Results tagged ‘ Craig Counsell ’

Hot market for Counsell?

The window for teams to exclusively negotiate with their own free agents doesn’t expire until Friday, but according to one observer that’s not stopping as many as a dozen clubs from showing interest in veteran Brewers infielder Craig Counsell.’s Buster Olney “tweeted” this on Monday without specifying a source: “Craig Counsell has attracted interest from 12 teams. Possible he will leave Milw. for a multi-year deal. Possible fits: NYY, Boston.”

It’s against Major League rules for teams to negotiate with representatives for players who aren’t their own during a 15-day window following the World Series, but there is no rule against team’s simply checking in to express general interest.

Counsell would fit almost anywhere based on his proficiency at second base, third base and shortstop. He turned 39 in August but enjoyed his best season since he helped the Arizona Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series, batting .285 for the Brewers in 2009 with 34 extra-base hits, a .357 on-base percentage and a .408 slugging percentage. Counsell also went 5-for-16 as a pinch-hitter

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin wouldn’t say last week which of Milwaukee’s nine free agents the team was working to bring back, but Counsell certainly would fit. He could pair with versatile right-handed hitter Adam Heether, who was added last week to the Brewers’ 40-man roster, as a left-right pair of reserve infielders in 2010.

Counsell earned $1 million last season on a one-year contract.


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Counsell, Weathers formally join free agent pool

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell and reliever David Weathers were among the 31 players who formally filed for free agency on Monday. 

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin wouldn’t say which of his free agents the team would attempt to re-sign, but Counsell is probably one of them. He turned 39 in August but has his best season since he helped the Arizona Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series, batting .285 in 2009 with 34 extra-base hits, a .357 on-base percentage and a .408 slugging percentage. 

He also went 5-for-16 as a pinch-hitter and started at least 19 games at three infield positions, making him a valuable bench option for Brewers manager Ken Macha. Counsell could pair with versatile right-handed hitter Adam Heether, who was added earlier Monday to the Brewers’ 40-man roster, as a solid left-right pair of reserve infielders in 2010.

Asked last week whether he was in talks with any of the Brewers’ free agents about a return, Melvin was coy. 

“We’ve had discussions,” he said. “I don’t want to say which players we’ve had discussions with.”

Counsell signed a one-year, $1 million contract to return to the Brewers prior to last season. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month but should he 100 percent healthy well ahead of Spring Training. 

Weathers’ filing was a formality since the Brewers declined his $3.7 million club option last week. He split the 2009 season between Cincinnati and Milwaukee, going 4-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 68 games. After an Aug. 9 trade to the Brewers, he was 1-3 with a 4.88 ERA while appearing in 25 of the team’s final 51 games. The Brewers sent cash to the Reds after the season to complete the trade. 

Weathers is a Type B free agent but the Brewers would have to offer him arbitration in order to reap a compensatory Draft pick should he sign elsewhere. That would be tricky because Weathers earned $3.5 million in 2009 and would almost certainly get a raise in arbitration if he accepted the offer. 

Five other Brewers filed for free agency last week, leaving pitcher Claudio Vargas as the only eligible player yet to submit his paperwork. Fellow pitcher Braden Looper remains in limbo while the Brewers decide whether to exercise their half of his $6.5 million mutual option. The team has until Saturday to do so. 

Monday marked the fifth day of the 15-day period in which eligible players may give notice of their election of free agency. To date, 151 Major League players have filed.

Free agency period is on

FAs2.jpg Let the offseason begin.

When the Yankees clinched the World Series on Wednesday night, it kick-started the season after the season for all 30 teams, not to mention the dozens of unattached players looking for new homes. Thursday began a 15-day period for those players to formally file for free agency, during which they may only negotiate with their current team.

The Brewers have seven such players, including two — center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall — who have been fixtures in the starting lineup in the past two seasons. The other players eligible to file are outfielder Frank Catalanotto, infielder Craig Counsell, second baseman Felipe Lopez, outfielder Corey Patterson and pitcher Claudio Vargas.

Two others must wait to learn whether they will join the free agent pool. The Brewers have 10 days after the World Series to decide whether to exercise their half of Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option and whether to pick up reliever David Weathers’ $3.7 million club option.

Looper, who led the team with 14 wins and tied for the National League with 34 starts but ran up a 5.22 ERA and led the Major Leagues by allowing 39 home runs, is a particularly interesting case. The Brewers would have to pay a $1 million buyout if they declined his option. 

In August it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Brewers, who are short on pitching prospects at the top levels of the Minor Leagues, would bring Looper back. But a high-ranking club official indicated during the final week of the season that Looper’s future with the team was now up for debate. He went 5-2 in September/October but posted a 6.58 ERA and a .349 opponents’ average. With general manager Doug Melvin intent on bringing in two new starters — his stated goal last month — and the Brewers’ four other ’09 starters under contract for 2010, Looper could conceivably be one of the odd men out. 

If the Brewers decline Weathers’ option, they owe him a $400,000 buyout. 

Among the players already eligible for free agency, Cameron, Counsell, Kendall and Vargas are the likely priorities. Lopez was excellent after a July trade from Arizona to Milwaukee — .with a 320 batting average and a .407 on-base percentage in 297 plate appearances — but Melvin made it clear that he is committed to Rickie Weeks at second base. If that’s the case, it appears the Brewers don’t have a spot for Lopez. 

Also on Thursday, the Brewers learned that Cameron, Kendall and Lopez all qualified as Type B players in the Elias Sports Bureau’s ranking system and that Looper and Weathers would also rank as Type Bs should they reach free agency.

That system considers a player’s last two seasons of statistical output and is used to determine which free agents are eligible for Draft compensation. In order to qualify, a free agent must be offered arbitration by his former team, but decline the offer and then sign elsewhere.

The former club of a Type A free agent receives the player’s new team’s first- or second-round pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft, depending on where that team finished in the standings, plus a “sandwich pick” between the first- and second rounds.  The former club of a Type B free agent receives only the sandwich pick.
Lopez.jpgLopez was one spot shy of qualifying as a Type A player. National League second baseman, shortstops and third basemen are grouped together by Elias, and Lopez was the first Type B, with a rating of 71.889. Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla was the final Type A, at 72.350.

For more on the Brewers’ free agent-eligibles, see my story on

Of the players in question, who would you like to see back? Who should the Brewers let go?


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Counsell, Looper undergo surgery

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell and right-hander Braden Looper each underwent arthroscopic surgeries on Tuesday to repair the meniscus in their respective right knees. The procedures, performed by Dr. William Raasch, were “routine,” per a team spokesperson.

Both Counsell, who is a free agent, and Looper, whose contract includes a mutual option for 2010, played through knee pain all season. Counsell mulled surgery at the end of Spring Training but ultimately decided against it. Looper surrendered a Major League-worst 39 home runs this season and wondered aloud during the season’s final weekend whether his persistent knee pain played a role.

The Brewers have until 10 days after the World Series to decide on their half of Looper’s $6.5 million option. If they decline, he gets a $1 million buyout. If the team exercises its half, Looper has three days to decide whether to accept.

Tuesday’s procedures brought to four the number of “clean up” surgeries performed by Raasch since the end of the season. Raasch also removed loose bodies from third baseman Casey McGehee’s right knee, and repaired the AC joint in pitcher Manny Parra’s left shoulder.

For more on all four players, see my story about the pending surgeries from Oct. 5.


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Surgeries set for Counsell, Parra, McGehee, Looper

Add Craig Counsell and Manny Parra to the list of Brewers set for arthroscopic surgeries in the coming days to fix problems that nagged all season. 

Counsell, fellow infielder Casey McGehee and pitcher Braden Looper will each undergo relatively minor procedures next week to clean up right knee injuries and pitcher Parra will have surgery on his left shoulder.

All four procedures will be performed by Dr. William Raasch, the team’s head physician. In chronological order: 

– Parra will undergo what a club official stressed was a routine surgery Tuesday to clean up the AC joint in his left shoulder. The procedure has been planned for some time, and the injury did not prevent Parra from making his final starts of the season. 

It’s also “not even remotely close” to the shoulder issues in Parra’s past, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash. Parra had season-ending surgery in August 2005 to repair a torn rotator cuff. 

“What Dr. Raasch is going to do is eliminate the friction” outside of Parra’s shoulder joint, Ash said. “It’s nothing inside the joint. It’s been nagging him all year, but not nagging to the point where he couldn’t pitch. There is some irritation there, so we’re going to take this opportunity to eliminate it. It’s kind of like having a pebble in your shoe.”

Ash hoped the surgery would provide some peace of mind for Parra, who had a trying season. He went 11-11 but posted a 6.36 ERA in 27 starts and spent three weeks in the Minor Leagues following a June demotion. Of the 67 National League pitchers who worked at least 100 innings, only teammate Dave Bush (6.38) had a higher ERA than Parra. 

– As previously reported, McGehee will also have surgery on Tuesday, to clean out loose bodies from his right knee. McGehee played most of the season with pain in the joint, and has known since the All-Star break that he would probably require surgery. 

McGehee enjoyed a breakthrough season in spite of the constant knee pain, which affected him more in the field than at the plate. He singled in his first at-bat in Sunday’s season finale to finish with a .301 batting average, and his 66 RBIs led all Major League rookies. McGehee also hit 16 home runs. 

Manager Ken Macha pulled McGehee from Sunday’s game early to preserve his batting average. 

“That’s something he by no means had to do, and I appreciated it,” McGehee said. “I thought [my year] went pretty well. I want to get my defense back next year to where I expect it to be at. Other than that, I feel like I had a solid year.” 

– Also, as expected, Looper will have surgery next week to fix torn meniscus in his right knee. Looper told reporters on Saturday that he pitched all year with the issue. 

He led the Brewers and set a career high with 14 wins and led the National League with 34 starts, but also led the Majors by allowing 113 earned runs, 39 home runs and posted a 5.22 ERA. Looper wondered aloud whether the pain in his knee contributed to his trouble keeping the ball in the park. 

“I tried the best I can to get the ball down because that’s my whole game,” Looper said Saturday. “I don’t know [if the knee played a part in pitches staying up]. I know I haven’t been as consistent this year. That’s the thing that upsets me, I hope that [the knee] didn’t cause that.

– Counsell has been dealing with an injury similar to Looper’s since Spring Training, when he briefly considered surgery that would have sidelined him for several weeks. Instead, he opted to play through it and enjoyed his best season in years, batting .285 — a career high for a full season — with a .766 OPS — his best mark since 2000.  

In recent days, Counsell had said he would not have surgery. On Monday, he changed his mind, and will also have his surgery scheduled for next week. 

– In another medical matter, Ash said that outfielder Corey Hart had visited Monday with Dr. Don Sheridan, a Phoenix-based hand specialist who confirmed the diagnosis of Hart’s right hand injury. Hart has a pair of sprained fingers but no fractures and will require only rehabilitation.


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Counsell, Gerut, Hardy back in lineup

Manager Ken Macha said he didn’t plan to start Craig Counsell at third base against Pedro Martinez (even though Counsell is 9-for-20 against Pedro in his career), but when Martinez was scratched with a neck injury and replaced by Kyle Kendrick, Macha must have liked the matchup. Counsell is in there tonight for the Brewers, who are trying to push the Phillies’ National League East clinch away from Miller Park.

J.J. Hardy is also starting at shortstop for only the second time since Sept. 19. Jody Gerut is spelling Mike Cameron in center field.

Felipe Lopez  2B
Craig Counsell  3B
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Jody Gerut  CF
Corey Hart  RF
J.J. Hardy  SS
Jason Kendall  C
Braden Looper  RHP

Counsell to win "High Energy" award

craig-counsell-ronny-cedeno-2009-8-30-15-10-27.jpgThe Brewers will honor infielder Craig Counsell tonight as the “We Energies High Energy Player of the Year,” an award settled by fan- and media balloting that recognizes to the player that best personifies the characteristics of hard work and an aggressive approach to playing the game.

Counsell is hitting .179 in September but has had a solid season, batting .279, his highest mark since hitting .282 in 2002, and slugging .407, his highest since 2000. Counsell leads the Brewers with a career-high eight triples and has seen time at third base, second base and shortstop.

Here’s a news release from the Brewers that just came through:

All the ballots have been counted and the Brewers and We Energies will announce the winner of the 2009 “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” in a pregame ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Brewers and We Energies also announced that Joshua Schroeder of Milwaukee was chosen as the “Grand Slam Winner” in the contest.  Schroeder voted for the award online at and had his name selected in a drawing.  Schroeder will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to tonight’s game followed by watching the game from Diamond Box seats at Miller Park.  In addition, he will have the opportunity to have lunch with the 2009 award winner.

Fifty-six (56) lucky fans who voted online also won four (4) Loge Outfield tickets for a Brewers home game this season. 

I had a vote and struggled to choose between Counsell and Prince Fielder, who plays the game as hard as anybody.  In the end I picked Counsell because Fielder is sure to win club MVP honors.

Counsell is a free agent at year’s end. He turned 39 last month, but it comes as no surprise that he intends to play somewhere next season.


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Macha: "Have to be realistic" about place in standings

If the Brewers want to shock the world with a late-season run for the ages, it will have to start this week in St. Louis. Milwaukee begins a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.

“When you’re 12 out, with every game you’re kind of hanging on the cliff,” Brewers infielder Craig Counsell said. “If we want a chance, obviously, we have to sweep.”

Then they’ll have to sweep the Giants the following weekend. And then sweep the Cardinals again, when they visit Miller Park from Sept. 7-9.

That’s the kind of mad dash it will take for the Brewers, who are coming off a weekend sweep of the Pirates that didn’t help them one bit in the National League Central standings. The Cardinals grew their commanding lead over the second-place Cubs to 10 games, and the Brewers remained 12 games back with 32 to play.

Manager Ken Macha knows that it’s unlikely his club will get back in the race. That’s partly why he chose to use Monday’s off-day to give his starters an extra day of rest, meaning the Brewers’ best pitcher — righty Yovani Gallardo — will miss the St. Louis series. He’ll start instead on Friday against the Giants.

“You have to be realistic,” Macha said. “You have to look forward. If we do continue to pitch him and [Manny] Parra all these pitches and they blow out with two weeks left in the season, what good is that, anyway? We just try to win as many games as we can. …

“After all, we went two months without [Dave] Bush and [Jeff] Suppan in there, and we put extra duty on the other guys as a result of that. Pitching is the most valuable thing. If we win the next 10 games and we’re there, we’ll see.”

The Brewers are 9-3 at Busch Stadium over the last two years. They swept a three-game series in St. Louis in May.

Report says Giants claimed Hoffman

The San Francisco Giants were the mystery team that claimed Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman off waivers in recent days, according to, perhaps a move to block a fellow contender with bullpen needs from adding baseball’s all-time saves leader via a trade.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been uncharacteristically unavailable during the the past 24 hours, but said earlier in the week that he was unlikely to make a deal ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline for teams to acquire players and have them available for postseason rosters.

Still, the Brewers reportedly placed six veterans on waivers this week, a necessary step before making trades after the July 31 nonwaiver deadline. According to a report, four of them cleared: Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Jason Kendall and Braden Looper. Hoffman appears to have been claimed, but the report made no mention of second baseman Felipe Lopez, another pending free agent who was exposed to waivers.

Lopez projects as a Type B free agent, meaning he would net the Brewers a compensatory pick in next year’s Draft if the team offers him arbitration but he declines and signs elsewhere. Hoffman projects as a Type A, so he could reap a pair of high picks. He turns 42 on Oct. 13.

Hoffman responds to waiver rumors

Trevor Hoffman would prefer to remain a Brewer, but conceded that Thursday that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could be traded to a contender before the end of the month.

“I don’t know,” Hoffman said. “We’re 12 out.”

As in, the Brewers remained 12 games behind division-leading St. Louis in the National League Central after getting swept by the Reds at Miller Park this week. Cincinnati finished its three-game sweep with an 8-5 win over the Brewers on Thursday, just as reported that a rival club had claimed Hoffman off the waiver wire.

If true, the Brewers and the mystery team would have 48 hours to work out a trade. If the sides cannot strike an agreement, the Brewers would pull Hoffman back.

Hoffman said he had no idea whether the report was true, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who is technically barred from discussing waivers, did not return a pair of phone calls on Thursday.

“I’m starting to learn that this is part of it,” said Hoffman, who mostly avoided late-season waiver rumors during his 16-year tenure with the Padres. Players with at least 10 years of service time including five years with their current team have the right to refuse trades, and it was well understood that Hoffman had no desire to leave San Diego.

Now he’s on a one-year contract with the Brewers and faces the prospect of re-entering free agency at season’s end. As the report suggested, a deal seems unlikely. Hoffman projects as a “Type A” free agent in the mysterious Elias rankings. That means that if the Brewers keep him for the rest of this year, offer him salary arbitration over the winter and then let him sign elsewhere, they would reap two compensatory picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft before the end of the second round.

Since the claiming club is not likely to offer much in return for five weeks of Hoffman’s services, Melvin could be more inclined to hold out for the Draft picks.

Another hurdle, according to various recent reports that have speculated about Hoffman’s availability, could be baseball’s all-time saves leader’s desire to be a closer. Asked for his stance on Thursday, Hoffman said, “I’m not going to discuss any of that stuff.”

Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth inning in Wednesday’s extra-innings loss to the Reds and has been excellent in his first season away from San Diego in 16 years, posting a 1.85 ERA and 27 saves in 29 chances this year. But he has been gathering dust in the bullpen as the Brewers have fallen out of the pennant race, with only four save opportunities this month and only four appearances over the past two weeks.

“I’m about settling in,” Hoffman said. “I’ve been fortunate to have that comfort level here in Milwaukee from Day 1. Our focus is to try and climb back in this thing. I did say that we’re 12 out, but we have nine [games] left with St. Louis and Chicago is in the mix. We just got our starting rotation back. Hopefully, we can make a run. I’m a consummate optimist, and this is my team.”

Earlier this week, reported that the Brewers had placed at least six players on waivers, a necessary step before making trades after July 31. Those players, according to the report, were Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Braden Looper and Felipe Lopez.

Cameron, Kendall, Looper and Lopez all project as “Type B” free agents who would net one compensatory Draft pick. Looper’s contract includes a mutual option for 2010 that the Brewers are likely to exercise. Counsell does not qualify for Draft compensation should he sign elsewhere next year. 

Earlier this week, Melvin expressed an unwillingness to trade away his veterans, even the Brewers have remained 10-12 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.

“I can’t imagine that a team would give up a good player for one month, unless there is a key injury,” Melvin said Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate anything.”