The 2013 edition of Baseball’s Winter Meetings, at least as they pertain to the Brewers which is why you’re reading, got underway with a flurry of news and notes but no signings.
Here’s your Day 1 recap:
The day began with word that Corey Hart’s agent would be meeting with the Brewers contingent later in the day, and that the Brewers were making a resolution with Hart a “priority.”
Adam McCalvy then chimed in that the Brewers touched base with the Mets about their available first basemen as well, phrasing the communications with the Mets and with Hart’s agent as “groundwork.”
Bad news then came down the pipeline late afternoon. It was confirmed that Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny had undergone shoulder surgery. It was considered relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) with the expectation that Gorzelanny would be pitching again by mid-March. Gorzelanny’s shoulder cost him the end of his 2013 season and further proved, in my opinion, that he shouldn’t have been put back into the rotation last year.
Brewers brass then confirmed that they had met with Hart’s agent and that the two sides had agreed to touch base again during the Winter Meetings. It was suggested that the Brewers would get a chance to react to other offers Hart receives.
I speculated leading up to the Winter Meetings when the Brewers were tied to a handful of other first baseman options at least as a backup plan to if not leverage against Hart. To that end, Hank Schulman (who covers the San Francisco Giants) tweeted that Milwaukee had checked in with San Fran about the availability of 1B Brett Pill.
But, despite all of that, the Brewers aren’t only in Orlando looking to settle one position. General manager Doug Melvin has also made no secret about his desire to add a reliever with “closing experience” to field manager Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. To that, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that the Brewers had talked to Carlos Marmol. Nothing imminent, but still
Amongst all of the rest of the newsworthy items was the Logan Morrison situation. That’s the one where the Marlins have said that they’ll be trading him soon but multiple teams denied being close to acquiring him. For what it’s worth, the Brewers have been connected there as a “it makes sense” destination by a handful of scribes.
And finally, my personal contribution to the rumor mill last night about where that “groundwork” may have the Brewers positioned come Tuesday morning, can be read right here: Hot Stove: Pushing The Issue
So there you have it. Day 1 of the 2013 Winter Meetings in a nutshell.
(*Apologies for the lateness of this. I got my rumor last night and only ended up with time to write up the one post. I’ll add in tweets later to fill out this recap, but the info is at least all here.)
Ryan Braun made himself available to media today at a Hunger Task Force charity event outside Miller Park. He was asked a flurry of pointed and direct questions, nary a softball among them.
Hear his comments for yourself right here:
I’ll be transcribing the dialogue later today if you prefer to read.
Holiday 4-Packs Return Just in Time for the Holidays; Plans Start at Just $72
With the holidays approaching, the Milwaukee Brewers Holiday 4-Packs will go on sale this Friday, November 15 at 10 a.m. CT.
Fans will be able to choose from five appealing 4-Pack options, including a new Fan’s Choice Plan. If holiday shoppers order by Thursday, December 19, their 4-Packs will be delivered in time for Christmas in special holiday carriers, ready for giving.
Brewers Holiday 4-Packs include many of the most anticipated games of the 2014 season. Three of the five plans – the Matinee Plan, the Rivals Plan and the Weekend Plan – include one All-Fan Giveaway Date, while the Double Bobble Plan includes two All-Fan Giveaway Dates. The Fan’s Choice Plan allows fans to select four games of their choice from an assortment of 34 games.
In addition, the Brewers are offering a free Bernie Brewer ornament gift-with-purchase to fans with every pair of 4-Packs they buy.
Holiday 4-Packs range in price from $72 – $168 and are available in the Field Outfield Box, Loge Infield Box, Club Outfield Box, Terrace Box, Loge Bleachers and Terrace Reserved seat locations. All tickets are subject to availability while supplies last. Pricing is as follows and includes one ticket to four games:
Location: 4-Pack Prices:
Field Outfield Box $168
Loge Infield Box $160
Club Outfield Box $160
Terrace Box $96
Loge Bleachers $92
Terrace Reserved $72
Standard shipping and handling fees apply. Advance parking packages are also available. To make a purchase, visit Brewers.com/4packs or call (414) 902-HITS (4487). For information on all other ticket plans, call (414) 902-4090.
So much for making this a running series of posts, but life got in the way a lot during August and I just couldn’t find the time for this aspect of things. That being said, I first had this notion for the series back when Jonathan Lucroy walked off against Aroldis Chapman and the Reds back on August 16th at Miller Park.
Away we go.
As I mentioned here back on August 1st, the end of a season like this brings out many naysayers and exposes a multitude of casual fans who can’t wait until the Packers (or whichever NFL team is their favorite) begin to training camp and pre-season. But there are certainly things to continue to watch baseball for in August and September of a “lost” season (at least “lost” as far as the playoffs are concerned). On August 1st I spoke of September callups of which the Brewers tapped top prospect Jimmy Nelson. Nelson is getting his feet wet and experiencing what goes into being a Major League player from the travel schedule to the daily routine and more.
Today though I wanted to talk about what happened on August 16th and what happened again last night:
On August 16th the Brewers were down to their last turn at the plate when the unexpected happened. Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with a man on, trailing by a run, against a pitcher to which point in his career he was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against. Lucroy worked a seven-pitch at-bat, fouling off five consecutive fastballs averging 98 MPH. Then, on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Chapman hung a slider. And, as the saying goes, you hang ‘em, we bang ‘em. Lucroy sent Chapman and the Reds walking off the field in defeat.
Miller Park erupted and the Brewers celebrated an unexpected victory, because if Lucroy doesn’t come through in that situation, there’s hardly a guarantee that Aramis Ramirez (career 0-for-3, 3 K, 1 BB) or Sean Halton (career 0-for-1, 1 K) would have. In fact, Lucroy has faced Chapman once since that day and again struck out.
These games exist and they are an absolute delight to attend and to be paying attention to. After all, cheering our collective heads off is what being a fan is all about.
That brings us specifically to the game almost exactly one month later on September 15th. The Brewers trailed 5-1 going into the 8th inning, having been stymied all day by the pitcher who they are historically terrible against. Look up some of the career numbers of Brewers hitters against Bronson Arroyo and you’ll be floored if you didn’t already realize how poor they are.
Anyway, the Brewers are looking set up for consecutive losses to the Reds, a team which Milwaukee just took a series from on the road. But then the magic of baseball took over and the Brewers pulled out an unexpected victory. Norichika Aoki entered the game as a pinch hitter and walked. Khris Davis pinch-hit for Scooter Gennett and was hit by a pitch. Jean Segura tripled to the right-centerfield gap, scoring both Aoki and Davis. Lucroy followed that up with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field, and the game was tied.
In the 9th, Jim Henderson struck out two of the first three batters he faced, walking Shin-Soo Choo in between. He stole second and Ron Roenicke elected to put Joey Votto on base, putting the force in play. Noted Brewers killer Jay Bruce stepped in and hammered a ball that was headed over the wall for a heart-crushing three-run home run. But then Carlos Gomez did what he had done four other times this season and lept at the wall to catch the ball and keep the runs off of the scoreboard.
That gave the offense a chance and a chance is all Sean Halton has ever wanted. Halton swung at a 1-0 change up and the Brewers were walk-off winners again!
That’s the beauty of baseball, fellow fans. I know the term “any given Sunday” exists for good reason in the National Football League, but there are 162 “Sundays” in a Major League Baseball season. Any one of them has a chance to end up in an unexpected victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat.
This season of Sundays has but 13 games left after tonight. That’s 14 more chances to witness something unexpected.
I’ll be watching.
The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that admission for Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, will be free of charge for all attendees in 2014. Set to take place on Sunday, January 26, 2014 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center, Brewers On Deck is the winter fan festival that bridges the gap between the Wisconsin winter and Spring Training.
“As another way to say ‘thank you’ to our fans for their incredible support this year, we wanted to do something very special as we head into the 2014 campaign,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We are committed to delivering the best fan experience possible, both at Miller Park and in our off-site events, and we expect that free admission to Brewers On Deck will be very popular.”
Today’s announcement is part of a series of fan appreciation initiatives unveiled by the Brewers during the final two months of the season under an umbrella program known as “Fans First.” Last month, the team provided $10 vouchers for free concessions, merchandise and game tickets at Miller Park to all fans during the month of August.
The free admission is applicable to the 2014 Brewers On Deck event only. Typically, admission ranges from $9 to $20.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, interactive games in the Kids Area, Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details on autograph sessions and tickets will be announced at a later date.
There have been some momentous happenings on July 9th in baseball history. Satchel Paige made his sorely delayed debut in Major League Baseball in 1948, as an example.
There was also a less-than-glorious moment for HONKBAL’s own Randall Simon as his Pittsburgh Pirates were preparing to bat one inning at Miller Park in 2003.
My buddy Chris Jaffe has a feature on the event that spawned a catchphrase and launched a t-shirt (updated with commemorative anniversary logo!)
Click here for Chris’s column: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/10th-anniversary-randall-simon-versus-milwaukees-sausage-race/
You can buy the updated t-shirt pictured above from the gang at Brew City here.
Or get the original here.
Catching up on a couple of news items from yesterday in advance of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his musical counterpart of the same name would never do it, but the Brewers Corey Hart was forced to surrender the rest of the season. While furiously rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee, Hart’s left knee began swelling and giving him problems during and after workouts. It finally became bad enough that he sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal El Attrache.
Surgery was the recommended option and Hart will undergo such soon. It’s the same surgery that he needed on his right knee so the obviously Hart has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Hopefully everything goes cleanly for him after this.
The biggest question for Hart now is where his career goes from here. While he should be healthy before spring training next year the fact is that he’s a free agent after this one. And with multiple knee surgeries (both in terms of surgeries and knees), the 31-year-old veteran faces an uncertain future at a time when he should be preparing to cash in on a free agent contract.
The Brewers could extend a qualifying offer to him in an attempt to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, but the risk there is that if he accepts and the knee injuries limit his effectiveness in 2014, then they’d be paying him somewhere north of $13.5 million to sit. That’s probably not a risk that they can take unless Hart can prove himself 100% healthy before the deadline to decide this off-season.
Gindl Optioned, Thornburg Returns
This feels like deja vu all over again.
The last time the Brewers started a long stretch of consecutive games, the team dealt with a number of short starts out of its rotation members at the beginning of the run. The bullpen was worked hard and an extra arm was brought up to help alleviate some of the strain. It’s happened again and Caleb Gindl was the victim of the numbers game this time. He hit okay while he was here, tallying both his first hit and first RBI in his first turn in the Major Leagues, but his defense in an unfamiliar left field was shaky. With Carlos Gomez back after his scary wall collision just a few days ago, Logan Schafer can shift back to starting every day in left with the usual starters of Gomez and Norichika Aoki in center and right. The back up outfielder on the roster though is one who has only played it extensively this season for the first time in Sean Halton. They’d never put him in center and would prefer to keep him out of right. In fact, Ron Roenicke specifically mentioned that with how big the Pittsburgh left field is, he’d question putting Halton in there defensively at all in this series. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a spot where Roenicke’s hand is forced in any direction.
Returning as that extra bullpen arm is Tyler Thornburg who has seen time up with the parent club already this year after making his MLB debut last season. Thornburg had been struggling in the Nashville rotation but pitched very well in relief with Milwaukee during his previous stay. The Brewers will be looking for Thornburg to provide them length after both Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop went multiple innings in relief of Johnny Hellweg’s short outing in his debut on Friday night.
As promised earlier on Twitter, here is a quick diversion on this night of no Brewers baseball.
Opening Day 2013 saw the following factual things occur.
- Rickie Weeks went 2-for-4 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks scored two runs.
- Rickie Weeks stole a base.
- Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch.
Weeks would end the day with a .500 batting average and a .600 OBP. The hangover would last a couple of days and on the third day of the season, Weeks got three more hits to finish at a high water mark of .545/.643/.909 on the early season.
But the fall from the heights was swift, complete, and drastic.
Including April 2nd and May 28th, Rickie Weeks slashed .171/.273/.268 (.541 OPS) while striking out 56 times in 164 AB. In that same window of time, Rickie Weeks was hit by exactly zero pitches.
Weeks lost his every day job, splitting some time with with Jeff Bianchi and others. It was brutal. Nothing seemed to make sense. Inexplicable was tossed around a lot.
Then, on May 29th, the following factual things occurred.
- Rickie Weeks was 1-for-3 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks got hit by a pitch.
Now you can point to a still-blossoming seven-game hit streak that was four games in already but to be fair May 28th was a 1-for-6 performance that dropped even Weeks’ average fractions of a point.
Here now, presented with only one further comment, is Rickie Weeks’ statistical slash line from May 29th to the completion of the series in Cincinnati.
.371/.450/.886 (1.336 OPS)
The key is obviously the hit-by-pitch he suffered. Rickie Weeks is a man who thrives on consistency. As the active leader in hit-by-pitches, Rickie Weeks was obviously thrown off his game when pitchers weren’t hitting him. Now that he got plunked and had his wiring resent, he’s been better off for it.
So thank you, Samuel Deduno, for barely being able to control your pitches. While you hit Jean Segura on the hand, scaring the hell out of the Brewer Nation at the time, and you also unnecessarily plunked Norichika Aoki on the same night, your errant pill fired at the veteran second baseman obviously is saving his season.
With a tip of the hat to Craig Glaser (@sabometrics on Twitter), here is an image of what the Brewers’ edition of the 2013 All-Star Game figurine — believed to be currently residing outside of the Commissioner’s Office — looks like.
Fitting image given the game is being held at Citi Field this year.
You may recall that this isn’t the first time something like this has been done either. Miller Park displays both the Mickey Mouse statue and one of the Statue of Liberty which were produced for the games held in Anaheim (2010) and the Bronx (2008), respectively.
Hopefully this big apple makes its way to Milwaukee when it’s all said and done. I wonder where they’d put it?
That picture above? That’s of the replica figurines available for purchase on MLB.com. Here is what the actual apple looks like on the streets of New York. You can follow the photographer of these pictures on Twitter: @thatgirlmegan