Is It Time To Consider Expansion?

This article was originally published on FanRagSports.com and republished here with permission.

(Though it certainly helps that I’m the author.)

You can view the original here if you’re so inclined.

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers

I hate seeing injuries befall athletes, especially those competing at the highest level of their sport. These physically gifted gladiators who are putting on a show for our entertainment have earned the opportunity to do so after years and years of training, improvement, and sacrificing. They’ve dedicated their lives to the pursuit of athletic excellence. That any of them should suffer an injury that prevents that excellence is awful.

Recently a pair of ace pitchers suffered injuries while taking their turns in the National League’s batter’s box. Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (jammed thumb) and Adam Wainwright (ruptured Achilles tendon) of the St. Louis Cardinals will both miss time after participating in an activity which some baseball fans see and pointless — and that’s putting it mildly. Granted, Wainwright will miss far more time and there’s a chance he’ll never be the same pitcher again. Scherzer, a former American League Cy Young Award winner, and a man who is on record as appreciating the challenge of hitting, was asked about these injuries and conceded that it may be time for Major League Baseball to adopt the Designated Hitter in the National League. ***UPDATE: Scherzer now claims he was joking when he said these comments.*** Naturally this response sent a wave throughout the circles covering the league. Everybody and their cousin has seemingly weighed in on whether adding the DH to the NL should be numero uno on Rob Manfred’s hit list.

There are plenty of columns out there touting the merits of the DH. Many of them are true. There’s statistical proof that the American League tends to score more runs. There’s statistical proof that pitchers, as a group, are awful at hitting. Someone went so far as to try to show that games with the DH are actually faster on average than those without one.

There are some intelligent pieces written in the last 72 as well debunking some of the go-to arguments of the pro-DH crowd. I am on this side, for the record. I love the strategy and decision-making that goes into the NL game, both in-game and before the game even starts. I would miss it if it were gone and while virtually nobody actually wants to see pitchers flailing wildly at the plate with a less than 15% chance (collectively) of reaching base, I’m willing to deal with those plate appearances to get the other juicy stuff that goes along with them.

But I’m not writing to argue against the DH in the NL — well, not directly anyway. And while I think that the offense in today’s game is actually fine enough, I understand the desire some feel in wanting more. As Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine once epically pointed out after all, “Chicks dig the long ball”. Substitute “fans” as the subject and I think you’ll find the reason that they finally began returning to the game following the players strike that once cost the league a World Series.

Offense sells tickets to many fans. My argument today is that while the DH may have added nominal offense to the American League over time, it is hardly the only way to do so. For your consideration I offer up the idea of expansion.

At its core, expansion increases the number of jobs at the MLB level allowing more players to realize their dream of being big leaguers. When you expand the number of top tier positions what you also accomplish is a diluting of the talent pool. Without as much worthy pitching to go around — and let’s be honest, the last couple of years have more or less been a haven for pitchers — the effectiveness of those doing the job will decrease. It’s been a proven fact throughout MLB history that offense goes up following expansion.

The most recent example, when the Milwaukee Brewers switched leagues as the Tampa Bay (then Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks came into existence in 1998 saw the resulted in a jump in total league-wide runs scored of nearly 1700 runs. When the Colorado Rockies and (then) Florida Marlins joined in 1993 a similar effect happened but that jump was over 3500 runs (runs total statistics courtesy of Baseball-Almanc.com). League batting average jumped eight points between 1992 and 1993 as another example. League batting averages in both the AL & NL have been declining each year since 2007 as pitchers become more specialized and dominant.

Expansion isn’t the end all, be all silver bullet of offense, but it helps. It’s also not just about the offense either.

One of the arguments in support of adding the DH to the NL is that with as much interleague play as happens in today’s game, there should be one universal set of rules governing all teams. Well, adding two teams would even the leagues back out to even numbers (at 16 apiece) and would allow for the end of Interleague Play nearly every single day of the MLB calendar. It’s fun to see different teams every now and then, but the Leagues in MLB were never intended to behave as conferences do in the NFL or NBA. If you even the leagues back out at 16 there’s no reason to continue the Interleague clutter currently happening. It would allow teams to face more of the team they’re directly competing against for the right to appear in the World Series. There have been examples of egregious disparities over the last couple of year in certain cases to which NL division-mates are facing which AL teams. There also isn’t much cause in having, for instance, San Diego face San Francisco 19 times while only facing Houston 16 times. There should be more schedule equality and putting league membership at even numbers would allow for that to happen far more easily.

Lest I forget, there is an insane amount of money in the game of baseball right now. I know that there was brief talk of contraction not all that long ago, but with how the sport has grown, there’s ample resources available to support two new franchises and all the minor league teams, scouting departments, front office staffs, and even beer vendors that come along with them. MLB is also not lacking for markets who would welcome an MLB team with open arms. Stadium deals can get messy, but the promise of 81 home dates each summer tend to get those things done. (And have I mentioned that Montreal already has a mostly-ready stadium?)

If those that claim MLB is dying because of a lack of national numbers are to be believed (and they’re not), wouldn’t adding to more local markets help from a national average? Plus the added revenue of two more localized, rabid, and supportive fan bases couldn’t be denied.

MLB can handle it. Fans are ready. I think hitters wouldn’t complain. Even the incredibly underpaid minor leaguers would see their opportunities increase, but that’s another argument, as is roster expansion itself.

Look, the bottom line is that the Designated Hitter isn’t coming to the National League anytime soon anyway so we may as well look for other ideas. This has been one of mine.

It’s time.

Roster News: Another Starter Hits the DL

Gennett

The Brewers announced Tuesday morning that Scooter Gennett has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List (retroactive to Monday, April 20) due to the left hand laceration he suffered during a post-game shower in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Taking his place on the active roster will be Elian Herrera. Herrera’s contract was purchased from the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox which gets him back on the 40-man roster. Herrera has been scorching hot for the Sky Sox after an impressive spring training…

To clear a spot on the 40-man, RHP Brandon Kintzler was designated for assignment. Kintzler was just activated off of Colorado Springs’ disabled list Tuesday morning after a reported fingernail avulsion.

Broken: Lucroy’s Toe

Sad Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy left Monday night’s game early a half-inning after taking a foul ball squarely off the toes of his left foot while catching. He finished the inning and flew out in his next at-bat but then was lifted in favor of Martin Maldonado. Lucroy limped out of the batter’s box and down the first base line on the play.

Following Monday’s game, the Brewers tweeted the following worst-case scenario news.

In the off-season, the Brewers claimed Juan Centeno off waivers from the New York Mets. Centeno is on the 40-man roster and will join the team in Milwaukee tomorrow.

Entering play Monday, Centeno was hitting a mere .192 in 27 plate appearances across seven games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Centeno, 25, made his MLB debut back in 2013 for the Mets and has a career batting average of .225 in 14 games.

Gomez Hits DL, Recall Made

CarlosGomezSuspended

The Milwaukee Brewers announced this morning that Carlos Gomez was officially placed on the 15-day Disabled List as a result of the injuring of his right hamstring in the ninth inning of Wednesday evening’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was reported that Gomez has a small defect or tear in this hamstring and that he received a cortisone shot.

Gomez was originally hoped to only be out a few days, but an examination by the Brewers’ team doctor in Milwaukee on Thursday revealed the tear and the decision was made to shut Gomez down for the time being.

JasonRogers

To fill Gomez’s spot on the 25-man roster, the Brewers recalled Jason Rogers from his optioned assignment to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox. In six games with the Sky Sox, Rogers has slashed .360/.429/.640 (1.069 OPS) across 28 plate appearances. He has scored eight times, has collected three extra-base hits (one double, two home runs), and has put up three walks to four strikeouts.

Once a 32nd round draft pick by the Brewers back in 2010, Rogers made his Major League as a September call-up just last season. In limited work he collected just one hit (a double) in 10 trips to the plate.

Rogers has the ability to play first base, third base, and some left field defensively.

He adds a right-handed bat with a quality batting eye to the Brewers bench, something they should find useful.

2015 Brewers Organizational Opening Rosters

What follows are the announced rosters for the parent club Milwaukee Brewers as well as each of the full-season minor-league affiliates of the same, broken down by position group.

Milwaukee Brewers
MLB Parent Club (Twitter: @Brewers)

Manager: Ron Roenicke

25 Total Players

Pitchers (12)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (6)

  • Scooter Gennett (@Sgennett2)
  • Hector Gomez
  • Luis Jimenez
  • Adam Lind
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Jean Segura

Outfielders (5)

Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @skysox)

Manager: Rick Sweet

28 Total Players

Pitchers (15)

Catchers (3)

  • Nevin Ashley (@nevin_ashley)
  • Juan Centeno
  • Robinzon Diaz

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @BiloxiShuckers)

Manager: Carlos Subero (@csubero)

27 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

BC Manatees

Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)

Manager: Joe Ayrault

28 Total Players

Pitchers (15)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)

Manager: Matt Erickson

28 Total Players

Pitchers (15)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

Your 2015 Brewers Walk-Up & Entrance Music

Brewer Nation:

Because I’m inevitably asked at some point…

Originally posted on Cait Covers the Bases:

For players, the song they choose for their walk-up or entrance music is often an important decision. What brief part of a song is going to send a message to the fans—and what do I want that message to be? Do I keep the same song that I had last year? What’s the hit that is going to produce the most hits? Is it a superstitious thing, do I want fans to sing along, or do I just use my favorite song right now?

If you’re like me and you’re attuned to the tunes, you probably enjoy seeing this list each year—and updating your iPod playlists accordingly.

DID YOU KNOW? Make sure you download the free Ballpark App! In addition to check-in offers, ballpark maps, game updates and more, one of the really cool features is “Ballpark Music.” Like a song you hear? Check it out on Ballpark–and you can even download…

View original 269 more words

Brewers Roster News

Today the Milwaukee Brewers posted a series of tweets clarifying their roster as we move towards Opening Day.

In total, seven players were moved out of big league camp today leaving just 27 players. Two more moves will be made before the deadline to accomplish such things. One is almost assuredly Jim Henderson who will either open on the disabled list or end up optioned to the minors as he continues to come back from shoulder surgery. The other move will be either the return of non-roster invitee Elian Herrera to the minor league side or the optioning of Logan Schafer.

Doug Melvin told the media recently that he expected to finalize the 25-man roster with players already in camp. That speaks to no trades currently percolating. If that’s the case, the roster appears basically set with just the formal decision to be made on Herrera.

If things shake out as they currently appear, *UPDATE* This is how the roster breaks down:

Starting Pitchers (5): Lohse, Garza, Peralta, Fiers, Nelson

Relief Pitchers (7): Rodriguez, Broxton, Smith, Jeffress, Cotts, Thornburg, Blazek

Catchers (2): Lucroy, Maldonado

Infielders (6): Lind, Gennett, Segura, Ramirez, H. Gomez, Jimenez

Outfielders (5): Davis, C. Gomez, Braun, Parra, Schafer

Ron Roenicke’s lineup today carried the flavor of one we could see on Opening Day as well (with the obvious exception of the choice for pitcher). Here’s what it’ll probably look like.

  1. Carlos Gomez – CF
  2. Jonathan Lucroy – C
  3. Ryan Braun – RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez – 3B
  5. Adam Lind – 1B
  6. Khris Davis – LF
  7. Scooter Gennett – 2B
  8. Jean Segura – SS
  9. Pitcher McThrowballs – P

 

Official Release: Selig Experience to Open Near End of May

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that the Selig Experience, a state-of-the-art attraction at Miller Park to honor retired Commissioner Emeritus and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, will open to the public on Friday, May 29 when the Brewers face the Diamondbacks.

The Selig Experience is located on Miller Park’s Loge Level in the left field corner. A highlight of the attraction is a multimedia presentation that tells the story of Selig’s role in successfully bringing the Brewers to Milwaukee, saving Major League Baseball in the city with his commitment to build Miller Park, and his tireless efforts to promote and grow the game in his hometown.

The Selig Experience will be open to the general public during all Brewers home games, from the time that gates open until the 7th inning, and admission is free for those with tickets to the game. Admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The attraction will also be open to selected tour groups.

A schedule of opening activities includes:

Wednesday, May 27, 6 pm: Media Preview Event – Credentialed media will be given an opportunity to tour the Selig Experience. More details will be announced later. Please note – there will be an embargo on news coverage related to the attraction until 7 pm on Thursday, May 28.

Thursday, May 28, 5 pm – A private gala will be held on the Miller Park playing field, with Commissioner Emeritus Selig, Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio and their guests on hand for a program, dinner and tours of the attraction.

Friday, May 29, 5:30 pm – The attraction will open to ticketed fans on a first-come, first served basis.

Miller Park already is known as a premiere destination for baseball fans, and the Selig Experience takes that to the next level. It will serve as a year-round attraction, adding another extraordinary enhancement to the overall fan experience.

The exhibition space totals approximately 1,500 square feet, and will include authentic artifacts from Selig’s tenure as the Brewers owner. It celebrates the fans’ love of the game, as told through the story of the Brewers founder.

The main multimedia show builds to a surprising encounter with the Commissioner himself inside an authentic reproduction of Selig’s County Stadium office, using a technology found in only a handful of exhibits around the world. After the show, Milwaukee fans will be delighted to take a sneak peek into Selig’s office for themselves.

The design and production of the Selig Experience is being led by BRC Imagination Arts, an experience design agency that Turns Brands into Destinations™. For more than three decades, its masterful storytellers have been chosen by iconic brands and cultural attractions all over the world to inspire and engage their audiences.

Selig’s dedication to baseball has paralleled his love of his hometown of Milwaukee. His first significant move as an executive was to return Major League Baseball to Milwaukee in 1970, when he founded the Milwaukee Brewers. In its first decade, the Brewers featured some of the great teams of that era, which eventually led to an American League pennant and World Series appearance in 1982.

During his tenure as Brewers owner, Selig earned United Press International’s 1978 Executive of the Year award, and the franchise was honored with seven “Organization of the Year” awards.

In the 1990s, Selig began his efforts to build a new ballpark in Milwaukee to replace the aging County Stadium, and Miller Park opened for its first season of play in 2001.

Uihlein-Wilson Architects is also contributing to the initial design of the space for the Selig Experience.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: BREWERS TO AUCTION OPENING DAY “UECKER SEATS”

Proceeds to Benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced that the team will auction off Opening Day tickets for the 103 “Uecker Seats” located at Miller Park. The Dutch style auction will be held exclusively online beginning today, Monday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m. until Tuesday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The “Uecker Seats” are 103 obstructed view seats that are located in Sections 421, 422 and 423. The seats were named after Brewers’ legendary announcer Bob Uecker and the famous Miller Lite “All Stars” campaign. The ad campaign featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row,” despite the fact that Uecker somehow always ended up in the last row. The seats are located near the Last Row Statue of the announcer, which was unveiled last year, in the last row of Terrace Level Section 422.

The Dutch auction will be held exclusively online and there is no limit of the number of seats fans will be able to bid on. There are a total of 103 seats that will be auctioned off, with 42 pairs available and 19 single seats. Each participant can log on to brewers.com/UeckerSeats starting today, Monday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m.  From there, fans can chose the pair and/or single seat options, and make their desired bids. Once the auction closes on Tuesday, March 31, the top bidders for each category will be selected. The final price for each seat will be the lowest bid among the top bidders selected.

Auction participants will be contacted by the Brewers Ticket Office if they have the winning bid. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #20 Jonathan Lucroy

BBtJN Logo

LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

(so on and so forth)

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUC!

Yes, the “ooh” sound in the middle of an athlete’s name means, at least in Wisconsin, that said player will never truly know how the fans feels because it always sounds like ample disdain on the home field. It’s an inevitability. If you’ve ever produced a worthwhile memory, have longevity, and/or are popular for whatever reason, the “oohs” are going to find you. From Brewers favorite Cecil Cooooooooper and the Green Bay Packer John Kuuuuuuuuuuuhn to current Brewer (and today’s profile subject)…

Jonathan Luuuuucroy (er…Lucroy).

JonathanLucroy

The other thing that Jonathan Charles Lucroy couldn’t escape last year was hitting doubles. They were everywhere, it seemed. Truth be told, he hit 53 of them setting a new high-water mark for that statistical category for catchers. Equally as impressive, if not more so, was the Lucroy finished the deed with two months of an ailing hamstring and when the entire rest of the team was seemingly in a simultaneous slump at the plate. Mind you, Lucroy didn’t avoid slumping in 2014, he just happened to have his in July (.207/.271/.414) after a blisteringly hot June (.359/.427/.602) but still managed six doubles in July.

The statistics are there, and in the interest of time I won’t bore you with all of them. Instead allow me to summarize Lucroy’s on- and off-field contributions to the Brewers both in terms of statistics as well as notoriety. Jonathan Lucroy finished fourth in the National League’s Most Valuable Player balloting for 2014, started the All-Star Game at catcher, set those records for doubles, finished with a .301 batting average by getting the two hits he needed on the season’s final day, is the subject of a Star Wars-themed bobblehead in May at Miller Park as well as a fitting “Double Jonathan Lucroy” bobblehead in Appleton at the Brewers Class-A affiliate in April. He was the Brewers representative in MLB Network’s annual “Face of MLB” contest and even attended the President’s State of the Union address in part due to his work with the Honor Flight program. His “nerd power” and eyeglasses celebration was endearing and his frankness and earnestness as a locker room voice for the team is well-noted. His pitch framing is talked about in most every baseball circle that cares. He’s become a complete player with just enough self-deprecating wit to keep away those who would tear down athletes and celebrities deemed to be too popular.

Lucroy truly is a bastion of baseball excellence for the Brewers. He’s listed among the game’s elite at his position and his play is absolutely paramount to the success of the Brewers in 2015. With that in mind, manager Ron Roenicke has made a decision to continue keeping Lucroy’s bat in the lineup while protecting him physically from catching every single day by using Luc as soft platoon partner at first base with newcomer Adam Lind. Lucroy appeared in 18 games at first base for Milwaukee in 2014 — a that number will likely increase in 2015. He handles the pitching staff well and despite not having a great throwing arm it is accurate.

All (okay, most) of the above is why when Lucroy showed up to Spring Training with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that affected him down the stretch last season, so many fans and analysts were worried. Lucroy is reportedly fine now, though still advised against full out “sprinting”. Getting and keeping him healthy throughout 2015 is something that the award winning medical staff of the Brewers is up for, but the body has to cooperate to a degree.

Lucroy’s availability will go a long way in determining how 2015 ends up for himself, his teammates, and Brewers fans alike.

If anybody is up to the task, it’s the man affectionately referred to as “Luuuuc.”

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JLucroy20

Catch up on the countdown!

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