March 2010

Brewers rank high in free agent spending

I just noticed a very interesting post on the fine site MLBtraderumors.com that ranks all 30 teams in order of total dollars committed to free agents during the offseason The Brewers, who shelled out for free agent starters Randy Wolf and Doug Davis and relievers Trevor Hoffman and LaTroy Hawkins, rank fourth on the list behind the larger market Red Sox, Cardinals and Mets. The Yankees, who spent freely during the 2008-2009 offseason, are way down the list this time at No. 19.

Here’s how the website lined teams up:
Red Sox – $137,030,000
Cardinals – $129,450,000
Mets – $75,350,000
Brewers – $55,650,000
Angels – $52,000,000
Mariners – $51,325,000
Braves – $41,350,000
Reds – $37,070,000
Giants – $34,750,000
Phillies – $30,850,000
Astros – $29,900,000
Nationals – $29,900,000
Cubs – $25,800,000
Tigers – $23,950,000
Orioles – $23,900,000
Rangers – $22,500,000
Athletics – $20,900,000
Blue Jays – $20,500,000 
Yankees – $19,800,000
Diamondbacks – $19,100,000
Royals – $18,600,000
Twins – $14,400,000
Rockies – $13,100,000
Dodgers – $11,500,000 
Padres – $8,675,000
White Sox – $8,375,000
Pirates – $8,125,000
Rays – $5,300,000
Indians – $2,850,000
Marlins – $0
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Davey Nelson golf tourney set for June 7

News from the Brewers:

On Monday, June 7, Brewers Director of Alumni Relations and FOX Sports Wisconsin broadcaster Dave Nelson will host a celebrity golf tournament at the Original Championship Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, Wis., located 60 miles north of Milwaukee.  
The 18-Hole Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Tournament will begin at noon CT and will be followed by a cocktail and dinner reception with both a silent and live auction.  An awards ceremony will also take place later that evening.  Celebrity guests scheduled to golf in the tournament include Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas and a host of others.
All teams will be comprised of a five-person group and play will consist of a Scramble Format with team prizes awarded to the top finishers.  Registrations are being accepted as a foursome and a celebrity golfer will be paired with each group to make up the five person team.  Registration fees are $2,500 per foursome, with all proceeds benefiting Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa, and Brewers Community Foundation.
A golf clinic will take place at 10 a.m. and a lunch buffet will be served prior to the start of the tournament. In addition, there will be a cocktail reception, dinner, silent and live auction and awards ceremony after.  The tournament is limited to 28 foursomes.  For additional information or to sign up for this memorable golfing experience, interested participants may visit brewers.com/davey.
Open Arms Home for Children is a non-profit organization that provides homes to orphaned children affected by the AIDS pandemic in South Africa.  Dave Nelson has served as Board Director for over four years.  The Brewers Community Foundation is the official charity of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club.  The mission of Brewers Community Foundation is to support activities and programs targeted at youth recreation, scholarship and education throughout Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
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Edmonds could be Opening Day right fielder

Brewers manager Ken Macha confirmed what general manager Doug Melvin hinted on Tuesday: That Jim Edmonds, and not Corey Hart, could very well be the team’s Opening Day right fielder.  
The choice will depend partly on whether Hart shows any signs of life at the plate in the Brewers’ final four Spring Training games and partly on when Edmonds re-joins the team. He traveled home on Monday night to tend to an urgent family matter and, as of Wednesday morning, Macha wasn’t sure when Edmonds would be able to return.  
It helps Edmonds’ case that he is a left-handed hitter. Hart bats right-handed, and the Rockies’ Opening Day starter is righty Ubaldo Jimenez. 
Hart has been working his way through a dismal spring. He went 0-for-3 against the Angels on Tuesday and entered Wednesday’s game against the Cubs with a .135 batting average (7-for-52) a .167 on-base percentage and 16 strikeouts versus only two walks. It’s not for a lack of playing time; only three teammates entered play Wednesday with more at-bats than Hart.  
“He really hasn’t put together a game or two where he’s had quality at-bats,” Macha said.  
Hart won his arbitration case with the Brewers over the winter and will draw a $4.8 million salary in 2010. 
The other position in flux is catcher, where Gregg Zaun missed another game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain. If he cannot amass some at-bats before Opening Day, the backup option is George Kottaras. Left fielder Ryan Braun, who had missed the team’s last four games because of a stiff back, returned to the lineup against the Cubs.
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Suppan on board with DL move

Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan on Wednesday disputed the notion that his placement on the 15-day disabled list was just a convenient way for the team to solve its fifth starter quandary. 

“No, absolutely not,” said Suppan, whose neck injury was described by the team as “cervical disc pain.” “It wasn’t something that I walked around talking about, but I was getting treatment every day, all spring, and I never was able to knock [the pain] out.
“It wasn’t a big deal. I got here and thought I had a stiff neck, and they did some tests and thought that it would just take some time to pitch through. But at some point it really plateaued. I still felt it. So we did the MRI and it was what they thought it was — a disc problem. So it’s a situation where we can let it heal.”
Suppan threw six simulated innings at Maryvale Baseball Park on Tuesday morning with no apparent trouble but met immediately afterward with assistant general manager Gord Ash, who explained the process of placing Suppan on the DL. It was not the first time that the DL was raised as a possibility this spring, and Suppan was on board with the move.
He will remain in Phoenix while the rest of the team breaks camp Thursday and heads north to Milwaukee for exhibition games against the Tigers. He’ll travel separately on Sunday afternoon and should be at Miller Park for Monday’s season opener. 
“I feel it’s very minor,” he said. “I’m not overly concerned. This is the time, before the season starts, to get back where I need to be.”
Before 2008, Suppan had been on the DL only once in his Major League career, in 1996 for a strained right elbow. Now he’s found his way to the DL in three straight seasons: in 2008 for an irritated elbow, in 2009 for a torn rib-cage muscle and now in 2010 for the neck. 
In five Cactus League starts, Suppan has allowed 21 hits including six home runs in 16 1/3 innings. He has a 7.71 ERA but cannot say whether the stiff neck affected him on the mound this spring. 
“I don’t think so,” Suppan said. “It definitely affected some throwing early in spring, because I was taking it easy and they were checking me every day. There were a lot of days when I felt really normal, but then the next day it would be stiff again.
 
“I just want to get it right,” Suppan said. “This is a situation where it’s minor, but let’s be sure it’s better.”
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Opening Day roster appears set

With right-hander Jeff Suppan on the disabled list and left-handers Chris Narveson and Manny Parra temporarily moving into relief roles because the Brewers don’t need a fifth starter until April 15, it appears that the team’s Opening Day roster is all set. 

The Brewers do not have to set the roster until 2 p.m. CT on Sunday. Barring a last-minute injury, it should look like this for the first week-plus of the regular season:
STARTING ROTATION
RHP Yovani Gallardo
LHP Randy Wolf
LHP Doug Davis
RHP Dave Bush
BULLPEN
RHP Trevor Hoffman
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
RHP Todd Coffey
LHP Mitch Stetter
RHP Claudio Vargas
RHP Carlos Villanueva
LHP Chris Narveson
LHP Manny Parra
CATCHERS
Gregg Zaun
George Kottaras
INFIELD
1B Prince Fielder
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Casey McGehee
SS Alcides Escobar
IF Craig Counsell
IF Joe Inglett
OUTFIELD
LF Ryan Braun
CF Carlos Gomez
OF Corey Hart
OF Jim Edmonds
OF Jody Gerut
DISABLED LIST
RHP Josh Butler
3B Mat Gamel
RHP David Riske
RHP Jeff Suppan
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Suppan placed on DL with neck issue

The Brewers whittled their choices for a fifth starter down to two on Tuesday when they placed right-hander Jeff Suppan on the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury. 
Suppan’s stint on the DL with cervical disc pain was backdated to March 26, so he will be eligible to return on April 10. The Brewers probably won’t use a fifth starter until April 15 against the Cubs, so Suppan presumably could re-join the competition, but for now it’s down to left-handers Chris Narveson and Manny Parra. 
The injury also means that right-hander Carlos Villanueva’s Opening Day spot in the bullpen is likely safe. Had the Brewers kept Narveson, Parra and Suppan on the 25-man roster, Villanueva may have been vulnerable because he has Minor League options remaining.

Suppan worked a simulated game at the Brewers’ Minor League complex on Tuesday morning without any apparent issues, but the club revealed that he has been getting treatment all spring for a sore neck. The issue first presented during Suppan’s entry physical before the start of camp, and an MRI scan on Monday night confirmed some pathology. 

“They discovered [during the original physical] that there was some pain radiating into his arms,” Ash said. “Dr. [William] Raasch and some other doctors looked at him and felt that it was something that with some conservative care he might be able to get through. As the spring has gone on, it hasn’t dissipated as much as either Jeff or we would have hoped.”
Suppan will remain a few extra days at Maryvale Baseball Park for treatment when the Brewers break camp Thursday afternoon. But with a modified workload he should be back to 100 percent “relatively quickly,” Ash said. 
The injury news came as something of a surprise on Tuesday since neither Suppan nor club officials had mentioned it. Cue the conspiracy theorists, who mused on message boards and talk radio lines about the convenient way a difficult roster decision was taken out of club officials’ hands. 
“You can certainly speculate on that, but we are not looking at it that way,” Ash said. “You never like to put anybody on the disabled list if you don’t have to, but this is a situation that we feel, not only for now but for the longer term, is the best solution.” 
In a separate move, the Brewers voided right-hander Josh Butler’s option to Triple-A Nashville and placed him on the Major League 15-day disabled list with an impingement in his elbow. The assignment was backdated to March 22. 
Butler did not throw a single pitch in big league camp because of the injury. The rules state that teams cannot option out injured players, but often there is some grey area, and when Butler’s agent, Dan Horwitz, called Ash to discuss that grey area, the sides revisited the issue.
An MRI scan on Monday revealed what Ash termed, “minor findings.” So the Brewers reversed the roster move.
“I had a conversation with Josh a week ago or so and tried to assure him that we weren’t trying to skirt the rules,” Ash said. “We will do the right thing and put him back on the Major League disabled list, but he should be ready to go relatively quickly.”
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Melvin: Hart not guaranteed to start

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin appeared on the Milwaukee sports radio station WSSP on Tuesday and made some interesting comments about the Brewers outfield. The assumption all along is that the regular starters would be center fielder Carlos Gomez, left fielder Ryan Braun and right fielder Corey Hart. But that projection may only be two-thirds correct. 
“It’s probably going to be Gomez and Braun and right now we’re looking at our other options,” Melvin said. “We have more left-handed bats this year so some left-handed hitters may play more often than they have in the past.  [Jim] Edmonds has had a good spring. Corey Hart has not had a good spring up to this point. Jody Gerut has struggled. 
“We’ll wait and see. We’ll determine that when the season starts. I think our outfield has a chance to be fairly productive. It’s going to be a different look than we’ve had in the past. There’s going to be a little more left-handedness to it, going to be a little more speed, probably not as much power. There’s still five days left here and we have that time to make some decisions before we make the final roster.”
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What's new at Miller Park?

Brewers team photographer Scott Paulus sent along some shots from today’s event at Miller Park, where the club debuted some ballpark improvements, new concession items and television promos. Those TV spots are pretty funny, and you can watch them all over at the main site. I’ll give the Gallardo ad my vote. 

On to the ballpark, where improvements include the clubhouses on the service level, the Braves Honor Roll on the field level and the team store up on the terrace level. 
Here’s executive vice president Rick Schlesinger in front of the new Braves Honor Roll. Nice to see the Brewers honor their Major League predecessors:
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Visitors also sampled some new concessions offerings. The club unveiled four new “Concession Concepts:”
Grab and Go (2 Locations):  New Items include Chicken Caesar, Greek and Chef Salad, Italian Sub, Turkey Club and Beef and Cheddar Sandwich, Hummus/Pretzel Cup, Fresh Fruit, Fruit Cup and Fresh Cheese Curds.
Burrito Carts (2):  A choice of chicken, beef or shredded pork burritos made to order with black beans, rice, shredded cheese and pico.
Pasta Cart (1):   Cavatappi Pasta w/choice of Chicken, Italian Sausage or Fresh Vegetables with Marinara Sauce, Alfredo Sauce or Pesto.
Plaza Pavilion Grill: New outdoor smoking area and Grill. New items include 1/2lb Burgers, 1/3lb Brat Patties, Tenderloin Steak Sandwich and a Chicken Shish-ka-bob served on Naan Bread w/Tzatziki Sauce.
Plus, some new Concession Stand items: Toasted Ravioli, Beer Battered Mozzarella Sticks, Wisconsin Steak and Cheese Sandwich, Shrimp Basket and Cheesy Grillwurst (Club Level)
New items featured in the suites in 2010 include:  Souvenir M & M’s Dispensers, a Mediterranean Tapas Bar Appetizer and a Tuscan Roasted Turkey entrée. The Brewers will also feature two new menu packages. The first is the “Slider Pitch,” which includes Turkey BLT, Chicken and Burger Sliders, Kettle Chips, Bleu Cheese Wedge Salad and Three Wings Combo. The other is “The Great Bambino,” which includes Baked Mostaccolli with Italian Salsiccia, Tuscan Tortellini and Chicken, Caesar Salad, Antipasto Platter, Fried Ravioli and Tiramisu.
Anything involving a pretzel roll looks delicious to me:
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Updates to the terrace-level team store were designed to expand the space and improve flow. Here’s a look:
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For a more extensive description on some of the new features at Miller Park for 2010, check out the team’s news release
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Brewers say Suppan has stiff neck

Brewers manager Ken Macha formally named Dave Bush the team’s No. 4 starter on Tuesday but provided a detail that further clouded the race for the No. 5 slot. 

Jeff Suppan has been getting treatment throughout the spring for a stiff neck and one of the various scenarios has him beginning the season on the disabled list, Macha said. Instead of pitching Suppan in Tuesday’s “A” game against the Angels, the Brewers organized a simulated game in Minor League camp for Suppan. He was expected to throw about 90 pitches. 
The DL is only one of a series of possibilities, but Tuesday’s ‘sim’ game could allow the Brewers to shorten a potential season-opening stint on the 15-day disabled list. Such assignments can be backdated to March 26, providing the player doesn’t pitch in an official Spring Training game.  

Chris Narveson was to start against the Angels and Manny Parra will follow in relief. Narveson, Parra and Suppan are the candidates for the fifth starter’s role, which might not be used until the Brewers’ April 12-15 series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs and is not absolutely needed until the series after that, in Washington. 
Narveson and Parra are out of options and Suppan is guaranteed $12.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. The Brewers have made a priority of preserving their depth after struggling last season to overcome injuries to Suppan and Bush. 
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The lineup against the Angels:

Carlos Gomez  CF

Alcides Escobar  SS
Rickie Weeks DH
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Adam Stern  LF
Brett Lawrie  2B
George Kottaras  C
Ryan Braun is getting one more day off for a stiff back but said he expects to play Wednesday against the Cubs. Macha held out catcher Gregg Zaun one more day because of a sore quadriceps but called that injury very minor. Outfielder Jim Edmonds traveled home to California on Monday night to tend to a family emergency. 
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Fifth starter still in flux

Barring some unexpected next-day soreness for Dave Bush, the Brewers’ first four starters are set. The No. 5 slot, meanwhile, remains a mystery. 
The candidates are left-handers Chris Narveson and Manny Parra and right-hander Jeff Suppan, all of whom are on schedule to pitch Tuesday. Brewers manager Ken Macha said Narveson would start the afternoon Cactus League game against the Angels and Parra would follow in relief, but he said curiously little about Suppan. 
“Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that for you [Tuesday] morning,” Macha said. 
That raised some eyebrows because it is uncharacteristic for the schedule to be so fluid, especially for a 15-year veteran like Suppan. He has not been particularly sharp this spring, but he’s entering the final season of a four-year contract and is guaranteed $12.5 million.
Parra, 27, and Narveson, 28, are both out of options and the Brewers are hesitant to risk losing either lefty. The Brewers could keep all three pitchers on the Opening Day roster if they are willing to keep two of them in the bullpen. Otherwise, some kind of roster move is in order. 
If it involves Suppan, 35, it could be an expensive one. 
Macha was pressed on Monday about his vague answers regarding Suppan. Is some kind of roster move coming?
“There could be a roster move at any time, let’s put it that way,” Macha said. “This is the end of Spring Training, so stuff like that happens. There are moves every day.” 
Indeed, the team returned first baseman Joe Koshansky to Minor League camp after Monday’s game. Stay tuned to see if there is more roster manipulation on Tuesday.
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