October 2012

Brewers, Veras poised to part ways

Jose Veras and the Brewers were poised to part ways Wednesday after the Brewers notified the reliever they intended to outright him from the 40-man roster, a move that would end his yearlong tenure with a team in the process of rebuilding its bullpen.

Agent Bryce Dixon said Veras elected free agency but a Brewers official called that announcement premature because the player must first clear waivers. That secretive process was ongoing as of Wednesday evening, leaving open several possibilities, including that Veras could be claimed by another club before he has a chance to reach the open market.

At the moment, Veras remained arbitration-eligible after posting a 3.63 ERA in 72 appearances in 2012. But if he clears waivers, refuses the outright assignment and elects free agency instead, he would be free to sign with any team beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Veras, 32, would join Francisco Rodriguez and Livan Hernandez as members of the Brewers’ 2012 bullpen to hit the open market. Brewers relievers owned the National League’s worst ERA (4.66) and most blown saves (29) in 2012. The blown saves were a franchise record.

Veras’ season was one of ups and downs. On one hand he posted a third straight season of at least 45 appearances and a sub-4.00 ERA, a second straight season with at least 70 appearances, and did not allow a run in any of his 14 games in September. On the other hand, Veras walked 40 batters in 67 innings — the third-most walks among Major League relievers.

Manager Ron Roenicke praised Veras’ bottom line, but discussed in late September his occasional frustration with Veras and other Brewers relief arms.

“How many times have we put him in a game and we have to go get him? How many times do we have to have somebody else warm up?” Roenicke said. “And I’m not saying this just about [Veras]. That’s not what I’m saying. He has had good numbers, He is throwing the ball well — he is. But look at the whole picture of what happens.”

Roenicke argued that, “sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story.”

But he also praised Veras’ raw talent, adding, “He’s got a great curveball. He’s also got an outstanding fastball, and when he’s locating both those pitches, he’s not going to get hit.”

The Brewers acquired Veras last December from the Pirates for infielder Casey McGehee, who, coincidentally, elected free agency on Wednesday.

With Veras’ departure, the Brewers have eight players eligible for arbitration: pitchers John Axford, Marco Estrada, Kameron Loe, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra, first baseman Travis Ishikawa and outfielders Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan.


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Gonzalez, K-Rod, Marcum hit market

The Brewers just announced that shortstop Alex Gonzalez, starter Shaun Marcum and reliever Francisco Rodriguez elected free agency today.

Don’t count on the Brewers pursuing Marcum or Rodriguez, but the door could be open for Gonzalez. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said earlier this month that reports of Gonzalez’s rehabilitation were “very favorable,” and that he had expressed a willingness to return. Ash and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin seemed open to having discussions later this winter.

Their decision will dictate the 2013 plan for rookie Jean Segura, a shortstop who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels. Segura batted .264 in 44 games after the Brewers called him up in August.

“We love Segura. We think he’s a Major League shortstop,” Melvin said. “But you know over the course of a year you have depth, too. Depth is so important, especially at a position like that.”

Added Ash: “What’s compelling to me is there are choices now. This time last year, we didn’t have choices at that position.”


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Morris wins Minor League Gold Glove Award

Another honor for Brewers prospect Hunter Morris. The club just sent this news release:

First baseman Hunter Morris of the Double-A Huntsville Stars has been selected as the Rawlings Gold Glove Award recipient among minor league first basemen. The announcement was made today by Minor League Baseball and Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc.

One player was chosen at each position for a total of nine award winners (included below). The honorees were selected among qualifying players from the 10 domestic-based, full-season Minor Leagues. They will each receive their own Rawlings Gold Glove Award, modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players, during the 2013 season.

Morris, who turns 24 on Sunday, was named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player after batting .303 with 28 home runs and 113 RBI in 136 games with Huntsville. He became the first Huntsville player to win the League MVP award since Brewers first baseman Corey Hart in 2003. Morris led all qualifying Southern League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage as he committed just six errors all season.

Morris, who made a run at the Triple Crown, led the Southern League in home runs, RBI, hits (158), slugging percentage (.563), total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74) and ranked among the leaders in doubles (2nd, 40), runs (T3rd, 77) and batting average (4th). His 40 doubles tied Huntsville’s single-season record (tied D.T. Cromer, 1997 with Oakland Athletics organization and Corey Hart, 2003). Morris will participate in the Arizona Fall League, which begins Tuesday, October 9.

The Huntsville, Ala. native was named to the Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star teams and he earned TOPPS Southern League Player of the Month honors in June and July. Morris was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University.

The 2012 Minor League Baseball recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award are as follows:

P Adam Warren — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)
C Josh Phegley — Charlotte (White Sox)
1B Hunter Morris
2B Ryan Cavan — Richmond (Giants)
SS Eugenio Suarez — West Michigan (Tigers)
3B Joe Leonard — Mississippi (Braves)
LF Derrick Robinson — Omaha (Royals)
CF Engel Beltre — Frisco (Rangers)
RF Marcell Ozuna — Jupiter (Marlins)


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