Results tagged ‘ Vinny Rottino ’

Rottino: 'No hard feelings'

Longtime Brewers farmhand Vinny Rottino got a fresh start on Friday when he was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Claudio Vargas.

Rottino, 29, was exceedingly popular among Brewers fans because he grew up just south of Milwaukee in Racine, Wis. and rose from an undrafted free agent to legitimate prospect status in 2004, when he broke Prince Fielder’s organizational record with 124 RBIs at Class A Beloit. Two years later, Rottino batted .314 at Triple-A Nashville and earned the first of three late-season promotions to the big leagues.

In all, Rottino appeared in 18 games for the Brewers and batted .208 (5-for-24). His biggest hit came in the penultimate game of the 2007 season, when Rottino grounded an 11th-inning single that capped a come-from-behind win over the Padres and guaranteed Milwaukee’s first winning season in 15 years.

But Rottino was subsequently passed by other Brewers prospects. He was removed from the 40-man roster this spring and opted for an assignment to Double-A Huntsville so he could get regular playing time away from Triple-A catching prospect Angel Salome and third base prospect Mat Gamel. In 98 games this season, Rottino batted .249 with four home runs and 48 RBIs.

“I’m excited,” said Rottino, who received a “really nice” call from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash informing him of the trade. “I certainly didn’t expect to be traded, but it’s an opportunity for me to get back to the big leagues, for sure.

“I feel like I’m a guy who can play multiple positions, especially catcher, and that’s always going to mean an opportunity. It’s going to be a matter of me being in the right place at the right time, playing well and then getting the opportunity. I’m never going to have the attitude, as long as I have a uniform in this game, that making it to the big leagues is not a possibility. Now that’s going to be with the Dodgers.”

He didn’t know much about the Dodgers, but said, “They obviously want me, because they traded away a guy who pitched in the big leagues for them.”

Any hard feelings toward the Brewers?

“I will always have an allegiance to the Brewers,” Rottino said. “After my 10-year big league career is over, I’d love to stay in the game with the Brewers. No hard feelings, whatsoever.” 

Rottino will report to the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn.

I know there are a lot of Brewers fans out there who think Rottino should have been given a better shot in Milwaukee. Are you happy for him today?


A bit of irony in Vargas trade

Does anyone else find it interesting that the Brewers, scrambling for pitching in the wake of injuries and poor performances, picked up an arm they let go last year because they had too much depth?

That’s probably an oversimplification, but I do remember being very surprised at the end of 2008 Spring Training when the Brewers released Claudio Vargas. They re-acquired him on Friday in a trade that sent longtime organizational man Vinny Rottino to the Dodgers.

Vargas, 31, who pitched for the Brewers in 2007, could provide depth for a pitching staff that has sent three arms — Dave Bush, Seth McClung and now Jeff Suppan — to the disabled list over the past five weeks. Vargas opened the year on the disabled list with an elbow injury, then posted a 1.64 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Dodgers after being activated July 3. His fastball was clocked as high as 93 mph.

By the time the Vargas deal was complete, the Brewers still had not named a starter to replace Suppan on Saturday against the Padres. The team did promote Mike Burns from Triple-A Nashville earlier in the day, and he was one option. But with Burns back in the fold, the Brewers needed to send another player down to make room on the 25-man roster for Vargas. 

Melvin, who was presumably working the phones hard in the remaining hours before Friday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, did not immediately return a call.

Melvin originally acquired Vargas as part of a six-player deal with the Diamondbacks in November 2006 and Vargas went 11-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 29 appearances, including 23 starts, the following season. He was one of eight starters vying for a spot in the rotation at the start of 2008 before the Brewers released him on March 25.

In dealing Vargas on Friday, the Dodgers opened a spot on the 25-man roster for reliever George Sherrill, acquired from the Orioles on Thursday.

Where do Rottino, Iribarren fit?

Triple-A Nashville will have no shortage of utility men this season.

The Brewers optioned Hernan Iribarren to Nashville on Monday and returned Vinny Rottino to Minor League camp. Both players are headed Triple-A, but it’s difficult to pin down exactly where they will play.

Rottino’s fate was complicated by word Monday that the Brewers intend to send Carlos Corporan to Nashville to serve as the backup catcher to Angel Salome. Last year the Brewers installed Rottino as the starting catcher at Nashville with hopes of eventually advancing him to the big leagues as a backup. That experiment has essentially been abandoned, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash.

Rottino will catch “on occasion” this season, Ash said, and, “will be more of a true utility player.”

So will Iribarren, it appears. Assuming the Brewers keep out-of-options players Tony Gwynn Jr., Brad Nelson and Mike Lamb for the bench, the infield will be full with prospects Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar on the left side, Scott Thorman at first base and probably Spring Training standout Casey McGehee at second. The team wants to play young outfielders Brendan Katin and Cole Gillespie in the outfield, and Chris Duffy would probably man center field. Iribarren presumably would pick up at-bats where he can get them.

Both Iribarren and Rottino have been Brewers farmhands for a long time — Iribarren since March 2002 and Rottino since February 2003. They both have had a taste of the big leagues and would love to get back, but it’s looking tough.

Brewers set pitching staff with latest cuts

The Brewers made another flurry of camp cuts on Monday that essentially set the team’s 12-man pitching staff for Opening Day and further clarified the three bench spots still up for grabs.

Milwaukee optioned infielder/outfielder Hernan Iribarren Triple-A Nashville, returned super-utility man Vinny Rottino to Minor League camp and informed nonroster pitchers Lindsay Gulin and Wes Littleton and catcher Carlos Corporan that they will not make the Opening Day roster. Gulin, Littleton and Corporan will travel with the team to Los Angeles for a pair of weekend exhibitions with the Dodgers and will also take part in team workouts in San Francisco next week before reporting to Triple-A Nashville to start the season.

The moves had a number of implications:

– The subtraction of Gulin and Littleton, combined with the news Monday that closer Trevor Hoffman had been placed on the disabled list with a ribcage injury, left the Brewers with 12 pitchers in camp. That meant roster spots for both Mark DiFelice and Jorge Julio, right-handed relievers who were competing for the final bullpen job.

With no additions from outside the organization over the next week, the staff will consist of starters Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Braden Looper and Dave Bush (in that order to start the year) plus relievers Todd Coffey, DiFelice, Julio, Seth McClung, David Riske, Mitch Stetter and Carlos Villanueva.

– Three bench roles are still up for grabs. The Brewers will chose two outfielders from Chris Duffy, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Brad Nelson and one infielder from Mike Lamb and Casey McGehee. The Lamb/McGehee battle has been a good one, but both will make the cut if Craig Counsell, who was back in the lineup Monday after playing the previous two days in Minor League camp, has a setback and needs surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee. 

– Gulin will join a starting rotation at Nashville also expected to include Chase Wright, Nick Green, Sam Narron and Tim Dillard. Left-hander Chris Narveson will be assigned to the bullpen, and the organization will make decisions on two other Triple-A pitchers — Richie Gardner and Matt Ginter — on Tuesday. Both of those pitchers have bullpen experience, Ash said.

Brewers pass on Palmisano

As recently as one year ago, it would have been very difficult to imagine the Brewers declining an opportunity to add a catcher to the system. But that’s exactly what they did on Saturday.

The Astros offered back Rule 5 pick Lou Palmisano, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said, but Milwaukee declined the offer and Houston was allowed to stash Palmisano in the Minor Leagues. The Brewers received $50,000 when Palmisano was selected in December — Baltimore made the pick, then traded the player to Houston — and would have had to pay back $25,000 to accept him back.

Instead, the Brewers were content to keep their $25,000 and will rely on other catchers in the system. Angel Salome and Vinny Rottino (or perhaps Carlos Corporan, Melvin said) are likely to catch at Triple-A Nashville, and the impressive Jonathan Lucroy is ticketed for Double-A Huntsville.

Gallardo still mulling Classic

I had a chance to talk with right-hander Yovani Gallardo today about his upcoming decision about the World Baseball Classic, and he’s torn. On one hand, he wants badly to represent his country. On the other, he had two knee surgeries last year and missed much of the season with a torn right ACL.

Rosters must be set by Feb. 24, and it sounded to me like Gallardo is leaning toward passing on the tournament. You can decide for yourself by reading his comments:

“Obviously, my main focus is to pitch the whole year for the Milwaukee Brewers,” Gallardo said Sunday, when Brewers pitchers and catchers went through their first workout at Maryvale Baseball Park.

“It is tough,” he added. “The opportunity to go out there and play for your country, I’ve never had that opportunity. But from here on out, I have to think of what’s best for myself and [the Brewers].

On a sit-down with club officials that will probably take place this week:

“It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to sit down and discuss,” Gallardo said. “Being hurt last year, it’s one of the things I think about most. I’ll have answer here in the next week or so. It’s a difficult decision.”

On a side note, it appears that Brewers pitcher Mark DiFelice and catcher Vinny Rottino will be the starting battery for Italy’s World Baseball Classic opener against Venezuela. 


Roster shake-up: Pena, Mendoza out; Rottino stays

Reliever Luis Pena, a longtime Brewers farmhand, was claimed off waivers from the Mariners on Sunday at the same time the team announced that veteran reliever and nonroster invitee Ramiro Mendoza had failed his physical and will not participate in camp.

A third player is staying put. Catcher Vinny Rottino, a Wisconsin native who was designated for assignment Thursday along with Pena, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville. He will continue to compete for a roster spot in big league camp this spring, but Rottino is no longer on the 40-man roster.

Rottino and Pena were both placed on waivers the day the Brewers claimed Angels pitcher Nick Green off waivers and signed free agent pitcher Braden Looper.

Technically, Pena was the one displaced for Green, a right-handed starter. The Brewers had a good idea that Pena would be claimed, and Seattle was a likely destination since new M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik used to be the Brewers’ scouting director. One other team, probably the White Sox, who have an affiliate in the Double-A Southern League and saw Pena during his excellent 2007 season, also had some interest.

“You can look at it as a trade [of] Nick Green for Luis Pena, a starter for a reliever,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “We need starters and Nick is only 24. Luis is 26, but you have to give up on power arms.”

Mendoza’s Brewers tenure was much shorter than that of Pena, who originally signed with the team out of Venezuela in 1999. Mendoza signed about two weeks ago, and hoped to pitch in the Majors for the first time since 2005 with the Yankees.

The Brewers were aware of Mendoza’s checkered medical history, and spent the last two weeks trying unsuccessfully to obtain records from a hip surgery. When Mendoza underwent his physical exam on Saturday, the extent of that major surgery was revealed, and the Brewers decided to pass.

“The hip surgery was much more extensive than we thought so our doctors don’t want to take the risk with it,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “That’s not to say he can’t pitch. He pitched all winter with it. These things are all based on the level of risk that you are willing to take.”

Looper signs; Rottino let go

Right-hander Braden Looper passed a physical exam and formally became a Brewer on Thursday when he inked a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2010.

Looper, a 34-year-old former reliever who moved to the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation for the past two seasons, is expected to bolster a Brewers starting five with talent but little depth. To make room for him on the team’s full 40-man roster, Wisconsin native Vinny Rottino, a catcher, was designated for assignment.

Looper will earn $4.75 million in 2009 and at least $6 million in 2010 if both sides exercise the option. The 2010 base salary will bump to $6.5 million of Looper starts at least 30 games in 2009.

The Brewers have until 10 days after the end of the World Series to decide on their half of the option, and Looper then must make his own decision three days after that. If the Brewers decline the option, they must pay Looper a buyout.

Looper terms reportedly in place

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting tonight that the Brewers and the rep for free agent right-hander Braden Looper indeed reached terms today. According to the newspaper, it will be a one-year deal with an option for 2010, but we don’t know yet whether that’s a club option, a player option, a mutual option or some sort of vesting option based on innings pitched, starts or some other statistical marker.

Not too surprising that the sides were able to agree to the framework of a deal. When general manager Doug Melvin was willing to even broach the topic today, that showed you things were moving along swiftly. Looper will have to pass a physical to make the contract official, and if I learn about the schedule for that formality, I will post it.

Now comes the really interesting part. The Brewers’ 40-man roster is full, so someone needs to go when Looper formally signs and it looks like it could be an “organizational guy” who has been with the team a while. I’d be shocked if they part with a pitcher, unless they simply decide that there’s no room for Rule 5 pick Eddie Morlan, so it makes sense that the names being kicked around include Vinny Rottino, Brad Nelson, Hernan Iribarren.  Maybe Casey McGehee should be in that group as well, but I think club officials are intrigued to see what they have in the former Cubs prospect.

Perhaps Melvin has a trade up his sleeve to help ease the logjam. Stay tuned.