Results tagged ‘ Mike Cameron ’
Mike Cameron and the Red Sox reached a tentative agreement on a two-year deal, per the Associated Press. Cameron manned center field in Milwaukee the past two seasons, but he earned $10 million in 2009 and the Brewers went younger, cheaper and perhaps a half-step better defensively when they traded for Carlos Gomez earlier this winter.
As general manager Doug Melvin forecast on Monday, the Brewers did not extend arbitration offers to any of their ranked free agents ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to do so. That means the club won’t reap any Draft compensation in the event that outfielder Mike Cameron, catcher Jason Kendall, infielder Felipe Lopez or pitchers Braden Looper and David Weathers sign with other clubs.
All five players were Type B free agents. Had the Brewers extended arbitration offers and the players declined, the team would have received a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next June’s First-Year Player Draft. Since no offers were made, the Brewers won’t reap any extra picks in 2010.
That’s disappointing for amateur scouting director Bruce Seid, who is already deep into preparation for the Draft. But the risk in extending such offers is that the player can accept, making him signed for the following season at a salary to be determined either in negotiation, or if talks prove unsuccessful, in an arbitration hearing. Players almost always get raises through the process, and that would have certainly been the case for all five of the Brewers’ ranked players.
Four of the decisions were likely easy ones. Melvin has already made it clear he wouldn’t pursue Cameron (who earned $10 million in 2009) or Kendall ($5 million), and the Brewers already paid buyouts to Looper and Weathers instead of exercising club options. The options ($6.5 million for Looper and $3.7 for Weathers) could have cost than what the players would have earned via arbitration, so an offer didn’t make sense.
Lopez, though, was a matter for debate as late as Monday afternoon, when Melvin and his assistants met to finalize their decisions. Lopez earned a reasonably $3.5 million base salary in 2009 and had a career year, batting .310 for the D-backs and Brewers with nine home runs, 57 RBIs, 88 runs scored and a .383 on-base percentage. He was at his best after a July trade from Arizona to Milwaukee, batting .320 for the Brewers with a .407 on-base percentage and filling the void atop the lineup that had existed since second baseman Rickie Weeks was lost to season-ending wrist surgery.
Based on that strong finish, Lopez, who is represented by Scott Boras, will almost certainly seek a multi-year contract. But the Brewers’ decision to not offer him arbitration on Tuesday was a sign that Milwaukee officials, after analyzing which teams will be looking for second basemen this offseason, aren’t convinced he’ll get it.
That left open the possibility that Lopez could accept the offer, and a multimillion dollar bench player probably wouldn’t fit Melvin’s plans. The Brewers are committed to Weeks at second base and are set elsewhere on the infield with first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop Alcides Escobar and either Casey McGehee or Mat Gamel at third base. Lopez has some outfield experience, but Ryan Braun is a fixture in left field for the Brewers and Corey Hart is the incumbent in right. Hart earned $3.25 million last season and is arbitration-eligible once again.
Payroll is tight for the Brewers despite recent cost-cutting measures because Melvin intends to use the bulk of his remaining resources to fix the team’s starting rotation.
“You would love to have that depth,” Melvin said Monday in previewing his looming decisions. “But is [Lopez] going to want to be a part-time player? He’s going to want to be an everyday player, and Rickie is going to want to be an everyday player. In some sense, you also ask, are you willing to trade the possibility of [acquiring] a pitcher for Felipe Lopez? That’s the question.”
On Tuesday, Melvin answered his own question. He’d prefer to save resources for the pitcher.
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Brewers officials met Monday afternoon to make final decisions, but it appeared they were leaning against extending arbitration offers to any of their five compensation-eligible free agents, including infielder Felipe Lopez.
“Where would he play?” general manager Doug Melvin asked.
Before exploring that question, an arbitration primer is in order:
Lopez, outfielder Mike Cameron, catcher Jason Kendall and pitchers Braden Looper and David Weathers all qualified as Type B free agents, meaning the Brewers could reap a compensatory pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft should any of those players sign with another team.
But in order to qualify for compensation, the Brewers would have to first extend an offer of arbitration to those eligible free agents. If the player declines, the Brewers would be compensated when he signs elsewhere; former teams get a first- or second-round pick from the player’s new club plus a so-called “sandwich pick” between the first two rounds for a Type A free agent, or just a sandwich pick for a Type B player.
But if the player accepts the offer, he is considered signed for the next season at a salary to be determined, usually higher than the previous season. That possibility can present a risk teams are unwilling to take.
That risk is why the Brewers have been expected all along to decline making offers to Cameron ($10 million salary in 2009) and Kendall ($5 million). The team already declined club options on Looper ($6.5 million) and Weathers ($3.7 million), making an arbitration offer extremely unlikely. Why would the team pay those players buyouts only to bring them back several weeks later?
But many expected that the team would offer arbitration to Lopez, who is coming off a season split between Arizona and Milwaukee in which he batted a career-best .310 with 88 runs scored and a .383 on-base percentage. Lopez was relatively reasonable at $3.5 million.
Lopez is likely to seek a multiyear contract, and would have to decline an arbitration offer from the Brewers to get one. Because he narrowly missed qualifying for Type A compensation, he is actually more attractive to rival clubs because they would forfeit a Draft pick.
But the Brewers are wary of what they would do if Lopez were to accept. The team is committed to Rickie Weeks at second base and already has two players (Casey McGehee and Mat Gamel) to play third. Lopez has some experience in the outfield, but the Brewers have Ryan Braun set in left field and Corey Hart in right.
Melvin is already working on a tight budget and wants to preserve as much payroll space as possible to improve the team’s pitching. A multi-million-dollar reserve infielder might not fit Melvin’s plans.
“You would love to have that depth,” Melvin said. “But is [Lopez] going to want to be a part-time player? He’s going to want to be an everyday player, and Rickie is going to want to be an everyday player. In some sense, you also ask, are you willing to trade the possibility of [acquiring] a pitcher for Felipe Lopez? That’s the question.”
Melvin has proposed a series of changes to Major League Baseball’s Draft process, and free agent compensation is one of his beefs. He doesn’t expect any changes to come out of next week’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.
“If we want to sign a Type A free agent, we would lose a second-round pick, but we don’t have a way to get picks back,” Melvin said. “Our whole Draft process needs to be redone.”
The deadline for teams to extend arbitration offers to their free agents is 10:59 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Players who get offers have until Dec. 7 to accept.
Thursday is the final day for teams to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is not anticipating striking any deals before the market opens in earnest.
“No,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t think they want to sign, personally. They want to wait until Friday and hope someone picks up the phone and makes them an offer they never thought they would get.”
Beginning Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET, free agents are free to field those calls from all 30 teams. Before then, during a 15-day window that follows the World Series, other teams can only express general interest but are technically barred from making any offers.
The Brewers have nine outgoing free agents: Outfielders Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto and Corey Patterson, infielders Craig Counsell and Felipe Lopez, catcher Jason Kendall and pitchers Braden Looper, Claudio Vargas and David Weathers. Looper and Weathers hit the market after the Brewers declined their options.
Melvin wouldn’t say which of those players he would like to bring back to avoid giving other teams an idea of the Brewers’ thinking. He did say this month that the Carlos Gomez acquisition likely closed the door on Cameron, that the Brewers might not be able to afford Kendall unless he takes a serious pay cut and that the team remains committed to Rickie Weeks at second base, making a Lopez return very unlikely.
Counsell seems the most likely incumbent on the Brewers’ radar but a report this week said that as many as 12 teams had expressed interest. That’s not surprising at all given Counsell’s defensive versatility and his outstanding 2009 season at the plate, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could field multi-year offers.
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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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The announcement of American League Gold Glove Award winners on Tuesday kick-starts a two-week run of honors that culminates Nov. 24 with the National League MVP. Here’s a rundown, and where the Brewers might fit:
Tuesday, Nov. 10 – AL Gold Gloves
Wednesday, Nov. 11 – NL Gold Gloves
The Brewers haven’t had a Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner since Robin Yount won as a shortstop in 1982, but left fielder Ryan Braun figures to win a few before his career is over. Braun certainly made some mistakes in his second season as an outfielder but was charged with only two errors — his first two in two seasons since a move off third base. Braun rates low in the defensive statistical metrics, but because Gold Gloves almost always go to very good offensive players who happen to play solid defense — and not necessarily the game’s best defensive players — he’s got a chance.
Mike Cameron should also be in the mix after another season running down baseballs in center field. Cameron is a three-time Gold Glover, last in 2006 with the Padres.
I think Fielder deserves a mention here as well, because he made tremendous strides in 2009 while working endlessly with infield coach Willie Randolph. He still doesn’t have the reach of, say, Chicago’s Derrek Lee or reigning NL Gold Glove first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, but Fielder improved dramatically at picking balls out of the dirt this season. Give Fielder credit for wanting to be an all-around player.
Thursday, Nov. 12 – Silver Sluggers
The award, given to a player at each position in each league, was first presented in 1980 and is determined by a vote of baseball’s managers and coaches. Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. CT on MLB Network.
Prince Fielder was the last to win a Silver Slugger Award, for his 50-homer season in 2007. Fielder put together an even better year in 2009, batting a career-best .299 with 46 home runs and 141 RBIs while playing all 162 games. He tied Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard for the NL RBI crown, but Howard is also a first baseman and will draw notice. So will Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who led baseball with 47 homers and a 1.101 OPS.
Braun probably has a better chance to win among NL left fielders. He ranked second to Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan with a .320 batting average, second to the Phillies’ Raul Ibanez with 32 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage and led NL left fielders with 114 RBIs.
Monday, Nov. 16 – Rookie of the Year
Both the AL winner and the NL winner will be announced this day, at 1 p.m. CT. The Brewers pushed hard for third baseman Casey McGehee, who emerged from the waiver wire to be a major contributor to the team in 2009. McGehee started only one of the Brewers’ first 38 games, but finished with a .301 average, 16 home runs and 66 RBIs in 116 games. He led all Major League rookies in RBIs, including 27 over the final 31 games.
Unfortunately for McGehee, the NL had a number of impressive rookies in 2009. Florida’s Coghlan, Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen or utility man Garrett Jones, Philadelphia pitcher J.A. Happ and Atlanta pitcher Tommy Hanson are among them.
Tuesday, Nov. 17 – AL Cy Young Award
Wednesday, Nov. 18 – Manager of the Year
Like the rookie honor, a manager from each league will be honored at 1 p.m. CT. Brewers skipper Ken Macha isn’t a candidate after his team went 80-82 and finished third in the NL Central. Macha will have to settle to returning to the manager’s office for a second season.
Thursday, Nov.19 – NL Cy Young Award
Pitchers from non-playoff teams who tied for the worst starters’ ERA in baseball don’t win Cy Youngs, so Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo is out. He did have a nice bounce-back year after missing most of 2008 with a knee injury, becoming the fourth Brewers pitcher ever to cross the 200-strikeout plateau. Catcher Jason Kendall predicted that Gallardo will win multiple Cy Young Awards before his career is over.
Monday, Nov. 23 – AL MVP
Tuesday, Nov. 24 – NL MVP
Minus Pujols’ season for the ages, Fielder would be a strong candidate to be the Brewers’ first league MVP since Yount in 1989. But with Pujols considered the clear frontrunner for the award, Fielder may have to settle for a runner-up finish. Fielder finished third in MVP balloting in 2007. Braun, who finished third in MVP balloting in 2008, will once again place in 2009.
Who are your picks for the major postseason awards? You can post your predictions in the comments.
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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 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 Brewers.com.
Of the players in question, who would you like to see back? Who should the Brewers let 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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Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron’s season ended four innings early on Sunday after he suffered what a club official called a minor concussion on a dive in the sixth inning of the season finale.
Cameron dove to rob the Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus of a hit and then struck out swinging in the top of the seventh inning before Corey Patterson replaced him in center field.
“I think I hit my head when I slammed into the ground,” Cameron said. “It’s just weird, a weird feeling. I caught the ball, though. I’ve done it a few times. I’m doing OK though. I’ll be fine.”
Cameron said he has suffered several concussions during his career. He also suffered facial fractures in a scary collision with then-Mets teammate Carlos Beltran in 2005.
A free agent this offseason, Cameron finished the year with a .250 batting average, 24 home runs and 70 RBIs. It’s his fourth straight season and eighth overall with at least 20 homers, and on Sept. 1 he scored the 1,000th run of his career. With 265 home runs and 296 stolen bases, Cameron became the 20th member of the 250/250 club.
Ryan Braun returns to his spot in left field after sitting out Monday’s game against Chris Carpenter, and he’ll play alongside the same center/right field combo that battled the Cardinals ace. Corey Patterson makes a second straight start in center field for the injured Mike Cameron, and Jody Gerut is back out there in right despite the fact that Corey Hart was activated off the disabled list this morning.
Here’s the lineup:
Corey Patterson CF
Craig Counsell 2B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Jody Gerut RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Jason Kendall C Mike Rivera C (Sorry, I swear the original lineup had Kendall, but I’m told it was Rivera all the way)
Manny Parra LHP