June 2011

Gamel could join club this week

The Brewers are mulling a midweek promotion for Triple-A first baseman Mat Gamel, whose bat could prove helpful in a weekend Interleague Series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Manager Ron Roenicke would like to give first baseman Prince Fielder, left fielder Ryan Braun and perhaps second baseman Rickie Weeks a day off in the field during the three-game series, and Gamel or Mark Kotsay could spell Fielder at first base on a day he’s the designated hitter.

“We talked about it a week ago, and we talked about it about 10 minutes ago,” manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Sunday morning. “So, yes, we’ve talked about it. He’s playing really well at first base, defensively.  And offensively, he’s done a nice job. He’s been a little inconsistent, but he can swing. You guys have seen him.”

Gamel, who moved from third base to first this spring to give the  Brewers coverage in the event Fielder departs next winter via free agency, was hitting .303 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs through Nashville’s loss at Albuquerque on Saturday night, when he homered for the second straight game.

The 25-year-old has already played 75 games for the Brewers but has only started 25 of them and has never been given an extended opportunity to start in the big leagues. He’s a .245 hitter with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 145 Major League at-bats.

The Brewers would face an interesting call in freeing a 25-man roster spot for Gamel. With reliever Takashi Saito nearing a return from the 15-day disabled list, perhaps for the homestand that follows the Boston series, the Brewers could choose to play one reliever short against the Red Sox, then swap Gamel for Saito. That’s only one of several options.

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Brewers’ Groch may attend Jeter festivities

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called Doug Melvin this week to ask permission to invite Brewers special assistant Dick Groch to join festivities planned for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. Groch was the Yankees scout who pushed in 1992 for New York to draft Jeter, who as of Saturday afternoon sat nine hits shy of his milestone.

Groch is currently scouting the Red Sox in advance of the Brewers’ visit to Fenway Park next weekend, and whether he attends depends on how quickly Jeter makes it to 3,000.

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Big series for Crew, Cards

First place in the National League Central could be on the line this weekend if the Brewers bounce-back from their series loss to the Mets. The first-place Cardinals are in town, and carry a 2 1/2 game division lead into Friday’s series opener.

Here are the lineups:

CARDINALS
Ryan Theriot SS
John Jay LF
Albert Pujols 1B
Lance Berkman RF
Colby Rasmus CF
Yadier Molina C
Tyler Greene
Daniel Descalso 3B
Kyle Lohse RHP

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Craig Counsell SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Chris Narveson LHP

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Roenicke on Mets series: ‘We were outplayed’

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is not a table-tipper or a chair-thrower, but it was clear that he was not happy with his team after its second series loss at home this season. That fate was sealed with Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Mets, who took two of three games from the Brewers.

“We were outplayed in this series,” Roenicke said. “That’s going to happen. We didn’t swing the bats that well. We came back [Wednesday] night and were fortunate to win a game. And [the Mets] hit the ball good. This is a scrappy team and they outplayed us.”

It only gets tougher. The Brewers host the National League Central-leading Cardinals beginning Friday night.

“No matter who it would be, it would be a big series,” Roenicke said. “We didn’t play these three games very well, so we need to get back on track and play well. If we play well, it really doesn’t matter who’s coming in. If we play like this, we’re going to get beat.

“You’re not going to maintain and play as good [indefinitely] as we’ve been playing for a month. There are going to be some little flaws in there, and this was the series that we didn’t do a whole lot right. We had some good pitching, but for the most part, we didn’t play that same type game. It’s impossible to do that over a season. If we did, we’d win 130 games.”

He’d like to see more balance in the lineup. Rickie Weeks has been excellent in the leadoff hole, Roenicke said, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have hit well in the middle and Nyjer Morgan has been a spark when he plays. Outside of those four hitters, Roenicke would like more production.

“You know, we can’t depend on Braun and Prince all the time to be driving in all the runs,” Roenicke said. “We need to spread that out. Everyone is a big part of how we roll offensively, and you’re never going to be that great offensive team if you’re looking at only 3-4 guys in your lineup.”

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Rodgers makes his pitch at Miller Park

Courtesy of Brewers team photographer Scott Paulus, here are some shots of Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers’ visit to Miller Park today. He threw a ceremonial first pitch to his good buddy Ryan Braun, a strike on the corner.

Scott Paulus/Brewers

Scott Paulus/Brewers

Scott Paulus/Brewers

Scott Paulus/Brewers

Some pretty good “create your own caption” opportunities there, no?

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Brewers vs. Mets

Whether playing under an open or closed roof (it’s been changed three times today and is currently open) the Brewers look to continue their success at Miller Park. Milwaukee dropped the first game of the series last night and moved to 21-8 at home this season, still the best home winning percentage in the Major Leagues.

The Brewers continue searching for a spot in the batting order for third baseman Casey McGehee as manager Ron Roenicke dropped McGehee to the sixth spot tonight. Also worth noting, since Randy Wolf is pitching the left-hander continues to go with the catcher he is most comfortable with, Wil Nieves.

METS

Jose Reyes SS

Justin Turner 3B

Carlos Beltran RF

Angel Pagan CF

Jason Bay LF

Ronny Paulino C

Nick Evans 1B

Ruben Tejada 2B

Mike Pelfrey RHP

BREWERS

Rickie Weeks 2B

Nyjer Morgan CF

Ryan Braun LF

Prince Fielder 1B

Corey Hart RF

Casey McGehee 3B

Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Wil Nieves C

Randy Wolf LHP

 

-Audrey Snyder

Day two draft roundup

Day 3 of the MLB First-Year Player Draft is well underway but so much happened on Day 2 that was worth noting. Milwaukee had some interesting selections during rounds 2-30 so here’s a recap of some of the biggest story lines from Day 2.

Milwaukee went pitcher heavy during Day 2 and selected right-handed pitcher Jorge Lopez with the 70th overall pick. Puerto Rico’s top pitching prospect is just 18-year-old but his coach for Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico raved about his athleticism. And with good reason. Lopez is also Puerto Rico’s top volleyball prospect but no need to worry, he said baseball is his No. 1 sport.

But what is his best asset? Edwin Rodriguez, his coach for Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico, said Lopez picks up on things so quickly. After all, Lopez moved from shortstop to pitcher just three years ago.

“About a month ago, he came in to practice and started throwing a slider and I said, ‘Who taught you how to throw a slider? You know we don’t use them on our team,’” Rodriguez recalled. “He said, ‘Oh, I picked it up at school.’ He just knows how to learn how to pitch. Yesterday we were in a game and he came up to me and was showing me how to throw a fork ball and I’m like, ‘Can you just stop?’ I don’t know how he does it, but he just knows how to pitch.”

Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid seemed thrilled with the eighth-round selection of catcher Dustin Houle. The 17-year-old from British Columbia previously played third base but is well known in Canada and Houle’s power makes him an enticing pick.

“He hit a home run well up into the Harley Davidson deck,” Seid recalled of Houle’s pre-draft workout in Milwaukee. “This kid is a strong kid and he’s got a good arm. I’m happy to get him, really happy to get him and we’ll look to sign him for sure.”

Then there are always the bloodline stories to follow. The Brewers liked what they got with catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the third round of the 2007 Draft, so why not go with his little brother? David Lucroy is a right-handed pitcher who just graduated high school but Milwaukee had a genuine interest in him. The news of David’s selection was enjoyable for the Lucroy family too, who learned of the selection during David’s baseball game.

Agent Scott Boras is a name baseball players and fans alike are very familiar with. Boras represents many of the top players, including Prince Fielder. However, Boras has one son, Shane who’s an infielder at USC but it was the younger brother, Trent, who was selected by the Brewers in the 30th round.

I’m sure there will be more highlights to come from Day 3, including the Brewers’ selection of UWM pitcher Chad Pierce.

-Audrey Snyder

 

Great in the field, but Gomez ‘embarrassed’ at plate

The good and bad of Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez’s game were on display again Tuesday night.

The good was really, really good. Gomez essentially robbed two home runs in the seventh inning, one with some hustle to keep mets shortstop Jose Reyes to a two-run triple instead of a three-run, inside-the-park home run, and another with a leaping catch at the wall. He also took away an extra-base hit from Mets pitcher Chris Capuano in the fifth inning.

And the bad was pretty bad. Gomez grounded out with a runner at second base to end the second inning, flew out with runners at first and third base to end the fourth and struck out with a runner at second base to end the sixth.

“Sometimes you’re embarrassed by yourself,” Gomez said. “I come here every day with good energy and a good plan to work, and I work every day to get better and feel like I’m all right. I do perfect work before the game with my hitting coach. Sometimes you’re over-thinking. That’s what I feel. I don’t feel like it’s my approach or my swing. I feel great at the plate.

“Baseball is like this. Sometimes you feel great and do bad. I feel bad about myself. I got the opportunity three times today with men on base, and I did not do [anything].”

In the field, it’s different.

“Defensively, I go to center field and feel like I’m the man,” he said. “Whatever you hit over here, I’m going to catch it. I tell my outfielders, ‘You make the easy play, I’ll make the hard ones.’”

“When Carlos is out there, he does a lot of things to save you runs,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “’Gomey,’ sometimes he’s a little frustrating at the plate, but against left-handers, I still like him.”

With Nyjer Morgan back in the fold, Roenicke has another solid center field option. But considering Gomez’s plus-plus-plus defense, it makes things complicated for the Brewers.

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Brewers host Capuano, Mets

The Brewers return home tonight on the heels of their successful four-game sweep of the Marlins and will face a familiar pitcher in Mets left-hander Chris Capuano. Here are the lineups:

METS
Jose Reyes SS
Justin Turner 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Angel Pagan CF
Jason Bay LF
Josh Thole C
Ruben Tejada 2B
Chris Capuano LHP

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Carlos Gomez 8
Shaun Marcum RHP

Plus, a big congratulations to Brewers closer John Axford and his super-cool wife, Nicole, on the birth of their baby boy overnight. John Brian Axford was born at 1:52 a.m. CT on Tuesday, weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces and is, “perfect,” according to dad’s report on Twitter.

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Brewers go for pitching in first round of Draft

For the third straight year under amateur scouting director Bruce Seid, the Brewers used a first-round Draft pick on a pitcher. Seid hopes the third time is the charm.

This time, he’s got some insurance.

The Brewers spent the 12th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on University of Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann, then picked Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley 15th overall. The team had two first-round selections this year because they didn’t sign their first-rounder in 2010.

If you like big, strong pitchers, you’ll like the Brewers’ picks. Jungmann is 6-foot-6, 220 pounds and one of three finalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, which goes annually to the best player in amateur baseball. Bradley is 6-foot-4, 224 pounds and boosted his stock last summer in the Cape Cod League.

Both are coming off their junior seasons; Jungmann is 21 and Bradley will turn 21 on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Jungmann is 13-1 with a 1.39 ERA this season for Texas, including a scoreless inning of relief earlier Monday in the Longhorns’ regional win over Kent State. Texas advanced to the Super Regional for the eighth time since 2000.

Bradley went 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts at Georgia Tech and struck out 106 batters in 98 innings.

Milwaukee has had mixed results drafting pitchers in the first round. Seid took over the team’s top amateur scouting slot in 2009 and spent a first-round pick on Indiana University right-hander Eric Arnett, who has struggled mightily as a professional and is currently at extended spring camp rehabbing a shoulder issue. Seid followed in 2010 with Dylan Covey, a prep right-hander from Pasadena, Calif. who was poised to sign last August when his physical exam revealed he was Type 1 diabetic. Covey opted to attend the University of San Diego instead. <

Before Arnett, the Brewers had not used their first overall pick on a pitcher since prep righty Jeremy Jeffress in 2006. He was traded to the Royals last winter in the Zack Greinke deal. The team’s top pick in 2005 was another prep righty, Mark Rogers, who is currently considered the team’s top pitching prospect but has dealt shoulder problems in the past and a wrist injury this season.

The last first-round Draft pick to pitch an extended period of time with the Brewers was 1999’s Ben Sheets.

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