Results tagged ‘ Ken Macha ’
We just had our morning briefing with manager Ken Macha and some notes follow, but first, the lineups for today’s Intrasquad action:
Brewers pitchers got their first taste of biomechanics at Maryvale Baseball Park today, where the team’s traveling lab was set up in the batting cages and a series of hurlers were strapped with sensors for a throwing session. The equipment took a series of precise measurements aimed to identify injury risks.
Some random thoughts from Thursday morning:
Thousands of Brewers fans lined up early this morning at Milwaukee’s downtown Midwest Airlines Center for “Brewers On Deck,” a day-long fanfest that features autographs, photo sessions, memorabilia booths and a big corner stage for question and answer sessions and other events.
to their first postseason appearance in a generation in 2008, then set club marks for RBIs and walks in 2009.
After a season spent extolling the virtues of staying put, Brewers manager Ken Macha said he’ll embrace the running game in 2010.
The philosophical shift is driven by personnel changes this winter, particularly a Nov. 6 trade that sent shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Twins for speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez, freeing shortstop for top prospect Alcides Escobar and closing the door on a pursuit of outgoing free agent Mike Cameron.
Hardy had a down year in 2009 but he still averaged 20 homers over the past three seasons, and Cameron has topped 20 homers eight times in his career including both of his two years in Milwaukee. Gomez, meanwhile, stole 33 bases as the Twins’ regular starter in 2008, and Escobar swiped 42 bases in 109 games last season at Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers also expect speedy second baseman Rickie Weeks to return after a 2009 season lost to wrist surgery, and right fielder Corey Hart (assuming the trade rumors don’t turn into an actual trade) should “have his legs under him” after missing time last year following an appendectomy. There’s also left fielder Ryan Braun, who stole 20 bases in 2009 despite hitting in front of slugger Prince Fielder.
“We’ve got some guys that can run this year, so it’s going to be a little different,” Macha said on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. “The games may be a little more exciting with the guys who do get on base. … We’ve got five guys in the lineup who are definite stolen base threats.”
Macha conceded that he’s concerned about losing Cameron’s and Hardy’s power, but Weeks’ return should help in that area and the Brewers also picked up veteran catcher Gregg Zaun, who’s no Johnny Bench but should provide more homers than outgoing free agent Jason Kendall.
In 2009, Macha’s first season at the helm, the Brewers swiped only 68 bases, third-fewest in the Majors ahead of the Braves (58) and Cubs (56). Macha said he discussed the topic with general manager Doug Melvin near the end of the regular season, when Macha was offered assurances that he would be back for the second year of his contract.
Macha pushed back against the notion that he favored a station-to-station approach.
“I think you’re branding me as, ‘This is your type of baseball,’ but, no,” Macha said. “I try to do what’s best for the players that we have there. I think you look at the club we have [for 2010] and there’s going to be a little more activity on the bases this year.”
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The Brewers told John Halama’s agent that they will have a scout in the stands for the former big league left-hander’s start in the Dominican Republic on Friday night, and Halama hopes to strike a Minor League deal with Milwaukee by early next week. <p/>
The Brewers are seeking starting pitching depth this winter and Halama, 37, wants to reunite with pitching coach Rick Peterson and manager Ken Macha. The trio was together in Oakland in 2003, Macha’s first year as A’s manager and Peterson’s final year as that team’s pitching coach.
Halama would also be rejoining Brewers advance scout Chris Bosio, who was a special assignment coach for Seattle during part of Halama’s four-year run with the Mariners.
“He really wants to pitch for the Brewers,” agent Joe Rosario said. “He would love to reunite with both Macha and Peterson.”
Brewers Latin American scouting coordinator Fernando Arango is to attend Halama’s start for Aguilas against Licey on Friday night. It’s a rematch of Nov. 15, when Halama pitched seven innings and allowed two Licey runs on six hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
In his first six winter league starts, he was 3-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 21 strikeouts versus two walks. Both of Halama’s losses came in 1-0 games.
Halama pitched for seven Major League teams in parts of nine seasons from 1998-2006. He’s 56-48 with a 4.65 ERA in the Majors, but his career was derailed after a stint with the Orioles in 2006, in part by a contentious divorce.
He began the 2009 season with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League and was 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 69 innings, drawing the interest of the Braves. At Triple-A Gwinnett, Halama was 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 13 starts and three relief appearances, but much of the damage was done in a pair of relief outings July 7 and 12, when Halama relieved rehabbing Braves JoJo Reyes.
As a starter, Halama had a 3.69 ERA last season at Triple-A. He turns 38 on Feb. 22.
“He spent the last two years pitching his butt off to get to where he is now,” Rosario said. “He’s big league-ready. He just wants an invite to [Spring Training] camp to show that he belongs and he feels like Milwaukee is the way to go.”
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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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