October 2012

Doug Melvin Interview Transcript – Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doug Melvin, General Manager of our beloved Milwaukee Brewers, was on the radio this afternoon on AM 1250 WSSP in SE Wisconsin for a few minutes talking about his off-season plans.

Here is a transcript of the interview (which you can listen to by clicking here):

On speculation connecting the Brewers to certain players (i.e. Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke):

“Well, I don’t think those are the names that were gonna be involved with. I think this is gonna be a year we’ll take a look at the free agent market, but more than likely I don’t anticipate us being actively involved in free agency. We may try to find different ways to improve our ball club. We do like the current club we have. We were 36-23 with the third best record in the National League after August 1st with some of the young pitchers we brought up. We do have most positional guys back so I wouldn’t get too excited about those kinds of names. I think a lot of it is speculation. It often makes sense. This is the time of year when those kind of things happen.”

On having young pitching after years of waiting for some and if he may have to trade some of it away to acquire a proven starter:

“We feel right now there’s probably a better chance we’re going to hold onto our young pitching. We saw Mike Fiers come up last year. He struggled a little bit later (in the year). We saw Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta both come up with the power arms they showed us in the past. We had Tyler Thornburg. We’ve got Hiram Burgos who’s going to be added to the roster, had a very good year. We’ve had Taylor Jungmann who’s probably going to be at Double-A. We’ve got John Hellweg who’s pitched very well in the Fall League and was just picked by the scouting bureau as the best player on that Phoenix ball club. So, we do have some depth with our pitching. Jimmy Nelson we like; we’re very high on him. Nick Bucci (too) so. We’ve got a chance to have, out of 10 starters in Double-A and Triple-A, we have a chance to have 8 to 9 of them they’re gonna be legitimate prospects we think will pitch in the big leagues. The big league pitchers? It’s time to give Wily Peralta, time to give Mark Rogers that opportunity.”

In discussing fan support following a rough first half and the resultant decisions surrounding trading away Zack Greinke:

“Who’s not to say that if we kept Zack Greinke that we might’ve got back in this thing. You have to make some tough decisions sometimes. When a shortstop was included in a deal for Zack, we just had to make the decision at that particular time. … It’s a credit to Ron, the coaches, the players that they didn’t give up and it’s something that we can learn that in baseball you can be six, seven, eight games out and that can be made up in two weeks time. So, it’s a lesson we all can learn that sometimes you gotta be a little bit patient. It is a long season.”

Asked if there is any way Zack Greinke can be back in a Brewers uniform:

“I don’t know. I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. As much as Zack liked it here and enjoyed it here, there’s a couple clubs that are gonna get heavily involved with him. He is no doubt the number one pitcher out there…from the starting pitching standpoint. I think he’s gonna do very well but I would expect that we may get a phone call from his agent but I think in the end it’s going to be difficult for Zack to come back here to Milwaukee under the amount of money he’s probably gonna be offered.”

Asked if he would like to add a veteran starting pitcher and if any free agents intrigue him:

“Yeah, there’s a few names out there. Obviously we’re gonna lose Marcum and we’re gonna lose Greinke so we’ve talked about adding a starting pitcher. We do have to add to our bullpen too. Edwin Jackson’s another name that’s been out there.  I don’t know where he’s headed or what his thought process is. We do have an opportunity; we can go with the current guys we have. The tough part with that is that any kind of injury, then you really tap into not having the depth that’s needed over the course of 162 games. Going with the younger guys and Yovani, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Rogers, Wily Peralta, Chris Narveson will be back and be healthy. The part of that is you really cross your fingers that everybody’s going to stay healthy and everybody’s gonna produce. So you would like to have a veteran that you could put out there in the rotation that could eat up a couple hundred innings, but you also want quality innings. In the past, we’ve had the Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf. They both came in here when we didn’t have the younger pitching and they gave us innings and that but obviously you’d like to get the quality. Pitching takes a long time to develop.”

On Manny Parra and fans growing impatient:

“He’s on the roster now and we’ll wait and see. I can’t indicate at this time, but…there comes a time when changes of scenery do help players and that happens sometimes. That’s what we’ve talked about before and if you look at Manny’s numbers and break them down, the numbers are there. You’d like to see more consistent performance, so you know, there’s a possibility. Manny right now’s on our roster at this time and we’ll wait and see.”

On arbitration, bullpen changes:

“I think you’ll probably see three to four new faces out there. I think John Axford, Jim Henderson, I think Brandon Kintzler pitched well enough that he can step in and perform in one of those roles. We would like to maybe try to get a left-hander but we also want a left-hander of quality if we can otherwise we’ll just stay right-handed. But I can see where you could turn three or four names over in that bullpen. Also with the starting pitchers there’s going to be one of those guys that will lose out (on a rotation spot) and will probably go to the bullpen and be a long guy.”

On Axford sticking as closer in 2013:

“I’d like to think that John can. As I said in the press conference at the end of the year, he had two months where he had more than one blown Save. He does strike out people. His strike out rate is still one of the best in the game. His walk rate was too high this year and he needs to get that back down. I do like having a closer and a guy in the bullpen that’s gonna strike people out. I think that’s important. That’s why I like a closer that’s gonna get strikeouts so I lean a little bit towards (Axford) but they also have to reduce the walks. We’re confident, in John, the stuff is still there but gonna have to improve on his command and control.”

On how he feels about the hitters:

“We look at it and we feel pretty good about the ball club we put out positional-wise. Offensively, it’s a pretty good ball club. It fits both what Doug Melvin looks for and what Ron Roenicke looks for. I’m a home run and doubles guy and Ron likes the aggressive style. We fulfilled both those (philosophies) leading the leagues in home runs and also stolen bases we were first or second. We were very aggressive on the bases scoring runs, second in the league in sacrifice bunts. We scored runs in a lot of different ways. I do believe with our ballpark we’re always gonna be a team that’s gonna rely on the home runs just because of the facility we play in and that. But I’m pleased with the positional aspect of our game. I think I’m more than pleased in the fact that Maldonado coming on the scene we’re very set at catching. Having a young shortstop in Jean Segura, being young up the middle with catching, shortstop, Rickie bounced back, and then Carlos Gomez in center field. Carlos is a five-plus guy so we’ve gotta determine is Carlos is here over the long haul or is he here for (only) one more year.”

On Alex Gonzalez possibly returning:

“We’ve gotta make that decision yet. Alex is a free agent so he could test the market too. When it comes down to asking players, when you’re a free agent, he’s gonna want to know his playing time. How much time is he gonna play or do we view him as an extra guy and are we going with Segura. We have to answer that question. Jean is playing winter ball right now and is hitting almost .400 and he hit very well the month of September for us. We’re pretty high on (Segura) at this point. We can go with Jean Segura. We just want to make sure that is the right thing to do. Alex would love to return to us but it’s probably going to be about playing time. ‘Are we the right fit for him?’ And if you do bring Alex back, what impact does that have on Jean Segura? We haven’t made that final call yet. Right now we’re probably leaning toward Segura and just letting Jean do the job because we do think the resources are going to be needed for pitching.”

On Josh Hamilton again:

“No. There’s nothing going on. If he wants to sign that “Andre Dawson” contract…that $500 thousand contract that Andre Dawson did for the Cubs. I think it’s about time a player did that so I’m waiting for that one.”

On any off-season proclamation like he did in 2010 before acquiring Greinke and Marcum by stating he was going to go get some pitching:

“I don’t have any right now. I gotta go check the piggy bank.”

Alright, Brewer Nation. What do you think of what the GM had to say today?

What The Heck Happened There? (Thoughts on the Hank Aaron Award)

The Hank Aaron Awards were given out recently. One winner from each league is chosen and, prior to Game 3 of the World Series, the respective American and National League winners of the award were honored in an on-field ceremony at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

Fittingly enough, the home team’s third baseman, Miguel Cabrera, was selected as the winner in the American League. He earned the Triple Crown in the AL which no doubt factored in heavily.

The winner in the National League was also present, of course, but because he was set to play in the game that evening as well. Buster Posey of the NL Champion San Francisco Giants was named as the winner for the senior circuit, much to the confusion of yours truly.

Don’t get it twisted, Buster Posey had a fine year. A year which arguably saw him as the most valuable player in his league. But “value”, as it is argued in baseball circles, is not the goal of the Hank Aaron Award. The Hank Aaron Award is described thusly, as lifted from MLB.com:

“This coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in both the American League and National League. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.”

Did you catch that part about the “best overall offensive performer”? It’s right there in the first sentence. If you missed it, go ahead back and read it again.

Buster Posey, ladies and gentlemen, was not the National League’s best overall offensive performer in the 2012 regular season. He “won” the batting title after his teammate Melky Cabrera asked to be made an exception to the qualifications of the title, this is true, but as we all know from 2011 simply winning the batting title doesn’t garner you the Hank Aaron Award. Otherwise Jose Reyes would have been shaking hands with Hank Aaron instead of Matt Kemp.

So how exactly does one get selected as the “best overall offensive performer” anyway? Well, part of the problem is that there isn’t anything “exact” about it.

As currently constructed, fan voting counts for 50% of the vote while a five-man panel that consisted of Aaron, and fellow Hall of Fame members Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount make up the other half.

We all know after the debacle that was the All-Star Game voting this year that Giants fans know how to stuff a ballot box, but the fact that the fans can even influence this award at all is ridiculous. Fans are biased.

“But aren’t you just being a biased Brewer fan by writing this in the first place?”

Fair question, but that helps make my point. In it being a necessity to have evidentiary support for my point as to maintain some semblance of neutrality in this matter, the statistics do all the backing up needed.

Here are the full-season stat lines for both Braun and Posey. See if you can guess which line was produced by which player.

Player A: .336/.408/.549, 178 H, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 39 2B, 1 3B, 69 BB, 96 K, 172 OPS+, 1 SB, 78 R
Player B: .319/.391/.595, 191 H, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 36 2B, 3 3B, 63 BB, 128 K, 159 OPS+, 30 SB, 108 R

Again I’ll state that Posey, Player A above, had a terrific offensive season. He really did. However, when comparing Posey’s line to that of Braun’s (yes, Player B), how can you argue superiority for the Giants’ catcher?

The biggest issue is that we’ll never know how close it was nor how the voting played out among the five-man panel, but in the opinion of this avid baseball fan, there are shenanigans afoot.

It seems obvious that the collective consciousness of certain individuals is still flawed as it is at best heavily influenced by a scientifically-invalid urine sample from 12 months ago.

That’s a shame and those men who have allowed it to cloud their judgment, influence their analysis, and apparently ultimately impact their award voting should be so ashamed.

Those last two sentences apply even more so to the BBWAA members charged with honoring a player as most valuable.

We’ll just have to see where the winter takes us and when another year of excellence is produced by a certain Brewers superstar, perhaps the fog of confusion can begin to dissipate.

For now, the results of the 2012 Hank Aaron Award voting has left me under that same fog’s veil.

Transactions for Monday, October 29, 2012

The following transactions have been officially announced by the Milwaukee Brewers today:

  • Mat Gamel has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
  • Chris Narveson has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
  • Alex Gonzalez has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
  • Alex Gonzalez has elected free agency
  • Francisco Rodriguez has elected free agency
  • Shaun Marcum has elected free agency
  • UPDATE: Infielder Hector Gomez* has signed a minor league contract with an invite to major league Spring Training

No free agent can sign with a new team until this coming Saturday (November 3rd) at the earliest.

If any other official transactions take place today, this space will be updated with the information.

* – Hector Gomez was outrighted off the the Brewers 40-man roster on October 19th.

2013: Year of the Bobblehead

The Milwaukee Brewers (via social media) announced just now that there will be a total of 10(!) all-fan bobblehead doll giveaways next season.

They are inviting fans to play along in a guessing game of sorts where the Bernie Brewer twitter account (@Bernie_Brewer) will post a silhouetted image of the subject of the bobblehead in the morning with some clues. You play along by tweeting back with your guess and a #GUESSBREW hash tag.

Then, later the same day via various official Brewers social media outlets, the subject will be revealed.

The official webpage for the revealing is: http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/mil/fan_forum/bobbles.jsp, but I’ll keep track of them all right here as well.

We can easily see that there will be one sausage bobble as has been the norm the last several years.

The schedule of reveals is as follows:

  • Bobblehead #1: CLUE: This Brewer will turn 31 in January of 2013. – Guess: Norichika Aoki – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, April 7, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #2: CLUE: This Brewer played his entire career in the AL. – Guess: George Scott – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, April 21, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #3: CLUE: Wore a Brewers uniform his entire career. CLUE: Has played in 14 career postseason games. – Guess: Corey Hart – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, May 5, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #4: CLUE: Wears a number that has been worn by a total of 20 players in team history.  Silhouette Only Guess: Ryan Braun (Updated: Still guessing Braun. http://brewernation.mlblogs.com/2012/06/09/milwaukee-brewers-uniform-number-history-8) – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, May 26, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #5: Silhouette Only Guess: Carlos Gomez – CLUE: The player is active on Twitter. – Guess unchanged. – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, June 9, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #6: Silhouette Only Guess: Polish Racing Sausage – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, June 23, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #7: CLUE: Today’s featured player began and ended his career in Milwaukee. CLUE: Played his first and last all-star game with Milwaukee. – Guess: Hank Aaron – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, July 7, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #8: CLUE: Features a Wisconsin native. Guess: Only three Wisconsinites are famous enough to warrant a bobblehead at this point. One (Bob Uecker) had one last year. That means that this should be either Jim Gantner or Harvey Kuenn. CLUE: This player never played for the Brewers. Updated Guess: Obviously Gantner played for the Brewers. My guess is Harvey Kuenn! – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, August 4, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #9: CLUE: This player goes back to the Seattle Pilots days. Guess: Gotta be Stormin’ Gorman Thomas! Who else from that era still warrants a bobblehead? CLUE: This player still has a presence at Miller Park. (Yup!) – CONFIRMED!
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, September 1, 2013.
  • Bobblehead #10: November 9 – CLUE: Was on the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. Guess: Far too many to properly say anything definitive, but based on the silhouette I know several players who it is not. CLUE: This player once played professionally in Japan. Guess: Ben Oglivie
    • This bobblehead will be given away on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

So there you have it!

All 10 of the bobblehead subjects for 2013 have been revealed! What do you think of the choices? Which one are you looking forward to the most? Vote here: http://wp.me/p1wIvV-98Ls

Lucroy Misses Cutoff, Payday

If you missed my tweet from earlier this evening (or maybe aren’t on Twitter and rely on blogs for news), Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy got some bad news today.

The service time cutoff for players who would be eligible for salary arbitration under the “Super 2” designation was announced today. As expected, Lucroy fell days short of meeting the requirement.

You may say “So what? Luc just signed a five-year contract so he’s not arbitration eligible anyway.” You’d be factually correct, should you say this, but that’s also not the entirety of the situation.

In the negotiations regarding Lucroy’s extension a stipulation was put in place to compensate Lucroy if he wound up qualifying for Super 2 status. The stipulation stated that Lucroy would be paid an additional $2 million.

They put that language in the contract because players achieving Super 2 status earn more money during the first six years of team control. As Lucroy was giving up that opportunity should he have qualified, the extra money was there to help make up the difference in what he might have made in the additional year of arbitration eligibility.

The bottom line here is the contract extension will pay Lucroy $11 million instead of $13 million. I’m sure it’s a bit of a bummer for Luc, but it’s the way the system works right now.

The silver lining from a team perspective though is that they now have an additional $2 million in the 2013 budget.

Transactions – Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just in case you missed the announcements when they officially came out this afternoon, the following roster moves took place today…

RHP Livan Hernandez and C Yorvit Torrealba have refused outright assignments to Triple-A Nashville (which is their right with their respective statuses as MLB veterans) and elected free agency.

RHP Jesus Sanchez, a relief pitcher, had his contract selected from Triple-A Nashville and was thereby added to the 40-man roster. Sanchez would have been exposed in the upcoming Rule V Draft had he not been added to the 40-man roster.

With these three moves, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 37. Remember too that Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson will need to be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list at some point. Also, should the club decide to exercise its option on Alex Gonzalez he too would need one if those currently open spots.

Who Would You Rather See Brewers Sign?

ESPN’s Buster Olney blogged about how Josh Hamilton would be a fit in Milwaukee should he choose to not re-sign with the Texas Rangers, but only if concerns about his baseball future depress his contract offers.

This resurrection of a topic that many affluent Brewers bloggers have been trying to kill off led to some discussion on Twitter today regarding how the Brewers might best spend the majority of their available payroll*.

Cast your vote in the poll below and let’s help figure this whole thing out.

Milwaukee Brewers 2012 Team Awards

Every year the writers who cover the Milwaukee Brewers all season long get together, so to speak, and cast ballots for five team awards.

The awards are under the following five categories:

  • Team MVP (not limited to just hitters)
  • Best Pitcher (in any role)
  • Best Newcomer (someone not on the team last year)
  • Unsung Hero (given to someone who didn’t necessarily get a lot of credit for the job that they did)
  • Good Guy (a true “media” award because this is for someone who is good in the community, clubhouse, etc but also was very helpful and gracious with the media)

Last year I took part in a Brewers blogger balloting in which several of us who actively and consistently write about the Brewers voted for the same awards. I’m not sure what it says about me, but my top choices in each category were the same as the collective credentialed media.

This year, we’re doing the same exercise as a Brewers blogosphere (some time soon) but I figured I’d get my ballot posted on my blog in the interest of transparency and disclosure. (Many BBWAA members would do well to follow suit on their personal MVP and Hall of Fame ballots.) I’ll also, naturally, explain my reasons behind my choices because what fun would it be without something to argue?

The balloting is such that we choose three men for each award and the votes, when tallied, are worth more points for higher positioning.

Team MVP: Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart

This is easily an award that belongs to Ryan Braun as I believe that he is deserving of no less than second place in the National League Most Valuable Player voting. His statistical output speaks for itself and he carried the team through many stretches of the season.

Aramis Ramirez takes second place for me because of what he was able to do both at the plate and in the field. Yes he started slowly at the dish like he tends to do but his finish was fantastic. He more than made up for the lost production from Prince Fielder and contributed much more on defense than we were led to believe he would. (For instance, he led the league in barehanded assists this season.)

Corey Hart gets my third place vote because while several players could have fit here Hart did something he was very much against in switching positions when a desperate need arose. He posted very good numbers despite being absent more than once. Him gutting out a painful lisfranc tear in September certainly didn’t hurt his case.

Best Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Zack Greinke

Make no mistake about it: Yovani Gallardo keeps taking steps toward ace-hood. His fourth career (and consecutive) 200+ strikeout season, another season of over 200 innings pitched, 16 wins including a fantastic run of effectiveness and success following the trade of Zack Greinke. Milwaukee needed Gallardo to step up and he answered the bell.

Marco Estrada found a strikeout tendency not before seen, slashed his walk rate, started a career-high number of games, pitched a career-high number of innings, struck out a career-high number of hitters, posted career-bests in ERA+, WHIP, K/BB ratio, and was a welcome addition to the rotation once Chris Narveson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Zack Greinke didn’t pitch an entire season for the Brewers. This is true. He made 21 starts for the Brewers in 2012. But you know what? Shaun Marcum made 21 starts, Randy Wolf made 24, Fiers 22. Given the results that he posted while here, and given that the bullpen didn’t exactly inspire me to vote for anybody in it for this award, the nod goes to the 2/3 of a season Greinke posted.

Best Newcomer: Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki, Mike Fiers

This award had much more competition than I initially thought it would. Ramirez being second in my MVP list as a newcomer really makes him a shoe-in here.

Aoki overcame early struggles with both playing time and drastic changes to his personal preparation routine to step in as a starting outfielder and eventual every day lead-off hitter. He was productive and posted multiple double-digit hitting streaks over the course of the season.

As for my third place vote, I chose Mike Fiers (though I’m not sure if he technically qualifies because he pitched for the team briefly in 2011) for both what he was able to accomplish throughout the early portion of his schedule but also for the longevity on the roster this year over other worthy newcomers like Jim Henderson, Martin Maldonado, Travis Ishikawa and even Jean Segura.

Unsung Hero: Martin Maldonado, Jim Henderson, Mike Fiers

Maldonado came up from Triple-A Nashville when Jonathan Lucroy went down with a freak hand injury and was lost for a month and a half. With George Kottaras both physically unable (due to a hamstring injury) and truthfully lacking the skills to be the everyday catcher, Maldy overcame a poor start at the plate in the minors and outperformed even the most optimistic projections at the plate. His receiving, throwing, and handling of the pitching staff didn’t get enough credit though which is why he wins this award for me. Maldonado not only was instrumental in handling Fiers when he first came up but he really seemed to get the most out of everybody he caught.

Jim Henderson is here because despite his average results his arrival helped to stabilize the bullpen. He wasn’t always on top of his game, and he blew a game or two, but adding another live arm to the back end of the ‘pen was a key to righting the ship for the 24-6 run where the bullpen finally performed as it was capable of doing.

Finally, I gave a vote to Fiers in this category as well for the fact that Fiers arrived amid a time of uncertainty and really performed exceptionally well until he simply ran out of gas. And judging by the reaction too many fans gave at Miller Park on the day of Fiers’ last start, it appears that his early efforts were forgotten and therefore he is plenty unsung.

Good Guy: John Axford, Rickie Weeks, Martin Maldonado

Struggling at a couple of points during the year, Axford never ducked the media…well, other than the time he had to excuse himself due to his wife going into premature labor but he still left an epic note. Axford answered his naysayers, dealt with the criticism, fielded the questions, and was always willing to own up to his failures and struggles.

Rickie Weeks, the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, was active in the community and a locker room leader. He too struggled mightily, though for a much more sustained time, and never blew off the reporters and writers who sought his comment on the situation. Weeks never once made excuses or even used the viable ones that were readily available.

Third place here goes to Martin Maldonado. This is a completely personal choice because he was nice to me and took time out after a game to briefly chat with me after a game just as he promised to do. He was very kind and I appreciated he and his wife stopping to talk.

Brewers Promote Two in Latin America Operations

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that Eduardo Brizuela has been promoted to Director of Latin America Operations/Scouting and Manny Batista has been promoted to Director of Latin America Scouting.

Brizuela, 26, spent the past three seasons as Coordinator of Administration, Latin America Operations. He joined the Brewers in 2009 as an advance scouting intern. Batista, 51, joined the Brewers in 2010 as a scout in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. He was named Director of Scouting for Venezuela following the 2011 season.

“The promotions of Eduardo and Manny from our system and the restructuring of our Scouting and Operations in Latin America will serve notice that we are stepping up our involvement in Latin America,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin. “I have total confidence that with our presence at the Dominican Republic Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, the leadership of Eduardo and the multiple years of scouting experience that Manny brings, we will make strides in improving the signing of players for our system.”

Brizuela earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Webber International University. He served as a major contributor in helping the Brewers establish a presence with the organization’s Dominican Republic Academy, which opened in November 2011. In his new role, Brizuela will take on added responsibilities with scouting assignments and work with Special Assistant to the General Manager/Director of Player Development Reid Nichols in assisting with the development and transition of the organization’s Latin players to the United States.

Prior to joining the Brewers, Batista worked in the Texas Rangers organization, most recently as Latin American Coordinator from 1998-2009. He served as an area scout in Puerto Rico with the Rangers and was actively involved and responsible in the signings of Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Gonzalez, Martin Perez, Ivan Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez. In his new role, he will be responsible for the re-staffing of the organization’s scouting personnel in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Batista, who began scouting in 1982, graduated from Apollo High School in Puerto Rico and attended American International College in Puerto Rico. He resides in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.

Brewers’ Weeks, Clemente Award Nominee, Donates $25,000 to Y Swim School

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee today announced it has received a $25,000 donation from Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks to help support the Y’s Swim School.

Swim School is a community supported learn-to-swim program hosted at the Northside YMCA d esigned to help urban youth learn to be safe in and around water. The program is offered to second and third graders who attend school in Milwaukee’s Lindsey Heights neighborhood.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, and African American children ages 5 to 14 are three times as likely to die from drowning as white children. Lack of access to public swimming pools, along with a negative perception of water, contributes to these statistics.

“Swim School aims to address the problem of child drownings by helping kids learn about water safety,” said Jessica Mieling, director of aquatics at the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. “We are grateful to Rickie Weeks for his generous donation and look forward to empowering even more children to be confident and safe in the water this year.”

Swim School launched in 2011 as a partnership between the Y, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter James Causey and local business leader Barry Mandel to provide swimming lessons for 120 children from Lloyd Street School. In its first year, 91 percent of the student participants reported knowing how to swim after completing the program – up from 15 percent at the start of the program. Additionally, prior to swim school, 86 percent of students reported being afraid of water, and at the end that percentage dropped to 14.

“I am thrilled that the Brewers Community Foundation has facilitated a contribution from Rickie Weeks,” said Cecelia Gore, executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation. “Weeks, along with Mark and Debbie Attanasio, are pleased that we can be a part of effective programs that impact the quality of life for children and their families.”

The fall 2012 session of Swim School will serve 110 students from Brown Street Academy and Keefe Avenue School, with an ultimate goal of serving 500 youth during the 2012-2013 school year. For more information on Swim School, please visit http://www.ymcamke.org.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee is a powerful association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life joined together by a shared passion to strengthen the foundations of community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Since 1858, Milwaukee YMCAs have helped kids and families live healthy lives in spirit, mind and body. Supported in part through contributions to the Annual Campaign, the Y provides membership assistance and scholarships to programs like summer camp, child care and teen activities, so that no one is turned away due to an inability to pay. http://www.ymcamke.org