Results tagged ‘ Tyler Thornburg ’
Recorded on location last night, here is the latest Brewer Nation podcast.
Check the tags for some of the players mentioned during this hour-long clip.
The Milwaukee Brewers announced their postseason award winners as voted by members of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). A total of eight ballots were cast for each award, assigning five points for first place, three for second and one for third.
Center fielder Carlos Gomez was voted Brewers Most Valuable Player as he received all eight first-place votes (40 points). He was followed by shortstop Jean Segura (18 points), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (13) and pitcher Kyle Lohse (1). Gomez, a first-time All-Star selection this season, batted .284 with 24 HR, 73 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 147 games. He was among the National League leaders in triples (T2nd, 10), stolen bases (4th), slugging percentage (7th, .506) and extra-base hits (T8th, 61). Gomez became the first player in franchise history to produce 20+ home runs and 40+ stolen bases in a season. He was the only player in the Major Leagues to accomplish that feat in 2013. The Gold Glove Award candidate also recorded 12 assists in center field, which ranked second in the Major Leagues from that position.
Kyle Lohse was voted Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher as he received all eight first-place votes (40 points). Jim Henderson (24 points), Brandon Kintzler (7) and Yovani Gallardo (1) also received consideration. Lohse, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent on March 25, went 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 32 starts during his first season in Milwaukee. He led the team in ERA, innings pitched (198.2) and quality starts (20). He ranked fifth in the National League in fewest walks per nine innings (1.6). Lohse went 10-4 with a 2.91 ERA over his last 22 starts, posting 16 quality starts (139ip, 45er).
Lohse (38 points) was also voted Brewers Top Newcomer, receiving seven first-place votes and one second-place vote. He was followed by second baseman Scooter Gennett (26 points – one first-place vote). Outfielder Khris Davis (7 points) and pitcher Tyler Thornburg (1) were also listed on ballots.
Outfielder Norichika Aoki (34 points) received five first-place votes and three second-place votes to edge pitcher Brandon Kintzler (27 points – three first place-votes, four second-place votes) and earn Brewers Unsung Hero honors. A total of eight players were listed on ballots for this award. Aoki batted .286 with 8 HR, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 155 games. He ranked among the National League leaders in multi-hit games (T7th, 50) and hits (T10th, 171). He led the team in games, at-bats (597), on-base percentage (.356) and walks (55) while tying Carlos Gomez for the team lead in runs (80). Aoki struck out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances this season, the best ratio in the Major Leagues (16.9).
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy (33 points) earned the Good Guy Award, receiving six first-place votes and one second-place vote. The other first-place votes went to center fielder Carlos Gomez, who finished second with 18 points, and shortstop Jean Segura. A total of nine players were listed on ballots for this honor, the most of any award this season.
Catching up on a couple of news items from yesterday in advance of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his musical counterpart of the same name would never do it, but the Brewers Corey Hart was forced to surrender the rest of the season. While furiously rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee, Hart’s left knee began swelling and giving him problems during and after workouts. It finally became bad enough that he sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal El Attrache.
Surgery was the recommended option and Hart will undergo such soon. It’s the same surgery that he needed on his right knee so the obviously Hart has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Hopefully everything goes cleanly for him after this.
The biggest question for Hart now is where his career goes from here. While he should be healthy before spring training next year the fact is that he’s a free agent after this one. And with multiple knee surgeries (both in terms of surgeries and knees), the 31-year-old veteran faces an uncertain future at a time when he should be preparing to cash in on a free agent contract.
The Brewers could extend a qualifying offer to him in an attempt to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, but the risk there is that if he accepts and the knee injuries limit his effectiveness in 2014, then they’d be paying him somewhere north of $13.5 million to sit. That’s probably not a risk that they can take unless Hart can prove himself 100% healthy before the deadline to decide this off-season.
Gindl Optioned, Thornburg Returns
This feels like deja vu all over again.
The last time the Brewers started a long stretch of consecutive games, the team dealt with a number of short starts out of its rotation members at the beginning of the run. The bullpen was worked hard and an extra arm was brought up to help alleviate some of the strain. It’s happened again and Caleb Gindl was the victim of the numbers game this time. He hit okay while he was here, tallying both his first hit and first RBI in his first turn in the Major Leagues, but his defense in an unfamiliar left field was shaky. With Carlos Gomez back after his scary wall collision just a few days ago, Logan Schafer can shift back to starting every day in left with the usual starters of Gomez and Norichika Aoki in center and right. The back up outfielder on the roster though is one who has only played it extensively this season for the first time in Sean Halton. They’d never put him in center and would prefer to keep him out of right. In fact, Ron Roenicke specifically mentioned that with how big the Pittsburgh left field is, he’d question putting Halton in there defensively at all in this series. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a spot where Roenicke’s hand is forced in any direction.
Returning as that extra bullpen arm is Tyler Thornburg who has seen time up with the parent club already this year after making his MLB debut last season. Thornburg had been struggling in the Nashville rotation but pitched very well in relief with Milwaukee during his previous stay. The Brewers will be looking for Thornburg to provide them length after both Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop went multiple innings in relief of Johnny Hellweg’s short outing in his debut on Friday night.
What a whirlwind the past 18 hours have been.
We’ve shot right past there being just a week to go until Pitchers and Catchers. Before that we missed acknowledging the eight-weeks-to-go mark to Opening Day.
With everything else that’s going on as I type this article out in Brewer Nation, the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” countdown should, nay must, go on!
And so it shall.
Today, we sit 54 days away from Opening Day on April 1st. The wearer of 54 in Spring Training will be the man who wore it as a part of the 25-man roster to end the 2012 regular season…
Joshua Randall Stinson joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization only last year. He was claimed off of waivers from the New York Mets and awarded to the Brewers on April 4, 2012. He was optioned to Double-A Huntsville where he pitched primarily in the rotation, making 24 starts in 29 appearances.
Stinson, who turns 25 before Opening Day, was drafted in the 37th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft (by the Mets) out of Northwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. He’s listed at 6’4″ and 210 pounds and is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher though he was listed by Pitch F/X as having thrown both a change up and curveball a handful of times in his work in the big leagues in 2012.
He has been used more as a relief pitcher than a starting pitcher in his career but has done a lot of starting lately. Only 94 of his 221 career minor league appearances have been starts. His first 15 games in 2011 were starts but he pitched exclusively out the bullpen after that (25 games). As previously stated, all but five of his 29 appearances in 2012 were starts. Those five relief appearances were his first five of the year. It was all starting after that. When he reached the Mets in 2011 and the Brewers in 2012, however, he made only one start in 20 combined appearances. That came with the Brewers on the final day of the 2012 regular season.
Stinson’s numbers show a little bit of concern, but guys with concerns aren’t waived off of 40-man rosters all that often. About the only consistent positive metric is that Stinson is not very prone to giving up home runs. Other than that, his relatively consistent negatives include his walk rate which is far too high. He doesn’t miss a ton of bats which is another reason his home run rate needs to remain in check.
It stands to reason that Stinson’s stuff would play up out the bullpen in the big leagues, but I would guess that the Brewers will continue pitching him as a starting pitcher to begin 2013. It might make sense that it would be with Nashville but I also haven’t sat down to count spots in the Sounds’ rotation beyond that I’m assuming Hiram Burgos and Tyler Thornburg will take two of them.
Stinson will get plenty of work this spring in big league camp while four Brewers pitchers are away on World Baseball Classic business. I fully expect Stinson to be piggybacking as he builds stamina and occasionally work in short stints.
In my opinion, Stinson is a lock for an optioning back to the minors to begin the 2013 season. The role remains to be seen but his having a job feels like a near certainty. Could something else happen that causes the Brewers to need a 40-man roster spot? Sure. Could Stinson’s spot be under consideration? I would assume so. That being said, Stinson performed well in 2012 throughout the Brewers organization. Feels safe enough to me.
Stinson is exactly the type of quality depth that the Brewers have lacked at times over their recent history. His presence will offer a modicum of comfort should problems develop in the bullpen or should multiple starting pitchers go down for an extended period of time like happened in 2012.
He’s likely not the first option in either case, but that he’s a viable one is where “depth” really comes in.
In summary: 2013 = start in minors in role TBD (guessing SP), and be ready to be called on for either role in Milwaukee.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #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
Today’s profile focuses on a player who saw some time at three different levels of the Brewers’ organization in 2012.
He is the Texas-native…
Tyler Michael Thornburg pitched in 29 games in 2012. Of those, 21 were in the minors. Of those, 13 were for the Class-AA affiliate Huntsville Stars and eight were for the Class-AAA affiliate Nashville Sounds. That leaves (math majors) eight games played at the big league level.
Of those 29 games, 24 were starts. Thornburg started every game he pitched in the minor league regular season. He made three starts in a Brewers uniform along with five appearances out of the bullpen.
Part of the reason that Thornburg only appeared in the number of games that he did was because of some arm fatigue and a wrist issue. I think the latter contributed to the former by the end of the season. There were also some scheduling oddities with which Thornburg had to deal in 2012.
Thornburg had put together a very strong first half of the season as a Huntsville Stars starting pitcher. He was 8-1 in 13 starts with an even 3.00 ERA. He tallied 71 strikeouts in 75.0 innings pitched and held opposing hitters to a .212 batting average. He had walked 24 on the year to that point and allowed 57 hits which equates to a 1.08 WHIP. This was all by the middle of June. In short, he earned a promotion (which he tweeted about to let us all know). The original plan was to have Thornburg play in the Double-A All-Star Game and then join the Nashville Sounds.
The reason for the change was an injury to Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum. Now the third member of Milwaukee’s Opening Day rotation to succumb to injury, Marcum was missing a start due to “elbow tightness”. Thornburg was relatively on schedule to pitch the night of Tuesday, June 19th but ended up making that start in a Brewers uniform at Miller Park instead of that Double-A All-Star Game. The irony there is that Thornburg had been considered to skip over Triple-A a couple of weeks earlier when Marco Estrada was injured. Mike Fiers’ phone rang instead that time, but Thornburg ended up leapfrogging Nashville after all.
He had a very good start to the game and got a lot of firsts out of the way before tiring and giving up back-to-back-to-back home runs into his fifth inning of work against a very dangerous Toronto Blue Jays lineup. To be fair, it was obvious that in his first big league start Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was trying hard to get Thornburg through five innings to qualify for his first big league victory. It wasn’t in the cards that day nor at all in 2012 as Thornburg finished without a decision, a 4.50 ERA, 1.409 WHIP, 20 K, 7 BB, 8 HR in 22.0 big league innings.
That’s a small and extremely sporadic sample size though, so don’t read much of anything into those numbers.
Thornburg did bounce around the organization a little in the second half of the season and between dealing with coming out of the bullpen in Milwaukee, a wrist injury on the farm, and whatnot, he had a couple of long layoffs between outings. Here’s hoping that 2013 can be steady as she goes in terms of consistent playing time.
Thornburg turned 24 years old on September 29th and made one start on October 2nd last year. Still relatively young, Thornburg looks to open the 2013 season atop the Nashville Sounds rotation. The Brewers want to give him every opportunity to contribute as a starting pitcher despite numerous publications and prospect “experts” who foresee any significant Major League future hinging on a full-time move to the bullpen.
That being said, Thornburg is still ranked as the second-best prospect in the Brewers organization (behind Wily Peralta) and was singled out as having the system’s best curveball by Baseball America. That pitch along with a fastball that hits the mid-90s make for a good base package. If he can get his third pitch up to an average offering the Brewers really might have another long-term rotation contributor.
It remains to be seen though which is why Thornburg is likely ticketed for the minors come April. He’s got time to get better but will be ready as needed. Rare is the team which makes it through a season with just five starting pitchers. Obviously based on early season results along with who else is pitching in Nashville with him, but Thornburg will be one of the first names on the list to cover innings that need to be covered.
Look for #63 in Phoenix this spring if you’ll be down there and take the time to pay him some attention. Chances are good that he’ll be a name you’ll need to know soon enough if you don’t already.
You can follow Tyler Thornburg on Twitter: @TylerThornburg
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
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):
- John Axford (@JohnAxford)
- Burke Badenhop
- Jeff Bianchi
- Ryan Braun
- Nick Bucci (@nickbooch)
- Hiram Burgos (@Burgos196)
- Khris Davis
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers (@Fiers64)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Mat Gamel
- Scooter Gennett (@Scooterg11)
- Caleb Gindl
- Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27)
- Michael Gonzalez
- Tom Gorzelanny (@TGorz)
- Taylor Green
- Corey Hart
- Johnny Hellweg
- Jim Henderson (@JimHenderson29)
- Brandon Kintzler
- Jonathan Lucroy (@JLucroy20)
- Martin Maldonano (@Machete1224)
- Chris Narveson (@sleep_trick)
- Michael Olmsted
- Wily Peralta
- Josh Prince (@JoshPrince17)
- Mark Rogers
- Logan Schafer (@LoganS22)
- Josh Stinson (@JStinny19)
- Tyler Thornburg (@TylerThornburg)
- Rickie Weeks
- Ron Roenicke
- Joe Crawford
- Marcus Hanel (@Markoos55)
- Garth Iorg
- Rick Kranitz
- Jerry Narron
- Johnny Narron
- Ed Sedar
- John Shelby
- Lee Tunnell
- Clint Coulter (@ccoulter12)
- Kentrail Davis
- Drew Gagnon (@Dgags24)
- Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
- Taylor Jungmann
- Hunter Morris (@HunterMorris15)
- Jimmy Nelson (@Jimmy_J_Nelson)
- Victor Roache (@_Heavy28Hitter_)
- Matt Erickson (Mgr.)
- 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.
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.
I 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
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
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.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
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!
- Jeff Bianchi
- Mat Gamel**
- Corey Hart
- Donnie Murphy
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
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.
- Norichika Aoki**
- Ryan Braun
- Carlos Gomez
- Logan Schafer**
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
- Rickie Weeks
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Aramis Ramirez
- Corey Hart
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Carlos Gomez
- Jean Segura
- 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.
The 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.
The 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:
#Brewers are prioritizing a lefty reliever. Among the available free agents: Burnett, Choate, M. Gonzalez, Howell, Gorzelanny.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 2, 2012
Just some names to know.
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.
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.
The 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.
As 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, 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?