Designated to Milwaukee’s rookie club in Helena later that season, Nelson would go 2-0, posting a 3.71 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitching in just his first minor league season. His performance would be enough for Baseball America to rank the power right-hander as the Brewers’ eighth overall prospect heading into the 2011 season.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Nelson on a number of different topics, ranging from his draft-day experiences to his favorite food. The following conversation contains everything Brewers fans need to know about the youngster.
Jimmy Nelson’s Favorites
AD: If you had to choose, what is your favorite movie of all-time?
JN: Well, Forest Gump is a good one. Inception is another one of my favorites.
AD: Favorite food?
JN: Any kind of seafood, really. I’m a big pasta fan, too.
AD: Alright, last one: do you have a favorite quote that you base your game off of?
JN: Not really. I have a bunch of favorite sayings I base my game off of, but, there’s not really one quote that I really focus on.
Jimmy Nelson: Growing Up
AD: What influence did growing up in Niceville, Florida have on your love for the game of baseball?
JN: Its a very baseball-rich area. There’s a lot of talent that comes out of that area, and there’s also a lot of really good coaches, which I think really helped me a lot growing up. I was always on pretty good teams, which helped make my a lot better and gave me that opportunity to get a college scholarship.
AD: Did you always want to be a pitcher?
JN: I mean, I did play a little bit of first [base] too, but when I was a kid I always threw. I was always one of the harder throwers in my age group. When you’re a tall, big kid, you tend to get funneled into that position as a pitcher whenever you’re big and you throw hard.
AD: How was your hitting?
JN: Oh, I don’t know. The last time I hit was in my freshman year of high school. We had designated hitters, so there wasn’t really much of a need. I wasn’t terrible, though.
AD: I understand you were actually drafted by the Cincinnati Reds back in 2007, but did not sign. Why?
JN: Yeah they drafted me right out of high school. It wasn’t enough money for me to sign, and it wasn’t enough money to skip college. I mean, I wanted to go to college to get a lot better to mature and grow into my body. I felt like I could get more after I’d proven myself. I was really excited about going to Alabama, too. They have a great staff and great facility and everything like that.
AD: How successful was the team when you were playing?
JN: We were always good. We were always the team that doesn’t have that many big-name players, but we always end up scrapping it out and fought until the end. We won a lot more games than we were expected to. We made it to regionals every year I was there, and then we made it to the super-regionals my junior year.
Jimmy Nelson: The 2010 Draft
AD: Back at the 2010 Draft, who was the first person to call you to let you know you’d been selected by the Milwaukee Brewers?
JN: I mean, the area scout called me that morning of the draft and said, “if we take you in this round will you sign for this much?” All I said to him was yes and that was pretty much the extent of my conversation. Before the Brewers came around I knew there were some other teams that were interested in me and passed me up.
I was 99 percent sure the Brewers were going to draft me, though. I was happy about it. It’s one of the best times of a prospect’s life. Just going through that process is very exciting and it’s just the beginning, really.
AD: Give us a breakdown on the pitches you throw.
JN: Well, I throw a sinker and a four-seam fastball, and I’m anywhere from 93-95 mph.
I’m primarily throwing sinkers, but I also have my slider — which has gotten a lot better. I went anywhere from 84 mph in college to 88-86 mph now. I’ve really developed my change-up this year, and that was probably one of the big points of this whole season. It’s gotten a whole lot better.
AD: So, developing your change-up has been the only real stress-point from the coaches of late?
JN: Yeah. Stuff-wise we’ve been working with the change-up because my other three pitches are pretty good. You know, the change-up is just a “feel” pitch and for a power-pitcher, that can be pretty hard to do.
AD: If you had to choose one word to describe your style of play on the mound, what would it be?
JN: Competitive. I wanted to say “intense”, but I’ll say competitive.
AD: Now, obviously scouts and “experts” around the country like what they see in you. Do you pay attention to the prospect rankings?
JN: Yeah, I mean, I appreciate it, but, you really can’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. We really try to shy away from that kind of stuff. We don’t need any distractions. I mean, we hear about it and just because we’re a rated prospect doesn’t make us any more likely to make it to the big-leagues than anybody else in the system. It’s just one of those things you know about, but we just try to ignore it.
AD: What are your expectations heading into next season? Do you know where you’re going to start?
JN: No, not really. No one really knows where they’re going to start. I mean, hopefully I’m able to get to double-A at some point this year. But, you never know what can happen. I mean, there’s some systems that guys go from single-A to the big leagues in one year. Its all just up to me to perform and do what I can, really.
AD: What are your career goals?
JN: I mean, of course I want to be in the big leagues as long as I can. I want to be able to help whatever team I’m with. Obviously, I want to win a World Series. Of course, everyone wants to have a 10-year big-league career, and every pitcher wants to win a Cy Young [award]. But if you ask anybody, getting to the big-leagues and staying there is the goal. Getting there is just half the battle, staying there is ultimately what I want to do. You know, just having a good career and being able to help people any way I can, and help the team as much as possible, really.
AD: Thanks for the insight, Jimmy. I really appreciate it.
JN: No problem, man. Anytime.
Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @alecdopp.
Earlier this morning, ESPN baseball insider Adam Rubin published each MLB team’s official free-agent list.
Here is the link to the story, and here are the official free-agents the Milwaukee Brewers must decide whether or not to resign this offseason.
Hairston Jr, Jerry
Kotsay, Mark S.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.
After dropping Game 7 of the 2011 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals by a 6-2 mark on Friday night, the Texas Rangers must now try to forget their postseason miscues and focus on a promising offseason.
Truthfully, there aren’t many holes hampering Ron Washington’s club moving forward. However, rumor has it that they may be in the mix for signing formerMilwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder—a move that would almost certainly put the club over the top in 2012. Its a bold task to pursue, especially with the incredible competition vying for Fielder’s services this offseason. However, if they are truly intent on returning to the Fall Classic next year and beyond, they must resort to acquiring the hefty vegetarian.
Here are three concise reasons the Rangers will succeed in signing Fielder this winter.
Supply and Demand
At their very best, the Rangers were an offensive juggernaut in 2011.
Stacked up against MLB teams, Texas ranked second in home runs (210) and SLG (.460), third in RBI (807), as well as second in extra-base hits (552) in the regular season. If there’s one thing Ron Washington’s crew knows how to do best, it’s hitting the baseball with authority.
However, they were insufficient in their postseason efforts, especially in the World Series. The Cardinals simply outperformed Texas, particularly in the clutch. Signing Fielder this winter to either become their designated hitter or platoon with Michael Young at first base would add unquestionable power to their lineup, thus putting them over the hump in 2012.
They Can Probably Afford Him
Despite having MLB’s 13th-highest payroll last season at just over $92 million, the Rangers were able to reach the World Series for the second straight year.
With a number of contracts ready to come off the books this offseason, there’s no disputing that the Rangers have enough money to sign Fielder to a long-term deal. C.J. Wilson’s lofty $7 million 2011 salary will no longer have to be fulfilled, giving GM Jon Daniels a reasonable amount of payroll to work with this winter.
Nolan Ryan Won’t Let the Opportunity Slip Away
With Albert Pujols likely to wind up re-signing with the Cardinals this offseason, the Rangers’ free-agent options have now waned significantly.
There are a handful of bats Texas could pursue this winter, but with Texas already having such a balanced lineup, Nolan Ryan will be intent on increasing payroll to bring in an MVP-caliber talent such as Fielder.
Here’s a potential outlook at what Texas’ Opening Day starting lineup could look like with Fielder in the mix:
1. Ian Kinsler 2B
2. Elvis Andrus SS
3. Josh Hamilton CF
4. Prince Fielder DH
5. Nelson Cruz RF
6. Michael Young 1B
7. Adrian Beltre 3B
8. Mike Napoli C
9. Endy Chavez LF
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.
The saga that is the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2011-2012 offseason has yet to officially begin, yet there have been no shortage of rumors and speculation surrounding the reigning NL Central champions as they embark on the post-Prince Fielder era.
Among the many personnel decisions and player arbitration disputes ready to rear their ugly heads toward GM Doug Melvin is, as we’ve already alluded to, whether or not the club has enough dough to bring back their luminary veggie-consuming first baseman. Fielder, who amassed nothing short of MVP-caliber numbers in each of the last six seasons with the club, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in just a few short weeks, and will likely set the market for some of the top free-agents available this winter.
While many Brewers fans have become aware of the fact that their slugging first baseman will in fact not be back with the club in 2012 and the foreseeable future, there are in fact other topics up for discussion regarding what their beloved hometown teams intends on accomplishing this offseason.
One such topic will be whether or not Melvin intends on bringing in more pitching, particularly starting pitching, with Fielder’s massive contract coming off the books this offseason.
Fetching Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum via trade last winter drastically improved Milwaukee’s output on the mound from previous years. In 2010, the Brewers ranked 26th in MLB with a team 4.58 ERA and settled for just 75 quality starts from their starters. The presence of the two newly-acquired starters improved the rotation twofold.
For one, Milwaukee finished the 2011 regular season with MLB’s ninth-best team ERA (3.63), and would amass 98 quality starts — a healthy 23 more than the previous year. Moreover, it would also guarantee at least one more season of Greinke and Marcum, as they’re both under contract through 2012.
Still, the Brewers fell short of their goal of reaching the World Series, largely due to the staff’s ineffective postseason performances. Of the eight playoff teams, Milwaukee ranked second to last in team ERA (5.81) and would allow opponents to bat .294 — by far and away the highest BAA of any postseason starting rotation, which begs the question: should Melvin be in the works for acquiring a big-name free agent starter this winter?
According to Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that could very well be the case, reporting how the Brewers will be among the leading contenders for Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson this winter.
“Baseball writer Buster Olney puts the Brewers in the contenders’ group for Wilson.”
In 2011, Wilson led all Ranger pitchers in wins (16), ERA (2.94) and strikeouts (206), and will be one of the most coveted free-agent starters roaming the market this offseason.
If Milwaukee does in fact intend on pursuing the outspoken southpaw, they’ll likely need to surrender a large chunk of change to do so. Making $7 Million in 2011, Wilson made more than any Brewer starter last season, excluding Zack Greinke. Granted, his four postseason outings were nothing to write home about — going 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA, 22 SO, and 17 BB in just 24.2 IP — however he will nonetheless be a household name among baseball GMs, regardless.
It may not be imperative for Milwaukee to acquire and sign the 30-year-old Wilson to a brand-new contract this winter, but it could certainly be an opportunity worth exploring.
The 2011 MLB season has come and gone, making way for an entirely new, more intriguing juncture: free agency.
Truth be told, we’ve never seen such a loaded MLB free-agency class such as this year. Many of the game’s top sluggers and pitchers will become available for signing and re-signing in just a few short weeks.
Of those sluggers, is [former] Milwaukee Brewers first-baseman Prince Fielder. The burly vegetarian was simply incredible in 2011, amassing MVP-caliber numbers at a minimal rate. That said, many teams will be vying for Fielder’s services in 2012 and beyond, and it’s becoming quite clear that there is no clear-cut front-runner in the sweepstakes.
Insert the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Finishing their 2011 season at a 82-79 mark, manager Don Mattingly (despite all the speculation and hatred surrounding owner and chairman Frank McCourt) does have a talented ballclub that could be just a free-agent signing away from a World Series.
Here are five reasons Los Angeles could sign Fielder this offseason.
Budding Relationship with Matt Kemp?
We see this every so often in sports, but we fail to recognize it.
Back in July, Fielder was appointed as the “captain” of the National League in the MLB Home Run Derby. His duty was to recruit players he deemed best fit to carry the NL to victory over the AL. Consequently, he turned to fellow MVP-candidate Matt Kemp, who just so happens to be a Dodger himself. From what was noticeable, the two superstars seemed to harmonize quite easily.
Could this become a potential reason for Fielder to make his way out West this offseason? You bet it does.
27-year-old first-baseman James Loney has been a hit-or-miss talent for the better part of his six seasons as a Dodger.
Alongside Matt Kemp in Los Angeles’ lineup, Loney has amassed at least 88 RBI and 25 doubles in three individual seasons, and has additionally posted a career .288 BA, to boot. However, if there’s one thing holding him back from super-stardom, it’s his unmistakably below-average power. Loney has never compiled more than 15 HR in a single season, and has witnessed a progressive drop in OPS from .919 in 2007 to .775 in 2011.
He’s arbitration eligible this offseason (for the third straight year), and I’m convinced many teams will be willing to pay him at or near the approximately $5 Million he made in 2011 if the Dodgers are willing to trade him away to help make payroll room for Fielder.
Money Will Likely Be Set Aside
The Dodgers inherited a $104 Million payroll heading into 2011, enough to be MLB’s 12th-largest team payroll at the time. This offseason, that could change — drastically.
Former closer Jonathan Broxton, who made a healthy $7 Million in 2011 for pitching just 12.2 total innings, is set to become a free-agent this offseason, meaning hit contract is also set to come off the books, as well. That will (and should) play a colossal role in how the Dodgers go about pursuing Fielder this offseason.
Other players with expiring contracts can be viewed here.
This map displays the mere 44 miles separating Ontario, California (Fielder’s hometown) from Los Angeles. Could we be in for a homecoming fit for a king?
Don’t discount it…
All the Talent Is in Place…
It’s astonishing for how dreadful a situation the Dodgers are in, yet they’re still one of the most talented teams in the league right now.
Between Kemp, Andre Ethier, Tony Gwynn and a solid batch of minor league prospects moving their way up, Los Angeles is already an offensive juggernaut. You think Ryan Braun-Prince Fielder is a lethal combination? Try Kemp-Fielder.
Likewise, Clayton Kershaw will inevitably be named NL Cy Young of 2011 (at just 23 years old, nonetheless), and he’ll only get better with age. If they can get decent starting pitching in 2012, they should cruise to the franchise’s 12th NL West title.
It’s now been officially over one week since the Milwaukee Brewers were ousted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the franchise’s first ever appearance in the NLCS, and with the offseason just around the corner, it’s safe to say nothing is certain regarding the future of the organization.
The most important and well-known issue surrounding the future of the club, without question, is Prince Fielder’s free-agent status. Will he come back and re-sign with Milwaukee or will he take the road most often traveled by luminary sluggers of the past and sign a brand-new contract with a desperate team?
With speculation and rumors mounting with each passing day, Fielder’s name is sure to come about in more ways than one.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin addressed the media last Wednesday, saying:
“We still want to get to a World Series and win a World Series. Our goals haven’t changed, our mind-set hasn’t changed. The roster probably does change. Every year in baseball rosters change.”
Melvin speaks the absolute truth. Making $15.5 Million in 2011, Fielder was the single highest-payed player on Ron Roenicke’s roster, eating up roughly 20 percent of Milwaukee’s payroll. After a stellar campaign, amassing 38 HR, 120 RBI, .299 BA and drawing a league-high 32 intentional walks, you can expect an elevated 2012 salary from the slugging first-baseman.
As for his potential replacement? Melvin had this to say:
“I’ve seen some people writing reports that Mat Gamel is a productive big league guy. I look at guys like Nelson Cruz and David Freese. And I look at Mat Gamel and Mat Gamel has had as good of years as they did in the minor leagues. He just hasn’t had the chance because we haven’t given him the chance. David Freese is 27 years old, Nelson Cruz is 31. Mat Gamel is 26, so is this the time to give Mat Gamel a chance? That’s something we have to seriously consider.”
In 2011, the lefty Gamel batted .310 with 28 HR and 96 RBI, to go with a .540 SLG, each of which rank in the top five of all Brewers minor-league prospects last season. There’s a chance Milwaukee could bring in veteran backup for Gamel if the 27-year-old stumbles a bit out of the gate next season; but nonetheless expect Gamel to hold down the fort for Milwaukee at first base in 2012.
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Sarasota, Florida, 21-year-old
second baseman Scooter Gennett has quickly transformed himself into one of the top young minor league prospects in the Brewers’ organization.
Primarily known for his outstanding speed and quick hands at the plate, the Florida State product has used his athleticism and pure hitting skills to his advantage. In his first season with Milwaukee’s class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Gennett hit .309 with 9 HR, 87 runs scored and 55 RBI. He was also able to amass 14 stolen bases as well as a .817 OPS.
Prior to the 2011 season, Gennett was swiftly promoted to high class-A Brevard County, where he would continue to strut his skills — only this time to a much more vigilant crowd.
In 134 games, (556 at-bats), the 5’9″, 170-pound infielder batted .300, including 9 HR, 51 RBI and 74 runs scored. His 167 hits were enough to lead all minor league prospects in Milwaukee’s system, and his .300 BA ranked fifth.
This fall, the youngster is currently honing his skill-set in the Arizona Fall League — MLB’s most preeminent and well-known league; a place where many of today’s top talents sharpened their games just a few years ago.
Through the league’s first nine games, Gennett has torched opposing pitching to the tune of a .395 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 11 runs scored, 24 TB and a 1.097 OPS for the Peoria Javelinas.
On top of his superb hitting abilities, breathtaking athleticism and quickness, Gennett is also a great fielder. Having made the transition from shortstop (his natural position) to second base, the youngster can play virtually and infield position with outstanding effectiveness. His strong arm may even allow him to become a future third-baseman if need be.
He’s still a raw talent, but it seems as though the young Gennett is gaining more and more recognition as a prime-time prospect for the Brewers. If he continues to make strides down on the farm (he’s expected to start 2012 with class-AA Helena), he could become with Milwaukee by late 2103, and possibly a starting role by 2014.
While the Milwaukee Brewers’ “all-or-nothing” 2011 season was dismissed last week at the hands of Tony La Russa and the St. Louis Cardinals, not everything about Milwaukee’s campaign should be deemed reprehensible.
Setting a new franchise record for home victories in a regular season along with making their first postseason appearance as NL Central champs in the franchise’s history, the Milwaukee Brewers (and their fans) should look back at 2011 with great admiration.
Let’s see how each player graded out in our first-annual B/R 2011 Milwaukee Brewers report card.
How did we go about assigning each player’s 2011 grade?
A = Outstanding; performed well above expectations
B = Good; executed his position with decency
C = Tolerable; average productivity
D = Mediocre; disappointment on multiple fronts
F = Well, you get the idea
Yovani Gallardo: B+ (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 SO)
Gallardo showed us just why he truly is Milwaukee’s ace during the regular season. A team-high 17 wins and 207 strikeouts, the 25-year-old also ranked eighth in MLB in K/9 (8.99).
Zack Greinke: B (16-6, 3.83 ERA, 201 SO)
He got off to a slow start, but then caught fire in noteworthy fashion. MLB’s leader in K/9 (10.54), Greinke never lost a home start, going 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA at Miller Park.
Shaun Marcum: B (13-7, 3.54 ERA, 158 SO)
Going 8-3 with an MLB-best 2.21 ERA on the road, Marcum may be the best regular-season road pitcher of 2011. He anchored Milwaukee’s rotation collectively, but struggled mightily in the postseason, going 0-3 with a 14.90 ERA in three starts.
Randy Wolf: B+ (13-10, 3.69 ERA, 134 SO)
One of the top No.4 starters in MLB, Wolf performed well above expectations. He was consistent both at home and on the road, and actually led the team with 212.1 IP.
Chris Narveson: C+ (11-8, 4.45 ERA, 126 SO)
Although overlooked, Narveson did a modest job as Milwaukee’s fifth starter.
John Axford: A+ (1.95 ERA, 46 SV, 86 SO)
To say that the 28-year-old closer overachieved would be a huge understatement. Finishing second among all MLB closers with 46 SV and first with a 1.95 ERA, Axford was huge in Milwaukee’s run to the postseason. Keep in mind this was accomplished in just his first go-around as a big-league closer.
Francisco Rodriguez: B (1.86 ERA, 17 HLD, 33 SO)
Officially acquired just hours after the All-Star game, Rodriguez was brilliant as Milwaukee’s eighth-inning man. He administered 33 SO in just 29.0 IP, and gave up just six earned runs over that time span.
Kameron Loe: C+ (3.50 ERA, 16 HLD, 61 SO)
The physically cumbersome Loe came into 2011 as Milwaukee’s set-up man, but eventually wound up as a seventh-inning reliever. He kept opponents to just a .240 BAA and .638 OPS during the regular year.
Takashi Saito: B- (2.03 ERA, 10 HLD, 23 SO)
An hamstring injury prevented him from the mound until early July, but was able to amass 23 SO in 26.2 IP.
Milwaukee’s 25-year-old catcher is by no means a “slugger” offensively, however his 59 RBI were enough to rank him fourth among all MLB catchers in that category.
Lucroy was also one of the more durable catchers in all of baseball. His 136 games started ranked fourth among all catchers. Additionally, Lucroy’s glove made him a key component in Milwaukee’s success. He maintained an impressive 7.87 range factore while allowing just one passed ball all year. The Louisiana Lafayette product is set to become an unrestriced free-agent this winter. Expect him to be back with the club in 2012 and beyond.
If 2011 proves to be his last in a Brewer uniform, Fielder was able to leave a lasting legacy in his final season with Milwaukee.
Statistically, you couldn’t ask for much more. Batting .299 (a new career high) with 38 home runs and 120 RBI (most among all MLB first-basmen), Fielder was absolutely essential in Milwaukee’s run toward its first ever NL Central title, and will receive MVP consideration for that reason.
He may have gone cold in the playoffs (.237 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 9 SO), but his regular-season accomplishments are simply to marvelous for us to lower his cumulative grade.
After a stellar 2010 campaign, Milwaukee’s $38.5 Million second-baseman came into 2011 with high hopes of taking his game to the next level. Needless to say, he was able to accomplish just that.
Amassing 17 HR, 39 RBI, .279 BA and 67 R prior to the All-Star break, Weeks was well on his way to a historic 2011 season. If it weren’t for a chilling ankle-injury in late July, who knows what he would’ve been able to produce. Despite missing the entire month of August, Weeks wound up with 20 home runs, 49 RBI, .269 BA and a .818 OPS. A solid season, even with missing a fifth of a season.
Casey McGehee: D
After leading the Brewers with 104 RBI in 2010, McGehee also came into 2011 with high intentions. But, for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to get the ball rolling. Finishing with 13 HR, 67 RBI and an atrocious .223 BA, the 29-year-old third baseman was a disappointment of colossal proportions. He would make the transition to benchwarmer once the playoffs came around.
Jerry Hairston: B+
Hairston was brought in just hours before the trade deadline, but wouldn’t see the field with regularity until late September, eventually taking over the starting role at third base in the postseason for Ron Roenicke. Batting .385 with a .961 OPS in the playoffs, Hairston was paramount in Milwaukee reaching their first NLCS in franchise history.
“Consistency” isn’t part of Yuniesky Betancourt’s vocabulary. For that matter, I’m not sure how much English he does know. In his first season with the club, the 29-year-old shortstop went from being a highlight-reel to afterthought.
His 68 RBI during the regular season ranked second among all NL shortstops, and his splendid postseason (.310 BA, 7 R, HR, 6 RBI) made him a integral piece in Ron Roenicke’s lineup throughout 2011. Yet his defensive struggles (.965 FPCT, 21 E) were enough to send Brewers fans reeling. Tough call here.
As a Brewer fan, it’s hard not to get emotional when talking about Braun. The 27-year-old has already brought so much to the organization in just five unforgettable seasons.
In 2011, Braun fell just decimal points short of Jose Reyes for the NL batting title, with a .332 BA. His 33 HR and 111 RBI rank sixth and fourth among in the NL, respectively, and his .597 SLG and .994 OPS are tops in the NL, as well. His 33 stolen bases also rank seventh in the NL. Granted, he was fortunate enough to have Fielder protecting him in Milwaukee’s lineup, but, overall, you can’t ask for any more out of the youngster.
Nyjer Morgan: A-
Acquired just days before the regular season, Morgan played a monumental role in Milwaukee’s 2011 conquest toward an NL Central title. His .304 BA is second-best among all Brewers, and his 4 HR 37 RBI proved clutch.
Oh, and he also sent Milwaukee to the NLCS. It was a decent season for Tony Plush.
Carlos Gomez: C
Injuries ridiculed any hope of a productive 2011 campaign for the speedy Gomez. However, we was able to steal 16 bases in 94 total games played.
Though the start to his season was delayed due to a abdominal strain, Hart rebounded in stunning fashion.
After missing close to all of April, Hart finished his 2011 campaign batting .285 with 26 HR (third-most of any Brewer) and 63 RBI. His .992 FPCT was 11th-best among all NL outfielders, and his 2.02 RF ranks 18th best. Hart played his best ball in Milwaukee’s historic month of August, batting .321 with 8 HR and 17 RBI. In the postseason, Hart managed 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R and a .244 BA as Ron Roenicke’s leadoff man.
After a largely successful 2011 season in which numerous franchise records were rewritten, Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin finds himself in a bit of a predicament heading into the offseason.
First-baseman and MVP-candidate Prince Fielder is now set to become an unrestricted free-agent this winter, leaving open the possibility of a whole new offensive outlook for the Brewers in 2012. Many rumors suggest that Milwaukee will use their additional payroll to upgrade their bullpen. However, there are a number of issues hampering Milwaukee moving forward.
The Brewers are likely to upgrade the left side of the infield via free-agency this winter, particularly at shortstop. The club currently holds a $6 Million 2012 club option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt with a $2 Million buyout.
Melvin said Betancourt was “a better player than what his critics said” earlier this month, but there’s simply no disputing his horrendous .965 FPCT, which came via 21 errors in 2011.
With such a need for an upgrade at shortstop, could the Brewers actually go after a big-name free agent this offseason to shore things up?
Earlier this month, Milwaukee Brewers superstar left-fielder and MVP-candidate Ryan Braun disclosed is admiration for New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
Braun told the New York Post:
“I think there’s a better chance we sign [Reyes] than we re-sign Prince,” Braun told The Post yesterday, referring to slugging first baseman Prince Fielder.
Reyes, who managed to hold of Braun for the NL batting title by mere decimal points, is, like Fielder, set to become an unrestricted free-agent this winter. The speedy shortstop amassed 7 HR, 44 RBI, 101 R and 39 stolen bases, much to the enjoyment of Braun.
“[Reyes] is dynamic, man — he is one of the most exciting players in the game,” Braun said. “He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion and I enjoy watching him play. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. Whenever their games are on, I love watching him, man. He always plays the game the right way. He always plays hard. He runs everything out.”
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, both Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio will meet in early November on what they plan to offer Fielder in the offseason.
If the two sides aren’t able to come to an agreement early in the offseason, it may not be out of the question to suggest that Melvin could go after Reyes.
For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.
After a largely successful 2011 season, the Milwaukee Brewers and GM Doug Melvin must now turn their attention to the offseason, where there are sure to be a flurry of transactions.
Although Prince Fielder will command most of the free-agent attention surrounding the ballclub, there are more than enough noteworthy players with question marks heading into next season. Will Casey McGehee be back in 2012? How will management use the extra payroll to shore up their battered bullpen?
These are just a few questions concerning Milwaukee moving forward. Let’s take a look at the latest rumors and speculation beginning to surface.
Biggest Need No.1: Bullpen Help
Milwaukee’s bullpen will have a whole new outlook in 2011.
Unfortuatley, the Brewers likely won’t be able to retain set-up man Francisco Rodriguez into next season. They were lucky enough to resturcture his burdensome contract during the season, but they won’t be so lucky this offseason. LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito are the two most prominent names from Milwaukee’s bullpen headed to free-agency this winter.
Hawkins, 38, made $4.2 Million in 2011, and the 41-year-old Saito pocketed roughly $1.75 Million. While Saito could very well make it back to the Crew in 2012, Hawkins likely won’t. Additionally, the status of free-agent relievers Mitch Stetter and Zach Braddock remain in limbo, and it’s almost certain that at least one of the two will not return to the club next season.
Potential Free-Agent Candidates
Frank Francisco, RHP
The 32-year-old “power” righty made $4 Million in 2011, notching 17 SV, 10 HLD, 3.55 ERA and struck out 60 in 50.2 IP. There’ll be money set aside for acquiring multiple relievers this winter, and Francisco looks to be a great candidate to become Milwaukee’s next set-up man.
Javier Lopez, LHP
The lack of diversity in Milwaukee’s bullpen is staggering. Adding Lopez’s lefty arm would be extremely beneficial moving forward. He made $2.375 Million in 2011, administering 20 HLD, 2.72 ERA while striking out 40 in 53.0 IP.
George Sherrill, LHP
For being one of baseball’s best left-handed relievers, Sherrill’s $1.21 Million 2011 salary was a bargain for the Braves. This offseason, it will be imperative for Milwaukee to add another left-hander to their ‘pen, and Sherrill is a classic setup man worth the extra cash.
Biggest Need No. 2: Shotstop
Admittedly, there’s no mistaking how blatantly awful Yuniesky Betancourt was for the Brewers in 2011. His atrocious .965 FPCT was enough to rank fourth-worst among all MLB shortstops, and his 21 errors didn’t make matters any better. Granted, he was a bit of a spark for Milwaukee in their historic postseason run, batting .310 with a home run and 6 RBI, but make no mistake about it: GM Doug Melvin will be hurriedly rummaging the free-agent market for an upgrade.
Potential Free-Agent Candidates
There aren’t a whole of free-agent shortstops out there, which makes Barmes one of the most likely targets. The 32-year-old Barmes boasted a .978 FPCT — ninth-best among all MLB shortstops — in 2011, along with committing just 12 errors in 122 games played.
What’s most attractive about him, though, is his affordability. Barmes made a shade under $4 Million in 2011, comparable to that of Betancourt’s exactly $4 Million, but will likely command much less money compared to Betancourt’s $6 Million 2012 club option.
Of course, you can’t discount owner Mark Attanasio’s optimistic train of thought, so you can almost expect a few Jose Reyes stirrings to come forth. However, in reality, Barmes really is the best option moving forward.
Other candidates: Jamey Carroll, Rafael Fucal, Orlando Cabrera
Biggest Need No. 3: Third Base
According to multiple reports, the Brewers had inquired to the Kansas City Royals about a potential deal that would send third baseman Wilson Betemit to Milwaukee back at the trade deadline.
Obviously, a deal never came to fruition, but the intent was unmistakably there. And with good reason.
Casey McGehee simply wasn’t performing up to expectations (he would finish 2011 with a .223 BA, 13 HR and 67 RBI), and fortunately for the organization, they were able to acquire Jerry Haiston from the Nationals just hours before the official trade deadline. With both McGehee and Hairston set to become free-agents this winter, there will be no shortage of speculation and rumors surrounding who will play the hot-corner for Milwaukee in 2012.
Potential Free-Agent Candidates
Surely enough, Betemit tops our list for a number of reasons.
For starters, the 29-year-old is one of the most cost-effective free-agent infielders on the market. Making a staggering $1 Million in 2011, Betemit made for a great fill-in before Brandon Inge rediscovered his swing prior to the postseason.
His glove may be nothing to write home about (holding true to a .947 FPCT in 2011), but his presence in Ron Roenicke’s clubhouse would be markedly valuable with veteran Craig Counsell likely to retire.