Results tagged ‘ Jeff Suppan ’

Spring rotation set

The Brewers have a tentative Cactus League rotation mapped out through the team’s March 24 off-day, and here’s how it looks for the six starting candidates next week:

Wed., March 3 intrasquad game: Dave Bush and Manny Parra
Thurs., March 4 at Giants: Jeff Suppan
Fri., March 5 at A’s: Yovani Gallardo
Sat., March 6 split-squads vs. Giants and at Rockies: Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson 
Sun., March 7 vs. Reds: Doug Davis
There is wiggle-room built in to allow for some adjustments later in March, but you can start to make some educated guesses about how things will line up. An every-five-day schedule plus one extra day of rest would take Gallardo right to the Brewers’ April 5 regular-season opener against the Rockies, followed by Wolf and Davis in that series. There is an off-day on the calendar for April 8, so Suppan might be lined up for April 9 against the Cubs. 
The operative phrase here is tentative, because bumps and bruises, split-squads and B-games, almost certainly will prompt some adjustments along the way. The Brewers plan to have an open competition, especially for the final two spots between Bush, Narveson, Parra and Suppan. 
The first few innings of that March 5 game against Oakland could be interesting. It’s Gallardo’s debut, and he is scheduled to face former Brewer Ben Sheets. 
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Macha can't promise spots for Bush, Suppan

In a sit-down with reporters at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, Brewers manager Ken Macha identified only two ‘locks’ for next year’s starting rotation: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, of course, but also left-hander Manny Parra, who was 11-11 with a 6.36 ERA in an inconsistent 2009.

“I think he’s going to be there, yeah,” Macha said. 

He didn’t name right-hander Jeff Suppan, who has one year left on his contract and will be the Brewers’ highest-paid player, or Dave Bush, who is arbitration-eligible following an injury-plagued season. Those decisions could be impacted by the team’s other offseason additions. 

“I couldn’t answer 100 percent that all those guys are going to be in there,” Macha said.

Suppan missed time with a rib-cage injury in 2009 but still reached the 30-start plateau for the 11th consecutive season. He was 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA. Bush was struck by a batted ball in early June and only made 21 starts and one relief appearance,going 5-9 with a 6.38 ERA.

The Brewers must decide on Saturday whether to tender contracts to Bush ($4 million salary last season) and their other arbitration-eligible players. Players who are nontendered join the pool of free agents.

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Brewers eye free agent pitching market

Surprise, surprise. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spent his time at this week’s General Managers Meetings in Chicago focused on pitching.

Melvin spoke this week with agent Arn Tellem, who represents free agent left-hander Randy Wolf, and Steve Canter, the agent for free-agent left-hander Doug Davis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At some point he also expressed interest in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, Washburn’s agent Scott Boras told the newspaper.

According to a Major League source, Melvin also met with Steve Hilliard, who represents righty John Lackey, the top available pitcher. In a chat with the Journal Sentinel before heading home to Milwaukee, Melvin downplayed the Brewers’ chances of landing Lackey. 

“It depends what they’re asking for,” Melvin said. “I don’t know if it could fit or not. I might have to make some other moves to make it fit.” 

The Brewers may have jumped to the top of the list of teams expected to pursue Lackey last week, when Melvin brought up Lackey’s name in a discussion of his plan to bolster a pitching staff that ranked next-to-last in the National League in 2009. 

Melvin said he would have to focus on bounce-back candidates coming off poor- or injury-plagued seasons, and indeed he has already checked in with the agent for Mark Mulder, who missed all of 2009 with shoulder woes. At some point Milwaukee could also check in with former Brewer Ben Sheets, who never pitched in 2009 after undergoing elbow surgery.

But at the same time, Melvin would not rule out a look at the top shelf of free agents. 

“There’s one guy that stands out and it’s John Lackey,” Melvin told reporters on a conference call last Friday. “He’s head and shoulders above the others. … You look at the consistency of pitchers who are out there and John Lackey is a great competitor, but we’ll have to take a look at that and see.” 

Since Melvin raised Lackey’s name without being asked, he was pressed on the matter. Is he a free agent of interest to the Brewers? 

“We’ll leave that discussion internally for ourselves,” Melvin said. “When you get involved in free agency and you talk about people, then all you’re doing is letting people know you’re interested and it drives the prices up. So I’m not going to say who we’re interested in or who we’re not.” 

It’s a two-way street, said Melvin, who believes most free agents enter the market with a short list of teams they prefer. 

“It’s our job to find out if we’re on that list of teams,” Melvin said.  

If the Brewers are on Lackey’s list, then Melvin might have to move some more payroll, as he suggested to the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday. 

Melvin has already said he won’t pursue center fielder Mike Cameron, who earned $10 million last year, and has hinted that Jason Kendall’s $5 million salary might not fit next year, either. His highest-paid returning players are starter Jeff Suppan (due $12.5 million in 2010, the final year of his four-year contract), first baseman Prince Fielder ($10.5 million), closer Trevor Hoffman ($7.5 million) and reliever David Riske ($4.5 million in the final year of his three-year deal). 

More decisions are coming. The Brewers have until Saturday to exercise their half of starter Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option, and pitcher Dave Bush (who made $4 million in 2009), outfielder Corey Hart ($3.25 million) and second baseman Rickie Weeks ($2.45 million) head the list of arbitration-eligible players whose salaries could jump again. 

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Tidbits: Hoffman, Suppan, Sheets, Hardy

The discussion about whether the Brewers would trade Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder was the most interesting part of general manager Doug Melvin’s year-end wrap-up with the media, but here’s a taste of the other topics discussed:

- The Brewers officially announced their new deal with closer Trevor Hoffman, who re-signed for one year plus a mutual option for 2011. The contract guarantees $8 million and could pay as much as $16.5 million over two years. 

 “By signing Trevor Hoffman, that was a big splash for us,” Melvin said. “If our pitching is going to improve, we have to keep the success we had at the back end of our bullpen. And also, to attract free agent starting pitchers, one of the first questions they always want to know is, ‘Who is the closer?’” 

- Melvin hinted that the focus on pitching could make it difficult for the team to re-sign its key free agents, including center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall. Rickie Weeks is the second baseman, Melvin reiterated, making it likely that free agent Felipe Lopez will also be let go.

Assistant GM Gord Ash conceded that it’s difficult for teams to win with unproven players up the middle but insisted it can be done. He mentioned Lorenzo Cain and Logan Schafer as the team’s top center field prospects and said Jonathan Lucroy was the team’s top catching prospect. Interestingly, Angel Salome’s name was not brought up.

- Jeff Suppan, the Brewers’ 2009 Opening Day starter, is not guaranteed a spot in the 2010 starting rotation despite his $12.5 million salary. It will be the final season of his four-year contract, and he projects as the team’s highest-paid player for the second straight year. 

“I think Jeff is a professional and he knows that he will come into camp and [compete],” Melvin said. “You have to give him some credit for the fact he’s been given the ball a lot of years. He’s very seldom injured. … I don’t think there will be very many guarantees about who will be in the rotation. We probably have to make it more competitive to get better.” 

- Free agent righty Ben Sheets, who missed all of 2009 following elbow surgery, is still on the Brewers’ radar.

“Ben is somebody who would have to be on anybody’s list when it comes to improving your pitching staff,” Ash said. “We’re not up to date with his physical condition right now since he’s no longer in our care, so that would have to be Step 1. But from our point of view, we enjoyed Ben as part of the Brewers and there’s been, ‘once in a while’ conversations with his agent to remind him that we still have that ongoing interest. It hasn’t been followed-up yet.”

- Melvin already interviewed one potential pitching coach on Monday and was to travel with Ash on Thursday to interview another candidate. He wouldn’t say whether he had already spoken with former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, an early favorite for the position because of his past working relationships with Brewers manager Ken Macha and bench coach Willie Randolph

“We don’t want to advertise who we’re looking at,” Melvin said. “The cat’s out of the bag on one guy. I interviewed him on Monday and another team interviewed him the next day.” 

- Ash shed more light on the options that faced third baseman Casey McGehee, who underwent successful surgery on Tuesday. McGehee has a lesion in his knee, Ash said, that causes fragments of bone to break away. He could have had a more intensive procedure to inject healthy cells into the knee to promote re-growth but it was a riskier procedure that could have sidelined McGehee weeks or even months into the 2010 season. 

“He elected, after consulting with a couple of surgeons, to have kind of the intermediary procedure done, and that was to take out all of the fragments and hope that area of his knee remains intact,” Ash said. “We don’t have 100 percent guarantee on that. What we do know about Casey is that he’s an excellent worker and he’s motivated.” 

- Melvin did little to dispute the notion that shortstop J.J. Hardy will be traded this winter to make room for Alcides Escobar. Hardy’s value is down both because of his poor 2009 season (he batted .229 and was optioned to the Minors in August) and because the rest of the league knows that the Brewers are ready to install Escobar. 

“It might be down a little bit,” Melvin said of Hardy’s value. “But there are still clubs that have interest in him. Shortstop is a big hole to fill.”

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It's official: Brewers are out

No one in a Brewers uniform had seriously discussed the postseason since the team’s trip to Pittsburgh from Aug. 17-19, when pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva said separately that the team still had a chance. The Brewers were nine games back in the National League Central entering that series, but all they needed was a history-making hot streak, like the Rockies put together in 2007 to charge into the postseason and ultimately to the World Series. 

Instead, the Pirates swept, and the fate that had loomed over the Brewers for weeks finally became reality late Tuesday night. Milwaukee won’t be repeating as a playoff team. 

The Brewers were officially eliminated about 90 minutes after their 7-2 loss to the Cubs at Miller Park, when the Rockies endured a four-run Padres ninth inning but closed out an 11-10 win in Denver. It left the Brewers 12 games back in the NL Wild Card race with only 11 games to play. 

“It’s a letdown, just because [last year] was so much fun,” said first baseman Prince Fielder, who is having one of the best seasons in Brewers history but would trade it for another postseason ticket. “It’s a good experience to feel what that feels like. It makes you, every year, want to go out and play hard.” 

Now they’ll be relegated to spoilers over the last days of the season. After finishing their series against the Cubs on Wednesday, the Brewers face a trio of contenders in the Phillies, Rockies and Cardinals to end the season. The Cardinals will likely have clinched the NL Central long before the Brewers get to St. Louis. 

“It’s unfortunate,” Fielder said. “All we can do is play the last games and see what happens. If we’re out of it, that’s fine, but we get paid to play hard. We’re going to do that, regardless.” 

The Brewers reported to Spring Training on the heels of their best season since losing Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. Bolstered down the stretch by sensational starter CC Sabathia, the Brewers won the NL Wild Card on the final day of the regular season before falling to the eventual World Champion Phillies in the Division Series. 

It was a significant step forward for the Brewers, especially since they returned all eight of their positional starters for 2009 and four of their five starting pitchers including Yovani Gallardo, who had missed almost all of 2008 with a knee injury.

Yet most of the focus was on two pitchers who left via free agency. The Brewers made an offer to Sabathia that would have more than doubled the richest contract in franchise history, but he instead took an even richer megadeal from the Yankees. Ben Sheets, the longest-tenured Brewer, was poised to sign with the Rangers when he failed a physical and needed surgery that would cost him the entire year.

Still, the Brewers thought they had enough, and as late as July 4 they led the NL Central. But midseason injuries to Dave Bush (triceps) and Jeff Suppan (rib cage) taxed the team’s pitching depth and sent them on a downward spiral. 

“We were depleted in the pitching for two months,” said first-year Brewers manager Ken Macha. “That kind of pushes you out of there.”
 
ap-cubs-brewers-baseballa(3).jpgBush, the pitcher of record in the Brewers’ only NLDS win last year, took the loss in Tuesday’s elimination game. He was tagged for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in his shortest start this year.

“I can obviously speak for myself and for the team as a whole, it’s been disappointing,” Bush said. “We had hoped to be better this year. You don’t always know why it happens, but everybody in this room came into Spring Training confident that we had the team to be more successful than we’ve been.” 

It came down to the pitching. 

“Yeah,” Bush shrugged. “We definitely haven’t pitched as well as we wanted to. I remember saying back in the spring that instead of trying to make up for the guys that we lost, we all had to try to do a little bit better. No one in particular was going to have to be incredible. 

“It’s happened at times, but over the course of the season, speaking in particular for myself, it hasn’t been nearly as consistent as we need it to be. We started off well, and had some good stretches here and there, but we didn’t have nearly a good enough season.” 

The offense couldn’t overcome the team’s deficient pitching, and down years for shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Corey Hart didn’t help. The bright spot has been Fielder, who belted his 41st home run on Tuesday and was tied with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols for the NL RBI title. 

Fielder has already set franchise records for RBIs and walks, but he would rather be winning. 

“It’s all about winning,” Fielder said. “We’ll try as a team to figure out how we can get back to where we were. We have to finish the season strong and try to win as many games as we can. By the time the season’s over, we can at least go home with a good taste in our mouths.”

Brewers activate Suppan, option Iribarren

The Brewers’ media notes say that the team optioned infielder Hernan Iribarren back to Triple-A Nashville today to make room for right-hander Jeff Suppan, who returns from the disabled list to start against the Reds tonight.

That means the Brewers will go into the series with 13 pitches. They will have to make another move on Thursday, when Dave Bush is scheduled to return from injury.

Iribarren came off the bench for all 12 of his Brewers appearances this season and went 3-for-13 at the plate.

UPDATE at 2:30 p.m. CT — Here’s tonight’s Brewers lineup:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Craig Counsell SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Suppan, Bush still 10 days away

Brewers manager Ken Macha came armed with a pocket schedule for his morning meeting with reporters and laid out the plan for rehabbing right-handers Jeff Suppan (oblique) and Dave Bush (triceps).

After Suppan surrendered four runs in 3 1/3 innings at Class A Wisconsin on Saturday night, club officials decided he needed another outing. Suppan will start Thursday for Triple-A Nashville, leaving him lined up to return to the Brewers’ starting rotation on Aug. 25 against the Reds at Miller Park.

Suppan was back at Miller Park on Sunday for treatment, but was not available to reporters during open hours in the clubhouse. Macha said Suppan was reporting nothing other than the usual post-start soreness.

“He’s got typical stuff after pitching,” Macha said. “A
little tender. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

Bush, meanwhile, is already slated to start for Wisconsin on Tuesday and will follow with an outing for Double-A Huntsville on Saturday. That means he will be ready to return to the big league rotation on Aug. 27, the series finale against the Reds.

Macha said the reasoning behind giving Suppan another
outing and scheduling Bush for two was so that each pitcher will be able to throw six
innings when they return.

 

With those plans set, Macha was able to lay out his probable pitchers for the next week. Mike Burns moves back to the bullpen after his fine seven-inning outing on Saturday night, so the list looks like this:

Monday at PIT: Carlos Villanueva
Tuesday at PIT: Manny Parra
Wednesday at PIT: Yovani Gallardo

Thursday OFF

Friday at WAS: Braden Looper
Saturday at WAS: Villanueva
Aug. 23 at WAS: Parra
Aug. 24 at WAS: Gallardo

Of course, as Macha cautioned, there could always be road
bumps along the way.

“We sat down and tried to figure all this out this
morning, but as we’re all well aware the best laid plans perhaps go awry,”
he said.

 

Bush sim game a success; Suppan roughed up

Dave Bush’s 45-pitch simulated game at Miller Park on Saturday went well — “Excellent,” was assistant general manager Gord Ash’s word of choice — and the right-hander will take the next step in a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Bush, who has not pitched in the Majors since June 20 because of a triceps injury, simulated three innings against a group of hitters that included Jason Bourgeois and Alcides Escobar. The Brewers will re-evaluate their options after Bush pitches for the Timber Rattlers on Tuesday.

“From my eye, there was no trepidation in his release of the ball,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “His cutter was cutting pretty well, and his sinker was sinking with good finish.”

Did Bush feel any soreness?

“Not right now. We’ll see a little more tomorrow, but I was pleased with how it went,” he said. “I felt comfortable out there, felt like I was able to put out the kind of effort I needed to and I didn’t feel tentative at all, so I’m definitely pleased about that. I’m not anticipating anything because I feel pretty good now. It’s always good to sleep on it and make sure it all works well tomorrow.”

Bush had hoped to be back in the rotation weeks ago. He made the second of two Minor League rehabilitation starts the day before Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and had to exit early with arm fatigue. This time, he’s being cautious.

“I’ve been down this road once, so I want to make sure I’m ready for each step at a time,” Bush said.

Another rehabbing right-hander, Jeff Suppan, working back from an oblique injury, started for Wisconsin on Saturday night and surrendered four runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. He pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, but got into trouble after an infield single to shortstop Josh Prince leading off the second. Prince, the Brewers’ third-round Draft pick this year, also committed an error in the inning.

Suppan threw 31 of his 39 pitches for strikes.

“Preparing for this start after the layoff, I was looking for no apprehension on my part with my oblique, and I felt that I didn’t have any apprehension,” Suppan told the Appleton Post-Crescent. “So that was the main key for me. Pitch-wise … my command wasn’t really where it would be [with] getting proper throwing and proper bullpens. But I was very happy overall with how I felt.”

Earlier this week Macha said that, with a good outing, the hope was for Suppan to re-join Milwaukee’s starting rotation during the team’s Aug. 21-24 series in Washington. After Saturday’s game, Macha said that is no longer the case.

“We
were kind of hoping … but it doesn’t look like it after tonight,” he said.

Macha also said the role of Mike Burns — rotation or bullpen — is still undecided. Because of an off day on Thursday, the Brewers could use four pitchers in the next rotation and skip Burns, who allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings Saturday.

You can read the full report of Suppan’s start in Appleton here.

Suppan may return next weekend

Injured Brewers starter Jeff Suppan is scheduled to make
a rehab start on Saturday for Class-A Appleton, and depending on the outcome could return as early as next weekend, Brewers manager Ken Macha said Friday.

Earlier this week, Macha said the medical staff put
together a schedule that had both Suppan and fellow starter Dave Bush back with
the club by September 1.

“The [medical staff] hopes that Suppan will be fine,” Macha said of Suppan, who went on the disabled list with a left oblique strain on July 30. “If
he gets through the two [scheduled]
innings feeling good then [he'll be] on the mound for the third. If he’s good
then we’ll give him another inning or so.”

Macha said a team trainer will be with Suppan in Appleton
to monitor him throughout the game. (In other pitching news, Bush will also
take the next step in his rehab and throw in a simulated game on Saturday.)

If Suppan feels good, Macha said the team tentatively has
him lined up to pitch against the Nationals in a four-game series in Washington from August 21-24.

“We’ve got a rough schedule laid out. Hopefully both of
them will come through with flying colors and we’ll see from there,” Macha
said. “As we saw with the last time, Dave Bush went out, had a pretty good
outing [then the] next five days and ran out of gas, so we’ll proceed cautiously.”

-Cash

Brewers, D-backs not talking Davis

Doug Davis back to the Brewers? Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin doesn’t see it happening.

Following Major League rules, Melvin wouldn’t confirm a report that the Brewers had put a waiver claim on Davis, the Arizona left-hander who pitched for the Brewers from 2003-2006. But Melvin did say that he spoke Tuesday with D-backs GM Josh Byrnes, and didn’t expect the sides to be able to work out a trade.

“I’m not engaged in conversations with Arizona,” Melvin said.

If it’s true that the Brewers put in a claim, the teams would have 48 hours to negotiate a trade. If that window expires and Arizona isn’t willing to let Davis go, he would automatically be pulled back and would remain a D-back.

Davis is owed about $3 million over the final six weeks of the season and will be a free agent at year’s end. He is expected to be a Type B free agent, so if Arizona hangs onto him and he signs elsewhere over the winter, the D-backs would receive a second-round Draft pick as compensation.

Melvin was asked whether Byrnes was asking for too much in return for Davis.

“I’m not saying that,” Melvin said. “He’s asking for what I would probably ask for if we had the same thing. I’m not going to accuse them of asking too much. Teams want to keep their own guys, and Davis has an attachment there because he lives [in the Phoenix area]. It’s not that we haven’t tried.”

Especially with injured starters Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan nearing returns from the disabled list, Melvin is wary of giving up a top prospect for a second-half rental.

“Other than Cliff Lee, who else had made a difference?” Melvin asked. “We tried, but people know the value of pitching. They have the right to ask for your top guy. But is it right to give up a top guy for a [pitcher] who’s going to make seven, eight, nine starts?”

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