November 2013

In first public appearance Braun expresses remorse

Making his first public comments since he was suspended in July, Ryan Braun on Wednesday expressed contrition in person for his “huge mistake” but offered no more details about his specific transgressions.

Instead, his mere appearance, bundled up for a food drive outside frigid Miller Park the day before Thanksgiving, was the latest step in what Braun himself says will be a long, difficult bid to repair his reputation.

“I wish I had the ability to go back and change things and do things a lot differently,” Braun said. “Unfortunately, I can’t do that. All I can do is move on, try to do everything in my power to earn people’s trust and respect and support. I don’t anticipate winning back everybody’s support, but I certainly intend to do everything in my power to do that. I won’t stop trying.”

Before he faced a bank of microphones on Wednesday, most of Braun’s efforts had been small-scale. In August, he apologized over the phone to Brewers coaches and teammates and sent letters to a variety of baseball officials, including Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig. In September, Braun personally called some Brewers season seatholders to apologize, and visited the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, one of the nonprofits with which he had worked extensively.

On Tuesday, Braun and fiancée Larisa Fraser had dinner at the home of Dino Laurenzi Jr., the sample collector whom Braun blasted in a February 2012 press conference, after Braun had successfully appealed a 50-game suspension.

“We had some really good conversations,” said Braun, who said he made no payments to Laurenzi. “We’ve made amends, and I think we’re both excited to be able to move forward and put this behind us.”

Asked what possessed him to go after Laurenzi in the first place, Braun said, “I’m not really going to get into too many specifics. I wish that I hadn’t done the press conference. It was a big mistake. I deeply regret having done it, and a lot of the things that I said that day.

“But again, all I can do is move forward, and in an effort to do that I’m not going to get into too many specifics. I really don’t think that it does anything too positive or productive for me, for the team, for the game of baseball or anybody else. And in an effort to move forward, I’m not going to discuss that subject.”

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Badenhop: ‘No hard feelings’ after trade to Sox

When the phone rang Friday and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was on the line, Burke Badenhop expected bad news.

“I thought he was calling to let me know they were going to non-tender me or something,” Badenhop said. “So to have landed with the Red Sox is pretty awesome.”

Melvin was calling to inform Badenhop he’d been traded to Boston for a Minor League left-hander, a move that made sense on many levels. Badenhop would have cost something like $2 million in his final arbitration year, and the Brewers have a number of other right-handed middle relief options available at pre-arbitration salaries, including Michael Blazek, Donovan Hand and Rob Wooten. Instead of non-tendering him next month, the Brewers acquired a young pitching prospect in Luis Ortega, and freed a spot on a 40-man roster that had previously been full. That allows for a potential waiver claim, or a selection in the Rule 5 Draft.

Badenhop joked that this time of year is his personal “trade deadline.” He was sent from the Tigers to the Marlins on Dec. 4, 2007 in the Miguel Cabrera deal, from the Marlins to the Rays on Dec. 12, 2011, from the Rays to the Brewers on Dec. 1, 2012 and now from the Brewers to the Red Sox on Nov. 22.

“I completely understand, this being my fourth trade now,” Badenhop said. “I told Doug I couldn’t thank him enough for the opportunity to land in Milwaukee, and I told him I wish I would have pitched better. I always expect great things out of myself, and I was hoping to take a little more of a next step this last year. Obviously, it didn’t happen.

“But there’s still something to be said for giving innings and being someone you can count on, and [Melvin] said it was not performance-based whatsoever. It was a dollars thing. For a mid-market team, it makes sense that if you can get somebody to do the same thing for a lower price, you’re going to do that. There are no hard feelings there.”

Badenhop was told that the Brewers and Red Sox had discussed a trade in July, but nothing materialized. That was too bad for Badenhop, considering how little he was used late in the season (only five appearances in September), and that the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.

 

He was happy to land with another club, rather than on the list of nontenders.

“Relievers, you fit in spots here and there, and obviously Boston is a higher payroll team and at this point in my career I’ve become more of a specialist,” Badenhop said. “That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that for some teams it makes more sense than for others. Had I gone out and blown the doors off, would I be back in Milwaukee? Probably. So by no means did this come as a big surprise.”

He spoke fondly of his season at Miller Park, playing in front of much larger crowds than Badenhop had experienced at previous stints with the Marlins and Rays. But Boston offers some advantages. Badenhop’s sister lives in Boston. His best friend in baseball is Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller.  And Spring Training in Florida will be more convenient commute from Charlotte for wife Sara and the couple’s baby daughter.

“The journey continues,” Badenhop said.

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Badenhop traded to Boston

Less than a year after the Brewers traded for him, Burke Badenhop is on the move again.

The Brewers dealt the right-handed sinker specialist to Boston on Friday for Minor League left-hander Luis Ortega, a show of Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin’s confidence in his other in-house bullpen options.

Badenhop, who turns 31 in February, was arbitration-eligible again after earning $1.55 million last season. The Brewers preferred to spend the $2 million or so they would have spent to bring him back on other needs, and trust middle relief to pre-arbitration pitchers like Michael Blazek, Alfredo Figaro, Donovan Hand and Rob Wooten, all of whom had some success at different points in 2013.

The Brewers will also have starters Hiram Burgos and Mike Fiers coming back from injury as options to start or work relief, and, if he’s not lost in next month’s Rule 5 Draft, could take a look at former supplemental first-round pick Kyle Heckathorn, who pitched to a 3.60 ERA at Triple-A Nashville.

All of those other pitchers are right-handed.

“I talked to Burke about it and the fact this is a business,” Melvin said. “He seemed to understand it.”

Melvin will still monitor the relief market this winter but is more interested in a left-hander to pair with Tom Gorzelanny and, more importantly, someone with closing experience to pair with Jim Henderson. Last year, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez fit that bill, but Rodriguez was traded to the Orioles in July and Axford to the Cardinals in August (for Blazek).

Badenhop made 63 appearances out of the bullpen in 2013, going 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA across 62 1/3 innings, striking out 42 and walking 12. He held right-handed batters to a .229 average, although lefties hit .338 against him.

The Brewers had acquired Badenhop in a trade with the Rays last December. He also has pitched for the Marlins and is 18-20 with a 3.98 ERA over six big league seasons and is on track to reach free agency after the 2014 season.

Ortega, 20,has spent parts of two seasons in Boston’s farm system since signing as an international free agent in July 2011. He is 9-6 with a 2.25 ERA in 25 games, including 14 starts (96ip, 24er). In 2013 in the Gulf Coast League, he made 12 appearances, including one start, and was 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.

Melvin said the Brewers would evaluate Ortega’s role — starter vs. reliever — in Spring Training. If all goes well, he could begin the season at Class A Wisconsin.

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Roenicke: Long-term benefits of moving Braun to RF

Never mind the trade rumors. Ryan Braun seems much more likely to change positions than he is to change teams.

The Brewers outfielder, a subject of some flimsy rumors coming off a 65-game suspension, was first approached by manager Ron Roenicke about a month ago about the potential of moving from left field to right. The topic came up again over lunch in Los Angeles last week between Braun, Roenicke, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin.

Such a switch, Roenicke said, would be less about the short-term benefit — freeing at-bats for prospect Khris Davis, whose bat warrants playing time but whose arm limits him to left field — and more about the long-term.

“Long-term, it’s certainly easier for Doug to find left fielders than it is to find right fielders,” Roenicke said. “So I think that was the main idea, [knowing we can] put Ryan in a position where we know he can play it defensively and be good at it.”

Braun told Roenicke he is open to the idea, a sentiment echoed by Melvin to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported on Thursday that the topic had been discussed.

The move would be good news for Davis, who was promoted back to the Majors when Braun was suspended on July 22 and made a splash by finishing the season with 11 home runs with 27 RBIs, a .353 on-base percentage and a .596 slugging percentage in 56 games. Brewers officials believe that, in time, Davis has the potential to produce like the Cardinals’ Allen Craig, and have discussed various ways to work the soon-to-be 26-year-old into the 2014 starting lineup. Because Davis is not comfortable at first base, left field is the most likely spot.

At the same time, the Brewers’ incumbent right fielder, Norichika Aoki, is entering the final year of his contract. He has hit .287 with a .355 on-base percentage over the past two seasons, mostly serving as a capable leadoff hitter, but seems destined for free agency next winter because the Brewers have a relatively deep stable of outfield prospects.

Moving Braun now would eliminate Milwaukee’s long-term uncertainty in right field, but it would create a crowded left field for 2014. Aoki and Davis would be awkward platoon partners because the left-handed-hitting Aoki actually has better success against left-handed pitchers (.304 average in the Majors) than righties (.279). In his limited Major League stint, right-handed-hitting Davis had similarly reversed splits in terms of batting average (.297 against righties; .244 against lefties) but hit for better power against left-handers.

That temporary logjam could always be eased with a trade. Since Aoki earns a modest salary (a base just shy of $2 million in 2014), he could be an intriguing chip for the Brewers, who need a first baseman and late-inning relief pitching.

“With Aoki, as of right now, we plan to play him like we did last year, but things come up,” Roenicke said. “With Khris Davis, who we liked last year, when he’s hot he shows you what he can do. It allows you to slip him in there.”

Roenicke added: “The challenge, if you [play both], would be what do you do with the leadoff spot when Nori is not in there? You potentially change your leadoff and your No. 2 hitter more than you would like to. Last year, we moved everybody all the time, and it didn’t seem to be a problem. Some [managers] do it all the time and it doesn’t seem to matter. If you’re doing it for the long term, it helps you.”

If they make the move, Roenicke sees Braun working through an easy transition.

“He should be a legitimately good defensive right fielder,” Roenicke said. “He’s got the arm, he’s got the speed, his judgment is good. … I think he likes to be challenged. I told him, it’s a matter of repetition. In left field, your brain knows that when the ball is hit at you, it’s always going to break toward the left field line, and it’s a matter if your brain seeing enough balls to know automatically that it’s going the other way. It’s going to take a little while before your brain automatically knows that.”

As for when Braun will return to the public eye, that remains unclear. Roenicke said the topic of the Brewers’ annual fanfest on Jan. 26 did not come up over lunch.

“He seems to be in a really good frame of mind,” Roenicke said. “He has a wedding coming up [Braun is marrying Larisa Fraser in two weeks] that he’s excited about. So it was more about trying to catch up with him. We discussed a little of everything.”

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

Hart still waiting for green light from doctors

Free agent Corey Hart told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Rockies were among the clubs calling with interest, but said teams were waiting for him to get a clean bill of health before extending formal offers.

The outfielder-turned-first baseman is a free agent for the first time after sitting out the entire 2013 season. He underwent right knee surgery in January to repair a depression on the joint surface, then suffered the same injury in his left knee during rehab and had another surgery in July.

“What’s so hard right now is I don’t get cleared until Dec. 3,” Hart told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “We have plenty of teams calling and checking in to see how I’m doing, but until the doctor says I’m 100 percent, they’re going to hold off until that time.

“It’s kind of frustrating because I’ve been 100 percent for the last month. Until I can actually get back out to [Dr. Neal ElAttrache in] L.A., I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now.”

Hart remains a top target of the Brewers, who drafted him in 2000 as a first baseman and moved him back to that position in 2012 out of need. Hart made a nearly seamless transition while hitting 30 home runs, and was supposed to return in 2013 as Milwaukee’s Opening Day first baseman.

Instead, he spent the season in the training room.

“It’s frustrating because throughout my career I haven’t really been hurt a whole lot,” said Hart, whose past injuries had mostly been limited to Spring Training. “I’ve had a few injuries here and there, but I haven’t really missed any time. It’s one of those instances where I don’t want to be punished because I had an injury year. I’m still a good player, I just had a misfortune. But I’ve worked through all that stuff and now it’s more or less just waiting to see what’s going to happen in the free agent market.”

Hart, who is represented by Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, said most of the early interest in his services has been at first base, a weakness of this year’s free agent market. But he would not rule out moving back to the outfield. Last week, CAA posted part of a video it has been sending to potential suitors, showing Hart doing agility drills.

“Whoever wants me,” Hart said. “I can still go back out there. I’ve dropped 20 pounds, so I’m able to run around better than I have in a few years. That won’t be an issue.”

Hart earned $10 million in 2013 and has acknowledged he will have to take a pay cut and re-establish his value in 2014. In September during a visit to Miller Park, he expressed a willingness to re-sign with the Brewers at a discount, saying, “I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because — nobody wants to play for free — but I’ve basically sat there and watched all season. I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back.”

Hart lives with his wife and four children in Arizona, a factor that could play in his decision. Of the four interested clubs he acknowledged Tuesday, the Brewers and Rockies have Spring Training bases in the Phoenix area. The Rays and Red Sox train in Florida.

“Winning will be great, but I’m more of a family man than anything,” Hart said. “So it won’t necessarily won’t be the best fit for me; it will be the best fit for my family. … We’ll come together and figure out what the best fit is for us, and that’s where we’ll go.”

He was also asked about watching Ryan Braun’s fall from grace:

“It’s tough,” Hart said. “Anything, whether it’s an injury, drug-related, you never want to see one of your friends miss time. He was basically the face of Milwaukee for the last six years, but he’s a strong guy, a strong character. If I’m there, obviously I’ll help him in that. Hopefully, there’s good people around there who will kind of work with him. It’s going to be tough. I don’t know what he’s thinking right now, but coming back from that, it’s going to be hard to hear. Hopefully he has good people around him and if he can come through it, hopefully he’ll be stronger because of it.”

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

Brewers clubhouse sale set for Dec. 6-7

Details on an annual tradition at Miller Park:

The Milwaukee Brewers will host the 33rd Annual Clubhouse Sale on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Miller Park. The sale, which will take place in the visiting clubhouse, will feature savings up to 75% on sale merchandise items.

Fans can save on Brewers apparel, souvenirs and specialty items as well as rare, game-used merchandise, including jerseys and bats. Brewers sales representatives will also be available to handle requests for Holiday 4-Packs.

Every customer who makes a purchase will receive a free Brewers bobblehead bundle, while supplies last. Additionally, a “more-you-spend-the-more-you-save” coupon will be offered. Coupons of 10%/20%/30% off will be offered to the Brewers Team Store by Majestic for those spending $100/$200/$300 at the Clubhouse Sale.

Shoppers can access the Clubhouse Sale by entering Miller Park at the Hot Corner entrance near the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and following the posted directions to the visiting clubhouse. Cash and credit cards will be accepted (no personal checks). Admission and parking is free.

In addition, the Brewers Team Store by Majestic will also feature a variety of activities during both days of the Clubhouse Sale. Eight prize drawings will be held at the team store on both days. Prizes will include $250 shopping sprees and special Authentic Collection packages at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic. Children can have their photo taken with the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages™ on December 6 from 10 a.m. – noon and with Santa on December 7 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 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. For more information, contact the team store at (414) 902-4750.

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Gomez runs ninth in NL MVP race

Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez finished ninth in National League MVP balloting on Thursday, marking the sixth time in the last seven years that a Brewer ranked in the top 10.

The winner was Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, the only player in the NL who finished with a better WAR (wins above average) than Gomez, according to FanGraphs.com’s measure. McCutchen garnered 28 of the 30 available first place votes for some distance from runner-up Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs and Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals.

Thirty members of the Baseball Writers Association of America cast ballots, two from each city, ranking their top 10 players. Fourteen points were awarded for first place, nine for second place, eight for third and on down to one point for 10th. Gomez totaled 43 points, just behind Hanley Ramirez of the Dodgers and ahead of Jay Bruce of the Reds, appearing as high as fifth on one ballot (from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and ranking among the top 10 for 15 of the 30 voters, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak, who had Gomez 10th.

Both of Milwaukee’s voters — Rosiak and Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel — had McCutchen ranked first. He finished with 409 points (to Goldschmidt’s 242) and marked the 16th time a center fielder was his league’s MVP. One of them is the Brewers’ Robin Yount in 1989 — who also won in 1982 as a shortstop.

Gomez signed a three-year contract extension with the Brewers in Spring Training and rewarded the team with his best season, batting .284 with 24 home runs, 73 RBIs and 40 stolen bases. He made his first All-Star team in July and was rewarded in October with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the first for a Brewer since Yount’s in 1982.

John Schlegel has our story on the winners over at MLB.com, and if you’re interested in the ballot-by-ballot votes, visit BBWAA.com.

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

BCF to keep busy over holidays

The Brewers Community Foundation sent information this afternoon detailing some of its efforts with Hunger Task Force to help feed Milwaukee-area families this holiday season via a number of events and opportunities.

The Thanksgiving week will begin with the WISN 12 Food For Families Phone Bank on Tuesday, November 26. A number of Brewers staff will work the phones, collecting donations that will benefit Hunger Task Force.

In addition, Brewers Community Foundation, Hunger Task Force and CBS 58 will host a food drive at Miller Park on Wednesday, November 27. Food can be dropped off at Helfaer Field at Miller Park on November 27 between 4:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Each vehicle stopping by to donate food items will receive a Brewers bobblehead, a gift bag and other items while supplies last. A number of Brewers special guests and CBS 58 News Team members will be on hand throughout the day to collect donations.

In a unique twist for fans and “art collectors” alike, Brewers Community Foundation is helping raise money for the Hunger Task Force through an online auction of player-designed “turkey hands.” Select Brewers players put their creative talents to work on the traditional Thanksgiving art project of hand-drawn “turkey hands,” which will be revealed on the Brewers social media platforms beginning on Monday.

The framed, original designs will be auctioned off on Brewers.com beginning November 21 at 5 p.m. CT. The auction will conclude on Sunday, December 1 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

Holiday 4-packs on sale Friday

Another press release, this time from the Brewers:

im_holiday4packs_thisseasonWith the holidays approaching, the Milwaukee Brewers Holiday 4-Packs will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. CT.

Fans will be able to choose from five appealing 4-Pack options, including a new Fan’s Choice Plan. If holiday shoppers order by Thursday, December 19, their 4-Packs will be delivered in time for Christmas in special holiday carriers, ready for giving. To see the schedule of options, visit Brewers.com/4packs.

Brewers Holiday 4-Packs include many of the most anticipated games of the 2014 season. Three of the five plans – the Matinee Plan, the Rivals Plan and the Weekend Plan – include one All-Fan Giveaway Date, while the Double Bobble Plan includes two All-Fan Giveaway Dates (see attachment). The Fan’s Choice Plan allows fans to select four games of their choice from an assortment of 34 games.

In addition, the Brewers are offering a free Bernie Brewer ornament gift-with-purchase to fans with every pair of 4-Packs they buy.

Holiday 4-Packs range in price from $72 – $168 and are available in the Field Outfield Box, Loge Infield Box, Club Outfield Box, Terrace Box, Loge Bleachers and Terrace Reserved seat locations. All tickets are subject to availability while supplies last. Pricing is as follows and includes one ticket to four games:

4-Pack Prices:
Field Outfield Box $168
Loge Infield Box $160
Club Outfield Box $160
Terrace Box $96
Loge Bleachers $92
Terrace Reserved $72

Standard shipping and handling fees apply. Advance parking packages are also available. To make a purchase, visit Brewers.com/4packs

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Brewers’ Guerrero honored by MiLB

Adam McCalvy/MLB.com

Some well-deserved recognition this morning for Brewers coach Mike Guerrero:

Minor League Baseball announced today that it has selected Mike Guerrero, who managed the Nashville Sounds this season, as the winner of the sixth annual Mike Coolbaugh Award, presented to an individual who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field. The Coolbaugh Award will be presented during the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Guerrero completed his 18th year as a MiLB manager this season and his 17th in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. His first job as a manager occurred in 1995, when he skippered Toronto’s affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. The following year, Guerrero joined the Brewers’ organization as the camp director and manager of their club in the Dominican Summer League. In 2003, after seven seasons in the DSL, he served as the hitting coach with the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League.

Guerrero returned to managing in 2004 with Milwaukee’s club in the Arizona League. After two seasons in the AZL, he steadily progressed through the Brewers’ farm system, with managerial stints in Class A West Virginia (2006-07) in the South Atlantic League; Class A Advanced Brevard County (2008-09) in the Florida State League; and Double-A Huntsville (2010-11) in the Southern League, before taking over in Triple-A Nashville in 2012.

Guerrero, who played nine seasons in the Milwaukee (1987-92, 1994-95) and Kansas City (1993) organizations as a middle infielder, was added to the Brewers’ Major League staff as a coach in late September. He is currently managing the Licey team in the Dominican Baseball League.

“Mike Guerrero has positively impacted the lives and development of many Milwaukee farmhands during his 17 years as a manager, which includes nearly every classification in their system,” Pat O’Conner, President & CEO of Minor League Baseball, stated. “His tenure with the Brewers is a testament to Mike’s work ethic and to the job that he has done in mentoring their players. The Brewers’ recent promotion of him to the Major League staff speaks highly of how much they value Mike’s coaching ability.”

“I am honored to be chosen as this year’s Mike Coolbaugh Award winner,” said Guerrero. “It is my passion to help develop young players as they strive to achieve their goals of reaching the Major Leagues. I want to thank the Brewers organization for their commitment to me and I thank Minor League Baseball for honoring me with this award.”

“On behalf of the Milwaukee Brewers, I congratulate Mike Guerrero as the recipient of the 2013 Mike Coolbaugh Award,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin. “Mike has been a loyal member of the Brewers family for nearly 30 years as a player, coach and manager. He is a consummate team player and has been accepting of any role that we have asked of him within our organization. Through his dedication and hard work, Mike has impacted the development of a number of Brewers players over the years, including Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo, Jonathan Lucroy and Rickie Weeks. He has touched the lives of many players and has been a key contributor to the success of the organization.”

Previous winners of the Mike Coolbaugh Award include Johnny Goryl (2012), Mike Jirschele (2011), Woody Huyke (2010), Charlie Montoyo (2009) and Bobby Jones (2008).

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers