January 2011

Rogers talks comeback

Mark Rogers, the Brewers’ consensus top prospect in the wake of this winter’s trades, sat down with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo this month during MLB’s Rookie Career Development Program, and the video is available today over at Brewers.com. He’s an impressive kid, and obviously is thankful for his career resurgence.

Rogers discusses his comeback from years of injury and the Brewers’ remade rotation, so check it out. There’s also a separate, 3 1/2-minute video explaining what the rookie program is supposed to do for young prospects. The Brewers briefly conducted a similar program in Milwaukee, but now do it as part of their offseason program at Maryvale Baseball Park. 
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Greinke headlines Brewers On Deck

Zack Greinke will meet Milwaukee fans for the first time on Jan. 30 as part of “Brewers On Deck,” a downtown fanfest that features autographs and photos, interactive games and other baseball-themed events. 
Greinke, acquired from the Royals last month, is one of 25 current Brewers players scheduled to appear along with the full coaching staff, a slate of prospects and some Milwaukee legends. 
The club is instituting a new lottery system for autographs of certain high-profile players and asked fans to take note. For those select players — to be announced later — fans must obtain a numbered coupon to at the Frontier Airlines Center beginning at 9 a.m..  Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session.  
Fans will receive one coupon per event admittance ticket and can use their ticket to enter the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players.  There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding coupons that are chosen must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to be donated to the Brewers Community Foundation.
Winning coupon numbers will be announced over the public address system and posted at the respective autograph stages one hour prior to the player’s autograph time.  There will be 250 winners for each autograph session.
Players and staff not included in the random selection process will sign 250 autographs each at prices ranging from free to $10.  The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team — the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia.
Tickets for the event are <a href=” http://mlb.mlb.com/mil/fan_forum/brewers_on_deck.jsp”><b>on sale now at Brewers.com/ondeck</b></a>. Adult tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door while tickets for children ages 14 and under are $9 in advance and $15 at the door.
On the day of the event, only cash will be accepted for purchases made at the door and at the various autograph stages.
Here is the full list of attendees:
Current players: John Axford, Brandon Boggs, Zach Braddock, Ryan Braun, Craig Counsell, Chris Dickerson, Yovani Gallardo, Mat Gamel, Carlos Gomez, Greinke, Sean Green, Corey Hart, LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Kintzler, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy, Shaun Marcum, Mike McClendon, Casey McGehee, Chris Narveson, Wil Nieves, Manny Parra, Mark Rogers, Rickie Weeks, Randy Wolf.
       
Coaches: Ron Roenicke, Garth Iorg, Rick Kranitz, Stan Kyles, Jerry Narron, Ed Sedar, Dale Sveum, John Shelby.
Rising stars: Kentrail Davis, Eric Farris, Ryan Gennett, Caleb Gindl, Kyle Heckathorn, Erik Komatsu, Jeff Morris, Cody Scarpetta, Logan Schafer.
Alumni: Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Larry Hisle.
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Hoffman speaks fondly of Brewers tenure

Trevor Hoffman participated in a conference call with national reporters on Wednesday afternoon after formally announcing the end of his 18-year playing career. He spent his final two seasons in a Brewers uniform and spoke fondly of that time. 

“I got to meet such great staff people, from the front office down to the clubhouse, and got to see how things ran in a different way,” said Hoffman, who might end up using that knowledge in his new role as a Padres special assistant to the president. 
“To have interaction with such passionate, rabid fans, and see the support they gave the club those two years, it was a breath of fresh air,” Hoffman said. “It was something I really look back on with great memories.”
It wasn’t all easy. Hoffman logged 37 saves and made the National League All-Star team in 2009, his first season after leaving San Diego. But he struggled at the start of 2010 and lost the closer’s job to John Axford, and didn’t log save No. 600 until Sept. 7. 
Still, Hoffman says the move to Milwaukee was the right one. 
“Absolutely,” he said. “I looked at it as an opportunity to fit in with a similar dynamic, a smaller city, and it was. But the passion — I don’t think that as a player you understand it until you’re in it. That part of it was pretty evident.” 
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Hoffman retires

News from MLB.com national reporter Barry Bloom today:

Trevor Hoffman, certainly the top National League closer of his era, has decided to retire, ending his stellar 18-year career, he told MLB.com in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
The right-handed reliever will finish with an all-time record 601 regular-season saves, 42 ahead of Yankees great Mariano Rivera who is in second place at 559. Hoffman, whose career ended with the Brewers, turned 43 on Oct. 13. He will return to the Padres — the franchise where he built his reputation — in a still undefined front-office role, he said.
“It’s time to retire. It’s time to move on,” Hoffman said via phone from San Diego, where he and his family still make their home. “This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t certain I could maintain that anymore.”
The Padres are planning a news conference on Wednesday at PETCO Park to announce the retirement and Hoffman’s new role.
Hoffman, who did not exactly part ways with the Padres amicably after the 2008 season, said it was time to put all that acrimony to rest. The team’s front office has almost completely turned over since then, with only majority owner John Moores still involved in the operations. Hoffman left as a free agent after a breakdown in negotiations, ultimately signing with Milwaukee.
“I would say it’s the old adage — that time was the real healer,” said Hoffman, who recorded 552 of his saves pitching for the Padres from 1993-2008. “Sometimes you have to take a step back. I understand that some of it is about baseball being a business, but I don’t really want to rehash all that. There’s been a turnover of people there who wanted to reconcile and I’ve been cool with it. A couple of years definitely makes a big difference.”
The Padres did ask Hoffman if he wanted to get back in uniform for one day and retire, but he declined the request.
“No I won’t do that,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman pitched the past two seasons and logged his final 47 saves in a Brewers uniform, including the milestone No. 600 on Sept. 7 of last season against the Cardinals. That moment was included in MLB.com’s 10 for ’10 series, and I spoke to Hoffman just before the holidays about his career crossroads. Obviously, he’s come to a big decision since then.

Best of luck to one of the best guys who ever donned a Milwaukee uniform. 
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Scarpetta could qualify for fourth option

This item was included in my Brewers.com Inbox yesterday, but with prospect lists coming out I wanted to spotlight it here so we tuck it into our memory banks. Right-hander Cody Scarpetta appears on track to join a small group of players eligible for a fourth Minor League option, meaning the Brewers will get two more seasons to develop him into a Major Leaguer. 

From the Inbox:
Here’s the short version of his story: Scarpetta was drafted and signed by the Brewers in 2007, only to have his contract voided because of a torn tendon at the base of his right middle finger. The Brewers signed Scarpetta to a new deal, and per baseball’s rules, had to immediately place him on the 40-man roster.
Essentially, it placed Scarpetta on the fast track. Instead of evaluating him over five years before Scarpetta’s “option clock” started ticking, the Brewers had to start burning his options. They used one in 2009, one in ’10 and are expected to use another in ’11. Typically, a player has three options over the course of his career, and once they are out, the team must expose the player to waivers before sending him to the Minor Leagues.
But once again, a rules technicality may come into play. A small number of players qualify for a fourth option if they have been optioned in three seasons but do not yet have five full seasons (of at least 90 days on an active professional roster) of pro experience. In 2009, then-Brewers infielder Hernan Iribarren thought he was out of options, only to learn just before the start of Spring Training that he was unlucky enough to qualify for a fourth. Just this winter, the Pirates were granted a fourth option for first baseman Steve Pearce.
The Brewers anticipate Scarpetta joining that group, but Major League Baseball does not award those fourth options until the original three are exhausted. It would give the Brewers another year to evaluate Scarpetta, who turns 23 in August and is probably in line for a promotion to Double-A Huntsville this season. It looks like he won’t be in the big league discussion until 2012.
I wish I had written “late 2012 or early 2013″ at the end of that section. My point is that it appears the Brewers will have until midway through the 2012 season or 2013 Spring Training to make a call on Scarpetta. That gives him time to take the usual path through the Minor Leagues — Double-A this year and Triple-A to start 2012. 
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Blog compiles composite Top 10 prospects

Rogers01 copy.jpg

It’s Top 10 prospect time, and Jim Breen of the Bernie’s Crew blog was smart enough to compile four of the most prominent lists into one composite, giving us a better look at how the top players in Milwaukee’s Minor League chain stack up. 
You can click through to Jim’s analysis for the details and his own thoughts about the depth of Brewers prospects, but for those interested in the bottom line, here are his results:
1 RHP Mark Rogers
2 RHP Cody Scarpetta
3 RHP Wily Peralta
4 RHP Kyle Heckathorn
4 OF Kentrail Davis
6 RHP Amaury Rivas
7 2B Scooter Gennett
8 OF Caleb Gindl
9 RHP Jimmy Nelson
10 RHP Tyler Thornburg
One side note: Jim isn’t convinced that there are any “premium” players there, but I’m not so sure. I’ve talked to baseball people who view Rogers as a frontline starter, though I understand Jim’s reservations about that injury history. Peralta could be that type of pitcher, too — there are Brewers officials who consider Peralta their top pitching prospect. 
Another aside: Outfielder Logan Schafer didn’t make the composite Top 10, and he appeared on only one of the four lists that Bernie’s Crew used to compile that list. Here’s betting that he shoots up those lists this year.
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No Walk of Fame inductees

The Miller Park Walk of Fame won’t grow again in 2011. 
None of the former Brewers and Braves players, managers or club officials on a ballot distributed to reporters and other voters received the 75 percent of the vote necessary for induction. The closest candidate was former Brewers right-hander Teddy Higuera, who fell short at 61 percent. That’s a slight drop from the previous year, when Higuera appeared on 64 percent of ballots. 
Higuera was the only Brewers player to receive votes from more than 50 percent of the electorate.  Former Brewers manager George Bamberger received 46 percent. Leading the way on the Braves side was former shortstop Johnny Logan, who also received 46 percent. 
Four other Brewers appeared on at least 30 percent of the ballots. Former Brewers outfielder Ben Oglivie made the cut for 39 percent of voters, former American League Cy Young Award winner Pete Vuvkovich was next at 35 percent and Mike Caldwell, who holds the franchise record with 81 complete games, garnered 33 percent. Former catcher Ted Simmons appeared on 30 percent of ballots. 
On the Braves side, only one player topped 30 percent besides Logan. Joe Adcock, the team’s first baseman in the 1957 and ’58 World Series, received 35 percent of votes.  
A record total of 57 ballots were returned this year and voters could select from among nine Milwaukee Braves and 32 Brewers.  The ballots included field personnel who wore a Brewers or Braves uniform for a minimum of three seasons but have been retired from playing or managing roles for at least three seasons. 
All players and managers who appeared on at least five percent of the ballots will remain eligible in 2012. 
Last year, former Braves pitcher Lew Burdette was the only player to make the cut. He was the first inductee since 2007, when Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn and former Braves GM John Quinn made the cut in the first year that Braves players and officials appeared on the ballot.  
Other inductees include Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount in 2001; Commissioner Bud Selig and Cecil Cooper in 2002; Bob Uecker and Harry Dalton in 2003; Jim Gantner and Gorman Thomas in 2004; and Don Money and Harvey Kuenn in 2005.  
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9-Packs on sale Friday

More ticketing news from the Brewers:

With the beginning of the 2011 baseball season quickly approaching, baseball is in the air at Miller Park as the ever-popular Brewers 9-Packs go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. CT. Each 9-Pack includes nine Brewers home games and Opening Day – the most anticipated game of the season – absolutely FREE.
The Brewers will offer five exciting plans this season, all featuring nine great games, plus Opening Day (Monday, April 4 vs. the Atlanta Braves) or any other game of the fan’s choice for FREE (while supplies last). There are two or three Marquee Games in each 2011 9-Pack, in addition to Opening Day.
The Hot Summer Nights Plan, Premier Plan and Rivals Plus Plan all feature three Marquee games, including a pair of games against the division rival Chicago Cubs. Additionally, the Premier Plan includes an all-fan giveaway date on June 12 and an Interleague game against Tampa Bay on June 20. The Hot Summer Nights Plan also includes an Interleague game against the Rays on June 21. Meanwhile, the Weekend Plan includes a Marquee game against the Cubs on April 10 and a border battle against the Twins on June 26 in addition to seven other Saturday and Sunday home games. The Friday Plan features nine Friday night games, including three Marquee matchups against the Cubs (April 8), Cardinals (June 10) and Twins (June 24).
Packages start at $135 per seat in the Terrace Reserved ($15 per game) and can also be purchased in the Terrace Box for $189 ($21 per game), the Loge Outfield Box for $270 ($30 per game), the Club Outfield for $324 ($36 per game, no wait service), the Loge Infield Box for $342 ($38 per game), the Field Outfield Box for $360 ($40 per game) and the Loge Diamond Box for $414 ($46 per game).
The Brewers 9-Packs offer several benefits, including savings on parking, regular pricing for Marquee-priced games and a guaranteed seat location for the 9-games of your plan (exact seating is not guaranteed for Opening Day). An additional benefit is the “4-Pack Add-On,” which offers fans the option to purchase vouchers for four additional games* of their choice at a special price below the retail cost. *Please note – 4-Pack Add-On vouchers may be redeemed for 71 regular season games (excluding Opening Day and games against the Cubs). Seat location is always subject to availability.
Fans interested in purchasing 9-Packs are encouraged to visit brewers.com/9packs for more information. 
Also, fans can take advantage of exclusive benefits on 20-Game Plans, which offer more seating options, additional per-ticket savings and the opportunity to purchase tickets for all Postseason games played at Miller Park. Plus, with the purchase of a 20-Game Plan, fans will be eligible for the Brewers “Fan-Tastic Forty” promotion, which was announced on Wednesday – 40 fantastic prizes given away over 40 days! From a trip down Bernie’s slide to seats in the Owner’s Box, visit brewers.com/fan40 for details on how a Brewers Season Ticket package will put you in scoring position for these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
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Counsell, Green, Saito contract details

For those keeping track of the Brewers’ payroll obligations for 2011, here are some updated figures on recent free agent signings:

– Infielder Craig Counsell’s one-year deal to return to the Brewers pays him a $1.4 million base salary with a chance to earn an additional $450,000 in incentives for games and starts. He’ll get $50,000 each for 50 and 70 games played, $75,000 for 85 and 100 games played, and $100,000 each for 50 and 70 starts.
– Reliever Sean Green gets a non-guaranteed $875,000 base salary, as I reported when he signed just before Christmas, with a chance to boost his pay to an even $1 million with incentives. Green gets $25,000 for 50 appearances, $50,000 for 60 appearances and another $50,000 for 70 appearances.
– The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this morning that reliever Takashi Saito’s one-year contract pays a $1.75 million base salary with $1.5 million available in performance bonuses. According to the newspaper, Saito would get $50,000 each for 15, 20, 25 and 30 appearances; $100,000 each for 35, 40 and 50 appearances; $150,000 for 50 and 55 appearances; and $200,000 for 60 appearances. He’ll also benefit from staying off the disabled list. Saito can earn $100,000 each for 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 days on the active roster. 
I thought some Brewers fans may also be interested in the deal Chris Capuano signed with the Mets. Milwaukee made him an offer to return early in the offseason, but the sides broke off talks after the Zack Greinke trade essentially completed the Brewers’ rotation. 
I’m not sure what kind of offer the Brewers extended, but here’s what Capuano ended up getting in New York: A $1.5 million base salary with a slew of incentives that kick-in whether he ends up as a starter or a reliever. He’ll get $125,000 for 15 starts, $150,000 for 20 starts, $75,000 each 21-31 starts, $100,000 for 32 starts and/or $100,000 each for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 relief appearances. Here’s the key: He can earn a maximum of $1.2 million for starts and relief appearance bonuses combined. 
Capuano will also get $50,000 for 90 innings; $100,000 each for 100, 110, 120 and 130 innings; $125,000 for 140 innings; $175,000 each for 150 and 160 innings; $200,000 each for 170 and 180 innings; $225,000 for 190 innings; $250,000 for 200 innings. 
So, assuming I can add, if Capuano has a magical season and makes all of his starts and tops 200 innings (like he did in 2005 and 2006), he’ll earn $4.5 million. Math people — help me out if you get a different figure.
He’ll also get $50,000 for being an All Star and $150,000 for winning Comeback Player of the Year.
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Gindl, Schafer among non-roster invitees

The Brewers announced four more non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training camp today:

OF Caleb Gindl
C Anderson Delarosa
OF Logan Schafer
INF Zelous Wheeler
The club now has 11 non-roster playrs invited to camp. The following seven players had previously received non-roster invitations as part of their minor-league contracts:
RHP  Mark DiFelice
RHP  Tim Dillard
RHP  Robert Hinton
INF Edwin Maysonet
C  Shawn Riggans
C  Mike Rivera
RHP  Zack Segovia
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