May 2009

Brewers pick up Gerut from Padres for Gwynn

It’s being reported in San Diego that the Padres have traded Jody Gerut to the Brewers for Tony Gwynn Jr. in a swap of left-handed-hitting outfielders. 

As of 2:30 p.m. CT, the Brewers had yet to make the announcement.

Gerut, 31, was hitting .221 with four home runs and 21 RBIs for the Padres and presumably will join the Brewers on Friday in Minneapolis before the start of a three-game Interleague Series. The Brewers, who currently have only four active outfielders, would have to clear a 25-man roster spot when Gerut arrives.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has admired Gerut for some time. Gerut had a breakthrough season in 2008, when he batted .296 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs. <p/>

The trade comes amid reports that the Padres were discussing another that would send Jake Peavy to the White Sox, and while the deal with the Brewers is no blockbuster, it still should raise some eyebrows in San Diego. Gwynn, 26, is the son of the Hall of Famer by the same name who played all 20 of his big league seasons for the Padres. The Brewers drafted Gwynn Jr. two picks before the Padres’ turn in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

The Padres could have had Gwynn six weeks ago for nothing. He missed much of Spring Training with a sore right throwing shoulder, and the Brewers went instead with Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson for the Opening Day roster. Gwynn was placed on waivers, and Brewers officials were surprised when he cleared.

Gwynn responded by hitting .309 with a .387 on-base percentage, 39 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 16 tries at Triple-A Nashville.

Hall getting a (last?) shot against RHPs

Brewers manager Ken Macha is giving Bill Hall one last chance to show he can hit right-handed pitching.

Hall is trying to make the most of it.

“It shows he has confidence in me and knows I’m going to right this thing,” Hall said. “Everybody in here knows what kind of player I am and what kind of damage I can do, whether it’s against right-handers or left-handers.

“It’s just one little thing that’s going to make it click. I’m trying to find it.”

Macha’s promise the other day in St. Louis is why Hall batted against Astros right-hander Chris Sampson with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday, representing the tying run. Hall, whose struggles against righties last season cost him regular playing time, hit against Sampson even though the Brewers had lefty hitter Craig Counsell available on the bench.

“I don’t read the paper [don't forget the Internet, skip!] but I’m sure I was getting killed for sending Brad Nelson up there to hit,” Macha said, referring to the outfielder who was 0-for-21 before the Brewers cut him loose. “I was giving Brad Nelson every opportunity to be successful in the role he was given here. I’m trying to do that with everybody.”

Hall will start again Thursday against Houston right-hander Roy Oswalt. Hall is 14-for-41 against the Astros ace.

“Here’s a guy who hit 35 home runs for this club [in 2006],” Macha said. “Could we use that power right now? Absolutely. I don’t think we’re going to be able to use that power if, every time you turn around, you’re pinch-hitting for that guy.” 

 

Plenty of action in Brewers-Astros

Can’t wait to hear the explanation from both sides about tonight’s lineup snafu. Apparently, filling out a lineup card is not as easy as you’d think, because Tampa’s Joe Maddon messed it up on Sunday and Cecil Cooper did the same tonight, flipping Kaz Matsui and Michael Bourn in the lineup. Tough for Matsui, whose batting average dropped before he even left the batter’s box.

Who noticed the mistake in the Brewers’ dugout? Maybe it was manager Ken Macha, who exchanges lineups himself instead of sending out a coach to do it.

A little more drama in the fourth inning, when Mike Cameron wrapped a solo home run around the left field foul pole to put the Brewers on the board. Not only was it Cameron’s 249th career home run, leaving him one shy of becoming the 20th player with 250 homers and 250 stolen bases, it was the first hit off Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez in 88 1/3 innings. Nobody had taken Rodriguez deep since Aug. 10 of last season.

Updated: Melvin on Jeffress' demotion

Thanks to the guys at Brewerfan.net for noticing that the Brewers demoted 21-year-old right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, universally considered Milwaukee’s top pitching prospect, from Double-A Huntsville to Class A Brevard County.

Jeffress has been completely out of whack in his last four starts, allowing 19 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings (that’s a 15.08 ERA for those scoring at home) and issuing 21 walks versus nine strikeouts. Compare that to Jeffress’ first four starts of the year, in which he allowed only four earned runs in 16 innings (2.25 ERA), with 12 walks and 22 whiffs.

Here’s what Doug Melvin had to say about the move on Wednesday: “There’s nothing wrong with him physically. He’s in a slump, and it’s better to go to a level where he can have some success. You try to put people in a position where they can have success and gain confidence back. He’s still young. Last year, when we moved him up, he never had a year in A-ball. It goes back to pushing guys before they accomplish the level.”

Mike Jones, who used to hold the “top pitching prospect” title before a series of arm injuries derailed his career, took Jeffress’ spot at Huntsville. Jones, who turned 26 last month, was 4-0 with a 4.06 ERA in seven starts at Brevard County.

Melvin said Jones has been clocked at 90-91 mph on his fastball and that he had altered his delivery. When he was drafted, Jones threw 95 mph with a slow, smooth motion. With his velocity down because of the injuries, he has shortened his motion to keep hitters off-balance.

Weeks undergoes season-ending surgery

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks underwent season-ending surgery for a left wrist injury on Wednesday and will have the joint immobilized for the next two months.

Phoenix-based specialist Dr. Don Sheridan performed the surgery, the same procedure Sheridan performed on Weeks’ other wrist in 2006. Weeks will wear a splint for the next two weeks, then a long cast for the six weeks after that.

Unlike pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who underwent knee surgery last May and was back on the mound before the end of September, there is no chance that Weeks will play again this season, general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday.

Brewers officials have yet to decide whether Weeks will re-join the team on its current road trip or travel directly home to Milwaukee. The Brewers return to Miller Park on Monday for a Memorial Day game against the Cardinals.

One more second base option: DeRosa

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin says he wants to stay in-house to fill Rickie Weeks’ absence at second base, but you know he and his assistants are keeping an eye on the trade market.

Here’s another name to throw out there: Mark DeRosa. The Indians would listen to offers, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but before you start ordering Brewers jerseys with DeROSA stitched across the back, read on. Both stories say that the Indians would want pitching that can help them today. They’re not ready to give up on the season, and rightfully so since it’s May 20.

So if those are the criteria and you’re Doug Melvin and you’re interested in DeRosa, what kind of deal could you put together? The Brewers lead Major League Baseball in quality starts and the bullpen has been excellent since Trevor Hoffman took his spot at the back end. Would you be willing to trade away some of that stability for the improvement DeRosa would give you over a Craig Counsell//Hernan Iribarren/Casey McGehee platoon? Would DeRosa, a right-handed hitter and a .262 hitter at Miller Park, be an improvement over that group?

Those are the kind of questions Melvin and his staff has to ask.

Hoffman, Brewers toast Kendall's 2K hit

Jason Kendall said he was touched by the show of support from his teammates, who toasted the veteran catcher’s 2,000th career hit Monday night with some suds packed just for the occasion.

Phil Rozewicz, who runs the visitor’s clubhouse at Miller Park and is a longtime buddy of Kendall’s, printed labels commemorating the milestone and pasted them on enough bottles of beer for everyone on the team. Trevor Hoffman led a toast immediately after the Brewers’ 8-4 win at Busch Stadium.

“It was pretty special,” Kendall said. “This is a great group of guys.”

With his second-inning single off Kyle Lohse, Kendall became the eighth player to catch 1,000 games and record 2,000 hits. Only 254 other players in Major League history had reached that milestone before Kendall. Colorado’s Todd Helton joined the list on Tuesday night. 

“[Two-thousand] is a big deal, but it’s not,” Kendall said. “It makes 3,000 just blow my mind.”

His teammates certainly thought it was a big deal. But the ceremonial beer shower that has accompanied such celebrations — think Corey Hart making the All-Star team last season — was missing. Kendall managed to stay suds-free, at least on the outside.

“I didn’t want to waste it,” he said.

Durham working out, would consider Crew offer

Free agent second baseman Ray Durham is hitting and working out at home in North Carolina and would consider returning to Milwaukee, according to his agent, but it appears the Brewers will instead try filling Rickie Weeks’ absence from within.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin touched base Tuesday with Durham’s Chicago-based agent, Ed Setlik, about Durham, who was traded from San Francisco to Milwaukee last July and hit .280 in 41 regular-season games for the Brewers.

“Yes he wants to play, but the questions are better directed to the GM,” Setlik said. “If Mr. Melvin has an idea that he might want Ray to step in, the chances are good that there would be a match. But it all starts with Mr. Melvin.”

Durham reportedly turned down an offer from the Washington Nationals over the winter. Setlik would not speculate the type of financial commitment needed to lure Durham out of free agency.

“That wouldn’t be appropriate,” Setlik said. “First, there has to be a need. Then the financials can be discussed. Doing it any other way is putting the cart before the horse. But he had a very good experience there, and I think he would be open to talking.”

Durham has not faced big league pitching since last October so he would need time to get into game shape. So would fellow veteran free agent Damion Easley, whose agent reached out to Melvin on Tuesday.

A third available player, Mark Grudzielanek, may be less appealing to Brewers officials because he suffered some back problems last season in Kansas City.

“Right now, Craig Counsell is doing a good job, and Casey McGehee is starting [at second base] today,” Melvin said Tuesday afternoon, before the start of the Brewers-Astros series. The other internal option is Hernan Iribarren, prompted earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville.

The Brewers will give those players a chance before looking at the free agents. The trade market could also be a possibility, but it is difficult to make deals this early in the season, Melvin said.

“Rickie is back next year, so it’s not like you want a guy who’s going to be here [long-term],” Melvin said. “It’s an injury, and that’s why you have depth on your team and in the organization.”

Bernie has a new landing area

Detail06 copy.jpgBack in Milwaukee, the Brewers unveiled the new “Kalahari Splash Zone” at Miller Park and sent out a press release with some details. Sounds like fun for those hot July days:

Following every Brewers home run, Bernie Brewer will make a splash in the new “Landing” area, which will send an explosion of water into the air. While fans this year will stay relatively dry, the feature can be adjusted in the future to send more water into the air, giving fans seated below an experience similar to attractions at Kalahari Resorts.

The Kalahari Splash Zone will be ready for use during the Brewers next homestand, beginning on Memorial Day – Monday, May 25.

Not sure if I’d want to be under that thing in April, but it’s a pretty cool idea. The Milwaukee County Stadium veterans will remember that Bernie used to slide into a mug of beer, which is now on display inside the Lakefront Brewery in downtown Milwaukee. 

(Photo is from Scott Paulus/Brewers)

Hart hitting leadoff, Hall in two-hole

With Rickie Weeks out for the year and Craig Counsell out of the lineup because the Astros are starting a left-hander, Corey Hart is hitting leadoff tonight and third baseman Bill Hall is hitting second. Hall had not batted higher than sixth this season, but he is hitting .414 (12-for-29) against lefties this year.

As expected, Casey McGehee is playing second base against Houston’s Mike Hampton.

Here you go:

Corey Hart  RF
Bill Hall  3B
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
J.J. Hardy  SS
Mike Rivera  C
Casey McGehee  2B
Dave Bush  RHP

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