Results tagged ‘ JJ Hardy ’
More than a week removed from the Brewers-Twins trade that sent shortstop J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for center fielder Carlos Gomez, reports continue to emerge about the other offers that Brewers GM Doug Melvin passed up.
The latest comes from FoxSports.com, which suggested in a series of reports that the Pirates offered either catcher Ryan Doumit or closer Matt Capps for Hardy — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had the same Capps rumor — but that Melvin wanted one of Pittsburgh’s left-handed starters: Zach Duke or Paul Maholm. Fox cites a Major League source who said the Pirates rejected that idea.
It would have been a nice haul for Melvin, considering that all 29 of his rival GMs knew full-well that he would trade Hardy this winter. Duke is under contract for two more years and coming off his best big league season with a 4.06 ERA, three complete games (nearly four) in 213 innings. Maholm also has two more years, plus a club option for 2012. He has made at least 29 starts in four straight seasons and has a 4.33 career ERA.
Assuming the Fox report is accurate, Doumit is an interesting name considering that the Brewers are in a transition period behind the plate. Given Melvin’s statement last week that he might not be able to spend $5 million on a catcher next season (that was Jason Kendall’s salary in 2009) it may have been a cost issue with Doumit. According to FoxSports.com, the 28-year-old is to earn $3.55 million this next season and $5.1 million in 2011, with a $7.25 million club option for ’12 and an $8.25 million club option for ’13.
Durability is also a big issue. Doumit had a breakthrough season in 2008 (.318 average, 15 homers, 69 RBIs in 116 games) but was limited to 75 games in 2009 because of wrist, back and knee injuries.
Then there’s the issue of trading within the division. Reds GM Walt Jocketty told MLB.com that he, too, expressed some interest in Hardy but was told by his good friend Melvin that the Brewers preferred to move the player out of the National League Central.
In the end, Melvin was focused on acquiring a young starting pitcher or a young, defensively-sound center fielder for Hardy. He pulled the trigger for Gomez.
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According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic, who cited an American League source, the Pirates offered closer Matt Capps to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Instead, Hardy went to the Twins last week for speedy outfielder Carlos Gomez.
Many Brewers fans seem underwhelmed by the return for Hardy given Milwaukee’s obvious need for pitching, and this bit of news might not make those fans feel much better. Capps is 26 years old and pretty good; despite a 5.80 ERA in 2009 he had 27 saves, and he has 67 career saves and a 3.61 ERA.
But I’m guessing that GM Doug Melvin had a number of reasons for being unmoved, chief among them that he was set on acquiring a starting pitcher or a center fielder for Hardy. He also sought players who could be under team control for the long haul, and Capps is two years shy of free agency (Gomez, for comparison, is under team control for four more years). Gomez is also much cheaper than Capps, who earned $2.425 million in 2009 and will get a raise in arbitration, giving Melvin more money to spend on starters. A deal with the Pirates also would have kept Hardy in the National League Central, and based on comments last week by Reds GM Walt Jocketty, it appears that Melvin was bent on moving Hardy out of the division.
I also wonder if the bullpen is low on Melvin’s list of priorities because he’s banking on moving at least one of his ’09 starters to the bullpen. That will all shake-out later depending on whether Melvin exercises Braden Looper’s 2010 option and whether he trades any of the team’s other incumbent starting pitchers (Manny Parra, perhaps?).
Another report in the Boston Globe over the weekend said that the Red Sox offered Minor League right-hander Michael Bowden but the Brewers wanted either starter Clay Buchholz or future closer Daniel Bard. Not so, Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt on Tuesday at the General Managers’ Meetings in Chicago.
To me, here is Melvin’s key quote from his conference call following the Hardy trade: “In the end, there wasn’t anybody who matched the ability of Carlos Gomez. When you can’t get pitching back, you try to find something to improve your pitching.”
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Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he had conversations with several clubs before trading J.J. Hardy to the Twins this morning. One of them was Cincinnati, according to our Reds beat reporter Mark Sheldon. From a story he filed today after talking to GM Walt Jocketty:
The Reds are still looking around for a regular shortstop but can cross J.J. Hardy off their list. Hardy, who was dealt from the Brewers to the Twins for center fielder Carlos Gomez, was on the Cincinnati radar.
“We talked to [the Brewers] several times,” Jocketty said. “We didn’t match up and they didn’t want to trade within our division, which was understandable.”
Which other teams might have made sense for Hardy? It seemed he was involved in Red Sox rumors for the past two years and that seemed like a great potential fit because Boston also wants a bat. I saw some mention of the Mariners as a possibility, though it appears they are working to extend shortstop Jack Wilson. The Blue Jays also came up in rumors and the Tigers could be in the hunt for a shortstop, too.
Whichever team inquired, none offered the kind of pitching Melvin was seeking. So he did what he viewed as the next-best thing in acquiring Gomez, a top-flight defender in center field who should presumably benefit Brewers pitchers.
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I thought I would pass along some thoughts from Twins GM Bill Smith about Friday’s trade. Thanks to our great Twins reporter Kelly Thesier for passing them along, even if she’s a Michigan State girl:
“There are some risks on our end to trade Gomez because he’s got some great raw skills. He’s still learning to play the game. There is some risk there but we felt it was worthwhile to get a regular, high-quality shortstop like J.J. Hardy that we are going to have for a number of years.
“We’re all on board that this guy is a good acquisition for us. It was a good fit. We had one too many outfielders and they had one too many infielders so it’s a good fit.”
Was he happy to address two offseason issues with one deal?
“I know we put Gardy [Twins manager Ron Gardenhire] in a tough spot this year and all the players. It’s tough when you have five guys who need to play everyday and you can play only four of them including the DH. I tip my cap to Carlos Gomez because when Gardy went to him, I know Gardy tried to get everybody in and keep everybody playing.
“Finally he had to say, ‘I’m going to go with a more set lineup.’ That put Carlos on the bench and he took to it. He said if it makes us better, if you need me for defense, I’ll be ready for defense. One time I know he compared himself to Joe Nathan saying, ‘When I come in a game, I’m like a closer.’ I tip my cap to Carlos because he always has been team-first and I talked to him this morning. I told him he’s going to get a chance to play every day. For that he was happy but he was sad, he said I’ve got a lot of good friends in Minnesota. But this was an opportunity for us to take something where we have some depth and fill a hole.”
How much did it affect J.J.’s value that he had the extra year before free agency?
“To give up Calros Gomez, where we are going to give up four years of control, it’s important to get somebody that we are going to have for more than a year. It’s a positive for us to have J.J. Hardy and the ability to keep him for a couple years. We’ll see what happens. We might keep him for a lot longer than that.”
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I just spoke to J.J. Hardy, who was traded to the Twins today in a move he saw coming.
“In the words of Prince Fielder, that’s just baseball,” Hardy said with a chuckle. “I definitely expected to get traded, but I had no idea where I was going to be traded to. I definitely thought the Twins were a possibility.”
The Brewers got speedy outfielder Carlos Gomez in the deal. Hardy didn’t see that one coming.
“I definitely thought I was going to get traded for a pitcher,” he said. “Still, I wasn’t real shocked when I got the call. I think knowing I was going to get traded from the day I got sent down [to the Minors, on Aug. 12] kind of helped me prepare for it. It’s been a few months now that I’ve known I would get traded, so it makes it easier.”
He spoke Friday morning with Twins GM Bill Smith and was to take part in a conference call with Minnesota reporters at noon CT.
“I don’t know a whole lot about that team, other than what I saw playing them twice a year for the last five years,” Hardy said. “That’s a good team and it’s a good opportunity for me. They have a new stadium. I feel like it’s a decent situation for me.”
The Twins will have Hardy for at least two more years thanks to the Brewers’ well-time demotion in August. Had they sent Hardy to Triple-A Nashville one day later, he would have amassed enough service time to qualify for a full year. Instead, he fell short, and thus will have to wait one extra year — until after the 2011 season — to test the free agent market.
“That still hurts a little bit,” Hardy said. “But bring traded, that’s baseball. I had a good five years in Milwaukee and I wouldn’t take anything back. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues and show what I can do. There’s no hard feelings.
“Milwaukee drafted me as a shortstop when a lot of teams didn’t want me as a shortstop. They wanted me as a pitcher. The Brewers were the team that brought me to the big leagues for the first time. So I definitely want to look at everything in a positive way. There are things I could look at in a negative way, but I don’t want to do that. That doesn’t serve anyone.”
Hardy was excited to reunite with Twins star Joe Mauer. They met in Hermosillo, Mexico when Hardy was 15 as part of a junior national team and played together a number of times. Hardy and Mauer were roommates during one tournament in Canada and also played together in Panama.
The Twins will work this winter on signing Mauer to a contract extension.
“I know they’re already working on it, and I’m excited about that,” Hardy said. “I really like him. We clicked right from the start.”
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It didn’t take long for the Brewers to make the trade everybody saw coming.
The ticker tape was still falling in Manhattan on Friday when the Brewers dealt shortstop J.J. Hardy, a staple of trade rumors this year, to the Twins for speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez. The Brewers announced the trade on their official Twitter feed.
The move could have multiple consequences:
- It eased the shortstop logjam between Hardy, a former All-Star, and Alcides Escobar, the organization’s top prospect, essentially handing the baton to Escobar for 2010.
- It gave the Brewers their center fielder and perhaps their leadoff hitter, making Milwaukee even more unlikely to pursue two of outgoing free agents. Mike Cameron, who manned center field at Miller Park in each of the past two seasons, and Felipe Lopez, who was excellent in the leadoff hole after a July 2009 trade from Arizona, will probably move on.
[True, at least in terms of the center field half of that paragraph. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he left a message with Cameron on Friday explaining that the Brewers would not pursue him in free agency. And Melvin reiterated his commitment to second baseman Rickie Weeks, meaning there probably isn’t a place for Lopez.]
- It could allow the Brewers to use second baseman Rickie Weeks in a spot other than leadoff. Weeks has always been viewed as a future run-producer, but was forced to the top of the order out of necessity.
[Nope, at least according to Melvin in a conference call on Friday. He said the Brewers will leave Weeks in the leadoff hole and let Gomez develop his hitting skills elsewhere in the order.]
Gomez does not turn 24 until next month but has already played parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues. In 348 games, he’s a .246 hitter with a .292 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 99 RBIs and 59 stolen bases in 70 tries.
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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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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.”
Bush, 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.”
Manager Ken Macha isn’t wasting any time in getting J.J. Hardy back in the starting lineup. It will be very interesting to see how he juggles Hardy and Alcides Escobar over the final month.
Felipe Lopez 2B
Jody Gerut RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mike Cameron CF
Jason Kendall C
J.J. Hardy SS
Braden Looper RHP
As expected, the Brewers made only two call-ups on Tuesday, when active rosters expanded from 25 to 40. Shortstop J.J. Hardy and reliever Chris Smith will be back in uniform for the Brewers for the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Hardy got a surprise demotion to Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 12 and batted .254 in 18 games with the Sounds, with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He was hitting .229 for the Brewers before the move down.
Smith has a 1.27 ERA in 28 games for Nashville. He pitched for the Brewers for much of this season, posting a 3.62 ERA in 23 games.
The Brewers will promote a few more players over the coming days, but did not want to raid Nashville during the team’s postseason push. Corey Patterson’s 12th-inning on Monday gave the Sounds a 1/2-game division lead with a week to play.