February 2010

Brewers have worked waiver wonders

casey-mcgehee.jpgThe addition of Marco Estrada on Wednesday had me thinking back to some of the Brewers’ notable waiver wire additions, from GM Doug Melvin’s first-ever acquisition (Scott Podsednik) in 2002 to a Cubs castoff-turned-Brewers starter (Casey McGehee) in 2008. 

The waiver wire is especially important to lower-budget teams like the Brewers, and Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash, head pro scout Dick Groch and the rest of Milwaukee’s front office has fared pretty well over the years. 
Here’s a look at their pick-ups, organized into three tiers. Who would you rate as Melvin’s best find? What about the biggest disappointment?
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Group sales begin Saturday

News from the Brewers:
The Milwaukee Brewers will begin to sell group ticket packages to the general public for all Brewers home dates (except Opening Day), beginning this Saturday at 9 a.m.  Group orders of 25 or more tickets have prices starting as low as $7.50 per person and can be ordered by calling the new group sales phone number 414-902-GRPS (4777).
Groups at Miller Park enjoy the advantage of locking in their seating locations before individual tickets go on sale to the general public in late February (exact date TBA) while saving on service charges that often apply to individual ticket purchases.  The 2010 schedule highlights 32 bonus dates which include significant savings up to 50% off regular ticket prices for groups of 50 or more guests.  
Additional benefits for group outings at Miller Park include name recognition on the Miller Park scoreboard, block seating in a preferred location, the option to utilize the party areas for pre-game tailgate parties and two tickets to a future game for the group leader.  
New for 2010, the Brewers have identified five game dates as Group Cap Days.  With the purchase of Field Outfield Box, Loge Outfield Box or Club Infield group tickets (25 or more), fans will receive a unique Brewers adjustable cap.  These dates include May 28, June 11, July 9, August 20 and September 24.
Returning for 2010 are the popular Miller Park all-inclusive areas including the AirTran Airways Landing Zone, located just beyond the right field fence, Gehl Club which offers an upscale entertainment experience, the Dew Deck in the Right Field corner, the Harley-Davidson Deck in left field and the Toyota Tundra Territory. Prices for all-inclusive areas range from $42 – $105 per person.
Also available are the unique 1957 Braves, 1982 Brewers and 2008 Brewers Party Suites which offer open-air seating, a private lounge that features a wet bar and in-house television monitors as well as complete food and beverage service from Well Bread Catering.
Key large group days for 2010 are Weather Day (April 28 vs. Pittsburgh), Little League Night (June 22 vs. Minnesota), Girl Scout Night (June 25 vs. Seattle), Scout Night (July 26 vs. Cincinnati), American Legion Day (August 8 vs. Houston) and Stitch N’ Pitch Night (August 11 vs. Arizona).
Reservations for all group areas at Miller Park will be accepted by calling the Brewers Group Sales Department at 414-902-GRPS (4777) or by visiting brewers.com, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, February 6.

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Brewers claim righty from Nationals

Based on a strong recommendation from their new Triple-A pitching coach, the Brewers on Wednesday claimed right-hander Marco Estrada off waivers from the Washington Nationals. 

To clear a spot on the full 40-man roster for Estrada, the Brewers designated right-hander Tim Dillard for assignment. 
Estrada, 26, made 15 appearances during brief stints in the Majors with Washington in 2008 and 2009 but spent most of last season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he was 9-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 25 starts and two relief appearances. His pitching coach at the end of the season was Rich Gale, who was hired by the Brewers in October to serve the same role beginning next season at Triple-A Nashville.
“Based on Rich’s recommendation, we decided to make a claim,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “He’s not exactly young at 26, but he’s a younger guy that we had some strong reports on.”
Estrada has two Minor League options remaining. 
Dillard, also 26, appeared briefly for the Brewers in both 2008 and 2009 but walked 11 versus six strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. He has struggled to translate his raw “stuff” — including a heavy, sinking fastball — into sustained big league success. 
“That may be because we’ve switched roles on him. He’s started, he’s relieved, we’ve even thought about him closing out games, which didn’t seem to work out,” Ash said. “There are players that just don’t make that transition as easily as others, and he has not made it. 
“Hopefully, we can work out a way to keep Dillard. If we lose him, it’s like making a trade [for Estrada] I guess.”
Dillard was 11-7 with a 4.51 ERA in 24 starts at Nashville last season. He was the Brewers’ 34th round Draft pick in 2002.
Estrada will wear uniform No. 74 from the Brewers.
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Smith stays in system

Reliever Chris Smith accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville this morning and will report to the Brewers’ Major League camp later this month as a nonroster invitee.

Smith was designated for assignment last week after the Brewers claimed
utility man Joe Inglett off waivers and needed a spot for him on the full 40-man roster. Smith cleared waivers on Monday and was outrighted to Nashville, but because it was his second such assignment, he owned the right of refusal.

Instead, Smith accepted and will remain in Milwaukee’s Minor League system. In 35 appearances for the Brewers
last season, mostly in mop-up situations, Smith posted a respectable
4.11 ERA.

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McClung's deal is done

The Marlins have not announced it yet, but word is getting out today that Seth McClung finalized his Minor League contract with Florida this morning and will vie for a spot in that team’s bullpen. McClung would earn a $600,000 base salary if he makes the team, with $50,000 more available in incentives. 

Finances hastened McClung’s departure from Milwaukee. He earned $1.6625 million in 2009 and would have been arbitration-eligible again this winter, so the Brewers nontendered him in December. 
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Brewers in Caribbean Series

Caribbean Series.jpgMLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez wrote a preview of the Caribbean Series, which kicks off today on Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela. Four teams from four countries are represented — the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Two Brewers are represented. Infielder Luis Cruz plays for Mexico and batted .314 during that country’s regular season. Catcher Martin Maldonado, a nonroster invitee to Milwaukee’s camp, is on the roster for Puerto Rico. He appeared in 25 games during the regular season for Mayaguez. Puerto Rico also features Minor League left-hander Efrain Nieves, who pitched for Milwaukee’s low Class A affiliate in Appleton, Wis. last summer.
New Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez played for the Dominican entry to the tournament, but he is not on that nation’s roster for the Caribbean Series. The Brewers explained Gomez’s absence from Sunday’s “On Deck” event by saying he was suffering from the flu.
You can follow Caribbean Series news, stats and can even access MLB.com’s gameday feature from this page.
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McClung talking to Marlins; Smith to Nashville

Last week the Marlins reeled in Derrick Turnbow, and now it appears another former Brewer is about to join Florida on a Minor League deal. 

Seth McClung is close to a deal that includes an invitation to Florida’s big league camp. He got some interest from a number of National League teams, most seriously from the Cardinals, Giants and Nationals, but Florida could be a good fit because there is opportunity in the bullpen.
McClung missed a good chunk of the 2009 season with an elbow injury, but he avoided a second Tommy John surgery and returned to action in September. He quietly played a key role down the stretch for the Brewers in 2008, filling-in as both a starter and a reliever as Milwaukee held on for the NL Wild Card. 
Financial issues contributed to McClung’s departure. He earned $1.6625 million in 2009 and would have been arbitration-eligible again this winter, so the Brewers nontendered him in December. 
Also on Monday, the Brewers announced that right-hander Chris Smith had cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. It’s his second outright assignment, so Smith can refuse and elect free agency if he wishes. 
Smith was designated for assignment last week after the Brewers claimed utility man Joe Inglett off waivers. In 35 appearances for the Brewers last season, mostly in mop-up situations, Smith posted a respectable 4.11 ERA. 
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