Chris Narveson sprain his middle finger. By the time that Alex Gonzalez suffered a hand contusion on April 12th, Milwaukee found itself with a 2-7 record on the season and there was no doubt that the time to worry was now.

For the Brewers, the idea that the team had become “snake-bitten” (a sentiment expressed by skipper Ron Roenicke on August 3rd) was quickly becoming the teams reality. From March 20th to July 21st, the team would see 18 different players befall injury, some with just minor maladies, others with injuries that would require extended trips to the DL.

Then there was the afternoon of July 22nd. After sending Segura and Gomez to the All-Star Game, and finally receiving Braun back from an almost month-and-a-half long DL stint, the elephant in the room finally materialized as the team’s worst fears came to be. Ryan Braun, the team’s perennial All-Star and face of the franchise, was being suspended for the remainder of the season for violating the league’s drug policies.

Could things really get any worse? The answer was a resounding yes.

Soon, Opening Day starters Rickie Weeks and Yovanni Gallardo would find themselves added to the list of injuries. For Weeks, this would mean season ending surgery to fix his left hamstring. Gallardo, who also suffered an injury to his left hammy, escaped with a strain and a trip to the DL.

As of this morning (August 17th), the Brewers hold down last place in the NL Central with a record of 53-69. It’s enough that most fair-weather fans packed it in weeks ago letting their attention drift on to the newly dawning NFL season. Their loss. You see, for those of us that continue to stick it out until the bitter end, we are getting a glimpse into the teams potential future, and frankly, the future looks bright.

Since July 22nd, the Brewers have been playing .500 baseball (12-12) and they’ve been doing it with players that your casual fan probably had never heard of prior to this year. Names like Khris Davis, Scooter Gennet and Tyler Thornburg are showing the Milwaukee faithful inspired performances which fly in the face of those pundits who claim that the Brewers have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB. So who are these fresh faces?

Khris Davis – #18 LF

Called up to replace Braun on the active roster, the power hitting Davis wasted no time proving to fans and the front office that his slow start in 2013 (.188/.235/.313 in April) was an anomaly by turning on a pitch and crushing the first of five homers in his return to regular duty. Davis, who now sports a slash line of .278/.344/.630, is living up to the potential that he showed in Appleton in 2010 when he set the Timber Rattlers single season homerun record with 22 bombs.

Scooter Gennett – #2 2B

Originally brought up earlier in the season as part of a platoon with the struggling Rickie Weeks, Scooter found himself in the role of human yo-yo, being bounced back and forth between the majors and minors as needed. When Weeks’ season ended on August 8th, the role of everyday second baseman transferred to Gennett who has taken to the role admirably. In his 29 at bats in August, Scooter carries a slash line of .448/.484/.862 proving that he can hit for both power and average.

Tyler Thornburg – #63 P

Originally utilized this season as a member of Milwaukee’s renovated bullpen, Thornburg grabbed opportunity by the horns when he was given the chance to start in late July. Since July 30th, Tyler has only allowed 1 earned run in 19 innings pitched. He currently carries a 1-0 record with a 1.76 ERA on the season.

It’s also worth noting that so far in August, Milwaukee’s pitching staff carries a team ERA of 2.51, good for 3rd amongst all MLB teams.

So, despite all of the doom and gloom that has surrounded this season, it’s reassuring to see that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. A light being shone brightly by several talented young Brewers.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes and read about some his latest adventures in the pages of the September issues of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sportscard Monthly.

The Cards That Made Milwaukee Famous: 1909 T-206 Newt Randall

by Kevin Kimmes

Welcome to the 3rd installment of The Cards That Made Milwaukee Famous in which we try and shine the light of discovery on the players who were once household names in the Cream City. This series is dedicated to looking at Milwaukee’s baseball history through it’s cardboard representations: baseball cards.

Today we will continue on with the third of four players who played for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers in 1909 and appear in the T-206 card set. For more information on the American Association Brewers or the T-206 card set, click here.

T-206 RandallNewt Randall:

Newton John Randall (February 3, 1880 – May 3, 1955) played outfield for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers from 1908 through 1915. Prior to his tenure in Milwaukee, Randall had already spent six seasons playing professional ball:  five in the minors and one season (1907) in the majors, in which he batted just .211 and split time between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Doves. (1) (2)

In 1909, Randall would lead the team in hitting (.279 average), at bats (620), hits (173), total bases (216) and would come in 2nd in slugging (.348). (3) He would also lead all American Association hitters with 92 runs scored. (4)

Randall would continue to be a constant producer on offense leading the team in at bats (from 1910-12 and again in ’14), hits (in 1910, ’12 and ’14), doubles (from 1910-12),  total bases (from 1910-12) and tying for homers (in 1910 and ’11). He would again lead the team in hitting in 1914 with an average of .321 (a career high with Milwaukee).

Newt would make 2 more appearances in the minors before leaving the game behind. In 1916, he would appear in 5 games with the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks hitting a paltry .091 (a career worst). He stepped inside the box for the last time in 1923 as a member of the North Dakota League’s Bizmark Capitals where he recorded 43 hits in 171 at bats (.251 average).

Randall is the only Brewer to appear in the T-206 card set and play for any of Milwaukee’s early championship teams (playing on both the ’13 and ’14 squads).

Newt Randall passed away on May 3, 1955 in Duluth, MN at the age of 75.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

References:

(1) http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=randal001new

(2) http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/randane01.shtml

(3) http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?id=e8f8478c

(4) Hamann, Rex & Koehler, Bob (2004) The American Association Milwaukee BrewersCharleston SC, Chicago IL, Portsmouth NH, San Francisco CA: Arcadia Publishing

The Cards That Made Milwaukee Famous: 1909 T-206 Shad Barry

by Kevin Kimmes

Welcome to the 2nd installment of The Cards That Made Milwaukee Famous in which we try and shine the light of discovery on the players who were once household names in the Cream City. This series is dedicated to looking at Milwaukee’s baseball history through it’s cardboard representations: baseball cards.

Today we will continue on with the second of four players who played for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers in 1909 and appear in the T-206 card set. For more information on the American Association Brewers or the T-206 card set, click here.

From the author's personal collection.

From the author’s personal collection.

Shad Barry:

John C. “Shad” Barry (October 27, 1878 – November 27, 1936) was a regular in Milwaukee’s lineups from 1909 through 1910. Barry, who began his 10 year major league career at the age of 20 with the Washington Senators in 1899 would find himself playing at many different positions with many different teams during his major league tenure. Major league clubs that Barry played on include The Boston Beaneaters (1900-1901), The Philadelphia Phillies (1901-1904), The Chicago Cubs (1904-1905), The Cincinnati Reds (1905-1906), The St. Louis Cardinals (1906-1908) and the New York Giants (1908). (1)

In 1909, Barry would join the American Association Brewers for his first of two seasons in Milwaukee, hitting .235 as an outfielder. Barry would improve his hitting in his final year with the Brewers, recording a .252 average (3rd best on the team). (2)

Barry would leave the American Association for the Pacific Coast League in 1910, where he would see his batting average dive to a career low .193 with the Portland Beavers. He would remain in the minors for 2 more seasons, in 1912 as a player/coach for the Northwestern League’s Seattle Giants and in 1913 as a member of the New York State League’s Troy Trojans. (3)

Barry passed away at the age of 58 on November 27, 1936 in Los Angeles, CA.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

References:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shad_Barry

(2) Hamann, Rex & Koehler, Bob (2004) The American Association Milwaukee Brewers Charleston SC, Chicago IL, Portsmouth NH, San Francisco CA: Arcadia Publishing

(3) http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=barry-002joh

The Cards That Made Milwaukee Famous: 1909 T-206 Dan McGann

by Kevin Kimmes

Ask your average 20/30-something Brewers’ fan about the history of Milwaukee baseball and they will probably mention the 1982 AL Champion Brewers, maybe even telling you something about the Braves once residing in County Stadium. Probe any further and you will find that the overall history of Milwaukee baseball becomes sort of a hazy, ghostly thing. A phantom past that seems to be lost in the dust of years gone by.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you consider that Milwaukee has been supporting professional baseball for over 100 years. This series will focus on the cardboard history of Milwaukee baseball, with an emphasis on Topps in years where multiple producers were making sets. By doing this, it’s my hope that I can help shine the light of discovery on the players who were once household names in the Cream City.

So, let’s start with Milwaukee’s earliest appearance on cardboard.

T-206 McGann BackT-206 (1909-1911):

Most famously known for containing among it’s 523 total cards what is commonly known as the “holy grail” of baseball cards, the T-206 Honus Wagner, this set contains 4 American Association Milwaukee Brewers among it’s subjects. These cards were an insert in 16 different brands of cigarettes and loose tobacco between 1909 and 1911. Each company emblazoned the backs of their cards with their own branding, leading to variants in many of the subjects. (1)

The American Association Milwaukee Brewers:

Established in 1902, this incarnation of Milwaukee Brewers called Athletic Park on the city’s near north side home. Later renamed Borchert Field (after owner Otto Borchert who died unexpectedly in 1927), the Brewers would play 51 seasons in Milwaukee, collecting championships in ’13, ’14, ’36, ’44, ’51 and ’52. The team would serve as a farm team for MLB franchises beginning in 1932, eventually becoming a Boston Braves minor league club in 1947 and paving the way for the Braves arrival in 1953.

The team’s history even includes the names of several baseball/sporting notables including on the field contributions from world famous Native American athlete Jim Thorpe (who led the league in stolen bases in 1916) and future MLB Hall-of-Famers Rogers Hornsby and George Sisler in 1928, and off the field contributions from managers Charlie Grimm and Casey Stengel. Even “The P.T. Barnum of baseball”, Bill Veeck, would ply his trade in Milwaukee, purchasing the franchise in 1941 and bringing with him promotional tactics the likes of which the city had never before seen.

For those seeking further information on the American Association Brewers, I suggest reading Rex Hamann and Bob Koehler’s The American Association Milwaukee Brewers (ISBN 978-0-7385-3275-2) as well as Baseball in Beertown: America’s Pastime in Milwaukee by Todd Mishler (ISBN 1-879483-94-7).

From the author's personal collection.

From the author’s personal collection.

Dan McGann:

Dennis Lawrence “Cap” McGann (July 15, 1871 – December 13, 1910) covered 1st base for Milwaukee from 1909 to 1910, the final 2 years of his professional baseball career. A former major leaguer, McGann began his professional career in the minors in 1895, but quickly advanced to the MLB’s Boston Beaneaters in 1896. He would also record time in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles in 1898, the Brooklyn Superbas and Washington Senators in 1899, St. Louis Cardinals from 1900 to 1901 and Baltimore Orioles 1902. He would eventually settle in with the New York Giants where he would play from 1902 through 1907 and become a World Series champion in 1905. His final stop in the majors would be in 1908 as a Boston Dove. (2)

Dennis would use his brothers name, Dan, for his 2 years of service to Milwaukee. In 160 appearances for Milwaukee in 1909, McGann would record 137 hits in 559 at-bats (.245 average). (3) While not spectacular by today’s standards, it should be noted that this was during what is commonly known as the “deadball era” during which batting averages as a whole were lower across the board.

McGann’s production would dip in his final season, recording just 117 hits in 520 at-bats (.225 average) across 151 games. On Tuesday December 13th, 1910 McGann was found dead in a Louisville hotel room, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Sources:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T206

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_McGann

(3) http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=mcgann001den

Milwaukee, Moustaches…It Must Be Movember!

by Kevin Kimmes

Rollie Fingers, George “Boomer” Scott, Robin Yount, John Axford, the list goes on and on. Since it’s inception in the ’70’s, Milwaukee’s baseball culture has had an obsession with the “hippie lip”, the “nose neighbor”, the facial accessory best known as the moustache. From the players on the field, the fans in the stands, even to our beloved mascot Bernie Brewer, the moustache has been as common at Brewer’s games as tailgating, bratwurst, and ice cold beer.

So, it should come as no surprise that Milwaukee and Movember are a perfect fit. What is Movember you ask? Well, let me fill you in.

According to movember.com:

“During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of m0ustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.”

“…men start Movember 1st clean shaven. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.”

This year I have decided to become a Mo Bro by joining none other than Brewers reliever John Axford and his Movember team “John Axford & Axfacekillas” in support of this great cause. You can find a link to my official Movember page here.

Please feel free to donate to this great cause and help us raise awareness for men’s health around the world. Now to get back to plotting my course to MLB Fan Cave glory (more on this soon).

Immediate Analysis of the Zack Greinke Trade

By: Ryan Smith

It finally happened.

Farewell, Zack Greinke. We will certainly miss you.

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.

SS Jean Segura

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.

RHP John Hellweg

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.

RHP Ariel Pena

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?