Results tagged ‘ Milwaukee Brewers ’
According to SI.com’s MLB columnist Jon Heyman, the Brewers and Marlins are now among the leading contenders for the former Mets’ superstar shortstop.
“Sources indicate that Reyes tops the free-agent lists of the Marlins and Brewers, and other teams are likely to come into play, as well.”
Reyes, who will likely seek at least a new deal at or near 7-years this offseason, remains one of the most highly sought-after free-agents available of signing this winter, after Fielder and Albert Pujols, and will certainly command a considerably expensive contract this winter.
Last season, the speedy shortstop made $11 Million on his way to winning the NL batting title by just decimal points over Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. He also validated his worth by notching 7 HR, 44 RBI, 16 triples, .384 OBP and 39 stolen bases.
His defensive capabilities also make him a sublime addition for Milwaukee as they attempt to replace former shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt after a disastrous 2011 campaign with the Brewers.
In 2011, Reyes held his own in the field, maintaining a .968 FPCT and 4.32 range factor with New York. He also turned 75 double plays and committed 18 errors in 124 games played.
With each passing day, it’s becoming more likely that Milwaukee will be without Fielder next season and beyond. He is reportedly “aiming to beat Mark Teixeira’s $180 Million, eight-year deal”, and there’s a good chance his new paycheck could be coming from Theo Epstein and the Cubs.
Outside of Reyes, the free-agent market is essentially void of any shortstop options for Melvin to act on. That said, there’s a serious chance Milwaukee pulls the trigger on Reyes this winter. Only time will tell if a deal comes to fruition.
While the prominent 2012 MLB Free Agent class begins and ends with Albert Pujols, there’s no doubting that former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder is the hottest property up for grabs this winter. Speculation regarding which teams have the “best shot” at signing the youngster have come at no shortage. The Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers have propagated the most noteworthy headlines up to this point.
However, what other teams could be in the mix for the 27-year-old slugger? Here are five teams that could come out of nowhere to nab Fielder this offseason.
New York Mets
Conventional wisdom tells us the Mets should be spending their money elsewhere (Jose Reyes), but you’d be surprised to know they may have a chance at snatching Fielder this winter.
Rumors suggest New York may not be able to afford their speedy shortstop this offseason, which opens up the door for many other free-agent possibilities. With the contracts of Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and possibly even David Wright (via trade) coming off the books this winter, there should be a large chunk of change ready at New York’s disposal — no matter how financially impaired they may be.
What’s more, even Cecil Fielder agrees the Mets have a shot at his son.
The Miami Marlins will be ushering in a whole new direction with the opening of their brand new stadium and team name change next season. They may be on the verge of signing some top-tier talent, as well. Finishing dead last in the NL East last season, the Marlins finished in the bottom-half of all MLB clubs in runs (625), HR (149), RBI (596), OBP (.318) and extra-base hits (453). If there was a team in more need of offensive production in 2011, it was the Fish.
However, with the hiring of longtime White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen last month, and an already talented group of young players headlined by Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Josh Johnson in place, signing Fielder certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have been considered challengers for Fielder for quite some time, but with the Rangers’ recent World Series-woes, they’ve been a bit overshadowed for the past few weeks.
Truthfully, there may be no better fit for Fielder than in Mike Scioscia’s clubhouse. The club is already one of the better hitting ball-clubs in MLB, and they should have the money for a long-term contract Fielder is seeking. With young Mark Trumbo holding down the fort at first base with great efficiency and Bobby Abreu on the trading block, Fielder should make a smooth transition to designated hitter.
Toronto Blue Jays
While this is hands-down the biggest stretch featured in our list, there’s simply no denying the appeal.
Over the years, the Blue Jays have been more well known to ship away top talent rather than fetch it, which probably makes this signing a bit of a pipe-dream. However, with their offensive juggernaut comprised of Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia, GM Alex Anthropoulos would be wise to relish the opportunity at hand with Fielder now open for signing. Granted, they may not have deep pockets like that of the Nationals and Cubs, but they do have more than enough tempting talent for Fielder to recognize.
St. Louis Cardinals
Up to this point, speculation says Albert Pujols should be able and willing to re-sign with the Cardinals this offseason, even though he’s publicly denied such inquiry. However, what happens if he in fact chooses to leave and sign with a team such as the Cubs? St. Louis’ next-best option would be Fielder, and you can’ count on them pursuing the burly vegetarian.
It seems like a hundred-to-one shot at best, but if the opportunity and need presents itself, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the question for the Cardinals to snatch Fielder this winter.
For the better part of the last decade, the Milwaukee Brewers have prided themselves in their outstanding scouting, drafting, and development of young players from minor-league amateurs to MLB talent. Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and, yes, even Prince Fielder (to name a few) are quintessential examples of that efficiency.
Last winter, however, GM Doug Melvin dealt a number of top-tier minor league prospects to furnish deals that would send Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee. Though largely successful, the transactions would recede the level of talent in Milwaukee’s minor league system, sparing a handful of pertinent players down on the farm.
Which remaining youngsters have the best opportunity for success in the near future? Let’s take an early look at Milwaukee’s top 15 prospects heading into 2012.
Honorable Mention: RHP Santo Manzanillo
Manzanillo signed with the Brewers as a non-draft pick back in 2005, but has only begun to find his stride down in the minors.
The young power-righthander put together a nice 2011 campaign between high class-A Brevard County and double-A Huntsville. He worked 61.2 innings and posted a combined 1.75 ERA, distinctly in a reliever/closer role. He also punched out 62 in that same time-frame.
He’s been able to find the most success with his upper-90s fastball thus far. If he’s able to stay within himself as far as his command goes, he’ll only continue to work his way through the system.
Dishonorable Mention: RHP Mark Rogers
No matter how disappointing or enigmatic his short-lived career has been up to this point, it would be an outrage not to mention the 25-year-old former prodigy.
Drafted fresh out of high school as the fifth-overall pick in 2004, Rogers was expected to be the next best thing since sliced bread for the Brewers, but quickly found out his arm wasn’t quite ready for prime-time. Suffering a shoulder injury in 2006, Rogers injured his right shoulder and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
He would not pitch until three years later, where in 2009 he would go 1-3 with a 1.67 ERA, 67 SO in 64.2 IP. His 2010, arguably his best, Rogers went 6-8 with a 3.71 ERA while garnering 111 SO in 111.2 IP, prompting a mid-season call-up, where the youngster made his first start as a Brewer.
Then, last March, the right-hander was suspended for 25 games for testing positive for a stimulant. He probably still has a future with the organization, but this certainly isn’t the way we all foresaw it transpiring.
Selected by Milwaukee at 49th overall back in 2009, the lanky right-hander made a solid impression on the organization back in 2010, going a combined 10-6 with a 2.98 ERA between single-A and class-A advanced ball.
Coming off his stellar showing, Baseball America ranked Heckathorn as Milwaukee’s ninth-best overall prospect heading into 2011. He wouldn’t live up to expectations, however, going a lackluster 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA while punching out just 89 in 22 starts.
While there’s no questioning his skill-set, the 23-year-old has yet to strut his best stuff with consistency. The youngster will have that opportunity next spring with double-A Huntsville.
15. RHP Jimmy Nelson
Coming into 2011, the 6’6″, 235-pound power right-hander was ranked as Milwaukee’s eighth overall prospect by Baseball America — and for good reason.
In his first minor league go-around with, Nelson went 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA while punching out 33 in just 26.2 innings of work as a member of the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena. As a starter, the University of Alabama product would go 8-9 with a 4.38 ERA, 120 SO and 146.0 IP in 25 starts with single-A Wisconsin.
He features a four-seam fastball that tops out in the mid-90s with a sinker, along with a slider and developing changeup. Look for him to start with class-A advanced Brevard County in 2012.
14. RHP Austin Ross
Another productive pitcher taken by the Brewers back in 2010, Ross has gone relatively unknown around Milwaukee. That may be about to change.
In five starts with Milwaukee’s rookie club in Helena, the 23-year-old went 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 52 SO and walked just six in 46.2 innings of work. He also held the opposition to a .246 BA and allowed just one home run during those starts. Yet, like so many other young pitchers, Ross’ production tapered a bit as he moved up, posting a combined 5.28 ERA and striking out 114 in 133.0 IP between class-A Wisconsin and class-A advanced Brevard County.
By no means is Ross a power pitcher that will strike out a lofty number of batters. However, he’s able to limit mistakes — he conceded just a 1.13 HR/9 in 13 class-A advanced starts last season — making him a near lock to be promoted to Milwaukee within the next few seasons.
There’s no doubting the 24-year-old righty is on the cusp of being a call-up for Milwaukee in the very near future, but his poor execution has led to him dropping out of our top 10.
Signed by the Brewers back in 2005, Rivas has put together a number of splendid minor-league campaigns, most notably in 2010, going 11-6 with a 3.37 ERA and 114 SO in 141.2 IP with double-A Huntsville.
Invited to spring training prior to last season, the youngster had his sights set on another noble effort with triple-A Nashville in 2011. That was not the case, going 7-12 with a less-than-impressive 4.72 ERA in 28 starts. He has the stuff to be a potential No.4 starter for Milwaukee, but he’ll need to put together a complete minor league season before that becomes a reality.
12. LHP Dan Meadows
“Unheralded” doesn’t even begin to describe this 24-year-old southpaw.
A 49th-round selection out of Temple Texas College in 2008, Meadows’ 6’6″, 223-pound frame initially classified him as a future starter in the big-leagues.
Going 13-6 with a 4.07 ERA and 108 SO in his second minor league season in class-A ball, Meadows established himself as a real workhorse in the making. The very next year, his label would change drastically.
Promoted to class-A advanced Brevard County, Meadows registered 2.86 ERA, 92 SO and a .221 BAA in 91.1 IP (42 games) in 2010, strictly in a relief role. He would be called-up to double-A Huntsville to start his 2011 campaign, where he would go 6-2 with a gaudy 1.51 ERA while holding batters to a .185 BAA, evoking yet another promotion to triple-A Nashville later that year.
11. 2B Eric Farris
Calling the 25-year-old Farris “fleet-of-foot” would be a bit of an understatement.
In just five seasons in Milwaukee’s system, the former fourth-round selection out of Loyola Marymount has ripened into a true barn-burner on the basepaths, stockpiling a Brewers record 70 stolen bases in 2009, a year he also batted .298 with 7 HR and 49 RBI.
Like so many other speedsters before him, though, Farris truly lacks power at the plate. The youngster maintained a .792 OPS during his lone year in rookie ball in 2007, but has seen a gradual decrease in OPS ever since.
We had him ranked higher in our preseason rankings last March, but after a pedestrian 2011 campaign with triple-A Nashville (.271 BA, 6 HR, 55 RBI, .689 OPS), Farris will have to prove himself capable once more in 2012.
One of the few classic power-hitters remaining in Milwaukee’s system, Gindl has yet to disappoint in five minor-league seasons.
His inaugural rookie season with the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena, the then 19-year-old outfielder batted .372 with 5 HR and 42 RBI, including a 1.000 OPS in 55 total games (207 AB). His outstanding production was enough for him to be named a Baseball America Rookie All-Star.
Since then, he’s only continued to make strides in the organization. Last season, the now 23-year-old amassed 15 HR, 60 RBI, .307 BA and ranked fourth among all Brewers prospects with a .309 OBP.
The only thing that could hold him back from a big-league promotion is Milwaukee’s lack for talent in the outfield. However, if he continues to generate runs at such a rapid pace, management may have no other choice than to bring him up for an audition.
9. RHP Cody Scarpetta
Blazing his way through rookie ball (2-0, 2.23 ERA, 58 SO) in 2008, Milwaukee’s 11th-round selection back in 2007 seemed intent on making a serious impact in the organization early on.
The very next year, the young Scarpetta worked his way from single-A ball to double-A Hunstville, posting a combined 3.52 ERA while striking out 116 in just 105.0 innings of work. However, the 6’3″, 244-pounder has since gained a reputation of poor command, ultimately leading to punching out just 98 batters in 117.0 innings of work last season in double-A Huntsville.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the youngster, he still has a boatload of potential in the big leauges. A number three spot in Milwaukee’s rotation in 2014 could be in the works if he gets his act together.
8. RHP Mike Fiers
One of the older prospects you’ll ever see — he’s currently 26 years old — Fiers has been an absolute gem in Milwaukee system in each of the past two seasons.
In just his second year in the minors, Fiers attained a 5-9 combined record, 3.53 ERA and 130 SO in 125.0 IP between class-A advanced Brevard County and double-A Huntsville in 2010. This past season, he persevered, going 13-3 with a staggering 1.86 ERA along with striking out 132 in 126.0 innings of work in double-A ball and triple-A Nashville.
He would later be named Milwaukee’s top minor-league pitcher of 2011, and subsequently found himself in a Brewers uniform mid September.
You know your farm system is dry when a player who has yet to make a minor-league start is a top-ten prospect. But that’s exactly the position the Brewers find themselves in.
Bradley, taken with the 15th overall pick in last summer’s 2011 draft, is currently polishing his exceptionally raw game in the MLB Arizona Fall League, where though over three weeks of baseball, has pitched but 2.0 innings.
Nevertheless, his talent and tremendous upside makes him a top-ten prospect by Milwaukee’s standards. Last season with Georgia Tech, the youngster went 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA, struck out 106 and allowed just one home run in 16 starts. Expect him to be pitching with Milwaukee’s rookie club in Helena next spring.
6. RHP Taylor Jungmann
Whatd’ya know, another first-round draft pick from last June’s draft cracks Milwaukee’s top-ten preseason prospect rankings.
The recipient of the 25th annual Dick Howser Award — an award handed out to college baseball’s player of the year — in July, the 6’6″, 220-pound Jungmann has been a portrait of success at the collegiate level. Chances are he’s well on his way toward stardom with the Brewers, as well. Last season, the lanky right-hander went 13-3 with an insane 1.60 ERA, 126 SO in 141.0 IP. He held opponents to a .165 BA, and an otherworldly 0.214 BABIP.
Jungmann signed a $2.525 Million deal with Milwaukee back in mid August. Like Bradley, he’s likely to be designated to the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena next spring.
One of my personal favorites, Ryan “Scooter” Gennett is, unlike many prospects in the system, on the virtual fast-track to the majors. The Florida State product has been nothing short of a sensation in just two full seasons in the minors.
In 2010, the speedy second-baseman batted .309 with 9 HR, 55 RBI, scored 87 runs and stole 14 bases in 118 games with class-A Wisconsin. The very next year, he progressed to class-A advanced Brevard County, amassing a .300 BA, 9 HR, 51 RBI and 11 SB.
This offseason, he’s lighting up opposing pitching in the Arizona Fall League, where through 13 games, he’s batting .357 wih 2 HR and 8 RBI, with a .946 OPS. Talk around the organization estimates he could push to be the full-time starting second baseman as soon as 2014.
4. CF Logan Schafer
An athletically capable outfielder by nature, the 25-year-old Schafer has been bustling his way through the system since his rookie season in 2008, where he batted .272 with 2 HR and 28 RBI in Helena.
He started his 2009 campaign in class-A advanced ball, and would really burst onto the scene shortly thereafter, batting .308 to go with 6 HR and 58 RBI.
A groin injury in spring training shattered his hopes for a productive 2010 season, but he would recover handsomely, amassing 5 HR, 43 RBI and a .315 BA between class-A advanced, double-A and triple-A this past season. His performance would be enough for a September call-up last season, but was specifically limited to a pinch-hitting/running role.
Depending on how management handles their depth chart in center-field, Schafer could be in a starting role by 2013. He’s presently sharpening his skill-set with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
Through just one and a half years in the low minors, the 5’11″, 185-pound Thornburg is already drawing comparisons to Tim Lincecum. Its easy to see why.
Milwaukee’s lone third-round pick in the 2010 draft, Thornburg went 1-0 with a gaudy 1.93 ERA, amassing 38 SO in just 23.1 innings of work while holding opponents to a .179 BA with Helena in 2010. He started his 2011 campaign in single-A ball, going 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA, including 76 SO in just 68.2 innings.
Promoted to class-A advanced Brevard County at mid-season, Thornburg went 3-6, but still managed a 3.57 ERA and a .186 BAA. His stature will raise question marks regarding his durability and stamina, but, for now, he looks the part of a future ace.
2. 3B Taylor Green
Working his way up through the ranks of the unknown for quite some time, Green has manifested his big-league potential in admirable fashion, being named Milwaukee’s top minor-league hitter of 2011.
Last season, Green led all Brewers prospects with a .336 BA, amassed 22 HR, 91 RBI, and an organization-best .412 OBP and .580 SLG in triple-A ball. In brief, 2011 was a suptuous one for the rising star.
A September call-up, Green recorded 10 hits in 37 at-bats in his short stint with Ron Roenicke’s crew. It remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be the opening-day starter in 2012, but he’s nonetheless made an exceptional impression on the club thus far.
Peralta, who signed on as a non-draft pick in 2005 at the ripe age of 16, is unquestionably Milwaukee’s top talent down on the farm and will be bound for the majors in the very near future.
His first two seasons in rookie ball were forgettable, but the young right-hander would really start materialize into a top prospect in 2009, where he went 4-4, maintained a 3.47 ERA and, most notably, struck out 118 in 103.2 IP in low-A ball.
In 2010, he went a combined 8-6 with a 3.79 ERA between class-A advanced and double-A, but witnessed his prominent K/BB ratio drop from 2.6:1 in 2009 to 1.6:1. He then took his talents to triple-A Nashville toward the end of 2011, where he would go 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA while garnering 40 strikeouts in just 31.0 innings, also holding opponents to a .193 BA.
There were rumblings about the 22-year-old being promoted to the majors last September, but that obviously didn’t happen. You can count on the youngster making his Brewer debut sometime in 2012, and there’s an outside chance he’ll be on the opening-day roster this March.
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Last week, Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin officially kicked off the club’s 2011-2012 offseason by declining now former shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt’s 2012 club option.
While the move was largely anticipated by Brewers fans to no end, Melvin must now probe the free-agent market for a replacement. Betancourt, who amassed 13 HR, 68 RBI and a .252 BA last season, proved to be more of an inconvenience than a productive shortstop last season, and should be replaced in a timely fashion this winter.
Here are five free-agent shortstops Melvin and the Brewers will target this offseason.
Reports show that the Astros are interested in bringing back the 32-year-old Barmes for a second go-around with the club in 2012, but all indications say they probably won’t have the money to re-sign him.
Despite missing essentially the entire month of April, Barmes batted .242 with 12 HR and 39 RBI last season, and also maintained the ninth-best fielding percentage (.978) among all MLB shortstops. Excluding Jose Reyes, there’s no disputing that Barmes is the best free-agent talent available at shortstop this winter. Moreover, his affordability is staggering, making the Brewers prime contenders for his services.
Although his production at the plate waned from 2010 to 2011 considerably, note that Gonzalez has maintained a reputation for being one of the best defensive shortstops in MLB over the past few seasons. Last season, Gonzalez committed just 12 errors in 149 games, resulting in a truly impressive .981 fielding percentage.
Based on the market outlook, there’s a good chance the Brewers could snag the 34-year-old if Melvin likes what he sees. Needless to say, Gonzalez would be a sublime defensive replacement for Betancourt.
A virtual afterthought just prior to the trade deadline, Furcal was largely responsible for the Cardinals’ postseason run toward their 11th World Series title. In 50 regular season games with the Cards, the 34-year-old notched 7 HR, 16 RBI, 17 BB and batted .255. In the postseason, Furcal batted a lowly .195, but would hold true to a perfect fielding percentage and would turn 11 double plays.
He’s obviously still a viable option to play at shortstop, and while he may not be as much of a power-hitter like Betancourt, he’s a steadfast talent out in the field that won’t make costly defensive mistakes.
The Pirates were willing to buyout Cedeno’s contract just a few days back, making the 28-year-old shortstop an unrestricted free-agent for the first time in his six-year career.
Like so many shortstops sprawling the free-agent market this winter, Cedeno lacks true power at the plate, but makes up for it with a nice glove in the field. His .978 fielding percentage ranks eight-best among MLB shortstops last season, and his 5.04 range factor rank second only to Troy Tulowitzki.
With so few viable free-agent options on the market, Cedeno will likely be a last-resort signing if the Brewers are unable to ink Barmes or Scutaro to a deal. Nevertheless, his young age makes a potential signing all the more intriguing.
At this juncture, the Brewers’ chances of signing Jose Reyes seem more like foolery than actuality. However, isn’t that what we said when Melvin pulled the trigger on one C.C. Sabathia back in 2008?
The fact is, until Reyes is literally signed to a new contract by another team, you can’t count Milwaukee out of the bidding war. Milwaukee doesn’t look to have enough money to bring back Prince Fielder this winter, so Melvin may settle for the next-best-thing.
Granted, Reyes will be looking for a long-term contract somewhere near seven years — which is probably out of Milwaukee’s price range. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if owner Mark Attanasio finds away to increase payroll to sign the speedy shortstop. Ryan Braun seems optimistic. Maybe you should, too.
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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.
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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.