Friday, December 28, 2007

Brian Shouse: Hero?

A mixture of Brewers obsession and having way too much time lead me the Web site for The Brian Shouse Fan Club, a light-hearted tribute to everyone's favorite situational lefty. The site, too, seems to be founded on the principles of, well, Brewers obsession and having way too much time. It's basically just funny Shouse-related photoshops. Take a look.

Posted by Tyler

Weekly Bunts

Due to the Holidays, there really wasn't much new news.

1) Counsell to appear in ballet. In the realm of human interest stories no one cares about, this one tops the week. Apparently, Craig Counsell is taking part in the "Nutty Nutcracker" tomorrow. I'd really be happier with the story "Counsell works to improve depressing batting average".

2) Brewers are considering Kenny Lofton. Even though it'd be poetic that the 1992 ROY runner-up to Pat Listach would join the team, I'm a little conflicted about the possibility. True, the Brewers could use an actual lead off man. Also true is that he has playoff experience. But the older he gets, the more unstable he's going to be. I will say this: I'd rather have Kenny than Juan Pierre

3) In NL Central News: The Astros sign Darin Erstad and the Cubs still hope to get Brian Roberts. Do the Astros still not get it? I thought after getting Valverde, they might have wised up. Thankfully they haven't. You can sign all the former big bats you want, but if your rotation goes from Roy Oswalt to, um, Wandy Rodriguez, you won't win much (well, once every five games). As for the Cubs, they are the evil empire - Midwest. I'm surprised they aren't in the Santana Sweepstakes...sheesh.

Posted by Bryan

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Brews of Prey

Last Christmas Eve the Brewers made the mid to high profile free agent signing of Jeff Suppan. This Christmas eve, and Christmas elapsed silently, finding Melvin and Co. making no moves. With winter meetings long gone, opening day still about 100 days away and spring training more than six weeks off, this period marks a lull, a patience-trying period in which fans will probably have to wait for an exciting transaction to take place later than sooner.

I fail to believe that Gabe Kapler will be the last player to be brought in before season's beginning. So until such a groundbreaking transaction is to come to be, the best Brewer fans can do is look at moves made throughout the league and wonder what that says for the Brewers impending roster shakeup.

*Free agent outfielder So Taguchi just inked a one year deal with the Phillies for Gabe Kapler-type money. This says to me either 1. The Brewers are hanging their hat on a Gross/Kapler/Gwynn-like platoon, 2. They are seeking an outfielder via trade, 3. They will move Braun to LF and look into aquiring a 3B via trade.

*Recently, the Reds sent the walking feel-good story Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for a plethora of pitchers, including one the Rangers penciled in to be their No. four or five starter this coming season. Personally, (and I know I'm not alone) this indicates they need to bolster their rotation leaving the Brewers with considerable leverage in a deal involving 3B Hank Blalock (the popular name rumored), sending Braun to LF.

*Free agent hurlers like Silva and Prior ahve also just agreed to terms with the Mariners and Padres respectively, which aludes to the assumption that the numerous other teams that were pursuing one or both of those over-rated arms to seek pitching help elsewhere via trade. There really aren't many quality pitchers left on the market - so names like Capuano and Vargas are looking a lot better.

In all, nearly each and every move around the league either opens up or cancels out a possibility for the Brewers. Yet, a number of free agents have yet to find homes, so as teams explore those options the club will likely sit wait to see how the chips fall and pounce when the time is right. So keep watching, and do your best to stay occupied and sane in what looks to be a tremendously boring period preceeding what looks to be a great Brewer season.

Posted by Tyler

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekly Bunts

Here are some stories that crept through this week:


- Matt Wise signed by the New York Mets. CBS reported it with the headline "Wise Move". That is way over done, even by us. So the Mets have our old catcher and our old set up man. Interesting, since Stephen A. Smith believes that the GM for the Mets is a god. If he's such a god, why is he taking Brewer toss aways? I will say that the Mets did get Wise for a fairly low 1.2 million. Only time will tell who got the better reliever; The Brewers with Mota, or the Mets with Wise. (What a fugly picture, by the way)

- Fernando Vina and Gary Bennett admit HGH use. We all knew Gary Bennett had to be on SOMETHING when he hit a home run in the World Series, but Fernando was a surprise. It was also refreshing to see someone who is sitting comfortably with ESPN admit they were wrong. The only question I have is in reference to this quote: "I never bought steroids from him. All I used was HGH." You know...no big deal. I mean steroids is bad, but HGH isn't as bad, right? I'm no 'roider. I'm a hormoner...The best part about post-Mitchell Report baseball is all the lame quotes from the offenders. "I only used it twice (even though I said I never used it ever)", "I only used it once", etc...


- Geoff Jenkins a Philly. 2 years, 13 million a year with a chance to make it 20 million. Good for Geoff. Again, I plead...do not boo him (unless he does something clutch). He loved Milwaukee and was with the team through the worst years in the franchise. I would welcome him back as an outfield coach with arms wide open.


- Brewers sign Gabe Kapler.
As Jim Rome said when he was with the BoSox, Kapler is a "good guy". He's a hard worker and will always give it his all. That said, I don't think he'll see much time in the Majors unless there are injury issues. He's a year removed from retirement and is basically a great morale guy for the young ones.

Posted by Bryan

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Surprisingly Not Found in Mitchell Report

An Advertisement Taken from Gagne's Locker circa 2003:
















Posted by Bryan

Replacing number five: Further outfielder outburts

Keeping with my suggestion to bring in a corner outfielder, I have two new potential suitors to take Geoff Jenkins' long-standing place in the Brewers clubhouse. One, fittingly, already wears number five.

With the recent aquisition of veteran free agent Cliff Floyd, the Rays find themself a team with five starting-capable outfielders, and only four spots in which to put them (including DH, crazy American Leaguers!). I assume Floyd will split time between DH and right field, Upton is a lock for center and it'd take a lot to pry Crawford from left — thus the two players that are likely to share time with Floyd are also the most expendable; Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes.

Not that the Rays wish to part with young, homegrown talent to give way to a short-tenured elderstatesman... but their starting rotation, combined with the outfield logjam, may force them to part with one of these players. Kazmir, Shields and the newly aquired Garza allude to a strong pitching staff but there's a considerable dropoff after that. First overall pick David Price probably won't be Major League ready right away, so I'm sure they'd at least listen to offers in the way of hurlers.

Capuano for Gomes OR Baldelli seems fair. Vargas and a backup catcher (Rivera) makes sense too. But the Rays aren't known for their spending and Capuano and Vargas garner 3.5 and 2.5 million respectively, compared to the mere 350 and 750 thousand Gomes and Baldelli are to take in this season. If they aren't willing to pony up the dough, Dave Bush and another player proves to be the best fit for both clubs.

Yes, Baldelli has been subject to various injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy he presents a blend of speed, defensive skill and even some offensive pop. I'd prefer him, and tend to believe the Rays would be quicker to part with him than Gomes. I'm not saying this will happen, in fact... it probably won't, but i've grown accustomed to cheering for a nearby number five from my cheap outfield seats and this could be an affordable, doable and wise way to ensure that can continue.

Any off the wall propositions of your own? I'd enjoy seeing what others have to say.

Posted by Tyler

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To Austin or Bust

In a now barren free agent outfield market that finds names like Shannon Stewart, Barry Bonds and, well, Geoff Jenkins its top hole-fillers, it becomes more evident than ever that, should the Brewers enlist the services of a new corner outfielder or (in case of a Braun infield exile) third baseman, he will come via a trade.

Baseball message boards, trade rumor mills and this blog have been a buzz with potential names suggested to heal what ailes Milwaukee. From outfielders like Teahen and DeJesus to third basemen like Rolen and Blalock, a lot has been proposed with no progress made. But I, a bonified baseball guru... or something, have given this matter much thought and each time am left with one name; Austin Kearns.

Not only does a Kearns aquisition make sense by way of his defensive prowess, his respectable power and low (less than 4MM) salary, the needs of the teams involved, too, indicate this would be a wise transaction. The Nats need pitching. Sure, they have seven options for starters, but only John Patterson has done anything in the bigs, and even that wasn't much. Plus, reports of them looking at Benson tell of a team in need of quality starters. As we all know, pitching is the one thing the crew finds itself with a definiate surplus of.

The Nats also have an abundance of outfielders. Kearns is slated to be the Opening Day rightfielder, but they just aquired Elijah Dukes and seem intent on him turning his career/life around in Capital city. The club, too, resigned a finally healthy Willy Mo Pena for another two years, traded for unquestioned CF starter Lastings Milledge, resigned Ryan Langerhans PLUS renissanced 1B/OF Dimitri Young might find himself forced to a corner OF spot with the return of Nick Johnson.

This deal makes so much sense to me. I think Kearns would like to play for a pennant without looking over his shoulder, and I have to imagine with Melvin has at least considered this. Capuano or Bush paired with a backup catcher or low-level prospect should do the job. In an offseason wrought with so many names with either so much salary/prior injury or so little upside. I think Austin Kearns is the perfect solution to a sizable hole in an otherwise solid club.

Am I crazy to be drinking so much of this deal's Kool Aid?

Posted by Tyler

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Return of J.C.?

No, not that J.C....

Jeff Cirillo.

The former Brewer who seems to make everyone's list of top three all-time players to sport the Brew Crew colors reportedly wants back in Milwaukee:
“I still feel like there is some magic when I put on that Milwaukee uniform,” Cirillo told me. “Last season I was up in Minnesota and I kept wondering, ‘what am I doing here?’ I missed Milwaukee. We went down to Milwaukee last season for an inter-league game and I hit a homerun. I love Miller Park and I’d like to be a Brewer again. It’s a great community, and my family and I enjoy getting involved there. But who knows?”
There's a little more on it here: Brewers: Bring Back Cirillo!

My heart says, "Of course, bring him back!" But I'm not sure he'd have a role on this team. One way it might work is if the Brewers bring in a left-handed third baseman that can't hit left-handed pitchers, someone like Hank Blalock of the Rangers, who the Brewers are reportedly interested in. Cirillo would be a nice right-handed platoon mate to pair with Blalock.

Someone else would get knocked out of the opening day roster though, unless the Brewers traded two guys off the 25-man roster. If Melvin felt comfortable with Dillon and Gross as the backup outfielders, Gwynn could start the year in Nashville again.

It's a tough call, but I'd love to see Cirillo in a Brewer uniform again and I'm sure he'd come cheap. It's hard to pass up on a gritty veteran who is beloved in the community and would bring leadership to a young team.

What do you think?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekly Bunts

We'll see how long I can hold this up, but I'm going to try and find little stories and angles that haven't been discussed much throughout the week that deserve at least a little mention.

- Probably the worst thing to happen from the Mitchell Report is that not one single current Cub was named.

- Speaking of our neighbors to the south, something interesting was lost due to the immensity of the Mitchell Report: Mark Prior was non-tendered. The pitcher, who was once considered a Cy Young candidate by Cub fans, was not offered arbitration and the Astro's are reportedly interested in acquiring him. Well...with a pitching staff THAT terrible, I'd see if I could sign every pitcher on the market. (50 Million for Josh Towers? If anyone would do it, it would be the Astro's) Personally, I'd like to see Prior go peacefully away from the NL Central and not go the way Clement did: try to make it in the American League and get shellacked.

- Our old friend Geoff Jenkins is allegedly getting a lot of teams interested in him. Basically, all the teams that didn't get Fukudome, Hunter, or Rowand are now interested in Jenks. Phillies and Padres appear to be the most desperate. Let me just say this, Geoff does NOT deserve to get boo'ed when he comes back to Miller. He took out a big ad in the paper thanking the fans and saying he'd love to come back (perhaps as a coach).

- Since we've heard a lot of "what fairly unknown player would I like to see here", I'll put in my choice. If the choice would be between Hank Blalock, Scott Rolen, and Andre Ethier, I'd take Ethier. A lot of people are interested in moving Braun. I'm going to stay put my fear. Call it the Bill Hall factor. Moving infielders to the outfield is not as seamless as Soriano made it appear. Ethier would make a great outfielder (and probably a great number one or two in the order). However, it would take way too much to get Ethier; more than what he's worth. It still is a possibility with the Dodgers having a very full outfield and if the Dodgers trust Matt Kemp. I'd do Capuano and a prospect for Andre. That would be an amazing trade, but probably won't happen. I wonder if Markakis is available...

- Finally, farewell to gopher ball giving pitcher Greg Aquino. He's a young player with promise, but no confidence. The Brewers tried to sneak him through waivers and the Orioles snatched him up. For his sake, I hope he can get over his jitters, because otherwise he'll be throwing meatballs to the Yankees, BoSox, and Blue Jays sluggers instead of the Reds and the Astros.

Posted by Bryan

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"EHch-G-EHch", Eh?

Well, it is thursday. And as expected, the George Mitchell report was released to the commonwealth. Finally. Like most, I've patiently been waiting for G-day to come, licking my chops the whole time - hoping that some of my suspicions of players would ring true, casting the media's gavel towards and thru their heinous brains. Literally.
However, this great day did not have the warm, squishy feeling I had expected for so long. Though I loved seeing "The Crocket" thrown into the fire, finally, the presence of another player pretty much ruined it for me.

Of course, I am referring to Eric Gagne.
One day ago, I was jacked about Gagne being a Brewer, abandoning my past perceptions about him and his attitude. Wiping his slate clean in my mind, and preparing for what I hoped to be his best season since the Cy Young winner.

But, Naaaaaaaaaaaay.

Like usual, my proven facts hold true, and my heart is broken.
For those who don't know the proven fact of which I speak, it is:

"There is no such thing as a Canadian athlete."

For a long time, Gagne has been eluding my stereotype tornado, and for just as long - I have failed to explain his freak existence.

Why, for once, couldn't I have been wrong?
George Mitchell opened the blinds, and the sun of truth has burned all Milwaukee Brewer fans up a nice batch of Closer Melanoma. I will still route for Gagne to do well, while he plays in the Brew Crew Unis, but this will be a big pill to swallow.

I guess, we wait and hope he doesn't get suspended, and that he will be mentally tough enough to pitch through the inevitable (and deserved) boos and heckling his ship is surely sailing for.

I won't hog this whole subject, because I am sure the bloggers will want to talk more about it.

Until next year,
--The Rivdog.



PS.
Joe, with all of this news out now, I figured it would be a good time to let you in on RFB's little secret from you. Seeing what performance enhancers did for Gary Bennett, we pretty much made the assumption that Pre-Steriod Gary Bennett was your athletic equal. So we pooled our bar money together and bought you a 24 month cycle of anabolic steriods, a boost if you will. May this be the catalyst for your Superstar backup catcher career on cellar NL teams we all know you were born for.

Posted by Johnny

Gagne With a Spoon

...or more fittingly, a needle. This claim and others regarding use of performance enhancing substances reached the public today via The Mitchell Report. I have glanced at about half of this document so far, selfishly searching for the names of current and former Brewers.

Obviously, Gagne is the highest profile player mentioned with ties to Milwaukee, and the only current Brewer mentioned besides the already-known steroid foibles of Turnbow. For those who wish to get the quick hits or save their eyes two hours of strain, I'll supply any and all names of current and former Brewers that were mentioned. Note, all claims are unproven... and much of this report is hinging on speculation and verbal accounts.

In no particular order: Eric Gagne, Derrick Turnbow, Ricky Bones, David Bell, Gary Bennett Jr., Gary Shefield, Fernando Vina, Steve Woodard and Ron Villone.

I'm was glad to see that none, with the exception of possibly Woodard, of the (very loose) accounts linked the times the players were said to have purchased these drugs to when they played for Milwaukee. Not to say it didn't happen there. I'm pretty sure Bennett wasn't on 'roids while he hit... nothing... as a Brewer. I was surprised to not see Greg Vaughn's name in print due to his brother Mo being mentioned, and his unlikely career power numbers.

As far as Gagne, the mention doesn't exactly surprise me, but I maintain my respect for him as a player. In all, these names are far from tarnished in my eyes, many - if not all - may have indulged in these drugs, but the document, as any document that cites Larry Bigbie as one of its primary sources, is far from concrete.

I don't have much else to say about this whole issue, and being no authority on the game, but instead a fan, this entire process is disappointing. This whole HGH/Steroid issue is long from over, but hopefully days like today go far in reshaping the reputation of the game and a league that I and so many others hold dear.

Posted by Tyler

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Few NL Central Blunders

- The Astros traded five young prospects for Miguel Tejada today

Maybe it's just me, but I look at the Astros and I think they need a lot of pitching, not two years of an overpaid shortstop with declining skills. And they unloaded three pitching prospects in the deal along with a talented, young major league outfielder (Luke Scott) and a third base prospect. Not only that, but they have non-tendered shortstop Adam Everett, one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. I can't believe they couldn't get anything for Everett, despite his low offensive output (maybe a mid-level pitching prospect?). Roy Oswalt is a #1 pitcher, but 40-something Woody Williams (5.27 ERA in 2007), Wandy Rodriguez (4.58 ERA), Brandon Backe (3.77 ERA in five starts coming off Tommy John surgery) and an undetermined fifth player will fill out a really questionable starting five with little to no depth behind it.

- The Reds sign Francisco Cordero to huge four-year contract

Cordero was going to get a huge contract from someone and it's possible he could be worth it, at least for a couple years of the deal. But it's a risk. A huge risk. A risk a contending team with money to burn and a hole in the bullpen should take. Not a team like the Cincinnati Reds, who don't have a legitimate shot of competing this year and are likely to lose their two biggest offensive weapons by next offseason (Dunn and Griffey Jr.). Not only that, but the player that could be their third best offensive talent, Josh Hamilton, another outfielder, continues to come up in trade rumors. What are they thinking?

- The Pirates

They really haven't done anything too crazy this offseason. They're just the Pirates and it's funny to be able to laugh at a cellar dweller in the Brewers division that isn't the Brewers... Sorry Pitt fans...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Slap on a Roof and Call it "The Fukudome"

Well it looks as if our hated Cubs have won the Kousuke Fukudome sweepstakes. According to a source at WGN Radio, Chicago was able to lock up the seasoned nine-year Japanese baller for a "hair over $50 million." The team's site tabs the deal a staunch 4-year $48 million. Either way, this seems to solidify the Cubs' outfield, minus a slot to be filled by either Pie, Pagan, Murton, overpriced name (Rowand, L. Gonzo).

Regardless, this is still a Brewer blog... so I bring us to how this is to affect the brew crew. I believe this, paired with the Mench DFA (waiver in... 24 hours) and the still jam-packed starting rotation just begging for some breathing room will all contribute to a Milwaukee management push for a new player. But who?

It might be some flash in the pan Cuban whose name happened to be mentioned in the same breath as Milwaukee, but as Jared pointed out... there are so many question marks there. My vote during this constantly changing forecast of transaction rests in leaving Braun at 3B and bringing in a Major League-proven outfielder via trade. I have an inkling (unproven hope) that DeJesus will rise in Milwaukee to be seated at the Right Field of the Miller. More accurately center, but that doesn't work with my lame Bible pun. I know, I know... terrible! :)

Posted by Tyler

Less Pitcher Than They Expected

There is already one area where Eric Gagne has not measured up for Milwaukee ... and it's a good thing.

Tom Haudricourt noted in his article yesterday (Gagne called on to relieve losses in bullpen) that Gagne has lost weight and looks to be in better shape than he has in years:
Melvin felt more encouraged when Gagne showed up for his physical exam Monday looking trimmer than ever. Finally over the back issues that plagued him in past years, Gagne has resumed his running program, allowing him to shed unwanted weight.

The Brewers' medical staff put Gagne through a rigorous physical examination, the final step in making the deal official.

"He passed with flying colors," said Melvin, who later introduced Gagne at a Miller Park news conference.

And this blurb from Haudricourt's blog:
Gagne looked fantastic. Not even close to his listed 240 pounds. His agent, Scott Boras, told me that Gagne has been able to resume his running program since getting past his back problems of 2005 and has really trimmed down. The Brewers said he passed his physical exam "with flying colors."

The difference is clear. Compare Gagne in the above photo to the one below of him in Boston only a few months ago.
While it may seem like a small detail, that's a nice little development that some might have missed yesterday.

The Final Piece?

Ken Rosenthal reportedly announced today on Fox Sports Radio that Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez is close to establishing citizenship in the Dominican Republic. He would then try to land a spot on an MLB roster. According to a Brewerfan.net poster, Rosenthal said Ramirez's agent named the Brewers among five teams expressing interest in the Cuban home run king, who can play as a middle infielder or outfielder. The White Sox, Mets, Padres and Cardinals are also said to have interest.

Ramirez, 26, is represented by agent Jaime Torres, the same agent who represents Brewer minor-league prospect and fellow Cuban defector Yohannis Perez, a shortstop who spent last season with the Huntsville Stars and Brevard County Manatees.

Ramirez, who played at second base last year, batted .335, hit a Cuban National Series league-leading 20 homers, led the league in total bases with 195 and finished in the top ten in runs (ninth), hits (fifth), RBI (second), game-winning hits (eighth) and slugging percentage (second at .574). In 14 at bats in the Dominican Winter League this November, Ramirez had only one hit, batting .071 with one run, one RBI, zero walks and four strike outs. He went 6-for-16 (.375) in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which Cuba placed second in to Japan and was on the 2004 gold medal Cuban Olympic team.

Peter C. Bjarkman described Ramirez's play in THIS POST on mlbblogs.com:

Ramirez runs like a long-legged deer, has a solid outfield arm, displays good if not exceptional range at second and shortstop, and boasts surprising power in his frail-appearing 6-3, 172-pound frame. Built along the physical lines of a young Ernie Banks or Hank Aaron, Ramirez has great wrists and an exceptionally quick bat, as well as excellent plate discipline; nonetheless he is a line drive hitter and not primarily a home run slugger and his 20 round trippers this past winter were perhaps something of an aberration.

MLB.com lists him at 6'1" and 170 pounds. He bats and throws right handed. While Ramirez reportedly has been shopped as a shortstop, his agent is now apparently advertising him as a second baseman or outfielder.

Here is a video of Ramirez hitting a home run in the Cuban league:


If the Brewers did pursue Ramirez and landed the foreign prospect, they could slide him into the starting left fielder role, though that would be pretty risky considering they likely know little about Ramirez, who has never played MLB talent aside from in the WBC. He is definitely an intriguing prospect and one I hope the Brewers continue to look into. It will be interesting to see where he ends up and if he pans out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Wise Move

As Joe had hoped, Salomon Torres has agreed to forego retirement to suit up for the Brewers. Another slightly more high profile move was made official today as Eric Gagne passed his physical 'with flying colors.' What number will he wear? JS writer Tom Haudricourt reports Gagne will wear the 38 uni, a jersey filled by Matt Wise for the past few seasons. Haudricourt reports, and I am inclined to agree (amid an already-crowded pen) that this all but seals Wise's fate to be non-tendered come Wednesday.

With him and Mench likely to be hitting the waiver wire, and Jenks already denied his club option... this leaves a bit more breathing room in a crowded clubhouse. Yet, as everyone is eluding the starting rotation and outfield bench remains log-jammed, hopefully insinuating a forthcoming trade. I'd expect to hear names like Capuano, Vargas or Gwynn Jr. called before Spring Training.

There's no telling exactly who may come in return, but it likely won't be prospects. I've been hearing a lot of Teahen, DeJesus, Blaylock and Kearns. Frankly, I'd be happy with any of them. I know a move is just on the horizon. I'm just excited to see what Melvin, the man from CAN, can do.

Posted by Tyler

Weak Spot Looking Less Weak

I'll admit, after Coco signed with the Reds, I was really down on the Brewers for a couple days. Losing arguably the lone bright spot of the Brewers weakest facet, the bullpen, didn't bring me excitement for the upcoming 2008 season. Then hearing that Turnbow would likely be our closer, once again, left me feeling more ill. Like most fans, I remember all of the huge blowups Turnbow had last year and none of the bright spots (there are more than you think). I neglected to look at the numbers though. The numbers that showed Turnbow actually had a higher percentage of scoreless innings that Coco. I started feeling a little better. Then the Crew signed Riske and obtained Salomon Torres in a trade with the pirates. Feeling better yet. And now the Brewers officially signed Eric Gagne to a one year, $10 million contract.

I'm guessing fans are split on this. Half probably love this because he's a huge name. The other half only remember how horrible he was with the Red Sox after the Rangers sent him there last season in a trade. Simply put...I feel really good about this. Yeah, it is a lot of money, but the Brewers had it to spend after losing out on Coco. And yeah, Gagne did suck with the Sox. Remember though, he is only a few years removed from 55 save, Cy Young season and has the highest save percentage of all time. Also remember that the Brewers have, arguably, the best pitching coach in the league in Mike Maddux and the best bullpen coach in Billy Castro. There is no reason to not believe Gagne will be solid, if not awesome, this coming season. (note: he also pitched very well last season with the Rangers before getting traded). Personally, I am far more worried about him getting injured than not performing. Let's hope for some luck.

Now that the bullpen is more or less nailed down. Let's trade a Vargas or two and get ourselves a solid left fielder. Jared has me sold on his idea! (see last post)

Oh yeah....more good news. Mench is officially gone. (Sorry Kevin, you just didn't perform) He was designated for assignment today to make room for Torres. Let's hope Mr. Torres decides to play next season and stick it to the pirates!

Posted by Joe

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Royal Proposition

With the addition of Eric Gagne, the Milwaukee Brewers have only one glaring hole going into the 2007 season: Left field. Since I feel my prowess as a fantasy baseball GM qualifies me to run a real team, I have a suggestion for Doug Melvin: Call the Royals. It's hard to imagine a better match.

Kansas City recently signed Jose Guillen and the team is reportedly high on Joey Gathright for one of the other OF positions. That leaves Mark Teahen and David DeJesus fighting for the other spot. Both are young players with significant upside who hit from the left side, a quality the Brewers desperately need since only one regular starter currently on the team hits left, Prince Fielder. DeJesus has been mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, but I personally think Teahen would be a better match. He has experience at third base so if Braun's defensive struggles were to continue, the team could slide Teahen there and move Braun to the outfield. Teahen can also play first and would be a nice option if Fielder needs a day or two off. DeJesus is a CF. The team would probably have to move Hall to a corner outfield position to accommodate him.

The Royals may be willing to give up one of the two players for pitching. Kyle Davies and former Brewer Jorge De La Rosa are hardly inspiring starter options for KC. A Capuano for Teahen or DeJesus swap would seem to be tailor-made for the two clubs. While Capuano struggled last year, he is only a year away from being an all-star and with starting pitching at such a premium, especially for lefties, his trade value is still high. If the Royals wouldn't bite on a straight swap, a mid-level prospect could be enough to get the trade completed.

Batting Order
1. Weeks - 2B, R
2. Teahen - LF, L
3. Braun - 3B, R
4. Fielder - 1B, L
5. Hart - RF, R
6. Hall - CF, R
7. Hardy, SS, R
8. Kendall, C, R

Starters
1. Sheets, R
2. Gallardo, R
3. Suppan, R
4. Villanueva, R
5. Parra, L

Bullpen
Closer - Gagne
Set up - Turnbow
Middle relief - Riske, Mota, Torres, Bush
Situational lefty - Shouse

Bench
Gross - OF, L
Dillon - U, R
Counsell - SS, L
Rivera - C, R
Gwynn - OF, L

It looks like the team may non-tender Mench and Wise if they can't trade them in the next day or two. I also think McClung's roster spot is in jeopardy with the recent bullpen additions. The Brewers would have to trade Vargas before the season in my proposal as it appears there is not a role for him on the team barring an unforeseen move (like Sheets being traded).

If the trade for Teahen were made, the Brewers would have one of the most complete teams in MLB from hitting to pitching to the bench. They would be relying on some old/potentially risky arms in the bullpen and some young/unproven arms in the rotation, have a right-handed heavy batting order and would be thin at back-up catcher, but if those were there biggest worries, they'd still be in better shape than almost any team in baseball. With several average fill-in-type back-up options in the minors for the bullpen (Choate, Stetter, Spurling, Aquino) and a former starter on hand in Bush, the team should be able to at least band-aid any problems there. Gross, Gwynn and Counsell can give guys days off or pinch hit late in games to help break up the right-handed hitters in the line-up. And there aren't many teams in baseball who are completely comfortable with their catching situation. If Rivera can't cut it, Wisconsin-born utility man Vinny Rottino might get a shot (which the fans would love) and Eric Munson, who Milwaukee claimed off waivers earlier this offseason, could also be an option.

With the addition of a left-handed OF to this squad, the Brewers would become a very deep, talented team that would be the early favorites to take the NL Central crown in 2008. If I were making the call, I'd target Teahen.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hook, line and stinker/Yay or nay for Gagne?

Yesterday's deal that brought journeyman reliever Salomon Torres to Brew City may perhaps be known as the one that got away (I swear that's my last fish joke). According to MLBTraderumors.com, Torres, who will be 36 at the beginning of the '08 season, is contemplating retirement.

Not that I was ever ga ga over this acquisition, but such a decision may result in the Brewers surrendering moderately-touted pitching prospects Salas and Roberts to Pittsburgh for essentially nothing in return. Obviously, such an unforeseeable turn of events does not sit well with me, but then again (and this is a silver-lining stretch)... lost prospects aside, it might not be so bad to get rid of one of our 3.2MM earning elder relievers in our already crowded bullpen (I'd prefer Mota, but what the hell).

In essence, someone dropped the ball on this deal to enable the situation to even be this uncertain - but, in Doug I trust. In the same breath of this unfavorable news exists a possibility of landing Eric Gagne short-term at a fairly decent price. Both MLBTraderumors.com and the Brewers' official site allude to the parties being close to reaching an agreement.

Assuming the price is right (1 year, 6 MM plus performance incentives), I would welcome this move. It would shake things up and make Turnbow as well as some fringe starters like Vargas, Bush and Capuano that much more expendable for a deal that could bring a position player to Miller Park.

Yes, Gagne has insulted Milwaukee when he was re-writing the record books and the Crew was dropping over 100 games in a season, but both his career and the reputation the Brewers have shifted to a point where a signing of this magnitude would not be too far-fetched to fathom. And I for one hope it does.

In closing, Salomon Torres, if you're reading this. 1. It was awesome when you broke Charlie Hayes' jaw in the early '90s and 2. Come play in Milwaukee. Wouldn't it be great to end your career a winner?

Posted by Tyler

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hooking a Salomon

To echo countless other articles, apparently the winter meeting weren't so fruitless for the Brewers after all. The day after their Nashville departure, the front office emerged with a transaction, dealing minor leaguers Mariano Salas and Kevin Roberts to Pittsburgh for 35-year-old former closer Salomon Torres.

A deal of this magnitude won't likely significantly change the state of any team involved, but what it does tell me is that the Brewers know their needs, however they won't sell the farm to address them.

Though this move further all but cements Turnbow into the 2008 closer, the aquisition does also bring another experienced arm into a bullpen that basically spelled the weakness (Minus Coco, that is) of the crew one season ago. I doubt I'm going too far in assuming that Torres will be used primarily in a non-closer relief role, but if needed, he too can close out games. He notched 12 saves last season before surrendering his role to Matt Capps and another 12 the season before that. If needed (and no further bullpen arms are brought in) Torres would probably be the fourth reliever called upon to fill a game-ending role behind Turnbow, Riske and McClung.

I never like to see two pitching prospects (23 and 26 respectively) go to bring in a veteran name, but this does tell me is that Melvin wants to, and believes his team can, win now. Torres is a short term potential leak-stopper who isn't breaking the bank with his 3.2 MM salary. His walk totals have always been low (the anti-Turnbow, if you will), he can throw virtually every day and his arm is only 31 because he took a four season hiatus to coach in the minors...so he can teach our young arms a thing or two. As a fellow member of the "I plunked someone in the face" club, he could start his veteran coaching with the now headcase Matt Wise. He's also the guy responsible for shattering Sammy Sosa's helmet when he plunked him in the head with a heater and you have to love that!

I'm not singing from the rooftops on this move, but I like what it says about this year's implications - changes are necessary but not desperately necessary. Hopefully this deal doesn't mark the conclusion of a fairly uneventful offseason. I hope Salomon is just an apetizer and the main course still to come.

A Mench/Sheets/prospect for Carl Crawford/prospect deal is what I'm craving. Will it come? No. But a man can dream.

Posted by Tyler

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Three Days Gone

The title of my post sounds like a great name for a horrible radio-rock band. Anyone in? Anyway...three days of the 2007 MLB Winter Meetings have passed, and it has been reletively quiet on the Brewers front. This is just a quick review on what I've read and some points of view.

-Talks regarding Scott Rolen haulted yesterday. My opinion: Good! He has been very injury prone in the last few years, and I just can't see him paying that kind of money. Plus, I really would like to see Braun stay at third. I think he'll be just fine defensively. He's an athletic dude.

-Brewers reportedly were to meet with free-agent infielder Tadahito Iguchi today. My opinion: Why sign a guy, and move Braun ,when Gabe Gross, Kevin Mench, Joe Dillon, or a combination of the three will put up as good of numbers as a player like Iguchi? I hope this doesn't happen!

-The deal for reliever David Riske was finished today. 3 years for as much as $20 million. My opinion: Nice! The more solid relievers the better. He could compete with Turnbow or take over for Turnbow if he implodes again.

-Turnbow is likely to be the closer. It seems Melvin and Yost are convinced Derrick will be the closer next season. My opinion: We fans better get used to the idea and give him a clean slate. If he can keep his walks down, he'll be fine. That is; however, a big IF.

That's all I've got for now. Check out the new threads on the gear page! Oh, and does anyone else want to hear from this Johnny Rivers guy??

Posted by Joe

Monday, December 3, 2007

My Christmas Letter to the Brewers (Right in time for Winter Meetings)

Dear Brewers Organization,

Around this time, many children of the world write to Santa. I thought I'd write to you about what I'd like to have for Christmas. I've been a good boy this year for the most part. I hope the Ann Carrol post didn't put me on the Naughty list. Here are a couple things I'd like to see, whether they're feasible or not is up to you!


  1. A Closer – Turnbow is a great set up man. He was a good closer for awhile, but he doesn't have the mental toughness for it. If there's a way to land a closer who is in a bad situation (Chad Cordero) or a former closer who has fallen from grace (Octavio Dotel), I'd be happy.

  2. Better seats for season ticket holders (namely, us) – I understand you wouldn't want to give up the first couple rows to season ticket holders because then no one else would be able to get the best views of Miller Park. I don't understand why you would put your faithful season ticket fans all the way back to the tenth row of the right field bleachers when Barry Bonds fans fill up the front few rows? It also does a Ben Hendrickson to our arguments against Cub fans who have better seats than us.

  3. A middle finger to the Reds – you know, for that whole Cordero thing. They already had one former Brewer closer, did they really need another one? It wasn't our fault they traded two position players for two terrible relievers.

  4. Miguel Cabrera and Eric Bedard – ha

  5. Jeff Cirillo – We don't have Graffanino anymore and we need a solid third baseman to replace Brauny every so often. Why not lovable Cirillo back again? He'll be on the cheap and would be a great mentor...again. This is, of course, contingent on whether or not we get Rolen.


Also, I'll take this opportunity to ask for a couple things for the other members of RFB.

Jared would like David Eckstein to join the team. He would be like having Craig Counsell...except good. I also noticed at the Brewers Clubhouse sale, you still had jerseys from the 1994-1999 era. I was hoping you'd still have a jersey from one of the superstars left, like a Matt Mieske one. Jared loves that old logo, so a replica from that once magical era would makes his Christmas one to remember.


Joe would like Alfonso Soriano traded from the Cubs, so he wouldn't have to root against his own fantasy team anymore. He would also like all Cubs fans living in Milwaukee to be deported to Chicago. As Joe would say, they are a disgrace and should be ashamed of themselves. If this is not possible, he would like free peanuts at all home games against the Cubs so he would have something to throw/spit at all of them.


Tyler would like a baseball signed by every Brewer who is barely remembered. Tyler is king of remembering players of yore, so having a baseball signed by the likes of Ricky Bones, Tony Fossas, Franklin Stubbs, William Suero, Kevin Seitzer, and Billy Jo Robidoux would make his day. He would also like a meatless sausage in the sausage race. It could be dressed like a hippy!


Johnny would like Nick Markakis. As Johnny would tell you, he's a five tool, nay, six tool player. Instead of Rolen going to third and moving Braun to the outfield, let's just get Markakis. While we're at it, getting Cheese Curd Sabathia would make him a happy boy as well. He would also like 20 Authentic Jerseys, one for each game in a season ticket package.



Thanks for all you've done to make the Brewers a contender again. Keep it up!


-Bryan


Posted by Bryan

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Riske Business?... Not So Sure

So, if you haven't heard, the Crew is close to a, reported, three year deal with free agent reliever David Riske. I couldn't help but notice the headline at MilwaukeeBrewers.com that reads "Riske business: Brewers finalizing deal." To me, that is saying that signing David Riske is, well, risky. I don't see how so. I'm fairly pumped about this deal. Riske will add a lot to our bullpen. Let's just look at the numbers really quick. Riske had his best year last season with the Royals where he put up an outstanding 2.40 ERA. Now, Jared did make a good point. Riske stranded a ridiculous 90% of his runners last year. Can he keep that up? I sure hope so, and I don't see why not. Riske also has a very solid career ERA of 3.40 over eight seasons. I understand there are more to numbers than just ERA, but I think most will agree that is the safest of stats to jude a pitcher off of, even a reliever. Riske has mainly served as a set-up guy, and likely will be in that position as a Brewer; however, I'm sure he will at least get the chance to compete with Turnbow. Maybe, at the least, that is what Turnbow needs. We'll see. For now, risky, I don't think so. Let's get this done!

Posted by Joe

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