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Tag:Brewers
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Josh Hamilton loses his 'handler'

By Matt Snyder

The Milwaukee Brewers lost their hitting coach when Dale Sveum was hired as the Cubs new manager. Monday, the Brewers filled the hole by hiring Johnny Narron. It unites him with his older brother Jerry, who is the Brewers bench coach. Still, that's not really the story here.

Johnny Narron has been with Rangers star Josh Hamilton for a long time. Hamilton has known Narron since he was nine years old and playing on a youth basketball team with Narron's son. Once becoming a professional baseball player, Hamilton had the well-documented struggles with addiction and has since cleaned himself up. And Narron's been right with him every step of the way.

When Hamilton finally emerged on the 2007 Reds, Narron was considered Hamilton's "handler" by many and never left his side. His technical title was video and administrative coach. When Hamilton was shipped to the Rangers via trade the following offseason, Narron went to Texas as well, getting the title of assistant hitting coach. But he was basically Hamilton's shadow. When Hamilton was answering questions at All-Star Game media day about Rangers fan Shannon Stone's death, for example, Narron was sitting right next to him.

"I'm with him and I'm for him 24 hours a day," Narron said (MLB.com). "I've been very blessed to be a part of this whole trip. I'm able to be there and support a young man who has turned his life over to God. I love Josh. I know that Josh loves me. We respect each other. It's a relationship that we both believe was meant to be."

Hamilton obviously has a strong support system, but losing Narron might test his mettle a bit. Obviously they won't stop communicating, but that's not the same as being with someone all day every day during the grueling 162-game baseball season.

"We've been in touch with Josh -- before and after the hiring -- and will sit down to discuss the best way to move forward," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We're confident we will continue to support Josh and all of our players as needed. In anticipation of losing Johnny, we had some discussion about this, but will be in better position to address that specifically once we've all put our heads together."

Hopefully everything works out.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Ryan Braun wins NL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has won the National League Most Valuable Player award, garnering 20 of the 32 first-place votes. This marks the first time a Brewers player has ever won the NL MVP. Previous Brewers winners -- Robin Yount (1982, 1989) and Rollie Fingers (1981) -- came when the ballclub was a member of the American League.

Braun, 28, hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. He led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. He also helped lead his team to a 96-66 record, an NL Central championship and a trip to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history.

"This really is a dream," Braun said. "This is beyond my wildest dreams to be in this position at this point in my career."

Most Valuable Player
Braun beat out a pretty solid field of sluggers in the Senior Circuit, with Matt Kemp of the Dodgers finishing second.

Kemp's case was very strong, and this felt like a two-horse race for the entire month of September. Kemp challenged for the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI). He led the NL with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, but finished third in batting average at a .324 clip. He also stole 40 bases, won a Gold Glove and led the NL in total bases.

"Matt's one of the best players in the game. No question about it. The season he had will go down as one of the greatest in Dodgers history," said Braun. "If he had won the MVP I certainly couldn't have argued with him winning. He had a phenomenal year."

Alas, the Dodgers weren't in contention all season, finishing third place in the NL West at 82-79. Ultimately, the difference in team performance seems to be what propelled Braun over Kemp.

"If you honestly assess both of our seasons individually I think his numbers are probably better than mine, and I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team," Braun said. "It's an individual award, but it's a result of being part of a special team, a special organization."

Here are the top 10 finishers, with voting points in parentheses:

1. Braun (388)
2. Kemp (332)
3. Prince Fielder (229)
4. Justin Upton (214)
5. Albert Pujols (166)
6. Joey Votto (135)
7. Lance Berkman (118)
8. Troy Tulowitzki (69)
9. Roy Halladay (52)
10. Ryan Howard (39)

The following players, in order of vote totals, also received votes: Jose Reyes, Clayton Kershaw, Shane Victorino, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, John Axford, Michael Morse, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Stanton.

It's worth noting that this was the 11th season Pujols has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting -- and he's only been in the league for 11 years. He's won MVP three times and finished in the top five 10 of those 11 years.

Kemp took home 10 first-place votes, with Fielder and Upton getting one each. Braun had the rest. Only Braun, Kemp and Fielder received second-place votes.

Braun is locked up with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, as he signed a five-year extension in April. The 2011 MVP award will join the 2007 Rookie of the Year in Braun's trophy case.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Report: Pirates 'close' to signing Clint Barmes

Clint BarmesBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Pirates are "close" to signing shortstop Clint Barmes, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

Earlier in the day Rosenthal tweeted the Pirates were the leader for the former Rockies and Astros shortstop, saying a two-year deal was likely.

The Pirates declined a $3-million option on Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno, 28, hit .249/.297/.339 last season and was a finalist for the Gold Glove. 

Barmes will be 33 in March and hit just .244/.312/.386 last season and is a career .252 hitter, but a very good defensive shortstop. Barmes made $3.93 million in 2011.

The Giants and Brewers were also interested in Barmes, who was tread to the Astros last November.

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Would expanded playoffs change past results?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Commissioner Bud Selig wants one more team in the playoffs as soon as the 2012 season, with the two wild card teams facing off in one game to decide which team moves on to the next round. The idea is to expand the playoffs and at the same time giving division winners an advantage over a team that doesn't win its division.

Not only does the extra team mean there's more playoffs, but the wild card teams will have to juggle their rotation to try to get their best pitcher pitch in the one-game playoff.

2011

American League: No baseball fan will forget watching Game 162 for the Rays and Red Sox -- a once-in-a-lifetime finish to the regular season that wouldn't happen under the new format. Of course, it was there only because of the wild card -- something that many people were against when Selig first introduced it. There will still be fantastic finishes -- just not one exactly like there was this year. Not that I was expecting to see anything like that ever again. If the new format eliminates the rule barring teams from the same division playing in the first round, the first-round match ups would have been different, with the Tigers and Rangers meeting in the divisional series instead of the ALCS.

National League: The Cardinals and Braves would have faced off in the one-game playoff, with the winner going on the face the Phillies. Chris Carpenter wouldn't have had to pitch the final game of the regular season and could have been held back for the wild card game.

What would have changed? Maybe Terry Francona would still have a job, but other than that, who knows? The Cardinals wouldn't have had Carpenter for the wild card game, but if they were indeed a team of destiny, who's to say they don't go on and win the whole thing? The American League is a tossup, really, it's tough to say exactly what would have happened.

2010

American League: The Red Sox beat out the White Sox for the second playoff spot and set up yet another Yankees-Red Sox showdown in the one-game wild card.

National League: Atlanta and San Diego would face off for the right to face the seemingly unbeatable Phillies, while the Giants and Reds would have met in the other division series.

What would have changed? Instead of facing the Yankees, the Twins would get the Rangers, but the result probably wouldn't have changed. As for the National League, San Diego was reeling at the end of the season and probably wouldn't have challenged the Braves. However, the Phillies wouldn't have played the Reds in the first round and we wouldn't have gotten Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Or maybe we would have, the Reds had the National League's best offense, so maybe the opponent didn't matter that day.

2009

American League: Instead of just one one-game playoff in the AL, in 2009 there would have been two. Boston and Texas would have been the two wild card teams, but both teams had better records than the Twins and Tigers, who met in a one-game playoff to determine the American League Central champ.

National League: The AL East isn't the only division that can squeeze three teams into the playoffs -- the Rockies and Giants would face each other for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.

What would have changed? Probably little, the Yankees and Phillies would likely face off in the World Series no matter what other teams were in the mix.

2008

American League: The Twins would have been the extra wild card team, facing the 95-win Red Sox for the right to face the Angels

National League: The Brewers and Mets would have had to face off in the wild card game, with the winner getting the 97-win Cubs, while Philadelphia would face Los Angeles in the NLDS instead of the Cubs.

What would have changed? The Red Sox beat the Angels 3-1 in the ALDS, so it's not a stretch to see Boston burning a pitcher and still beating the Angels in that series. The Phillies likely would have gone on to the World Series, but the Cubs may have had a better shot to advance to the NLCS and break some more hearts by failing to reach the World Series.

2007

American League: One one-game playoff not good enough for you? How about a playoff for the playoff? The 94-win Yankees would have to wait a day to see who they'd play in the wild card game, as Seattle and Detroit both finished 88-74.

National League: This time we have a pretty good idea what it would look like -- the Rockies and Padres would face off in a one-game playoff, just as they did anyway. A 13-inning thriller, the Rockies beat the Padres to advance to the NLDS. But instead of playing the Phillies in the first round, the Rockies would have faced the Diamondbacks, who had the best record in the National League with 90 wins.

What would have changed? Probably not too much -- every series was a sweep, meaning the best teams were more or less identified.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Brewers shortstop search includes Betancourt

By Matt Snyder

With the Brewers pretty well resigned to the fact that they're going to lose All-Star slugger Prince Fielder to free agency, it appears they've instead focused on shortstop. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that it's more likely they land Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins than retain Fielder. Of course, Knobler also reports that either Reyes or Rollins would be a longshot as well. So that means they'll likely have to focus their efforts a bit lower down the list of available shortstops.

Could Clint Barmes be a possibility? Tuesday, MLB.com reported the Brewers were taking a look at Barmes. He'd definitely be an affordable option and is a mildly productive player. He had a good defensive season while collecting 27 doubles and 12 homers in 495 plate appearances.

Rafael Furcal's name has been mentioned, too, but Knobler reported Tuesday that the Brewers have some serious reservations about going after Furcal and may just bring back Yuniesky Betancourt. Also, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has mentioned that general manager Doug Melvin continues to preach that Betancourt is better than his critics, which sounds a lot like he's bracing himself for another season of Yuni.

Betancourt, 29, is widely regarded as a poor defensive shortstop and hit .252/.271/.381 last season, his first in Milwaukee.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:39 pm
 

Tuesday rumor roundup from GM Meetings

By Matt Snyder

With baseball's annual general manager meetings taking place in Milwaukee, there are many rumors floating around. Here's what CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler -- who is there -- heard Tuesday.

• The Yankees have met with Bob Garber, who is the agent for free agent starting pitchers C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. The two sides are in preliminary discussions about both players, but several other teams are obviously still in play.

• The Red Sox are going to interview an unnamed candidate for a second time. Dale Sveum is also getting a second interview and several have speculated he's the front-runner.

• The Nationals need a center fielder and some other pieces, but are primarily focusing on one veteran starting pitcher. They're in on Wilson, Oswalt and Mark Buehrle. And we know they aren't shy when it comes to spending money (Exhibit A: Jayson Werth). Adding one of these guys to a rotation with young guns Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann would give the Nats a very strong rotation. The Nationals also wouldn't rule out any of the big-name offensive free agents (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes), but it's much more likely they go pitching.

• The Orioles don't have near as much money to spend as some people thought they'd have. "We have to be smarter and work harder," new general manager Dan Duquette said. It looks like a payroll in the range of $90 million, which is an increase, but not a gigantic one. They opened last season with just over $85 million in player salaries.

• The Brewers have big reservations on signing Rafael Furcal and probably can't make a serious run at Jose Reyes, so don't be surprised if they bring back Yuniesky Betancourt to play shortstop. Also, Knobler told me it sounds like "the longest of longshots" Prince Fielder is back next season.

• Expect the owners to approve the sale of the Astros Thursday, and the move will also result in the Astros moving to the American League, starting in 2013. This will result in two 15-team leagues and interleague play all season.

• The Collective Bargaining Agreement will not be announced during the meetings. It will come Friday at the earliest, but don't worry, it's going to get done.

Here are some other notes from the meetings, compiled from other reporters:

• The Mets won't likely offer a six-year contract to Jose Reyes, Andy Martino of the Daily News reports. This isn't all too surprising but it's worth noting because the Marlins have reportedly offered Reyes six years and $90 million.

• The Reds are one of many teams that have contacted the Braves about All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens, but it's going to take "a ton" to land him, reports Jon Heyman of SI.com.

David Ortiz really wants to stay in Boston and will let the Red Sox match any offer he gets on the open market (Boston Herald).

Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reports that the Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays, Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, and Mets are all suitors for free agent closer Francisco Cordero. He's been a bit overshadowed in this free agency class by the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson, but Cordero has some serious pedigree as a closer. Only Mariano Rivera has more career saves among active players than Cordero.

• The Twins are interested in Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, and that interest would heighten if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere (Star Tribune).

Hat-tips: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Report: Marlins make $90 million offer to Reyes

Reyes
By Evan Brunell

The Brewers need a shortstop, but it's unlikely to be Jose Reyes, who has a lucrative offer in hand from the Marlins.

"One call," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com. "No numbers."

Reyes is one of the hottest names on the market and has already received a six-year, $90 million offer from the Marlins, Fox Sports reports. That's not likely to be good enough for Reyes to sign, as the shortstop is seeking a contract north of $100 million. However, Miami's offer is not all that far away from Reyes' magic number, so it's easy to envision the Marlins upping the price and getting Reyes, who is intrigued by the opportunity to play in Miami and under skipper Ozzie Guillen. The appeal of Miami has to do with the city, plus the ability to play in good weather which could help Reyes avoid hamstring problems that have plagued him so far in his career.

The Brewers also need a shortstop, but it's hard to imagine Milwaukee ponying up the money to sign Reyes. In a discussion about first baseman Prince Fielder a couple days ago, Melvin indicated it was extremely unlikely Fielder would return to the Brewers because of payroll constraints. The same constraints will keep Reyes out of Milwaukee.

But Melvin is still on the prowl for a new shortstop, having lunch with Rafael Furcal's agent on Monday and reaching out to Yuniesky Betancourt's agent, MLB.com writes. While Betancourt is an awful shortstop and it was a no-brainer for Milwaukee to decline its $6 million option on Betancourt after the season, at some point, beggars can't be choosers. If Melvin can't entice Furcal or another shortstop (how about Clint Barmes?) to town, Betancourt may represent Melvin's best choice.

"I would think anybody who needs a shortstop and who is a contender has to look at [Furcal]," agent Paul Kinser told MLB.com. "Like I said, he brings the intangibles. The other guys haven't won the championships. ... He might miss a few games during the year, but when he's on the field, he's a difference-maker."

Melvin, for his part, admitted the Brewers won't be part of any free agency moves early on.

"We probably are going to be late in signing players," Melvin said. "I don't know if there's bargains at the start. ... Tell me an early signing that's a good deal."

While an early signing of Reyes by Miami will force the Marlins to give up a pretty penny, it would certainly change the complexion of the team and give the club an offensive dynamo that could be the missing piece for the offense. But would incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez move? The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer writes that Ramirez is not pleased about the possibility of changing positions -- and that Reyes and Ramirez aren't as friendly as reports make out.

That could potentially open the door for a Ramirez trade if Reyes is signed. The Marlins' payroll can only hold roughly one big-ticket signing in order to have money to flesh the rest of the team out. But a Ramirez trade could not only help supplement the big-league team, but would free up enough money for the club to chase down its other free agent targets, thought to be Albert Pujols, Ryan Madson and Mark Buehrle.

Those wondering if Reyes could end up back with the Mets? GM Sandy Alderson said his team wasn't out of the race to resign the shortstop.

Check out CBSSports.com's free agency tracker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com