January 2012

Meadows says he’ll be in big league camp

Brewers left-handed pitching prospect Dan Meadows wrote on Twitter this morning that he’d been invited to Major League Spring Training camp as a non-roster player. He would be the fourth non-roster pitcher to get an invitation, joining recently-signed lefty Juan Perez and 2011 first-round Draft picks Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann.

Meadows, 24, made 40 relief appearances and one start between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville last season with a 2.68 ERA. He does not overpower hitters, but he’s had a strikeouts to walks ratio of more than three to one in each of the past three seasons. Meadows’ nickname is Thunder Dan, a fact among many that he revealed last summer in a fun piece from the Sounds’ website.

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Brewers claim infielder from Cubs

The Brewers claimed 25-year-old infielder Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Cubs on Wednesday, a move to bolster the organization’s relatively thin middle infield corps.

Bianchi was with the Cubs only a month, having been previously waived by the Royals. He was Kansas City’s second-round Draft pick in 2005 and is a career .281 hitter with a .335 on-base percentage in six Minor League seasons. Bianchi missed the 2010 season after undergoing “Tommy John” surgery on his right elbow during Spring Training.

He returned in 2011 and batted .259 with two home runs, 48 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 119 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Bianchi has appeared mostly as a shortstop in the Minors but has also played second base.

With Bianchi, the Brewers have 39 players on the 40-man roster. That figure does not include pitcher Mark Rogers, who is in the middle of a 50-game suspension.

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Brewers sign C Phillips to Minors deal

The Brewers just announced they had signed catcher Paul Phillips to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Phillips batted .237 with 3  home runs and 24 RBIs in 78 games last season at the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus affiliate. He has played in the Major Leagues with the Royals (2004-07), White Sox (2008) and Rockies(2009-10).

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Braun, Yount headline ‘On Deck’ slate

Just arrived in my inbox from the Brewers:

Twenty-eight current Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, Minor League prospects, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, set to take place Sunday, January 29, 2012 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Frontier Airlines Center. The event is presented by Time Warner Cable.

“Over forty-five players, alumni and coaches will be in Milwaukee to participate, and it’s their commitment to attend that makes Brewers On Deck such a great hit with fans,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We also have a few surprise guests including some Hollywood celebrities that will participate in the activities. It is always a fun event and we look forward to introducing fans to some of our new players who will take the field this spring.”

Brewers On Deck is the annual Fan Fest that bridges the gap between winter and Spring Training.

Here’s the list of players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend, all subject to change:

PLAYERS
John Axford
Ryan Braun
Tim Dillard
Marco Estrada
Eric Farris
Mike Fiers
Yovani Gallardo
Mat Gamel
Caleb Gindl
Taylor Green
Zack Greinke
Corey Hart
Brandon Kintzler
Brock Kjeldgaard
George Kottaras
Jonathan Lucroy
Martin Maldonado
Shaun Marcum
Mike McClendon
Nyjer Morgan
Chris Narveson
Manny Parra
Aramis Ramirez
Logan Schafer
Jose Veras
Rickie Weeks
Zelous Wheeler
Randy Wolf

COACHES
Ron Roenicke
Joe Crawford
Marcus Hanel
Garth Iorg
Rick Kranitz
Stan Kyles
Jerry Narron
Johnny Narron
Ed Sedar
John Shelby

RISING STARS
Jed Bradley
Kentrail Davis
Khris Davis
Scooter Gennett
Taylor Jungmann
Hunter Morris
Michael Reed
Yadiel Rivera
Tyler Thornburg
Mike Walker

ALUMNI
Jerry Augustine
Rollie Fingers
Jim Gantner
Larry Hisle
Gorman Thomas
Robin Yount

More from the press release:

Tickets for Brewers On Deck are on sale now. 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. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers Ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at brewers.com/ondeck. On the day of the event, only cash will be accepted for purchases made at the door.

Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, the always popular “Game Shows” featuring Brewers players and prospects, interactive games, Q&A sessions with players and staff, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

The same system for autographs will be used for Brewers On Deck that was introduced last year. Recipients of any “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Numbered coupons to be entered into the random selection process will be available the day of the event only and will be distributed beginning at 8 a.m. at the Frontier Airlines Center. Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted in early January 2012.

Fans can receive one coupon per event admission ticket and can use that coupon 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 collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the PREMIER autograph sessions.

Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs 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.

Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.

The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.

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McClung back with Brewers on Minors deal

Seth McClung is returning to the place he says feels like home.

McClung, a fan-favorite from the Brewers’ run to the 2008 Wild Card, has signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers that does not include an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp but does offer the chance to rejoin a franchise with which he’s comfortable.

“I’m going to have to go down to the Minor League camp and work down there,” he said Tuesday. “But they’re going to give me some of those innings in Spring Training when they need the young guys to come up. I wouldn’t have done that for any other team than Milwaukee.”

McClung made 78 relief appearances and 14 starts for the Brewers from 2007-09 and posted a 4.32 ERA. He was released by the Marlins the following spring and didn’t pitch again until 2011, when he made 19 appearances for the Rangers’ Triple-A club before being released again in July.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander will be 31 next month.

“Ever since I left Milwaukee, I haven’t really been happy playing baseball,” McClung said. “I love 99.9 percent of the people involved in baseball in Milwaukee, from the fans to the front office to Tony [Migliaccio] the clubhouse guy to the players. It was just a special place for me.”

OnMilwaukee.com’s Andy Tarnoff first reported McClung’s return.

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Brewers, Gomez avoid arbitration

There’s a report this afternoon from FoxSports.com that the Brewers and center fielder Carlos Gomez avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for “around $2 million.” Gomez would be the second of the Brewers’ arbitration-eligible players to sign, joining catcher George Kottaras.

Gomez made $1.5 million last season and became a productive player after the Brewers moved him into a center field platoon with Nyjer Morgan. Gomez lost much of the second half to a broken collarbone, and finished the regular season with a .225 average, eight home runs and 24 RBIs. He did have an excellent postseason, going 5-for-17 with three runs scored, including the run in Game 5 of the National League Division Series that propelled the Brewers to the NLCS.

This is Gomez’s third year in arbitration and he will have a fourth, because he entered the process as a “Super 2″ player with the Twins.

The Brewers have six remaining arbitration-eligible players, a list headed by reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is handling those talks himself. The team’s other remaining eligibles are starter Shaun Marcum, relievers Kameron Loe, Manny Parra and Jose Veras, and outfielder Morgan.

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Community Foundation to receive award

News from the Brewers:

Brewers Community Foundation, the official charitable arm of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be honored as the recipient of the Lincoln Gaines Award from the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. The award is sponsored by M&I, a partner of BMO Finanbcial Group.

The Lincoln Gaines Award was created to honor the memory of Lincoln Gaines and his commitment to Milwaukee’s central city. Gaines was a co-organizer of the North Central YMCA in 1929 and devoted over 50 years to improving the quality of life for Milwaukee’s youth. Brewers Community Foundation will be honored at the YMCA 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast on Monday, January 16 at the Frontier Airlines Center.

The YMCA seeks to recognize those members and organizations of the Milwaukee community that build awareness, speak on behalf of justice, celebrate diversity, and impel action in building a better future for all mankind. Award recipients are organizations that meet these criteria and embody the values articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Brewers Community Foundation harnesses the pride, passion and commitment of Brewers fans, players and other supporters to positively impact the lives of children and their families in Greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

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Aoki undergoing physical exam today

The Brewers bought themselves some decision-making time by running Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki through a physical exam on Monday morning, a day after he showed off his skills to a group of club officials in Phoenix.

The sides have until 4 p.m. CT on Jan. 17 to strike a deal. If they do, Aoki would provide a left-handed bench bat and insurance against a possible suspension for left fielder Ryan Braun. If they do not strike a deal, then Aoki returns to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for a sixth season and the Brewers are off the hook for his $2.5 million posting fee.

General manager Doug Melvin said he and other club officials were still mulling the next step. By administering a physical on Monday, they eliminated one of the technicalities that could have made the timetable tight later in the negotiating window.

“We worked him out, and then we had some discussions last night, and we’ll have some more today about whether to go further,” said  Melvin, who attended the workout.

Melvin, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, manager Ron Roenicke and coaches Jerry and Johnny Narron were among the club’s contingent at Maryvale Baseball Park for a Sunday workout that lasted just over an hour. Agent Nez Balelo and three others, including a translator, visited with Aoki.

He took batting practice and participated in running and throwing drills.

“He’s what you would expect from a player from Japan,” Melvin said. “The decision we have to make is, does he fit on our roster? That’s something we’ll talk about here in the next couple of days.”

Melvin’s decision-making team includes director of pro scouting Zack Minasian and special assistant Dock Groch, both of whom attended the workout. The group was traveling back to Milwaukee on Monday morning.

Aoki, a left-handed hitter, is a .329 hitter in five seasons with the Swallows, with 68 home runs, 295 RBIs, a .408 on-base percentage and 93 stolen bases.

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Lucroy offers defense of Braun

No-nonsense Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy appeared on the team’s flagship radio station Thursday night and gave a strong defense of left fielder Ryan Braun, who faces the prospect of a 50-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Here’s some of what Lucroy told 620 WTMJ:

“I feel for him, I really do,” Lucroy said. “Let me tell you something for everybody that’s listening: I’ve seen this guy in the weight room every single day work his butt off. There is no one on this team that works as hard as he does. … I’ve never witnessed him do anything that I would think or anyone else would think is illegal. I honestly think it was some kind of screw-up. I don’t know what happened. I would be very, very, very shocked if he actually took something knowingly. This guy is way too smart to do something like that. That’s the first thing I said, the first thing that people I’ve talked to who know him said. There’s no way. He doesn’t need to take that stuff to be as good as he is, and everybody who knows him, knows that.”

News of Braun’s test broke last month in an ESPN Outside the Lines report. Typically, such results don’t leak until a player has had an opportunity to appeal, and Lucroy was upset that this case marked an exception.

“Absolutely, it ticked me off because it’s not anybody else’s business,” Lucroy said. “There’s a lot of guys, not that I know personally, but everybody that has had this happen to before, I don’t know if that stuff has leaked or not. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business until it’s proven one way or another.

“I think everybody is going to paint [Braun] with a broad brush and be like, ‘Oh, he’s a cheater.’ The thing that bothers me is that if he is proven innocent, he is going to have this stigma the rest of his life. That’s what bothers me. He doesn’t deserve it. My personal opinion is he doesn’t deserve it.

“I really have faith in the fact that the right decision is going to be made, and hopefully people can admit their mistakes and hopefully we come out of this clean. Because I tell you what, we need him. We need him as a teammate and we need him as an icon for our organization.”

Also last night, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke appeared on 1250 WSSP. He, too, was asked about Braun.

“We’re planning that Ryan is going to be there, and if he isn’t, it’s kind of Plan B,” Roenicke said. “Which is kind of the same way you do it during the season with an injury. You plan on going with your guys, and if somebody goes down, you have to be deep enough … that you are able to fill-in with somebody who you feel can do a good job.

“That’s why Doug and his crew upstairs, when they look at what we need on the bench, they’re thinking, ‘Hey, if somebody goes down at this position, we have to be covered not just for a game or two, but covered in case somebody goes down for a month or whatever.”

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No inductees to Walk of Fame in ’12

For the second consecutive year, no former Brewers or Braves players earned enough votes for induction into the Miller Park Walk of Fame. Candidates must be named on 75 percent of the returned ballots to be elected.

Former Braves shortstop Johnny Logan came closest, appearing on 24 of 39 ballots for 61.5 percent of the vote. Former Brewers also finishing with a strong showing were Teddy Higuera (51.3 percent, 20 votes) and Geoff Jenkins (48.7 percent, 19 votes). This was Jenkins’ first year on the ballot.

Nine former Brewers but no Braves did not exceed the necessary 5 percent of the vote to remain on the 2013 ballot.

There were nine Braves and 34 Brewers on this year’s ballot. The ballots included on-field personnel who wore a Brewers or Braves uniform for a minimum of three seasons but have been retired from playing/managing roles for at least three seasons.

Past winners of the honor 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; Don Money and Harvey Kuenn in 2005; Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and John Quinn in 2007 (the first year that former Braves players appeared on the ballot); and Lew Burdette in 2010.

Complete results:

 

Brewers

NAME VOTES PERCENTAGE

Augustine Jerry 5 12.8%

Bamberger George 16 41.0%

Bando Sal 6 15.4%

Burnitz Jeromy 2 5.1%

Caldwell Mike 15 38.5%

Capellan Jose 0 0.0%

Casanova Raul 0 0.0%

Castro Bill 2 5.1%

Cirillo Jeff 17 43.6%

Clark Brady 0 0.0%

Deer Rob 2 5.1%

Garner Phil 5 12.8%

Haas Moose 4 10.3%

Higuera Teddy 20 51.3%

Hisle Larry 7 17.9%

Jenkins Geoff 19 48.7%

King Ray 0 0.0%

Lezcano Sixto 5 12.8%

Moore Charlie 6 15.4%

Nieves Juan 1 2.6%

Obermueller Wes 1 2.6%

Oglivie Ben 12 30.8%

Plesac Dan 12 30.8%

Schroeder Bill 2 5.1%

Scott George 4 10.3%

Sexson Richie 0 0.0%

Simmons Ted 12 30.8%

Slaton Jim 10 25.6%

Surhoff B.J. 4 10.3%

Sveum Dale 3 7.7%

Turnbow Derrick 0 0.0%

Vaughn Greg 9 23.1%

Vuckovich Pete 14 35.9%

Wise Matt 0 0.0%

Braves

LAST FIRST VOTES PERCENTAGE

Adcock Joe 19 48.7%

Bruton William 2 5.1%

Buhl Robert 4 10.3%

Crandall Del 8 20.5%

Haney Fred 3 7.7%

Logan John 24 61.5%

Mantilla Felix 4 10.3%

Pafko Andy 2 5.1%

Torre Frank 2 5.1%

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