November 2010

Brewers sign outfielder Boggs

The Brewers today signed switch-hitting outfielder Brandon Boggs to a one-year, Major League contract. A former fourth-round Draft pick of the Rangers, he appeared in 114 big league games over the past three seasons with Texas and batted .212 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 307 at-bats. 

The Rangers designated Boggs for assignment in late August to make room for outfielder Jeff Francoeur and he was a Minor League free agent after the season. Boggs is a .265 hitter with 65 home runs and 282 RBIs in parts of seven Minor League seasons and is coming off a nice year with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he hit .290 with a .406 on-base percentage and 35 extra-base hits. 
Boggs played all three outfield positions in 2010 only adds to the Brewers’ depth at those positions. Left fielder Ryan Braun and right-fielder Corey Hart are locked into long-term deals, and Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gomez (assuming he’s tendered a contract), Chris Dickerson and now Boggs can play center. The Brewers’ 40-man roster also includes utility man Joe Inglett, who, like Gomez, is arbitration-eligible and a candidate to be nontendered next week. 
Cain, Dickerson, Gomez and Boggs have at least one Minor League option remaining. 
Boggs is out of Minor League options, according to a club official, but Cain, Dickerson and Gomez each have at least one option remaining. So does Braun, although I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’ll make the big club.
“We like the player and we have roster space,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “He will compete for the last outfield spot, and, if he doesn’t make, it perhaps he will be Triple-A depth.”
Boggs turns 28 on Jan. 9.
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Randolph looking for fun with Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles introduced manager Buck Showalter’s new coaching staff today including bench coach Willie Randolph, who held the same job in Milwaukee the past two seasons. 

“Hopefully, we’ll have some fun, and the only way you have fun is winning ballgames,” said Randolph, who agreed to terms on Tuesday afternoon and, as former manager of the Mets, brings an expertise in instruction and baseball education. 
“Buck is very prepared and one of the smartest guys I know in the game. He’s going to delegate and let us do our jobs, which is all we want as coaches. … The main thing is you have a guy that is professional and organized and he’s going to make sure we understand our goals and go out there and bust our butts every day.”
Randolph would like to manage again, but he was not mentioned anywhere this winter as a candidate despite a slew of openings. He was a finalist for the Brewers’ job in fall 2008 before Ken Macha was selected, then took a job on Macha’s bench. 
Many thought Randolph would be at least a candidate for the job if Macha was let go, but club officials obviously saw it differently. Randolph was informed in October, after the Brewers dismissed Macha, that he would not be considered. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

Brewers offer arbitration to Hoffman

UPDATE at 6:20 p.m. CT: The Brewers indeed had a gentlemen’s agreement agreement with Hoffman to decline the arbitration offer, according to a source who would know. It doesn’t hurt him at all in negotiating with other clubs, and the Brewers get an extra Draft pick between the first and second rounds if he signs with another team before the Draft. “It’s the right thing to do,” the source said.
In a surprise move, the Brewers offered arbitration to free agent reliever Trevor Hoffman on Tuesday, positioning the team to receive a compensatory pick in next year’s Draft should Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader sign elsewhere for 2011. 
Hoffman was rated a Type B free agent by the Elias Sports Bureau, the only Brewers free agent who qualified for compensation. Under the rules, if such a player is offered arbitration, declines the offer and then signs with a new team, his former team receives an extra pick between the first and second rounds of the subsequent First-Year Player Draft. 
If a player accepts the offer, he is considered signed for the subsequent season and his salary is determined through arbitration. Per the rules, his salary cannot be cut by more than 20 percent. 
Hoffman earned more than $7 million during a disappointing 2010 season in which the Brewers identified a number of younger, cheaper bullpen options, and he turned 43 in October, factors that led most observers to believe that the Brewers would not extend an arbitration offer. But teams occasionally strike deals in which compensation-eligible players agree ahead of time to decline the offer. For Type B players, there’s no negative effect because, unlike Type A free agents, their new team is not required to forfeit a Draft pick. 
The Yankees and fellow Type B player Javier Vazquez reportedly made such a gentlemen’s agreement this week by which Vazquez, who earned $11.5 million in 2010, agreed to decline an arbitration offer. 
Hoffman, the all-time leader with 601 saves, notched 37 saves for the Brewers in 2009 and made the National League All-Star team, but lost Milwaukee’s closer role in May after suffering five blown saves in his first 10 chances of 2010. He rebounded in the second half and reached the 600-save milestone on Sept. 7 at Miller Park but said later that month he expected to depart via free agency. The Brewers have handed closer duties to right-hander John Axford, who went 24-for-27 in save chances as Hoffman’s replacement. 
Hoffman’s agent is Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, the same firm that represents Axford. 
Hoffman lives in San Diego and likely will look for a West Coast team willing to offer at least a chance to close games. He expressed interest in the D-backs to earlier this month. 
The Brewers’ other free agents — Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell, Doug Davis and Gregg Zaun — did not qualify for Draft compensation under an Elias system that takes into account a player’s statistics over the previous two seasons. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Clubhouse sale set for Dec. 3-4

Attention holiday shoppers:

The Milwaukee Brewers will host the 30th Annual Clubhouse Sale on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Miller Park.  The sale will take place in the visiting clubhouse and fans will receive savings up to 75% on sale merchandise items.
Just in time for the holidays, fans can save on Brewers apparel, souvenirs and specialty items as well as rare, game-used merchandise including jerseys and bats.  The Brewers will also have representatives available to handle requests for Holiday 4-Packs.
This year’s sale will include hourly drawings inside the Brewers Team Store by Majestic, located directly across from Friday’s Front Row.  Prizes include personalized jerseys, a shopping spree and authentic collections items.  The drawings will take place every two hours on both days from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. with a limit of one winner per household.  In addition, fans will receive a free gift box with purchases of $200.  Also, in correlation with the recently-completed 40th Anniversary season, every 40th customer at the clubhouse sale on Friday will receive a prize (while supplies last).
Shoppers can access the Clubhouse Sale by entering Miller Park at the Hot Corner entrance near the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and follow the posted directions to the visiting clubhouse.  Cash and credit cards will be accepted (no personal checks).  Admission and parking are both free.
In addition, children can also have their photo taken with the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages on Friday from 10 a.m. – noon and with Santa on Saturday from noon – 2 p.m. at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic.  Fans should bring their own cameras and the photos will be free of charge with any purchase.
The Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.  For more information, contact the team store at (414) 902-4750. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Uecker sits down with Costas in Studio 42

If the innings that Bob Costas spent in Bob Uecker’s radio booth last summer were any indication, MLB Network will feature some must-see TV on Friday night. 
Uecker sat down for a hour-long episode of MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas that will air Friday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. Uecker and Costas are old friends who used to broadcast games together for NBC, a relationship that was reprised on Aug. 22 during a Brewers-Padres game at Miller Park. 
Costas was in Milwaukee for a ceremony to honor Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig, and stopped by the radio booth for what was supposed to be a quick visit. Uecker talked Costas into calling a few innings, including a very tough sixth for Brewers left-hander Manny Parra. 
 “A ringing single for David Eckstein,” Costas quipped at one point, “who, in my view, is the perfect size for an American male.” 
As the Padres knocked Parra around, Costas noted that some in the Miller Park crowd had begun to voice some displeasure. 
 “Bob, don’t take it personally,” Uecker said. “The booing will stop.”  
They will get serious for at least part of Friday’s interview. Uecker, 75, discusses his more than 55 years in professional baseball including his 40 seasons as the Brewers’ radio voice. He talks about the health issues that forced him to miss a significant chunk of the 2010 season and to undergo heart surgery in April and again in October. 
Costas will also explore Uecker’s place in pop culture, including his starring roles in the film series Major League, the TV series Mr. Belvedere, commercials for Miller Lite beer and his frequent guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, who gave him the nickname “Mr. Baseball.” 
“[Carson] didn’t know that much about baseball but as we went along he let me do whatever I wanted,” Uecker told Costas. “As a matter of fact, when I started doing the shows in New York, you get a script to follow and promote whatever you want to talk about. After about the tenth time I did the show Johnny said, ‘Do you need this stuff?’ and I said, ‘No, I thought you did.’ So from then on we pretty much just ad-libbed and went along and whatever he said I just jumped in and went along with it.” 
Baseball remained Uecker’s first love. 
“Not bragging by any means, but I could have done a lot of other stuff as far as working in films go and working in television,” Uecker says in Studio 42. “I had chances to do that stuff, but I like baseball, I really do …. The Mr. Belvedere series was great, it lasted six years, but each March when we finished up in California, I couldn’t wait to get to Arizona and get back to baseball and be around what I’ve been around for practically my whole adult life. After getting out of the service and going into baseball I never wanted to do anything else.” 
Of course, Costas and Uecker will have some fun. 
“Any teammate of mine that had a kid and a boy that was capable of playing baseball, I think I set a terrific example of ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that,'” Uecker told Costas. “And that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of.” 
He added: “I was sent to winter baseball in June and July sometimes.” 
Prior to Studio 42 with Bob Costas, MLB Network will air Best of Hot Stove, its offseason nightly studio show, at 6 p.m. ET. The show features a look at the moves all 30 clubs are making and planning in preparation for the upcoming season.
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Brewers sign right-hander Segovia

The Brewers on Monday signed right-hander Zack Segovia to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp. 

Segovia, 27, pitched for briefly the Phillies in 2007 and for the Nationals in 2009, and spent 2010 in the Yankees’ Minor League chain. He was the Phillies’ second-round Draft pick in 2002 and underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2004.
Over the past two seasons, the Dallas native has made all but three of his 95 appearances as a reliever, posting a 3.24 ERA in the Nationals’ system in 2009 and a 4.19 ERA in 44 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — the Yankees’ top farm club — in 2010. He struck out 51 batters versus 14 walks last season. 
In eight appearances for the Nationals in 2009, Segovia averaged 92.8 mph with his fastball, according to the website, and also threw sliders and change-ups. 
Including Segovia, the Brewers have already invited at least four non-roster pitchers to big league camp. The others are holdovers and are all right-handed: Mark DiDelice, Tim Dillard and Robert Hinton. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Braun, Hart appear on MVP ballots

Brewers outfielders Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each received at least one vote, but Reds first baseman Joey Votto was the runaway winner of the National League MVP Award on Monday. 

Votto received 31 out of a possible 32 first-place votes and 443 points to earn his first league MVP honor. He easily beat runner-up Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, who garnered the other first-place vote and 279 total points. Votto prevented Pujols from winning his third MVP Award in a row and fourth overall. 
The award was decided by 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, two in each NL city, each of whom ranked their top 10 players. The tabulation system awarded 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and on down to one for 10th. 
The Brewers were represented in the balloting by Braun and Hart, two of the NL’s three starting outfielders in the All-Star Game in July. Braun placed 15th with 19 total points and ranked as high as sixth on one ballot. Hart received one ninth-place vote for two points.  
Braun batted .304 in 2010 with 25 home runs and 103 RBIs and has garnered at least one vote in MVP balloting in each of his four Major League seasons. He finished third in the voting in 2008, when Braun set a career high with 37 home runs, and ran 11th in 2009, when he led the league with 203 hits and set a career high with 114 RBIs. 
Hart hit .283 last season and set career highs with 31 homers and 102 RBIs. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Crew makes front office promotions

The Brewers announced a number of in-house promotions today:  

The Milwaukee Brewers have promoted Jim Bathey to Vice President – Consumer Marketing and Aleta Mercer to Vice President – Entertainment & Broadcasting. The promotions were announced today by Brewers Executive Vice President – Business Operations Rick Schlesinger.
“As experienced executives within our organization, Aleta and Jim have played important roles in the success of our business efforts, and we congratulate them on their promotions,” said Schlesinger.  “Both of them have displayed strong leadership skills and loyalty to the organization, and their efforts have led to great achievements in their respective areas.” 
Bathey, who is in his 20th season with the Brewers, will oversee the marketing, ticket sales and services, and suite sales departments for the organization.  He spent the previous eight seasons as the Club’s Senior Director of Ticket Sales, where he was responsible for all aspects of season ticket, group ticket and suite sales.  Bathey replaces Todd Taylor, who took a position with the Texas Rangers.
Prior to joining the Brewers, Bathey worked for the Los Angeles/Vero Beach Dodgers.  He also spent one year as a graduate assistant baseball coach at Minnesota State University while he earned his master’s degree in sports administration in 1991.  Bathey graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1987, where he earned First Team All-Conference honors three times and was a two-time member of the All-Midwest Region First Team in baseball.  As the career stolen base leader in school history (80), Bathey was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame in 2003.
Mercer enters her 19th season with the Brewers after joining the organization prior to the 1993 season as a Broadcasting Assistant.  In her position, she works with the Brewers’ radio flagship, Newsradio 620 WTMJ, and television rightsholder, Fox Sports Wisconsin, to provide broadcast coverage of Brewers baseball.  She also oversees all in-game entertainment at Miller Park as well as the annual Brewers On-Deck event.  In 2007, Mercer was named to the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence, an honor given by a panel of Business Journal editors and reporters.
Before joining the Brewers, Mercer served as Traffic Manager at WTMJ-AM and was a Business Manager at Milwaukee Spectrum.  A native of New Berlin, Wisconsin, Mercer graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Carroll College.
The Brewers also promoted four front office staff members to Senior Director positions.  The appointments include Bob Hallas to Senior Director – Stadium Operations, Matt Kenny to Senior Director – Event Services, Andrew Pauls to Senior Director – Corporate Marketing, and Teddy Werner to Senior Director – Business Operations.    
Hallas recently completed his fourth season with the Brewers.  He oversees the Miller Park building operations, playing field and landscape maintenance.  Before joining the Brewers, Hallas worked at Purdue University for 20 years including 12 years as superintendent of outdoor sports facilities.  He is a graduate of Purdue and was a four-year letter-winner as a pitcher for the university’s baseball team from 1979 to 1982.  Hallas, who holds the Boilermakers record for wins in a career with 28, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1982 and he played three seasons in their organization.
Kenny has been with the Brewers since August 2006.  In his current position, Kenny oversees the guest experience including parking, food and beverage, security, emergency services, event staff, and customer service.  He also plays a key role in the development and oversight of non-baseball events at Miller Park.  A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Kenny developed an interest in event management while pursuing a degree in finance from Miami University. 
Pauls joined the Brewers in 2005 as a Manager of Suite Sales.  In 2008, he was named Director of Corporate Marketing.  He is responsible for all aspects of corporate sponsorship sales including methods to increase team revenue through the sale of team sponsorships, stadium advertising and all Brewers corporate partnership inventory.  A native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Pauls graduated from the University of Oregon.
Werner just completed his fifth season as a member of the Brewers front office.  He assists with the planning of construction projects, organization of special events and oversees salary arbitration cases.  Immediately prior to joining the Brewers, Werner spent three years as an associate at Proskauer Rose LLP.  A native of Los Angeles, Werner received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Duke Law School.  
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Braun, Gallardo named Silver Sluggers

Ryan Braun told us that it would go this way. He said so in early August, when he was coming off a July that saw him hit an even .200 and left his batting average entering the Brewers’ July 31 game at .273, 35 points off his career average entering 2010. He owned a .325 on-base percentage that day, 38 points off his career mark, and a .459 slugging percentage, 92 points off. 
“If I finish strong,” he said a few days later, “there’s no reason I can’t have just as good a season I had last year. There’s no reason I can’t have my best season if I finish great this year.” 
In the end, he didn’t have his best season, but he did have another good one. Braun batted .364 over his final 55 games with nine home runs and 35 RBIs and finished the year batting .304 with 25 home runs and 104 batted in. He boosted his on-base percentage up to .365, and his slugging percentage to .501. 
The reward came Wednesday, when Braun was honored with this third consecutive Silver Slugger Award as one of the National League top hitting outfielders. Braun is only the second player in franchise history to win the award three years in a row — sweet-swinging first baseman Cecil Cooper won it from 1980-82. Robin Yount also took home the award three times, but not in consecutive seasons. 
For the first time in nearly three decades, Braun was not the Brewers’ only winner. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo won his first career Silver Slugger Award as the NL’s top hitting pitcher. He batted .254 and led pitchers with four home runs and 10 RBIs. No other pitcher belted more than one homer in 2010. 
“It always feels good, especially as a pitcher, in situations where you can help yourself out,” Gallardo told reporters in San Diego on May 1, after he limited the Padres to one run in eight innings and belted a difference-making homer in a 2-1 Brewers win.
This season marks the first time that the Brewers had multiple Silver Sluggers since 1982, when Cooper and Yount were honored. 
Besides Braun, the other Silver Slugger-winning NL outfielders were Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals. Other 2010 Silver Sluggers were Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Braves catcher Brian McCann.
“Whenever you’re recognized for doing something at the end of the year, it’s rewarding,” Braun said this week. “It’s nice to know that the hard work you put in has been noticed, and it’s paid off.” 
He called the Silver Slugger Award, “a tremendous honor.” 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

List of Minor League free agents

Baseball America today posted a list of every Minor League free agent, including 17 in the Brewers organization. The list doesn’t include a couple of players who could have been free agents had they not already re-signed for 2011, including right-handers Mark DiFelice, Tim Dillard, Robert Hinton and infielder Chris Nowak. The team also re-acquired catcher Mike Rivera, who bounced around with three teams in 2010. 
Here’s the list from BA. As usual, there’s a lot of room for movement at the Triple-A level: 
RHP: Jeff Bennett (AAA), Ruben Flores (Hi A), Nick Green (AA), Jim Henderson (AA), David Johnson (AAA), Marty McLeary (AAA), Eddie Morlan (AA)
LHP: Chuck Lofgren (AAA), Sam Narron (AAA), Chris Waters (AAA)
C: Ben Johnson (AAA), Angel Salome (Hi A)
1B: Joe Koshansky (AAA)
2B: Johnny Raburn (AAA)
SS: Ray Olmedo (AAA)
OF: Drew T. Anderson (AA), Norris Hopper (AAA)

Salome is a notable name. He probably should have played in the Major Leagues this season, but instead he dealt with personal issues early in the year that prompted him to leave the Triple-A club and then request a position change to the outfield. I would be absolutely shocked if he’s back with the Brewers in 2011. 
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.