November 2011

Manzanillo has separated shoulder

Update from the Brewers on the pitching prospect involved in a car accident this morning:

Right-handed pitcher Santo Manzanillo, who was added to the 40-man roster on November 18, was involved in a car accident this morning while traveling from La Romana to the team’s Dominican baseball complex in San Pedro de Macoris. Manzanillo, 22, suffered a separated right shoulder and is currently undergoing further tests.

The Brewers say they will provide further information as it’s available.


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Manzanillo involved in auto accident

Brewers pitching prospect Santo Manzanillo, one of four players added to Milwaukee’s 40-man roster this month, was being treated Tuesday morning following a traffic accident in the Dominican Republic.

Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the club was awaiting word on Manzanillo’s condition as of late morning. He had no information about whether the player had suffered any injuries.

According to information from Manzanillo’s Dominican Winter League team published on, a truck struck Manzanillo’s Hummer on a highway in La Romana while Manzanillo was on his way to the Brewers’ new baseball academy. According to the website, Manzanillo, a right-handed power pitcher, suffered cuts and bruises on his right shoulder and was taken by plane to Cure International Hospital in Santo Domingo.

The website quoted Eduardo Brizuela, Milwaukee’s Coordinator of Administration, Latin America Operations, as saying Manzanillo, “was just banged up a bit.”

Manzanillo, 23 in December, had a 1.75 ERA and 17 saves at Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville in 2011, holding opponents to a .194 average. The Brewers added him to their 40-man roster on Nov. 18 to protect Manzanillo from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.


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Brewers finalize Minor League staffs

The Brewers just sent out a news release detailing the coaching staffs at Class-A Brevard County, Class-A Wisconsin, Rookie Helena and the Rookie Arizona League Brewers for the 2012 season.

Joe Ayrault, who spent the last two seasons with Helena, will manage Brevard County for the 2012 season. Pitching coach Fred Dabney will return to the Manatees for his eighth season with the Manatees and ninth with the organization. Ned Yost IV will join the Manatees coaching staff after spending the previous three seasons with Helena. A former player in the Brewers organization, Yost will enter his fourth year as a coach in the organization. Tommy Craig will return as athletic trainer for Brevard County—his sixth season with the organization.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers coaching staff will remain the same in 2012. Appleton native Matt Erickson will return for his second season as manager. Pitching coach Chris Hook and athletic trainer Jeff Paxson will return to Wisconsin for their fourth and third seasons, respectively. Dusty Rhodes will return for the second season of his second coaching stint with the Brewers organization. Rhodes was also a coach in the organization from 1988 – 1991 and over all has over 40 years of combined coaching experience on the professional and collegiate level.

Jeff Isom was named manager of the Helena Brewers after spending last year at Brevard County. Isom will enter his sixth season overall in the Brewers organization. Isom previously managed Helena in 2007 where he led them to a 48-28 record while capturing the first-half title in the Pioneer League’s North Division. He will be joined in Helena by Elvin Nina who will return to Helena for his fourth season as pitching coach. Don Money will join the Helena staff as Special Instructor, Player Development and coach for 2012. Money was the manager of the Brewers Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds for the previous three seasons and has managed in the Brewers farm system for 14 years. Jimmy Gentry rounds out Helena’s staff and will serve as athletic trainer for his fourth season.

The Arizona Brewers will be again managed by Tony Diggs who will return for his fifth season as manager of the club. The rest of Arizona’s coaching staff will remain the same as last year. Steve Cline will return as pitching coach and will enter his 17th season with the organization, Kenny Dominguez will return for his fourth season as coach and Steve Patera will return for his second season as athletic trainer.

The coaching staffs of Triple-A Nashville and Double-A Huntsville were announced in September.


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Nakajima posted; Brewers unlikely to pursue

A report relayed by the terrific site MLB Trade Rumors says that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima has formally been posted by the Seibu Lions, and that Major League teams have until 4 p.m. CT on Friday to make a bid. The winning team would then have a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with Nakajima, who, according to, is being represented in the U.S. by Legacy Sports, the same agency that has Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. If the sides cannot reach a deal, Seibu would keep the posting fee.

Nakajima batted .313 with a .389 on-base percentage over the past four seasons with Seibu with 75 home runs and 340 RBIs.

The Brewers are heavy in the shortstop market but are not planning to make a play for Nakajima. Milwaukee does not scout Japan, choosing instead to invest its international scouting dollars to areas that produce more Major Leaguers: The Dominican Republic (Manny Batista and Rafael Espinal), Venezuela (Batista and Freddy Torres) and Puerto Rico (Batista).

That’s not to say the Brewers are closed-minded about Japanese players, but realize they usually get them after those players have already established themselves in the big leagues. Melvin signed reliever Takashi Saito at Christmastime last year and is working on bringing him back for 2012. He also acquired right-handed starter Tomo Ohka from the Nationals in 2005.

Note that both of those players are pitchers. With apologies to Ichiro and Hideki Matsui, Japanese position players have proven more risky. Last winter, the Twins invested $14 million in another shortstop, Tsuyoshi Nishioka — paying a $5 million posting fee before agreeing to a three-year, $9 million contract — and he batted .226 in 68 games. Nishioka missed much of the first half after suffering a broken leg.

So, expect the Brewers to find their shortstop closer to home.


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Hamilton happy for Narron

Colleague T.R. Sullivan just passed along some comments from Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who wished new Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron “great success” in his new job. Narron spent the past five seasons as a mentor to Hamilton, who mounted a successful comeback from dug addiction to become one of baseball’s best hitters.

“Johnny is very talented and has helped me tremendously, both personally and professionally,” Hamilton said. “He is fulfilling a dream to be a Major League batting coach and I have told him previously I would never stand in his way from doing that. We will stay in touch and I wish him great success with the Brewers.”

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels reached out to Hamilton last week when the Brewers asked permission to interview Narron, and the two will continue to talk about the best way to move forward.

Here’s what Narron had to say about his relationship with Hamilton.

“I’ve been with him every step of the way over the last five years, and I love Josh and he loves me,” Narron said. “We both have benefited personally and professionally from our relationship together, and I have spoken with Josh several times over the past couple of days, from the point Texas granted permission for Milwaukee to talk to me to the point I accepted the job [on Sunday] and Josh is very excited for me. Josh respects me as a person and a hitting coach, and I think Josh was very much in favor of taking this opportunity if it ever came along.”

Narron figured they would remain in touch.

“I have nothing but love for Josh and I wish him all the success in the world,” Narron said. “It’s bittersweet in a way, as much as we’ve been together and as much as we’ve gone through. I think he realized that this point could probably come, and I think Josh is at the point now, with his resources and the the support system that will remain in place, that he’ll be fine. He knows that any time he needs to talk to me, I’m always here for him.”


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Brewers name Johnny Narron hitting coach

The Brewers have found a hitting coach to replace the departed Dale Sveum, and it’s a familiar name.

Johnny Narron, a former Brewers Minor League coach and manager and the older brother of bench coach Jerry Narron, will fill the post vacated when Sveum was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs.

Johnny Narron, 60, spent four seasons as a coach in Milwaukee’s farm system from 2003-07, including a stint as manager at rookie-level Helena in 2004 and as hitting coach at Class A West Virgina and advanced Class A Brevard County in 2005.

“Johnny comes highly recommended by a number of experienced uniformed Major League personnel around baseball,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin said in a statement.  “He has been an instrumental part of a very productive offensive ball club in Texas over the last four seasons.  He is a hard-working individual who comes to the ballpark with a well-prepared plan each day.”

The Narron brothers worked together previously in Cincinnati, where Jerry was manager and Johnny was a video and administrative coach. He served as a sort of handler for troubled but talented outfielder Josh Hamilton, who was attempting a comeback from years lost to drug addiction. Their relationship dated to when Hamilton was 9 years old and played on a basketball team with Johnny Narron’s son.

They had been together ever since, with Johnny making the move with Hamilton in 2008 after a trade from the Reds to the Rangers and Hamilton emerging as one of baseball’s best hitters and the 2010 American League MVP.

“I’m with him and I’m for him 24 hours a day,” Narron said. “I’ve been very blessed to be a part of this whole trip. I’m able to be there and support a young man who has turned his life over to God. I love Josh. I know that Josh loves me. We respect each other. It’s a relationship that we both believe was meant to be.”

In 2011, Narron was officially the Rangers’ assistant hitting coach.

He will inherit a Brewers offense posted the National League’s second-best OPS (.750) last season and includes NL MVP Ryan Braun, but may be without first baseman Prince Fielder, who is a free agent for the first time. With Braun and Fielder batting back-to-back for the past five seasons, the Brewers ranked in the league’s top five in runs scored four times.

The Brewers announced earlier this month that the rest of manager Ron Roenicke’s staff had signed contracts to return in 2012: Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, third base coach Ed Sedar, first base coach Garth Iorg, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and outfield instructor and “eye in the sky” John Shelby.


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Clubhouse sale coming this week

The Brewers’ 31st Annual Clubhouse Sale is planned on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. CT at Miller Park. The sale will take place in the visiting clubhouse and fans will receive savings up to 75 percent 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. Brewers 2011 Central Division Champions merchandise as well as 2011 Postseason gear will be on sale. The Brewers will also have representatives available to handle requests for Holiday 4-Packs and Brewers 10-Packs.

On Friday, every 31st customer sale at the Clubhouse Sale receives two free tickets to Brewers On Deck tickets, the club’s annual fanfest in downtown Milwaukee.  As an additional offer, a more-you-spend-the-more-you-save coupon will be offered. Coupons of $10/$20/$30 will be offered to the Brewers Team Store by Majestic for those spending $100/$200/$300 at the Clubhouse Sale during the sale. Plus, every purchase of $100 or more in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic will come with two FREE tickets to a 2012 Brewers game, 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.

Children can also have their photo taken with Bernie Brewer and the 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.


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Brewers offer arbitration to Fielder, K-Rod

Updating an earlier post…

The Brewers offered arbitration Wednesday to Type A free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez, positioning the club to receive four premium picks in next year’s Draft should both players reject the offer and sign elsewhere.

The Brewers declined to offer arbitration to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, a Type B free agent who would have netted one extra pick. They were contractually barred from offering arbitration to their other Type A player, reliever Takashi Saito.

This is the final offseason in which the “Type A” and “Type B” ranking system will be employed. Here is one final primer of how it works:

— After the season, players were ranked according to an Elias Sports Bureau system that took into account their statistics from the past two seasons. The top players were ranked Type A and Type B.

— Clubs had until 11 p.m. CT tonight to decide whether to offer arbitration to their ranked free agents in order to be eligible for compensation in the following season’s Draft. Players who received such an offer have until 11 p.m. CT on Dec. 7 to decide whether to accept.

— It can be a difficult decision for clubs, because if a player accepts, the sides are bound to a one-year contract for 2012 at a salary to be determined in arbitration. As much as teams hate to lose players and get no compensation in return, they risk the player accepting and taking a salary that does not fit into the club’s payroll structure. For example, Fielder, who earned $15.5 million in 2011, and Rodriguez, who made $13.5 million, would be in line for raises.

Most players decline because they want to test the market. A year ago, two out of 27 free agents offered arbitration — relievers Frank Francisco of the Rangers and Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays — accepted the offer.

— If a player declines, he is free to sign multi-year contracts with another club and his former club is in line for Draft compensation. Here’s where it gets a bit complicated in the Brewers’ current cases.

— For Fielder, the Brewers would get a “sandwich” pick between the first and second rounds, plus either the first-or second round pick from his new team. If that team finished with one of the 15 best records during the 2011 regular season, and thus picks from 16-30 in the first round of the following Draft, the Brewers get that team’s first-round pick. If that team finished with one of the 15 poorest records, and picks from 1-15 in the Draft, the Brewers get that team’s second-round selection instead.

— For Rodriguez, a modified plan was announced Tuesday as part of the pending CBA. He still qualifies as Type A, and the Brewers remained in line to receive two compensatory picks, but Rodriguez’s new team would no longer be required to surrender a Draft pick to sign him. Rodriguez was among six players who received this status, which should help open their markets this winter.

Instead of taking the signing new team’s first- or second-round pick for Rodriguez, the Brewers instead would receive a sandwich pick between the first two rounds, plus an extra pick slotted directly in front of the draft choice that the signing club would have otherwise forfeited.

An example: The Twins are in need of a closer after Joe Nathan signed with Texas. They go second in the 2012 Draft, a protected pick, so the Brewers would get one pick between the first two rounds, plus the second pick in the second round. The Twins would follow, and on down the line.

By the way, this will all be discarded beginning in 2012 in favor of a new system of free agent compensation. Under the new system, teams will receive compensation for losing a free agent only if they offer — and the player rejects — a guaranteed, one-year contract equal to the average salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players. Compensation for losing such players will consist of one Draft pick at the end of the first round.

According to MLB Network contributor Ken Rosenthal, that 125-player average will work out to about $12 million.

Among the Brewers’ projected free agents at the end of the 2012 season are starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Another starter, Randy Wolf, could join that group if the Brewers decline his $10 million option.


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Compensation change on K-Rod

The new collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association has led to a slight change in the compensation available to the Brewers for free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

The bottom line is that the Brewers are still in line to receive two compensatory picks in next year’s Draft if — and this remains a big “if” — they offer K-Rod arbitration, and he declines to sign elsewhere.

Under the former rules, the Brewers would have received his either his new team’s first- or second-round pick based on where Rodriguez signs, plus a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. If his new team finished with one of the 15 best records in baseball last season, that pick would be a first-rounder. If his new team finished with one of the 15 worst records in baseball, then the pick would be a second-rounder.

Under the new rules, signing teams do not have to forfeit their picks for six Type A players — relievers Heath Bell, Ryan Madson and Rodriguez, and position players Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson and Josh Willingham. Instead, if the player’s former club offers arbitration and the player declines the offer, the former club shall receive: (a) a draft choice in the same round and immediately prior to the draft choice that the signing Club otherwise would have forfeited, and (b) a compensation round selection.

So, teams no longer have to surrender a high Draft pick to sign one of those six players. It should improve their markets.

For all other Type A free agents, the old rules still apply.  According to MLB, all other Type A players, including Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, must be offered arbitration by midnight RT on Wednesday in order to preserve the club’s right to compensation.

It’s notable that under their contract terms,  another Type A reliever, Milwaukee’s Takashi Saito, cannot be offered arbitration. That clause was worked into his deal when he signed with the Brewers last December.

The Brewers will definitely offer arbitration to Fielder because they want the Draft picks. We’ll have to wait and see on Rodriguez. The risk is that he accepts, and would be considered signed for 2012 at a salary above the $13.5 million he earned last season.


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Braun: Brewers’ winning ways made him MVP

Minutes after he was named NL MVP, Ryan Braun appeared on the Bill Michaels Show, a syndicated radio program in Wisconsin. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“It wasn’t expected at all,” Braun told Michaels. “I really had no idea what to expect. I certainly wasn’t going to make any assumptions [and] I expected it to be a really close vote.”

One of Braun’s first congratulatory calls came from another MVP — Super Bowl hero Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback and one of Braun’s best friends.

Braun said he’d also spoken to runner-up Kemp.

“If [Kemp] had won the award, I couldn’t have argued with it, by any means,” Braun said. “If Prince Fielder had won the award, I couldn’t have argued with it, by any means. I just feel so fortunate to have ended up winning.”

Of Kemp’s candidacy, Braun said, “I think if you honestly assess my season versus Matt Kemp’s, I think Matt Kemp probably had a better year than me, individually. But I was fortunate to be on a better team and had an opportunity to be in some big moments.”


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