August 2009

Lopez out; Gerut leading off

It appears that Felipe Lopez’s visit with Brewers medical staffers today didn’t go well, because he is out of the lineup for Game 2 of a series against Cincinnati at Miller Park. Lopez hurt the arch of his right foot while scoring amid the Brewers’ five-run rally in the ninth inning on Tuesday.

With Lopez unavailable, manager Ken Macha settled on Jody Gerut as his leadoff hitter. Gerut is on a hot streak, hitting .345 (10-for-29) over his last 22 games after beginning his Brewers tenure 4-for-41 (.098).

The full lineups:

CINCINNATI
Drew Stubbs  CF
Paul Janish  SS
Joey Votto  1B
Brandon Phillips  2B
Scott Rolen  3B
Laynce Nix  RF
Wladimir Balentien  LF
Corky Miller  C
Kip Wells  RHP

MILWAUKEE
Jody Gerut  RF
Craig Counsell  2B
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Jason Kendall  C
Alcides Escobar  SS
Braden Looper  RHP

Lopez injures arch of foot

Brewers second baseman Felipe Lopez injured the arch of his right foot during the Brewers’ frenetic ninth-inning rally on Tuesday, a potential blow to a team already tumbling out of the postseason hunt.

“We’re just going to come out here [Wednesday] and see how it feels,” Lopez said after the Brewers’ 13-inning, 8-6 loss to the Reds. He said he did not need x-rays.

Lopez went 4-for-5 in the game — his third four-hit night since a July trade from Arizona to Milwaukee — including a solo home run in the third inning and an infield hit in the ninth. Lopez later scored from second base on Ryan Braun’s single to center field but left the game immediately afterward.

“I touched third, and on the next step, I felt something,” Lopez said. “The doc said it was all right. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Lopez has started each of the Brewers’ last 29 games. Since the trade, he is hitting .370 (50-for-135) with two home runs and 17 RBIs. 

Brewers activate Suppan, option Iribarren

The Brewers’ media notes say that the team optioned infielder Hernan Iribarren back to Triple-A Nashville today to make room for right-hander Jeff Suppan, who returns from the disabled list to start against the Reds tonight.

That means the Brewers will go into the series with 13 pitches. They will have to make another move on Thursday, when Dave Bush is scheduled to return from injury.

Iribarren came off the bench for all 12 of his Brewers appearances this season and went 3-for-13 at the plate.

UPDATE at 2:30 p.m. CT — Here’s tonight’s Brewers lineup:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Craig Counsell SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Eight farmhands set for Arizona Fall League

Eight Brewers Minor Leaguers, including 2004 first-round Draft pick Mark Rogers, will play for the Peoria Javelinas in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Besides Rogers, who missed all of 2007 and 2008 with shoulder injuries, the Brewers will send pitchers Omar Aguilar, Zach Braddock, Josh Butler and Rob Wooten, plus catcher Jonathan Lucroy, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. The position players have been set for some time, but Brewers officials waited until this week to finalize their contingent of arms.

Braddock, who has battled a shoulder injury and blisters this summer, is on the Javelinas’ “taxi squad” and may be activated only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Both Rogers and Aguilar are on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

Additionally, Class A Brevard County’s Fred Dabney will serve as the Javelinas’ pitching coach this fall.

The Javelinas play home games at Peoria Sports Complex and will be comprised of players from the Brewers, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers and White Sox. The 18th annual Arizona Fall League season begins on October 13 and runs through Nov. 19 with the Rising Stars game on Nov. 7 and the Championship game set for Nov. 21. Every game can be followed live on Gameday on MLB.com and MLBFallBall.com.
 

Gord Ash weighs in on Hall trade

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash briefed reporters about today’s trade, in which Milwaukee sent Bill Hall to the Mariners for Class A reliever Buddy Flores in a move to save some payroll. According to one report, the Brewers stand to save $1.75 million of the approximately $10.5 million left on Hall’s contract.

Ash wouldn’t confirm those details, but he did characterize the trade as financially-motivated.

“Obviously, when you enter into a long-term deal with a player, you hope that it’s going to have a much different ending than this one has,” Ash said. “Given [Hall’s] ongoing struggles in Milwaukee, this gives him a fresh start, and it gives us some limited financial flexibility for next year compared to what we did owe him, and certainly for the year after in terms of the year after in terms of the buyout of the option. Maybe we can utilize those resources to address a more important need at the moment.”  

The Brewers and Mariners reached an agreement on the trade earlier in the day, but had to get approval from the Commissioner’s Office because of the financial component. That came through just after 4:30 p.m. CT. 

At least one other team showed legitimate interest in Hall, 29, who batted .201 in limited duty this season with six home runs and 24 RBIs. 

“Doug was carrying on most of the conversation and he had a couple of clubs seriously interested, one in the National League and one in the American League, with a couple of others who made calls but were not serious,” Ash said. “The National League club, in the last short while, didn’t feel like it could match the financial relief that we were going to get with the Mariners.” 

Two NL teams were rumored to have interest: Cincinnati and San Francisco. In all the scenarios, Milwaukee would have received a Minor League player in return, Ash said, dousing speculation that the Reds might have tried to unload an equally bulky contract by dealing pitchers Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo. 

“I saw someone wrote about significant Major League pitchers, but when you’re in this situation when you designate a player for assignment and you’re a day removed from releasing that player, a club’s not going to go to that length to acquire a player like this,” Ash said. “They can just wait and acquire the player as a free agent.”

Ash said Flores is a power arm who has battled injuries in the past but has been healthy throughout 2009.

“This is not to dismiss [Flores’] abilities, but this is more of trying to secure financial relief than it is about acquiring personnel,” Ash said.

Hall traded to Seattle for 25-year-old A-baller

The Brewers found a taker for Bill Hall and at least some of his hefty contract on Wednesday, when they traded the infielder to the Mariners for a Class A reliever. 

Milwaukee gets 25-year-old right-hander Buddy Flores, who had recently been promoted to the advanced Class A California League. The Brewers assigned Flores, whose given first name is Ruben, to their own advanced Class A affiliate in Brevard County, Fla. 

The Brewers announced their deal a little less than an hour before Wednesday’s series finale against the Pirates and did not specify whether any cash was included in the transaction. Hall is in the middle of a four-year, $24 million contract that pays $6.8 million this season and $8.4 million in 2010. It includes a club option for 2011 at $9.25 million with a $500,000 buyout.

SI.com reported that the Brewers agreed to pay the rest of Hall’s 2009 salary, plus “a large portion” of what he’s owed in 2010, “perhaps as much as $7.15 million.” 

Hall, a 1998 Draft pick, had been the longest-tenured player in Milwaukee’s organization before the team designated him for assignment last week. He batted .201 in limited duty this season with six home runs and 24 RBIs. The Mariners, whose GM,  Jack Zduriencik, was Milwaukee’s amateur scouting director until last year but did not draft Hall, needed a third baseman to replace disabled third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Flores surrendered 15 runs in his first 10 1/3 innings for the High Desert Mavericks, a former Milwaukee affiliate, but spent most of the year with Clinton in the Midwest League, and posted a 2.30 ERA and 18 saves in 36 games.

Rivera starts again

Mike Rivera had to wait nearly three years to start back to back games. He didn’t have to wait more than a week to do it again.

Assuming Mother Nature holds off (she’s thundering at the moment), Rivera will handle Yovani Gallardo in the finale of a three-game series at PNC Park. With Jason Bourgeois playing tonight, Mike Cameron has been boosted up to the two-hole.

Felipe Lopez  2B
Mike Cameron  CF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Rivera  C
Jason Bourgeois  RF
Yovani Gallardo  RHP
Alcides Escobar  SS

Melvin "working on something" for Bill Hall

The Brewers have until Friday to settle Bill Hall’s future, but a resolution could come sooner.

The
slumping Hall was designated for assignment by Milwaukee on Aug. 12,
giving the team 10 days to trade Hall or release him and eat the more
than $10 million left on his contract. That window expires on Friday.

“I’m
working on something,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said, an
indication that he had found a team willing to trade for Hall. “I’ve
gotten some interest. I don’t want to say which teams have called or
what we’re working on, though.”

A trade would require Melvin to
either take on an equally bulky contract or to include cash to cover
some or all of Hall’s remaining salary. Hall is making $6.8 million
this year, is due $8.4 million in 2010 and will get a $500,000 buyout
if a team isn’t willing to exercise his $9.25 million club option for
2011.

The Reds have been mentioned as one potential suitor for Hall, who has bashed Cincinnati pitching through the years. Cincinnati happens to have two pitchers — Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo — nearing the end of big contracts who have been mentioned in trade rumors this summer, but Melvin wouldn’t say whether that team was a match.

With Escobar out, pitcher back to nine-hole

Manager Ken Macha posted a more conventional lineup this afternoon with shortstop Alcides Escobar taking his first day off. Here’s the starting nine:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Craig Counsell  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Mike Rivera  C
Manny Parra  LHP

Lawrie promoted to Huntsville

Picked this up from the Appleton Post-Crescent this morning:  The Brewers have promoted 2008 first-round Draft pick Brett Lawrie to Double-A Huntsville. Lawrie, the 16th overall selection in last year’s Draft, the highest pick ever for a Canadian position player, batted .274 at Class A Wisconsin with 13 homers, 18 doubles and 65 RBIs in 105 games. Interestingly, he is jumping over the advanced Class A level.

Lawrie, from what I have heard, has done well at second base after making the move from catcher. Jeff Suppan made a rehab start at Wisconsin on Saturday and couldn’t even remember Lawrie when I asked about him, which I guess says something about how focused Suppan was on his start but also something about Lawrie blending in on the infield.

Replacing Lawrie at Wisconsin is 2009 14th round Draft pick Mike Brownstein, who had been playing at Helena. Brownstein was expected in uniform Tuesday night, when another rehabbing right-hander, Dave Bush, starts for Wisconsin. Bush is to throw two or three innings.

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