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Breaking News: Brewers Sign Torres

OFFICIAL RELEASE: The Milwaukee Brewers have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a one-year Major League contract. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns. To make room on the 40-man roster, OF Rymer Liriano (facial fractures) has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Torres, 33, made 8 relief appearances with the Atlanta Braves this spring (0-0, 4.00era, 1sv, 9ip, 7h, 5r, 4er, 5bb, 6k, 2hr, .212ba). He went 5-6 with a 4.68 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season with the New York Mets. Torres owns a career record of 23-24 with a 4.26 ERA and 2 saves in 209 games (16 starts) with the White Sox (2009-10), Rockies (2012) and Mets (2013-15). He played for the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in 2011.

Torres enjoyed his best Major League season two years ago as he went 8-6 with a 3.06 ERA in a career-high 73 relief appearances (1 start) with New York. He led all Major League relievers with 92.0 innings pitched in 2014 and was tied for ninth in the National League in appearances that season.

Brewers 30 Clubs/30 Days Video Clips

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These are the archived videos aired on MLB Network on March 4th as Greg Amsinger and Milwaukee’s all-time Saves leader Dan Plesac visited Brewers’ camp at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Arizona as a part of the Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series previewing the 2016 season.

GM David Stearns sits down with Amsinger & Plesac

Ryan Braun talks about his bounce back 2015 and looking ahead to 2016

Jimmy Nelson with Dan Plesac

Domingo Santana talks about his fresh start

Will Smith on the bullpen

Ryan Braun demos base running/stealing with Plesac

Chris Carter talks to Greg Amsinger

Lucroy talks 2016 with Amsinger

Matt Garza talks youth and rotation with Plesac

Counsell with Plesac

Brewers Prospects with Jonathan Mayo

Brewers Fan Vote

Brewers Predictions

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #46 Corey Knebel

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In an effort to squeeze this in before midnight, I’m going to make this short and sweet. We’re 46 days away from Opening Day and by now you know how “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” works.

We’re gonna do the short-short version.

Here comes an unfortunately short look at…

Corey Knebel.

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For the background on how the Brewers acquired Corey Andrew Knebel and some of his history prior to the 2015 season, check out last year’s profile. This will save me some typing time.

As for that 2015 season, Knebel experienced some significant growth throughout the course of it. Appearing in 48 games in relief and tossing 50.1 innings, the right-handed Texan finished the year with an ERA+ of 124, which is to say that his park-adjusted numbers were 24 percent better than league average. A lot of that had to do with his strikeout numbers (58 K) and his ability to minimize damage.

Knebel did walk 17 hitters in his 50.1 IP, and that can be a huge problem for relievers, but his 3.22 ERA at the end of the day signifies a decent strand rate. You’d rather he not need to pitch his way out of trouble, but the fireman role is one he could really be useful in for 2016 as he continues to mature.

Entering a “we desperately need a strikeout” situation can be brutal on pitchers in terms of leverage and stress but Knebel did well, allowing only three inherited runs to score all year.

With the bullpen now being constructed the way it is in terms of returning back-end arms, the role which manager Craig Counsell is going to rely on Knebel should increase as well.

This is a player who shot through the minor leagues after being picked in the 2013 draft. He’s still just 24 years old and refining his craft. He looks like he’ll be a good one for a while, something the Brewers certainly want to have a lot of as they move toward their next competitive window.

Follow Corey on Twitter: @coreyknebel29

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Brewers 2016 Regular Season Promotional Information

OFFICIAL RELEASE

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the team’s full 2016 promotional schedule. This season’s jam-packed calendar is filled with 14 All-Fan Giveaways, three brand new All-Kid Giveaways, the return of the Brewers Postgame Concerts and much, much, more.

Six bobbleheads, a Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock and the addition of three All-Kid Giveaways highlight the list of items that will be given away at Sunday afternoon contests at Miller Park this season. In addition, the Brewers will continue Free-Shirt Fridays for the third straight year. Seven different T-shirts will be given away throughout the season, including one at every Friday home game at Miller Park from June through August.  The T-shirt designs were chosen as part of an online vote and were revealed on stage at Brewers On Deck. Additional information about this year’s All-Fan Giveaways is available at Brewers.com/allfans.

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2016 All-Fan Giveaway Dates at Miller Park
April 10 vs. Houston | 1980s Vintage Brewer Bobblehead
May 1 vs. Miami | Ryan Braun Franchise Home Run Leader Bobblehead
June 10 vs. New York (N) | Bernie’s Chalet T-Shirt
June 12 vs. New York (N) | Barking BobbleHank
June 24 vs. Washington | Camo Ball & Glove T-Shirt
June 28 vs. Los Angeles (N) | Greg Vaughn ‘90s Bobblehead
July 8 vs. St. Louis | Hank Aaron Shirsey
July 10 vs. St. Louis | Bob Uecker Alarm Clock
July 22 vs. Chicago (N) | Retro Royal T-Shirt
July 29 vs. Pittsburgh | Brew Crew Bottle Cap T-Shirt
July 31 vs Pittsburgh | Jimmy Nelson Bobblehead
August 12 vs. Cincinnati | Milwaukee Icons T-Shirt
August 14 vs. Cincinnati | Craig Counsell Player/Manager Bobblehead
August 26 vs. Pittsburgh | MKE Home T-Shirt

New for the 2016 season is the addition of Kids Eat Free Sundays.  Every Sunday home game, all kids 14 and under will receive a voucher upon entrance to Miller Park good for a free hot dog, apple slices and a bottle of water. If that wasn’t enough, the Brewers are excited to also announce three All-Kid Giveaways this year. All kids 14 and under who are in attendance will receive a Jonathan Lucroy Replica Jersey on May 15, courtesy of Kwik Trip, a Paint-Your-Own Bernie Bobblehead on May 29 and a Jonathan Lucroy Chest Protector Backpack on August 28, also courtesy of Kwik Trip.

Thanks to the success of last season’s inaugural series, the Brewers are proud to host two Postgame Concerts in 2016. On Saturday, May 14, the Brewers will welcome one of the music industry’s hottest stars to Miller Park as multi-Platinum pop artist Andy Grammer will perform a full-length, free postgame concert, courtesy of Pick ‘n Save, following the Crew’s matchup with the San Diego Padres. Then on Saturday, August 27, country music star Kip Moore will take the stage following the Brewers vs. Pirates game, presented by 94.5 KTI Country.

In addition to the many giveaways at the yard this year, the Brewers will bring back the 5-County, 5-Day Celebration, Spring Madness (414), Student Nights, Miller High Life Mondays and Kids and Senior Citizens Discount Days.

Fans in the region will want to head to Miller Park from April 20-24, as residents of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha Counties can purchase half-price tickets during the team’s annual 5-County, 5-Day Celebration.

Another great deal for fans comes around Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30 as Spring Madness (414) returns. Fans can save 50% on select seats while enjoying special “414” concession pricing with $4 16oz beers, $1 hot dogs & small sodas and $4 nachos.

Fans looking for start-of-the-week fun will want to check out the return of Miller High Life Mondays, which feature a new lower price this year. Terrace Reserved tickets are just $6 for all Monday home games with a 6:20 p.m. start time, courtesy of Miller High Life.

Also returning in 2016, most weekday afternoon home game kids 14 and under and seniors 60+ save 50% on tickets on Kids and Senior Citizens Discount Days.

Students are also invited to take in the fun with a great deal as every Friday home game is a Student Night, where those in high school and college can purchase $10 Terrace Reserved or $15 Loge Bleachers tickets. On top of that, students can enjoy a special $3 Happy Hour menu – featuring hot dogs, nachos, soda and beer – through the end of the first inning.

The complete 2016 promotional schedule is available at brewers.com/promotions.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #61 Ramón Flores

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Another day, another post. As we arrive Wednesday, February 3 and sit 61 days away from Opening Day, I am forced to remind myself that the milestones along the way to our destination are much closer.

  • Truck Day is in six days.
  • Pitchers & Catchers report in 16.
  • First full squad workout is in 22 days.
  • First Cactus League games (it’s split-squad) are in one month.

But we don’t countdown to those days with “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, do we?

With that, here is the individual profile of…

Ramon Flores.

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Back in late November when it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers had acquired Flores from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas, it was widely assumed that Flores would end up playing the role of reserve outfielder for Craig Counsell’s 25.

That was in part because of Flores’ lack of minor league options but also because of the changes in the makeup of the 40-man roster. Michael Reed and Shane Peterson (since DFA’d) were around to back up Khris Davis, Domingo Santana, and Ryan Braun, but it could be argued that Reed wouldn’t be hurt by some Triple-A time.

Flores brings a solid approach at the plate and a solid defensive profile with him to work every day. Still just 23 (he’ll turn 24 before Opening Day), Flores could continue in his development and offer even more than he currently does, but some talent evaluators maintain that his ceiling is a fourth OF type, and that may be what he already is. Still, Flores remains inexpensive with three full seasons before he would first be arbitration eligible.

Sounds perfect for a rebuilding team — right?

Well the problems for Flores come in that it’s been nearly 11 weeks since the Brewers traded for him and General Manager David Stearns hasn’t exactly been resting on his laurels since then. Stearns has claimed veteran Kirk Nieuwenhuis off of waivers, traded for Keon Broxton and a DFA’d former top prospect Rymer Liriano, and signed Alex Presley and Eric Young Jr. to minor league contracts with invites to big league camp. By the accounts I’ve read, every one of those added players can handle all three defensive positions in the outfield.

ramonfloreheadshotSo, quick math, that’s six added players with only one possible subtraction (we don’t yet know whether Shane Peterson will remain with the organization) along with the incumbent Reed all competing for what will, at this point, be two bench jobs. And even that is assuming the Brewers carry five outfielders which isn’t a guarantee (though I think they will). Yes, Ryan Braun could start the season on the DL if he suffers any setbacks with his recovery from off-season surgery on a herniated disc, but that’s still too many players for too few spots.

I suppose Flores will have somewhat of an advantage due to his lack of the aforementioned options, but that’s hardly a guarantee especially when you consider that neither Nieuwenhuis or Liriano have options remaining either.

Regardless of how it shakes out, Flores should get plenty of opportunities in the spring to show Counsell and his new coaching staff what he can do.

If a trade happens between now and decision day (Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com apparently said on the radio recently that the Chicago White Sox showed interest in Davis for example) then the logjam eases a bit. And if there’s one thing we know already about David Stearns it is that the 60 days between today and Opening Day are a long time for him to continue to manipulate what today seems to be an overcrowded situation.

And you probably thought rebuilds weren’t intriguing.

Follow Ramón on Twitter: @ramonflores16

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #62 Garin Cecchini

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Two days in a row for the first time this season. Expect that a lot this year on my annual “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” countdown to Opening Day because between now and Scooter Gennett on April 3rd there aren’t a whole lot of consecutive days off. In point of fact there are only four unaccounted for numbers (3, 23, 53, 59) if Spring Training were to begin today. (Okay, five, but 17 just isn’t getting assigned. More on that later.)

But that’s information for another day. Today on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 we sit 62 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park. So enough about the unassigned numbers and other players for today belongs to the player who dons #62 for his time in big league Spring Training…

Garin Cecchini.

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Once considered a top prospect by most (if not all) respected places that rank such things, Garin Cecchini saw a fall from grace in 2015. A career .298 hitter in four minor league seasons, Cecchini got his first taste of Triple-A in 2014 and held his own reasonably well, slashing .263/.341/.371 in 458 plate appearances. MLB Pipeline had Cecchini ranked as the third-best prospect in the minor system of the Boston Red Sox (who drafted Cecchini in the 4th round of the 2010 draft out of high school in Louisiana), and the 55th-best in all of the minor leagues. His game was predicated on bat-to-ball skills, contact rate, patience, and consistency. Cecchini even earned himself a trip to the big leagues which came on June 1, 2014. His MLB debut was fine if statistically insignificant.

Then 2015 happened.

“I had a tough year last year, but it all happens for a reason, ” Cecchini told me at the annual Brewers On Deck fan fest which took place on January 31. “I think it’s exactly the reason I got to Milwaukee. I honestly think the only way I was expendable [to the Red Sox] was if I had the worst year of my life and I had the worst year of my life.”

Boston’s sacrifice could be resurrected in Milwaukee. The Brewers have long struggled to develop top flight prospects at the hot corner. It’s why they signed Aramis Ramirez, who never had to fear for his job while in town, before the 2012 season. Nobody was within shouting distance of Ramirez for the big league spot. And the cast of characters who filled in for Ramirez on days off and then after he was traded to Pittsburgh in July is either young (Hernan Perez, Yadiel Rivera), or some combination of unimpressive and no longer with the organization (Hector Gomez, Elian HerreraLuis Jimenez, Jason Rogers, Luis Sardiñas). Suffice it to say that despite a handful of competitors, it’s not like the next primary third baseman is going to have to shoehorn his way into the job.

However the first thing that Cecchini must do is distance himself from 2015’s results and become the player he was before he was deemed “expendable.”

“Honestly, I’m not supposed to hit [.213]. I think I’m a better player than that as the past has shown.” Cecchini reiterated that he thinks 2015 happened for a reason and that with the Brewers is where he’s supposed to be. “I wouldn’t be in Milwaukee if I had hit .300, I guarantee you that.”

Cecchini knows he is going to have to compete in Spring Training and he’s ready to separate himself from the pack.

“Just go out and play the game I know how to play. It’s been like that my whole career. You have to compete for something. You never want to be given anything. I’m more confident than ever. I feel back to what I was in ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14. I had a tough year last year…but I learned from it and I’m glad to be here.”

So what didn’t work?

“I learned on why I had the worst year of my life. Last year I tried to do some new stuff just on my own with a leg kick, coming forward and that’s not the type of hitter I am.” Asked what he needs to do to be his old self, Cecchini said, “Being simple; overly simple in the box. Just going up there and hitting, staying behind the ball. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. Last year…is not the type of hitter I am. I didn’t work. Learn from it and move on.”

The bottom line for Cecchini as he looks forward to 2016 can be summarized thusly:

CecchiniHeadShot“I’m grateful for this opportunity to go out there and be the Garin Cecchini I’ve been my whole life…until last year.”

All that and he’s still just 24 years old. He’s ready to prove that he can perform at the highest levels of this game. The excitement was evident on his face and in his voice as we chatted for about six minutes on Sunday. And it’s not just about the new team.

One more thing that has Cecchini excited is that he gets to go back to his natural position full time. With a smile on his face he said, “I was told ‘Work strictly at third.'” Cecchini said he’s been working hard on his craft and has been taking ground balls every day thanks to the nice weather at home in Louisiana.

As for being number 62, Cecchini said that if he had his choice of any one to wear “it would have to be 17. I’ve always liked that number. I’ve had family members wear the number.” I informed him that while not official, 17 in Milwaukee is virtually retired as it has yet to be given out since long-time wearer Jim Gantner retired following the 1992 season and 15 years in the number. Understandably, Cecchini replied that “any number would be fine.”

I can’t say that I disagree because getting a number on or after April 4th would mean that he’ll be playing with said number on his back but with a big league logo on his chest.

You can follow Garin on Twitter: @GarinCecchini

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Brewers Uniform Number Changes

Today is an exciting day for a uniform number nerd like me.

The roster of uniform numbers on Brewers.com was finally updated today as we trudge toward the start of Spring Training.

Here are the updated numbers for the rostered players:

  • Jonathan Villar will wear #5
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis will wear #10
  • Taylor Jungmann has switched to #26
  • Chris Carter will wear #33
  • Keon Broxton will wear #60
  • Ramon Flores will wear #61
  • Garin Cecchini will wear #62
  • Junior Guerra will wear #63
  • Andy Wilkins will wear #64
  • Jacob Barnes will wear #70
  • Orlando Arcia will wear #72
  • Colin Walsh will wear #73
  • Zack Jones will wear #75
  • Damien Magnifico will wear #78

Here are the assigned numbers for non-roster invitees:

  • Alex Presley will wear #7
  • Hernan Perez retains his #14
  • Will Middlebrooks will wear #15
  • Eric Young, Jr. will wear #24
  • Chris Capuano will once again wear #39
  • Jake Elmore will wear #41
  • Pat Misch will wear #48
  • Cesar Jimenez retains his #51 from last year
  • Josmil Pinto will wear #65
  • Hiram Burgos will wear #66
  • Manny Pina will wear #67
  • Adam Weisenburger will wear #68
  • Josh Hader will wear #71
  • Daniel Tillman will wear #74
  • Rene Garcia will wear #76
  • Brett Phillips will wear #77

Here are the new numbers for the coaching staff:

  • Carlos Subero – First Base Coach – #31
  • Derek Johnson – Pitching Coach – #36
  • Pat Murphy – Bench Coach – #49
  • Jason Lane – Coach – #57

My “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” countdown to Opening Day will begin forthwith!

2015 MLB.com/blogs Top 100

I am once again humbled by my readers. Thank you all so much for pushing “The Brewer Nation” to its highest annual ranking since they started keeping track!

MLB.com Blogs

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Spring Training is just around the corner with the first pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 17, and everyone has big goals for 2016 in Major League Baseball. Here’s something you might want to set as a goal for yourself: making the annual MLB.com/blogs Top 100 list. Here are the blogs that had what it took to do that in 2015, by category. Congratulations to the MLB.com/blogs Top 100, based on Unique Visits measured by Major League Baseball Advanced Media from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2015. If you made the list, make sure you add your Top 100 badge to your sidebar, with the link to this post. That goes for everyone: active players, front offices, groundskeepers, fans, photogs and broadcasters!

FANS
1. The Baseball Collector
2. Universo Béisbol
3. The Brewer Nation
4. Around the Horn Talk
5. Cook & Sons’ Baseball Adventures

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Tom Flanagan Named Brewers Farm Director (Official Release)

The Milwaukee Brewers have named Tom Flanagan farm director.  He will oversee the player development department and will continue to work from the Milwaukee offices.

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Flanagan, 42, enters his 27th season in the Brewers organization, having spent the previous 10 as senior director of baseball operations.  In that role, Flanagan helped coordinate the day-to-day duties of the baseball operations department.  His responsibilities included overseeing the international scouting department, the administration of player moves at the minor-league level, negotiating player contracts and traveling with the Major League team.  In addition, Flanagan was involved in the preparation of the First-Year Player Draft.

Flanagan, who began his career with the Brewers in 1990 as a batboy, held front office roles as an attendant in the home clubhouse (1992-96), baseball operations assistant (1996-99) and as assistant director of scouting (2000-05).

A native of Milwaukee, Flanagan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.  He resides in New Berlin, Wisconsin, with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children.

Brewers On Deck Date Announced (Official Release)

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The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that tickets for Brewers On Deck 2016 will go on sale tomorrow at 9 a.m. CT.  Set to take place on Sunday, January 31, 2016 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.

Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under.  Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under.  A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation.

Fans who purchase a ticket before December 1st will receive a voucher for a ticket to a select 2016 April game.

Tickets may be purchased beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at brewers.com/ondeck.

Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family.  Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni, interactive games in the Kids Area and Fan Cave, Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and live auction, as well as many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

The price structure for autographs, along with the schedule of players, their session times, and distribution information will be posted in early January 2016.  Cash will be the only form of payment accepted at the pay stations in the autograph areas.  For more information regarding the lottery process, visit brewers.com/ondeck.  Additional details regarding the autograph schedules will be available at a later date.

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