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2015 Brewers On Deck Event Scheduled

Time marches on. As such, regardless of how 2014 finishes up, the popular “Brewers On Deck” will return on the final Sunday of January.

It does not, however, return for free.

—Here’s the official release—

The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that tickets for Brewers On Deck 2015 will go on sale tomorrow at 9 a.m. CT.  Set to take place on Sunday, January 25, 2015 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 November 1st will receive a voucher for a ticket to a select 2015 April game.

Tickets may be purchased beginning Thursday 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 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.

The same system for autographs will be used for Brewers On Deck that was used in previous years.  Recipients of any “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Numbered coupons to be entered into the random selection process will be available the day of the event only and will be distributed beginning at 8 a.m. at the Wisconsin Center. Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted in early January 2015.  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.

Let The Affiliated Organization Shuffle Commence!

Nashville Sounds

I’m here this evening on a truncated timetable to chime in on the upcoming Affiliate Shuffle. And I’m not talking about the latest dance craze sweeping the internet.

(To be honest though, how much fun would a dance be called the “Affiliate Shuffle”? You could get front offices from around the different affiliated minor league franchises to participate. They could film videos. YouTube would go crazy. The best part? It only comes around every other year and last no longer than a couple of weeks. You wouldn’t have time to get sick it. You’d bob your head and stomp your feet. A little rhythmic clapping to go along with it. Yes, the “Affiliate Shuffle” would take the world by storm! Sell t-shirts. Sell lunchboxes! Sell VHS tapes teaching you the dance in the comfort and anonymity of your own home!)

You know what the least likely part of that entire digression is? That you wouldn’t have time to get sick of it. MLB is tremendous at a lot of things, and it’s ability to overplay a song is breathtaking.

But anyway, like I said earlier, I’m on a time crunch here.

That being the case, let’s lay out the facts:

  • Player Development Contracts (“PDCs”) are agreed to in even-numbered totals of years. This is because when affiliates change, there is a ton of work that goes in. It would be wildly unfair to expect an affiliated organization to potentially overhaul so many parts of their organization on an annual basis.
  • Affiliated organizations agree to these PDCs with Major League Baseball clubs. To put it plainly, these contracts result in the team where organizations send their minor league players to compete and develop.
  • The Brewers have five organizations under such contracts during these two-year windows.
  • At the conclusion of 2014, four of those PDCs (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, rookie ball) were set to expire.

So that’s where we found ourselves with the 2014 season winding down. The only affiliate under a PDC after 2014 was set to be the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who currently are signed through 2016.

First, some good news came down the pipe as it was announced in August that the Brewers and their rookie ball affiliate in Helena were signing a four-year PDC extension. One down, three to go.

It had been widely assumed that the moving-to-Biloxi-Mississippi Huntsville Stars would stay with the Brewers. The Biloxi team even hired the outgoing Huntsville Stars’ general manager Buck Rogers, so continuity appeared to be a goal. As of the moment I hit publish, there has been no official announcement from either side that the relationship will continue. That being said, Baseball America was operating under the assumption that the PDC renewed automatically for two years. I spoke to someone who said that if the relationship is going to continue, he assumed it would be guaranteed for longer than just a two-year auto renewal. It remains to be seen how it ultimately shakes out.

In the same way as the Double-A affiliate, High-A Brevard County in Florida was shown on the same report from Baseball America to have been renewed for two years. There are some extenuating circumstances surrounding the Manatees, but it appears for now as though the PDC will be renewed there as well.

So if that accounts for three of the four expiring PDCs, we’re brought to the situation in Nashville.

The Nashville Sounds have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers since 2005, which adds up to a cool decade in the Music City. The Brewers put up with an aging facility at the end of this most recent PDC extension. And when Nashville and the Sounds finally got together on a new facility at Sulphur Dell, it was hoped that the Brewers would be benefitting from enduring Greer Stadium. Instead, however, it appears that the Sounds want a new tenant beginning in 2015. That would be unfortunate timing for the Brewers what with the new facility, but then again the PDC almost wasn’t renewed following the 2012 season due to Greer Stadium and a bit of contentiousness.

The bottom line as things stands today is that the Brewers have some potential flux in their minor league system. Tuesday, September 16, 2014 is the first day that teams can officially announce new affiliations. There’s a bit of a potential carousel effect which could take place if rumors hold true.

Those rumors include the A’s leaving Sacramento and affiliating with Nashville (as already mentioned), the San Francisco Giants affiliating in Sacramento and leaving Fresno, and the Brewers possibly ending up affiliating with the Fresno Grizzlies who have been the Giants Triple-A affiliate since 1998. The franchise moved to Fresno in 1998 and was, ironically, a Brewers affiliate in their final season as the original incarnation of the Tucson Toros.

So, there’s much to be revealed beginning Tuesday. Hopefully the dust settles quickly and the Brewers will know where their top prospects will be playing ball for at least the next two years, be that in Fresno or some other option.

Roenicke speaks out constructively on coverage

Brewer Nation:

This is from Adam McCalvy and definitely worth a read and absolutely worth archiving for later retrieval. I’m re-blogging it to my page as such per the WordPress system on which MLBlogs.com resides.

Originally posted on Brew Beat:

4f48202ba7a4e.preview-1024It’s an understated part of the gig when you’re manager of a Major League Baseball team, the fact you’re required to meet the media before and after every game to answer the questions of the day. By nature of that arrangement, Ron Roenicke is far and away the Brewers’ chief spokesperson, forced to answer more than anyone else in the organization when things turn south. 
 
On Wednesday, when Roenicke handled with reporters on the Brewers’ bench while the team began batting practice, he had something to say. Since he did so with the voice recorders and cameras rolling, I think it bears sharing publicly: 
 
“A lot of times,” he said, “I’ll read something that’s been written, like during this time, obviously it’s a tough time. And sometimes when I read stuff I feel like I’ve been pointing fingers at what’s been going on, and I don’t like that. And…

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Brewers Family Hurting As Seid Passes Away Unexpectedly

Bruce Seid, Brewers director of amateur scouting and a member of the organization for 17 years, passed away unexpectedly yesterday while visiting his family in Las Vegas. He was 53.

“We are stunned and devastated by the news of Bruce’s passing,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin. “He was a great friend to all of us, and no words can describe the sense of loss we feel. There are only a few people who have been with the Brewers as long as Bruce, and he was a kind and highly-respected member of our organization. There are also very few who worked with the passion and dedication to the Brewers that Bruce did. A number of current players on our roster were given the opportunity to play Major League Baseball because of Bruce, and he was so proud of them. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Erika, and all of Bruce’s family.”

Memorial arrangements are pending.

September Drawing Nigh

HunterMorris

A team in the Major Leagues plays for five months of every season with a 25-man limit (26 on days with double-headers) to their roster size. The vast majority of the games played are done so with the same relative construction to the available players.

Then September shows up.

The phrasing is “roster expansion” but what is basically means is that you can have as many of your 40-man Roster up in the bigs for the final month of the regular season. Nobody does that, mind you, but you can.

The Brewers’ collective philosophy is one of not calling players up for the sake of calling them up. Brewers field manager Ron Roenicke prefers to have guys around who he’s confident in using. He is on record as saying that having too many guys around can be a hindrance as it throws off routine. One example he’s mentioned in the past is that there are only so many reps during batting practice to go around and he needs to keep his season-long players ready. And while general manager Doug Melvin prefers the same, he spoke openly over the winter about one player he feels he should have called up last September. More on that later.

When asked last week about the upcoming expanded rosters, Roenicke was expectedly non-committal. He said that they haven’t even thought about that yet because of how far away they really still were.

Well, despite what Roenicke said in a random media availability session, I guarantee you that there are people thinking about it. Many times teams will call up a third catcher, an extra bullpen arm or two, and maybe a bench player with a specific skill be that a base running burner or a power-hitting pinch hitter. And while the announcements will probably come after the game on August 31st in San Francisco, Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash, and their staff are certainly considering who could be on their short list.

As you may have figured out by now, I’ve been thinking about it too. I was asked about it a few days ago during one of my twice weekly radio segments on The Mike Heller Show*.

I think that there are three virtual locks to come up on September 1 (or as soon as Nashville’s season ends), along with one who will come up when deemed healthy. I’ll also give you another couple of names so that you can’t be shocked if they make September cameos.

The locks are Logan Schafer, Rob Wooten, and Hunter Morris. Here’s why on each.

Logan Schafer will come back up because he offers a decent pinch-running option, is a top notch defensive replacement for late in games, and is currently hitting the ball well again now that he’s been getting consistent playing time with Triple-A Nashville following his demotion as a result of the Gerardo Parra acquisition. Schafer’s best asset is the aforementioned defense though. Imagine a late game defensive alignment of Schafer, Carlos Gomez, and Parra from left to right. Would anything hit in the air to the outfield get down to the grass?

Rob Wooten would return because at least one extra bullpen arm helps keeps all the others fresh and Wooten is a guy who Roenicke trusts with late inning work. Someone else will also go to the bullpen (whomever vacates a rotation spot when Matt Garza is finally ready to return), so you probably don’t need a second bullpen call up, for what it’s worth.

As for Hunter Morris, he’s the “more on this later” from up the page. Melvin feels he made a mistake in not calling up the 2012 organizational player of the year when rosters expanded in 2013. Melvin felt in hindsight that the experience would have benefitted Morris. For his part, despite missing a significant chunk of time due to injury, Morris is hitting pretty well in a little over 300 at-bats so far in 2014. Morris deserves the experience and since he’ll likely be back in the mix for the first base job in Maryvale in 2015, it certainly wouldn’t hurt him to get a taste of the big league way of doing things.

I think Wei-Chung Wang might be back once he’s deemed healthy, if for no other reason than that he put in quite a bit of time in 2014 and certainly won’t suffer from having a bit more time around the big leaguers. He wasn’t pitching much before his injury so having him around shouldn’t adversely affect much in terms of making sure everyone gets enough innings to stay sharp. Jeff Bianchi could also return at some point. For use in double-switches and straight up defensive substitutions, it never hurts to have another capable utility defender active.

The other guys I think you should at least be aware of are Alfredo Figaro (he of the upper-90s fastball), and Jason Rogers (in case Melvin decides to not only fix his mistake with Morris, but not make the same potential mistake with Rogers).

Those are my thoughts. Let’s hear yours. Respond in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter for Brewers news, analysis and commentary: @BrewerNation

* – You can hear The Mike Heller Show on AM radio in the Milwaukee (The Big 920), Madison (The Big 1070) and Eau Claire (Sports Radio 1400) markets from 2pm-6pm CT. My segments are usually on 2:30pm CT on Mondays and Fridays.

Happy International Prospect Signing Day

Happy 2nd of July!

(You’re a couple of days early — aren’t you?)

How about Happy International Signing Day!

(Happy what now?)

Okay, let me explain.

I know that for many fans of just the Milwaukee Brewers, July 2nd hasn’t carried a whole ton of meaning until recently, and only recently if you’ve followed the organization’s renewed efforts to identify and sign international (read: latin american) talent. That renewed effort coinciding with the opening of their academy in the Dominican Republic, in a partnership with former Brewer closer Salomon Torres.

The Brewers have signed some players but their first real splashes came last July 2nd when they inked a couple of guys to team record Latin American signing bonuses. Those kids, Dominicans Franly Mallen and Nicolas Pierre then each just 16 years old, were ranked 22nd and 29th respectively on MLB.com’s list of top international prospects. They were signed to contracts worth $800,000 apiece, and the Brewers were seen as players again in the region.

Well, a report all the way back in February from Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel had the Brewers tied to an even bigger target in Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara, who he has said is arguably the top international prospect this year.

(Here’s a link to the February column from McDaniel: http://sbb.scout.com/2/1373523.html)

He’s ranked 4th on MLB.com’s international prospects list and is said to have a physically mature body, lending itself to safer projectability. Regardless, he was reported at the time to be a lock to blow the $800,000 franchise record out of the water. In fact, it was seen that Lara could quite easily get $3,000,000 and probably would get a bit more.

While that’s great news for the Brewers, the unfortunate side effect is that since a franchise cannot officially have even a verbal agreement in place prior to July 2nd, the leaked information could put the team at risk of at least having another franchise swoop in to offer more, or at worst costing the organization some sanctions.

While it luckily appears that both of the situations have been avoided because multiple outlets (including ESPN’s Enrique Rojas and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez) reported that Lara has indeed formally agreed to and subsequently signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, something that appears inevitable for now is the Brewers soaring past their “soft cap” for international signings. That number for 2014 is just $2,611800 which would mean Lara alone would already put the Brewers into the realm of financial penalty.

The financial penalties break down thusly (as borrowed from Jesse Sanchez’s MLBlogs.com blog):

  • Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.

For the record, if Lara got the $3.2 million he was reportedly set to sign for today, that puts the Brewers more than 15% over their pool allotment. The Brewers could possibly alleviate some of that by trading for pool space, but that remains to be seen. For now, that’s a worry for 2015.

For the rest of 2014, Lara can be expected to report to the Brewers Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, but per rule he won’t be eligible to play in Dominican Summer League games until next year. Lara is a high-ceiling kid, one whose abilities on the baseball diamond have gained significant attention for a reason. He’s also still just 16 years old and it needs to be understood that even in a great string of events and success, he wouldn’t be playing on United States’ soil until 2016 at the earliest. Still, should he realize the potential that is worth more than $3 million of signing bonus and contract, it will be an investment worth its weight in time and expense.

Final All-Star Updates, Starters Revealed Sunday

I’m so proud of you, fellow Brewers fans, and any who have voted with their heads and picked Brewers as well.

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Brewers Move Up In the Latest All-Star Balloting Update

NLASGUpdate4

You’re not seeing things. Aramis Ramirez has taken over the top spot in the  latest National League All-Star balloting update provided by Major League Baseball. Carlos Gomez has also moved back into starting position and Jonathan Lucroy has passed Buster Posey for second place among NL backstops!

Oh, and how about Jean Segura in second among shortstops and Mark Reynolds and Rickie Weeks both getting on the board at their respective positions in 4th place?

Keep on Voting Brewers!!!

http://brewers.com/vote

Latest NL All-Star Leaderboard

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As you can see, with in-stadium voting over at Miller Park, we’ve got some internet clicking to do to get our guys back into position.

http://mlb.com/vote

Tentative Helena Brewers Roster

The short-season Rookie ball affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Helena Brewers, sent me an advanced copy of their tentative roster.

They admit that more names will be added before Opening Day (likely as additional signings from the 2014 draft are announced) but these are who they know.

PITCHERS (14)

CURTIS, Luke* – RHP
DEETER, Ryan – RHP
GHELFI, Drew – RHP
HIRSCH, Zach* – LHP
HISSA, Donnie* – RHP
LINEHAN, Tyler – LHP
MOORE, Brandon – RHP
ORTEGA, Jorge – RHP
ORTEGA, Luis – LHP
RINCON, Junior – RHP
THOMPSON, Chad – RHP
UHEN, Josh – RHP
WILLIAMS, Devin – RHP
WOODRUFF, Brandon* – RHP

CATCHERS (3)

CLEARY, Jack
McCALL, Greg*
MEJIA, Natanael

INFIELDERS (5)

AVILES, Luis – SS/3B
DeMUTH, Dustin* – 3B
MUNOZ, Gregory – SS/2B
NEUHAUS, Tucker – 3B/SS
SHARKEY, Alan – 1B

OUTFIELDERS (6)

DIAZ, Brandon
HINOJOSA, Dionis
MEYER, Mitch*
RIVERA, Edgardo
RUBIO, Elvis
WILLIAMS, Eric


* denotes 2014 draft pick

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