November 2009

No active talks on Millwood

The Boston Globe reported Sunday the Brewers “have made a few inquiries” about Rangers right-hander Kevin Milwood. If that’s true, those inquiries have not been recent.

Texas GM Jon Daniels said Sunday that he hadn’t spoken to his Brewers counterpart Doug Melvin in weeks. That doesn’t exactly refute the report from the newspaper, but it does mean that the Brewers are not in trade talks with Texas.

Could they be at a later date? Maybe. The Rangers are the rare team with some depth of starting pitching, and could be a potential trade partner for the pitching-poor Brewers even if Millwood is not involved. 

Teams would probably try to pry Tommy Hunter (9-6, 4.10 ERA last season) or Derek Holland (8-13, 6.12 ERA as a rookie) away from the Rangers, who would rather deal someone like Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy finished last season as Texas’ fifth starter and was 7-4 with a 4.62 ERA for the year. 

It’s unclear, though, whether the Brewers and Rangers would have a fit. Texas is seeking a big bat this winter, preferably a right-handed one. The closest the Brewers have to a player who fits that description and could be traded is right fielder Corey Hart, who had a disappointing 2009 season and missed about a month after an appendectomy. The Rangers’ interest in a player like Hart could hinge on whether they are able to re-sign free agent Marlon Byrd.   

Sunday’s Boston Globe report is not the first link between the Brewers and Rangers. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported during last year’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas that representatives from the two teams discussed Millwood after the Brewers lost their bid to re-sign CC Sabathia. At that time, the teams couldn’t find a match and the talks went nowhere. 

The Rangers will likely hold Millwood this winter and build their rotation around him and fellow righty Scott Feldman. But it’s not difficult to see why a number of other teams
might show some interest in Millwood, who turns 35 on Christmas Eve but
is coming off a season in which he went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA for Texas
while playing home games in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Millwood is set to earn $12 million in 2010, the final season of his five-year, $60 million contract. A short-term commitment like that could be attractive to Melvin, who will also shed Jeff Suppan ($12.5 million salary next season) from the books after 2010. Millwood has a limited no-trade clause. 

Melvin is exploring every available option as he seeks to rebuild a pitching staff that struggled in 2009 and already jettisoned Braden Looper to add to his payroll flexibility. Melvin has said he would like to acquire two starting pitcher this winter, whether via free agency or a trade.

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Halama anxious to mount comeback

Family matters pulled John Halama away from the Majors three years ago. He’s hoping the Brewers offer an opportunity to get back. 

The 37-year-old left-hander earlier this week agreed to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Halama has pitched in 262 Major League games in nine seasons for seven teams but he hasn’t been in a big league camp since 2006, with Baltimore. 

“I’m really thankful that they are giving me an opportunity,” Halama said from the Dominican Republic, where he was set to make his eighth winter league start on Wednesday night. “The way that it was explained to me was that I would come into camp with an opportunity to win a big league job, so I have to be ready to go. 

“That’s all I’ve ever asked, let me have an opportunity to open up some eyes. I’m really excited to get back in the game. I’ve had some personal things go on in my life that affected me and got me out of the game, but now I’m clear-minded and I’m ready to go. I’m getting a second chance, and I’m fully aware of that.” 

If Halama wins a spot on the Major League roster he would draw a $450,000 salary. Otherwise, he would go to Triple-A Nashville as insurance for the Brewers, who fell out of contention in 2009 when they failed to fill spots in the rotation caused by injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan.

Halama began last season in the independent Atlantic League and was 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 69 innings, drawing the interest of the Braves. At Triple-A Gwinnett, Halama was 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 13 starts and three relief appearances. He had a 3.69 ERA in his starts. 

Pitching for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League, Halama entered his start Wednesday night 4-2 with a 1.64 ERA. In seven starts and 44 innings, he had 24 strikeouts and three walks. Both of the losses were in 1-0 games, according to Halama’s agent, Joe Rosario

Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid and assistant scouting director Ray Montgomery happened to be in the Dominican Republic last week so they stopped by to watch Halama work six innings in a win over a Licey lineup that featured eight hitters with at least one game of Major League experience. Halama allowed one run on seven hits. 

“He did what you would expect from a guy with experience and know-how,” Seid said. “He pitched to his strengths with the ability to make adjustments. That’s what experienced pitchers do. He’s in good condition and his arm worked well, and experience takes over for those guys. It’s better than a Triple-A guy who’s 32, 33 but doesn’t have the big league experience.” 

Familiarity helped foster the deal. Halama pitched in Oakland in 2003 under now-Brewers manager Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson. Before that he pitched four seasons with the Mariners while Chris Bosio was a roving pitching coach for Seattle. Bosio is now a Brewers advance scout. 

Halama said he planned to make two more starts for Aguilas after Thanksgiving before returning to the U.S. He turns 38 on Feb. 22, two days after the formal date for Brewers pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training. 

“I know it’s going to be different,” Halama said. “The baseball part is probably going to feel weird because I haven’t been in big league camp in so long, but I’m positive that I’ll fit in. It’s going to be a little foreign to me, but not too foreign.”

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Two more names to think about

Purely my personal thoughts on a pair of risk/reward pitchers:

- Would Justin Duchscherer make some sense for the Brewers? The former A’s All-Star was with now-Brewers manager Ken Macha in Oakland, and Macha said in September that he liked the righty. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick wrote a very nice story today about Duchscherer’s battle with clinical depression and it sounds like he is re-focused on his career. The Brewers have some history with Duchscherer’s agent, Damon Lapa, who represented longtime Milwaukee outfielder Geoff Jenkins.

Duchscherer didn’t pitch at all in 2009, but he has a 3.14 ERA in 219 Major League appearances, 27 of them starts. Duchscherer was primarily a reliever for Oakland until 2008, when he went 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts and made his second American League All-Star team. He didn’t pitch after Aug. 18 that season because of an elbow injury that required surgery the following spring.

[UPDATE at 5 p.m. CT... A person who would know said the Brewers had yet to reach out to Lapa about Duchscherer. Perhaps club officials aren't interested. Perhaps they want to exhaust other options first.]

- From another ESPN.com piece that requires a subscription, Buster Olney writes that the Padres will either try to sign right-hander Kevin Correia to a “moderate-sized deal” or consider non-tendering him. Olney speculates that Correia could make $3.5-$4 million in arbitration. That could be doable for the Brewers, who tried to sign Correia to a Minor League deal last winter but lost him to the Padres because Correia didn’t see as much opportunity to pitch in Milwaukee. Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin tried again to get Correia before the July nonwaiver trade deadline, but he didn’t have a match with the Padres.

Correia had never pitched more than 110 innings before 2009, when he went 12-11 for the Padres with a 3.91 ERA in 33 starts and 198 innings. Correia reportedly earned $1.1 million from the Padres, including his bonuses.

By the way, the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is Dec. 12.

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Fielder fourth in MVP vote

fantasy_a_braun_fielder_300.jpgAlbert Pujols was the unanimous winner of the National League MVP Award on Tuesday. The Brewers’ top contender was Prince Fielder, who finished fourth.

Pujols received all 32 first-place votes for 448 points. Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins was second with 233 points, Ryan Howard of the Phillies was third with 217 points and Fielder garnered 203 points. Fielder received five second-place votes, nine third place votes, seven fourth place votes, three fifth place votes, one sixth place vote, three eighth place votes, one ninth place vote and three 10th place votes.

Ryan Braun was 11th in the balloting, with 43 points.

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Halama accepts deal with Brewers

Joe Rosario, the agent for veteran left-hander John Halama, said Halama has agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to big league camp.

Halama, 37, pitched for seven Major League teams in parts of nine seasons from 1998-2006. He’s 56-48 with a 4.65 ERA in the Majors, but his career was derailed after a stint with the Orioles in 2006 by family issues and he’s been trying to get back to the big leagues since then.

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Agent says Pavano on Brewers' radar

Here’s another name for the long list of pitchers drawing interest from the Brewers this winter: Carl Pavano.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed the Brewers’ interest in the veteran right-hander on Monday after a chat with agent Tom O’Connell, who told the newspaper he has had informal chats with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin.

“He’s definitely on their radar,” O’Connell said, according to the report.

Melvin has said he’s open to all options as he looks to bolster a pitching staff that struggled mightily in 2009. The Brewers have been linked in various reports to John Lackey, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Jarrod Washburn and Mark Mulder, among others. 

Lackey is the top available arm, and the pitching market could remain frozen until he settles on a home. O’Connell told the Journal Sentinel that he might not speak to Melvin again until the Dec. 7-10 Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. 

Pavano was 14-12 with a 5.10 ERA in 33 starts last season with the Indians and Twins and led the Majors in earned runs allowed, with 131. But he was durable, topping 30 starts for the first time since 2004, Pavano’s final season with the Florida Marlins before he signed a free agent contract with the Yankees.

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Capuano re-signs with Crew

Former All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano has signed a Minor League contract to return to the Brewers that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp.

Capuano, 31, has not pitched in the Majors since 2007 and is attempting a rare comeback from a second Tommy John surgery. He underwent that procedure in May 2008 and did not return to the mound until late in the 2009 season, when he made three appearances with the Brewers’ rookie league team in Phoenix and then three more for the team’s advanced rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont.

In those outings, Capuano allowed three earned runs in nine innings on eight hits with eight strikeouts.

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Brewers Charities helps distribute turkeys, trimmings

Brewers third-base coach Brad Fischer and his wife, Mary, bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel and his wife, Jill, TV play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson and Brewers alum Larry Hisle hit the streets of Milwaukee on Monday morning to distribute Thanksgiving meals to 500 families facing financial struggles this holiday season.

Brewers Charities teamed with 1290-AM WMCS, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters, Feeding America/Eastern Wisconsin and the Hunger Task Force for this year’s event.

The Thanksgiving meal program has typically targeted 300 families, but was expanded for 2009 as a response to the down economy and job losses. The families were identified through letters and e-mails sent to the radio station and through area community service organizations. 

The Thanksgiving program was a team effort. Feeding America donated the fixings for the families which include stuffing mix, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce, macaroni & cheese, canned yams, corn, green beans and fruit, applesauce, strawberry gelatin, corn muffins, cake mixes and frosting. The Hunger Task Force donated 300 turkeys.  The remaining 200 turkeys will be purchased thanks to donations from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, Brewers Charities, the Milwaukee Brewers Wives and the Brotherhood of Firefighters.

Thanks to Brewers team photographer Scott Paulus for passing along some photos:

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Marsha Williams (far left) and Joyce Harris of Milwaukee receive a Thanksgiving food package from Brewers third base coach Brad Fischer and his wife, Mary. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)

Hisle01 copy.jpg Former Brewer Larry Hisle, now a member of the club’s community relations department, speaks at a press conference before Monday’s distribution. Pictured (L to R) are Mary and Brad Fischer, Hisle, Brian Anderson and Marcus and Jill Hanel. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)

Turkey01 copy.jpg
Typically, Brewers Charities organizes the distribution of about 300 holiday food baskets. This year the total was bumped to 500 to reflect need in the community. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)


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Brewers third base coach Brad Fischer helps load packages of food at Miller Park on Monday. Recipients were selected by charatible organizations in Milwaukee and through letters and e-mails to 1290-AM WMCS. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)

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Brewers offer Spring Training travel package

Announced today by the Brewers in a press release:

The Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Enterprises announced today a one-of-a-kind opportunity to join the Brewers in Spring Training as they prepare for the 2010 season in Phoenix.  Fans can join the Brewers Road Crew for their first ever trip to Spring Training from March 10-14, 2010.  Nearly every facet of the trip will be handled as Brewers Enterprises will take the hassle out of arranging details of the trip.

Fans will enjoy two games at the Brewers Spring Training home, Maryvale Baseball Park as well as a Brewers vs. White Sox game at Glendale’s Camelback Ranch.  The trip will bring travelers face to face with members of the Brewers broadcast team, the decision makers in Baseball Operations and even former and current Brewers players and coaches through special receptions and a tailgate party.

Guests will stay four nights at the Embassy Suites Biltmore which features an outdoor heated swimming pool, whirlpool, renovated exercise room, on-site restaurant and complimentary shuttle service to Biltmore area attractions.  Guestrooms are two-room suites each with a wetbar, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and two flat screen televisions.

As an added bonus, fans on the trip will receive a Loge Outfield ticket to Opening Day 2010 at Miller Park on Monday, April 5 vs. Colorado.

Space is limited to only 80 guests and the travel packages go on sale Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. CT. The price for a single traveler is $1,995 and the price for a couple (double occupancy) $3,695.  Each additional guest per room is $1,850.  For more information and to reserve your spot, please call 414-902-GOAZ (4629) or visit brewers.com/roadcrew

The packages include the following:
-    Non-stop roundtrip airfare from Milwaukee to Phoenix on Midwest Airlines
-    Hotel accommodations for four nights at the Embassy Suites Biltmore
-    Transportation to and from the airport, hotel and Spring Training complexes
-    Tickets for three Spring Training games: Oakland at Milwaukee (Thursday, March 11), Chicago-NL at Milwaukee (Friday, March 12) and Milwaukee at Chicago-AL (Saturday, March 13)
-    Made to order breakfast each morning at the hotel
-    Cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception hosted each night at the hotel
-    Private Welcome Reception with Brewers personnel on Wednesday, March 10 at the hotel
-    Tailgate party before the Cubs vs. Brewers game with visits from Brewers players and coaches
-    A Loge Outfield ticket to Opening Day at Miller Park (Monday, April 5, 2010 vs. Colorado)
-    A gift bag including customized Brewers gear and an official Rawlings baseball for autographs

In addition, fans will have the opportunity to win various prizes on the trip including:
-    Run the Sausage Race or hold the finish line at a game at Maryvale Baseball Park
-    Throw out the first pitch for a game at Maryvale Baseball Park
-    A pair of Brewers regular season game tickets
-    Complimentary food at the Spring Training games
-    Visa Check Card for expenses
-    Team Store Gift Card

Again, for information check out Brewers.com/roadcrew.

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Braddock, Lucroy contribute in AFL title game

Left-hander Zach Braddock struck out the side in a scoreless third inning and catcher Jonathan Lucroy sparked the winning rally with a single in the eighth as the Peoria Javelinas captured the Arizona Fall League Championship with a win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Saturday. Phoenix had won the league title in each of the past five years.

Braddock and Lucroy were the only Brewers prospects to appear in the game. With Peoria trailing in the eighth, 4-3, Lucroy lined a one-out single to left field before White Sox prospect C.J. Retherford lifted a go-ahead, two-run homer.

For full coverage of Saturday’s championship, check out Tom Singer’s game story on MLB.com. You can link from there to AFL stats and the final standings.

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