Posted on: September 1, 2010 12:57 am
Edited on: September 1, 2010 7:34 am

Chapman proves worthy of hype

Aroldis Chapman

CINCINNATI – The attention was no doubt on the FM dial of pitch speeds from Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman in his big-league debut – 98.4, 86.4, 102.5, 86.9, 100.3, 102.7, 101.4 and 98.6. But catcher Ryan Hanigan wasn’t talking about the fact Chapman threw four of his eight pitches faster than 100 mph or even that seven were for strikes.

Instead, it was the fourth pitch – the second slowest of the night – that caught his attention. It was a slider that started on the outside of the plate and ended up near the shoetops of Brewers catcher Jonathan LuCroy. Lucroy gave a soft wave at the pitch before heading back to bench having managed just a foul ball (which was in itself impressive, because he made contact with a 102.5 fastball), but had no chance when the next pitch was the slider.

"That thing … that pitch … that's a whole different ballgame," Hanigan said. "His breaking ball is what people should be talking about. His slider is absolutely ridiculous. He's got to be able to throw it for a strike and he's got to get into counts where we can call it. So getting ahead is big, but if he can throw that breaking ball for a strike … good luck. It's a hammer. I saw it in Triple-A. It's 88-to-93. It's moving about a foot and a half. That's not something that anyone wants to hit. I don't care how good you are.”

Yet, it was an afterthought on Tuesday for Chapman's debut because of the velocity.

Rumored to have hit 105 in the minors, many wanted to see what was possible in a major-league stadium on a more accurate gun and the Pitch F/X system installed in each ballpark. The 102.7 registered on Chapman’s final pitch to Craig Counsell was the prettiest girl in the school. Counsell grounded out weakly to short for the out and the 19,218 at Great American Ball Park saw exactly what they were hoping to see.

If home runs are what grabs attentions for batters, it's radar gun reading for pitchers. The triple digits had rarely – if ever – been seen in the seven-year history of Great American Ball Park, Chapman registered four triple-digit readings in his eight pitches.

The crowd chanted "we want Chapman" throughout the game, took pictures of the home team's bullpen and cheered loudly when he was shown warming up in the bottom of the seventh.

"I’'e never seen anything like it," Reds closer Francisco Cordero said.

Cordero, no soft-tosser himself, said he'd never seen 102 on a scoreboard before. "I got that," he said, "in my Ferrari."

Chapman was asked about it afterwards.

"Once in a while I'll take a look and I see it, and yeah, I'm surprised, and I'm happy when I see what it is," Chapman said through translator Tomas Vera.

GM Walt Jocketty, the man who committed $30 million to the Cuban, was asked if he was impressed by that kind of velocity.

"Absolutely," he said with a smile.

Aroldis Chapman The Reds still plan on using Chapman as a starter in the future, but for now he'll be used much like the Rays used David Price in 2008 or, if all goes well, like the Angels used Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. The addition of Chapman gave an already confident team another energy boost – and it didn't hurt that the Cardinals dropped a fourth game in a row at the same time the Reds finished up an 8-4 victory over Milwaukee to push Cincinnati’s lead to seven games in the National League Central.

"I think it's exciting for all of us, and it's very exciting for his teammates to see the electric stuff he has and the contribution he'll give this club throughout the pennant race and hopefully in the postseason," Jocketty said. "It's very exciting, I could tell by the reception he got when he went in the dugout, too."

This is just the first step – Chapman has struggled at times with command in the minor leagues and the trio of Lucroy, Counsell and Carlos Gomez is hardly Murderers' Row. But regardless of who the competition was – the number 102.7, plus seven strikes on eight pitches, bodes well.

"Big-league hitters can time fastballs, no matter how hard they throw," Hanigan said, "but with him, first of all, he's left-handed. Second of all, he's ass and elbows coming at you. He throws from a weird arm slot, it's not from over the top. It's got a little three-quarter action and he hides the ball well. The ball coming out of his hand that hard is a lot tougher than something straight because the ball's moving. It's running a little or cutting a little, which is obviously makes it that much tougher to hit."

Reds Frisbee-tosser Bronson Arroyo said he can imagine what it’s like being a fireballer at a different level than anyone else. He was once there, when he was 9. He recalled parents pushing their kids up to the plate to face him.

Since he turned 10, Arroyo’s lost some of that intimidation. He said the hard-throwers can always have a little bit of confidence when they know in the back of their mind if they’re not sharp, they can reach back for something extra.

So what’s the limit of the human body as far as velocity?

“I guess it's 105,” Arroyo said.

We haven’t seen it yet, but it seems like it may only be a matter of time.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 31, 2010 10:30 pm

Chapman impressive in debut

Cuban fireballer Aroldis Chapman just finished his debut in Cincinnati, and while it was only one inning, it made quite an impression.

C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSports.com F&R is on the scene and reports that the 19,218 on hand made as much noise as 19,218 people can when Chapman entered the game against the Brewers in the eighth inning. According to the Pitch F/X tool, in Chapman's eight pitches he threw six fastballs with an average speed of 100.65 and a high of 102.7, plus a slider at 86.9 and a cutter at 86.4.

He got a four-pitch strikeout of Jonathan LuCroy, a two-pitch groundout by Craig Counsell and a two-pitch groundout by Carlos Gomez. Seven of his eight pitches were strikes.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 31, 2010 12:14 am
Edited on: August 31, 2010 10:16 am

Brewers' Wolf achieves franchise first

Randy Wolf It's not every day there's a "first time in franchise history" when it comes to Major League Baseball.

It's even more rare when it's not one of the new franchises, i.e. Diamondbacks, Rays, Marlins or Rockies.

Monday's franchise first came from the Milwaukee Brewers. In the third inning of the team's game in Cincinnati, Randy Wolf became the first Brewers pitcher to steal a base in the franchise's history.

Even though the Brewers played in the American League until 1998, they still played in the AL pre-designated hitter.

Wolf stole a base last year for the Dodgers. His stolen base Monday even came off one of the better throwing catchers in the National Leagues, Ryan Hanigan. However, it was more off of pitcher Homer Bailey, who does not hold runners on well.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 30, 2010 6:38 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 8:51 pm

Edmonds 'leaning toward' retirement

Jim Edmonds Jim Edmonds said Monday that he expects his 17th season will be his last, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy .

"I'm leaning toward shutting it down and being a family man again," Edmonds said. "I've made my mark. I've done as much as I can do as an everyday player."

Edmonds was traded by the Brewers to Cincinnati on Aug. 9 for outfielder Chris Dickerson, but has been on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a strained right oblique. Although McCalvy writes Edmonds will likely retire at the end of the season, he also says Edmonds had considered retiring earlier this season and it's uncertain if he'll be able to return this season.

Edmonds, 40, is hitting .272 with nine homers and 21 RBI this season, but has hit just .136/.208/.364 in nine games with the Reds. He has a home run and an RBI.

The Reds had hoped he'd add some pop off the bench from the left side, but he hasn't done much of that in his short tenure in Cincinnati.

Dickerson, also left-handed, has hit .303/.351/.394 in 14 games with the Brewers, knocking in five runs without the benefit of a home run. He's also stolen a base.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 29, 2010 8:03 pm

Brewers on hunt for pitching in offseason

Bronson Arroyo When the Milwaukee Brewers won 90 games in 2008, it was supposed to be the beginning of a string of playoff contention.

Instead, it was the Brewers high-water mark since 1992, and it's been more of the same failings since -- largely due to having one of the worst pitching staffs over the last two seasons.

That fact alone is likely to mean the demise of Ken Macha as manager, as the Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo notes with owner Mark Attanasio possibly eyeing a shakeup.

Regardless of Macha's fate, Milwaukee's focal point this offseason will need to be acquiring pitching. The team has only Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf as viable rotation candidates. Dave Bush will be a free agent and will likely struggle to do better than his $4.215 million salary of 2010. Chris Narveson is pure filler, while Chris Capuano is coming off a two-year absence and is best used out of the bullpen. Free-agent import Doug Davis was a disaster to start the season then went down to injury.

Suffice it to say, Milwaukee has a lot of work ahead of itself. The good news is that payroll, at $90 million in 2010, will plummet to only $32.3 million guaranteed with only Prince Fielder due a significant raise, and even he may be on the way out. Making $11 million, Fielder will be entering his final season of arbitration and is likely to hit free agency and sign for millions the Brewers can't and shouldn't allocate to the beefy first baseman.

Cafardo says the team will make a hard push for Cliff Lee, the premier pitcher on the market. While that's admirable, it's difficult to imagine Lee agreeing to join the Brewers -- this will be his first -- and most likely last -- foray into free agency with a reasonable expectation of a massive payday.  Milwaukee isn't the type of club to commit those dollars, plus Lee may be looking to join a team with more stability in terms of year-to-year contention. It's not impossible, but it's improbable.

Another name Cafardo points out is more in line with what the Brewers can afford -- quality starters who aren't aces. That's Bronson Arroyo (pictured), who has fashioned himself a strong career as a durable, mid-rotation starter who won't break the bank, plus sign for a long deal and tie up money too far in the future to predict for a pitcher.

As long as we're naming names for the Brewers to consider in their hunt for starting pitchers, Jeremy Bonderman is another possibility. Bonderman has something rare for free-agent pitchers: the fact he's under 30. Having spent the last few seasons working back from injury, Bonderman has spent much of 2010 putting to rest concerns on how his shoulder would hold up after surgery. Bonderman will be 28 on October 28 and should be in fair demand on the market due to his age despite his 5.27 ERA in 136 2/3 innings, especially given the ERA is inflated given what he has actually produced.

Jorge De La Rosa could be an option to return to Milwaukee. The lefty finally put everything together in Colorado after stops with the Red Sox' minor-league system, a three-year run in Milwaukee and the Royals before landing in Colorado. De la Rosa has sketchy command but can punch out batters, and will spend 2011 being 30 years old.

Other possible fits include Hiroki Kuroda, who has had a solid run for the Dodgers, Ted Lilly, Carl Pavano and Javier Vazquez.

No, none are bona-fide aces, but they have that in Gallardo. What they need is depth to have any hope of contending with Cincinnati and St. Louis.

If the free-agent market is not to the team's liking, one internal option could be top prospect Jeremy Jeffress, who has put his second drug suspension behind him after testing positive for marijuana twice. Jeffress may be called up to pitch out of the bullpen in September after being converted to a reliever following the second suspension. Jeffress has a cumulative 2.32 ERA split among three levels, most recently Double-A where he has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. He's whiffed 15 and walked two, so clearly he has taken to the bullpen.

Is that really the best move for the fireballer? Young, power arms in the rotation are in short supply, and Jeffress could yet emerge into a low-cost, top rotation option. This decision is something the Brew Crew is currently struggling with.

"The tough part with power pitchers like him is where are they with their pitch counts," Macha says of the decision to convert Jeffress , reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel . "Are they going to pitch deep into games? The strike zone up here is tighter; hitters are more selective."

Whether Jeffress or a free agent, the Brewers' No. 1 priority this offseason is pitching. Whether they can get it remains to be seen.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:36 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 1:37 pm

Brewers pitcher robbed at gunpoint

Yovani Gallardo
Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and a Brewers clubhouse attendant were robbed at gunpoint early Friday in Milwaukee, as first reported by the team's flagship radio station.

Gallardo and Alex Sanchez were robbed of money and jewelry in the parking lot of a supermarket. They complied with the gunman's demands, then the assailant struck Sanchez in the head with the butt of his gun. Gallardo was not hurt.

"We are aware of it, but we do not have any other details other than Yovani and Alex do not care to discuss it further," said Tyler Barnes, the Brewers' vice president of communications.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 25, 2010 10:56 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 9:58 am

Gomez believes he is Brewers CF

Carlos Gomez Carlos Gomez is riding the bench. Lorenzo Cain is starting in center field.

"Right now I still have the job," Gomez says.

Wait, what?

"I'm telling myself I'm not the fourth outfielder; I'm a starting outfielder," Gomez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after being activated off the disabled list and playing in right field in lieu of Corey Hart on Tuesday. However, Gomez has lost his center field job to the rookie Cain, who is hitting .314/.368/.431 in 17 games, swiping three bags. That, combined with Gomez' .228/.285/.348 line in 275 plate appearances, make it easy to see why Gomez is on the bench.

"[Cain] is in the lineup ... and he's playing center field," manager Ken Macha said when approached about Gomez' comments. "That should be enough of a statement."

"I'll just say that's interesting," he added. "You can take that any way you'd like. I'm just saying it's interesting."

Interesting that Gomez thinks he's the starting center fielder despite a poor offensive line? Absolutely. So why is he so adamant that he's the starter, not Cain?

Simple: his speed and defense. And Gomez does have that in spades, as his career high in the majors is 33, obtained in 2008 with Minnesota when he appeared in 157 games. However, he has just 10 on the season, so it's not like he burns up the basepaths, despite 64 thefts in 2005 in mid-Class A.

Meanwhile, Cain has swiped 26 between two seasons in 2010.

As for defense, Gomez is one of the better center fielders in the game, but Cain is no slouch either. It simply makes sense to have the hot hand hitting, which Gomez understands.

"I'm the best center fielder on the team," he stated. "But Lorenzo is doing a really good job for the last two weeks and it's not fair for me to come off the DL and take his chance. I understand."

As odd as it may be that Gomez believes he's the incumbent, it's hard to fault him for that. He started for the Twins in 2008 and has been the Brewers' starter up until his DL stint in 2010. Baseball players have to have confidence in themselves that they can do the job, which Gomez clearly has despite a .285 on-base percentage. At age 24, his window to be a starter has not closed, but he won't be handed the center field gig next year, either.

"We'll figure out after the season if I'm going to be the starting center fielder, the fourth outfielder or if I'll be here [with the team]," Gomez said, saying he understands he will likely have to battle Cain for the job in spring training. "We have a lot to play still. Cain is a good player but he's only been here two weeks, so they have to see what he is, then they'll [determine] if he's ready.

"Right now I still have the job."

Gomez may want to check with Macha if he really does have the job.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 24, 2010 6:02 pm

Aaron: 'Bud Selig is my hero'

Bud Selig is hardly a popular man among baseball fans, but he had plenty of his own fans on hand Tuesday for the unveiling of his statue in front of Miller Park.

Bud Selig The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a list of some of the attendees for the ceremony:
Sen. Herb Kohl
Political columnist George Will
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez
Joe and Frank Torre
Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks
Representatives of too many clubs to name, including Yankees president Randy Levine and wife Mindy, a Milwaukee native
Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson
Dick Ebersol, President of NBC Sports and Entertainment
Former Packers president Bob Harlan and GM Ron Wolf
Dozens of former and current Brewers employees
Many former and current Brewers, including Robin Yount and Hank Aaron, who also have statues outside of Miller Park as well as Gorman Thomas, Sal Bando, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Audrey Kuenn, widow of former manager Harvey Kuenn, Don Money, Don August, Bill Schroeder, Jerry Augustine, Ken Sanders, Larry Hisle, Teddy Higuera, Dale Sveum, Ted Simmons, Pete Vuckovich, Rollie Fingers, Trevor Hoffman, Craig Counsell, Jim Gantner and Paul Molitor.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and wife Debbie, who donated the statue.
All of Selig's family, including wife Sue and daughters Wendy and Sari
There were at least two more current Brewers at the event than current Yankees attended George Steinbrenner's funeral (although it was at the ballpark on a game day, so it was a little easier to make.)

In addition to the roll call, Selig was lavished with praise. Here's a sampling:
"Bud Selig is my hero." -- Hank Aaron (from MLB.com ) "I honestly believe the first statue that should have gone up outside this stadium is Bud Selig's. I'm not sure we have any of this without him." -- Robin Yount (from MLB.com ) "This man right here was stronger than any other thing involved in staying here. If not for this man, I might have left." -- Yount, who stayed with the Brewers as a free agent in 1990 instead of going to the Angels. (from the Journal Sentinel ) Selig is often a punchline -- and with some very valid reasons -- but he's also the biggest reason baseball not only returned to Milwaukee, but also that it remained in Wisconsin.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
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