Results tagged ‘ Mark Rogers ’

Something To Look Forward To: September Call-ups

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Can you believe that we’re sitting here on August 1st already? The season is two-thirds gone (wait…weren’t we just entering the “second half” two weeks ago? I keed, I keed.) and despite the Brewers lack of success in posting W’s it still seems to be flying by.

About that light Wins column though, that and plenty of other things have been more than enough to make some of the staunchest Brewers supporters yearn for fake football games to get underway. (Yes, a four-game preseason is second only to the Pro Bowl in pointlessness.)

This post, however, is intended as the start of a series of items about which Brewers fans and baseball-first fans can still anticipate and appreciate.

Today we sit on August 1, exactly one month away from the first topic that brought this series into my mind: September call-ups.

A little explanation for more casual readers first. On any given day (except for scheduled doubleheaders) a team’s Major League or “active” roster can have a maximum of 25 players available on it. They can be any combination of positions or any other way you choose to categorize the members. Now normally those up-to-15 players are assigned to various minor league affiliates of a parent club to play games daily. (I’m not going to get into ways that players don’t count against the 40-man limit or option years in this space.)

However, a codicil kicks in on September 1 whereas any player on the 40-man roster can be active for a Major League game. This period of time, give or take one month calendar month, is utilized in a handful of ways. Contending teams can bring up a couple of specialists to bolster their team. Maybe a pinch-runner or an extra lefty for the bullpen as two examples.

For teams like Milwaukee this season, however, the time is often used to get some players a little exposure to big league life, games, clubhouse, travel, etc and to see how they stack up in games against MLB-quality opponents. Many a player has made his debut in “the show” during September.

So, back to this season. How does this affect the Brewers? Well, plenty of players have already made their MLB debuts for Milwaukee already this season. Any of those could come back up to finish out the season. There are a number of others who haven’t yet debuted and also a couple of players (like the recently added Rob Wooten, and non-debuted Kyle Heckathorn) who the Brewers need to decide whether to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They could add someone to the roster for September to help them arrive at a decision.

Here are some names in groups with a little extra commentary…

Healthy players currently in the minors but who have spent time with Milwaukee this season:

Josh Prince, Sean Halton, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Blake Lalli

Healthy players on 40-man who haven’t yet been up this season:

Jesus Sanchez, Michael Olmsted, Ariel Peña, Santo Manzanillo

The Brewers have one spot currently open on the 40-man but could easily open another by moving Mike Fiers to the 60-day DL, for example. The Brewers may also have their hand forced on one spot should Mark Rogers return to health before season’s end.

The point being: Doug Melvin has some room to maneuver and get glimpses. That is something to look forward to. After all, given the results this season it’s all about the future at this point.

Are Brewers Giving Themselves a Hand?

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I’m sorry. It’s 1:38am as I’m beginning this post and I just couldn’t resist that headline.

There was some Twitter chatter late Saturday night about Donovan Hand having gotten the call to the big leagues to replace injured closer Jim Henderson on the Brewers’ 25-man roster.

My best friend is going to the big leagues!!! @donovanhand I’m so proud!!!

— chris beverly(@CBEV_3) May 26, 2013

Should this prove true, it would be a good choice by the Brewers as he has been performing pretty well in Nashville so far this season (2-1, 3.18 ERA, 16 G, 28.1 IP, 32 K, 9 BB) and was the final cut made in camp — in Alfredo Figaro’s favor — down in Arizona. Hand also would provide the length that Roenicke said he would need if they brought up a reliever and started Figaro on Tuedsay. Hand has thrown 3.0 IP in relief on three separate occasions for Nashville already this season, including in his most recent appearance back on May 21st.

Though, if it is indeed Hand getting the call then there will need to be a corresponding move on the 40-man roster. Could that be Mark Rogers to the 60-day DL? Would they outright release somebody who hasn’t been performing in Triple-A this season? The only obvious option is Rogers to the 60-day. Though that would, once again, mean a tougher decision would be coming when Corey Hart needs to be added back onto the 40-man roster in a couple of weeks.

If you’d like to read up on Hand a little further, here is the profile I did of him for this year’s “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series back in February.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #48 Donovan Hand

***UPDATE***
The Brewers confirmed this morning that Donovan Hand did have his contract purchased from the Sounds.

Also, as I figured above, Mark Rogers was indeed transferred to the 60-day DL to clear the needed spot on the 40-man roster.
***/UPDATE***

Brewers Announce Opening Day Roster

Milwaukee Brewers

Following today’s final exhibition game (a victory over the Chicago White Sox), the Milwaukee Brewers announced their 25-man roster for Opening Day.

Here is the breakdown by position.

Pitchers (13)

  • John Axford
  • Burke Badenhop
  • Marco Estrada
  • Mike Fiers
  • Alfredo Figaro
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Michael Gonzalez
  • Tom Gorzelanny
  • Jim Henderson
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Chris Narveson
  • Wily Peralta

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

Infielders (5)

  • Alex Gonzalez
  • Yuniesky Betancourt
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Jean Segura
  • Rickie Weeks

Outfielders (5)

  • Norichika Aoki
  • Ryan Braun
  • Khris Davis
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Logan Schafer

The Brewers will also be carrying four (4) players on the big league 15-day disabled list to begin the season (Jeff Bianchi, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers) and one (1) on the 60-day DL (Mat Gamel).

Special congratulations go out to Alfredo Figaro, Mike Fiers, Jim Henderson, Jean Segura, Khris Davis, Wily Peralta, Martin Maldonado, and Logan Schafer who are all making their first Opening Day MLB roster!

Roster Moves

The Brewers have announced that both Taylor Green and Mark Rogers have been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Green was placed, retroactive to 3/22, with a left hip labral injury. He played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic and started every game (three total) at third base and returned to the Brewers healthy. Until the injury, Green was in competition to start games at first base until the return of injured starter Corey Hart.

Mark Rogers was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to 3/25, with right shoulder instability. After maintaining all spring that Rogers was fine despite reduced velocity and control, both sides finally agreed that something must be wrong physically with the oft-injured pitcher. With multiple spots to win open in the rotation to start camp, Rogers was inconsistent at best during his outings. An added benefit to placing Rogers on the DL is that the team can retain him while they attempt to get him right physically. Rogers entered the year out of minor league options.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #37 Mark Rogers

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There’s baseball today.

Actual baseball between the Milwaukee Brewers and another team. They’ll play nine innings. They’ll pitch, run, hit, throw, and catch. Hopefully the Brewers will score more runs than the Oakland Athletics but it’s hardly necessary at this stage.

As we sit 37 days away from Opening Day on April 1st, the players begin actual competition but more importantly they continue their preparation for the regular season.

As for me, I continue to count down to Opening Day by way of jersey numbers. Today is the day we take a look at…

Mark Rogers.

Rogers

Mark Elliot Rogers was the Brewers first choice (5th overall) in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He has been beleaguered by injuries throughout his professional career.

I detailed that injury history in last year’s article, so if you’d like to read it, feel encouraged.

Coming into 2012, there wasn’t a job opportunity to  be had in the Brewers starting rotation. All five spots were once again spoken for as they returned all five starters from the previous season when they only needed six men total to start all 162 games en route to a division championship and NLCS berth. Rogers entered camp looking to be and stay healthy along with refining his game.

Last year at this time I wrote that Rogers might have a chance to win a job in 2013 when up to four positions (behind Yovani Gallardo) could become available. Well, three spots are up for grabs, and one other original rotation member from 2012 returns with Gallardo in Chris Narveson but there is a job to be won. As Rogers enters his age 27 season, the time is now to seize control of his career.

Rogers missed the first six games of 2012 as he finished up a suspension but after that he pitched three months of regular starts as a pitcher for the Nashville Sounds. In those 18 starts, the 6’2″ 225 pound right-hander compiled a 6-6 record, 4.72 ERA in 95.1 innings pitched. He walked too many batters (49) and his strikeout rate dropped from his career average, but you could almost think of those first three months of 2012 as one long spring training for Rogers. The process and staying healthy were of the utmost importance.

That being said, results certainly still mattered. In Rogers final three starts for the Sounds in 2012 his combined totals were 19.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0 HR.

Those numbers, along with some fortunate timing, led to Rogers’ being promoted to the big league club at the end of July. The Brewers had just traded away Zack Greinke as it appeared that their season’s destiny was spelled out clearly. With the opening in the rotation and his strong work recently, Mark Rogers was back in the big leagues.

Rogers would make seven starts for Milwaukee before being shut down for the remainder of the year as the Brewers looked to protect his oft-injured pitching arm. In those games, Rogers put together the following line:

3-1, 3.92 ERA, 39.0 IP, 36 H, 17 R (all earned), 14 BB, 41 K, 5 HR

In other words, pretty darn good. His K rate was back up to 24.9% and his walk rate settled back down to 8.5%. He finished his big league stint with a 1.282 WHIP, .240 batting average against (.298 BABIP), all resulting in an ERA+ of 106. All told, it was a solid year for Rogers.

As the 2013 Cactus League gets underway today for the Brewers, Mark Rogers is not scheduled to pitch. He will pitch tomorrow though and he needs to be sharp early. Rogers is out of minor league options finally this year and, as I’m on record as saying, I think he most benefits the Brewers as a member of the starting rotation. Pitching every fifth day while staying on a regimented program between starts should, at least in theory, provide Rogers with the greatest opportunity to stay healthy.

Many projection systems don’t have the kindest outlooks on Rogers’ chances this year but the games need to be played. Once upon a time, Rogers was thought of as having a pretty high ceiling. He was projected out of high school to reach the level of a solid #2 pitcher. He can still achieve that level of production if his control doesn’t desert him but at this stage in his career it’s now all about producing on the mound. The future is now. The time has come.

You know the phrase “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”? Well, the bridge has been come to.

Let’s see how Mark Rogers does in crossing it.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

Official Release: Brewers On Deck To Feature Over 50 Players, Coaches

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Thirty-two current Milwaukee Brewers players from the 40-man roster plus a host of alumni, Minor League prospects, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place Sunday, January 27 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Delta Center.  The event is presented by Time Warner Cable.

Brewers On Deck is the annual Fan Fest that bridges the gap between winter and Spring Training.  Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include the following (all subject to change):

PLAYERS

COACHES

  • Ron Roenicke
  • Joe Crawford
  • Marcus Hanel (@Markoos55)
  • Garth Iorg
  • Rick Kranitz
  • Jerry Narron
  • Johnny Narron
  • Ed Sedar
  • John Shelby
  • Lee Tunnell

MINORS

ALUMNI

  • Jerry Augustine (@jaugie46)
  • Jim Gantner
  • Larry Hisle
  • Gorman Thomas
  • Bob Uecker

Tickets for Brewers On Deck are currently on sale.  Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children ages 14 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers Ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at Brewers.com/ondeck. On the day of the event, only cash will be accepted for purchases made at the door.  Tickets the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under.

Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family.  Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, interactive games in the Kids Area, Q&A sessions and game shows with coaches, players and staff, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

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

Fans can receive one coupon per event admission ticket and can use that coupon to enter the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding coupons that are chosen must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the PREMIER autograph sessions.

Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia.  For additional information regarding the lottery process, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.

All autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.  The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.

If The Season Started Tomorrow…

It’s the final day of 2012.

This was a year which saw the Milwaukee Brewers attempt (unsuccessfully) to defend a division championship for the first time since 1983. It was the first time that the Brewers featured their very own defending league Most Valuable Player since 1990. They entered the season with an intact rotation which used the fewest different arms (6) to make all 162 starts. Arguably the league’s most fearsome bullpen back-end was returning as well with only a couple of key veterans taking jobs elsewhere. And sure, Prince Fielder followed the money to Detroit but this was going to be Mat Gamel’s breakout year and Aramis Ramirez would pick up most of the slack…at least once May rolled around, he would.

Alas, we all know how things turned out in 2012 so I shan’t recap the trials, tribulations, trade, and triumphs that resulted in 83 victories a year after winning a franchise-record 96 games.

No, for this column we look forward. We look forward to 2013. We look forward to P&C. We look much too far forward to Opening Day with this set of projections.

If the season started tomorrow, the following things would be true:

  • I’d be extremely happy that I wouldn’t have to still be counting down to Opening Day (91 days as of this writing).
  • I’d be extremely cold while tailgating outside of Miller Park for a few hours on my wife’s birthday.
  • I’d have failed miserably in posting my season preview “Brewers By the Jersey Numbers” articles.

But really, I’m posting today to take a look at how the current roster stacks up and what I think a 25-man roster would look like when the games started counting.

dougmelvinI gotta tell you all that I would normally not make this projection for quite some time but with Doug Melvin’s declaration that they were “coming to the end” of acquiring free agents (or however he exactly worded it), chances are the majority of options at the team’s disposal today are going to be the same options they are presented with in 43 days when Pitchers and Catchers officially report.

Of course, and it should go without needing to be said, a ton can change between now and then anyway despite appearances. Somebody could be traded. Somebody could be signed as a veteran backup where currently only inexperience resides. Somebody could injure themselves in a pickup basketball game. Et cetera. But if we accounted for every “if” that we could, nobody would ever project anything. That’s simply not much fun.

Assuming everyone is through rehab successfully, here is how my 25-man roster would look if the season started tomorrow. (Players listed alphabetically within their position group.)

Starting Pitchers (5)

  • Marco Estrada
  • Mike Fiers
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Chris Narveson*
  • Mark Rogers

Gallardo

I know what you’re thinking. “Free Wily Peralta!” I agree that he’s likely one of the best five options available to fill a spot in the rotation but based on the necessary evil of depth maintenance and with respect to the rules on minor league options, this just feels like the rotation that will head north from Arizona. Gallardo is a lock. Estrada was mentioned more than once this off-season as having an advantage in the competition. (He also isn’t hurt by the fact that his manager really likes his pitching.) Fiers did more than enough throughout most the season to be given a shot from the get. After adding two left-handed relievers to the bullpen, sticking Narveson in there doesn’t make sense anymore (if it ever did). Rogers is out of options and I really want to see him get a shot to contribute as a starting pitcher. He won’t make it through waivers to Nashville. Peralta has options remaining and that’s what this should come down to. Don’t doubt for a minute though that if Fiers struggles for a few starts early and it appears that the end of 2012 was due to being “figured out” more so than simply fatigue, he’ll be optioned down to Nashville in favor of the young Dominican.

Tyler Thornburg will get a look this spring but I feel like they don’t want to mess with him as a reliever this year at all. They’ll give him a full season starting in Triple-A. Hopefully with the regular and steady work he was used to, he’ll be able to avoid the arm fatigue that slowed his development in 2012. Hiram Burgos, just added to the 40-man roster, should also pitch in games in big league camp to start the spring, but after skyrocketing through the system this year, he’ll be in Nashville’s rotation when camp breaks.

Relief Pitchers (7)

  • John Axford (Closer)
  • Burke Badenhop
  • Mike Gonzalez*
  • Tom Gorzelanny*
  • Jim Henderson
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Michael Olmsted

axfordaction

One open spot for competition. Many feel that the aforementioned Peralta should be in the rotation and that either Narveson or Rogers will become the default long reliever as a effect. For me, the final spot in the ‘pen will come down to one of the recent high-ceiling additions which Melvin and his staff have picked up this off-season. If I had my druthers, Michael Olmsted gets first crack at it. Spring Training performance might dictate that he isn’t ready for the jump over Triple-A, and this might be specifically adjusted in March, but based on minor league numbers, projectability, and stuff, Olmsted appears to be at the top of the influx of opportunity-seekers. Olmsted is already on the 40-man roster too, something that would come into play should someone like a Jairo Asencio continue to impress.

Last year’s swingman Josh Stinson has an option remaining so he’ll head to the minors. Likewise Miguel De Los Santos. One other note, as of this posting the Mike Gonzalez deal still hadn’t been made official. When it is, someone must come off the 40-man roster. I think that will be Fautino De Los Santos. So, if he’s even still with the organization, he’ll be tucked away in the minors to begin the year.

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

lucroy-bunting

Need there be a lengthy explanation? How’s this: no other catchers on the 40-man; these two played very well all year (when healthy); next best options coming to camp are Blake Lalli and Dayton Buller. Next!

Infielders (7)

  • Jeff Bianchi
  • Mat Gamel**
  • Corey Hart
  • Donnie Murphy
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Jean Segura
  • Rickie Weeks

segura

A “traditional” roster usually consists of six infielders and five outfielders. I’ve split this roster differently for a couple of reasons though. First, Mat Gamel and Jeff Bianchi are both out of minor league options. Bianchi performed okay last year in his first big league action, but really what the Brewers will be holding onto is depth at shortstop. Sure, they wouldn’t have to add Donnie Murphy to the 40-man roster at all and could just stash him in the minors to begin the year but he is the superior defender to Bianchi and can more capably cover defensively at the hot corner. Furthermore, the team has made no secret of the designs to have Gamel play in the corner outfield spots this spring along with Corey Hart’s obvious ability to fill in should an emergency arise.

Taylor Green will once again be the victim of circumstance, but he is more valuable to the organization playing everyday anyway even if that’s at Nashville. He can stay ready at the plate and be called upon if an injury creates a need.

Outfielders (4)

  • Norichika Aoki**
  • Ryan Braun
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Logan Schafer**

braunaction

To elaborate a bit on my point from above, Logan Schafer can play all three defensive outfield positions very well. He can take over for any of the regulars when they need a day off and can be utilized in double-switches late in games. It’d be the same way that the Brewers played the majority of 2012 defensively once Hart moved to first base. Assuming that day’s starting outfield was Braun-Gomez-Aoki, Nyjer Morgan was the only “true” outfielder remaining on the roster. Schafer can do more than Morgan could defensively and still brings at least as much at the plate from the same left side.

For the record, if the Brewers did decide to carry five outfielders, I’d guess that Murphy would begin the season in the minors for depth and the extra outfielder would be Caleb Gindl. This seven IFs and four OFs configuration can work, though, with the proper personnel. The Brewers would have that group in 2013 should they choose to go that route. I would.

Opening Day Lineup

  1. Rickie Weeks
  2. Norichika Aoki
  3. Ryan Braun
  4. Aramis Ramirez
  5. Corey Hart
  6. Jonathan Lucroy
  7. Carlos Gomez
  8. Jean Segura
  9. Yovani Gallardo

On Opening Day I foresee manager Ron Roenicke looking to do a couple of things with his lineup. I think he’d like to have Weeks back up near the top and despite how Aoki performed so well while leading off in 2012 I think he’ll play the same card he did once he moved Weeks down the lineup last year to justify the order I have listed. You may recall that on days when Carlos Gomez started in center, Aoki batted second because Aoki handled the bat better to move the leadoff hitter over should he reach base. When Morgan started in center Roenicke felt that Aoki’s patience resulted in a better chance to get on base for the rest of the lineup. As we know, despite typically low batting averages, Weeks gets on base. His .350 career OBP is 99 points higher than his career batting average and only .005 lower than what Aoki did in his rookie season. What’s more, despite the struggles Weeks had for a majority of 2012, he still managed to walk 74 times (and reached based 13 more times after being hit by a pitch).

That being the situation near the top, I think it affords Roenicke the opportunity to begin with Gomez further down the order where he won’t hurt the Brewers early on in the season should he regress from last year’s breakout. If Gomez proves that 2012 is the baseline going forward then Roenicke will have a good problem with which to deal.

Segura is still young, still growing into his skills and performed well enough in the oft-dreaded “spot before the pitcher” that he could flourish there to begin the year. His winter league numbers are also encouraging regardless of the competition level. If he can develop more patience, he’ll be contributing plenty out of the 8th spot all season.

* - Throws left-handed
** - Bats left-handed

So that’s how I see things shaking out if the season started tomorrow.

And you?

Winter Meetings Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

2012-Winter-Meetings-logoThe Winter Meetings aren’t officially underway just yet as I sit down to give my keyboard a workout this evening, but the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee is set and baseball executives from across North America have checked into their rooms and have no doubt begun to follow up on things begun prior to departing for Music City.

Doug Melvin is there (along with his entourage) and has had plenty to say about what he expects out of the 2012 Winter Meetings. With appreciation to the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel for the quotes themselves, I’ll be laying out some things Melvin said and analyzing what I think they mean for the Brewers heading through the rest of the off-season.

Before I do that, let’s recap the basics about what educated fans know already about the Brewers and their needs.

Bullpen

John AxfordThe bullpen was bad in 2012. In fact, it underperformed so incredibly that it alone could be labeled as a singular reason that the team failed to reach the postseason. Just a handful of losses flipped to wins and the Brewers would have had that opportunity to face the Braves in the first-ever National League Wild Card Game.

As a result of their collective struggles, the bullpen has been basically gutted. Gone are multi-year Brewers like Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, Tim Dillard, Mike McClendon, and Manny Parra. Along with them, first-year tryouts for Jose Veras and Livan Hernandez ended in free agency. Even short-term fixes like Vinnie Chulk came and went. The only guys left who pitched in the big league bullpen to end the regular season and are still a part of this organization are likely closer John Axford, likely setup man Jim Henderson, and the finally healthy Brandon Kintzler.

As we all know, the Brewers did announce a trade acquisition on Saturday when they dealt a minor-league outfielder for established relief pitcher Burke Badenhop. That addition still leaves three jobs to be filled. FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi already tweeted earlier this evening about one of those open roles:

Just some names to know.

Starting Pitching

Yovani GallardoThe Brewers got good performances for the most part from the men who took the ball every fifth day during the year but there is a lot of flux possible in what was left at the end.

A return of all five starting pitchers from the 2011 NLCS team was seen as a rarity, not to mention that the Brewers only used six starting pitchers all that season. Now? Randy Wolf was released, Shaun Marcum is a free agent, Zack Greinke was traded, and Chris Narveson is coming off of shoulder surgery.

That’s the stuff of how question marks are made.

Yovani Gallardo is set to return atop the rotation but after that hasn’t yet been decided. As it stands right now, the Brewers have probably six arms vying for the open four spots in the rotation. Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers and, to a lesser extent in my opinion, Tyler Thornburg.

Doug Melvin has mentioned a couple of free agent starters by name this off-season already (Edwin Jackson and Ryan Dempster, for the record) but had some commentary on that front as well.

Offense

ryan-braunWhile the starting offense can be returned completely intact, the bench will need addressing and a couple of decisions need to be made.

Will Jean Segura begin the season as the starting everyday shortstop in Milwaukee or in the aforementioned city of Nashville as he gets a bit more seasoning in Triple-A? Who will take over as the backup infielders after the Brewers burned through a number of MLB veterans during 2012? Travis Ishikawa is gone, Alex Gonzalez is a free agent after being hurt most of the season, Mat Gamel should be healthy but missed a ton of at-bats and doesn’t really have a job at this point…and that’s just the infield.

In the outfield, Nyjer Morgan was released and Logan Schafer seems incredibly obvious to become the fourth outfielder with Milwaukee. After that, though, will they carry a fifth outfielder? If so, who will it be?

About the only spot on the field where there isn’t a question is behind the plate. Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado are healthy and coming off of strong seasons.

Excuse whilst I knock on some wood.

Okay. With that, let’s get to those quotes from Melvin.

dougmelvinThe big quote is one about payroll. After setting a franchise record in 2012 with a payroll north of $100 million, the Brewers finished in the red, meaning that they actually lost money this year. (Part of that is because the fans didn’t show up quite as well as they had budgeted for, but wins bring attendance.)

Melvin said, “(The payroll is) coming down. We’ll probably look at (an opening payroll) of $80 million or thereabouts. We want to keep flexibility in case players become available.”

In other words, despite a large chunk of money coming off the books there should be no expectation of a dollar-for-dollar reassignment. That could limit how much the Brewers can do in free agency but it will almost certainly limit the magnitude of what the Brewers can do.

That assumes that Melvin sticks to his initial words, but more on that in a bit.

Melvin was clear in that the Brewers don’t plan to get involved on high-end (in terms of years or dollars) relief pitchers.

“We’re not looking at those kinds of guys. We’d probably be reluctant to go three years with anybody. We might have to do two. David Riske was our last three-year deal for a reliever. That didn’t work out,” said Melvin.

Would left-handed reliever Sean Burnett be a pipe-dream then? Burnett had to debunk a rumor that he was seeking a four-year deal but that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for three.

The starting rotation was mentioned earlier and was brought up to Melvin as well. He stated that with how the contracts worked out with Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf that the Brewers “wouldn’t go three years with a starter. You look at those contracts and they don’t usually work out. Look at all the free-agent players who have been traded the last few years. Free agency gets people excited, but it’s not as effective as people would like to think.”

Does that mean that following a report which I linked to on Twitter the other day that the Brewers are taking themselves out of the market for the aforementioned Jackson and Dempster, both of whom are believed to be seeking deals of a minimum three years? Perhaps.

Melvin stated that the Brewers will probably go with some of their younger players in the rotation but that he understands the dangers of trusting a small sample size.

josh hamiltonAs for the offense, Melvin admitted (as reported in this space) that contact was made between him and Josh Hamilton’s agent Michael Moye, but Melvin also said that, “I don’t see (a big-ticket signing) happening. If it does, we’d have to be creative with something.”

Melvin added, “You never know how those things work out. I never thought we’d be able to get Aramis Ramirez last year (for what they signed him for). Things change. If major things happen, you have to be prepared to act quickly.”

In other words, Melvin is reminding everyone that you simply can’t use definitives when discussing transactions in Major Leage Baseball. Or, to go the cliched route…Never say never.

Finally, for the bench, Melvin said that they’re in the market “mostly for depth.” He stated that they “may have to go with some of our younger guys” but that “it’s always nice to have an experienced bat on the bench.”

And since a lot of you have reached out via social media as to why I haven’t pass along many rumors in the last few days, Melvin confirmed that he has made no offers to any free agents yet and, as of the time he said so out loud, he didn’t have any serious trade talks going either.

Then again, he’s in Nashville now at the Winter Meetings. It’s made for just those kinds of things.

Stay tuned all week for reaction and analysis to anything and everything that I hear or read related to the Brewers. I’ll pass it along just as soon as I can.

My suggestion? If you aren’t on Twitter or you are and don’t follow me @BrewerNation…now’s one of the best times of the year to take the plunge. I can’t always blog right away but tweeting is much easier to do on the fly.

Doug Melvin Interview Transcript – Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doug Melvin, General Manager of our beloved Milwaukee Brewers, was on the radio this afternoon on AM 1250 WSSP in SE Wisconsin for a few minutes talking about his off-season plans.

Here is a transcript of the interview (which you can listen to by clicking here):

On speculation connecting the Brewers to certain players (i.e. Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke):

“Well, I don’t think those are the names that were gonna be involved with. I think this is gonna be a year we’ll take a look at the free agent market, but more than likely I don’t anticipate us being actively involved in free agency. We may try to find different ways to improve our ball club. We do like the current club we have. We were 36-23 with the third best record in the National League after August 1st with some of the young pitchers we brought up. We do have most positional guys back so I wouldn’t get too excited about those kinds of names. I think a lot of it is speculation. It often makes sense. This is the time of year when those kind of things happen.”

On having young pitching after years of waiting for some and if he may have to trade some of it away to acquire a proven starter:

“We feel right now there’s probably a better chance we’re going to hold onto our young pitching. We saw Mike Fiers come up last year. He struggled a little bit later (in the year). We saw Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta both come up with the power arms they showed us in the past. We had Tyler Thornburg. We’ve got Hiram Burgos who’s going to be added to the roster, had a very good year. We’ve had Taylor Jungmann who’s probably going to be at Double-A. We’ve got John Hellweg who’s pitched very well in the Fall League and was just picked by the scouting bureau as the best player on that Phoenix ball club. So, we do have some depth with our pitching. Jimmy Nelson we like; we’re very high on him. Nick Bucci (too) so. We’ve got a chance to have, out of 10 starters in Double-A and Triple-A, we have a chance to have 8 to 9 of them they’re gonna be legitimate prospects we think will pitch in the big leagues. The big league pitchers? It’s time to give Wily Peralta, time to give Mark Rogers that opportunity.”

In discussing fan support following a rough first half and the resultant decisions surrounding trading away Zack Greinke:

“Who’s not to say that if we kept Zack Greinke that we might’ve got back in this thing. You have to make some tough decisions sometimes. When a shortstop was included in a deal for Zack, we just had to make the decision at that particular time. … It’s a credit to Ron, the coaches, the players that they didn’t give up and it’s something that we can learn that in baseball you can be six, seven, eight games out and that can be made up in two weeks time. So, it’s a lesson we all can learn that sometimes you gotta be a little bit patient. It is a long season.”

Asked if there is any way Zack Greinke can be back in a Brewers uniform:

“I don’t know. I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. As much as Zack liked it here and enjoyed it here, there’s a couple clubs that are gonna get heavily involved with him. He is no doubt the number one pitcher out there…from the starting pitching standpoint. I think he’s gonna do very well but I would expect that we may get a phone call from his agent but I think in the end it’s going to be difficult for Zack to come back here to Milwaukee under the amount of money he’s probably gonna be offered.”

Asked if he would like to add a veteran starting pitcher and if any free agents intrigue him:

“Yeah, there’s a few names out there. Obviously we’re gonna lose Marcum and we’re gonna lose Greinke so we’ve talked about adding a starting pitcher. We do have to add to our bullpen too. Edwin Jackson’s another name that’s been out there.  I don’t know where he’s headed or what his thought process is. We do have an opportunity; we can go with the current guys we have. The tough part with that is that any kind of injury, then you really tap into not having the depth that’s needed over the course of 162 games. Going with the younger guys and Yovani, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Rogers, Wily Peralta, Chris Narveson will be back and be healthy. The part of that is you really cross your fingers that everybody’s going to stay healthy and everybody’s gonna produce. So you would like to have a veteran that you could put out there in the rotation that could eat up a couple hundred innings, but you also want quality innings. In the past, we’ve had the Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf. They both came in here when we didn’t have the younger pitching and they gave us innings and that but obviously you’d like to get the quality. Pitching takes a long time to develop.”

On Manny Parra and fans growing impatient:

“He’s on the roster now and we’ll wait and see. I can’t indicate at this time, but…there comes a time when changes of scenery do help players and that happens sometimes. That’s what we’ve talked about before and if you look at Manny’s numbers and break them down, the numbers are there. You’d like to see more consistent performance, so you know, there’s a possibility. Manny right now’s on our roster at this time and we’ll wait and see.”

On arbitration, bullpen changes:

“I think you’ll probably see three to four new faces out there. I think John Axford, Jim Henderson, I think Brandon Kintzler pitched well enough that he can step in and perform in one of those roles. We would like to maybe try to get a left-hander but we also want a left-hander of quality if we can otherwise we’ll just stay right-handed. But I can see where you could turn three or four names over in that bullpen. Also with the starting pitchers there’s going to be one of those guys that will lose out (on a rotation spot) and will probably go to the bullpen and be a long guy.”

On Axford sticking as closer in 2013:

“I’d like to think that John can. As I said in the press conference at the end of the year, he had two months where he had more than one blown Save. He does strike out people. His strike out rate is still one of the best in the game. His walk rate was too high this year and he needs to get that back down. I do like having a closer and a guy in the bullpen that’s gonna strike people out. I think that’s important. That’s why I like a closer that’s gonna get strikeouts so I lean a little bit towards (Axford) but they also have to reduce the walks. We’re confident, in John, the stuff is still there but gonna have to improve on his command and control.”

On how he feels about the hitters:

“We look at it and we feel pretty good about the ball club we put out positional-wise. Offensively, it’s a pretty good ball club. It fits both what Doug Melvin looks for and what Ron Roenicke looks for. I’m a home run and doubles guy and Ron likes the aggressive style. We fulfilled both those (philosophies) leading the leagues in home runs and also stolen bases we were first or second. We were very aggressive on the bases scoring runs, second in the league in sacrifice bunts. We scored runs in a lot of different ways. I do believe with our ballpark we’re always gonna be a team that’s gonna rely on the home runs just because of the facility we play in and that. But I’m pleased with the positional aspect of our game. I think I’m more than pleased in the fact that Maldonado coming on the scene we’re very set at catching. Having a young shortstop in Jean Segura, being young up the middle with catching, shortstop, Rickie bounced back, and then Carlos Gomez in center field. Carlos is a five-plus guy so we’ve gotta determine is Carlos is here over the long haul or is he here for (only) one more year.”

On Alex Gonzalez possibly returning:

“We’ve gotta make that decision yet. Alex is a free agent so he could test the market too. When it comes down to asking players, when you’re a free agent, he’s gonna want to know his playing time. How much time is he gonna play or do we view him as an extra guy and are we going with Segura. We have to answer that question. Jean is playing winter ball right now and is hitting almost .400 and he hit very well the month of September for us. We’re pretty high on (Segura) at this point. We can go with Jean Segura. We just want to make sure that is the right thing to do. Alex would love to return to us but it’s probably going to be about playing time. ‘Are we the right fit for him?’ And if you do bring Alex back, what impact does that have on Jean Segura? We haven’t made that final call yet. Right now we’re probably leaning toward Segura and just letting Jean do the job because we do think the resources are going to be needed for pitching.”

On Josh Hamilton again:

“No. There’s nothing going on. If he wants to sign that “Andre Dawson” contract…that $500 thousand contract that Andre Dawson did for the Cubs. I think it’s about time a player did that so I’m waiting for that one.”

On any off-season proclamation like he did in 2010 before acquiring Greinke and Marcum by stating he was going to go get some pitching:

“I don’t have any right now. I gotta go check the piggy bank.”

Alright, Brewer Nation. What do you think of what the GM had to say today?

Brewers Release Randy Wolf

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced that they have released veteran pitcher Randy Wolf today.

Wolf, 36, amassed a 3-10 record this season while posting the worst ERA of his career (5.69), a full two runs higher than a season ago.

Signing with the Brewers as a free agent in December of 2009, Wolf couldn’t last the full three years of the guaranteed portion of his contract.

Over the course of his tenure as a Brewers starting pitcher, Wolf was 29-32 with a 4.37 ERA in 92 games (91 starts). His ERA+ finished at 92 despite a career-worst 73 in 2012.

The Brewers did have a $10 million club option on Wolf’s contract for 2013 with a small $1.5 million buyout that won’t have much of an impact at all.

While many figured Wolf’s days in the Cream City were numbered, everyone thought that he’d have until the end of the season. Especially after talk that current rotation members Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers might need to be shut down at some point before the season ends, it was assumed (or perhaps resigned to) that the veteran stalwart Wolf would continue to throw.

The Brewers do have a couple of arms they need to see this September as they look to the future at that position, including Wily Peralta and a hopefully rejuvenated Tyler Thornburg. Also with the return from injury by Shaun Marcum, a spot had to be opened up in the rotation and manager Ron Roenicke told the media yesterday that they aren’t ready to shut down Fiers or Rogers just yet.

As for Wolf, as mentioned earlier, he is now 36 years old and will be coming off the worst season of his career. While that’s hardly uncommon at 36, one has to begin to wonder how much more time he’ll have in a big league uniform…at the very least as a starting pitcher.

Regardless as to his professional future, Randy Wolf is a tremendous man and teammate. Brewers fans will hopefully recall his contributions last season fondly.

As the additional piece of news in today’s transactions, infielder Jeff Bianchi was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers have been playing a hitter short for a while.

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