Results tagged ‘ Milwaukee Brewers ’
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.
When the Milwaukee Brewers dealt top prospect Brett Lawrie in return for former Toronto Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum last offseason, they envisioned a steadfast starter that would eventually become an anchor in their starting rotation.
For the most part, they were able to get a considerable return-on-investment. The 29-year-old Marcum went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA and a .232 BAA, including an MLB
-best 2.21 ERA on the road over the course of his sumptuous 2011 regular season.
However, the month of September proved to be a bit disappointing. In five total starts in the regular season’s regular month, the righty went 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA, and actually allowed opposing hitters to bat an appalling .273 in 31.1 total innings of work.
In turn, his late season struggles would proceed into Milwaukee’s postseason competition, with much disgust to Brewers fans across the country.
In just three postseason starts — totaling a whopping 9.2 innings collectively — Marcum posted a disheartening 14.90 ERA, allowing more earned runs (16) than innings pitched, leading to a Milwaukee loss in each game Marcum appeared in the playoffs.
After such a widely successful 2011 campaign, amassing countless accolades on his way to becoming Ron Roenicke’s primary go-to starter on the road, could the Brewers actually contemplate trading away Marcum? At this stage, it seems like such a fabrication that most Brewers fans would simply toss the issue aside completely, but a trade may be on the horizon.
Many teams would be interested in Marcum’s services for 2012 and the foreseeable future. The Cubs, Rays, Orioles and, yes, even the Yankees could all be vying for his services in the near future, seen as how he’s set to become an unrestricted free-agent after next season.
Surely, the Brewers will neither be interested nor able to pay the going-rate for Marcum next offseason, so why not get their own return-on-investment by trading Marcum this offseason?
Rumors are sure to surface this offseason, folks. Only time will tell.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ spectacular 2011 season came to a screeching halt on Sunday night at Miller Park, when the club dropped a must-win Game 6 of their NLCS bout with the St. Louis Cardinals by a 12-6 mark.
Truthfully, the lost hurt in more ways than one.
Not only did the loss shatter the hearts of Brewers fans across the nation, but it would also mark the commencement of a new era of baseball in Milwaukee. With Prince Fielder now set to become an unrestricted free-agent, it’s only inevitable that Milwaukee’s 2012 lineup will be one with an entirely new scope.
What could their opening day depth chart look like? Here’s a way-too-early sneak-peak before opening-day against the Cardinals.
Projected Depth Chart
Although a portion of Milwaukee’s opening-day starting lineup will look completely different from 2011, the starting rotation is one aspect that shouldn’t alter at all. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are still under contract through 2012, and Randy Wolf is also under contract through next season, with a $10 million 2013 option pending after next season.
The biggest question mark for Milwaukee’s rotation heading into next season is whether or not GM Doug Melvin decides to re-sign Chris Narveson, who made a shade over $400,000 in 2011. If the Brewers sign him to a new deal, this is what Milwaukee’s opening-day rotation should ultimately look like.
Projected Depth Chart
Frankie De La Cruz
If I had to distinguish one specific area Melvin might try to improve the most with Fielder’s massive contract off the books, it would be refreshment of Milwaukee’s bullpen.
At times, it seemed as though the Brewer bullpen was one of the deciding factors in their 2011 success. After all, they did go from maintaining MLB’s fifth-worst ERA (4.58) in 2010 to ninth-best (3.63) in 2011 after acquiring Takashi Saito, who will need to be re-signed in the offseason.
38-year-old LaTroy Hawkins had a respectable year (2.42 ERA, 20 HLD), but will likely not be back with the club next season. The same can be said for midseason pickup Francisco Rodriguez, who restructured his contract with Milwaukee, thus avoiding a hefty $17.5 million 2012 vesting option.
In turn, the Brewers will need to seek a veteran reliever with much experience to fill the gaping hole left behind from Rodriguez, and I suspect Milwaukee to target a power right-handed setup man much like Frank Francisco this offseason.
Projected Depth Chart
There’s been some speculation surrounding Lucroy’s free-agent status over the past few weeks. Allow me to clear things up: the Brewers would be foolish not to re-sign the 25-year-old catcher.
Lucroy has been an unsung hero in Milwaukee’s postseason success. Holding true to a .993 FPCT, an MLB-best 8.96 RF and but one passed ball in the regular season, Lucroy is one of the better defensive catchers in the game today. His bat wasn’t half bad either, amassing 12 HR, 59 RBI and a .265 BA during the regular season.
Backup George Kottaras is arbitration eligible this offseason, but I think management will work out a deal to bring him back next year.
Projected Depth Chart
With Fielder’s exit, 26-year-old prospect Mat Gamel will finally have his shot at being Milwaukee’s starting first-baseman.
Surely, he won’t be as big of a home-run threat as No. 28 once was, but Brewers fans should have confidence in what Gamel brings to the table. He does have power, amassing 105 HR, 503 RBI and a .873 OPS over seven highly productive seasons in the minors, and he has proved himself to be a .300-plus hitter, most notably batting .304 last season with AAA-Nashville.
He’ll need some time to become acclimated defensively, but I expect him to get into the swing of things quickly. He’s a diamond in the rough, folks.
Projected Depth Chart
Another year, another injury-plagued season for Rickie Weeks.
The Brewers’ second baseman put up some of truly magnificent numbers during the first-half of 2011. Batting .278 with 52 RBI and a MLB-best 17 home runs, Weeks’ output was enough to name him the NL’s starter at second base.
Yet, it would be an ankle sprain in late July that would get the better of Weeks’ campaign, and he would never really return to his previous form thereafter. Nevertheless, the Brewers will be absolutely in need of No. 23 to step it up in 2012 with Fielder now gone. Chances are, he’ll be protecting Ryan Braun as the cleanup hitter — something he’s done just twice in seven seasons.
Projected Depth Chart
Do I think the Brewers will pick up Yuniesky Betancourt’s $6 million 2012 option? Of course not. The 29-year-old shortstop has largely overstayed his welcome in Milwaukee after just one season.
That being said, if Milwaukee does decide to look elsewhere for talent on the left side of the infield, I think Melvin will key in on someone like Clint Barmes to hold the fort down. The 32-year-old shortstop will be one of the most defensively apt infielders on the free-agent market this offseason. I think Melvin will pull the trigger.
Projected Depth Chart
Jerry Hairston, Jr.+
Acquiring Hairston fromWashington in a trade that added depth to Milwaukee’s injury-plagued infield back at the deadline proved to be invaluable to the Brewers’ late-season run.
The 35-year-old Hairston essentially swiped the starting position right out from under Casey McGehee’s feet, and produced impressively. His .385 BA in the postseason ranked second among all third basemen in the playoffs, surprisingly enough.
Making $2 million last season, Hairston is relatively cheap, and with his outstanding performance (for the most part) in the postseason, I expect him to be the opening-day starter for Milwaukee next season, ergo giving prospect Taylor Green another productive season down in the minors.
Projected Depth Chart
I attempted to come up with something fascinating here, but it’s really just a vanilla subject at best. Looking ahead, expect Braun to be starting in left field for at least the next nine seasons.
Projected Depth Chart
Could “Beast Mode” already be over? Not so fast.
Last year, Nyjer Morgan earned every penny of his one-year, $450,000 salary, batting .304 with 4 HR and 37 RBI. There’s still a chance Milwaukee could re-sign him, and I think Melvin will take than chance.
That being said, Carlos Gomez must be able to produce with consistency if a starting roll is imminent. Despite missing significant time due to a collar bone injury last summer, the speedster batted just .225 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in 231 at-bats, while notching 16 stolen bases. He’s the better defensive outfielder, without question, but his bat remains a hit-or-miss (pun not intended).
Projected Depth Chart
Again, not much to be said here. Milwaukee came to terms with Hart on a three-year, $26.5 million contract extension back in August of 2010, and they’ll need his services next season and beyond.
Mark Kotsay is set to become a free-agent, and there’s no questioning the depth and talent he brought forth to the club in 2011. Expect him to be re-signed this offseason to a short-term deal.
Complete Opening Day 25-Man Roster
1. RF Corey Hart
2. CF Carlos Gomez
3. LF Ryan Braun
4. 2B Rickie Weeks
5. 1B Mat Gamel
6. 3B Jerry Hairston, Jr.
7. SS Clint Barmes
8. C Jonathan Lucroy
9. P Yovani Gallardo
C George Kottaras
UTIL Josh Wilson
CF Nyjer Morgan
UTIL Mark Kotsay
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Shaun Marcum
LHP Randy Wolf
LHP Chris Narveson
RHP John Axford
RHP Frank Francisco
RHP Kameron Loe
RHP Takashi Saito
RHP Frankie De La Cruz
LHP Zach Braddock
LHP Mitch Stetter
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While the baseball cosmos remained fixated on the critical ALCS Game 3 bout between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, word broke on Red Sox GM Theo Epstein’s job status with the club, and how he may be on the cusp of joining the Chicago Cubs.
Rumor has it, we may be just hours away from an official announcement, said Steve Buckley—a Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Herald.
According to the Buckley, the only holdup preventing the deal from materializing is how “the Red Sox are going to want “something real” in return, and how they would ideally still like to keep Epstein as their general manager.
Here’s exactly what Buckley had to say:
“Two baseball sources have confirmed that Theo Epstein is on the cusp of leaving his job as general manager of the Red Sox to accept a position with the Chicago Cubs that is believed to include powers greater than he has in Boston, with an announcement expected to be made “within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Chicago, who fired GM Jim Hendry back in April, are certainly in need of Epstein’s services.
If the Cubs are in fact able to corral Epstein to Wrigleyville within the next few days, it may not be out of the question to suggest a colossal free-agent addition to a Chicago clubhouse desperate for leadership in talent within the next few weeks. One notable target, among many, would be free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder.
Let’s be honest: without the addition of a home-run threat to their lineup such as Fielder, 2012 doesn’t look to be any different than that of 2011. Ranking 19th in MLB in runs scored (654), 20th in home runs (148) and 21st in RBI (610). With Aramis Ramirez likely on his way out, these Cubs will need to upgrade in a huge way offensively this offseason if they expect to contend for a division crown.
Epstein has been known for his gargantuan signings in the past as a member of the Red Sox, and with the amount of payroll he’ll be able to fill up this winter, it’s certainly a possibility to suggest Fielder could be playing for Mike Quade and company in 2012.
After taking Game 1 of a highly-anticipated NLCS by a 9-6 mark, the Milwaukee Brewers looked to take their momentum into Game 2 against the streaky St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. The determination of Ron Roenicke’s crew would prove to be all for naught, as Tony La Russa and company crushed Brewer pitching on their way to an 12-3 victory, evening the series at one game a piece heading into Game 3 in St. Louis, which is set for 8:05 PM ET on Wednesday.
Here are five observations from Monday night’s 12-3 Cardinals victory over the Brewers.
Shaun off the Mark
Shaun Marcum has transformed into the dependable starter the Brewers sought to attain in the offseason. Leading all Major League starters with a 2.21 ERA on the road, Milwaukee’s steady right-hander has been a huge success for Ron Roenicke and company. Yet, Marcum’s postseason falters have nearly undermined his regular-season accolades.
In two playoff starts for the Brewers thus far, Marcum has given up 12 earned runs, 14 hits and four walks in just 8.2 innings of work. The good news is, he’ll likely have at least another shot at redemption before this best-of-seven NLCS is over. The bad news is that he has lost the confidence of many Brewers fans, and potentially his own manager.
With the addition of Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers’ bullpen ranked third in baseball with a 3.08 ERA. Monday night clearly showed Milwaukee’s flaws out of the ‘pen. Between Kameron Loe and Marco Estrada, the two combined to give up six earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched. Granted, Extrada would go on to strike out three batters in two innings of work, however, Loe would allow six hits and four earned runs in just 0.1 innings pitched.
Milwaukee’s revamped bullpen has been a staple in their success all season long, but if their performance last night is anything of what’s to come in the near future, the Brewers are in serious trouble.
Pujols Pushes the Envelope…
After largely under-performing during his NLDS bout with the Philadelphia Phillies, Albert Pujols manifested his career successes at Miller Park by going 4-for-5 with a home run and a career postseason high 5 RBI against the Brewers.
But, in all fairness, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 79 career games at Miller Park, Pujols is batting .331 with 19 HR and 54 RBI, along with a 15 IBB (intentional walks) and .597 OPS. If the Cardinals are able to push this best-of-seven series back to Milwaukee for Games 6 and 7, the Brewers had better hope they don’t leave anything over the plate to the St. Louis slugger, because he might just power them into the World Series.
…While the Rest of St. Louis Does the Dirty Work
While St. Louis’ romping of Milwaukee on Monday night may go down as Albert Pujols’ best postseason effort to date, let us not forget what Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and the rest of the Cardinals’ lineup was able to carry out.
Excluding Pujols’ extraordinary effort, Tony La Russa’s lineup managed eight runs on 13 hits against Brewers pitching, with 6 RBI to boot. Needless to say, Monday night was a exemplary illustration of just how lethal La Russa’s lineup can be when at full strength.
This Series Will Be Anything but Predictable
We’re just two games into this fervent series, and its clear that neither team has established any variety of consistency.
In Game 1, it was Milwaukee who slugged (Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt accounted for a home run) their way over the Cardinals, despite Jaime Garcia on the bump for St. Louis, who has traditionally been known for his road successes. On Monday night, it was St. Louis who broke out of its offensive shell in superficial fashion, scoring 11 runs on 16 hits against Brewer pitching, evening up this NLCS at one game a piece. If these first two contests are at all indicative of what’s to come, we may be in for a historically ludicrous series between these two bitter rivals.
Over the course of the club’s 42 years of existence, the Milwaukee Brewers have become one of the most successful organizations in developing young prospects through their minor league system. Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Jonathan Lucroy and John Axford are all quintessential models of drafting excellence in Milwaukee.
However, there is one player who stands out more so than any other prospect in the franchise’s framework: Ryan Braun.
Upon making his Major League debut back in 2007, Milwaukee’s most admired left-fielder has gone on to accomplish many noteworthy achievements, some of which have gone relatively unnoticed until recently. In fact, his rookie year alone (which would not start until nearly two months into the season) would bring about much national attention. Finishing his rookie campaign batting .324 with 34 HR and 97 RBI, Braun was named the NL Rookie of the Year.
In his next three seasons with the club (2008-2010), Braun averaged 31 HR, 107 RBI, a .303 BA and a .535 SLG. His outstanding production was enough for management to sign him to a $105 million contract extension that would make him a Brewer through 2020.
Fast forward to this season, where Braun finished just decimal points behind the Mets’ Jose Reyes for the NL batting title, with a .332 BA. He would also go on to complete his 2011 regular season with 33 HR and 111 RBI and a career-high 33 stolen bases—no doubt an MVP résumé.
He, along with Fielder, has led Milwaukee to just their second postseason appearance since 1982 and the club’s first ever NLCS appearance in impressive fashion. Through six postseason games, Braun has slugged his way to a .500 BA (11-for-22) with two home runs, five doubles, seven runs scored, eight RBI and is slugging 1.000.
Yet, somehow there’s still a debate as to who will be named the NL MVP at season’s end.
Should Braun continue to deliver the way he’s been able to so far in these playoffs, there’s no disputing he should be named NL MVP at the end of this season. It’s really that simple.
On Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals showed us all just why baseball truly is America’s favorite pastime.
In dramatic fashion, both clubs were able to successfully wrap up their respective NLDS series, prompting a vengeful 2011 NLCS matchup for the ages between two bitter rivals—these teams simply can’t stand each other. Game 1 is set for Sunday at 4:05 PM ET.
Here are seven bold predictions for the dream NLCS with the World Series just four wins away.
Tony La Russa Will Complain About Something in Milwaukee
Tony La Russa doesn’t like the Brewers, and the Brewers don’t like Tony La Russa. It’s really that simple. St. Louis’ skipper has gone as far as to claim that the Brewers are somehow getting an advantage at home by adjusting the Miller Park lighting depending on which team is up to bat. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. In this contentious best-of-seven series, it’s only inevitable that La Russa will complain about something.
Ryan Braun Will Stay Hot
Against what was supposedly one of the NL’s best pitching staffs, Ryan Braun torchedDiamondbacks pitching to the tune of a .500 BA (8-for-16), HR, 4 RBI and an unfathomable 1.431 OPS. Versus Tony La Russa and company, expect more of the same from Milwaukee’s clutch left fielder. In 325 career plate appearances against St. Louis, Braun is batting .306 with 15 HR, 47 RBI and has scored 47 times. This postseason is shaping up to be a historic one for Braun. Look for him to stay hot against Cardinals pitching in this emotional series.
Albert Pujols Will Explode at Miller Park
Miller Park has been a home away from home for Albert Pujols.
In 171 career games started in Milwaukee, Pujols holds true to a .329 BA, 42 HR (fourth-most against any single opponent), 140 RBI, 55 doubles and a 1.040 OPS. This season, Pujols batted .250 with 4 HR and 12 RBI at Miller Park. If there’s one single player who could potentially carry this streaky St. Louis ballclub, it would be Pujols. Expect him to continue his incineration of Brewers pitching in this best-of-seven series.
Nyjer Morgan Will Nearly Start a Fight
Nyjer Morgan is on his high-horse right now, which will probably equate to a magnitude of unnecessary “swag.” With the potential of seven games to be played between these two clubs, something is bound to happen.
Chris Carpenter Will Get the Better of Brewers Batters in Game 3
Coming off a thrilling Game 5 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night in which he threw nine innings of shutout baseball, Chris Carpenter will need to carry that success into this series against Milwaukee if the Cardinals are to have any shot at taking this NLCS.
This season, the 36-year-old Carpenter is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA against Milwaukee. He has also struck out 19 batters in 28.0 innings pitched. Yet for his career, St. Louis’ ace is 6-6 with a 4.58 ERA, allowing exactly 100 hits in 96.1 innings of work. This is a tough call as the Brewers are rolling offensively; however, I see Carpenter getting to Brewers batters in Game 3.
The Brewers Will Not Lose at Home
The Brewers cruised to MLB’s best home record in 2011, going 57-24 at Miller Park.
Ron Roenicke’s crew seems to now be exuding confidence after their down-to-the-wire Game 5 victory over the Diamondbacks, and that momentum should transition easily into the NLCS against St. Louis. What’s more, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 40 HR, 131 RBI and a .339 BA at home this season. It’s clear that the Brewers aren’t planning on losing at home in these playoffs.
Milwaukee Will Win in Seven Games
I predicted the Brewers would take down the Diamondbacks in five games, so I’ll try my hand at the NLCS.
First and foremost, both clubs are playing exceptional baseball right now. After just sneaking into the postseason as the NL Wild Card, the Cardinals were able to do the impossible by defeating the mighty Phillies, getting to Roy Halladay in Game 5.
However, the Brewers will have home-field advantage with Philadelphia out of the playoff picture, which does not bode well for Tony La Russa and company. Granted, these two clubs split their regular-season series 9-9, with Milwaukee outscoring St. Louis 71-64. Nevertheless, there’s simply no disputing how well the Brewers have played at home this season. Expect that to be the difference as the Brewers take the series in seven games, advancing to their first World Series appearance in 29 years.