April 2011

Weeks out with sprained finger

Rickie Weeks’ sprained left pinkie finger, suffered in a slide into second base Friday night, will keep him out of Saturday’s starting lineup. Manager Ron Roencike had hoped Weeks would play, but said he’d have to see how it felt to grip a bat first. Obviously, Weeks didn’t pass that test.

So here are the lineups:

ASTROS
Michael Bourn CF
Angel Sanchez SS
Hunter Pence RF
Carlos Lee LF
Brett Wallace 1B
Bill Hall 2B
Chris Johnson 3B
Humberto Quintero C
Brett Myers RHP

BREWERS
Craig Counsell 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Shaun Marcum RHP

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Braun’s deal pays through 2031

Because of deferrals built into his new contract, Ryan Braun could be drawing paychecks from the Brewers until he’s 47 years old.

According to the Associated Press, the five-year, $105 million extension Braun signed Thursday includes at least $18 million in interest-free deferrals to be paid in equal installments each July 1 from 2022-2031. The deferrals were key to the deal from both sides.

Braun’s extension covers 2016-20 and includes salaries of $19 million from 2016-18, of which $4 million is deferred with no interest each season; $18 million in 2019, of which $3 million is deferred; and $16 million in 2020, of which $3 million is deferred.

The deal also includes a mutual option for 2021 that calls for a $15 million base salary that can escalate up to $20 million based on 2020 awards such as league MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Any of those escalators would be deferred with no interest.

If the Brewers decline their half of the option, Braun would get a $4 million buyout.

Also, Braun’s $10 million signing bonus is payable in $2.5 million installments on each April 1 from 2012 through 2015.

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Fielder ecstatic for ‘super-rich’ Braun

Here’s what Prince Fielder had to say about Ryan Braun’s big contract extension:

“Oh, man, I’m ecstatic,” Fielder said. “I’m proud of Ryan. He’s an unbelievable player, and now he’s just super-rich. I’m happy for him.”

Fielder said the consensus that players are jealous when their peers sign big-money deals is flat wrong.

“Not for me, at least,” he said. “The more money everybody else gets, that’s more money for all the players. We’re all in this together. You want every player to get his maximum.”

The Brewers and Fielder have said since the avoided arbitration with a $15.5 million deal for 2011 that they would focus on Fielder having a “monster” season, to borrow general manager Doug Melvin’s word, instead of focusing on what lies ahead. Fielder is a free agent next winter.

That strategy has been a good one, Fielder said.

“The fact we’re a good team helps, too, because there’s more to talk about than just me,” hesaid. “Today, it’s all about Braunny. He’s signed the ultra contract. It’s a good day.”

Has Fielder thought at all about his big day coming?

“No, I’ve already done that in years past,” he said, perhaps a nod to his early-season 2010 funk after talks between the Brewers and agent Scott Boras hit a wall. “Now it’s just ‘play baseball’ time. I think my family, we’ll be able to eat for a while anyway. We’ll play baseball and see what happens.”

Does he worry that Braun’s extension, on top of the earlier big-money deals given to Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and Yovani Gallardo over the past 13 months, mean the Brewers won’t be players for Fielder’s services this winter?

“I’m not sure. You never know,” Fielder said. “If they have this much to spend, you never know. I hope not. I hope they have a little left for me.”

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Yo goes against Hall, ‘Stros

Yovani Gallardo will try to get back on track after a pair of substandard outings tonight when he faces former Brewers Bill Hall. Carlos Lee and Nelson Figueroa and the rest of the Astros in the opener of a three-game series and a six-game homestand at Miller Park.

Here are the lineups for both teams, with notes on the Astros courtesy of my outstanding colleague Brian McTaggart:

ASTROS
CF Michael Bourn — Hitting .345 with seven walks in his last 15 games.
SS Angel Sanchez — Has started every game at shortstop this year.
RF Hunter Pence — Leads the club in homers and RBIs.
LF Carlos Lee — Has gone 0-for-9 since snapping a season-long six-game hit streak.
1B Brett Wallace — Hit .417 in the three-game series against Mets.
3B Chris Johnson — Hitting .300 with three RBIs in last five games.
2B Bill Hall — Makes his first start since Wednesday, when he injured ankle.
C Humberto Quintero — Is in an 0-for-10 slump.
RHP Nelson Figueroa — Is 3-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 career games against Brewers (four starts).

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomex CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Yovani Gallardo RHP

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Parra makes third rehab appearance

Mike Rivera hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit home run for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds in a Thursday night win that included left-hander Manny Parra’s latest rehabilitation appearance. Parra worked a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning with two groudouts and a strikeout on 12 pitches, 10 strikes. Parra missed most of Spring Training with a back injury.

I’m not sure how much longer Parra will remain at Nashville. He’s made three appearances there after one at Class A Wisconsin. I’ll effort to get some information later today at the ballpark.

Right fielder Corey Hart, also on rehab with the Sounds, did not play Thursday, but that’s no reason for concern. He’s working back gradually from a spring lost to a rib-cage injury.

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Morgan expected to hit DL

Nothing is official yet, but the Brewers are expected to place Nyjer Morgan on the 15-day disabled list with his deep right thigh bruise. If they indeed make that move Friday, they would probably purchase outfielder Brandon Boggs’ contract from Triple-A Nashville.

Morgan was injured in a collision with Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit last week and has been slow to recover.

That move could come on the heels of the flurry Milwaukee made Thursday. They optioned reliever Mike McClendon to Nashville to make room for LaTroy Hawkins’ return from the 15-day disabled list, and they outrighted catcher George Kottaras to Nashville to clear space for Shaun Marcum, who is coming off the bereavement list. Marcum is expected back in Milwaukee on Friday, and general manager Doug Melvin said Major League rules stipulate teams must make the roster move immediately when a player returns.

The Brewers had to chose between Kottaras and Wil Nieves as regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s backup, and they opted to keep Nieves because they felt he was more likely to be claimed on waivers, and because he would have had the right to refuse a Minor League assignment had he cleared. Kottaras did not have that right.

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Context for Braun contract

Ryan Braun’s new contract puts him in a very small group of players. Here are some examples:

–The $21 million average annual value of the extension is second-highest ever for an outfielder, after Manny Ramirez’s two-year deal with Dodgers.

– Braun is now guaranteed $145.5 million from this season through the end of the extension, which makes Braun and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki the only Major League players signed through 2020. In fact, the only other players signed through 2018 are Joe Mauer of the Twins and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox.

– Braun signed his current eight-year, $45 million contract on May 15, 2008. It was, and remains, a record contract for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

– The new deal marks the first time first time a player with five years left on his current contract agreed to an extension (Tulowitzki had three years plus an option remaining when he re-upped with the Rockies). It is also believed to be only the sixth time a player has signed a contract that guaranteed him 10 or more years of future salary (Dave Winfield, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Todd Helton and Tulowitzki are the others).

– Only seven players are signed through age 36 and have spent their entire career with their original professional organization: Braun, Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton.

– It is one of nine contracts ever for a position player with a total value of at least $100 million and an average annual value of at least $20 million (Rodriguez twice, Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Mauer, Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and Howard).

– Braun is 27, and only two other players 27 or younger signed a contract with an AAV of $20 million or more: Rodriguez in 2001 and Mauer in 2011.

– It’s the largest deal in Brewers history by total and AAV (Prince Fielder signed a $15.5 deal for 2011).

– Braun’s agency has done well for itself in the past year and a half. In the last 16-plus months, seven players have signed a deal with an AAV of $20 million or more and three of those were negotiated by CAA Sports (also Howard and Roy Halladay).

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Deferred dollars were key to deal

Portions of Ryan Braun’s $105 million contract extension are deferred, an effort on both sides to retain some financial flexibility for the Brewers to sign free agents and extend up-and-coming players. Braun’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, declined to discuss details of the deferrals but said they were key to the deal from both sides.

“Just know that we got creative,” Balelo said. “It was very important for Ryan, and very important to the organization that we stay competitive. Ryan wanted to be in Milwaukee the rest of his career, but he also is dedicated to winning.”

The extension has been in the works for some time, Balelo said.

Braun is now guaranteed $145.5 million from this season through the end of the extension, which makes Braun and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki the only Major League players signed through 2020. In fact, the only other players signed through 2018 are Joe Mauer of the Twins and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox.

Braun signed his current eight-year, $45 million contract on May 15, 2008. It was, and remains, a record contract for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

“That first deal was unprecedented, a record-breaking deal, and this new one is a commitment,” Balelo said. “We basically view it as a partnership between Ryan and the organization moving forward, that both sides were willing to commit themselves probably through Ryan’s entire career.

“Obviously, the commitment on the club’s part is huge. But it’s also a commitment on Ryan’s part, to want to stay in the city of Milwaukee and play here possibly through the end of his career.”

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Roster moves: Hawkins, Kottaras, McClendon, Greinke

The Brewers are busy today. Here are some roster moves just announced:

– RHP Mike McClendon has been optioned to Nashville.

– RHP LaTroy Hawkins has been reinstated from the 15-day DL.

– C George Kottaras has been assigned outright to Nashville. Kottaras will join Nashville on Saturday.

With Kottaras’ removal, the Brewers 40-man roster stands at 38.

The Brewers also announced that Zack Greinke’s rehab assignment would be transferred from Class A Brevard County to Triple-A Nashville. Greinke is scheduled to start on Sunday, when the Sounds host Omaha at 1 p.m. CT. Greinke will not count against the Sounds roster limit while on rehab.

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Braun signed through 2020

The Brewers just made the stunning announcement that they had signed outfielder Ryan Braun to a five-year contract extension through 2020, the longest commitment to a player in franchise history. The deal includes a mutual option for 2021.

According to a baseball source, the extension pays $105 million from 2016-2020 and includes $10 million signing bonus. Braun will earn $19 million in 2016-18, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2010, and the 2021 mutual option is worth up to $20 million with a $4 million buyout. It includes a no-trade provision, and Braun agreed to defer some salary “to help keep the team competitive.”

The $21 million average annual value of the extension is second-highest ever for an outfielder, after Manny Ramirez’s two-year deal with Dodgers.

Braun is now guaranteed $145.5 million from this season through the end of the extension, which makes Braun and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki the only Major League players signed through 2020. In fact, the only other players signed through 2018 are Joe Mauer of the Twins and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox.

“One of the cornerstone pledges we made when purchasing the Brewers was to build a perennially competitive team, and Ryan Braun has already shown that he is a very rare and special talent,” Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. “This is an historic occasion for our franchise and for our fans, knowing that we were able to make Ryan’s desire to wear a Brewers uniform for the long term a reality.”

Elected to start in each of the last three All-Star Games, Braun is one of just five players in Major League Baseball history to hit 125 homers and post a .300 batting average over the first four seasons of his career (the others are Joe DiMaggio, Chuck Klein, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams). He also currently holds the franchise’s mark for highest career batting average at a .308 mark and entered the 2011 season with 128 homers, eighth-most in Major League history by any player in their first four years.

“Ryan is an elite player and he has already reached extraordinary statistical milestones that are comparable to many of the great players in baseball history,” said Brewers Executive Vice President – General Manager Doug Melvin. “He has shown a tremendous commitment to the Milwaukee market since he arrived, and this is an exciting day for Brewers fans everywhere.”

“I want to thank the entire Milwaukee Brewers organization, specifically Mark Attanasio and his entire ownership group, Doug Melvin and Gord Ash for making this possible,” Braun said. “I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent in Milwaukee and look forward to spending the next 10 years here. I believe in the direction of this organization and its commitment to winning moving forward. I consider it an honor and privilege to be a part of this organization for the next 10 years. Thank you to the Milwaukee Brewers for believing in me and making this happen.”

Since being called up in early 2007, Braun ranks among the top performers in Major League Baseball in many statistical categories. This includes the following:

CATEGORY NUMBER RANK
Hits 734 2nd
Runs 414 2nd
Total Bases 1,325 2nd
Extra-Base Hits 304 2nd
RBI 432 6th
Home Runs 133 T-8th

This season, Braun is off to another strong start and has reached base safely in all 18 games. He currently ranks among the National League leaders in on-base percentage (5th, .471), runs (T6th, 13), home runs (T6th, 4), total bases (8th, 35), slugging percentage (8th, .625), hits (T8th, 20), batting average (10th, .357) and walks (4th, 13).

In 2010, Braun earned his third consecutive Silver Slugger Award as he batted .304 with 25 home runs, 103 RBI and a league-best 60 multi-hit games. He also ranked among the National League leaders in hits (2nd, 188), doubles (T2nd, 45), total bases (5th, 310), runs (6th, 101), extra-base hits (7th, 71), RBI (T7th, 103) and batting average (9th, .304).

This marks the second long-term contract extension for Braun, who is represented by Nez Balelo, Partner with CAA Sports in Los Angeles. The previous deal was announced on May 15, 2008 and goes through the 2015 season. That deal came on the heels of Braun winning the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year Award after he recorded a .324 average with 34 home runs and 97 RBI in just 113 games. His .634 slugging percentage in 2007 led the National League and was the highest by a rookie in Major League history.

Braun was selected by the Brewers in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Braun is also one of four players drafted and signed by the Brewers who have committed to long-term contracts in the past two years (joining Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks).

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