Results tagged ‘ Gord Ash ’

Brewers Ink Veteran Infielder

donniemurphyThe Brewers have signed infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Major League camp in Spring Training.

Murphy, who turns 30 in March, batted .216/.281/.379 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 52 games with the Miami Marlins in 2012. He was a member of their organization over the past three seasons. Murphy made his big league debut in 2004 as a member of the Kansas City Royals. Murphy has played in the Majors as a member of the Royals (’04-’05), Oakland Athletics (’07-’08) and Marlins (’10-’12). He also spent the entirely of 2009 in the Baltimore Orioles organization at the Triple-A level.

He’s a utility infielder by trade, rostered for versatility and his glove, certainly never displaying  much of a bat during his career. His career minor league slash line is .279/.347/.461 after all, so he’s never been expected to hit a whole lot. Throughout his MLB service time, Murphy has made 70 appearances at shortstop, 66 at third base, 63 at second base and even one start in left field (for Oakland in 2008). He made 17 starts at third base, eight at second base and one at shortstop in 2012 for the Marlins.

When reached for comment by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said that Murphy was the first of a group of utility infielders under review who accepted Milwaukee’s offer.

If nothing else, this signing is of a baseball veteran to challenge for the backup shortstop role on the 25-man roster. It’s a spot that needs to be filled on every team so why not import some competition for Jeff Bianchi.

The Brewers now have seven official non-roster invitees to Major League camp in Spring Training.

Here they are listed alphabetically by surname:

  • RHP Jairo Asencio
  • C Dayton Buller
  • RHP Darren Byrd
  • INF Hector Gomez*
  • C Blake Lalli
  • INF Donnie Murphy
  • LHP Travis Webb

* Hector Gomez was injured while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He is expected to miss a significant portion of the 2013 regular season.

Hot Stove Report: Brewers Focusing In

jphowellThe Winter Meetings came and went with the Milwaukee Brewers not exactly making headlines. No agreements were made during the week though the meetings were hardly without action by Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, and their contingent.

It was reported last week Wednesday that Doug Melvin had met with Greg Genske, representative of several free agents this off-season. While Melvin confirmed the meeting, he wouldn’t state the nature of the discussions.

I learned last night that the Brewers have begun to “kick the tires”, to use the phrase, on one of Genske’s charges. By that I mean that they’ve looked into the player a bit more closely as of late. That player is free agent left-handed relief pitcher J.P. Howell.

Howell, 29, threw 50.1 IP in 2012, posting a 3.04 ERA while limiting left-handed hitters to a .200 AVG (17-for-85). He has made 101 appearances over the past two years as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

No offer has been made. It didn’t even sound like any terms had been discussed. The Brewers aren’t the only team interested in Howell. It was reported some time in the last few days (the specific tweeter escapes me) that Howell was being looked at by the Washington Nationals since they had lost Sean Burnett to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, PST. The Nationals “involvement” on Howell was confirmed to me last night as well.

Also of note, after the talk at the Winter Meetings about how the Brewers “would listen” on offers for Corey Hart, I was told that there aren’t any trade talks about any Brewer past the early stages. That does not mean that there are any in the early stages, just that none are advanced past that point if any are underway at all.

See Previous Hot Stove Reports:

Winter Meetings Recap Day 4: Much Ado About…Something

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Whilst at the Winter Meetings, the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t actually acquire a single player. They lost one in the Rule V Draft Thursday morning but that was the extent of player transactions which were completed completely within the four-day span in Nashville.

The Brewers signed one player to a MiLB contract but according to Gord Ash, that was actually accomplished “this past weekend” prior to the Winter Meetings. It came together both because the Brewers provide a lot of opportunity with its currently thin bullpen and because the player lives in Nashville and decided that if it was necessary for him to pitch in Triple-A in 2013, it may as well be at home with the Brewers affiliate Nashville Sounds.

As for the official four day conference, the Brewers made no moves. But no one should take that to mean that they got nothing accomplished.

Described as “busy” but just with nothing done yet, the Doug Melvin’s contingent made and received calls, met with agents, reviewed players, discussed terms for potential contract offers, and generally conducted a fair about of business.

Going home empty-handed when several players the Brewers reportedly targeted and/or were a fit for what the Brewers need went off the board has left some fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Before resigning yourself to believing that, as one fan put it to me, the Brewers “won’t get anyone worth a damn  this winter”, I implore you to think about what was done over the last week.

Yes, the Brewers want a left-handed reliever. Ron Roenicke has said he doesn’t need a lefty just to have a lefty, but more than one person fashioned their desire as a “focus”. Would you really have wanted Melvin to commit three years to any reliever (how’d David Riske work out for us again?) or pay a glorified LOOGy an average salary around $5 million? As I said yesterday, discretion has proven the better part of valor on more than one occasion throughout history.

Another example of the best laid plans not always working out: The Brewers were tied to Jason Grilli early on in the week with Doug Melvin telling reporters that he had talked to Grilli’s agent about the free agent right-handed relief pitcher. I reported that the Brewers were discussing terms of an offer to present. Ron Roenicke stated that the team is definitely interested in him. Then Grilli narrows his options down to a handful of teams, excluding the Brewers, and Melvin turned on his heel and said that they hadn’t talked to Grilli’s agent all week. Some fans take that at face value and think that the Brewers didn’t do anything regarding Grilli, but that simply isn’t the case. What they did do just didn’t work out. (I plan on analyzing this situation further depending on how busy the news wire is over the next few days, so keep an eye out for that.)

Bottom line about the Winter Meetings though is that while not much may have gotten done as the market awaits the outcomes of several situations (Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, the rumored multi-team deal involving Justin Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera, et al) plenty still went on.

Speaking of Hamilton, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass along a tweet from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. It was posted right around the time when people began talking about the rumored contract discussions surrounding Hamilton being about 3-4 years and averaging somewhere between $20-$25 million annually. Here’s the tweet:

So yes, the rumor that refuses to go away is still very much around. With this, coupled with the talk about the Brewers being willing to “listen” on Corey Hart to free up money if necessary, and grouped with Gord Ash’s comments from early in the week about how the only problem with bringing Hamilton to Milwaukee is money…

Yeah, well, ’tis the season for speculation, reasoned or otherwise.

Final piece of news to pass along is that the Brewers’ projected starting shortstop at Double-A Huntsville, Hector Gomez, was injured seriously enough in a winter league game that he could miss significant time in 2013.

This could lead to the Brewers ramping up a search for a minor league shortstop. They’re already looking for an upgrade at backup shortstop with the parent club.

So again, there’s plenty for Melvin and the Brewers to accomplish between now and February 12th but there’s also plenty of time right now for it all to happen.

Enjoy the holiday season and stay tuned as we’ll bring you all the news that breaks surrounding the team.

Read all about the Winter Meetings here!

Winter Meetings Day 3 Recap: Swing and a Miss, Strike 2!

What a busy day at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Busy, but not all that productive for the Milwaukee Brewers.

After expressing their interest in Sean Burnett, Jason Grilli, Randy Choate, Ryan Dempster, and others this week, the Brewers have lost out on a couple of those names.

Burnett is reportedly going to the Angels on a two-year deal worth “just south of” $9.5 million total.

Mike DiGiovanna has since confirmed the cost for Burnett, which is higher than I was told the Brewers wanted to offer.

Jason Grilli tweeted that he was headed to the Winter Meetings for a “full day” (which isn’t over yet) and his agent Gary Sheffield reportedly told Nick Cafardo that he was closing in on a deal. While I’ve been told that Sheffield isn’t as close as he made it seem, it could still come together quickly. Also, Doug Melvin now tells the media that he hasn’t spoken directly to Sheffield this week despite telling those same reporters on Monday that they had talked about Grilli.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted about why the market for Grilli might be bigger than the Brewers had anticipated when discussing the offer idea I mentioned yesterday.

Not that it’s not understandable to a degree, but Melvin seems to change his story to keep himself from looking bad if his advances are rebuffed by free agents. Manager Ron Roenicke confirmed the team’s interest in Grilli as well, but not in the $5-$7 million AAV range. If you press me to remember specific examples I’ll try, but it’s just a feeling that has been in my head for a while. This new Grilli talk feels no different to me.

For what it’s worth on Grilli, this came in just prior to my posting this early evening recap and I doubt that the Brewers are in play despite being so earlier this week:

Randy Choate, reportedly on the Brewers radar as a left-handed reliever agreed to a (are you sitting down) reported three-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s becoming quite apparent that the market for relief pitching is inflated right now. Melvin may be better of simply biding his time until cheaper options start to sign their deals once the market is set.

The latest on the Ryan Dempster situation is that he still wants three years and the Brewers still don’t want to go over two years. That’s not a secret anymore, but either discuss compromises or simply move on at some point.

More on the Brewers starting pitching desires come from Danny Knobler:

Would the Brewers be willing to trade Hart? They’d listen. Hart isn’t signed past next season and the long-term future at the position is something which the Brewers need to make a decision about. Plus Hart could always ask for way more money than the Brewers want to pay him and he could leave town anyway for no return. Now, should they trade Hart and reinsert Mat Gamel as the team’s every day first baseman? That would depend on what the Brewers would get back beyond the $9.5 million or so in salary relief.

In minor league news, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel passed along that the Brewers have resigned shortstop Hainley Statia to a minor league deal.

Also as I reported earlier, the Brewers signed someone new to the organization in right-handed relief pitcher Chris Jakubauskas:

Doug Melvin did tell the media that he is keeping an eye on a specific player as it relates to the Rule V Draft tomorrow but he doubts the player will reach them with the 16th pick of said draft.

Finally, Gord Ash was a guest on a Toronto-based radio program broadcasting from Nashville. He confirmed the team’s mutual interest in Josh Hamilton and laid out some reasons that Hamilton was drawn to the Brewers but said that it simply comes down to a matter of dollars and Milwaukee’s not having enough of them given the way the market appears to have been shaping up for the free agent former AL MVP.

***UPDATE: Adam McCalvy indicated that Doug Melvin said he met with the agent who happens to be the representative of free agents J.P Howell and Edwin Jackson but wouldn’t divulge what was discussed.***

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Brewers Protect Five From Rule V Draft

The Brewers announced this morning that they have added five players to their 40-man roster ahead of tonight’s midnight EST deadline for protecting players from the upcoming Rule V Draft.

The players protected are:

  • RHP Nick Bucci
  • RHP Hiram Burgos
  • OF Khris Davis
  • INF Scooter Gennett
  • OF Josh Prince

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash was contacted for some quotes* about the players added today and said the following about how they arrived at these five names.

“They’ve all excelled at various times over the course of the season at different levels. Probably even more important than that are the tools and ability they possess. We want to manage and protect our assets. We didn’t want to lose any of the five.”

“We had some other guys we liked as well,” said Ash. “We did our due diligence. We started with a list of nine or 10 names and whittled them down. There are surprises (in the Rule 5) every year. You can’t protect everybody.”

Nick Bucci

Bucci is 21 years old and coming off of a very good 2012 season split between the Low- and High-A levels of the Brewers farm system. He posted combined numbers of a 1.90 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 in 42.2 innings over 10 starts. He missed time to begin the season coming off of an injury. His season debut was July 18th with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Bucci finished his year with a stint in the Arizona Fall League. Not only are the Brewers high on him, but after missing the amount of time he did, it was a way to help him get more innings before shutting it back down for the winter.

“I wouldn’t put much emphasis at the level he pitched at. That was mostly a rehab assignment,” said Ash. “He’s young and has a good arm, and a team could keep him as the 13th pitcher on the staff (if taken in the Rule 5 draft). For $50,000 (the draft price), you can’t replace that kind of arm. It might be a longer road for him but we like his upside.”

Hiram Burgos

Burgos, 25, rocketed through the system in 2012. He began the year with the High-A Brevard County Manatees, made a stop in Double-A with the Huntsville Stars, and finished as a Nashville Sound in Triple-A. There was even talk that he was being kept at the ready in late September should the Brewers have needed an extra arm later in their season. Quite the year. That is evidenced in his numbers which ended up at a 1.95 ERA (2.91 in AAA), 1.035 WHIP (only 128 hits), over 171.0 innings pitched in 28 games (27 starts).

“Everyone wants to put labels on him and he is a Shaun Marcum type,” said Ash. “He has great command and without overpowering stuff he still has a knack for missing bats. It’s hard to explain. He has command of the strike zone and a real knack for getting out of trouble as well. Those are some of the intangibles you look for in a pitcher.”

Khris Davis

Davis is a 6’0″, 195 lb outfielder who both bats and throws right-handed, turns 25 next month. Davis began his season with Huntsville before an injury and subsequent rehab assignment cost him some time. He came back to Hunstville in early July and was promoted to Triple-A on July 30th where he played out the remainder of the season. Davis played a total of 82 games in the regular season posting a combined line of .350/.451/.604 which includes a .310/.414/.522 line at Triple-A in 32 games. Davis was also assigned to the Arizona Fall League in order to get more at-bats but he didn’t fare as well in the desert the second time around. Still, he does appear to have a bat which could play at the MLB level one day.

“He’s a tremendous offensive player,” said Ash. “He’s a bit streaky but when he’s hot, he’s real hot. I saw him hit the longest home run I saw all year at Nashville. It went over the batter’s eye in center field. The ability is there and in the American League it’s easy to carry an extra hitter (as a Rule 5 pick). His bat is close to being big-league ready. We didn’t want to lose him.”

Scooter Gennett

Gennett’s addition to the 40-man roster was probably the easiest to guess (outside of Burgos because Melvin told us so in an interview awhile ago) because despite his small stature (5’9″, 164 lbs) his profile has been an elevated one. All he’s done is hit since signing with the Brewers after being drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 draft. Over .300 at both Low-A and High-A, Gennett continued his progression with a full season in Double-A which saw his average dip to .293 but he basically maintained his OBP including an increase to his walk rate. He is still learning second base defensively after being drafted as a shortstop, but those issues are getting farther away in his rear view with each inning. His errors decreased, his fielding percentage has gone up every season (I know…I know), and his Range Factor per Game has also increased every season.

Josh Prince

The final player who was added today (alphabetically, not necessarily reflective of ability) was tapped due to his incredible “season” in the Arizona Fall League. Josh Prince was just converting from infield to outfield defensively and after a pedestrian season at Double-A Huntsville (.251/.346/.360) the Brewers probably thought that they might be able to avoid protecting him for one more year. Then when Mat Gamel’s exemption request to play in the AFL was denied, the Brewers sent Prince instead and he absolutely rose to the occasion. Now, AFL offensive stats are often inflated but Prince even rose to the top of the inflation. He hit a team-best .404 which was good for second-highest overall in league. His OBP was .491 so he was still drawing some walks (a team-best 15, 5th-best in the AFL) and his slugging finished at .573 which gave him an OPS over 1.000 at 1.064.

“That (AFL) performance certainly put him over the top,” said Ash. “That kind of performance in that setting is something everyone notices. He was the talk of the league, and every scout from every team passes through there at some point. It’s hard to minimize that kind of performance. He solidified his place in the organization.”

With these additions, the Brewers 40-man roster currently sits at 39.

*Appreciation and credit to Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel for the quotes about the players from Brewers assistant general manger Gord Ash.

Price Reduction! Come Partake in a Special Miller Park Event!

By: Big Rygg

Turns out that your patience has paid off, Brewer Nation! Prices for the special event with Assistant GM Gord Ash, SI.com’s Will Carroll, WTMJ’s Trenni Kusnierek and WSSP’s Doug Russell have been reduced!

Click the link and head to the updated webpage to take advantage of this one-time chance to have a personal audience with these baseball media members! (And yeah, we’ll be there too!)

Here is the link! Click to take advantage of a tremendous offer!

Come Meet Us (and More Important/Interesting People) at a Special Miller Park Event!

By: Big Rygg 

I teased this a bit on Twitter (http://twitter.com/BrewerNation) the other day, but the official announcement can now be made!
Have you been trying to pick out a date to attend a Brewers game at Miller Park this spring but haven’t been able to decide? Well allow me to make that decision MUCH easier for you!
On Saturday, May 14, 2011 there will be a special event happening at Miller Park prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Brewers Assistant General Manager Gord Ash, WTMJ radio personality and Milwaukee’s favorite baseball daughter Trenni Kusnierek, and SI.com’s Injury Expert Will Carroll who authors the Under The Knife column.
Also, some of the top Milwaukee Brewers bloggers will be joining in the fun and festivities! South Side Rob and I will be there along with members of a handful of other Brewers blog sites!
All of the details can be found by following the link below but it should be an amazing time at a very special event that doesn’t exactly happen at Miller Park too often.
Credit needs to be be given where due, so let me point out that Will Carroll was the driving force behind getting this all set up. He mentioned on Twitter that he was looking to do a bit of summer baseball touring and asked if any bloggers of individual teams would like to assist him. I was the only person from Milwaukee to reach out and we began to set up details for the event.
Will got Gord to agree to come and speak and then reached out to Trenni as well. I was to be the main motivator behind getting people to come. I know that the Brewer Nation is strong and will fill this event up in no time!
That is to point out that space is limited for this unique opportunity. So enough with the reading already! Get over to the website and purchase your opportunity right now!
The best part is that you can get into this event whether you have tickets for the game that afternoon yet or not! Just make sure you select the appropriate option when ordering your tickets.
So come be a part of the fun! Again, space is limited so secure your opportunity right away!!
(And no, there is no financial gain in this for me. Just the same chance as you to meet the celebrity types and also to meet more members of the Brewer Nation!)
Here is that link:

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Milwaukee Brewers Sign Five, Including C Zaun

By: Big Rygg

The Hot Stove season in baseball can be a very exciting time. It’s the first real baseball-heavy stretch of time in the sports media since the end of the World Series and, chance are, the first time you’ve really heard much about your team since the end of the regular season.

The big event during the off-season in baseball are the four days collectively known as the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings are a gathering of all of Major League Baseball’s General Managers (amongst other MLB officials). A ton of agents and even usually a handful of players make the trip as well. It is a chance for everybody to meet face to face and, thusly, to get a LOT accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. Groundwork is laid, dialogue is begun, negotiations get underway and, when all the stars align, players get signed to contracts.

In 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers were a part of the big storyline of the Winter Meetings, that of course being the CC Sabathia sweepstakes (congratulations to CC for winning a World Series Championship, by the way). That didn’t work out in Milwaukee’s favor, but it certainly was fun to have all the national media focused on the Brewers for a couple of days.

Last year, Doug Melvin was focused pretty much solely on Sabathia during the Winter Meetings and didn’t really accomplish anything. This year, however, Melvin is casting a much wider net into the free agent waters, specifically into the Sea of Starting Pitching. It has been said that the Brewers are basically looking into every available free agent pitcher. Having signed two arms already (the rehabbing Chris Capuano along with John Halama), the Brewers have gotten started fairly quickly this year. The Winter Meetings don’t even start until this coming Monday, for what it’s worth.

But, two pitchers that are questionable at best if one were to rely on them to start 20 games in 2010 (and for Capuano that games-started number could be one) is not enough for this team. Fortunately, Melvin, assitant GM Gord Ash and the rest of the front office realize this fact.

And, since pitching isn’t the only need for this organization, the Brewers have been active in areas other than pitching too. The Brewers made a trade in acquiring a new center fielder, Carlos Gomez, from the Minnesota Twins for SS J.J. Hardy. They signed a 16-year-old (pending age verification) shortstop, a young OF prospect who had a taste of the big leagues last year in Trent Oeltjen and a new starting (more on that later) catcher in the tastefully-named Gregg Zaun.

Allow me to focus on the new backstop in Milwaukee for a bit. There has been much discussion amongst fans already as to what exactly the Brewers are gaining by signing Zaun as opposed to simply retaining the services of two-year starter Jason Kendall instead.

First and foremost to this off-season’s agenda of acquiring as much starting pitching help as possible, this move saves the Brewers money. Kendall earned $5 million last year. With so many servicable options available on the upcoming market, Melvin made the decision that the team couldn’t afford to pay $5 million for a catcher again. There was never a report on whether Kendall flat out told Melvin to take a hike or whether he would’ve considered resigning at a reduced rate. Kendall was said to have greatly enjoyed his time as a Brewer, so it’s nice to think that he would’ve at least considered it.

To focus on what actually happened, though, is to realized that Gregg Zaun was approached by as many as six teams in this first week of free agency. He has said that the Brewers separated themselves pretty quickly from the pack. It helped that Milwaukee could offer a chance to be the primary starter. nearly-40-year-old catchers (or ballplayers of any position at that age) seldom hear those words. Now, Manager Ken Macha has seemed to be a no nonsense guy in his first year. That would seem to indicate that if Zaun isn’t performing at an acceptable level, then he would lose a start or two per week as whomever the backup winds up being will gain that playing time. Zaun is veteran enough in this league to know that performance is what hangs onto a job.

Should Zaun falter and his backup be called on…well, I don’t know what to tell you at this point because there is no certainty who that backup will be. Rumors flew (and continue to fly) since the end of the season about giving highly-touted prospect Jonathan Lucroy a shot to make the leap from AA to the big leagues. Then again, had prospect Angel Salome not missed so much combined time in 2009 due to injuries, might it be his name that would’ve been getting ballihooed about? There’s also the realization that Mike Rivera has been a decent backup the last few seasons as well at the big league level, thereby making him the devil they know, so to speak. Backup catcher is a much more important decision this year because Gregg Zaun will not be starting 130+ games.

Enough sidebarring. What else is the team gaining with Gregg Zaun behind the dish? How about more power, a higher batting average and, since Zaun is a switch-hitter, a second left-handed bat against right-handed pitchers. A little more balance can make a big difference.

As for the things Kendall excelled at (blocking the plate, blocking up pitches in the dirt, calling a game), Zaun is good at all of those things too. Let me put it this way, without going to find defensive statistical numbers… When you’re 38 years old and still playing in the big leagues, it’s usually not because of your stick anymore, especially behind the dish. Why do you think Henry Blanco is still playing? A cannon arm is among the top reasons why.

So when you add it all up, is there really any debate as to whether or not the Brewers made the right call? Of course there is. That’s the beauty of baseball and of all sports. Until the games are played on the field/court/rink/etc, you never know. But at least in baseball, statistical analysis provides a pretty darn good idea.

Despite all of this, though, the team needs more help. Formally offering a contract to Craig Counsell is a good start (depending on the value of said contract), but it’s hardly enough. The Winter Meetings begin in Indianapolis, Indiana in three days. With Doug Melvin and company being able to spread their focus around in 2009, let’s all hope that more irons in the fire yield better results in the long run.

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