Results tagged ‘ Mike Burns ’

The "other" free agency

Jonathan Mayo, who does a great job covering the First-Year Player Draft and the Minor Leagues for MLB.com (and MiLB.com) wrote an interesting piece about key six-year Minor League free agent signings. Brewers officials expend just as much energy scouring the list of six-year free agents as they do the more-publicized big leaguers, often to fill-out the rosters at Triple-A Nashville and Double-A Huntsville.

Every now and then, you find a gem, and Mayo discussed some of the better-known names. There are no Brewers on the list, but pitchers Chris Smith, Chris Narveson and Mike Burns all were acquired as six-year free agents and appeared pretty extensively for the Brewers in 2009.

Can anyone think of any other six-year gems in the Brewers’ recent past?

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Brewers 'don't see' reunion with Gagne

Former All-Star closer Eric Gagne told reporters in his native Canada last week that he wants to return to organized baseball as a starter and that he’s open to beginning the year in the Minor Leagues. But his most recent Major League employer doesn’t plan to be among the teams considering Gagne as a reclamation project.

“I don’t see that,” Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash wrote in an e-mail.

Gagne last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 with Milwaukee, compiling a 5.44 ERA in 50 games. He signed for $10 million and was a bust as the Brewers’ closer, but returned from a midseason shoulder injury and was actually a solid contributor down the stretch, with a 4.33 ERA in 30 appearances beginning July 3 including a 0.84 ERA in 11 games after Sept. 2. Including two scoreless appearances in the postseason, Gagne didn’t allow a run in 12 of his final 13 games. He was extremely popular in the front offices at Miller Park for his charitable contributions. 

That combination of on- and off-field factors prompted the Brewers to give Gagne a shot last spring on a Minor League contract in February. He reported to camp looking to win a roster spot but his bid was derailed by the recurrence of shoulder woes and the Brewers released him on March 8.

After rehab, Gagne signed as a player/coach with the Quebec Capitales in the independent Canadian-American League. In 17 games, all starts, he was 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA and two complete games. The Capitales won the league championship and Gagne, according to a report on Yahoo! Sports, honed the cut fastball he occasionally threw in Milwaukee to compliment his fastball, curveball and change-up. 

Speaking at a charity event on Nov. 12 in Quebec City, Gagne said he wants to make one more bid for the Majors. He said it would be “fun” to return to the Dodgers, for whom Gagne had his most success, including a stretch of 84 consecutive saves from 2002-2004, but he’s open to any interested club. 

Gagne turns 34 in January.The Brewers already have some veteran-type arms at Triple-A including Mike Burns, who already signed a Minor League deal to return for 2010. Burns, 31, posted a 5.75 ERA in 15 appearances for the Brewers in 2009 including eight starts. He ended the season with a shoulder injury but avoided surgery.

In terms of Gagne-style reclamations the Brewers may bring back former All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano, who is attempting a comeback from his second career Tommy John surgery. Capuano, also 31, pitched in six games for low-level Brewers affiliates late last season with some success. He’s a free agent again this winter.

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Burns removed from roster

The Brewers cleared a spot on their 40-man roster late Wednesday by outrighting right-hander Mike Burns to Triple-A Nashville.

Burns yo-yoed between Triple-A Nashville’s starting rotation and a utility role in Milwaukee, where he was 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA in eight games, including four starts, for the Brewers. At Nashville, he was 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 14 starts.

After the Brewers’ final home game, Burns revealed that he was fighting pain in his right shoulder. A subsequent MRI scan revealed “pathology,” but the Brewers never announced whether Burns needed surgery.

With Wednesday’s move, the Brewers have 39 players on the 40-man roster and three more — pitchers Mark DiFelice and David Riske and infielder Rickie Weeks — on the 60-day disabled list.
 

McGehee, DiFelice, Burns updates

Milwaukee_Brewers_at_0deb.JPGBrewers this baseman Casey McGehee will undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season to remove bone fragments from a right knee that has bothered him all season.

The surgical option has been on the table for months, but McGehee traveled on Monday’s off-day to Vail, Colo. for a visit with Dr. Richard Steadman to finalize a plan. Steadman is a knee expert who specializes in skiers but also has also consulted with a number of baseball players, including then-Brewers infielder Tony Graffanino in 2007.

Dr. William Raasch, the Brewers’ head physician, will perform McGehee’s surgery, presumably soon after Sunday’s season finale.

McGehee has been one of the Brewers’ best stories this season, an October 2007 waiver claim from the Cubs who has emerged as the offensive frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Despite the bum knee, he leads all Major League rookies with 64 RBIs while batting .304 with 15 home runs. He’ll have to contend with pitchers like the Phillies’ J.A. Happ and the Braves’ Tommy Hanson for the league’s rookie honor. 

Two Brewers relievers also spent Monday in the doctor’s office:

- Reliever Mark DiFelice was in Los Angeles for a visit with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed Raasch’s recommendation to conservatively rehabilitate DiFelice’s strained right shoulder. Progress has been somewhat slow since DiFelice went on the disabled list earlier this month, and he was seeking assurances that nothing more serious was wrong with the shoulder.

- Fellow reliever Mike Burns might not prove so lucky. He underwent an MRI scan in Milwaukee on Monday that revealed damage to the labrum in his right shoulder. Burns was to meet again Wednesday with Raasch to discuss the options.

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McGehee to see specialist; DiFelice, Burns too

118486.jpgBreak-out Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee should get a better idea
Monday whether he’ll need offseason knee surgery, and he’s not the only
banged-up Brewer set to spend the team’s final off-day at the doctor’s
office.  

McGehee was to travel Sunday night to Denver ahead
of the rest of the team to see a specialist for answers about his
aching right knee. Reliever Mark DiFelice, meanwhile, departed separately for Los Angeles, where he has a Monday morning appointment
with noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum for another opinion on his injured
right shoulder. Fellow reliever Mike Burns remained in Milwaukee for an MRI of his sore right shoulder. 

McGehee, who is in the middle of a torrid
September and is being pushed by the Brewers as a National League
Rookie of the Year candidate, has been playing on a sore right knee for
at least three months. He has been extremely hesitant to discuss it,
but broke his silence on Sunday morning. 

“We’ve been able to
manage it pretty well,” said McGehee, crediting head athletic trainer
Roger Caplinger and assistant trainer Dan Wright. “We’ve done
everything it takes to make sure I’m available every day. But we’re
getting down to the end and we have to get it re-evaluated to see where
we’re at and know exactly what we need to do going into the
offseason.” 

No surgery is scheduled yet, McGehee said. His
ailment has been described as tendonitis, but McGehee was not sure that
was an accurate label.

“I don’t know what the terminology of
it is,” McGehee said, “But I do know that we’re not talking about ACL,
MCL or meniscus tears. There’s no torn tendons or anything like that.
In my mind, it’s just sore. I’m just waiting to see what these guys
say, and we’ll go from there.” 

Entering the Brewers-Phillies
series finale on Sunday, McGehee ranked third in the Majors with 24
RBIs in September, and he was batting .306 with 15 home runs and 64
RBIs. McGehee led all NL rookies in RBIs, ranked second in batting
average, third in home runs, fourth with a .367 on-base percentage and
fifth with 20 doubles. His .508 slugging percentage ranked second among
NL rookies to Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones.

McGehee, a waiver
claim from the Cubs last October, played his way onto the Brewers’
Opening Day roster by hitting .339 in Spring Training and then saw
increased playing time after second baseman Rickie Weeks was lost to a
wrist injury and third  baseman Bill Hall slumped. At the moment, he’s
the leading candidate to be Milwaukee’s regular third baseman in 2010. 

“I want to make sure that I’m ready to go for Spring Training,” McGehee said.

DiFelice
has been on the DL since Sept. 15 with what he called “wear and tear”
in his right shoulder. He had major shoulder surgery
following the 2001 season and needed 2 1/2 years to feel well again, and is
seeking assurances from Yocum that nothing more serious is wrong this
time. 

“You owe it to yourself to get a second opinion, just
to explore every avenue,” said DiFelice, who posted a 3.66 ERA in 59
games before he was hurt. “The rehab is actually going well, but
[Yocum] might see something that we haven’t seen. You never know. He’s
one of the best in the country, so let’s be smart. 

“Right now, the plan is just to rehab. If he feels differently, then we’ll have to think about that.”

Burns’ injury was not known until Sunday, when he told a reporter that he had been feeling sore over the past week. The results of Monday’s MRI scan would determine whether he will join the Brewers on their season-ending road trip.
 

Burns to be in uniform tonight

144241_astros_brewers_baseball.jpgAs assistant GM Gord Ash promised earlier this week, the Brewers recalled right-hander Mike Burns last night and will have him in the bullpen for tonight’s series opener against the Astros. Burns arrives as insurance for both Manny Parra, who remains indefinitely sidelined by a neck injury, and Yovani Gallardo, whose status should become more clear later today. Gallardo is completely healthy, as far as we know, but Brewers officials are once again exploring ways to limit his innings.

Burns was 3-5 with a 6.10 ERA in eight starts and five relief appearances during his earlier stints with the Brewers. In his 14 starts at Triple-A Nashville, he was 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA. He last pitched in Nashville’s season finale and went the distance, allowing 10 hits but only two runs with eight strikeouts in his second complete game of the year.

That game was on Sept. 7. Since then, Burns had packed up in Nashville and made the long drive home to Southern California for the winter. Turns out his season wasn’t quite over.

Bush active, Burns to Nashville

The Brewers optioned right-hander Mike Burns to Triple-A Nashville on Thursday morning to make room for right-hander Dave Bush, who returns from the disabled list to start against the Reds.

The Brewers must win to avoid a Cincinnati sweep, and Felipe Lopez is back in the lineup after missing a start Wednesday with a right foot injury. Jody Gerut is also back for a second straight start after hitting a home run from the leadoff hole last night.

Felipe Lopez  2B
Jody Gerut  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Mike Rivera  RHP
Dave Bush  RHP
Alcides Escobar  SS

Brewers were close to three-team deadline deal

The Brewers were so close to completing what general manager Doug Melvin called a “big,” three-team trade for a pitcher ahead of Friday’s nonwaiver Trade Deadline that Ken Macha tuned into the MLB Network in the visiting manager’s office at PETCO Park and waited to see the news break.

It never did.

The deal fizzled, and the pitcher in question wasn’t traded. Because of that fact, Macha and Melvin refused to talk about the blockbuster that wasn’t — Melvin did assure reporters that the pitcher in question wasn’t Toronto’s Roy Halladay — and the Brewers were left to soldier on with a weakened starting rotation that will be re-joined Saturday by right-hander Mike Burns.

Macha didn’t sugarcoat the factors that brought back Burns, who was bounced from the rotation and then returned to Triple-A Nashville after going 2-3 in five Brewers starts.

“We have kind of depleted all of the options,” Macha said.

Melvin wanted to bolster those options. He talked extensively to the Mariners about left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who instead went to the Tigers on Friday. Melvin also showed interest as recently as Thursday in Royals right-hander Brian Bannister, but Kansas City held onto him. He called on D-backs left-hander Doug Davis and, to a lesser degree, Jon Garland, both of whom stayed put. Melvin never got serious about the Padres’ Jake Peavy, who went to the White Sox, because he knew Milwaukee couldn’t put together the package of pitchers necessary to get him.

The Brewers will face one of those pitchers, lefty Clayton Richard, on Saturday at PETCO Park.

The trouble, Melvin said, is that San Diego wasn’t the only team seeking young arms in the high levels of the Minor Leagues. All of Milwaukee’s pitching prospects are lower in the system including right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who might have been an interesting chip were he not serving a 50-game suspension. At the same time, Melvin made it clear early that he was hesitant to trade his top offensive prospects: Third baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alcides Escobar.

“Most teams are looking for one or two guys who are closer to the big leagues,” Melvin said. “We’ve been a team that’s drafted real well on the positional side.”

Melvin was hopeful that he’d have a match with Seattle because Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was Milwaukee’s scouting director until last fall, and he knows the Brewers’ farm system as well as anyone. For two months of Washburn, a free agent at season’s end, Zduriencik received two left-handers: Luke French, who was in the Tigers’ rotation, and Mauricio Robles, a top prospect who was at Class A.  

“I didn’t think on Washburn we were ever close,” Melvin said.

But Melvin was near to completing, “a much bigger deal,” that was so close to happening that within a half hour of the 3 p.m. CT deadline to deal players without first exposing them to waivers, Melvin had principal owner Mark Attanasio waiting near a phone, ready to approve a deal. When the three-team proposal fell apart, Melvin had another trade possibility in the works within 10 minutes of the deadline.

“It just didn’t happen,” Melvin said. “Both of them revolved around what another team was doing. Those are always tough.”

So who was involved in the mysterious big one? Macha would only reveal that it was not a pitcher who would have been available to start for the Brewers on Saturday. Melvin wouldn’t say, either, even when a reporter presented him with some possible names. One of them was Atlanta right-hander Javier Vazquez, who had just pitched on Thursday, but a National League scout offered assurances that the Brewers and Braves weren’t talking about Vazquez on Friday. 

The Brewers’ quiet Deadline day left fans, more than two million of whom have already packed into Miller Park this season, venting their disappointment on talk radio and Internet message boards.

“I talked to him an hour and a half before the [Deadline] and he told me had another thing that he thought he was going to get done,” Macha said of his midday chat with Melvin. “I’m sure that he’s just as disappointed as all the other people.”

On the other hand, Melvin received as many as 50 messages of support, many of them via e-mail from fans who were glad to see him thinking about the future by keeping Gamel and Escobar in the fold.

“How can people judge what’s there when they don’t know what was involved?” Melvin said. “Had we made a deal involving some of the players we talked about, I’m pretty sure they would have been disappointed, too. …

“With every deal you talk about, there’s some hurdle you have to get over. It’s not just as easy as, ‘Why didn’t you give up this guy for that guy?’”

Teams can still make trades in August, but players must pass through waivers first. Players must be on a team’s roster by midnight ET on Aug. 31 to qualify for postseason rosters.

Melvin will remain on the prowl, and he still has the postseason in mind.

“A lot of things have to go right,” he conceded. “A lot of teams still feel they are in races, and we feel we’re in the race. Teams could have injuries. But in our situation, we’re going to have to play very well and be consistent. … We can’t have anything else go wrong, and we have to have a few things go right.”

Burns to start for Brewers on Saturday

Brewers manager Ken Macha did not sugarcoat his decision to name Mike Burns as his starting pitcher for Saturday’s game against the Padres.

“We have depleted all the options,” Macha said.

Burns, freshly recalled from Triple-A Nashville, will return to the Brewers’ rotation because the team has few other choices. Burns was bounced from the rotation after going 2-3 in five starts, but injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan necessitated another fresh arm, and Burns got the call over Tim Dillard, a right-hander who was a starter all season at Nashville.

In his five starts, Burns has a 7.20 ERA and opponents are hitting .314 against him with seven home runs in 25 innings.

Villanueva surprised by start

“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon,” Brewers reliever-turned-starter Carlos Villanueva just told reporters, to figure out that he could be a placeholder while team officials work behind the scenes to bolster the starting rotation ahead of Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

Villanueva was the Brewers’ surprising choice to start Tuesday’s game against the Nationals after the team demoted the right-hander who had previously occupied that spot — Mike Burns — to Triple-A Nashville. For now, Villanueva, who has made his last 81 appearances in relief since making what was expected to be a permanent switch to the bullpen last May, is viewing it as a one-time assignment.

He knows that general manager Doug Melvin has been burning up the phones trying to work a sensible trade for a starter.

“I know what we’re doing. I know we’re trying to improve our team,” Villanueva said. “Whatever I can do to help [on Tuesday], I’ll be glad with that. After that, I can’t really worry about the future right now. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to feel like if they can find a way to improve the team, it’s a possibility.

“Right now, they chose me. I’m ready for the opportunity.”

Some of Villanueva’s fellow bullpen mates told him Sunday that they read online he was a candidate to start, but Villanueva didn’t believe it. He thought manager Ken Macha was just “taking some heat” off newly-promoted righty Tim Dillard, who was 10-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Nashville.

Villanueva’s tune changed on Monday afternoon, when he was summoned to Macha’s office and handed the assignment.

“Yeah, it was [a surprise],” Villanueva said. “I really thought that [Dillard] was going to start. But he called me into the office and told me I was going to go tomorrow, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

Villanueva’s longest outing this season was his 56-pitch, three-inning stint against the Pirates on July 20. He has thrown one inning or fewer in 37 of his 43 appearances.

“I haven’t heard anything about a pitch count,” Villanueva said. “It’s going to be interesting to see” how deep he can work into the game.

Villanueva drew a comparison to 2007, when he made 52 of his first 53 appearances in relief before moving to the starting rotation on Sept. 4 because of injuries to Claudio Vargas and Manny Parra. In that start against the Astros, Villanueva threw 95 pitches and allowed only one run on five hits in six innings of a 7-3 Brewers win.

It’s unclear whether Macha will let him throw that many pitches on Tuesday.

“I always knew I could [start],” Villanueva said. “I was able to help out more in the bullpen last year, but with [Dave] Bush on the DL and now [Seth] McClung on the DL … I just think, ‘give me the ball.’”

In 43 games, Villanueva is 2-7 with a 6.18 ERA. He posted 15 consecutive scoreless appearances from May 5-June 6, but since then has allowed 20 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings over 17 games for a 10.80 ERA. Most of the damage in that span was done over six bad outings in which he allowed 16 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

“Obviously, it’s been an up-and-down season,” Villanueva said. “I’ve been staying strong, mentally. I’m feeling the same confidence in myself I’ve had every single year I’ve been here. … I think I can help the team out. I’ve helped the team out before, and it’s been disappointing not to help recently.”

You can read Macha’s comments about the decision to go with Villanueva in Cash’s blog post.

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