December 2009

Great things happen when the TV is turned off

It’s that time of year again. I no longer have to plant myself in front of the television for nearly 3 straight hours on Thursdays to catch all the zany action in Pawnee, Scranton, New York and Philadelphia. The Top Chef has been chosen, Dexter killed his last victim until next year and I still don’t know how Ted met his kids’ mother. The freetime I have is astounding. I mean, just check out what I did last night in the same amount of time I would’ve spent on my couch with some of my favorite fictional friends.

 

Cute, huh?

I seriously don’t understand why I give so much of my life to television when I see what I’m able to do instead. I still can’t manage to turn away from The Jersey Shore or Tough Love, though. Ah, well. We all have our weaknesses.

 

But moving on to baseball.

The Brewers finalized their deals with new pitchers Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and also worked out a 1-year deal to bring Craig Counsell back next season. (Yay!) The Crew is also only a physical away from having Claudio Vargas back in their bullpen even though they probably could’ve had Seth McClung instead. Sorry, Big Red. I’ll miss you! In addition to McClung, the Brewers non-tendered catcher Mike Rivera and pitcher Mark DiFelice, though DiFelice later signed a minor-league contract with the club.

A couple of Milwaukee’s free agents have found homes this week, as well. Mike Cameron is heading to Boston, while Jason Kendall will be the Royals new backstop and Corey Patterson will be sucking in the Mariners minor league system. But the biggest news this week was undoubtedly the 4-team deal involving Toronto, Oakland, Seattle and Philly. The deal sent post-season superstar Cliff Lee to the Mariners and Roy Halladay can finally breath easy, having landed in Philadelphia after much trade speculation for the last six or seven months. Halladay wanted be part of a contending team in 2010, the Phillies seemed like the perfect team for him and he finally approved the trade.

And the TYIB winners were announced today. My picks didn’t fare so well. Obviously, Joe Mauer was winning Hitter. I just had high hopes for Prince Fielder. I was right on with Zach Greinke for Starter, was waaaaay off the mark picking Casey McGehee for ROY, but got back on track by choosing Jim Tracy for Manager. Stupid Yankee Mariano Rivera got closer. Again. I did pick Jeremy Affeldt for Set-Up, so way to go me, but Torii Hunter wasn’t even close to Jacoby Ellsbury for Defense. Mark Burhle, blah, blah, blah. Really? Dewayne Wise? The best play of the year? Sure, he kept perfection in order, but it was just robbing a homerun. It happens pretty much every game. Over it. How the Angels celebrating the post season in honor of Nick Adenhart didn’t beat out everything else for Moment is beyond me. Phillies Dad got his 15 minutes. Over that, too. Ruben Amaro, Jr. was pretty deserving for Executive. I tooooootally picked the Unsung Star in Jayson Werth and, yes, I’m a Yankee hater so their post season anything didn’t deserve to win. But anyway, congrats to all the winners. These awards mean nothing, so way to go.

And, lastly, since Christmas is only a week away and I work in retail, don’t expect any new posts for a bit. I mean, unless the Brewers manage to do something astounding in the next 7 days. Which is pretty unlikely.

 

Fiiiiinally Doug Melvin does the right thing

The offseason is starting to finally produce some newsworthy content and I’m happy to report (even though I’m a little behind) that the Brewers organization is actually doing some useful things this winter. 

Doug Melvin promised us all that he would do his best and be aggressive in getting at least one new arm to the starting rotation and he has done exactly that in signing lefty Randy Wolf to a 3-year contract. Wolf is coming off his best season in years after posting a 3.23 ERA with the Dodgers in 2009, going 11-7 in 34 starts. He stands to make $29.75 million and has a 4th year club option. Wolf is excited to come to Milwaukee, where he’ll fit into a young(er) rotation of Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra for sure, and possibly Dave Bush (who is arbitration-eligible) and Jeff Suppan, who unfortunately still has a year left on his contract. Although, nowhere in Suppan’s contract does it stipulate he must hold a spot in the starting rotation, all of us fans will just have to hold our breath and hope that, come spring, he will not. 
With the Brewers team ERA being the lowest in the Majors last year (5.37), Melvin and Co. are not only looking for improved arms in the starting rotation, but are looking for stability and health in the bullpen as well. Last year, the pitching staff was oft-injured, the bullpen was tapped for spot-starters and therefore was stretched very thin and there were some problems with, um, mental health? The addition of Wolf will be nothing but an improvement and the Brewers have begun to add to the bullpen, too.
LaTroy Hawkins was signed to a 2-year, $7.5 million contract after the Houston Astros couldn’t guarantee him a multi-year deal. Last season, Hawkins was nothing short of outstanding, posting a 2.13 ERA in 65 appearances, including 11 saves. With Mark DiFelice out for 2010 (and possibly off the team), Hawkins is a much-needed lefty out of the bullpen and should work well as a set-up man for closer Trevor Hoffman. 
The Crew is close to finalizing a deal with RHP Claudio Vargas (although I’m not sure why…) and have 3 other arbitration-eligible right-handers awaiting offers in Todd Coffey (highly likely), Carlos Villanueva (pretty likely) and Seth McClung (unfortunately, not likely). Also on the 40-man roster are lefties Mitch Stetter and Chris Narveson, as well as RHP Chris Smith. David Riske is recovering from Tommy John surgery but could rejoin the club at some point in 2010 and there are a lot of pitchers in the farm system that could fit well with the team after Spring Training wraps up. 
The Brewers also picked up 23-year-old lefty Chuck Lofgren in the Rule 5 Draft from the Indians. Lofgren would likely come out of the bullpen, but worked well as a starter in the Indians Double- and Triple-A affiliates. 
Although it seems right now there is no shortage of pitching in Milwaukee’s bullpen, it seems Dougie isn’t quite done with his search. However, I hope he remembers that he’s got one more thin spot that should be addressed: the outfield. 
The JJ Hardy trade brought Carlos Gomez to centerfield to accompany team stud and Top 10 Hottie Ryan Braun in left. Everyday right fielder Corey Hart is eligible for arbitration this year and unless Melvin has some big deal planned, I don’t see him leaving Milwaukee any time soon. Back-up outfielder Jody Gerut also has to wait until tomorrow’s arbitration deadline to see if a deal will come his way. I can be on board with the Braun-Gomez-Hart combo, but it wasn’t until later last season that Gerut really stepped up and I’d almost rather have more power coming off the bench than what Gerut can provide. But beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. 
It also seems that the Brewers have more infielders than they know what to do with. The Crew picked up 2 catchers in Gregg Zaun and George Kottaras, thus leaving little room for arbitration-eligible Mike Rivera. They added Adam Heether to the 40-man roster, picked up Luis Cruz and are continuing to negotiate Craig Counsell’s return.
But so far, it seems like the team is really taking shape. The additional pitching will only be helpful, provided all the pieces can fall into place after the arbitration deadline. If the Brewers can get one more discounted starter after tomorrow, the could really be in business for 2010. With the majority of the power hitters still in place, Milwaukee may finally have that 1-2 punch of pitching and offense they’ve been lacking. I know we fans say it every season, but this really could be their year. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the snack aisle…

So I was grocery shopping with my mom today and we walked past a rack of calendars. It made me think of how, even though it’s December 4th, I had just turned my calendar page yesterday. And who do I see? JJ Hardy. Understandably, JJ wasn’t entirely terrible in 2008 and, yes, was still part of the team so why not put him in the 2009 calendar? Well, the month before had featured Bill Hall. As we all know by now, Hall is now a Mariner.

So I had to walk over to the rack and find a 2010 Milwaukee Brewers calendar and wouldn’t you know it, both Hardy and Hall are featured again!

Of course, baseball is a fickle business and unless you’re locked down to a solid, long-term contract, you’re future could be a pretty big question mark. But Hall was traded in August. Does it really take that long to put a calendar together? I mean, at least wait until late September to submit the pages. There are 25 guys on the team. You only have to pick 12. Bill Hall? Really?

Anyway, we both found it humorous that the 2 biggest slumping players of last season (Brad Nelson notwithstanding) were chosen way back when to be calendar boys for 2010.

 

 

But the Brewers seemed to have gotten themselves a catcher for next season, and at a more than 50% discount, too. Gregg Zaun, who split time within the Orioles and Rays organizations last year, signed on for 1 year at $2.15 million, with a club option for 2011. The 38-year-old Zaun will have to earn his keep, as Mike Rivera, Angel Salome and George Kottaras are all on the 40-man roster as well. The Brewers were looking to shed payroll of some of their higher-paid guys to open up their options and hopefully acquite some starting pitching for next year. They certainly did so by not making Jason Kendall an offer, who made $5 million in 2009.

Also, Doug Melvin spoke with Craig Counsell’s agent earlier in the week to discuss the possibility of keeping Counsell on for the 2010 season. As I’ve said before, I’m all for keeping Craigy on the team. Left-handed bats are always useful, and as a bench player, he’s certainly versatile. He had an amazing season last year on a bum knee, so hopefully his post-surgery knee will be even better. Plus, I always like hearing Jimi Hendrix when Counsell comes up to bat…

 

 

In other news, I just want to say how happy I am to have made the mlblogs leaderboard for the month of November. I love having this outlet to voice my thoughts and OPINIONS, even if I do create a little controversy every now and then. So perhaps thanks are in order to Zack Hample for getting me there? Yes, thanks, Zack, for not being able to handle one person, alllllll the way in Milwaukee, not liking your childish hobby and sending all your loyal minions to flock to my blog. I appreciate it!

 

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