Results tagged ‘ Francisco Rodriguez ’

Brewers Bullpen Prepares Through Communication

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Monday night I sent out this tweet.

It wasn’t the first time I saw Francisco Rodriguez more or less holding court. The other three high-leverage pitchers were huddled by the veteran closer’s locker (to be fair, the lockers of Will Smith and Jonathan Broxton aren’t exactly far away from that of Rodriguez, and Jeremy Jeffress need only come down a handful himself) and were locked in a pointed discussion. That is to say that this looked to be more than your light-hearted postgame celebratory chat.

Tuesday, I decided to confirm my presumption and get a bit more insight from some of the men involved and find out what kind of leader the bullpen has in K-Rod and what kind of advice can be gleaned from the veterans who have combined to pitch in parts of 26 MLB seasons.

I first asked lefty Will Smith, the possessor of the Slider of Death, why it’s valuable to have those guys around him. For the record, Smith’s locker is between Broxton’s and K-Rod’s.

“In my case, I ask (Rodriguez & Broxton) because obviously they’ve had a lot of success. They know what they’re doing. So, my thought process: Why not use them as a learning tool?”, said Smith. “We’ll sit and we’ll break down ABs and what you threw to (a certain hitter).”

But what about the fact that they’re right-handed and he’s a southpaw? Does that matter in breaking down hitters? Smith offered that it doesn’t.

“Just because these guys are right-handed doesn’t mean anything. They still help out a tremendous amount with me and (Jeffress) the most, for sure.”

For his part, Jeffress echoed much of Smith’s sentiment when I asked him what exactly they talk about in those mini-meetings.

“We just break down each one of our outings. What we can learn from it. What we can do better. Just how we attack each and every hitter each day.”, Jeffress said. “Then it’s all about coming together as one because we’re all in this together. And at the end of the day we gotta go home and face what we’ve just been through.”

Jeffress then went bigger picture on me by saying that, “We (Smith and Jeffress) pick their brains so much because we know that this game doesn’t last forever for everyone. The next guy is right there so we just wanna take what they learned and what they taught us and just put it in play for the next couple years.”

I brought it back with a question about huddling early in a series because while you may not face the same guy you did last night, you might face who your teammate did. Jeffress responded about Broxton as his fellow power righty. “(Broxton) will tell me that ‘I didn’t pitch him this way, (or) the best way to go about him is that way.’ Just execute your pitches.”

Broxton told me that their huddles are a multi-directional conversation. It’s not just Smith and Jeffress asking for advice. “We just like to sit down and talk and try to pick each others brains. I may try to pick Will’s or K-Rod’s, or K-Rod wants to know what was our thought process out there. We just try to go over it,” Broxton said. “You’re out there trying to read batters and swings and trying to see what each other’s doing and their thought process too.”

As for his having a fellow veteran like Rodriguez in the clubhouse to bounce his own questions off of, Broxton said “That’s what makes (K-Rod) so great. You can sit down and talk to him about anything. Basically just asking him what is he seeing and get his thought process and (then) put yours together and you can come up with a game plan.”

Game plans are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, each guy still has to go out there and execute. Jeffress said that the veterans show faith in the less-experienced to perform every time it’s their name that’s called.

“They give me a lot of trust,” said Jeffress. “They give everyone in the bullpen a lot of confidence, a lot of trust to believe in their self to go and do the job.”

Again, this “think tank” approach is not new to a clubhouse featuring Francisco Rodriguez, nor is it closed to just the four men who got together yesterday. I’ve seen him talking to Brandon Kintzler after games last year, in particular there was a game where Kintzler struggled pretty badly and it looked to me as though Rodriguez called him over to discuss the outing. K-Rod was talking to him about pitch execution and how pitching Kintzler’s game to the best of his ability would be good enough to get the job done.

Suffice it to say, it has piqued my curiosity a few times over the past couple of seasons. After a particularly rough outing for Broxton it felt right that he would be leveraging the experience of Rodriguez, if for no other reason that K-Rod had a much smoother outing the same night.

So finally, I went to the man himself to understand where this activity came from. I had more presumptions. K-Rod confirmed them.

“That’s something that I just learned coming up. I got the opportunity to have one of the best in the game teach me (in) Troy Percival,” Rodriguez said about his mentor with the Angels. “He told me when I was coming up, when he was teaching me everything, to make sure when I get to this stage and I’m a vet to make sure to teach the young guys how to prepare themselves and how to attack and how to compete out there every night. That’s something I do every single day with the young guys. It’s something I like.”

Rodriguez went on to say that he makes sure he talks to anyone in the bullpen after a game in which they pitched. If it’s a good outing, they talk about it. And if it’s a not so good outing? That’s right — they talk about those too.

Pitchers succeed in baseball more often than they fail. After all, even the best hitters are put out more than 65% of the time. But this approach that I suspect happens in far more places than Milwaukee is no doubt a key to those successes and to overcoming any failures.

Preparedness is half the battle in baseball. For a clubhouse with Francisco Rodriguez in it, that preparation is an ongoing, recurring, everyday thing.

(This article originally appeared on Today’s Knuckleball and was republished here with permission.)

Breaking News: Return of the K-Rod

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Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com broke the news via Twitter, so you know it’s good.

Francisco Rodriguez has agreed to a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers with a team option for a third year. (Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Scott Boras agreed to a deal with Mark Attanasio, but that’s an argument for a different time.)

Rodriguez closed games for the Brewers last year, stepping in (after stepping on a cactus) for the injured Jim Henderson. He posted 44 saves and pitched mostly effectively, but he was hammered by the long ball at a frightening clip. He was a streaky performer, with his struggles coming in bunches for the most part (confirmation bias alert!), but still can be an effective pitcher. He needs to maintain his fastball command more consistently though to aid him in avoiding posting another career-worst home runs allowed total. For the record, it was 14 last year in just 68.0 innings pitched. That’s a 1.9 HR/9, math majors.

The ISO against his fastball in 2014 was .301. That’s terrifying. Still, Rodriguez did post a career best WHIP at 0.985 and struck out more than a batter an inning en route to a 3.04 ERA across 69 games.

But for this multi-year marriage to work out, the home run ball needs to exit from Rodriguez’s repertoire.

***UPDATE***

Tom Haudricourt tweeted full contract details.

Rumor: Francisco Rodriguez “Agrees to Sign”…Somewhere

FranciscoRodriguez

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, free agent relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez won’t be a free agent much longer.

Spencer tweeted out the following blurb Thursday morning.

With the word that Rodriguez isn’t headed to Miami, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports checked in on whether the Blue Jays were the team who had successfully wooed the man they call K-Rod.

So combine those reports with what FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal revealed the other day…

…and it certainly seems as though the Brewers could be reconciling with their most recent closer.

Stay tuned.

The News You May Have Missed From Brewers Spring Training Over the Weekend

We got a boatload of information in tweet form and in longer-form pieces from the Brewers beat writers fortunate enough to already be down at Spring Training covering the Brewers as camp opened up over the weekend.

Here’s a compilation of what you might have missed if you weren’t paying attention.

FRIDAY

P&C weekend began with Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy reminding us just how beautiful green baseball fields are.

Then the information started coming. We learned that Tyler Thornburg, less than a week removed from being labeled as hopefully a “viable candidate” for the bullpen by Asst. GM Gord Ash, was expecting to open camp with no restrictions.

From there, McCalvy talked to Jonathan Lucroy about the All-Star’s expected workload this spring.

The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak also spoke to Lucroy along with Kyle Lohse after the Friday morning announcement about the changes related to the game’s perceived “pace of play” issues.

Tom Haudricourt posted a series of tweets with a quote from the talkative Lohse regarding the team’s collapse. Lohse had said at Brewers On Deck that he would talk to his teammates about it when they got to Maryvale and then move on.

Lohse as transcribed by Haudricourt: “Hopefully we have a group of guys that are pissed off about way things ended.”

Lohse: “We had an excellent 4 ½ months. I’m pissed. You don’t get that many opportunities to get to the playoffs.”

Lohse: “When you have it that close, it should help drive you. Let’s learn from it and not let that happen again.”

The official Twitter account of the Brewers Player Development staff got in on the news making by dropping this tweet on Friday.

But of course, we already knew about half of that the night before. (h/t @Mass_Haas)

SATURDAY

Day Two of camp opened with some news about a potential #7 starter in the person of Michael Blazek.

Speaking of starting pitchers, Rosiak told us that Johnny Hellweg, just 9.5 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is throwing off a mound and should be in games before April.

Rosiak also talked to Ash about Thornburg and Jim Henderson.

Haudricourt checked back in on Twitter with a reminder about the backup corner infielder spot.

As for the back-end of the bullpen? Well, at least for now…

Ron Roenicke spoke with reporters. Todd Rosiak tweeted that the hot corner could have more games started by not Aramis Ramirez than in years past.

SUNDAY

Adam McCalvy worked his beat hard on Saturday, and on Sunday we saw the results of some of his efforts. Included among them was this conversation with Dontrelle Willis, who is aiming to make the Brewers on a minor league deal.

From outside the Brewers beat, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal checked in with this Sunday evening tidbit.

And this clarification…

Roster News Roundup

If you’re otherwise unable to keep up on news as it happens throughout the day (via social media, or however), allow me to catch you up on the all the roster news coming out of One Brewers Way over the past several days.

(I’ve tweeted all of this as it happened, but this is a quick summary so it’s all in one place.)

  • October 27th
    • 3B Luis Jiménez claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • October 30th
    • Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
      • Zach Duke
      • Tom Gorzelanny
      • Lyle Overbay
      • Mark Reynolds
      • Francisco Rodriguez
    • A report came out that the 2015 contract option on Yovani Gallardo had been exercised
  • October 31st
    • Brewers confirm picking up Gallardo’s option
    • Rickie Weeks officially became a free agent when the team declined the 2015 option on his contract
    • Brewers officially exercised their half of the mutual 2015 option on the contract of Aramis Ramirez
      • Ramirez officially has three (3) days — read Monday — to decide whether he will opt in as well or decline the option to become a free agent
    • C Juan Centeno claimed off waivers from the New York Mets

Quick thoughts (because you can get a list anywhere):

Jiménez sounds like a great glove with some power who carries a higher average than Reynolds. Truly feels like Doug Melvin found a player worth replacing the veteran with.

Speaking of the free agents, the Brewers could look to bring back either Duke or Gorzelanny (though likely not both) but there’s certainly a tenable position that with Duke’s performance and Gorzelanny’s recent health concerns that they choose to let both sign contracts elsewhere. I’d lean toward them re-signing Duke of the two, though Gorzelanny could be cheaper. Overbay has said publicly that he’s leaning toward retirement. As for Reynolds, when he was simply passed over down the stretch last season, it felt like he dropped out of favor. He was streakier at the plate than I think the Brewers anticipated.

Gallardo’s option getting picked up makes all the sense in the world. I covered that move specifically here before it was confirmed Friday morning.

Rickie Weeks leaving Milwaukee is truly a notable moment. He’s been in the franchise for a long time, and was really the first of the high draft picks which ultimately led to winning seasons and playoff runs. While he never did realize the level of a #2 overall draft pick due mainly to injuries, he was the consummate professional in his time in Milwaukee. I wish him consistent success wherever his career takes him next.

Wanting to bring Ramirez back makes sense to a degree as the Brewers haven’t yet developed an internal replacement at third base. Should he decline his option to seek a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Brewers could turn to Jiménez or another internal option like Jason Rogers who played there in 2014 for the first time since college, or even, assuming he stays as has been rumored, Taylor Green? (Yes, that’s how thin the hot corner has been for the Brewers.)

Finally, as for Centeno, I haven’t had much of a chance to read up on him but I did see that he was a tremendous defensive season in 2013 in the minors though he reportedly regressed this past season. He hit pretty well in the minors in 2014 though. Without another catcher on the 40-man roster outside of the MLB level duo of Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, it’s nice to have someone readily available who also has minor league options remaining.

Anyway, there’s your end of October round up of the Brewers roster moves over the past few days. Also noteworthy in roster news is that the Washington Nationals declined their option on 1B Adam LaRoche, making him a free agent. He could be a top target in free agency for Doug Melvin

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

Brewers Get Four All-Stars on Selection Sunday

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The Milwaukee Brewers today had four players selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It marks only the fifth time in franchise history that the team has had four All-Stars. Center fielder Carlos Gomez (starter), third baseman Aramis Ramirez (starter), catcher Jonathan Lucroy and pitcher Francisco Rodriguez will represent the Brewers at this year’s Midsummer Classic, which will be played at Target Field in Minnesota on Tuesday, July 15 at 7pm CT.

In addition to the 2014 season, the Brewers had four All-Star selections in 1980 (Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor, Ben Oglivie and Robin Yount), 1982 (Cooper, Rollie Fingers, Oglivie and Yount), 1983 (Cooper, Oglivie, Ted Simmons and Yount) and 2007 (Francisco Cordero, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and Ben Sheets). The Brewers have multiple All-Star starters for the seventh time (1980, 1982, 1983, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2014).

 

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Gomez, 28, has been selected to his second All-Star Game and first as a starter. He was a first-time All-Star last season. Gomez finished second among National League outfielders in fan voting (4,068,745), trailing only the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen (4,519,440) and just ahead of the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig (4,059,746). He is batting .299 with 13 HR and 45 RBI in 80 games this season.

AramisRamirezAllStarBanner2014 Ramirez, 36, has been selected to his third All-Star Game and second as a starter. He started the 2005 All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Scott Rolen. He was also an All-Star in 2008. Ramirez had 2,318,611 votes in fan balloting, finishing ahead of the Mets’ David Wright (1,979,883). He is batting .287 with 11 HR and 41 RBI in 63 games this season.

JonathanLucroyAllStarBanner2014

Lucroy, 28, has been selected to his first All-Star Game. He was selected via the player vote, finishing first among National League catchers with 420 votes. Lucroy is batting .329 with 9 HR and 44 RBI in 82 games this season. He entered today’s game leading the National League in multi-hit games (31) and among the league leaders in batting average (2nd), doubles (2nd), hits (T3rd), on-base percentage (4th), slugging percentage (5th), OPS (5th) and extra-base hits (5th).

FranciscoRodriguezAllStarBanner2014Rodriguez, 32, has been selected to his fifth All-Star Game. He was also an All-Star in 2004, 2007 and 2008 with the Angels and in 2009 with the Mets. Rodriguez was selected via the player vote, finishing second among National League relievers with 138 votes, trailing only the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel (190). He is 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA and 27 saves in 42 appearances this season while holding opponents to a .187 batting average. His 27 saves tied Kimbrel for the Major League lead entering today’s game.

Milwaukee Brewers 2014 Player Salaries

Here is a listing of the MLB salaries of the 26* men earning MLB-level pay from the Milwaukee Brewers as of Opening Day.

Quick math: The figures below total $101,219,338.00

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Aramis Ramirez $15,137,803

Matt Garza $12,209,424

Rickie Weeks $12,000,000

Yovani Gallardo $11,500,000

Ryan Braun $11,111,111

Kyle Lohse $11,000,000

Carlos Gomez $7,000,000

Marco Estrada $3,325,000

Francisco Rodriguez $3,250,000

Tom Gorzelanny* $3,150,000

Jonathan Lucroy $2,100,000

Mark Reynolds $2,000,000

Lyle Overbay $1,500,000

Zach Duke $850,000

Jean Segura $534,000

Wily Peralta $515,000

Jim Henderson $512,000

Brandon Kintzler $507,000

Logan Schafer $505,000

Tyler Thornburg $505,000

Scooter Gennett $504,000

Khris Davis $503,000

Jeff Bianchi $ 502,000

Martin Maldonado $ 502,000

Will Smith $502,000

Wei-Chung Wang $500,000


*Tom Gorzelanny is on the 15-day Disabled List to begin the season

Source: USA Today

2014 Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day Roster

Here is the breakdown of the Opening Day 25-man roster.

PITCHERS (12)
59 Zach Duke* – LHP
41 Marco Estrada – RHP
49 Yovani Gallardo – RHP
22 Matt Garza – RHP
29 Jim Henderson – RHP
53 Brandon Kintzler – RHP
26 Kyle Lohse – RHP
38 Wily Peralta – RHP
57 Francisco Rodriguez – RHP
13 Will Smith – LHP
30 Tyler Thornburg – RHP
51 Wei-Chung Wang – LHP

CATCHERS (2)
20 Jonathan Lucroy
12 Martin Maldonado

INFIELDERS (7)
14 Jeff Bianchi
2 Scooter Gennett
24 Lyle Overbay
16 Aramis Ramirez
7 Mark Reynolds
9 Jean Segura
23 Rickie Weeks

OUTFIELDERS (4)
8 Ryan Braun
18 Khris Davis
27 Carlos Gomez
1 Logan Schafer

DISABLED LIST (1)
32 Tom Gorzelanny LHP (left shoulder)

STAFF
10 Ron Roenicke – Manager
33 Mike Guerrero – Coach
35 Garth Iorg – 1B Coach
39 Rick Kranitz – Pitching Coach
36 Jerry Narron – Bench Coach
37 Johnny Narron – Hitting Coach
6 Ed Sedar – 3B Coach
31 John Shelby – Outfield Coach
43 Lee Tunnell – Bullpen Coach
56 Joe Crawford – Coaching Assistant
55 Marcus Hanel – Bullpen Catcher

2014 Milwaukee Brewers 25-Man Roster Projection

Milwaukee Brewers

We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.

Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.

I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?

With that, to the list!

Starting Pitchers (5)

  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Marco Estrada
  • Matt Garza
  • Wily Peralta

I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.

The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.

Relief Pitchers (7)

(with one more starting on DL)

  • Jim Henderson
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Will Smith*
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Wei-Chung Wang*
  • Rob Wooten
  • Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
  • Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)

Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.

For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.

Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.

As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.

Infielders (7)

  • Mark Reynolds
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Jean Segura
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
  • Scooter Gennett**
  • Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)

Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.

Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.

The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.

For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.

Outfielders (4)

  • Khris Davis
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Ryan Braun
  • Logan Schafer**

Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.

* - Throws left-handed
** - Bats left-handed
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So there you have it.

I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.

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