Results tagged ‘ Martin Maldonado ’
Every year the writers who cover the Milwaukee Brewers all season long get together, so to speak, and cast ballots for five team awards.
The awards are under the following five categories:
- Team MVP (not limited to just hitters)
- Best Pitcher (in any role)
- Best Newcomer (someone not on the team last year)
- Unsung Hero (given to someone who didn’t necessarily get a lot of credit for the job that they did)
- Good Guy (a true “media” award because this is for someone who is good in the community, clubhouse, etc but also was very helpful and gracious with the media)
In each of the past two years I have taken part in a Brewers blogger balloting in which several of us who actively and consistently write about the Brewers voted for the same awards. I’m still not sure what it says about me, but my top choices in each category have matched the winners of the same as voted on by those voting media members.
We’re likely doing the same again this year, but as it was revealed that the official award winners will be announced tomorrow I figured I’d get my ballot posted here in advance. I also like the chance to explain my selections.
(Sidebar: I continue to hope that BBWAA members will do likewise one day on their personal league MVP and Hall of Fame ballots.)
The balloting is such that we choose three men for each award with more points being assigned for higher ballot position.
Team MVP: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura
I’m aware of two things right off the bat with my selection. I’ll disagree with many of the voters who will look at the season Carlos Gomez had and consider him to be the “best” player where that equates to “value.” I also know that my definition of value isn’t strictly based on best statistical performance and that clashes with many. My relatively succinct explanation though is that the edge that pushed Lucroy past Gomez for the top spot in this category was more than just his offensive contributions. Lucroy posted a .280/.340/.455, 114 OPS+ season with career highs in many of the ”counting” statistics (H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB BB) due in part to career highs in both games played and plate appearances. But it’s why Lucroy totaled 147 games played and bested his high in plate appearances by 112 that led to my pick for MVP. Lucroy caught four out of every five days, sometimes more, and later in the season got a crash course in playing first base in an attempt to keep his consistently good bat in the lineup. Numbers are nice, and Gomez got the better of Lucroy in many of them, but probably not as many as you think.
In what was an extremely close decision in my mind, I had to give Carlos Gomez a second place finish here. He and Lucroy played in the same number of games and Gomez’s WAR and defensive runs saved and other factors definitely made his case, but Gomez wasn’t a runaway winner by any means and I think Lucroy’s steady presence kept a lot of things on that necessary even keel. Gomez absolutely had his best season in the Majors in 2013 and with a different set of circumstances he maybe wins this award. The numbers speak for themselves though Gomez had a monster first half but then slumped in July and significantly moreso in August. He rebounded in September, and Lucroy’s massive increase in playing time finally caught up to the catcher in September, it seemed, but Lucroy was much more consistent over the long haul the season.
Finally, while pitchers do qualify for this award, I had to recognize the production, surprise, and efforts of Jean Segura with an MVP ballot spot. “Seggy” opened eyes with his powerful first half (really, two-thirds) in which he hit 12 home runs (11 before the All-Star break) and slugged .487 before the break. Despite his youthful exuberence and energy, fatigue eventually set in for Segura who limped to the finish line — literally with a bum hamstring — that saw his batting average dip below .300 and his league stolen base lead disappear in the final series of the season in New York. The Brewers have barred Segura from playing in Winter Ball this off-season so hopefully he can stay fresher longer in 2014. If he does and is able to be more of what we as fans were treated to in April and May, he could very well win this award next year when you consider his defense abilities as well.
Best Pitcher: Kyle Lohse, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler
Coming in late in camp, not really facing the level of competition that he needed to ramp up properly for the season, and dealing with injuries throughout the hellacious month of May, Kyle Lohse still takes this crown going away. Peralta had his growing pains. Gallardo struggled throughout the season until late in the year. Estrada missed a ton of time. The fifth starter was all over the place. All that said, Lohse didn’t just win for me by default. He posted a very good season in spite of his awful May (.987 OPS against).
Second place goes to Jim Henderson. He was extremely good in 9th inning Save situations after being thrust into the role after John Axford’s early struggles and again taking over after Francisco Rodriguez was traded to Baltimore. In total Henderson amassed 28 Saves, an ERA+ of 146, and a K/9 ratio of 11.3. It was a promising first full-season performance for the veteran of 10 minor league seasons.
Brandon Kintzler did a remarkable job for the roles he was used in. He was consistently effective and only had a handful of very bad appearances. He also appeared in the second-most games for the team behind only Michael Gonzalez who was sometimes brought in to face just one batter. Kintzler is definitely deserving of this spot and if you find yourself questioning that or not having realized it from the beginning, then that just feeds the fire as to why Kintzler pulled a second-place finish in another award for me.
Best Newcomer: Kyle Lohse, Scooter Gennett, Khris Davis
Scooter Gennett gets second place because despite his relatively limited playing time he exceeded expectations on multiple levels and put in jeopardy the starting job of an injured veteran. Gennett demonstrated an enormous platoon split, so he’s certainly got plenty of room for improvement at the plate, but he still did enough in 2013 to warrant a significant look in Spring Training next year along with a second place finish for this award in my opinion.
Khris Davis was an obvious choice for this spot for me. He almost took the second place vote but Gennett did more for me. Davis struggled after initially making the 25-man roster out of spring training but certainly held his own once he came back up for the balance of the season after Braun’s suspension. Davis has even pressed the issue of getting his bat into the lineup that Doug Melvin admitted that they’ve had internal discussions about moving Ryan Braun to right field since Davis is a left-field-only defensive player. That could cause a domino effect that could include trading a productive and popular player in the incumbent right fielder, Nori Aoki.
Unsung Hero: Martin Maldonado, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Lohse
As I stated last year when I gave Maldy the first place spot in this category, his receiving, throwing, and handling of the pitching staff were very good despite playing far less in 2013 than in 2012. And while he got a bit more acclaim this year, his impact on the developing Wily Peralta deserves the recognition that this award sheds at least some light on.
Second place goes to Brandon Kintzler in a somewhat subjective vote. Kintzler was often used as a fireman early in the season, a role in which he flourished. That success got him “promoted” to set-up man some time after the job came open in July. Kintzler had a very strong rate of stranded inherited runners for much of the year and bridged a gap that Ron Roenicke didn’t always know how he was going to fill. Kintzler recorded more than three outs on a number of occasions and was truly a bullpen utility man at times. Kintzler certainly isn’t unsung in the coaches’ room though, and he’ll be in the mix for the late innings of games from the jump in 2014.
Kyle Lohse was going to get second place here for his veteran leadership and helping the young pitchers on staff remain calm and steady, but that aspect of what he brought to the team got a decent amount of publicity late in the year. It definitely warrants inclusion on the list for me, but no longer that second place finish.
Good Guy: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Jim Henderson
In the mold of why John Axford won this award in 2012, Jonathan Lucroy was as stand up a guy as there was in the locker room this year. It didn’t matter if it was a great win or a tough loss, if no other hitter wanted to talk to the media, Lucroy gave his time. He would break down pitchers’ stuff and tell you what he saw from his vantage. He would speak candidly about topics that other teammates avoided like Ryan Braun, struggles in the field and at the plate, losing streaks…you name it and he would give the media the quotes they needed. The other factors for this award speak to community involvement (Lucroy was the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee) and how they are in the clubhouse (Lucroy definitely emerged as a team leader this season, when it desperately needed one).
The other player who was available the most and would definitely tell you his opinion on any number of topics was Carlos Gomez. He had a flare in his description and provided many memorable quotes during the year. He was appropriately subdued when the situation called for it and was bouncing around and bringing energy when needed.
Another personal choice is Jim Henderson. Henderson was eager to speak when approached and didn’t just spit up cliches and the same thing over and over. He was thoughtful and well-spoken along with being willing and available.
So those are my choices. Let me hear yours either on social media or, preferably, in the comments.
Milwaukee – (That’s how I start these things, right?)
Tonight at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the NL Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a four-game set.
The third inning was particularly hospitable to the redbirds as they brought 11 men to the plate and scored six times. It was a rough and often unlucky inning for Wily Peralta who broke multiple bats, and was blooped, flared, and papercut to death by the Cards. There were a couple of hard hit balls as well but the majority of safe strokes would qualify for the “Punch & Judy” Hall of Fame. The six runs that the Cardinals scored in the inning would be all they got for the night, which added even more to the feelings of frustration.
After the game, Roenicke talked about the troublesome inning for Peralta.
“You see weird things and it’s not always fair,” said Roenicke. “(Peralta was) okay. It was definitely not as bad as what those numbers look like.”
As for Peralta’s repertoire, Roenicke admitted that, “his offspeed stuff wasn’t as sharp as I think he needs to get it to. He needs to be able to throw a slider for a strike when he needs to and he needs to be able to bounce it when he needs to. His change ups he’s got to mix in more. His sinker is still really good. I thought it was down most of the night.”
Peralta would eventually get out of the third and pitch into the fifth before putting two on in the fifth. Alfredo Figaro entered and only allowed one hit over the next 2.2 innings.
Peralta for his part understood that he made a bunch of good pitches in the third inning getting a couple of broken bats and suffering several weak hits but that it was obviously the difference in the game.
“This inning (was) the difference in the game”, said Peralta. He said it was particularly upsetting to give up so many consecutive hits with two outs.
He credited the bullpen for allowing the offense a chance to win. “The bullpen did a good job and (held) there.”
As for St. Louis, Jake Westbrook did what Jake Westbrook does on the mound and allowed some baserunners, but only three consecutive fourth inning singles from Weeks, Gomez, and Maldonado were able to scratch a run across off of the Cardinal veteran.
Luckily, “veteran” in this case also means “old” and Westbrook was lifted after 6.0 innings pitched for Joe Kelly. All Kelly did was get charged with two runs in 0.2 IP (raising the 8.31 ERA he entered the game with), and force Cardinal manager Mike Matheny to call on Mitchell Boggs. The new right-hander walked two — the first loaded the bases, the second scored the second run off Kelly — without recording an out. Matheny had to go get Trevor Rosenthal then who struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
Tom Gorzelanny continued the quality work out of the bullpen this evening with a quick and clean 8th inning.
Rosenthal stayed in for the 8th inning. He got the scuffling Alex Gonzalez to pop out in foul territory to Yadier Molina, but then Blake Lalli scalded one what had to be a good 25 feet between a bewildered Molina and Rosenthal. Norichika Aoki reached on an error with one down, but resident hero Jean Segura could not come through on this night as he struck out swinging, chasing a high fastball.
That brought Ryan Braun to the plate as the new tying run, and he singled up the middle to plate Lalli and put Aoki on third. The legend of Yuni B 2013 took a hit though as he struck out swinging to end the inning. Still, that made the score 6-4 in favor of the Cardinals heading to the 9th.
The 9th saw Burke Badenhop get Carlos Beltran to bounce back to him, strike out Matt Holliday, and break the bat of Allen Craig on a soft liner to Segura.
The last of the ninth, and the game, belonged to Edward Mujica and the Cardinals though. Weeks attempted to cut the lead in half but his deep drive to RF was hit about 30 feet too far left. Gomez singled and eventually would steal second. After Maldonado struck out looking, Gonzalez came through with an RBI single to CF.
That allowed Ron Roenicke to send up Jonathan Lucroy to pinch-hit. Unfortunately, Lucroy would strike out to end the game with the Brewers falling a run short.
After the game, Josh Prince was optioned down to the Nashville Sounds where he will get a chance to play every day. He admitted that at least a part of him was excited to play regularly again.
“That’s what I love to do is play the game. But there’s no better place to play than (the big leagues).”
Prince will work defensively at multiple positions in preparation for his eventual return.
The move opens up a spot on the roster for the returning Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez will rejoin the team officially on Friday and be active for that evening’s game.
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.
- 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
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
- Alex Gonzalez
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
- 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!
The Brewers made a handful of additional roster moves in anticipation of paring the list down to 25 men to start the regular season on Monday, April 1st.
Here are the moves:
- Donnie Murphy exercised an “out” in his contract after learning he would not be making the 25-man roster and was released.
- Jeff Bianchi was officially placed on the 15-day DL today with left hip bursitis. Bianchi also dealt with a groin injury this spring which caused him to miss the World Baseball Classic. He was to play for Team Italy. Bianchi’s placement is retroactive to 3/22 (the earliest date you can backdate an injury to this year).
- Corey Hart was officially placed on the 15-day DL today as well, also retroactive to 3/22. Given the original estimate of recovery, the Brewers could have freed up a 40-man roster spot by having Hart start the season on the 60-day DL, but opted to go with the 15-day DL instead which probably means that they are optimistic of a return to the big league lineup prior to May 21st (which is 60 days after March 22nd).
The Brewers have only three more roster decisions to announce, but that won’t come until the team is back in Milwaukee this weekend for exhibition games against the Chicago White Sox.
Still to be decided are:
- Will the Brewers will begin the season with 13 pitchers? If so, it’s likely that an extra starter will be kept while Kyle Lohse ramps up.
- Who wins the final two spots in the bullpen? Brandon Kintzler is a lock in my opinion, but technically I suppose there are two spots for him, Alfredo Figaro, and Donovan Hand.
- Who wins the final bench spot (unless there are two)? With Yuniesky Betancourt, Logan Schafer, and Martin Maldonado locked in, if the team carries only 12 hitters that leaves one spot for either (in my opinion) Blake Lalli or Khris Davis. If the team only carries 12 pitchers, I think they both make it.
To hear who I think will make the team and win those battles, check out the latest podcast which should be posted tonight at some point.
So we’re down to a dozen days. Only 12 more to go until the Brewers and Rockies square off at Miller Park with Yovani Gallardo and Jhoulys Chacin starting for their respective clubs.
Behind the dish that day for the Brewers will be Jonathan Lucroy, but we already profiled him eight days ago. Today we’re going to look at Lucroy’s colleague, whose World Baseball Classic team advance to the championship game which was just played on Tuesday night in San Francisco. He wore number 24 with Team Puerto Rico and wears number 12 for the Milwaukee Brewers. He is…
Martin Maldonado is a native of Puerto Rico, having been born in Naguabo in 1986. He was drafted back in 2004 out of high school by the Anaheim Angels in the 27th round of the First-Year Player Draft. The Brewers acquired Maldonado as a free agent in January of 2007 after the Angels released him.
He joined the Brewers farm system and began the 2007 season with the Class-A West Virginia Power. He played for two affiliates in 2008, three of them in 2009, three again in 2010, two in 2011 and just one (Class-AAA Nashville) in 2012 before getting recalled.
Now 26, Maldonado finally got recalled and received a legitimate big league opportunity in the same way that many players do: by way of injury. Lucroy was injured in an off-field accident and when Maldonado was recalled, George Kottaras had just injured him hamstring in a game. Kottaras caught one more game as Maldonado was arriving but then missed several to rest his leg. Maldonado basically assumed the starting role in Lucroy’s absence and would only relinquish it once the incumbent was healthy enough to play.
Never known for his bat, Maldonado’s calling card as a minor-leaguer was his receiving, throwing, and ability to handle a pitching staff. Those were all of the attributes which led to the Brewers carrying Maldonado on their 40-man roster. His career minor league batting slash stats are .236/.313/.333 over parts of nine seasons. What’s more, in 2012 before being summoned, Maldonado was hitting just .198/.270/.347 through 138 plate appearances across 35 games. That being said, Maldonado did appear to break through in 2011 on offense (.287/.373/.436 combined with .321/.410/.537 at Nashville) and seemingly every member of Nashville’s starting lineup got off to slow starts at the plate in 2012.
None of those numbers at the plate are indicative of any of his work behind it though. Maldonado has a cannon for an arm, routinely throwing frozen ropes around the diamond as he’s is catching would-be base-stealers in the act. Maldonado’s career caught stealing percentage in the minors is 42%. He was even over 52% at two stops along the way and was caught at least 40% in six of his nine MiLB campaigns. The three misses were his first two professional years and 2012 (where he was still at 33%) before his call up. He calls a quality game, knows his pitchers and works well with them.
With the Brewers last year, Maldonado hit .266/.321/.408 with nine doubles, eight home runs, and 30 RBI in 233 AB. He also posted a 32% caught stealing percentage. Some of that down tick was due to Brewers pitchers, and some was due to superior baserunning at the MLB level. Still, his throws all season were accurate.
So far in 2013, Maldonado has only 13 plate appearances with the Brewers. He recorded one hit and struck out five times before joining up with Team Puerto Rico where he has played sparingly after beginning the tournament 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts and just two walks. He started at first base a couple of times with Puerto Rico and once at catcher behind Yadier Molina.
Now that the World Baseball Classic has ended, Maldonado returns to camp as the entrenched number two catcher, though Blake Lalli — who started and played the most while both Maldonado and Lucroy were away — has turned many heads and is under consideration for a bench spot. You just know Ron Roenicke would love to have a third guy on his main roster who can catch (as well as play some first base) to allow him to tinker late and pinch-hit whoever isn’t starting earlier in games then he otherwise might feel comfortable doing.
For Maldonado individually though, getting off to a slow start at the plate won’t spell doom for him. Hopefully he comes back from San Francisco, gets some actual work at the plate to find his timing and produces from the jump in the regular season. Again, though, having Lucroy as the starting catcher provides more consistent offense from the position even if Maldonado takes a little while to find it again with his bat.
Regardless, a tandem featuring Lucroy and Maldonado will be a strength for the Brewers in 2013…now that they’ll finally both be back in camp anyway.
Maldonado makes his pitchers comfortable, and that makes for a happy manager, pitching coach, and fan base.
You can follow Martin Maldonado on Twitter: @Machete1224
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #14 Jeff Bianchi
- #15 Caleb Gindl
- #16 Aramis Ramirez
- #20 Jonathan Lucroy
- #21 Donnie Murphy
- #22 Logan Schafer
- #23 Rickie Weeks
- #24 Mat Gamel
- #27 Carlos Gomez
- #29 Jim Henderson
- #31 Burke Badenhop
- #32 Tom Gorzelanny
- #37 Mark Rogers
- #38 Chris Narveson
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Kelvim Escobar
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #48 Donovan Hand
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #51 Michael Gonzalez
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Josh Stinson
- #57 Khris Davis
- #58 Josh Prince
- #59 John Axford
- #60 Wily Peralta
- #61 Darren Byrd
- #63 Tyler Thornburg
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Miguel De Los Santos
- #67 Santo Manzanillo
- #68 Jesus Sanchez
- #70 Nick Bucci
- #71 Johnny Hellweg
- #73 Ariel Peña
- #74 Michael Olmsted
- #75 Travis Webb
- #77 Jed Bradley
- #78 Taylor Jungmann
- BONUS ARTICLE: #91-94 Adam Weisenberger, Hunter Morris, Kentrail Davis, Rafael Neda
The Brewers had 12 total participants on six teams in this year’s World Baseball Classic, down from the projected 15 on eight teams just before the tournament started.
As the second half of the tournament moves into its double-elimination second round, three teams containing players from the Brewers organization have now been eliminated. As a result, the seven players on those three teams will be returning to Brewers camp, if they haven’t already.
Mike Walker, who rejoined the Brewers earlier this week, led Team Australia in hitting, going 5-for-11 (.455), but didn’t score nor did he drive a run in. Australia had a thin lineup overall and was simply outmatched by the strong teams in their Pool. Australia’s early departure actually allowed Walker to report to Brewers minor league camp right on time and with a worthwhile experience in tow.
Next up to be eliminated with Brewers implications was Team Mexico. They were officially eliminated Saturday night once Team USA defeated Team Italy in Pool play. That set up the winner of Sunday’s Team USA vs Team Canada game joining Team Italy in Florida for the start of Pool 2. Returning to the Brewers already today were starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada. They each made one start in the World Baseball Classic.
Gallardo defeated the powerful Americans in his start, despite being limited to just 49 pitches per request of the Milwaukee Brewers. Yo was sharp and stymied the USA bats throughout his 3.1 official innings pitched. Gallardo called the experience of defeating Team USA something he’ll always remember. After there being some doubt about whether he would even pitch in the Classic — after developing some tightness in his groin before joining Team Mexico — that he was able to perform well must feel good.
In quotes to Jose Romero of MLB.com, when Gallardo was asked about the atmosphere and intensity of the WBC he had this to say: “That’s the way baseball should be. The fans locked into the game just as much as the players, rooting for their country. There were a lot of fans of Mexico from all over the place who might have come in for it, and we wanted to have a good game. Show them what they came for.”
Also to Romero, Marco Estrada commented on his WBC experience which was less fortuitous than that of his rotation-mate. Said Estrada, “It was awesome. I got to meet a lot of guys, a lot of people I never knew before. There’s a lot of good players on our team, and just getting a chance to meet some of those guys … I only played with them for a week, but you become friends with a lot of them. That’s the one thing I’m going to take from this, that I got to meet a lot of nice people.”
As for the relatively early hook? “The thing about the Classic is that you get one opportunity to show what you’ve got, and like in my case, it didn’t go so well. So that was it for me,” Estrada said. “The first thing, honestly I felt pretty good. I thought I was locating well. Wasn’t getting a couple of calls and then I started elevating. I think I started trying way too hard and that’s when I got knocked around. Once I got out of that first inning, I settled in and it was fine after that. But it was too late by that time.”
For his part, Roenicke is understandably happy to get his pitchers back to Maryvale. He was talking about getting Gallardo and Estrada back in line for their eventual turns in the Brewers rotation once the regular season begins.
Finally then, we come to the losing team in Sunday afternoon’s Pool D tilt, Team Canada.
The Canadians had the highest number of Brewers players involved (shocking, I know) as four players were participating on their behalf. Pitchers Jim Henderson and John Axford both saw action today, with Henderson bearing the brunt of the late USA rally to assume the lead.
All told, the numbers may end up being forgettable for Henderson and even Axford, but the chance to represent your country simply cannot be quantified in numbers alone.
Someone who will be pleased with the opportunity to represent country along with pretty good results on the field is Brewers infielder Taylor Green who ended up starting at third base in all three games for Canada after Brett Lawrie was injured. Green ended up at .286 after an 0-for-5 final game, but he hit very well in the two other games, going 4-for-9 between the two. It was a rough finish, sure, with the goose egg at the dish and a couple of defensive miscues (neither of which were really his fault), but overall the experience should be viewed positively. Now Green returns to camp in a battle to win the starting first baseman’s job entering the 2013 regular season.
As for Rene Tosoni, he never got an official at-bat, though his one plate appearance was certainly memorable as it was his being plunked by Mexico that incited the brawl which will be replayed for years to come.
So for the Brewers now back at Maryvale Baseball Park, the experience was a good one despite a lack of overall team success. Kudos to them for participating, for wanting to participate. Kudos to the Brewers organization for understanding what it means to represent country and countrymen and allowing them all the opportunity to make their own decisions regarding the tournament.
There will be five Brewers players whose teams play in the second round. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy are with Team USA of course. Martin Maldonado and Hiram Burgos will move on with Team Puerto Rico. And with Team Netherlands, infielder Hainley Statia has only gotten two ABs coming into today, but his team has enjoyed some success advancing into the second round and having an opportunity to advance again to the Semifinal Round in San Francisco if they can beat Team Cuba, something they’ve already done once in this year’s tournament.
Brewers participants and their teams were in action again all over the World Baseball Classic tournament on Saturday.
Here is a recap of the performances by those who saw action Saturday:
Green had a great day at the plate for Canada on Saturday. Starting at 3B and once again hitting second, Green finished the day 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. That included two head-to-head match ups against Marco Estrada. Green singled in the first inning and grounded back to Estrada in the third. Green’s other two base hits and his walk all came against left-handed pitching.
Green also had one outstanding defensive pick at third when a ball short-hopped him on a ground ball. Otherwise, solid play in the field again from Green. Team Canada is missing nothing defensively with Brett Lawrie out. In fact, they’re probably better off.
John Axford – Canada - @JohnAxford
Axford worked the ninth inning for the Canadian contingent, shutting the door on Team Mexico and helping to keep his team alive in WBC for at least another night. That work came after the fireworks on the field which were ignited when Brewers farmhand Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch late in the game. More on this in Tosoni’s section.
Axford’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0.00 ERA.
Rene Tosoni – Canada – @Tosoni08
Tosoni entered the game late as a pinch-runner and was stranded right away. He stayed in the game defensively in left field and would come to the plate again before the day was done. Tosoni was the target of some anger by Team Mexico. Already up pretty big late in the game, Canadian catcher Chris Robinson bunted for a base hit. This breaks an unwritten rule in regular baseball, but in the WBC one of the tie-breakers is based on run differential. After Canada was mercy ruled by Italy earlier in the tournament, Canada realized that they needed every run they could get. Tosoni was up next, got hit, and took offense to it. The catcher for Mexico kind of suggested physically that Tosoni should just go to first base and when Tosoni pushed back the benches cleared and a handful of individual skirmishes broke out. Luckily no Brewers were hurt and even though Tosoni’s plunking incited the brawl (where actual punches were thrown by more than one player) and Tosoni was ejected, none of the Brewers on either team did anything over the top.
Martin Maldonado – Puerto Rico - @Machete1224
Maldonado started this ballgame for Puerto Rico at first base, hitting seventh. Defensively, his night was uneventful. At the plate, Maldonado got two plate appearances before being pinch-hit for. In his first AB against Carlos Zambrano and Team Venezuela, Maldonado struck out. His second trip to the plate was against a relief pitcher and he worked a walked. Maldy would come around to score after being bunted to second base. He was driven home on a single by Angel Pagan.
Puerto Rico would defeat Venezuela and advance to the second round of the tournament with play in Florida. Also already moving to that Pool for sure are the Dominican Republic and Italy. Hiram Burgos will be eligible to pitch for Puerto Rico again in Florida.
Started in left field and hit third in the batting order once again. Braun came up in the first inning with Jimmy Rollins and Brandon Phillips on base ahead of him but grounded into a double play. Braun led off the fourth inning with a single to left field. He then scored from first base on cleanup hitter Joe Mauer’s double to the wall. It was Team USA’s first run of the night and at the time cut the deficit in half.
Braun came up in the 5th inning with runners on first and third and only one out. He hammered a ball that just pulled foul past the left field foul pole, and then struck out a couple of pitches later. Braun singled in his fourth at-bat and flew out in his final plate appearance of the day. He finished 2-for-5 with 1 R scored.
Jonathan Lucroy – USA - @JLucroy20
Lucroy started the game on Saturday night for Team USA behind the plate and was ninth in the batting order for Joe Torre. In the bottom of the first inning, starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong threw a wild pitch past Lucroy which led to Italy’s first run of the night.
Lucroy’s first trip to the plate was a simple fly ball out to the center fielder. He would single past a diving shortstop in his second AB and eventually score on a David Wright grand slam. His third AB was a fly out to deep center and he finished his night with a walk. All told, Lucroy was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Estrada started the game for Team Mexico a day after his Brewers teammate Yovani Gallardo effectively shut down Team USA over 3+ innings. Estrada was not as sharp out of the gate and he surrendered four runs in his first inning of work. He faced Brewers teammate Taylor Green twice, allowing a first inning single and a inducing a groundball comebacker to himself.
After the first inning, Estrada pitched well. He only allowed two more hits the rest of his day which ended after three innings and at 53 pitches thrown.
Estrada’s final line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R (all earned), 2 K, 0 BB, 12.00 ERA
Teams containing 10 of the 12 players which the Milwaukee Brewers have loaned out to team across the Pools for the World Baseball Classic were in action Friday. (The Netherlands, with Hainley Statia, didn’t play today. Mike Walker’s Team Australia has already been eliminated from the tournament.)
Here is a recap of the performances by those who saw action:
Thrust into the starting third baseman role following an injury to Toronto’s Brett Lawrie, Green hit second in the lineup today against Team Italy. Green was 1-for-4 on the day with a double in the 5th inning off of Chris Cooper. Unfortunately, rare was the occasion where Green had someone on base in front of him.
Green is the starting 3B for Team Canada for as long as they remain in the tournament though so he’ll have a few more chances to make good.
Jim Henderson – Canada – @JimHenderson29
“Jimmy” Henderson, as he is known on the Canadian circuit, ended up throwing in this game which was wound up as a Mercy Rule blowout for Team Italy. Henderson came on with two outs in the 7th inning, inheriting a base runner in Drew Butera who had just doubled home two runs. Henderson retired his first hitter and came back out for the 8th inning as well. He gave up consecutive hits to open the 8th though and was lifted for another reliever, R.J. Swindle, who would go on to allow Henderson’s second baserunner to score. Swindle wouldn’t record an out at all, in fact, as he allowed enough runs for the Mercy Rule to be invoked.
Henderson’s final line for the day was an ugly one: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 K, 54.00 ERA.
Hiram Burgos – Puerto Rico – @Burgos196
Burgos came on in relief to begin the fifth inning at his team’s home field, Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Over 4.2 scoreless innings pitches, Burgos allowed only four hits but zero runs. He struck out three, and walked the final hitter of his evening. It was at that point he had reached 64 pitches and while he could have legally started the next batter, he was lifted in favor of a left-handed reliever who recorded the final out of the game via strikeout looking. Puerto Rico moved to 1-0 in Pool C play.
Having thrown 64 pitches tonight, Burgos is not allowed to pitch again until he’s had four days off.
Officially: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 K, 1 BB, 0.00 ERA, 64 pitches
Martin Maldonado – Puerto Rico – @Machete1224
The backup catcher for Puerto Rico, Maldonado was used in this game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning. Following a Yadier Molina steal of third base (yes, you read that correctly), Maldonado had a man on third with only one out but struck out swinging on a high fastball. Officially, Maldonado remained in the game as the Designated Hitter, but his turn in the batting order did not come back around.
Started in left field and hit third in the batting order for Joe Torre and Team USA. In his first inning match up against Brewers teammate Yovani Gallardo, Braun drove one deep to the right-center gap but it was hauled in on the run for an out. Braun then worked a walk in the fourth inning, still against Gallardo. He reached third on an RBI single by David Wright but was stranded there. In the sixth inning Braun was struck out looking. And in his final plate appearance of the game in the bottom of the 8th inning, Braun finally broke through in the hit column, reaching base for the second time. He dropped a hit in the Bermuda Triangle between the second baseman and center- and right-fielders. He would come around to score Team USA’s second run of the game on a single by Eric Hosmer.
Defensively, Braun had a diving play coming in on a ball that short-hopped him but he was able to keep it in front of him in the 3rd inning. Other than that? A couple of routine put outs including fly balls in the 4th and 5th, and a running basket catch in the 8th to keep the deficit at three, at the time.
Jonathan Lucroy – USA – @JLucroy20
As one of three catchers on the Team USA roster, Lucroy didn’t start this game in part because the Toronto Blue Jays wanted their catcher, J.P. Arencibia, to catch their new starting pitcher, reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Lucroy would get into the game defensively in the 8th inning after starting catcher J.P. Arencibia was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 7th inning. Lucroy’s first turn at the dish came in the bottom of the 9th with the USA down to their final two outs, trailing by three. Lucroy fell behind 0-2 to Mexico (and San Francisco Giants) closer Sergio Romo before harmlessly grounding out to short.
The Brewers resident staff ace started Team Mexico’s second Pool D game following their loss to Italy yesterday. Gallardo squared off against Brewers teammate Ryan Braun and the United States’ potent lineup. Gallardo started off the game with a 1-2-3 first inning including a strikeout of Jimmy Rollins. He was greeted in the second inning by a Joe Mauer single back up the middle but got out of the inning on just seven pitches after a GIDP and a fly ball out. Gallardo’s third inning included a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton, a ground out by Adam Jones, and a strikeout of J.P. Arencibia. 16 pitches, three outs, and back to the dugout.
Through three, Gallardo had thrown 37 pitches. Gallardo was limited to 50 pitches tonight by request of the Milwaukee Brewers. He had missed some work prior to joining Team Mexico and coupled with recently overcome groin tightness, he wasn’t stretched out enough to go a full WBC-allowed 65.
Gallardo’s fourth inning began by allowing a single to Rollins. He struck out Phillips but then walked Braun, bringing him up to 49 pitches thrown and to the end of his evening. The relief pitcher, Luis Mendoza, allowed one of the inherited runners to score, which makes Gallardo’s line look worse than he actually pitched.
Gallardo’s final line: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 2.70 ERA, 49 pitches. He was credited with the Win in the Friday night victory over USA as well.
Shortly after the morning team meeting today at Brewers Spring Training, Ron Roenicke addressed the media and told them that Mat Gamel is ”probably going to miss the season” due to a re-tear of his surgically-repaired right knee ACL.
There will be no “matomic bombs” hit at Miller Park this year, Tiny Tim.
This comes as a bit of shock in a couple of ways. First and foremost, Gamel had good checkups on the knee both when he was in Milwaukee for “Brewers On Deck” last month, the team’s annual winter fan fest, and again just last week at down at Maryvale. Secondly, the failure of the repair occurred in the middle of the ligament. Repairs fail around 10% of the time, but if they do happen it is usually at one end of the ligament or the other. The Brewers head physician, Dr. William Raasch, explained the failure scenario to team officials and then assistant GM Gord Ash relayed that assessment to the media.
From here, Roenicke told the media that Doug Melvin’s plan is to review internal options first. That means a longer look for Taylor Green, perhaps more looks for Alex Gonzalez and Martín Maldonado, an a more significant look at Brewers 2012 Minor League Player of the Year and Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Another name you’ll see in the box score on the big league side now is Sean Halton who started at 1B for the Nashville Sounds last year. To that end, Gord Ash told Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy that Hunter Morris “will be a strong candidate” to play first base at the start of the season.
There are a couple of unsigned free agents with first base experience in Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff, but there is doubt that either would want to come to a situation where they’re basically guaranteed to lose the job as soon as Corey Hart is healthy enough to return. Other externals options include recently DFA’d players. Mike Carp and Daric Barton fit that description.
What would you do, Brewer Nation?
In many conversations I’ve had over the past several days about the Brewers roster composition, backup first baseman was of particular interest.
Following Corey Hart’s knee surgery, Mat Gamel was promoted from his assumed role of reserve first baseman — along with third baseman and corner outfielder — back to the starting first baseman’s job he held last season when the team headed north after Spring Training.
The initial talk was about how quickly Hart could and would return. Then it moved to whether Gamel was a capable starter for the span of time Hart would be missing. Soon though that the Brewers didn’t have an official backup first baseman anymore was quickly realized by many fans.
First, the Brewers openly courted former Brewer Lyle Overbay, but to no avail as he signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox. More quietly they were interested in Juan Rivera who logged time in 54 games at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Rivera agreed to a free agent contract with the New York Yankees instead.
This sent up some flares signaling that the Brewers didn’t outwardly appear all that interested in heading to the season with the relatively inexperienced (and left-handed hitting, like Gamel) Taylor Green as the primary backup.
Talk moved to Hunter Morris and whether he would be given a chance to compete for the job. I’ve done my best to point out that Morris isn’t even on the 40-man roster this year and it would be extremely out of character (and in my opinion foolhardy) to waste an option year and start Morris’ arbitration clock for the time which Hart would miss. And that was to the people who were suggesting Morris as the starter over Gamel. To those who think they’d burn the same to make use of Morris as a backup, all I can say is that I don’t exactly foresee that either.
With all this talk, I reached out to a source about the role and it was suggested to me that backup catcher Martín Maldonado could be the man to fill in against some lefty starters in Gamel’s stead. The source went so far as to say that Maldonado was told specifically to get a first baseman’s glove to bring Spring Training. To that end, Maldonado is on record as saying that he enjoyed the time that he got to play first base last year.
One potential problem is that it is quite unlikely that Maldonado will see any reps at first base while away at the World Baseball Classic — where he will back up Yadier Molina for Team Puerto Rico — so he’d miss that time. Plus, as his time with the Brewers will be limited overall this Spring, Maldonado will likely be called on to catch plenty when he is with Milwaukee so he can develop his rapport with his new pitchers and reestablish the bonds with the returning Brewers hurlers.
Still, it would make sense if Maldonado is up to the task. He surprised most people with his offensive numbers last season and played passable-at-worst defense at first when called on.
So basically, keep that in mind when and if you see Maldonado’s name start popping up in Cactus League boxscores with a “1B” near it.