January 2013

Logan to join Miller Park Walk of Fame

Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan, a four-time All-Star who has worked in recent years to preserve the memory of the city’s only World Series winner, will be honored this year with a spot on the Miller Park Walk of Fame.

Logan, 85, was the only former Braves and Brewers player to receive the requisite 65 percent in a vote of Wisconsin media and Brewers officials. The Brewers, who dropped the cutoff from 75 percent to 65 percent after two straight years with no inductees, did not immediately announce a date for Logan’s ceremony.

“This is a very special honor for me to be honored in this great city, especially for this New York boy,” Logan said in a statement.”I want to thank the greatest fans in baseball, and everyone in the media and community, for their support.”

Check Brewers.com shortly for more on Logan’s honor. For now, here are the full balloting results.

TOTAL BALLOTS 44  –  NEEDED FOR INDUCTION 29
NAME                                VOTES   PERCENTAGE

Johnny Logan                        32               72.7%
Joe Adcock                             27               61.4%
Teddy Higuera                      26               59.1%
George Bamberger               19               43.2%
Jeff Cirillo                              19               43.2%
Mike Caldwell                        18               40.9%
Geoff Jenkins                         17               38.6%
Pete Vuckovich                      14                31.8%
Ben Oglivie                            13                29.5%
Dan Plesac                            12                27.3%
Ted Simmons                        11                25.0%
Del Crandall                            10               22.7%
George Scott                          9                20.5%
Sal Bando                               8                 18.2%
Larry Hisle                              7                 15.9%
Jim Slaton                               7                15.9%
Greg Vaughn                          7                15.9%
Fred Haney                              6                13.6%
Charlie Moore                         6                 13.6%
Phil Garner                             5                 11.4%
Billy Bruton                              4                  9.1%
Bob Buhl                                  4                  9.1%
Bill Castro                               4                  9.1%
Jerry Augustine                       3                  6.8%
Sixto Lezcano                          3                 6.8%
Felix Mantilla                             3                6.8%
Andy Pafko                               3                 6.8%
Bill Schroeder                          3                 6.8%
Dale Sveum                             3                 6.8%
Jeromy Burnitz                         2                4.5%
Moose Haas                             2                4.5%
B.J. Surhoff                              2                4.5%
Rob Deer                                 0                0.0%
Frank Torre                              0                0.0%
David Weathers                      0                0.0%

Milwaukee Braves players denoted by italics

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Braun cites challenges for Team USA

BraunBrewers left fielder Ryan Braun will mostly play for national pride in the World Baseball Classic as a leading member of Team USA.

But there’s an added bonus.

“It’s so much more fun than Spring Training,” he joked.

Braun, never shy about calling for a much shorter spring, will gladly trade a few sleepy days at Maryvale Baseball Park for the drama of the Classic, which returns for a third installment this spring.

Braun and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy were formally named to Team USA’s provisional roster on Thursday morning. Rosters for the tournament’s other teams were scheduled to be announced at 3 p.m. CT in an MLB Network special.

Both Braun and Lucroy confirmed their participation via Twitter last week.

Neither will have to travel very far to join Team USA. The Americans are part of Pool D with Canada, Mexico and Italy and will play a round robin at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz. and at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Italy and Mexico kick-off Pool D play on March 7. Italy then takes on Canada and Mexico draws the U.S. on March 8.

Meanwhile, back at Maryvale, the rest of the Brewers will be in their second week of relatively sleepy Spring Training games.

“It’s definitely a different challenge,” said Braun, who also played in the ’09 Classic. “I think it’s advantageous to me to know what I’m getting myself into and have a better idea of how I need to prepare myself to play nine innings right away and to play some very meaningful baseball games. It’s a lot different than it would be preparing for a regular Spring Training. I’ve already done it once.”

Does he worry at all about extending the season so dramatically?

“No, I don’t think so,” Braun said. “With the format, you don’t play that many games. You do play more innings than usual for that time of year, and they’re far more intense. But at least last time I played, it was spread out enough that there was some downtime.

“If anything, I think it could be an advantage to help prepare for the season. A lot of times, Spring Training can be boring and monotonous. Playing [in the Classic] can give you a head start on the season.”

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‘YOUniform’ contest down to three; voting begins

MILYOUNIFORM_blogFrom 700 proposals, the Brewers whittled down to three finalists in their “Design a YOUniform” contest and opened online balloting Tuesday, moving one step closer to one fan’s uniform being worn by the team for a pair of exhibition games.

Fans can view the three designs and vote for their favorite at Brewers.com/uniform. That tally, along with an internal panel of judges that includes Brewers closer John Axford, will select the winner.

The three finalists are Ron Verrecchio of Catonsville, Md., Ben Peters of Richfield, Minn. and Nicholas Fouts of Madison. They were invited to attend Brewers On Deck on Sunday, Jan. 27 to discuss their designs and see the winner unveiled.

That winning design will be worn on the field by the Brewers twice — on Friday, March 22 against the Cubs at Maryvale Baseball Park and on Saturday, March 30 against the White Sox at Miller Park. That latter game is the Brewers’ final tune-up before their April 1 regular-season opener against the Rockies.

Verrecchio, Peters or Fouts will get to see his design in action at the March 22 game courtesy of the Brewers, who will provide airfare and tickets for two plus $1,500 for other expenses. He will also get to select the game-worn uniform and cap from one player that day, and 10 t-shirts and hats featuring the winning design.

The contest began last fall, when the Brewers called for ideas for an alternate uniform.

“The response to this initiative was tremendous,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said. “It’s a contest that really has not been replicated before, and we were excited to see the creative efforts that the fans put into their designs.”

The fan vote will remain open until, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. CT and will count as one vote among the panel of eight judges. Besides Axford, the Brewers’ panel includes general manager Doug Melvin, Schlesinger, Brewers Senior Director of Merchandise Branding Jill Aronoff, and representatives from Majestic, New Era and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Here are larger versions of the three designs:

Ron Verrecchio - Catonsville, Md.

Ron Verrecchio – Catonsville, Md.

Ben Peters - Richfield, Minn.

Ben Peters – Richfield, Minn.

Nicholas Fouts - Madison

Nicholas Fouts – Madison

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Correction on Classic eligibility

[Updated Jan. 17 with current confirmed participants]

A correction is in order for something I got wrong last week. I was originally told that World Baseball Classic rules limit to eight the number of players eligible from each Major League club’s roster, but the number is actually higher.

From the rules posted on the Classic’s website:

WBCI will not approve a player’s participation in the Qualifying Round if such participation would cause a Major League Club to have more than 14 players from its organization, or more than 10 of its players who were on any Major League Baseball Club’s Major League Active or Disabled List as of August 31, 2012, participate in the Qualifying Round, unless the Major League Club informs WBCI in writing that it has no objection to allowing additional players to participate. If limits of player participation from a Major League Club are reached, WBCI will choose which players will participate, guided by the principle that Teams’ rosters that have fewer available Major League players will be given priority.

Just to be sure, I confirmed with a Major League Baseball spokesperson that the 10/14 rule was in effect. He stressed that clubs can waive the limit, and that some did so for the 2009 Classic.

We’ll see if the Brewers get close to the limits. So far, nine Brewers have been confirmed, six of whom were on the active roster on Aug. 31 — John Axford and Jim Henderson of Canada, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy of the U.S., Yovani Gallardo of Mexico and Martin Maldonado of Puerto Rico.

Three other Classic participants — Canadian infielder Taylor Green, who was not recalled to the Brewers until Sept. 7, plus Puerto Rico’s Hiram Burgos and Dutchman Hainley Statia — will count against the limit of 14 players from one organization but not against the 10 from a single team’s active roster.

The U.S. participants were just confirmed this morning. The rest of the field will be unveiled in an MLB Network at 3 p.m. CT that I’m told will be streamed live at MLB.com. Expect a few more Brewers to join the list.

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Three Brewers picked for Team Canada

Doug Melvin’s Brewers are Major League Baseball’s most Canadian club this side of Toronto, so it came as no surprise Saturday when three Milwaukee players were included on a provisional Canadian roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Relievers John Axford and Jim Henderson (listed as “Jimmy” on a roster Tweeted by Baseball Canada) and infielder Taylor Green were among 23 players on a list submitted by Baseball Canada to World Baseball Classic, Inc., which is expected to officially announce rosters for the event on Thursday evening on MLB Network.

The three Brewers are among 12 players who appeared in Major League Baseball in 2012 — others include Justin Morneau of the Twins, Russell Martin of the Pirates, Jesse Crain of the White Sox, Michael Saunders of the Mariners and Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays. Lawrie, the former Brewers prospect traded to Toronto in December 2010, also played in the WBC in 2009.

Canada will play a pair of exhibitions in Arizona to warm-up for the WBC, including a March 5 game at Maryvale Baseball Park against the Brewers. The Canadians then open the WBC against Italy on March 8.

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More details on Escobar deal

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Escobar posted this photo to his Twitter account — @kelvimescobar.

Kelvin Escobar was all smiles Thursday after finalizing a Minor League contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to big league camp and a chance to mount a big-time comeback in the Brewers’ bullpen.

And why wouldn’t be smile? Besides being a great story, it could prove a rather lucrative endeavor.

A baseball source told me Escobar would earn a base salary of $1.1 million in the Majors, plus up to $1.1 million more in incentives. I don’t have the precise breakdown on those incentives, but they include performance bonuses (which can include bumps for things like games finished or appearances), roster bonuses (for days with the big league club) and awards bonuses, including a payout for winning Comeback Player of the Year.

I’m told the deal also includes a May 1 “out,” allowing Escobar to opt for free agency if he’s not in the big leagues by that date. But he’s not thinking about that — Escobar says he feels healthy and strong, and told fans via his colorful Twitter account (@kelvimescobar) that, “It’s been a while but I feel great and know I can help this team.”

His success will more likely than not hinge on his health. Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said the club’s Latin American scouts filed favorable reports on Escobar’s performance in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he touched the mid-90s with his fastball. But Escobar has a long medical history that includes elbow and more recently shoulder issues. Because of that shoulder, he’s been limited to one Major League appearance since 2007, and he has not pitched in the U.S. since an injury ended a 2010 bid with the Mets before it began.

By the way, I asked Ash whether he would confirm those financial terms, and he declined. The Brewers typically don’t divulge the dollars associated with their signings.

Here’s a link to Brewers.com for the original story about Escobar’s deal.

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Brewers to sign RHP Escobar

The Brewers are poised to announce a Minor League deal for former 18-game winner Kelvim Escobar that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training camp, where the 36-year-old will compete for a spot in Milwaukee’s bullpen.

Escobar, 36, has pitched only once in the Majors since 2007 because of shoulder issues but has been throwing well in Venezuela and indicated a desire to try a comeback. Brewers scouts there, including director of Latin American scouting Manny Batista, liked what they saw and reported Escobar reaching the mid 90s with his fastball.

He has familiarity with both Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash from their days in Toronto and manager Ron Roenicke from their days in Anaheim. More to come.

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Lucroy will play for Team USA

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy took to Twitter this afternoon to announce that he would play for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, the second Brewer to commit so far.

Outfielder Ryan Braun, who played in the WBC in 2006, told a radio audience earlier this week that he was already in training to be ready for this year’s event.

Lucroy, 26, was still more than a year away from debuting in the Major Leagues when the WBC last was staged. But he has since cemented his place as the Brewers’ everyday catcher, signing a long-term contract last spring and then enjoying an offensive breakout before suffering a broken right hand in May. Lucroy wound up batting .320 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs in 96 games.

The Brewers expect to hear by Jan. 16 which other players will depart Maryvale Baseball Park to play in the WBC. Candidates include starters Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada for Team Mexico, relievers John Axford and Jim Henderson and infielder Taylor Green for Team Canada, center fielder Carlos Gomez (but probably not third baseman Aramis Ramirez) for the Dominican Republic and perhaps catcher Martin Maldonado for Puerto Rico. Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki has already announced that he will not take part.

The rules dictate that teams cannot lose more than eight members of their 40-man roster to the WBC, and the Brewers’ expectation is that they will either come close to or reach that limit.

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By the numbers: Brewers big league campers

Charlie looks serious about uniform numbers.

Charlie looks serious about those uniform numbers.

You asked for it, so here it is. Every invitee to the #Brewers’ big league Spring Training camp (so far) in one place, ordered by uniform number. The players with an asterisk next to their name are non-roster invitees.

Now you can get that elusive Charlie Greene autograph in Spring Training…

1 Corey Hart …………………………………… 1B/OF
1 Reid Nichols ……………………………..Instructor
3 Scooter Gennett ………………………………..INF
5 Taylor Green …………………………………….INF
6 Ed Sedar …………………………………3B Coach
7 Norichika Aoki ……………………………………OF
8 Ryan Braun ……………………………………….OF
9 Jean Segura ………………………………………SS
10 Ron Roenicke …………………………….Manager
12 Martin Maldonado ………………………………..C
14 Jeff Bianchi ……………………………………….INF
15 Caleb Gindl ……………………………………….OF
16 Aramis Ramirez …………………………………. 3B
19 Robin Yount ……………………………..Instructor
20 Jonathan Lucroy …………………………………..C
21 Donnie Murphy* ………………………………..INF
22 Logan Schafer ……………………………………OF
23 Rickie Weeks ……………………………………. 2B
24 Mat Gamel …………………………………… 1B/OF
27 Carlos Gomez ……………………………………OF
29 Jim Henderson ………………………………..RHP
30 Craig Counsell …………………………..Instructor
31 Burke Badenhop ……………………………..RHP
32 Tom Gorzelanny ……………………………….LHP
33 John Shelby ……………………..Outfield Coach
35 Garth Iorg ………………………………..1B Coach
36 Jerry Narron ………………………. Bench Coach
37 Mark Rogers ……………………………………RHP
38 Chris Narveson ………………………………..LHP
39 Rick Kranitz …………………….. Pitching Coach
40 Fautino De Los Santos …………………….RHP
41 Marco Estrada …………………………………RHP
43 Lee Tunnell ……………………… Bullpen Coach
45 Johnny Narron ……………………. Hitting Coach
46 Hiram Burgos ………………………………….RHP
47 Donovan Hand* ……………………………….RHP
49 Yovani Gallardo ……………………………….RHP
50 Blake Lalli* ………………………………………….C
51 Mike Gonzalez …………………………………LHP
52 Jairo Asencio* …………………………………RHP
53 Brandon Kintzler ………………………………RHP
54 Josh Stinson ……………………………………RHP
55 Marcus Hanel …………………. Bullpen Catcher
56 Joe Crawford ………………Coaching Assistant
57 Khris Davis ………………………………………..OF
58 Josh Prince ……………………………………….OF
59 John Axford …………………………………….RHP
60 Wily Peralta …………………………………….RHP
61 Darren Byrd* …………………………………..RHP
62 Hector Gomez* ………………………………….INF
63 Tyler Thornburg ……………………………….RHP
64 Mike Fiers ……………………………………….RHP
65 Miguel De Los Santos ……………………….LHP
67 Santo Manzanillo ……………………………..RHP
68 Jesus Sanchez ………………………………..RHP
70 Nick Bucci ………………………………………RHP
71 Johnny Hellweg ……………………………….RHP
72 Dayton Buller* ……………………………………..C
73 Ariel Pena ……………………………………….RHP
74 Michael Olmsted ……………………………..RHP
75 Travis Webb* ……………………………………LHP
77 Jed Bradley* …………………………………….LHP
78 Taylor Jungmann* ……………………………RHP
79 Anderson De La Rosa* …………………………C
80 Mike Guerrero …………………………..Instructor
81 Sandy Guerrero …………………………Instructor
82 Charlie Greene ………………………….Instructor
83 Bob Skube ………………………………..Instructor
84 Bob Miscik ………………………………..Instructor
85 Rick Tomlin ………………………………Instructor
86 Reggie Williams ………………………..Instructor
87 Fred Dabney …………………………….Instructor
88 Chris Hook ……………………………….Instructor
89 Darnell Coles …………………………….Instructor
90 Kenny Dominguez ……………………..Instructor
91 Adam Weisenburger* ……………………………C
92 Hunter Morris* …………………………………… 1B
93 Kentrail Davis* ……………………………………OF
94 Rafael Neda* ……………………………………….C

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Gonzalez incentives tied to games finished

The Brewers’ $2.25 million, one year contract with left-hander Mike Gonzalez could pay up to $400,000 in performance bonuses, according to the Associated Press.

Gonzalez would earn $50,000 for 25 games finished, $75,000 each for 30 and 35 games finished, and $100,000 apiece for 40 and 50 games finished. Since it’s difficult to imagine Gonzalez being the Brewers’ mop-up man, those incentives are essentially in place to reward him if he takes over from John Axford as the Brewers’ closer.

The 34-year-old Gonzalez has 56 career saves but has not spent significant time in a closer’s role since 2009 with Atlanta. He officially signed with the Brewers on Monday after agreeing to terms on Dec. 28.

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