Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm
By Matt Snyder
The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.
Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes
Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez
Important bench players
OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad
Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.
Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]
Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Alex Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Brewers, Chris Narveson, Corey Hart, Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Jonathan Lucroy, Mat Gamel, Matt Snyder, NL Central, Norichika Aoki, Nyjer Morgan, Prince Fielder, Randy Wolf, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Shaun Marcum, spring training, spring training 2012, Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:40 pm
By Evan Brunell
It's pitching day here at 3 up, 3 down with only Melky Cabrera the non-pitcher to be featured in this lineup. While some hitters had some fine days, the most interesting lines came from pitchers, as we'll find out...
1. SP Francisco Liriano: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Liriano has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, with the rush continuing into spring training. Apparently Liriano's now going to be the hot name in trade talks after Cliff Lee dominated that arena for two years. Lirano got spring training off to a brutal start but really shined Friday against the Orioles, who had a dominating performance by Brian Matusz to hang tough.
2. SP Brandon Morrow: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Don't sleep on Morrow, whose K/9 would have led the AL had he pitched enough innings to qualify. The Jays will lift their protective hands off Morrow just a bit more in 2011, and Morrow could soon become a household name after coming within a final out of a no-hitter last season. His showing Friday knocked his spring ERA down to an eye-popping 0.75.
3. CF Melky Cabrera: 3 AB, 2, R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K. The Melk Man is hitting a scorching .529 and it could actually be possible that Cabrera's ready to bounce back from a dismal season in Atlanta, where he was out of shape and it showed. After thrilling fans with the Yankees, Cabrera seems doomed to being overhyped and flaming out. But while spring statistics don't mean much, Cabrera's strong showing so far means the still-just-26-year-old could actually have some life in his bat.
1. RP Tim Wakefield: 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 4 HR, WP. Um... yeesh. What is there to say? Wakefield's spot with the Red Sox is tenuous at best, as this sobering piece from the Boston Globe reports. Could the knuckleballer's career be coming to an end? Probably not, but four home runs in the span of six batters is pretty gosh-darn bad. For what it's worth, manager Terry Francona said Wake's knuckler has been the best he's seen so far this spring, but starting in the second inning, the knuckler wouldn't move outside of the strike zone. Such is the life of a knuckleballer.
2. SP Wily Peralta: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 HR, 2 BB, 0 K. Ouch. Double ouch. Triple ouch. The first ouch was for Zack Greinke getting hurt. The second for Shaun Marcum experiencing shoulder tightness that could be an issue. And triple ouch for Peralta's day, which gives him a spring ERA of 9.00. Peralta's just 21, but was thought to be right up there in terms of getting a shot to start with Greinke out. But this start doesn't help him leapfrog ahead of... uh... who are the other candidates again?
3. SP J.A. Happ: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. It's not every day that allowing zero runs gives you a bad day, but Happ is quite an interesting character. He has long defied the laws of ERA, as his career mark is 3.27 against an xFIP of 4.61. How long can Happ continue to defy the baseball gods with a criminally-low BABIP and strand rate? So far, he's defying them just fine.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 12:34 pm
By Matt Snyder
How can you best tell when spring is winding down and the real Major League Baseball season is nearing? Well, a few things. The snow finally stops falling. I guess, though this year who really knows. It's liable to snow at some places into May at this rate. Another good sign is watching the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS (shameless plug alert). How about baseball teams starting to name -- or get close to naming -- a fifth starting pitcher? That's a pretty good one, and it's happening in a lot of different places right now.
We've already passed along that Mark Rogers has been demoted, which leaves Wily Peralta the Brewers' likely five . We've also noted Michael Pineda being in Seattle's driver's seat as well. But there are plenty more.
Esmil Rogers looks like he's opening up a lead over John Maine and Greg Reynolds for the Rockies, after working five innings Tuesday and only facing the minimum 15 batters. (Denver Post )
Brandon McCarthy has gotten in the good graces of manager Bob Geren for being "impressive" and "consistent" in looking to win the A's fifth starting job behind a pretty underrated top four of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez. (San Francisco Chronicle )
Ever since Adam Wainwright went down with injury and the Cardinals said they were going to look internally, Kyle McClellan has been the front-runner to take the remaining spot. And every outing since then, he's gotten rave reviews and been tabbed as the front-runner. Thus, it would be pretty shocking if he didn't get the job. Still, the word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is that McClellan is merely "closer" to getting the nod.
Speaking of shocking, it would be just as shocking if Randy Wells doesn't win one of the Cubs' two remaining rotation slots. He's throwing well this spring and has the past experience. It also appears that former first-round pick Andrew Cashner is putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field as well. We'll get back to Cashner in a second. (MLB.com )
Of course, there is one team a bit behind the curve here. The Texas Rangers, your defending American League champs, still have a whopping seven guys in the mix for two spots. If a decision is made to start Neftali Feliz, one that seems increasingly likely with each passing day, that narrows the field to six guys for one spot. Those six: Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando, Dave Bush and Eric Hurley. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram )
THE PROFESSOR: Of the two nicknames you see listed for Greg Maddux on baseball-reference.com, I always preferred "the Professor," even though it's nowhere near mainstream. He was so much more cerebral than his opposition, seemingly getting guys out just with his mind. Thus, it's only fitting he's passing along some knowledge to Cashner in Cubs camp as a special assistant. His latest nugget? "Walks are overrated." It's not surprising, coming from a guy who probably never walked someone by accident in his prime. Those who remember watching him in the mid-90s are nodding in agreement. You could feel when Maddux was walking someone on purpose; otherwise it didn't happen. Oh, and if Maddux's wisdom isn't enough, Kerry Wood has also taken Cashner under his wing. (Chicago Tribune )
RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: Hey, someone has to fill the void left by Mark Reynolds -- both in terms of power and strikeouts. Despite his lackluster defense -- which is reportedly a concern for manager Kirk Gibson -- Russell Branyan is turning heads by killing the ball this spring, to the tune of a 1.274 OPS. And don't scoff. While Branyan has a bad batting average and strikeout issues, his career OPS-plus is 115 and he averages 31 home runs over the course of 162 games. He need only hold off Juan Miranda and once-big prospect Brandon Allen. (MLB.com )
NO WORRIES: Clayton Kershaw was torched Tuesday by the Rangers, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn't worried about his likely ace. Nor should he be, considering it's only the spring and Kershaw entered the game with a 0.00 ERA through 11 1/3 innings. (Los Angeles Times )
SWITCHBACK: Prior to the ALDS last year, the rules for the dreaded catwalk at Tropicana Field were altered, but now those rules are reverting back to where they were in the regular season of 2010. Check out the complete list on St. Petersburg Times .
GETTING GRADY BACK: Sunday could be the day. Grady Sizemore hasn't seen game action in about 10 months, but reportedly he has a real shot to play Sunday. Obviously huge news for the Tribe. (Cleveland.com )
KEEPING DICE-K: There's been a lot of talk about the Red Sox trading Daisuke Matsuzaka of late. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe makes a good case to fans that Dice-K is actually a pretty average major-league pitcher and that, as the fifth starter, that's really all the team needs. Put the absurd salary aside and just enjoy the good Red Sox team, he pleads. I tend to agree. (Boston Globe )
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Tags: AL Central, AL East, AL West, Alexi Ogando, Andrew Cashner, Athletics, Brandon McCarthy, Brewers, Cardinals, Clayton Kershaw, Cubs, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dave Bush, Derek Holland, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Eric Hurley, Esmil Rogers, Grady Sizemore, Greg Maddux, Indians, John Maine, Kerry Wood, Kyle McClellan, Mariners, Mark Rogers, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Michael Pineda, Neftali Feliz, NL Central, NL Central, NL West, NL West, Randy Wells, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Rockies, Russell Branyan, Wily Peralta
Posted on: March 15, 2011 2:04 pm
By Matt Snyder
Shortly following the injury to ace Zack Greinke, the Brewers seemed to indicate Mark Rogers was the front-runner to take the temporary gig as their No. 5 starting pitcher.
Tuesday, however, that plan was blown out of the water, as Rogers has been demoted to the minors (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ). While manager Ron Roenicke was reportedly unimpressed with Rogers' outing Monday, the performance itself wasn't what made the decision. Instead, it was the fact that Rogers could only work one inning. Other pitchers in camp fighting for the temporary slot are throwing five innings and will easily be ready for opening week (Journal-Sentinel ).
At this point, the front-runner for the April 6 start -- the first time the Brewers need a fifth starter -- is 21-year-old right-hander Wily Peralta. He will have to fight off Marco Estrada and Eulogio De La Cruz.
Estrada has a 2.25 ERA in four spring innings while De La Cruz has a 9.00 ERA in five innings.
None of the three candidates are overwhelmingly impressive in terms of stuff or resume, but this is only a temporary spot.
Much of this discussion could be rendered relatively moot anyway, as the Brewers won't again need a fifth starter until April 15 and after that second spot start, Rogers -- or even Greinke -- could be ready to step in.
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Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 3:08 pm
By Evan Brunell
The right-hander has yet to pitch in a game in spring training, but that could come as soon as this weekend. Rogers was picked with the No. 5 overall pick back in 2005, has been set back by two shoulder surgeries. The first came in January 2007 when he needed his right labrum repaired in the shoulder. A year and a half later, Rogers underwent surgery again to clean up scar tissue. That caused him to miss all of 2007 and 2008, but he returned in 2009 with a sterling campaign, albeit at high-Class A.
Rogers took another step forward in 2010 as a 24-year-old, making 24 starts at Double-A with a 3.71 ERA. He also made one start in Triple-A and then was called up to the majors where he contributed 10 innings, coughing up just two earned runs and three walks against 11 strikeouts. Rogers' injury is still enough of a concern that his future is considered to be a reliever, but it's too early to make that permanent switch, as his talent is still high despite struggling with control as his 5.6 BB/9 mark in the minors last season indicates.
The Brewers have virtually no depth behind the front five for the rotation, partly a casualty of all the money and players invested in Greinke and fellow newcomer Shaun Marcum. Rogers, along with Manny Parra, should be considered the front-runners to replace Greinke. Parra is a failed starter who profiles better in the bullpen, but could be asked to fill in until Greinke returns. Past that, the Brewers could ask 21-year-old Wily Peralta to fill in, but he has just eight starts in Double-A as his highest level reached.
Amaury Rivas is a better bet as the 25-year-old posted a 3.37 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A last season. Still, the choices here are lacking. Milwaukee will certainly be on the prowl for starters that become available later on in spring training, but don't expect a deal for someone like Kevin Slowey. After all, whoever the Brewers acquire will be bumped from the rotation upon Greinke's arrival. That limits the Brewers to internal options who either have options or would move to the bullpen or externally, those Milwaukee wouldn't mind parting with after only a few starts.