Results tagged ‘ Rickie Weeks ’

Emptying Thursday's notebook

Some final notes after a 5-3 loss to the Giants in Scottsdale…

Jeff Suppan threw fastballs and changeups in an uneventful six-up, six-down spring debut and was happy with his afternoon. He focused on spotting his fastball and keeping his change-up low in the strike zone. 
“I felt good,” he said. “My goal was to go out and get ahead. That was No. 1. No. 2, I wanted to have a good downhill plane. I felt like I accomplished that.”
Suppan had to do a double-take when Giants starter Barry Zito drilled Prince Fielder with a pitch. (You can read some more about that later on Brewers.com.) 
“I was like, ‘What?’ I had to think what happened,” Suppan said. “Then, I remembered.”
Macha called the Zito-Fielder incident a, “non-issue.”
_______________
Macha found a number of silver linings to the afternoon, and one of them didn’t show up in the box score. In Weeks’ second at-bat, he checked his swing on a Todd Wellemeyer pitch in the dirt without any complications. That was something of a big deal to Macha considering that Weeks is returning from a 2009 season mostly lost to wrist surgery. Weeks was injured on a check swing last year, Macha said. 
______________
Ryan Braun should make his spring debut on Friday after getting Thursday afternoon off but Macha couldn’t say for sure whether shortstop Alcides Escobar would start. Escobar had two root canals on Thursday (ouch) and has another dentist appointment scheduled for next week. 
On Friday, we should be able to provide more of an injury report on third baseman Mat Gamel, who was scratched Thursday because of a sore right shoulder, and pitcher Josh Butler, who has been bumped back a bit because of his own sore right arm. 
______________
Macha cautioned against reading too much into center fielder Carlos Gomez hitting second on Thursday. “We had problems with our two- and our five-hole last year, so we’ll give some [different] guys a chance to go out there,” Macha said. 
Speaking of the outfield, look for Jim Edmonds to get the start in center field or right field on Friday against the A’s. It’s Ben Sheets against Yovani Gallardo, whose contract was renewed Thursday, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. If you have MLB.com’s gameday audio package, you can listen to the exclusive webcast at Brewers.com. Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder will step behind the mic for the first time this year. 
*
Followed Brew Beat on Twitter

Brewers swap proposals with arbitration-eligibles

Minutes before teams swapped contract proposals with their arbitration-eligible players, the Brewers agreed to terms on one-year contracts for second baseman Rickie Weeks and center fielder Carlos Gomez, leaving four other eligible players unsigned.  
Weeks will earn $2.75 million in 2010, a $400,000 raise from a 2009 season spent mostly on the disabled list, and Gomez will make $1.1 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Gomez, acquired from the Twins in November, earned $437,500 last season with the Twins and qualified for arbitration for the first time as a so-called “Super Two” player. 
Work will continue toward deals with four other players who are arbitration-eligible but remain unsigned. The team exchanged salary proposals with all four on Tuesday:  
– The biggest gap is with reliever Todd Coffey, who filed for $2.45 million while the Brewers countered with $1.7 million, a difference of $750,000 that nearly matches Coffey’s $800,002 salary last season. Coffey arguably had the best year of any of the Brewers’ eligible players, posting a 2.90 ERA in 78 appearances while leading National League relievers with 83 2/3 innings pitched.  
Coffey wasn’t sweating the gap. He spent the day playing with daughters Hannah and Haley in North Carolina.  
“I haven’t even checked my voicemail,” Coffey said. “It’s part of the game. It’s the process you have to go through. That’s what I have an agent for, to keep my mind off the business aspect as much as possible. It’s not like you can totally ignore the business side, but I’m focused on playing baseball right now. I already have the itch.”  
– Right fielder Corey Hart filed for $4.8 million, $650,000 more than the club’s $4.15 million offer and $1.55 million more than he earned in a disappointing 2009 season. Hart’s year was made even more frustrating when he needed an emergency appendectomy in early August that sidelined him more than a month. He finished with a .260 batting average, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.  
– Starting pitcher Dave Bush filed for $4.45 million and the club offered $4.125 million, a relatively manageable gap of $325,000. Bush earned $4 million in a 2009 season marred by a line drive off the bat of Florida’s Hanley Ramirez on June 4 that struck Bush near the right elbow and caused trouble for the rest of the year. Bush finished his frustrating season with a 5-9 record and a 6.38 ERA, highest of any National League pitcher with at least 100 innings of work. The Brewers could have nontendered Bush in December to erase his salary obligation, but opted to bring him back to a starting rotation that needs every arm it can get.  
– Reliever Carlos Villanueva filed for $1.075 million and the team offered $800,000, a $275,000 difference that was the smallest gap in terms of dollars but the second-largest as a percentage of the salary he’s seeking. Like Gomez, Villanueva was eligible for arbitration for the first time after earning $447,000 and is coming off a tough year in which he went 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA in 58 relief appearances and six starts. He did finish strong, with a 3.18 ERA over his final 16 appearances of the season.  
Brewers arbitration specialist Teddy Werner will continue negotiations with representatives for Bush, Hart and Villanueva while assistant general manager Gord Ash handles talks with Coffey’s agent, Rick Thurman.  
“All the exchange of numbers does is give you the actual parameters instead of the theoretical conversation,” Ash said. “Sometimes that can help you, and sometimes that hurts. I can’t speak for the guys Teddy is dealing with, but given the conversations I had [with Thurman] about Coffey last week, both parties were true to their respective positions.”  
Talks can continue until the date of an arbitration hearing in Florida — they’ll be scheduled for Feb. 1-21 — at which time each side presents its case to a three-member panel of judges which chooses one salary or the other. It can be a very uncomfortable process, which is why the vast majority of negotiations end with both sides agreeing on a figure near the midpoint of filings. The Brewers haven’t gone to a hearing with a player during Doug Melvin’s tenure as GM, which began in September 2002.   
“You always want to put yourself in a position to avoid a hearing,” Ash said. “But sometimes it makes sense to go to one. We’ll just have to see.”  
Gomez, Weeks and outfielder Jody Gerut, who agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract on Monday, avoided that prospect by signing ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.   
The Brewers acquired Gomez on Nov. 6 for shortstop J.J. Hardy and installed him as the starting center fielder. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time as a “Super 2″ player after batting .229 last season with three home runs and 28 RBIs in 137 games.  
Weeks has also yet to tap the potential that prompted the Brewers to select him second overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, partly because of injuries. He was off to a great start in 2009 — .272 average, nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 37 games — before tearing the sheath of a tendon in his left wrist during a May 17 game at St. Louis. Weeks needed surgery and was lost for the season.  
The Brewers expect Weeks back in 2010 as the team’s starting second baseman and leadoff hitter.
*
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Weeks, Gomez agree to one-year deals

Minutes before teams swapped contract proposals with their arbitration-eligible players, the Brewers announced they had agreed to terms on one-year contracts for second baseman Rickie Weeks and center fielder Carlos Gomez, leaving only four eligible players unsigned. 
Terms of the new deals were not immediately available but Weeks earned $2.45 million in 2009, when he spent most of the season on the disabled list following wrist surgery, and Gomez earned $437,500 with the Minnesota Twins. 
The Brewers acquired Gomez on Nov. 6 for shortstop J.J. Hardy and installed him as the starting center fielder. Gomez was arbitration-eligible for the first time as a “Super 2″ player after batting .229 last season with three home runs and 28 RBIs in 137 games.  
Weeks has also yet to tap the potential that prompted the Brewers to select him second overall in the 2003 Draft, partly because of injuries. He was off to a great start in 2009 — .272 average, nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 37 games — before tearing the sheath of a tendon in his left wrist during a May 17 game at St. Louis. Weeks needed surgery and was lost for the season. 
The Brewers expect Weeks back in 2010 as the team’s starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. 
With Gomez, Weeks and outfielder Jody Gerut under contract (Gerut signed Monday for one year and $2 million), the Brewers were left with four unsigned players eligible for arbitration. At 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday, unsigned players and their teams swapped salary proposals, but can continue to negotiate until the date of a scheduled arbitration hearing next month.  
The eligible players still unsigned include starter Dave Bush ($4 million salary in 2009), relievers Todd Coffey ($800,002) and Carlos Villanueva ($447,000) and outfielder Corey Hart ($3.25 million). 
*
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Tough market for second basemen

Lopez.jpgInteresting take from FanGraphs.com about the glut of available second baseman and the lack of interested clubs. I thought I would pass it along for the Brewers fans still debating the Brewers’ decision to let Felipe Lopez go into free agency without offering him arbitration. 

Brewers officials reached the same conclusion as the article’s author, that there were too few teams seeking a second sacker this winter, so they declined to make such an offer. Lopez was a Type B free agent, so Milwaukee would have received a compensatory Draft pick between the first- and second rounds next June had they offered Lopez arbitration and he declined before signing with another club. 
Looking at the market, the Brewers worried that Lopez would accept. He’s listed as earning $3.5 million last season, but I’m told that the figure didn’t include incentives that pushed his actual salary higher. Lopez had an outstanding year, so had accepted the Brewers’ offer of arbitration, he might have topped $6 million for 2010. 
Given Milwaukee’s need for pitching, GM Doug Melvin decided that was too high a price for a player who could end up on the bench, so he let Lopez go, re-signed Craig Counsell for one year and $2.1 million and spent the rest of his free agent cash on starter Randy Wolf and reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Melvin says he still has some flexibility left over to troll the market in January and February for bargains. If he doesn’t find any deals to his liking, Melvin could retain that flexibility into June and July to make a pre-trade deadline deal.  
The key, of course, is that Brewers officials are committed to Rickie Weeks as their second baseman. Weeks missed five months of the 2009 season after undergoing wrist surgery but is on track to be ready for 2010. Weeks still has two seasons of club control before he reaches free agency. He earned $2.45 million last year and is eligible for arbitration.
FanGraphs.com suggests that some of the second baseman on the market might have to switch positions to find homes. I’m not sure whether Lopez and agent Scott Boras are open to that, but if they are, Lopez could be well-positioned. He has played 602 career games at shortstop, 300 at third base, 95 at third base and 17 in the outfield. 
*
Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Macha says he'll let 'em run

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.”

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

List of arbitration-eligible players

The Major League Baseball Players Association released a list last night of the 210 players potentially eligible for arbitration this winter. We already knew the eight eligible Brewers — Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Jody Gerut, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera (first time eligible), Carlos Villanueva (first time eligible) and Rickie Weeks — but I thought it may be helpful to pass along the entire list. Many of these players will become free agents after the Dec. 12 nontender deadline.

The Brewers will face a couple of decisions at that deadline. Do they bring back McClung ($1.6625 million salary in 2009), the versatile right-hander who worked his way back from an elbow injury at the end of last season? Will Gerut ($1.775 million) return based on his strong finish to the 2009 season? If the Brewers do convince free agent catcher Jason Kendall to return at a discount, will they give the backup job to Jonathan Lucroy or bring back Rivera?

We will get into those decisions at a later date. For now, here is the MLBPA list:

List of players potentially eligible for 2010 Salary Arbitration

PLAYER    SERVICE TIME    TEAM    POSITION
1 Aardsma, David 3.082 SEA RP
2 Accardo, Jeremy 3.171 TOR RP
3 Adams, Mike 3.019 SD RP
4 Albers, Matt 2.141 BAL RP
5 Amezaga, Alfredo 5.097 FLA OF
6 Anderson, Brian N. 3.053 BOS OF
7 Atkins, Garrett 5.072 COL 3B
8 Aybar, Erick 3.086 LAA SS
9 Baker, Jeff 3.049 CHC 2B
10 Bale, John R. 4.016 KC RP
11 Balfour, Grant 5.099 TB RP
12 Bannister, Brian 3.158 KC SP
13 Barmes, Clint 4.122 COL 2B
14 Bartlett, Jason 4.086 TB SS
15 Bautista, Jose A. 4.165 TOR OF
16 Bell, Heath 4.099 SD RP
17 Bennett, Jeff 3.012 TB RP
18 Bergmann, Jay 3.064 WAS RP
19 Billingsley, Chad 3.110 LAD SP
20 Blanton, Joe 5.016 PHI SP
21 Bonser, Boof 3.102 MIN RP
22 Bourn, Michael 3.028 HOU OF
23 Boyer, Blaine 3.122 ARI RP
24 Broxton, Jonathan 4.020 LAD RP
25 Bruney, Brian 4.164 NYY RP
26 Bruntlett, Eric 5.102 PHI 2B
27 Buchholz, Taylor 3.140 COL RP
28 Buck, John 5.101 KC C
29 Burnett, Sean 3.085 WAS RP
30 Burton, Jared 2.165 CIN RP
31 Bush, David 5.052 MIL SP
32 Byrdak, Tim 4.150 HOU RP
33 Cabrera, Fernando 3.104 BOS RP
34 Cabrera, Melky 3.148 NYY OF
35 Camp, Shawn 4.170 TOR RP
36 Cantu, Jorge 5.036 FLA 1B
37 Capps, Matt 4.017 PIT RP
38 Carrasco, D.J. 3.141 CWS RP
39 Casilla, Santiago 3.012 OAK RP
40 Cedeno, Ronny 4.029 PIT SS
41 Chavez, Raul A. 5.074 TOR C
42 Choate, Randy 5.073 TB RP
43 Church, Ryan 4.152 ATL OF
44 Coffey, Todd 4.024 MIL RP
45 Colon, Roman 3.133 KC RP
46 Condrey, Clay 4.012 PHI RP
47 Cormier, Lance 4.154 TB RP
48 Correia, Kevin 5.027 SD SP
49 Cotts, Neal 4.081 CHC RP
50 Crain, Jesse 5.039 MIN RP
51 Cust, Jack 4.002 OAK DH
52 Danks, John 3.000 CWS SP
53 Davies, Kyle 4.012 KC SP
54 Davis, Rajai 2.167 OAK OF
55 de la Rosa, Jorge 5.015 COL SP
56 Delcarmen, Manny 3.133 BOS RP
57 Devine, Joe 2.171 OAK RP
58 Diaz, Matt 4.157 ATL OF
59 Dinardo, Lenny 3.157 KC RP
60 Drew, Stephen 3.079 ARI SS
61 Duke, Zach 4.094 PIT SP
62 Durbin, Chad 5.102 PHI RP
63 Ethier, Andre 3.153 LAD OF
64 Feldman, Scott 3.091 TEX SP
65 Feliciano, Pedro 5.059 NYM RP
66 Flores, Jesus 2.158 WAS C
67 Fontenot, Mike 2.139 CHC 3B
68 Francisco, Frank 5.053 TEX RP
69 Francoeur, Jeff 4.088 NYM OF
70 Frasor, Jason 5.134 TOR RP
71 Garko, Ryan 3.091 SF 1B
72 Garza, Matt 2.149 TB SP
73 Gaudin, Chad 4.163 NYY SP
74 German, Esteban 4.069 TEX 2B
75 Gerut, Jody 5.096 MIL OF
76 Gomes, Jonny 4.097 CIN OF
77 Gomez, Carlos 2.141 MIL OF
78 Gordon, Alex 2.162 KC 3B
79 Gorzelanny, Tom 2.160 CHC RP
80 Green, Sean 3.125 NYM RP
81 Grilli, Jason 4.118 TEX RP
82 Gross, Gabe 4.114 TB OF
83 Guerrier, Matt 5.056 MIN RP
84 Guthrie, Jeremy 3.130 BAL SP
85 Gutierrez, Franklin 3.080 SEA OF
86 Guzman, Angel 3.095 CHC RP
87 Hairston, Scott 4.102 OAK OF
88 Hamilton, Josh 3.000 TEX OF
89 Hammel, Jason 2.153 COL SP
90 Hardy, J.J. 4.164 MIN SS
91 Harris, Brendan 3.112 MIN SS
92 Hart, Corey 4.038 MIL OF
93 Heilman, Aaron 5.123 CHC RP
94 Hermida, Jeremy 4.033 BOS OF
95 Hernandez, Felix 4.060 SEA SP
96 Hill, Koyie 3.006 CHC C
97 Howell, J.P. 3.007 TB RP
98 Iannetta, Chris 3.029 COL C
99 Izturis, Maicer 5.038 LAA 2B
100 Jackson, Conor 4.067 ARI OF
101 Jackson, Edwin 4.070 DET SP
102 Jacobs, Mike 4.047 KC DH
103 Janssen, Casey 3.063 TOR RP
104 Jenks, Bobby 4.090 CWS RP
105 Johnson, Josh 4.026 FLA SP
106 Johnson, Kelly 4.127 ATL 2B
107 Karstens, Jeff 2.144 PIT SP
108 Kemp, Matt 3.049 LAD OF
109 Kendrick, Howie 3.091 LAA 2B
110 Kensing, Logan 4.035 WAS RP
111 Keppinger, Jeff 3.052 HOU 3B
112 Kotchman, Casey 4.144 BOS 1B
113 Kouzmanoff, Kevin 3.030 SD 3B
114 Kuo, Hong-Chih 3.114 LAD RP
115 Laird, Gerald 5.077 DET C
116 Langerhans, Ryan 4.062 SEA OF
117 League, Brandon 3.145 TOR RP
118 Lincecum, Tim 2.148 SF SP
119 Lindstrom, Matthew 3.000 FLA RP
120 Liriano, Francisco 3.104 MIN SP
121 Logan, Boone 3.002 ATL RP
122 Loney, James 3.012 LAD 1B
123 Lowe, Mark 3.087 SEA RP
124 Ludwick, Ryan 4.109 STL OF
125 MacDougal, Mike 5.143 WAS RP
126 Maine, John 4.013 NYM SP
127 Marcum, Shaun 3.128 TOR SP
128 Marmol, Carlos 3.084 CHC RP
129 Marshall, Sean 3.088 CHC RP
130 Martin, Russell 3.150 LAD C
131 Masset, Nick 2.146 CIN RP
132 Mathis, Jeff 3.012 LAA C
133 McCarthy, Brandon 4.055 TEX SP
134 McClung, Seth 5.111 MIL RP
135 McGowan, Dustin 3.113 TOR SP
136 Medders, Brandon 3.074 SF RP
137 Meredith, Cla 3.107 BAL RP
138 Miller, Justin 5.070 SF RP
139 Miner, Zach 3.078 DET RP
140 Mitre, Sergio 4.132 NYY SP
141 Montero, Miguel 3.031 ARI C
142 Moylan, Peter 3.061 ATL RP
143 Murton, Matt 3.004 COL OF
144 Napoli, Mike 3.151 LAA C
145 Navarro, Dioner 4.103 TB C
146 Neshek, Pat 3.087 MIN RP
147 Nieves, Wil 3.092 WAS C
148 Nippert, Dustin 2.140 TEX RP
149 Nix, Laynce 4.070 CIN OF
150 Nolasco, Ricky 3.142 FLA SP
151 Nunez, Leo 3.108 FLA RP
152 Ojeda, Augie 4.169 ARI SS
153 Okajima, Hideki 3.000 BOS RP
154 Olsen, Scott 4.101 WAS SP
155 Orr, Pete 3.096 WAS 2B
156 Pagan, Angel 3.144 NYM OF
157 Papelbon, Jon 4.064 BOS RP
158 Paulino, Ronny 3.112 FLA C
159 Pena, Tony 3.076 CWS RP
160 Pence, Hunter 2.156 HOU OF
161 Perez, Rafael 2.157 CLE RP
162 Pinto, Renyel 3.083 FLA RP
163 Qualls, Chad 5.058 ARI RP
164 Quentin, Carlos 3.065 CWS OF
165 Quintero, Humberto 3.141 HOU C
166 Ramirez, Ramon 3.113 BOS RP
167 Ray, Chris 4.098 BAL RP
168 Redding, Tim 5.167 NYM RP
169 Reed, Jeremy 4.016 NYM OF
170 Repko, Jason 3.067 LAD OF
171 Reyes, Anthony 3.027 CLE SP
172 Rivera, Mike 3.081 MIL C
173 Rivera, Saul 3.056 WAS RP
174 Rodriguez, Wandy 4.105 HOU SP
175 Ross, Cody 4.058 FLA OF
176 Ruiz, Carlos 3.069 PHI C
177 Sampson, Chris 3.012 HOU RP
178 Sanchez, Anibal 3.099 FLA SP
179 Sanchez, Jonathan 3.071 SF SP
180 Santiago, Ramon 5.095 DET SS
181 Saunders, Joe 3.013 LAA SP
182 Schumaker, Skip 3.051 STL 2B
183 Scott, Luke 3.144 BAL DH
184 Seay, Bobby 5.118 DET RP
185 Sherrill, George 4.147 LAD RP
186 Shoppach, Kelly 4.021 CLE C
187 Spilborghs, Ryan 3.072 COL OF
188 Street, Huston 5.000 COL RP
189 Sullivan, Cory 4.010 NYM OF
190 Tallet, Brian 4.146 TOR SP
191 Teahen, Mark 4.155 CWS 3B
192 Tejeda, Rob 3.102 KC RP
193 Th
eriot, Ryan 3.118 CHC SS
194 Uggla, Dan 4.000 FLA 2B
195 Upton, B.J. 3.126 TB OF
196 Veras, Jose 3.014 CLE RP
197 Verlander, Justin 4.002 DET SP
198 Victorino, Shane 4.092 PHI OF
199 Villanueva, Carlos 3.053 MIL RP
200 Waechter, Doug 4.087 KC RP
201 Wang, Chien-Ming 4.159 NYY SP
202 Weaver, Jered 3.129 LAA SP
203 Weeks, Rickie 4.131 MIL 2B
204 Willingham, Josh 4.123 WAS OF
205 Willits, Reggie 3.000 LAA OF
206 Wilson, Brian 2.169 SF RP
207 Wilson, C.J. 4.055 TEX RP
208 Wuertz, Michael 4.139 OAK RP
209 Young, Delmon 3.034 MIN OF
210 Zumaya, Joel 4.000 DET RP

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

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. 

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

Brewers add Heether to roster

heether.jpgThe Brewers added infielder Adam Heether to the 40-man roster on Monday while reinstating second baseman Rickie Weeks and right-handers Mark DiFelice and David Riske from the 60-day disabled list.

Six spots were cleared last week when outfielders Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto and Corey Patterson, catcher Jason Kendall and infielder Felipe Lopez elected free agency and the team declined reliever David Weathers’ club option, making him a free agent.

The Brewers say their 40-man roster stands at 37. But that figure still includes free agents Craig Counsell, Claudio Vargas and Weathers, who as of Monday morning had not formally filed for free agency. 

[Counsell and Weathers did file later in the day Monday, further reducing the roster to 35 players.]

Heether turns 28 in January and could be a right-handed utility option for the Brewers next season because he can play any infield position and also saw action in left field in 2009. He spent most of the year at Triple-A Nashville, where he batted .293 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and an outstanding .400 on-base percentage. He’s currently playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Weeks, DiFelice and Riske will all be returning from injury. Weeks, expected back next year as Milwaukee’s leadoff hitter, underwent surgery in early may to repair a tendon sheath in his left wrist and has now had both wrists surgically-repaired.  Riske lost the whole season to Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and will be entering the final season of a three-year contract. DiFelice ended the season on the DL with a shoulder injury but avoided surgery.

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

Bill James sees solid season for Gamel

Just got an e-mail from stat guru Bill James‘ publisher and thought I would pass it along. It includes a positive prognostication for Mat Gamel — if he plays — but not so much for Rickie Weeks. Another 200-strikeout season for right-hander Yovani Gallardo but only 12 wins, and another struggle for lefty Manny Parra.

They key “if” in these projections is playing time. For example, the release offers projections for Gamel, Weeks and Casey McGehee assuming at least 425 at-bats for each, but it’s difficult to envision that scenario. James explains in his quote below.

Here’s the text:

In the recently-released Bill James Handbook 2010, baseball guru Bill James projects the 2010 seasons for players on the Milwaukee Brewers — and predicts a potentially solid year from third baseman Mat Gamel.

“In any season, the vast majority of players play in a manner that seems a natural extension of what they had done before,” James says in his new book. “When that happens, our projection should be reasonably accurate.”

Although he’s been in the projection business for almost twenty years, one thing James has no control over is playing time. “It is always my argument that we have no chance of figuring out, in October 2009, who will get playing time in 2010,” James says. “But what we should do is try to answer this question: If this player plays, how will he play?”

With this in mind, here are the five key Milwaukee hitters for 2010, according to the new Bill James Handbook 2010:

Key Brewers Hitters (by OPS)
Player                   At-bats     R     HR    RBI     SB     Avg.    OPS
Ryan Braun             615     112     39    119      17     .315    .972
Prince Fielder          601     103     44    124       3      .286    .967
Mat Gamel              455      65      17     73       3      .277    .817
Rickie Weeks          425      80      16     48      14     .259    .807
Casey McGehee      492      63      15     76       0      .272    .757

Projecting stats for pitchers is very different from projecting offensive stats for hitters. “We used to believe that pitching performance was much, much less predictable than batter performance,” James says. “This is probably still true…due to injuries and other factors. Sometimes a pitcher gets hurt, and when that happens our projections for him are knocked into a cocked hat.”

Here are the three key Milwaukee pitchers for 2010, according to the new Bill James Handbook 2010:

Key Brewers Pitchers (by ERA)
Player                       IP     W    L     K      SV    ERA
Trevor Hoffman         63     4     3     57     39     2.43
Yovani Gallardo       186    12    8     205     0     3.53
Manny Parra           147     7     9     130     0     4.59

The complete projections for the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers can be found in the Bill James Handbook 2010.

For further information on the Bill James Handbook 2010 go to www.actasports.com.

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter.

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.”

*

Follow Brew Beat on Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers