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.

Roster News: We Wish Them Well In Their Future Endeavors

Today the Brewers confirmed the call-ups of the three playersreported yesterday afternoon. In that linked piece, I mentioned that the resultant fallout to open up the necessary pair of 40-man roster spots could be interesting. Looks like I was right again.

The additions of two players who earned spots comes at the expense of two who had previously done the same.

caleb gindlDesignated For Assignment was Caleb Gindl. Should he clear waivers, it’s a virtual certainty that Gindl would choose to leave the Brewers organization. He has talent but was never afforded a consistent opportunity to showcase himself at the game’s highest level. And since his last chance, he’s been passed on the organizational depth chart by Khris Davis and bumped further down with the acquisition of Gerardo Parra who should return for 2015.

Gindl can be traded during the DFA period as well, but cannot technically refuse an outright assignment to Nashville as he has not been removed from a 40-man roster before in his professional career.

In my opinion, there’s a spot for Gindl on a Major League roster somewhere, but in Milwaukee it just came down to a matter of available space. There just wasn’t enough.

burgosThe other player lost, in his case to outright release, was right-handed pitcher Hiram Burgos. The professional story of Burgos is one to behold, as he pitched his way from High-A ball to being on alert as the “next-guy-if-we-need-someone-in-September” all in just 2012. I’ve chronicled that on the blog before, if you’re interested in reading about it.

Burgos pitched well in 2013 winter ball, but after a rough start to his season as lead dog in the Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds rotation, Burgos underwent a “clean up” procedure on his throwing shoulder on June 19th. His season was done, and now we know so was his tenure in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

Bottom line: The Brewers needed two spots and guys have been removed off of 40-man Rosters for lesser reasons than “too much depth at one position” and “growing injury history”. That doesn’t make it less impactful to the lives of the men and families behind the names on a transaction page, but at the end of the day it’s a business.

To Caleb Gindl and Hiram Burgos, two players that have always been gracious where I’m concerned, I wish them the absolute best in continuing their careers outside the Brewers’ organization.

Second Round of September Call-Ups Coming

Following their first round of call-ups yesterday, I just heard from a reliable source that the Brewers will call up at least three more players following today’s game now that Nashville’s season has concluded.

Joining the Brewers in the clubhouse tomorrow will be:

  • Jason Rogers
  • Hector Gomez
  • Matt Clark

Rogers, the Brewers’ reigning MiLB Player of the Year, has been playing mostly third base this season in the minor league system. He’s been on an absolute tear of late, finishing his minor-league season on an eight-game hitting streak that included a pair of home runs.

For as hot as Rogers has been at the plate, nobody holds a candle to the lefty clubber Matt Clark. Acquired after Hunter Morris went down with a long-term injury this season (he’s been back and playing), Clark has demolished the Pacific Coast League. In 53 games with the Sounds, Clark is slashing .313/.371/.605 and has hit 16 home runs, all in just 195 at-bats. Of those 16 home runs, a cool 12 have come in the just-completed month of August.

Gomez is primarily a shortstop, and could have been a minor league free agent following this season had the Brewers not added him to the 40-man roster. He was also announced as a participant in the upcoming edition of the Arizona Fall League on behalf of the Brewers so it was widely thought that he would have to be added to the 40-man roster at some point. Gomez played in two MLB games back in 2011 as a Colorado Rockies player, but hasn’t been back since.

As for Rogers and Clark, their first games in a Brewers uniform will be their first games at the highest level of professional baseball.

Congratulations to all three players on strong seasons. They’ve earned these promotions.

Gomez and Clark will require 40-man roster moves. The Brewers could move *UPDATE* Johnny Hellweg (not Tyler Thornburg who is already there) to the 60-day DL easily enough. The other move could be simple, or a bit more interesting depending on how the Brewers choose to go.

Brewers Make First Group of September Call-Ups

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The Milwaukee Brewers have made what is at least their first round of September call-ups prior to Monday’s game in Chicago.

As I first told you on Twitter just before 10pm on Sunday night:

I went on to mention how much sense it makes to have a third catcher in the month of September. Just think back to how the Brewers utilized Yorvit Torrealba, and you’ll get the idea.

In order to clear a 40-man roster spot, which I mentioned they’d need, the Brewers moved infielder Jeff Bianchi to the 60-day Disabled List.

The only other true September call-up at this point is outfielder Logan Schafer, likely recalled a day earlier than he would have been due to the uncertainty surrounding the injured wrist of Carlos Gomez. Gomez said he felt a pop in his left wrist while swinging during an at-bat in the top of the third inning on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. He was pulled from the game after awkwardly finishing his at-bat with a bad swing.

To Schafer’s part, he’s had a whole lot full of better looking swings since getting back in a groove due to his regular playing time with Nashville. When he was demoted following the acquisition of Gerardo Parra, Schafer went back to a .236/.349/.375 slash line in Triple-A. All he’s done is get hits in 19 out of his 23 games (including eight multi-hit affairs) and raised his slash line to .273/.356/.461 which is not an insignificant increase. Schafer still brings his glove with him which he might need early.

As for the other additions made official on Monday, while Jimmy Nelson is technically a September call-up (he was only officially with the Brevard County Manatees on paper while awaiting his scheduled MLB start Monday afternoon), the Brewers otherwise activated both Matt Garza and Wei-Chung Wang off of the 15-day Disabled List.

Garza is scheduled to rejoin the Brewers starting rotation on Wednesday in Chicago. He has been out since being pulled during a brilliant start against the St. Louis Cardinals back  on August 3rd after straining his left oblique. The Cardinals came back to steal that one from the Brewers prompting Garza to say that they “dodged a bullet.” Hopefully it doesn’t take Garza long to round back into that same form. The Brewers are going to need him.

The Brewers probably won’t need much from Wei-Chung Wang though. Wang has been stretching out during his rehab assignment, most recently completing the longest outing (7.2 IP) of his professional career with the Brevard County Manatees. In it, he tied a career-high with eight strikeouts, something he hadn’t done since his first appearance in 2013 in the Pirates’ system. It will be good experience for Wang to be around a pennant push, though I wouldn’t expect him to pitch maybe at all in September. They’ve got more than enough arms to cover themselves and Ron Roenicke rightfully won’t exactly trust Wang with every pitch being so crucial over the next 28 days.

The other new face in the Brewer locker room on Monday is expected to be relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton whom the Brewers officially acquired from the Cincinnati Reds just after noon on Sunday. For more on that deal, check my write-up here as well as my short interview with Broxton’s agent.

Five Minutes With Jonathan Broxton’s Agent, BB Abbott

I wanted to give you a little something extra today as it relates to the newest Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Broxton, so I reached out to his agent, BB Abbott, for a couple of quick questions to gauge how the big right-hander has taken to the news.

BB Abbott with client Chipper Jones

The first thing I asked Mr. Abbott was when they learned about the waiver claim and that the trade had been agreed to. Abbott told me that they “just found out today” when the Reds “brought Jonathan into the office and told him about 1:30 (eastern time).”

I then asked about how Broxton was taking to the news of being traded at all, and specifically to Milwaukee given their position relative to Cincinnati’s. Abbott said that Broxton was “surprised to get traded in the middle of a long-term deal”, mentioning how a player kind of puts down roots in those kinds of situations. But as it set in, Abbott said that Broxton “has realized it’ll be a good spot for him.” He said that Broxton is understandably “excited” to be joining a pennant race and “respects the organization” a great deal given their history on the field over the years.

Finally, I asked Abbott about 2015 and whether that was a thought yet for Broxton. Abbott admitted that being in the closer’s mix makes sense but assured me that Broxton’s “focus is to [join the team] and help the Brewers in any way that they want.” Abbott also stated that Broxton “certainly hasn’t looked past this year and helping the [Brewers].”

BB Abbott is a licensed athlete agent and MLBPA certified baseball agent living in Tampa, FL. He works for Jet Sports Management. He also represents a pair of Brewers prospects, pitcher David Goforth and 2012 Organizational Minor League Player of the Year, Hunter Morris.

Roster News: Brewers Bolster Bullpen By Bringing In Broxton

Brox

Because sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

The official release reads like this:

SAN FRANCISCO – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed reliever Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for two players to be named. Broxton, who is eligible for the Brewers’ postseason roster, will join the team tomorrow in Chicago. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

Broxton, 30, is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 7 saves in 51 appearances this season. Opponents are batting just .190 (32-for-168, 3hr). He has pitched for Los Angeles (2005-11), Kansas City (2012) and Cincinnati (2012-14) during his 10-year career, going 35-29 with a 3.05 ERA and 118 saves in 531 appearances, all in relief.

Even as far back as July, Doug Melvin wasn’t shy about his desire to obtain another bullpen pitcher, preferably one:

  • with closing experience
  • who throws right-handed
  • has some giddy up on his fastball

So how did this come about? The Reds posted Broxton to revocable waivers and the Brewers put in the winning claim. They had until 1:00pm ET today to work out a trade. They did so and the deal was announced by the Brewers at 12:46pm CT. Typically with players to be named later, the two teams agree upon a list of players who are eligible to be chosen to complete the trade and the acquiring team is given some time to scout them and make their decisions. Sometimes the players are already agreed to but need to be called “to be named later” for various reasons. In this case, it appears to be one of both as Reds GM Walt Jocketty has told reporters that the teams have agreed to one player and have a list for choosing the other. Regardless, a pair of prospects will be headed to the Reds by the end of September. The price won’t be super cheap because Broxton is under contract already for 2015, and there’s value in cost certainty. More on that later.

In trading for Broxton, the Brewers are adding a missing element to their 2014 bullpen. They have lacked an experienced, power righty to match up late in games, probably slot in as the primary set up man, and provide additional confidence for manager Ron Roenicke on days where Francisco Rodriguez can’t or shouldn’t be used in save situations. You can see Broxton’s stats above, and they certainly look quite desirable for a team in the Brewers’ situation.

As several of you decided was worth pointing out on Twitter, this trade doesn’t help the lineup or bench. With comments from “tell him to bring a bat” to “this is no help…he can’t hit”, once again people have decided to miss the forest for the trees. Just because Broxton can’t help the Brewers at the plate doesn’t mean that it’s a deal that shouldn’t have been made. It’s still a big immediate help for the Brewers.

Anyway, welcome to “later”. Broxton’s arm will help in 2014 but he’s also under contract for 2015 and as I said right away on Twitter, he’ll be in the mix come February to close for the Brewers in 2015. He’s owed $9 million in 2015, which is a lot but not undoable, as well as a $9 million mutual option for 2016 with a $2 million buyout. So, the Brewers will be paying Broxton some quality coin over a minimum of the next 15 months or so, but it could certainly be worth it if all goes according to plan.

Report: Brewers Win Waiver Claim on First Baseman, Cannot Work Out Trade

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Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers were awarded a waiver claim earlier this week but were unable to work out a trade with the posting team. As such, the player was pulled back from waivers and will not be headed to Milwaukee for the balance of the season.

The player in question is Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, he of the National League-leading .317 batting average and good defense.

Morneau, who took a relatively inexpensive deal in Colorado during the off-season, has been very good for the Rockies in 2014 when he’s been healthy. He dealt with a bit of a neck injury around the non-waiver trading deadline, for example.

Unfortunately, in some ways, the Brewers were not able to work out a trade with Colorado to acquire Morneau. The Rockies’ front office has had astronomical asking prices for most of their players this season once they decided to sell. And they wouldn’t move some pieces that made little sense to hang on to (i.e. LaTroy Hawkins). Morneau doesn’t fit the latter. He’s under contract for 2015 at only $6.75 million with a mutual option for 2016 at just $9 million as well. He’s an affordable piece, even for a second-division club like the Rockies. In other words, he’s quite sensible to keep. As for the asking price, while we don’t know exactly what the Brewers offered, we do know that it was a package of players and that Colorado declined it and simply pulled Morneau back.

Morneau would have been a nice upgrade despite Lyle Overbay’s recent successes at the plate. Morneau plays good defense, crushes right-handed pitching, and isn’t terrible against southpaws. He’s not a Coors Field product either. He’s hit for a slightly higher average on the road in 2014, with matching slugging percentages of .500 both at home and away. He also possesses great career numbers at Miller Park. He doesn’t have the power of Mark Reynolds, but that .500 SLG as of press time amidst an overall slash line of .317/.360/.500, is nothing to sneeze at.

But we don’t need to worry about why Morneau would have been a good fit on the field. We also don’t need to worry about the specific pieces that were in the package offered.

As I told one of my radio stations when we recorded my segment about 10 minutes after the news broke (you can hear it today at 3:30pm in Wausau on ESPN Radio, by the by), while Morneau makes sense on paper, the Brewers’ best offer wasn’t deemed to be enough by Colorado. That’s what matters to me because Doug Melvin was willing to go to a point but not past it to somewhat improve a position. Colorado has every right to ask for the moon, but Melvin has a good track record of knowing what’s a fair return. If he didn’t think that the juice was worth the squeeze, then it probably wasn’t. It’s not ALL about 2014. It unfortunately never can be. And Melvin is right far more often than he isn’t when it comes to matters of roster decisions.

Let’s just hope it wouldn’t have made the difference.

Brewers Will Send Taylor, Ramirez, others to 2014 Arizona Fall League

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30 groups of prospects, six teams, ~5.5 weeks. This is the Arizona Fall League.

As a premier showcase for talent on the cusp of breaking through to the upper levels of the minors and ultimately The Show, the Arizona Fall League plays host to some of baseball’s best and brightest of who you’ve likely never heard. This year the AFL runs from October 7 through the league championship game on November 15. The annual All-Star Game, appropriately dubbed the “Fall Stars Game” will be held on November 1.

Brewers prospects will be a part of a different, yet somewhat familiar, team this year. After competing last year as a part of the Saguaros of Surprise, the Brewers will be returning to the monicker under which they played in 2012, that of the Desert Dogs. In 2012, the Desert Dogs were referred to as the Phoenix Desert Dogs. In 2014, however, they’re known as the Glendale Desert Dogs. They play their home games at Camelback Ranch, which is the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

Farmhands from the Dodgers, White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers will work alongside those of the Brewers as members of the Desert Dogs.

gddlogos

banner courtesy of CamelbackRanchBaseball.com

The Brewers originally were set to send six players to Surprise in 2013. They were pitchers David Goforth, Taylor Jungmann, and Kevin Shackelford, infielder Jason Rogers, outfielder Mitch Haniger, and catcher Adam Weisenburger. For 2014, Milwaukee will be sending ### players (and pitching coach Chris Hook) to Glendale. By position, here are those players and some supplemental information:

Pitchers

  • Brooks Hall – RHP – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2014: Double-A)
  • Ariel Peña – RHP – (Triple-A) (***9/3 UPDATE*** Peña was announced as no longer participating on September 3.)
  • Mike Strong – LHP – Twitter: @Strong_Mike1188 (***9/7 UPDATE*** Strong was announced as a participant.)
  • Tyler Wagner – RHP – Twitter: @_TylerWagner_ (Class-A Advanced)
  • Wei-Chung Wang – LHP – Twitter: @LeftyWang51 (MLB – As a Rule 5 pick)

Infielders

  • Nick Ramirez – 1B – Twitter: @N_Ramirez33 – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2014: Double-A)
  • Hector Gomez – SS – (Triple-A)

Outfielders (Brewers’ Priority Position)

  • Tyrone Taylor – Twitter: @Ty_roneTaylor – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2014: Class A-Advanced)
    • Taylor is currently ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Brewers’ Top Prospect

Catchers

  • Shawn Zarraga – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2014: Triple-A)

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.

2014 Fan Appreciation Night Details

The Milwaukee Brewers will celebrate Fan Appreciation Night presented by Chevrolet at Miller Park on Saturday, September 27 against the Chicago Cubs. The evening will include numerous giveaways and prizes, and one lucky fan will win “The Ultimate Tailgate” grand prize: a 2014 Chevy Equinox and a $1,000 gift card to Pick ‘n Save.

The Chevy Equinox features a custom Brewers wrap (see attachment) and will be displayed at Miller Park and various Pick ‘n Save stores in the Greater Milwaukee area beginning this week. Along with the Chevy Equinox, the Klement’s Famous Racing SausagesTM will make special appearances at the store locations. In addition, five pairs of tickets for Fan Appreciation Night and Pick ‘n Save gift cards will be given away during each appearance.

All fans in attendance on Fan Appreciation Night presented by Chevrolet will receive a 2014 Brewers team photo and a 2015 Brewers magnetic schedule. Additionally, all fans will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win fabulous prizes, including autographed memorabilia, gift certificates to the Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park and many additional prizes from team corporate sponsors (prizes subject to change).

Tickets for Fan Appreciation Night presented by Chevrolet are available at the Miller Park Box Office, online at Brewers.com or by calling the Brewers ticket office at (414) 902-4000.

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