June 2009

Harry Doyle to appear at Brewers-Indians tilt

20090615_vaughn.jpgFor those fans considering a trip to Cleveland next week for just the second Brewers-Indians series since 2001, here’s an added incentive: Harry Doyle will be in the house.

Brewers radio voice Bob Uecker, who conjured a boozier version of himself as Doyle in the 1989 film, “Major League,” will throw the ceremonial first pitch before the series opener on Monday night.

“I’ve already shot the promos for it, we’re doing the whole nine yards,” Uecker said before today’s game against the White Sox.

Monday is “Major League” night at Progressive Field, and all fans in attendance will get a bobblehead of fictional Indians closer Rick Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen in the movie.

Uecker/Doyle had a bunch of great lines in the first installment of the “Major League” trilogy, but I think my favorite was the simple, “Taylor bunts!!!”  Damian Miller used to do a killer impression of the line that was part Uecker, part Harry Caray, and got laughs every time.

I wonder if they’ll ask Ueck to wear this sportcoat on Monday night:

HarryDoyle.jpg
 

Brewers to introduce Arnett on Sunday

Ooh, a mysterious Brewers press conference. Whatever could it be about?

The Milwaukee Brewers are scheduled to host a press conference for TOMORROW, Sunday, June 14 at 10:30 a.m. to make a baseball-related announcement.  The press conference will take place in the Media Interview Room.  Brewers Executive Vice President-General Manager Doug Melvin and Director of Amateur Scouting Bruce Seid will each be in attendance.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the baseball-related announcement will include first-round Draft pick Eric Arnett, who took a physical today before attending the Brewers-White Sox game and then a dinner with club executives. He’ll formally sign his first professional contract either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. 

Regular lineup vs. RHP

No surprises in Ken Macha’s lineup today against the Sox and right-hander Jose Contreras. Here you go:

WHITE SOX
Scott Podsednik  LF
Alexi Ramirez  SS
Jermaine Dye  RF
Paul Konerko  1B
Ramon Castro  C
Jayson Nix  2B
Brian Anderson  CF
Gordan Beckham  3B
Jose Contreras  RHP

BREWERS
Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Manny Parra  LHP

Braun launches line of "RB8" maple bats

For the first time, you can own your own authentic Ryan Braun baseball bat.
RB8.jpg
The Brewers slugger and the maple bat company Sam Bats unveiled a new line of professional-quality lumber that will be available soon at retail stores, plus a charitable initiative aimed at getting the bats into the hands of kids in need.

The bats feature a new “RB8″ logo — a combination of Braun’s initials and uniform number — and come from the same stock of maple that goes into his game bats.

“For me, it comes down to performance,” Braun said. “I tried other bats, and the other ones weren’t up to par with Sam Bat. Overall, it’s about comfort, feel.”

The “RB8″ bats will feel just like the ones Braun uses in games, though Major League rules say that his can’t bear the new logo. More than 60 percent of big leaguers are now using maple instead of the traditional ash, according to Sam Bat.

Sam Bat founder Sam Holman is donating 150 of the “RB8″ bats, plus 10 more for every home run Braun hits over the rest of the season, to Good Sports, a non-profit organization that strives to increase the physical activity of disadvantaged kids and has donated more than $3.8 million worth of equipment to youth sports and fitness programs since 2003.

Good Sports has launched an initiative called “10,000 swings,” which aims to gets 10,000 bats to youth baseball players around the country.  

“We’re really putting the pressure on Ryan, because he’s going to force us to give 10 more every time he hits a home run,” Holman said.

“That’s definitely good pressure,” Braun said. “It’s just great to have an opportunity to give back, especially to those who are less fortunate. Sports helped me mentally and physically become the person I am today and it’s nice to be able to give kids who are less fortunate an opportunity to use sports as an outlet and mature.”

Some of the donated bats will end up in Wisconsin, according to Good Sports’ Christy Keswick.

“We’re trying to partner with these manufactures to get equipment into the hands of kids who are less fortunate and would not otherwise have the opportunity to play,” she said. “We do the due diligence with all the organizations to determine the organizations with greatest needs. There are a lot of organizations in many cities that have needs.”

Braun figures he was about 13 years old when he first tried a wood bat.

“As a young player, your goal, your dream, is to get to the Major Leagues, and the sooner you can start using a similar product to what the Major Leaguers use, it’s an advantage,” Braun said. “Being able to use a wood bat that’s the same quality as Major Leaguers use, it should be all the more enticing. I think it will help younger players develop.”

“It’s an instrument,” Holman said. “To Ryan, it’s not just a stick.”

Sam Bats has more information, plus extras like downloadable ringtones and desktop wallpapers, at http://www.getrealbraun.com.

Melvin: Talk of imminent deal 'absolutely false'

I bit the bullet this afternoon and asked Doug Melvin about the trade rumors that have swirled on the Internet over the past 36 hours about an imminent trade for a front-line pitcher.

His two-word response: “Absolutely false.”

Melvin did say that he has talked to some fellow GMs lately, but wouldn’t name them and also wouldn’t say whether he was talking about pitchers or position players. He has spoken in recent weeks with Boston’s Theo Epstein, but only because Epstein called to apologize for the rumor in a Boston newspaper that the Red Sox were trying to trade for Corey Hart. That one never had any truth to it, Melvin said.

He hasn’t talked to Cleveland’s Mark Shapiro “in a while,” so that would seem to eliminate the Indians’ Cliff Lee for the moment.

Melvin, who was not aware of the speculation of the past two days until I asked him about it, said it’s too early to talk about making significant trades.

“There’s not one team that’s saying, ‘I’m ready to trade my players,’” Melvin said, pointing to the Mariners, with a 30-30 record entering play Friday, as an example. If Seattle’s Zack Zduriencik traded away a big-name player, “their fans would go wild,” Melvin said. So there goes Erik Bedard, at least for now.

On the Jake Peavy front, I asked Trevor Hoffman if he had spoken to his old San Diego teammate lately, and Hoffman said no. Hoffman would surely be a huge part of any Brewers effort to acquire the right-hander. Ryan Braun, who played with Peavy in the World Baseball Classic, hasn’t spoken to Peavy, either.  

Any of you who have met Melvin at public events know how engaging he is, how much he likes to talk about baseball and how much he appreciates the fan interest and support that have fueled the Brewers’ resurgence. And those you from from the fan sites who have swapped e-mails with me know (I hope) that I have a great deal of respect for the passion exhibited by you and your readers.

But in this instance, it looks like we have more smoke than fire. And Melvin’s patience for trade rumors and those pesky reporters who ask him about them is growing a bit thin.

“I’m open to talking to you guys in April and May, but I’m not going to respond to every rumor after June 1,” he said.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cover this game and then stay here until 4 a.m. covering a blockbuster trade…

Hardy, Hart back in Crew lineup

I’ve been beseiged with e-mails about trade rumors swirling, and here’s all I know:

Doug Melvin was chatting with beat writers in the dugout for about an hour yesterday and stepped away only once to answer his cell phone. It was Mike Cameron’s agent, calling to see if Melvin had heard anything about Cameron’s appeal of his two-game suspension. (Melvin hadn’t). If Melvin was working the phones yesterday, he took a break during batting practice.

J.J. Hardy, the target of a bunch of these rumors (as usual, poor guy), is in the Brewers lineup today.

Manny Parra, another target, is still listed as the starter tomorrow.

So that’s what I know.

I also know tonight’s starting lineups:

WHITE SOX
Scott Podsednik  LF
Alexi Ramirez  SS
Jermaine Dye  RF
A.J. Pierzynski  C
Brian Anderson  CF
Chris Getz  2B
Gordon Beckham  3B
Josh Fields  1B
Clayton Richard  LHP

BREWERS
Casey McGehee  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Corey Hart  RF
Bill Hall  3B
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Brewers' first-rounder: 'We just got a deal done'

The Brewers and their first-round Draft pick have a deal.

Right-hander Eric Arnett agreed to terms on his first professional contract Friday, three days after the Brewers made him the 26th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. He received a $1.2 million signing bonus, the slot figure set by Major League Baseball.

“We just got a deal done,” Arnett said. “It’s tremendous. This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and to have it really happen is awesome.”

Arnett said he will travel from his Ohio home to Milwaukee on Saturday to attend the Brewers-White Sox game followed by a dinner with club officials. He did not expect to meet the media until Sunday.

After that it’s an assignment to Helena, Mont., where the Brewers’ rookie-level Pioneer League club begins its season on June 23. Arnett, who carried a heavy workload at Indiana University this season, said he hoped to advance to Class A Wisconsin before the end of the year. 

“I think it all depends on how my arm feels,” he said. “Right now, I feel great.”

Younger Ash works Day 3 of Draft

Doug Melvin’s son has already followed dad into the scouting ranks, and perhaps Gord Ash’s boy is on the same path.

Twelve-year-old Aaron Ash, the son of the Brewers’ assistant general manager, announced 16 of the Brewers’ 20 picks on Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft, which is conducted via conference call with Major League Baseball and all 30 clubs. As is so often the case in baseball, it was all about superstition.

The younger Ash was just eight years old when he made his Draft debut, announcing the Brewers’ selection of right-hander Omar Aguilar in the 30th round in 2005. Aguilar has turned into a quality prospect who was added to Milwaukee’s 40-man roster last winter.

“We figured we would try to ride Aaron’s luck some more,” Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid said. “Aguilar has been a good pick for us.”

Amanda Kropp, an administrator in the Brewers’ scouting department, made most of the Brewers’ other picks. She was hard on herself Wednesday after mispronouncing one of the names on Milwaukee’s list.

No biggie, Seid said.

“We have a good time in our Draft room,” Seid said. “No nerves, no pressure. We all laugh and make jokes and have fun with each other.”

Brewers, first-rounder aim for Friday deal

Milwaukee’s first-round Draft pick reiterated both on Twitter and in an interview with a popular Brewers fan site that he wants to sign quickly, perhaps as early as Friday. 

“If everything works out as planned, I’ll be signed before the weekend and be able to go up to Milwaukee this weekend,” Arnett told the website Brew Crew Ball on Thursday in a lengthy question and answer session. “Meet the coaches and the Brewers organization, and then go out to Montana for a little bit in rookie ball and then hopefully be in Single-A before the summer is over.”

That meshed with what Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said Wednesday, that the organization preferred to limit the right-hander’s workload by assigning him first to Helena, Mont. in the rookie Pioneer League. Helena begins its season on June 23.

Could he be in the fold as early as Friday?

“That’s a possibility,” Seid said after finishing the three-day First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. “I can say this: We are actively trying to make it happen. His desire is to be a Major League player here in Milwaukee and our desire is to have that happen.”

Macha empties the bench

All of the Brewers’ reserves except backup catcher Mike Rivera are in action today, as manager Ken Macha and hitting coach Dale Sveum give a break to a number of slumping regulars. Here’s the rather unconventional lineup:

Craig Counsell  SS
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mat Gamel  3B
Casey McGehee 2B
Jody Gerut  CF
Jason Kendall  C
Yovani Gallardo  RHP

General manager Doug Melvin was in the dugout during batting practice, and offered the line of the day this morning when he was talking about amaeur scouting Bruce Seid replacing the popular Jack Zduriencik.

“I told Bruce the other day,” Melvin said, “‘Bruce, don’t think that you have to fill Jack’s shoes.  Wear your own shoes and create your own footprint.”

Very impressive, Doug. That sounds like something off a greeting card or a motivational poster.

“Jack Daniels and I came up with that the other night,” Melvin joked.

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