Following Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers formally announced a trio of roster moves.
First, it was stated again that Francisco Rodriguez would have his contract selected before tomorrow’s game. This move required two additional moves to open a spot on both the 40-man and 25-man rosters.
Taylor Green, who will miss the entire season following hip surgery, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list from the 15-day DL. This opened a spot on the 40-man.
As for the 25-man spot, C/1B Blake Lalli was optioned down to the Nashville Sounds. He’ll have a chance to play regularly and hopefully heat his bat back up.
Rodriguez will join a well-used but mostly effective bullpen to provide another arm to hopefully collect outs.
During his 30-day evaluation window, Rodriguez pitched in four games – two each for High-A Brevard County and Triple-A Nashville – where he combined to post a line of:
4.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 BB, 7 K
The work against Triple-A hitters was against mostly guys with big league experience, for what it’s worth.
Regardless though, after a tumultuous exit from Milwaukee, K-Rod is back. How he’ll be welcomed depends in no small part on how he pitches.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Brewers have decided to call up Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to the 25-man roster in advance of tonight’s game.
It was being widely reported that the team had until Thursday to decide but Heyman said that deadline was today in fact.
After pitching in consecutive games for the Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, we shouldn’t expect Rodriguez to be available tonight necessarily but Ron Roenicke has stated in the past that Rodriguez can go even four days in a row if he has to. Even still, I have to believe a hitter heads down to begin with.
This move has not yet been announced by the team nor obviously would the corresponding roster move have been.
***UPDATE: Ron Roenicke told the media before pregame warm-up that Rodriguez is en route and if he makes it in time to be active, then they’ll announce the corresponding roster move.
Said Roenicke: “Frankie is on his way here, and we’ll wait to see if he can get here by game time. If he gets here, we’ll make a move. If not, we’ll do it tomorrow.”
As for his performance on the field since signing, Roenicke said, “I don’t know if he’s quite back to where he was last year, but he’s 90, 91 (on the fastball). Changeup’s been very good. We’ll see.”***
- Roenicke quotes courtesy Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.
The Milwaukee Brewers and their “natural” interleague rival Minnesota Twins are set to renew pleasantries at the end of May.
Different this year, however, is that the teams play each other just four times instead of six with all four games this year being mid-week affairs. That aspect has to be frustrating for the fans of both teams who enjoy traveling to their neighboring state for the annual series.
What won’t be frustrating at all, at least in my opinion, is that the final game of the set (game two in Minnesota on Thursday, May 30th) will feature these awesome jerseys as modeled in this image I pulled from the excellent Uniwatch blog.
These are jerseys from the American Association which operated until 1997. The Brewers of that era operated from 1902-1952 and won eight pennants in those 51 seasons, spent at old Borchert Field.
They had a number of major league affiliates over the years, coincidentally enough feeding the Boston Braves from ’47-’52.
When the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves in 1953, the minor league Brewers moved to Toledo, Ohio where they were re-labeled as the Sox or called the “T-Sox”.
The Twins will be honoring St. Paul’s old affiliated team, the St. Paul Saints.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Leinie’s Create a “New Brew” to be Served Exclusively at Miller Park This Year; Fans Invited to Vote to Name the Beer
The Milwaukee Brewers have partnered with Leinie’s to create a “New Brew,” a beer that will be served exclusively at Miller Park this year. And now it’s time for the fans to join in and name that Brew.
Beginning at 10 a.m. today, fans 21 years and older can visit Brewers.com/newbrew to vote for their favorite name for the beer, choosing from three options.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to create unique offerings at Miller Park to enhance the fan experience, and we’re excited to debut this exclusive beer during the next homestand,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger.
The newly-created beer is an ale, brewed with pale and roasted caramel malts along with cascade, fuggles and tettnang hops. It will be available exclusively at Miller Park beginning with the game on Monday, May 27.
The three names fans can choose from are “Brew Crew Brew,” “Bernie’s Barrel Man Ale” and “Brewers All-Star Ale.” Voting ends on Tuesday, May 21 at 10 a.m. and the winning name will be announced on Wednesday, May 22. The “New Brew” will be available at Miller Park beginning Monday, May 27.
Fans will be able to purchase the “New Brew” at locations on the Field Level behind sections 103, 118 and 125; on the Loge Level behind home plate and sections 206 and 213; and on the Terrace Level outside sections 413, 420 and 432.
For more information, please visit Brewers.com/newbrew.
Catching up on some items I haven’t blogged about but had more to say about them than just tweeting the blurbs, and then some thoughts about tonight’s lineup in Pittsburgh and what its impact could be.
Cue the puns. Puns for the win!
Stoking the Fiers -or- Tom’s Not Feeling So Terrific
Mike Fiers was recalled from the minor leagues — where he had been optioned on April 18th — to fill a spot in the bullpen vacated by LHP Tom Gorzelanny who succumbed to shoulder tendinitis in his pitching arm. Gorzelanny has been working a lot so far this year as he has been used in everything from LOOGy-friendly spots to straight set up duties. Gorzelanny had pitched 18 times in the first 31 team games, including back-to-back days on four occasions, but never three-in-a-row.
Fiers came back amid a sad familial situation which was documented in numerous places (including here by Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy) and needn’t be rehashed here, though you should read it if you haven’t already. Fiers returned to a bullpen in desperate need of some innings covereage after consecutive short starts by Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos in Cincinnati. He was stretched back out in the minors pitching for both Nashville and Brevard County and offers immediate relief in the long-man division.
Gorzelanny’s injury leaves Michael Gonzalez as the lone healthy left-handed pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen, after they began the year with three (also Chris Narveson).
Konclusion Soon for K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez was signed to a minor-league contract back on April 17th (read more on that here) and, as part of the agreement, began a 30-day evaluation period after which the Brewers would have to make a determination on whether they will add him to the 25-man roster.
Well, that deadline is rapidly approaching and to that end, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is in Nashville tonight and tomorrow to watch K-Rod pitch. He’ll be looking for a return to something more closely resembling Rodriguez’ 2011 form rather than what he brought to the mound far too often in 2012.
The question though is simple. Can Rodriguez help this team win?
If he can, he’ll be here soon and then the decision is who heads back down to the minors. Given the situation, it wouldn’t shock me if it was Fiers so long as Figaro is rested between now and then and there are no more critically short starts between now and then. But in order to maintain length in the ‘pen and utilize options available, it could be Kintzler down for a short stint if necessary.
Braun and Weeks Sit, Probably Discuss Love, Life, Longballs
Ryan Braun is apparently dealing with a bit of a stiff neck again, similar to the injury that kept him out of the entire Arizona Diamondbacks series the first week of April. Though while it’s a similar injury, it’s not nearly to the severity now as it was then. Braun has been playing with it for a few games and just needed a day off to help rest it.
I would have to certainly hope he didn’t tweak it while helping several others in lifting a wall during a Habitat For Humanity “Blitz Build” event last week. Manager Ron Roenicke stated that Braun didn’t injure himself on the field though, so the charitable activity remains a possible cause.
As for Weeks, fans and media alike have been clamoring for Weeks to get (at least) a day to clear his head and hopefully allow him to get back to doing what his talent says he should be able to do. Weeks though is the kind of guy who will never go the manager and ask for a day off or accept if Roenicke offers a day off. Weeks told the media today that Roenicke has to just sit him if Roenicke thinks Weeks needs a break. Roenicke wanted to get Weeks out yesterday against long-time nemesis Bronson Arroyo but couldn’t. Weeks isn’t significantly better against A.J. Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh tonight, so it was another opportunity which Roenicke utilized.
Hopefully Weeks can make the most of it and break back out at the dish. In a pinch-hitting appearance tonight, Weeks struck out swinging off of a left-handed reliever.
As for filling out the lineup without Weeks and Braun, as I stated on my Monday segment on The Mike Heller Show on The Big 920 & The Big 1070 AM radio stations in Milwaukee and Madison, I liked moving Gomez up to 3 as it kept him in an RBI role. Beyond that, the bottom half of the lineup was a crapshoot. Betancourt and Lucroy both finished without a hit so the order mattered even less tonight than it otherwise would.
Still, the Brewers look to continue their success against Pittsburgh regardless of where they play as they work to get back into the win column and make something out of this road trip.
Thursday morning on a radio show in the Milwaukee market, one of the show’s hosts posed a question:
“Should I start to worry about Carlos Gomez and the year he’s having?”
This was a question meant to spark conversation about whether Carlos Gomez is only performing as well as he is because he must be taking a performance-enhancer of some kind.
Let me be quite clear with my blunt response and then I’ll go into detail and explanations.
It’s unfair and, frankly, incredibly lazy to have come anywhere near that conclusion.
Now they went out of their way to say that they aren’t making accusations and they aren’t trying to say he’s guilty of anything, but if a question of whether you need to be worried about Gomez’s performance because he can’t be doing this naturally isn’t accusatory…
His co-host said “Can I just say this? I think you think that Go Go is juicing.” After a long pause, his reply was “…….I don’t think Go Go is juicing. But It’s 2013 and the guy’s batting average has jumped 130 points.”
“Is there perhaps something going on with (Gomez)?”
“I’m not accusing him of using but come on…it’s gotta raise an eyebrow.”
“I hope he’s not. I don’t think he is. But it’s 2013.”
“I think you have to be (suspicious of him)!”
He then tries to justify his doubt which lends itself more toward the accusatory tone of the entire thing. His batting average is really high and way higher than his career mark. His on-base percentage is really high and way higher than his career mark. His slugging percentage is really high and…
You get the point.
The one thing that he said that is smart is that it is, in fact, 2013. The problem is that he misapplied what that means. To me it doesn’t mean that every player who does well must be subjected to the cloud of doubt. To me, it means that there is plenty of available statistical analysis to couple with other evidence to actually understand some legitimate reasons behind what appears to be a significant breakout.
First of all, let’s tackle the OBP. Gomez’s on-base percentage entering play on May 10th is 45 points higher than his batting average (which is, of course, a part of OBP to begin with). This isn’t some outlandish event. Last season, Gomez finished with an on-base percentage which was, drum roll please, 45 points higher than his batting average. His career mark is 47 points north. Doesn’t seem that wildly out of line to me given his higher batting average.
As for the increase in slugging percentage. Reaching base safely via hit increases your slugging percentage, even for singles. With Gomez, he’s gotten more than a couple of additional fortuitous bases on some plays which increase the slugging that much more. Here are two examples from just-completed series against the Rangers. Gomez swung very hard at a pitch but made contact off the end of the bat, fooling the left-fielder David Murphy. Murphy couldn’t make the catch. That’s fortunate enough on its own as it increases all three parts of a slash line. But then, based on the angle the outfielders were taking, the ball somehow got by both Murphy and centerfielder Leonys Martin. Gomez got a double, which gets the extra boost to slugging percentage. The second example is the play where Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz seemed to be in position to make a catch, bailed at the last second, and when the ball (for whatever reason ruled a hit instead of an error) got to Cruz, the catch wasn’t made. Gomez was hustling the whole way, ended up at third base, and was credited with a triple. Average up. OBP up. Slugging up with a bump via extra-base hit. Speed guys occasionally take extra bases which also helps their slugging percentage normalize a touch to the powerful, slow gentlemen who must occasionally settle for a long single. More over, Gomez has always had power in his game but it’s the increase in fly ball and line drive rates to begin with that is boosting his home run numbers, the biggest booster of a high SLG.
And for the average itself, it’s an exercise in unsustainability. Carlos Gomez is currently sporting a .447 BAbip, which is batting average on balls in play. For the record and in case you didn’t know, home runs are not counted as “in play” for the purposes of this calculation. So what that means is that for every ball hit into the field of play that ends an at-bat for Carlos Gomez, damn near half of them are landing on the grass. Baseball players average right around a .300 BAbip which means that Gomez is having an abundance of good fortune on where he’s hitting the baseball right now. Some of that is luck, sure, but there’s more to it that I’ll get into momentarily. The point here though is that this number will come down and with it Gomez’s batting average will deflate a bit.
Now regarding that “more to it” from a moment ago, it’s been documented that Gomez changed a few things this off-season in both his preparation (including training) and his approach at the plate. Gomez has done new hitting drills to refine bat control. There is also talk of how he worked with pitchers during the off-season to get increased exposure to game-situation pitching by guys trying to “get him out”. The idea there is that if he sees more live pitching that’s trying to get him to fail and not just batting practice, he’d be more prepared.
Then there is his approach. Gomez has said that he decided to stop trying to be the hitter that people have told him to be throughout his career and to be more natural at the plate. He’s always been told to try to hit ground balls and do other things that “speed guys” do. Last season saw the first bit of that as Gomez’s ratio of home runs to fly balls increased. This season though he’s been putting it all together to another level though.
The combination of better preparation and improved approach has resulted in better contact and that has resulted in more consistently beneficial outcomes.
And here are a couple of general concepts that can’t be ignored when it comes to thinking about why Carlos Gomez is breaking out to the level that he has so far this season.
- He’s in his age 27 season which is widely regarded as the beginning of the peak for hitters, where the intersection of physical skills and mental acumen are crossing at their highest points.
- He’s always been considered to be a “toolsy” player in so much as it relates to the five tools of baseball but he just hadn’t yet put it all together and realized his potential but that potential was massive.
And finally, let’s not forget why many players traditionally have said that they’ve used performance-enhancers: To get paid. Carlos Gomez already got paid. He signed his lucrative contract extension over the off-season so why would he all of a sudden start something that would risk his legacy? To know Gomez is to know that while he’s having great fun playing a kid’s game, he considers himself to have elite talent. That’s conceptually just not the kind of guy who’d need to take something.
So, sorry for rambling, but thank you for reading. My ultimate point is that there is just so much to consider as possible and probable reasons for Gomez’s current level of play that it’s just lazy and ridiculous to throw out PEDs first or really at all with zero evidence to that end. I get that the media’s job is to question things and that perhaps if they’d done a better job of that back in the late 90s we maybe wouldn’t be subjected to this cloud of doubt. Then again, isn’t it inherent upon us as fans to simply enjoy success for what it is? Why jump out to conclusions that are damaging to a player’s reputation and introduce doubt into the minds of those who want to be happy that a guy like Gomez is finally realizing his potential?
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be questions when questions are warranted but other than a lack of understanding as to why a batting average can be so high on May 9th (not “getting to be Memorial Day” as was also mentioned on the radio, because two and a half weeks is still two and a half weeks) and an apparent lack of desire to analyze instead of rumormonger, what could possibly be there to have warranted this?
Cynicism be damned. How about a glass-half-full approach once in a while?
After all, that’s the side on which the evidence currently lies.
One Lucky Fan Will Join the Winning Player on the Field for the Award Presentation
The Milwaukee Brewers have again teamed up with We Energies to present the eighth annual “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” award. Fans and local media will have the opportunity to vote for the Brewers player who they believe best personifies the characteristics of hard work and an aggressive approach to playing the game.
From Friday, May 10, 2013 through Saturday, Sept. 8, 2013, fans will be able to vote for their selected player on brewers.com/WeEnergies, and local media will have the opportunity to participate via an emailed ballot. Votes will be gathered and inserted into a weighted formula, with fan votes counting for 50%, local media votes counting for 40% and We Energies vote counting for 10% towards final tallies. Fans will also be able to cast their vote via text at select Brewers home games.
Each fan voting online as a part of the “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” promotion will be entered to win the Grand Slam Prize Pack. One winner will be randomly selected and will join the “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” on the field for the award presentation in September. The winner will also receive six Field Diamond Box tickets for the night of the award presentation, a luxury suite for a game, VIP pre-game experience, and an authentic jersey signed by the High-Energy Player of the Year.
Fans will be able to check results regularly as voting totals will be announced on a monthly basis. Fifty-two lucky fans will also win four Loge Outfield tickets for a Brewers home game between June 3 and Sept. 22. The promotion ends on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2013. Fans are welcome to vote and enter the contest once per week.
Ryan Braun won the award in 2012 and 2008. Other winners include Nyjer Morgan (2011), Rickie Weeks (2010), Craig Counsell (2009), Prince Fielder (2007) and Bill Hall (2006). For more information, please visit brewers.com/WeEnergies.
Following the 2012 season, the Brewers cleaned a lot of house when it came to relief pitching. That’s been well-documented here at the blog in a number of posts.
Among the casualties was the affable Tim Dillard who gave us moments like this one when he imitated ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian:
Well, a great thing happened not too long ago. Tim Dillard joined Twitter (finally!) under the handle of @DimTillard. He changes his avatar daily during week what with the Movie Quote Mondays, Tim Kurkjian Tuesdays, the newly christened George W Wednesdays, and of course Harry Caray Fridays. Dillard is funny, and personable.
And now he’s back in the Brewers organization.
Earlier today, he retweeted a congratulatory tweet from his former roommate. No context was given but I wondered if maybe the not-currently-in-baseball Dillard had found a job somewhere.
Then later in the day, Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy let the cat out of the bag. He reported that when pitcher Chris Jakubauskas was injured at Triple-A Nashville, Dillard’s phone rang to see if he wanted back in. He accepted and will report to Nashville soon.
Welcome back to the side-arming specialist!
Now we just have to hope he stays active on Twitter.
Milwaukee – (That’s how I start these things, right?)
Tonight at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the NL Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a four-game set.
The third inning was particularly hospitable to the redbirds as they brought 11 men to the plate and scored six times. It was a rough and often unlucky inning for Wily Peralta who broke multiple bats, and was blooped, flared, and papercut to death by the Cards. There were a couple of hard hit balls as well but the majority of safe strokes would qualify for the “Punch & Judy” Hall of Fame. The six runs that the Cardinals scored in the inning would be all they got for the night, which added even more to the feelings of frustration.
After the game, Roenicke talked about the troublesome inning for Peralta.
“You see weird things and it’s not always fair,” said Roenicke. “(Peralta was) okay. It was definitely not as bad as what those numbers look like.”
As for Peralta’s repertoire, Roenicke admitted that, “his offspeed stuff wasn’t as sharp as I think he needs to get it to. He needs to be able to throw a slider for a strike when he needs to and he needs to be able to bounce it when he needs to. His change ups he’s got to mix in more. His sinker is still really good. I thought it was down most of the night.”
Peralta would eventually get out of the third and pitch into the fifth before putting two on in the fifth. Alfredo Figaro entered and only allowed one hit over the next 2.2 innings.
Peralta for his part understood that he made a bunch of good pitches in the third inning getting a couple of broken bats and suffering several weak hits but that it was obviously the difference in the game.
“This inning (was) the difference in the game”, said Peralta. He said it was particularly upsetting to give up so many consecutive hits with two outs.
He credited the bullpen for allowing the offense a chance to win. “The bullpen did a good job and (held) there.”
As for St. Louis, Jake Westbrook did what Jake Westbrook does on the mound and allowed some baserunners, but only three consecutive fourth inning singles from Weeks, Gomez, and Maldonado were able to scratch a run across off of the Cardinal veteran.
Luckily, “veteran” in this case also means “old” and Westbrook was lifted after 6.0 innings pitched for Joe Kelly. All Kelly did was get charged with two runs in 0.2 IP (raising the 8.31 ERA he entered the game with), and force Cardinal manager Mike Matheny to call on Mitchell Boggs. The new right-hander walked two — the first loaded the bases, the second scored the second run off Kelly — without recording an out. Matheny had to go get Trevor Rosenthal then who struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
Tom Gorzelanny continued the quality work out of the bullpen this evening with a quick and clean 8th inning.
Rosenthal stayed in for the 8th inning. He got the scuffling Alex Gonzalez to pop out in foul territory to Yadier Molina, but then Blake Lalli scalded one what had to be a good 25 feet between a bewildered Molina and Rosenthal. Norichika Aoki reached on an error with one down, but resident hero Jean Segura could not come through on this night as he struck out swinging, chasing a high fastball.
That brought Ryan Braun to the plate as the new tying run, and he singled up the middle to plate Lalli and put Aoki on third. The legend of Yuni B 2013 took a hit though as he struck out swinging to end the inning. Still, that made the score 6-4 in favor of the Cardinals heading to the 9th.
The 9th saw Burke Badenhop get Carlos Beltran to bounce back to him, strike out Matt Holliday, and break the bat of Allen Craig on a soft liner to Segura.
The last of the ninth, and the game, belonged to Edward Mujica and the Cardinals though. Weeks attempted to cut the lead in half but his deep drive to RF was hit about 30 feet too far left. Gomez singled and eventually would steal second. After Maldonado struck out looking, Gonzalez came through with an RBI single to CF.
That allowed Ron Roenicke to send up Jonathan Lucroy to pinch-hit. Unfortunately, Lucroy would strike out to end the game with the Brewers falling a run short.
After the game, Josh Prince was optioned down to the Nashville Sounds where he will get a chance to play every day. He admitted that at least a part of him was excited to play regularly again.
“That’s what I love to do is play the game. But there’s no better place to play than (the big leagues).”
Prince will work defensively at multiple positions in preparation for his eventual return.
The move opens up a spot on the roster for the returning Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez will rejoin the team officially on Friday and be active for that evening’s game.
The Brewers announced this morning that utility infielder Jeff Bianchi was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list where he had been since before the season started. Bianchi originally had a groin strain in spring training which forced his withdrawal from participation in the World Baseball Classic. While that had healed, he then developed hip bursitis, forcing the DL stint.
The corresponding move to activate Bianchi was the optioning of Khris Davis to Nashville where he’ll be able to actually get some playing time and consistent at-bats. As I said last night at the time, Davis simply couldn’t adjust to the role of staying sharp with such irregular PT. He’s hardly alone in that struggle though. Countless players can’t adjust which is why those veterans who can flourish in a bench role, relatively speaking, continue to have such value in the game.
Bianchi’s return is the first in a list of several players expected to heal and contribute to the team’s successes this season. In other words, the Brewers are starting to get healthy.
The key to the timing of these additions is that the guys who have been there have kept the team within striking distance in the division. The Brewers enter play today 1.5 games behind the division-leading Cardinals, whom they face beginning tonight in a four-game series. Play well, and the Brewers will at worst remain where they’re at.
But the Brewers are getting a huge boost back in the lineup for Game 2 in this series as they expect to activate third baseman, cleanup hitter, and professional batsman Aramis Ramirez on Friday.
Ramirez was crucial to the Brewers success last season, especially once he overcame a slow start. He was off to a good start at the dish this year before re-injuring his knee on a slide into second base. Hopefully the games he missed will be the slow ones and he’ll hit the field running on all cylinders this weekend.
And the Brewers won’t stop there. They are still awaiting Corey Hart’s return at the end of the month following off-season knee surgery and Chris Narveson’s from an in-season finger injury.
Hart especially will be akin to trading for a quality player two months before the trading deadline. Hopefully he’ll shake the rust off in his rehab stint in the minors and reenter the lineup sharp.
Good things are coming, Brewer Nation. We’ve been biding our collective time and the team has been winning enough. When the bats are all back in, let’s look for another nice run.