Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jim Edmond Joins Crew

Jim Edmond signed a minor league contract with the Brewers today that will give him a shot at making the roster. The veteran outfielder is, yet another, left-handed batter who should compete with Jody Gerut for the 4th outfielder spot. Although a year removed from playing, Doug Melvin is hoping that he this turns out to be another Gabe Kapler type move that could re-ignite his career.....for a 40 year-old.
I remember watching him hit 2 HR's in one inning for the Cubs in 2008 against the White Sox. I remember wondering why the Crew didn't pick him up? That season he hit 20 HR's and played decent defense. If anything, this will provide insurance for Carlos Gomez to perform at the plate.
It's a low risk move that could provide some veteran experience in that outfield. With Mike Cameron playing in Boston now, they really don't have a solid leader out there. Ryan Braun will always be the head man, but as far as experience goes and playing in the post-season, Edmonds could be a wealth of knowledge for the Hart, Gomez, and Braun. Who knows.... He certainly can't hurt. I like this more than the Inglette pick-up simply because we know what we're getting with Edmonds, despite him not even playing in 2009.

Base Stealing

Milwaukee added an outfielder yesterday by picking up Joe Inglette off of waivers. Reliever Chris Smith was designated for assignment to make room for the versatile IF-corner outfielder. His career batting average is .293 in 211 career games. Even at 31, Inglette should provide even more speed on the bases and a little added pop in the line-up when used.
Doug Melvin did say that he was working on something addition to his latest addition. Know-it-all websites were thinking of Gabe Gross as that possible target; but Melvin seems to be looking for a player who would sign a minor league-contract with an invitation camp next month as his next deal.

Base Stealing: Not since the Phil Garner's days has Milwaukee been able to witness a base stealing team. It was Phil's first year (1992) when he took a team that had little offensive power and turned them in to a winning team by being aggressive on the bases. That first season saw every single start in the line-up steal at least 10 bases and they were lead by ROY Pat Listaches' 54. That year they finished in 2nd place in the competitive AL East.

The 2010 team may not be as fast as the '92 Brewers, but they will be a vast improvement from the past couple of years that saw Corey Hart as the fastest player on the team. Carlos Gomez (14 in 2009), Alcides Escobar, Ryan Braun (20), and Hart (11, short season) should be able to jolt Milwaukee's base running and lead the team to 100+ stolen bases. Am I out of my mind? Perhaps, but manager Ken Macha knows that they need to provide enough run-support for an unproven rotation. In 2009 the Crew had 79 stolen bases and they were led by Ryan Braun's 20. That should not be a problem to beat, in my opinion. This team knows that they have to be aggressive in order to position themselves to score more runs. If they want to earn 8-10 more wins and get closer to 90 wins, they need to score more runs and help the rotation as much as possible. Barring any injury, stealing 100 bases shouldn't be too hard.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sheets to the AL

Thankfully, Ben Sheets landed on a team that isn't in the NL; so the Crew won't have to face him for at least half of the upcoming season. Earlier today he signed with the Oakland Athletics for a 1-year deal worth 10MM. Not too shabby considering that he hasn't pitched since September of 2008. The A's should be a good fit for him. They rely heavily on stats and should be able to gauge his arm strength and endurance better than most teams. Pitch count is key for Ben Sheets, that is for sure. There were times that Ned Yost left him out there too long; certainly adding to his problems.

The thing with Sheets is that he wants to throw complete games every time he's out there (so it seemed). Sure, it's nice to have him do it....but you just don't know if his arm can handle it. He is a thick-headed #1 pitcher who doesn't like to be taken out of games. What he needs to do is suck up his pride and come out when his pitch count reaches a pre-determine point. Ned Yost and Mike Maddux would always cave in to him, in my opinion, thus allowing him to put added stress on his fragile arm. Let's face it, that arm is excellent at of the best in the NL and near the top in the AL.

He will do just fine in Oaktown and will prove to the league and Milwaukee that he still has it. Granted, the A's will have to put up with a trip or two to the DL.....but he is superb when healthy. Ben was a 4-time All Star for the Crew and won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics.
Granted, he didn't receive any offensive support during most of his time in a Brewers uniform. His best year was in 2004 when he threw 237 innings, but still recorded a 12-14 season but a solid 2.70 earned run average. He ate innings and provided relief to the pen.

I wish him luck.

Monday, January 25, 2010

3 WEEKS until pitchers/catchers report for duty

This is a scary thought. Although rumors typically prove to be complete BS, you can't help but think about it. If Milwaukee did relocate to Orlando, I would be devastated; as would the entire state. Would Bud Selig even sign-off on the sale? I would hope not. He has worked too hard to bring the team to Milwaukee. In the end, money talks though. Keep in mind people, the Brewres ranked 9th in attendance....9th in 2009.

Dave Bush and the Crew were able to avoid arbitration today when he inked a 1-year deal (2010) for $4.2MM + incentives. This is a 215k pay raise. Good news for the Brew City. Let's face it, Bushy can piss the hell out of any fan; but he can be lights out too. Keep in mind that Bush is probably the closest any Milwaukee pitcher has come to a no-hitter in the past couple of years. His lates flirtation with a no-no was last year against Philly when he went 7 1/3 innings before ex-Brewers outfielder Matt Stairs crushed a homerun. Bush will probably start the season off as the #3 pitcher in the rotation. Hard to imagine that he came over with Corey Koskie and the Lyle Overbay trade.

On another good note....Milwaukee had to change it's scheduled times in order to accomodate being on national tv. Of course, the entire state of Wisconsin knows how bad they sucked while playing on ESPN and FOX. But it's still good news. They will face Philly, St. Louis, LA, and Seattle. Oddly enough, the Crew vs Cubs games didn't make the cut. As with any small-market team, the Brewers need to capitalize off these highlighted games. Of course, faithful fans still need to tune in to FSWisconsin in order to not jinx the team.

At some point I will have to talk about Prince Fielder and the idea of him re-signing with the Crew. Since no one reads this, I will defer to do so until the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

I am just about finished with Tom Haudricourt's book "Brewers Essentials" (2008). It's a nice read that is filled with 'did you know' facts and a college 101 crash course on the history of the team.
- Did you know that Bud Selig made an unsuccesfull attempt of buying/relocating the Chicago White Sox to Milwaukee after the Braves left?
- Did you know that Robin Yount contemplated a professional golf career during his earliest of days with Milwaukee?

Friday, January 22, 2010

News bits.....

The Crew and Todd Coffey came to an agreement of 2.25MM (+ $2.00) deal, meeting at just-under the half way mark. Arbitration can get ugly, but this was certainly a win-win situation for everyone involved. Coffey was a stud last year; going 4-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 2009. He was the anchor in the bullpen if you will. He led all other NL relievers in innings pitched (83) and proved to be another successful mid-season pick-up by Doug Melvin. After all, it was the Reds who cut ties with him in 2008 and Milwaukee picked him up off of waivers. Milwaukee's bullpen will be one of the best in the NL this coming season. With the log jam at the starting rotation, the pen is promised at least 2 pitchers who can throw 3 or 4 innings if needed (Villy & Suppan). Jeff Suppan has to be considered the front runner to be the go-to guy in the pen. Coffey can move up to set-up if needed. Both Coffey and (newly acquired) Hawkins should provide a nice 1-2 punch before Trevor Hoffman closes it down.

The fellas over at posted a story on Manny Parra. He was interviewed by a Milwaukee sports station about the upcoming season. Manny is feeling confident about it and the rotation. He too, feels that Milwaukee can win 10 more games in 2010 with a slightly improved rotation. This echos what I have been saying and what Rick Peterson has argued. If you make slight improvements to the top 5 hurlers, you can drastically change the results of an 80 win team from a year ago. The offense if just too much to ignore.

Ben Sheets looked impressive in his throwing audition yesterday. The Mets seem to be front runners in landing him. They are foolish enough too.

ex-Milwaukee Braves' manager deat at 92

Bobby Bragan lead the Milwaukee Braves during the glory days of the 1960's before they were sold off to Atlanta. This man coached until he was 87 years old! Milwaukee's rich baseball history loses another legend......


Milwaukee has added another starter to their rotation. Doug Davis and the Brewers agreed to sign a 1-year deal @ 5.25MM and a mutual option for 2011 (6.5MM salary). Granted, Doug isn't the same pitcher who recorded 4-straight seasons of 11+ win-seasons during his first stint in Milwaukee; but he eats innings (200 last season) and he will fit in nicely as a 4 or 5 in the rotation. This allows the Crew to boot Suppan to the bullpen, which he deserves, and it improves the overall rotation drastically from last year. Go ahead, laugh at that statement. But take a look:
1. Gallardo (rhp)
2. Wolf (lhp)
3. Bush (rhp)
4. Parra (lhp)
5. Davis(lhp)

The Brewers now have a back-up plan if there are one or two injuries (like last year). With Vargas, Villy, and Suppan able to step up and make spot starts if needed. Milwaukee may also have Mark Mulder to call on in the second half of the season, should they come to an agreement.

Remember, Milwaukee won 80 games in 2009 with a horrible rotation....hell, they were 2nd to last (Nationals were worse). Imagine what a kind of an effect the additions of Wolf and Doug Davis will have to their record. I can safely bet that there will be at least 8 more wins in 2010 and that could be enough to claim a wild card spot. This might sound like I'm reaching; but Rick Petersen is a proven leader who can help a rotation evolve in to contenders.

This is a significant signing that will only cost 5.25MM. That's a bargain in todays day and age of over paying for starters.
Should us fans be worried that Milwaukee now has 3 left-handers in the rotation? I don't believe so. The White Sox is a good example of success in 3 lefties. However, their 3 southpaws are much better than the tres amigos the Brewers have.

The Crew is going to celebrate their 40th anniversary this season. Take a look at what they have planned. I can't wait to see them don their 70's uniforms. By far, my favorite uni's out of all of them. During the

Friday, January 15, 2010

News bits....

Ben Sheets is going to throw for the Rangers, Mariners, Cardinals, Cubs, and various other teams on Tuesday. Milwaukee would be in attendance, if it wasn't for the simple fact that Ben Sheets hates the Brewers. Granted, it seems like Mark Mulder would be a less-expensive high risk signing than Sheets. But Ben has proven that he can hang for 75% of the season. He's only a year removed from his All-Star season with the Brewers (4x All Star). Mark Mulder hasn't pitched since 2006. However, he will be had at a minor league contract and the Crew won't lose much if he folds again. Sheets is thinking that he is worth a 10MM, which is silly. I could see 6 to 7MM + incentives. You have to wonder if he has recovered from his 2008 injury? Why else would Texas Rangers' pitching coach Mike Maddux have interest? If anyone knows Big (gay) Ben, it's Maddux and the Rangers or Jack Z and the Mariners.

Doug Davis is still on Milwuakee's radar so to speak, along with 3 or 4 other teams. The veteran southpaw has recently talked with Milwaukee's brass; so that certainly seems like a signing could very well happen. I would be willing to bet that Doug Davis and Milwaukee reach a deal by mid-February. You know, the guy isn't a stud by any means. But he can give you 35 starts and 200+ innings if called upon. That was unheard of last year. This would also kick Suppan to the bullpen!

Again, that would give us the rotation that looked like....
1. Gallardo
2. Wolf
3. Bush
4. Davis
5. Parra
* Mulder (expected to sign), Villy, and Vargas would be used in spot starts and fill-ins. Now imagine this if you will, Dave Bush goes down with an injury! All of a sudden you have 4 lefties in the rotation!

Milwaukee signed Norris Hopper to a minor league contract with no invite to camp. He is an ex-Reds outfielder who can bunt pretty damn good, decent speed, and average defensive skills....from what I have read.

Ned Yost was hired by the KC Royals earlier this week. He's basically a talent scout for the organization. He will NEVER be a manager again in the my opinion.

The useless Brad Nelson re-signed with the Mariners. He has been useless for them too. It's insane to think that he won the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year earlier in the last decade.

Rick Peterson could single-handidly turn this team in to playoff contender....IF....he's able to do his job and turn this recently assembled rotation in to contenders. The good news for him? There is no place to go but up! Well, they could go to last in the NL if it weren't for the Nationals.
"If we get the pitching turned around and the rest of the team does what it did, this team can win," Peterson says. "If you just get (the rotation) to the middle of the pack, you're probably looking at 90 wins."
Rick Peterson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Only 5 more weeks until Spring Training!

Now that the Packers are done with their season one can't help but look forward to two things:
NCAA Tournament & Spring Training

Pitchers/Catchers are scheduled to report on February 18th for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The rotation seems to be pretty much set for the Milwaukee Brewers. I don't really anticipate Doug Melvin picking up an additional starting pitcher; despite the vacant spot on the 40-man roster. Milwaukee is set to have a sit-down with Mark Mulder which could begin serious talks to bring him on board with a minor league contract. Although Mulder sat out all of 2009 and most of 2008, Milwaukee is hoping to hit the jackpot on the once-reliable southpaw. Granted, this effort to land Mulder is a shot in the dark; but he should be had at a relatively low price involving an incentive rich deal. Small price to pay for a chance to revitalized (at one time) the best pitcher in the game. I say go for it. You can basically forget about Ben Sheets. The guy will not come back to Milwaukee and it is rumored that the Cubs are taking a hard look at him.

Here is what the rotation is looking like:
1. Gallardo
2. Wolf
3. Parra
4. Bush
5. Suppan/Villy/Vargas

I don't know about you, but that concerns me greatly. Let's face it, Rick Peterson will have his hands full. Will he be able to turn around 3/5 of the problem that was in last years rotation? Remember, Milwaukee finished 15th in the NL for ERA (4.83). Parra is a mental head-case, Bush is slightly above average, and Suppan would probably even struggle in the pen. Mulder is a 50/50 shot to even crack the rotation in 2010.

Milwaukee will again miss Ben Sheets and his 3 or 4 complete games that he typically threw a season. Last year the Brewers had 1 complete game.......Oddly enough, the LA Dodgers who had the best record most of the season only had 1 complete game as well.

What the Crew needs is a true "innings-eater". Remember when Suppan was supposed to be that guy? Shucks, if the guy last 5 complete I'm happier than a pig in shit. Milwaukee ranked 12th in that category in 2009; that could be worse, but that's what ultimately killed us when Bush and Parra went out. Randy Wolf pitched 214 innings last season and 190 in 2008, but he battled injuries since 2005.

Finally, the Brewers need pitchers who can keep the damn ball in the park. No thanks to Braden Looper, Milwaukee gave up a league leading 207 long balls last season. That is 18 more than Philly who gave up the second most. Crazy how that works out. Then again, Philly's ballpark is a hitters gem.

The bullpen, on paper, looks to be pretty solid. Milwaukee finished tied for 2nd place in the NL in Saves with 44. Thanks impart to a perfect first half (minus one month) that Trevor Hoffman tossed.

The offense is going to have be ranked near the top in the NL if this team has a shot of competing with the Cards or the Reds.

As a fan, I can't help but get the meat sweats when I think of Gomez in the lead-off. The speedy CF should fit in nicely with this team. Granted, he will have to get better at the plate (discipline), but he should provide the needed shot in the arm for stolen bases that this team is looking for over the past 5+ years! I would imagine Rickie Weeks would bat 2nd followed by Braun and then Fielder at the clean-up. It's a toss-up between Hart and McGahee at the 5th (6th) spot. The speedy Escobar would start off the season batting 7th or even 8th in the order much like last year. The veteran George Kottaras will probably bat in the traditional 8th spot.

This team should be a lot more active on-base with a number of different speedsters in the line-up. Remember when Corey Hart was the fastest player on the team? Hell....that's embarrassing. Granted, he's pretty fast....but not Carlos Gomez fast. This will be imperative for Ken Macha to utilize. They need runners in scoring position when Braunie and Fielder come to the plate. Milwaukee was horrible on the bases last year and they ranked 3rd from last in the MLB in steals (68). Compare that to Tampa's theft record of 194.

Over all, the Crew looks interesting heading in to Spring Training.