Roster News Roundup

If you’re otherwise unable to keep up on news as it happens throughout the day (via social media, or however), allow me to catch you up on the all the roster news coming out of One Brewers Way over the past several days.

(I’ve tweeted all of this as it happened, but this is a quick summary so it’s all in one place.)

  • October 27th
    • 3B Luis Jiménez claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • October 30th
    • Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
      • Zach Duke
      • Tom Gorzelanny
      • Lyle Overbay
      • Mark Reynolds
      • Francisco Rodriguez
    • A report came out that the 2015 contract option on Yovani Gallardo had been exercised
  • October 31st
    • Brewers confirm picking up Gallardo’s option
    • Rickie Weeks officially became a free agent when the team declined the 2015 option on his contract
    • Brewers officially exercised their half of the mutual 2015 option on the contract of Aramis Ramirez
      • Ramirez officially has three (3) days — read Monday — to decide whether he will opt in as well or decline the option to become a free agent
    • C Juan Centeno claimed off waivers from the New York Mets

Quick thoughts (because you can get a list anywhere):

Jiménez sounds like a great glove with some power who carries a higher average than Reynolds. Truly feels like Doug Melvin found a player worth replacing the veteran with.

Speaking of the free agents, the Brewers could look to bring back either Duke or Gorzelanny (though likely not both) but there’s certainly a tenable position that with Duke’s performance and Gorzelanny’s recent health concerns that they choose to let both sign contracts elsewhere. I’d lean toward them re-signing Duke of the two, though Gorzelanny could be cheaper. Overbay has said publicly that he’s leaning toward retirement. As for Reynolds, when he was simply passed over down the stretch last season, it felt like he dropped out of favor. He was streakier at the plate than I think the Brewers anticipated.

Gallardo’s option getting picked up makes all the sense in the world. I covered that move specifically here before it was confirmed Friday morning.

Rickie Weeks leaving Milwaukee is truly a notable moment. He’s been in the franchise for a long time, and was really the first of the high draft picks which ultimately led to winning seasons and playoff runs. While he never did realize the level of a #2 overall draft pick due mainly to injuries, he was the consummate professional in his time in Milwaukee. I wish him consistent success wherever his career takes him next.

Wanting to bring Ramirez back makes sense to a degree as the Brewers haven’t yet developed an internal replacement at third base. Should he decline his option to seek a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Brewers could turn to Jiménez or another internal option like Jason Rogers who played there in 2014 for the first time since college, or even, assuming he stays as has been rumored, Taylor Green? (Yes, that’s how thin the hot corner has been for the Brewers.)

Finally, as for Centeno, I haven’t had much of a chance to read up on him but I did see that he was a tremendous defensive season in 2013 in the minors though he reportedly regressed this past season. He hit pretty well in the minors in 2014 though. Without another catcher on the 40-man roster outside of the MLB level duo of Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, it’s nice to have someone readily available who also has minor league options remaining.

Anyway, there’s your end of October round up of the Brewers roster moves over the past few days. Also noteworthy in roster news is that the Washington Nationals declined their option on 1B Adam LaRoche, making him a free agent. He could be a top target in free agency for Doug Melvin

Brewers Medical Staff Honored

The Milwaukee Brewers are the 2014 recipient of the Martin-Monaghan Award for Best Medical Staff, which is presented by Rotowire. The Brewers are the first organization to win the award twice (also 2005). The award was established in 2004.

“The Brewers are honored to receive this award,” said Director of Medical Operations Roger Caplinger. “Our entire medical staff, including athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and physicians, strives to provide our athletes with the most comprehensive medical care in baseball. We have a passion and focus to be forward-thinking, innovative and progressive in injury prevention. The support we receive from Brewers ownership and our baseball operations executive team is critical as they consistently commit the resources needed for us to be successful.”

The Martin-Monaghan Award winner is based on several criteria, including days and dollars lost to injury this year and over the past three years. The award is voted on by a panel of experts.

“This award illustrates a well-deserved recognition of the talents and dedication displayed by our entire medical staff to an extremely important facet of today’s game,” said President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. “Under the leadership of (Vice President and Assistant General Manager) Gord Ash and Roger Caplinger, they are the people who not only help a team keep its players on the field, but also contribute to the careers and success of numerous players.”

The 2014 Martin-Monaghan Award for Best Medical Staff will be presented to the Brewers at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego this December.

Brewers Reportedly Exercise Contract Option

Gallardo esta ganador!!! (Brewers 5, Giants 4)

According to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com, the Milwaukee Brewers exercised their 2015 contract option on starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

The option, worth $13 million, had a buyout of a mere $600 thousand, but it was universally agreed that the Brewers would not be able to find similar production on the free agent market for that kind of cost.

Gallardo’s strikeout numbers have dropped the last couple of years, but he’s remained a relatively consistent performer by many other metrics including FIP, WHIP, innings pitched, home run rate, and more. The senior member of Milwaukee’s rotation also posted the best full-season ERA of his career at 3.51, over half a run lower than 2013. Gallardo also posted his lowest BB/9 (2.5) at the MLB level.

The Brewers now appear to have four of their five rotation spots secured for 2015 in Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, and Wily Peralta. Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers would seem to be in line to compete for the fifth job and almost certainly other options will be considered come camp. But if everyone stays healthy, four jobs appear set.

There is also the matter of the holes on the team, most notably at first base where both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents. Overbay, who said on MLB Network radio that he’s leaning toward retirement, isn’t likely to return. Neither, it would seem, is Mark Reynolds who played quality defense but was either hitting home runs in bunches or hitting nothing at all. If the Brewers decided that there is value in moving an affordable asset to shore up a bigger hole, it’s conceivable that the Brewers could install Fiers and Nelson in their rotation or return to Marco Estrada who is arbitration eligible.

The point is that by picking up Gallardo’s contract option, the Brewers will be picking up other options as well, metaphorically speaking.

Brewers Announce “Timeless Ticket”

So this is pricey, but it’s also awesome. Any Brewers game at Miller Park. Guaranteed ticket.

And you can buy “companion” tickets at box office prices to be able to go with friends who don’t have a grand to drop on the timeless ticket alone?

Anybody want to chip in for a present for your favorite unpaid MLBlogs.com Brewers blogger?

What follows is the official press release along with some publicity photos so you know what you can expect.

 Limited Edition Brass Ticket can be Redeemed for one Future Brewers Home Game

image

For the Brewers fan who wants the ultimate gift, the Milwaukee Brewers today are offering a limited edition Timeless Ticket that guarantees a ticket to one future Brewers home game, including any Postseason game.

The Timeless Ticket will consist of a brass ticket personalized with an engraving of the owner’s name.
Only 1,000 of the items will be produced. Additional facts about the Timeless Ticket:

  • Each ticket is individually numbered, comes complete with a certificate of authenticity and is packaged in a specially-designed gift box.
  • Each ticket is authenticated by Major League Baseball and includes its own registered ID number under the MLB Authentication program.
  • The ticket weighs approximately one pound, is 6.25” by 3.5,” and sits in a wood display base.
  • The cost of the ticket (which includes the brass engraved ticket and the actual ticket to the game of the owner’s choosing) is $1,000.

This unique opportunity allows the owner to redeem their Timeless Ticket for an actual ticket to any single future Brewers game at Miller Park, whether it’s in 2015 or 2050 or whether it is Opening Day or the 7th game of the World Series.

To redeem the ticket, the owner just needs to contact the Brewers Box Office with their unique Timeless Ticket information as well as a photo ID and the date of the game he or she would like to attend. After redemption, the owner of the Timeless Ticket will keep the personalized brass statue to display. In addition, Timeless Ticket holders may purchase up to three additional companion tickets for the redeemed game at the single game box office price.

All ticket redemptions are subject to availability and owners of the Timeless Ticket are advised to contact the Brewers Box Office with their selected game as early as possible. Redemptions for the Timeless Ticket will be become available once dates for public ticket sales have been announced.

Fans may purchase the Timeless Ticket by calling 414-902-4609, or by sending an email to BrewersTeamStore@Brewers.com.

image

Official Release: Brewers Name New Hitting Coach

The Milwaukee Brewers today named Darnell Coles hitting coach. Coles, who was signed to a one-year contract, replaces former hitting coach Johnny Narron, who was relieved of his duties on October 10.  The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

“Darnell has an impressive Major League background as a player and coach,” said Melvin.  “With his knowledge of hitting and strength as an instructor, he has the ability to connect with our players, with whom he is quite familiar.”

Coles, 52, returns for his second stint in the Brewers organization, having served as minor league hitting coordinator from 2010-11 and as manager at Double-A Huntsville from 2012-13.  He spent the 2014 season as assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers, his first career coaching position at the Major League level.  The Tigers offense led the Major Leagues in batting average (.277), hits (1,557), RBI (731) and doubles (325) and ranked second (led the American League) in on-base percentage (.331), slugging percentage (.426) and OPS (.757).

Coles began his coaching career in 2000 as minor league hitting coordinator with the Seattle Mariners.  From 2001-06, he served as an analyst for ESPN.  His coaching career resumed in 2006 as minor league roving hitting instructor with the Washington Nationals and followed with roles in the organization as manager at Class-A Vermont (2007) and Class-A Hagerstown (2008) and as hitting coach at Triple-A Syracuse (2009).

Coles played 14 Major League seasons and batted .245 with 75 HR and 368 RBI in 957 games.  The former infielder/outfielder played for Seattle (1983-85, ‘88-90), Detroit (1986-87, ‘90), Pittsburgh (1987-88), San Francisco (1991), Cincinnati (1992), Toronto (1993-94), St. Louis (1995) and Colorado (1997).  He was a member of the 1993 World Series champion Blue Jays.

Coles and his wife, Shari, reside in Tampa, Florida.  They have three children, DeAnna, Darnell Jr. and Jared.

Kyle Heckathorn Is In The Future (And Willing To Share Sports Outcomes)

Heckathorn Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2010

Brewers pitching prospect Kyle Heckathorn is spending time in the Australian League this off-season. As such, when it’s early evening here in Wisconsin, it’s already the following morning down under.

As such, I asked Kyle about the outcome of Game 1 of the 2014 World Series. He responded with extreme accuracy.

He was then asked about, presumably, the “over/under” on the game of 6.5 runs scored. Again, Mr. Heckathorn was willing to help out.

My point here is that if you want to know who’s going to win tonight, you can just ask Kyle Heckathorn. But do it right and at least follow the guy on Twitter before asking.

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

Legends of the Field Off-Season Giveaway Number 1

LOTF

We may be in the throes of the 2014 Postseason with a decided lack of Brewers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still give away autographed Brewers memorabilia!

Check it out. Signed 11×14 photos of Jimmy Nelson & Wily Peralta (click to see them) are available for the winning in this, my current giveaway.

So how do you enter?

First, you must be either be following both me and Legends of the Field on Twitter. Just follow @BrewerNation & @lotfautographs and you’re halfway there. Likewise (see what I did there?), if you Like both my page and the Legends of the Field page on Facebook, you’re also halfway to qualifying for a chance to win.

And yes, if you follow/like all four profiles, you can be entered to win twice, but I’m not guaranteeing a winner from each forum. Instead, it’ll all be random so getting in on all four increases your odds of being selected.

For a third chance at winning, click on this link and send me a message (via Tweet, Facebook message, or comment here on the blog) with your thoughts about it because I’m honestly curious.

I’ll choose my winner(s) on the evening on October 16, 2014.

***UPDATE*** 9:04pm CT
FIRST WINNER CONFIRMED: Pamela Rucker (@PamelaRucker2) won thanks to her following the necessary accounts on Twitter.

BREAKING: Roenicke Decision Announced

Roenicke at the 2010 MLB Winter Meetings. (Photo by Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Roenicke at the 2010 MLB Winter Meetings. (Photo by Danny Wild/MLB.com)

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that Ron Roenicke will be the team’s manager for the 2015 season.

Roenicke, who has compiled a career 335-313 record as manager since taking over for Ken Macha following the 2010 season, was already under contract for the 2015 season but speculation was rampant over the final month of this past regular season and the days since that his position was in doubt. That was fueled by the Brewers historic collapse over the final six weeks of the season, one which saw Roenicke’s team topple from 16 games over .500 on August 20th to a mere two games north of even at the end.

From 71-55 to 82-80. That’s 11-25 during that stretch including a nine-game losing streak that kicked off a stretch of 13 losses in 14 games. After a small rebound at home in mid-September, one which left the team still capable of controlling whether they got into the playoffs, they slammed back down off their bounce with a thud during the season’s final road trip, a brutal three-city, nine-game NL Central tour.

Apparently the Brewers’ brass felt that enough of the blame did not lie with Roenicke. As the players would (and did after the final game) tell you, the fault lies in their own physical and mental failures. Those that spoke about the season’s shortcomings said that they needed to play better and more consistently. Only so much of that is on the manager in any case. They often get too much credit for success and too much blame for failure.

Despite Roenicke’s staying in town, hitting coach Johnny Narron’s contract will not be extended beyond it’s October 31, 2014 expiration date. Too many hitters performed too poorly for too long for a change there to be avoided. The rest of the dugout staff felt more secure (more on that in a different column as time allows), though it was also revealed that Garth Iorg will not be offered a new contract for 2015 with the organization. If you have a grievance with one of the coaches that you feel deserves having him replaced, please share your thoughts in the comments.

The bottom line on this one feels as though the Brewers value stability at their managerial position and likely believe that making a change in what could be the final year of the current window of contention would cause more tumult than it’s worth. The Brewers won the 2008 NL Wild Card, and were viewed as likely to contend in 2009 & 2010. However, after the Brewers fired Ned Yost at the end of 2008 and gave the reins to Macha for two seasons, they slogged through back-to-back losing campaigns. Roenicke took over in 2011 and won the division by winning 96 games. Much of that is the imported pitching talent that arrived over the preceding winter, but some of the credit does go to the different voice in the locker room. These players respect and like Ron Roenicke. Contrary to some opinions out there, Roenicke has not “lost the locker room” at all.

Sometimes you need to change the voice. That’s an adage probably as old as baseball itself. This isn’t that time for the Brewers in the case of Ron Roenicke.


UPDATE: Here is the Brewers press release on the topic.

The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that the team will not be offering 2015 contracts to hitting coach Johnny Narron and first base/infield coach Garth Iorg.

Manager Ron Roenicke, whose 2015 club option was exercised this past Spring Training, and the rest of the coaching staff will return next season.

The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. “Over the course of the last few weeks, we have evaluated the work of Ron and his coaches and believe that this is the best course of action to take,” said Melvin. “We appreciate the work that Johnny and Garth did for us through the years, and moves like these are never easy to make. We have already started reviewing our player personnel and will continue to address the factors that led to our disappointing finish to the season.”

Narron served three seasons as hitting coach. He was named to his position on November 28, 2011, replacing Dale Sveum, who was named manager of the Chicago Cubs. Iorg served four seasons as first base coach. He was named to his position on November 15, 2010.

Returning to the coaching staff for the 2015 season will be coach Mike Guerrero (2nd season), pitching coach Rick Kranitz (5th season), bench coach Jerry Narron (5th season), third base coach Ed Sedar (9th season, 5th as 3B coach), outfield coach John Shelby (5th season) and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell (4th season).

Ryan Braun Cleared to Swing

RyanBraunSwing

In a late Tuesday post, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel confirmed that Ryan Braun had a good follow-up visit with Dr. Vernon Williams on Monday, October 6.

Here is the link to Haudricourt’s original post: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/278468981.html

Here are the pertinent points:

  • Ryan Braun had his follow-up visit with Vernon Williams, the doctor who performed a cryotherapy procedure on Braun’s injured thumb.
  • “He was given the go-ahead to swing but I don’t think he is scheduled to hit until later in the week,” according to Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash.
  • When Braun does swing a bat again, he hopes the pain will have lessened a significant amount.

Haudricourt’s post goes on to provide additional detail about the procedure itself as well as the goal of what Braun and everyone involved are hoping will be the results.

This is a major step on the road to what Braun himself hoped to be at least an 80%-to-90% recovery. His activity will, of course, be closely monitored and detailed as he works to return to his pre-injury levels of production.

With all of the other storylines that will fire up in earnest following the completion of the World Series, not to mention the pending decision regarding the team’s field manager Ron Roenicke within the next few days, this procedure and resultant impact on Ryan Braun may carry with it the most weight of them all.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25,628 other followers