Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category
Folks, as most of you know, I am a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. I’ve watched them for years, through good years and bad…and this year is shaping up to be unpredictable at best, and downright awful at worst.
Why do I say this? It’s simple.
The Brewers have seven guys who’ve never been on an Opening Day roster before. Their best pitcher is Wily Peralta. And their leadoff hitter is likely to be rookie OF Domingo Santana, a high-risk, high-reward type player.
Or, to put it another way — “Who are these (flippin’) guys?” — quote from the movie Major League, 1989.
There are only a few players on this roster I recognize, including Ryan Braun, returning Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano (now a reliever), and Jonathan Lucroy — providing he isn’t traded anytime too soon. Much of the roster is made up of guys like Jonathan Villar (before he came to the Brewers, I’d never heard his name before), Yadiel Rivera (good-field, little-hit IF prospect), Keon Broxton, and Ramon Flores.
So, with a team that I barely recognize, it’s almost impossible for me to say what the 2016 “new look” Brewers will do. But I can tell you what it’s unlikely they’ll do — and that’s win over 70 games.
Of course, the young Brewers are going to play with chips on their shoulder. And in a week or two, I’ll know these guys better and their capabilities/weaknesses/upsides, too.
Still. The Brewers play in the toughest division in Major League Baseball. They’re likely to be beaten regularly by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, all division rivals with legitimate postseason chances. That alone makes their quest for a seventy-win season nearly impossible.
The 2016 Brewers will probably be fun to watch. They’ll give it their all, their fundamentals will be sound, they’ll steal bases and at least a few of ’em (like Santana, Braun, and new first baseman Chris Carter) will hit beaucoup home runs. And at least one pitcher will have a good-to-great year (perhaps hoping to pitch himself onto a contenting team at the All-Star break).
So, the 2016 Brewers are likely to have an entertaining team, but not a good one.
What do you think? (Give me a shout in the comments.)
Folks, when I read about the Milwaukee Brewers latest trade of closing pitcher Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers for single-A prospect Javier Betancourt — the first trade under new General Manager David Stearns’ tenure — I was not happy.
Well, one of the few bright spots I had as a Brewers fan, last year, was to watch K-Rod come out to save games. He was one of the few players to remain positive despite Milwaukee’s dismal season, and he had one of his best seasons, to boot.
As Tom Haudricourt wrote at JSOnline.com (aka the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
“K-Rod” had a tremendous season for the Brewers in 2015, converting 38 of 40 save opportunities with a 2.21 earned run average in 60 appearances. But the club is in the midst of a significant rebuilding program, and Stearns decided it made more sense to acquire young talent rather than keep an aging closer.
And K-Rod is still only 33 years old, plus was signed at a low price for an elite athlete, too…less than $10 million, including a 2017 contract buyout.
What did the Brewers actually get? Haudricourt has that covered, too:
Betancourt, 20, is primarily a second baseman but has seen limited action at shortstop and third base. Rated the No. 11 prospect in Detroit’s system, he played in 2015 at high Class A Lakeland of the Florida State League, batting .263 with a .304 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage, with 17 doubles, five triples, three home runs and 48 RBI.
Betancourt had 29 walks and 44 strikeouts in 531 plate appearances. He played all 116 games in the field at second base, a position manned mostly by Scooter Gennett for the Brewers over the last two years.
In other words, Betancourt is a step under Double-A ball. He’s a prospect, and somewhat unproven; he is known, apparently, as a good and solid defender, but has no power potential whatsoever.
Granted, the Brewers are full of free-swingers right now. Only Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, among the regulars, seem to know how to take a walk now and again.
That said, it’s extremely frustrating to me, as a long-time Brewers fan, that our new GM has traded one of the achingly few bright spots on the team for someone like Javier Betancourt. And, quite possibly, a player to be named later — though this trade, also according to Haudricourt, also has a player to be named later on Detroit’s side, too!
(How is it possible for Detroit to get another player, considering they’ve just garnered one of the best closers in the game in K-Rod? Your guess is as good as mine. But I digress.)
At any rate, I know the Brewers are in a major rebuilding mode. I accept that; I’ve seen it before.
What I don’t accept, as a fan, is the contention that anyone else could do as well as K-Rod on the 2016 roster. Nor that it’s not a salary-dump of some sort — despite Stearns’ assertion to the contrary. (Why Stearns would think any real fan who’s ever followed this team would believe that kind of baloney is beyond me. But again, I digress.)
Look, folks: What I want, as a fan, is for the Brewers to put an entertaining team on the field that at least tries to win every night. Having players who are happy to play in Milwaukee, despite the fact that they’re not likely to get one whiff of the playoffs for another three or four years, minimum, is a huge part of how the Brewers, as a team, can get there.
I fail to see how trading K-Rod away will promote team victories in 2016. Especially as the two most likely choices on the current roster to become closer — Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress — have zero closing experience. (Smith is a brilliant set-up man until July; after July, he’s competent or worse. And Jeffress, while I like him a lot, does not seem to be closing material, either.)
Maybe K-Rod will enjoy being in Detroit, because Detroit, on paper at least, is a better team than Milwaukee. (But as I’m also aware that K-Rod took less money last year to re-sign with Milwaukee because he liked it so much despite all the nonsense, I have to wonder about that assertion, too.)
Bottom line: The Brewers did not get nearly enough for K-Rod. And unless Javier Betancourt turns out to be the steal of the century, those folks in Detroit have to be laughing their butts off at the hicks in Milwaukee over this one.
Folks, this year has been a historic year for organized baseball.
Earlier this year, Sean Conroy, a pitcher for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association, came out as gay.
And now, Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect David Denson, a first baseman currently playing for Helena in the Rookie League, has also come out as gay. Denson is the first person in organized baseball — major or minor leagues — to ever come out while still an active player.
Here’s a link to the story. Denson, quoted by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel baseball beat writer Tom Haudricourt, said this:
Before he knew it, Denson was making the emotional announcement he yearned to share, and the group around him expanded to the point that he soon was speaking to most of the team. Much to Denson’s relief, when the conversation ended he was greeted with outward support and understanding instead of condemnation.
“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” recalled Denson. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’
“That was a giant relief for me,” Denson said. “I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”
The more Denson thought about it, though, the more he came to realize that a clubhouse confession wasn’t going to be enough. Until he came out publicly as gay and released that burden, Denson didn’t think he could truly blossom and realize his potential on the field.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had a disappointing season in many respects. But they made up for it, at least in my eyes, when two players were quoted (again by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) as saying that Denson would be welcome in their clubhouse any time.
Both Ryan Braun and Scooter Gennett have publicly gone on the record as saying they would warmly welcome Denson. Here’s a few quotes for you from Haudricourt’s additional article:
“I think everybody is supportive,” said rightfielder Ryan Braun. “Overall, we realize it’s a courageous decision by him, to come out and embrace his true self.
“I’ve never met him but I hope baseball as a whole is at a point where we judge people by their ability and not their race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality. I can’t speak for everybody on our team but he would be accepted and supported by me. And I would hope all of my teammates feel the same way.”
Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett does know Denson and spent time in a team clubhouse with him. When Gennett was sent to Class A Wisconsin on minor-league rehab earlier this season while recovering from a hand injury, Denson was playing for the Timber Rattlers.
Denson, 20, a power-hitting first baseman, later was sent to the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena, Mont., and came out as gay to teammates there a month or so ago.
“He’s a great guy, an awesome guy,” said Gennett. “He has great tools. Now, he’ll be able to focus on playing and not focus on all the other stuff. This will be less clutter for him.
“I think it’s a great thing when people can clear their mind and just be honest with people around them. It’s an awesome thing. I think that will allow him to focus more on baseball and go out and have fun now.
“Would he be accepted here? Absolutely. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s a baseball player and a great guy. Anybody that goes out and plays hard every day is going to be accepted. Everybody has something to deal with. Baseball is such a mental sport. When you can just focus on the game, it’s amazing how much more fun it is.”
The Brewers as an organization are supportive of Denson, from GM Doug Melvin to manager Craig Counsell to the major league players on down. And that’s wonderful to see.
That said, I hope someday that it will not matter whatsoever what a person’s sexuality is — gay, lesbian, transgender, Martian, whatever.
Because a baseball player is simply that: a baseball player. Regardless of sexuality.
I’m glad the Milwaukee Brewers as an organization have figured this out.
Folks, most of you know I’m a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club.
And most of you are aware that when good players like Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra, and Mike Fiers get traded for minor-league prospects, that usually indicates that the team in question (in this case, the Brewers) is undergoing a rebuilding phase.
As a fan, I don’t like seeing rebuilding phases. I know they’re necessary. But it’s frustrating all the same, because I like to see a team that competes hard and does its best every day.
Right now, the MIlwaukee Brewers cannot do that.
When you take a hitter like Carlos Gomez out of the lineup, you lose a great deal. Couple that with taking Gerardo Parra out of the lineup — Parra hitting better than he ever has, and playing solid defense at all three OF positions, and you have the recipe for a lineup with little pop and even less situational hitting.
Couple that with the earlier trade of Aramis Ramirez to the Pirates, and the hitting situation grows even more desperate.
Right now, the Brewers have only two hitters with any chance of doing well: Ryan Braun and Adam Lind. Both have had trouble with back spasms this season, and Braun has a lingering issue with his thumb that will almost certainly plague him from time to time for the remainder of his career. So these things have to be taken into account, health-wise; both players cannot play every day in the high heat and humidity, not if manager Craig Counsell expects to get a maximum return out of them.
The other hitters are not doing that well this season. Jonathan Lucroy hasn’t looked like himself all year. Khris Davis — he still strikes out too much, and he waves at pitches in the opposing batter’s box, too. So no one with any sense is going to throw Davis a fastball. And Hernan Perez?
Granted, Jean Segura has shown flashes of his old hitting style, and is playing reasonably decent defense in the field. But he’s not a guy the Brewers should be depending on for RBIs; he’s a table-setter, not a meat-and-potatoes type of guy.
Then we get to the starting pitching. And we see the void that the trade of Mike Fiers has left in the Brewers pitching staff.
Look. Taylor Jungmann has had a great ride thus far, and looks like a solid pitcher for 2016. But Kyle Lohse — much as i like the man, and much though I root for him, he looks like he’s at the end of the road. And Matt Garza’s been up and down, Jimmy Nelson is still overrated (he’s done well most of the time, but I still don’t trust that), and Wily Peralta is showing just why his 17-win season last year was such a fluke.
If the Brewers didn’t have excellent relief pitching, they’d probably be even worse off than they are. Neal Cotts has actually been good (I have to say this, as early on I said I wanted him gone). Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has been stellar, as always. Will Smith has been iffy lately — at about the same point he became iffy last year — but was very good at the start of the season. And Tyler Thornburg is back up and pitching well…Jeremy Jeffress looks solid…really, I have few complaints with the bullpen.
The Brewers are currently 44-62. They look like they probably won’t even win sixty games this year, the way they’re playing. So I understand, mentally, why GM Doug Melvin made the trades that he did.
Still. Right now, what the Brewers front office is doing is an exercise in narrative framing. They’re saying, “Hey, in a year or two, we’ll be really good. Look at all these prospects!” And trying to divert the long-time fan, who’s seen the Brewers be awful before (in my case, many times), into dreaming of the future…all while the present looks downright depressing.
The thing about prospects is this: It’s all speculative.
We knew that Carlos Gomez loved Milwaukee, would hit reasonably well, would play excellent defense most of the time, and make some baserunning mistakes while striking out a goodly percentage of the time. Because that’s who Gomez is.
But Gomez is a known commodity. Brewers fans knew exactly what we were getting in him.
Similarly, Fiers and Parra were also known commodities. I knew, as a fan, that Parra would be tenacious at the plate and have good situational-hitting skills, and I knew that Fiers would always try his hardest and be unsparing of himself in postgame commentary if he just didn’t have it.
But fortunately, Fiers mostly does have it.
Anyway, Doug Melvin took three very good players — one perhaps a superstar in Gomez — and traded them, when the Brewers are already having trouble with their offense. He got back some very solid prospects, some of which may develop into decent-to-better players (Phillips, which the Brewers received in the Houston trade, might even turn out to be a superstar himself down the line; but that day is not today).
But for now, the situation is bleak and getting worse.
What I want to see, as a fan, is for Doug Melvin to go out and get some hitters. Daniel Nava was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox last week — and Nava can hit. (Granted, he hasn’t hit well this year at all for Boston, but a change of scenery might really help him.) Plus, Nava has some speed and would play a better left field than Khris Davis, who really shouldn’t be in the field at all (why, oh why, hasn’t Davis been traded to the AL by now? He is a DH in the making; he’ll never make an outfielder.)
And the Brewers need to find other diamonds in the rough like Nava. Guys who can hit, who’ve proven they can hit, and who can do a little better than the Shane Petersons or (gasp! shudders! horrors!) the Hernan Perezes of the world.
So that’s where I’m at, as a fan. I think the aftermath of the Brewers trades of Parra, Gomez and Fiers is showing itself right now.
And if I had to bet, I’d probably say it’s very unlikely the Brewers will even win 60 games this year. Which is very, very sad.
So don’t believe the narrative hype, my friends. Know full well that the Brewers will be awful for the remainder of this year, with some flashes of solid playing by folks like K-Rod, Braun and probably Lind.
And hope that somehow, some way, we’ll get some people in the lineup who can hit, run, and field…because right now, they’re just not there.
Carlos Gomez remains a Brewer.
This may not seem very surprising, if you weren’t following MLB Network last night. They, among others, had reported that the Milwaukee Brewers were about to trade Carlos Gomez to the New York Mets in exchange for pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores. (Wheeler is on the disabled list with Tommy John surgery, and Flores is playing out of position at shortstop; he’s projected to be a power hitter in the major leagues, possibly at the third base position.) The deal was reported as all but done, pending physicals…
Then Sandy Alderson, GM of the Mets, said this: “The deal will not transpire.”
After all that, there are now conflicting reports saying that the Mets did not like Carlos Gomez’s health issues of the past season. And that the Brewers didn’t like the extensive arm surgery Wheeler endured.
Whatever the truth is, the only thing this Brewers fan knows is that Gomez remains in a Brewers uniform. Which is, on balance, a good thing.
Look. I get annoyed sometimes with Gomez because of his baserunning blunders and his propensity to strike out. But he’s an outstanding outfielder, and his defense makes up for a lot.
This trade, from my perspective, made very little sense for two reasons.
First, if you trade Gomez and then trade Gerardo Parra (long rumored to be on his way out of town due to his contact being up at the end of the year), who is going to play center field?
I mean, look at who’s left on the team. You have Ryan Braun, Shane Peterson, and Khris Davis left. Braun is the fastest of them, but he’s not a center fielder and has been dealing with back spasms lately. Peterson is a decent left fielder who possibly would be better off at first base, long-term. And Davis, while he does have some speed in the outfield, cannot throw to save his life.
None of them are well-suited to playing center field. Which means the Brewers would either have to trade for someone, or they’d have to bring up the only pure center fielder in the Brewers organization: Logan Schafer.
And Schafer has had multiple opportunities to show he can hit major league pitching…and hasn’t managed to convince me or anyone else that he can.
Second, Zack Wheeler is on the DL and can’t help anyone for at least another full year. (I’m sure Brewers fans remember just how long it took Chris Capuano and Ben Sheets to recover from arm surgery; well, we’re looking at a similar time-frame for Wheeler.) Even if Wheeler comes back fully from his Tommy John procedure, he’ll have to relearn his arm mechanics and possibly have to reinvent himself as a pitcher. (Stephen Strasburg is struggling with doing just that right now, which shows that recovery from Tommy John is not as automatic as some make it out to be.)
So here’s where we stand, Brewers fans:
Carlos Gomez remains on the team, meaning Milwaukee continues to have a solid-to-better center fielder patrolling the outfield.
And both the Brewers and Mets have leaked conflicting information regarding the proposed trade, so no one’s completely sure exactly why this proposed trade was nixed.
What a mess.