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Leading the decline of Brewers blogs but with the best Junior Guerra content.



Updated: 2017-02-21T12:00:04-06:00

 



Hiram Burgos to start Friday for Milwaukee Brewers, Taylor Jungmann moving to bullpen

2017-02-21T12:00:04-06:00

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With the first spring games just days away, pitching assignments begin to take shape

We're just a few days away from actual baseball games being played, and the Milwaukee Brewers are starting to set up their pitching assignments for the first couple games.

According to Tom Haudricourt, Hiram Burgos will get the first start of the Brewers' exhibition schedule, taking the ball for Friday's exhibition against UW-Milwaukee.

Jungmann's mechanics have had a tendency to fall apart as a starter recently, so a move to the bullpen -- where he only has to get through one or two innings -- might end up being for the best and could end up resurrecting a career. The switch to relief could also help him maximize his fastball/curveball combination, and his pitching style could end up playing better in the bullpen. It's not the kind of value you'd like to get out of a first-round pitcher, but it's better than no value at all at this point.

Friday's game against UWM starts at 2:05 pm central time. The televised game on Saturday will start at 2:10 pm CST.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference




Milwaukee Brewers Winter Ball Recap

2017-02-21T09:00:06-06:00

Who shined brightest while playing in foreign leagues during the 2016-17 MLB offseason? There are a myriad of reasons that players participate in foreign baseball leagues during the winter time. Many players return to their home countries after the regular season and are eager for an opportunity to suit up for the teams they grew up watching. Some head to winter ball to get extra reps if they missed time with an injury during their regular season in MLB-affiliated ball, or if they had a down year performance-wise and are trying to get back on track. Others still are simply looking for an extra paycheck to help supplement the generally poverty-level wages that they earn playing minor league ball in the States. The Milwaukee Brewers have 31 players currently in the organization that participated in the various foreign winter leagues during the 2016-17 MLB offseason. Now that these leagues have wrapped up and spring training is in full swing, let’s take a look at the players who should be riding some positive momentum into camp: 1B Jesus Aguilar - Leones del Caracas (Venezuela) 140 AB || .314/.432/.586 || 10 HR || 0 SB || 27 BB || 27 K Aguilar finished 4th in his league in home runs despite not having enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Otherwise his OPS would have led the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional. He’ll battle for a bench spot with the Brewers this spring. UTIL Hernan Perez - Tigres de Aragua (Venezuela) 169 AB || .373/.392/.503 || 3 HR || 7 SB || 6 BB || 20 K Building off of his breakout season in 2016 with the Brewers, Perez captured the batting title and a Gold Glove at third base for the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional. He figures to play an integral role with Milwaukee during the upcoming season as their utilityman. (h/t Jim Goulart) C Manny Pina - Cardenales de Lara (Venezuela) 98 AB || .316/.346/.469 || 2 HR || 1 SB || 4 BB || 18 K Pina enjoyed a successful stint as catcher for the Cardenales, who posted a league-best .619 winning percentage during the regular season. He’ll battle for a spot behind the plate with Milwaukee this season and could be an intriguing breakout candidate. UTIL Ivan De Jesus, Jr. - Cangrejeros de Santurce (Puerto Rico) 139 AB || .302/.383/.396 || 2 HR || 4 SB || 17 BB || 20 K De Jesus, Jr. was an anchor in his team’s lineup as they produced the league’s best record, and he added a 1.242 OPS in 6 games as Puerto Rico captured the Caribbean Series title. De Jesus, Jr. saw the most extensive big league action of his career last season with the Reds and will be in camp on a non-roster invite with the Brewers. OF Malik Collymore - Sydney Blue Sox (Australia) 152 AB || .276/.362/.382 || 3 HR || 14 SB || 20 BB || 36 K After struggling mightily with an assignment to High-A Brevard County (where he nearly was two years younger than the league average) in 2016, Collymore acquitted himself nicely in the ABL. He figures to return to the low minors for 2017. RHP Forrest Snow - Aguilas Cibaenas (Dominican Republic) 35.0 IP || 1.54 ERA || 36 K || 14 BB || 1 HR || 1.03 WHIP Snow tore his way though the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, striking out better than a batter per inning while keeping runs off the board for Aguilas. One of several pitchers acquired by David Stearns over the winter winter that throws a splitter, Snow is a non-roster invitee competing for a bullpen job in camp. RHP Jorge Lopez - Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) 34.2 IP || 1.56 ERA || 32 K || 13 BB || 0 HR || 0.87 WHIP After a brutal season in 2016 dropped his prospect stock precipitously, Lopez went to the Brewers fall instructional league to work out some mechanical issues. If his numbers in Puerto Rico are indicative of anything, he’s ready for a bounce back season in 2017 and should contribute to the MLB club at some point. LHP Andrew Barbosa - Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) 10.0 IP || 1.80 ERA || 13 K || 2 BB || 0 HR || 1.00 WHIP One of the few lefties in spring training with the Brewers this year, Barbosa may have earned himself a longe[...]



Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jacob Nottingham says he ‘tried too hard’ last year

2017-02-21T08:00:06-06:00

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The guy who was supposed to be Milwaukee’s “catcher of the future” says he put too much pressure on himself to succeed in 2016

There were a lot of expectations placed on Jacob Nottingham last season. The centerpiece of a deal that sent slugger Khris Davis to Oakland, Nottingham was immediately pegged as “The Catcher of the Future.”

He was coming off a year in which he hit .316/.372/.505 across two levels of A-balland was ranked among Baseball Prospectus' Top-100 prospects. And then he hit .234/.295/.347 for Double-A Biloxi, striking out 39 more times than he did the year before despite seeing 50 fewer at-bats.

As a 21-year-old making the big leap from High-A to Double-A, Nottingham told Adam McCalvy he was trying too hard to impress the Brewers, who were his second new organization in less than a year.

"I know I have a lot more in me. It's a grind. It's a process, and that's what people sometimes don't understand. Obviously, I want to get there [to the Major Leagues], but I'm not going to do too much. I feel like I did that a little last year. That's what I'm learning from."

Defensively, some have questioned whether Nottingham will be able to stick behind the plate long-term. He stands 6'3" and 227 pounds, and the track record for big catchers is a bit spotty. Still, manager Craig Counsell tells McCalvy their evaluations show him getting better defensively:

"I think if we were having a conversation where he went backwards as a receiver, we might be asking that question, but he went forward as a receiver. ... "He's a catcher. I don't see this as a question, really."

"The information put on catchers is greater than any other player," Counsell said. "Sometimes, that's also overwhelming for them, and you have to kind of strike that balance of where it's overwhelming and where it's not."

Nottingham will likely head back to Biloxi for another full season at Double-A, barring some remarkable improvements that force the club's hand. But the future of Brewers catching has also gotten a lot more crowded since Nottingham was acquired last year.

When he joined the organization, it was pretty well known that Jonathan Lucroy was on his way out and Martin Maldonado was thought of more as a career backup. But in the past year, Milwaukee has traded for Andrew Susac as part of the Will Smith deal and swapped Maldonado for Jett Bandy, both of whom could stake a long-term claim behind the plate.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference




What We Learned: Camp is in full swing

2017-02-20T16:15:01-06:00

First full squad workouts of the spring were held over the weekend. We discuss that and more in today’s What We Learned. Countdown to Opening Day: 42 Brewers News and Notes Links from BCB Attanasio drops an f-bomb, talks Milwaukee Brewers payroll, Maryvale future | Jaymes L, BCB Mark Attanasio had his yearly preseason talk with the team as position players reported last week, and discussed many topics while at camp. Craig Counsell wants Milwaukee Brewers prospects to ignore rankings, and you should too | Jaymes L, BCB While prospect rankings are great for evaluating a team, at the end of the day, it’s all about the performance on the field over the rankings on the web. Manny Pina Could Be a Breakout Candidate for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB Though he’s essentially become the bottom candidate for the catcher position for the Brewers, Manny Pina could be primed for a breakout year. BCB Mailbag 16: Passing Gas and Illegal Deliveries | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB In this week’s mailbag, topics include the 25th man on the roster, the top infielder, when to sign your left-handed kid up for baseball, and illegal pitching motion. BCB Fanpost Prompt of the Week | Kyle Lesniewski, BCBThe Dark Ages, Straight Outta "Wah-KEY-shaw" County | tdgbp, BCB FanPostBill Spiers: A Milwaukee Brewers "Dark Age" Favorite | nullacct, BCB FanPost This week’s FanPost prompt focuses on favorite players during the Brewers darker years. A few of our regulars have already written up their thoughts on this topic. Milone, Duke and Gorzelanny... and LHP starters turned relievers. | justthestatsman, BCB FanPost Being left-handed gives many pitchers a chance at a longer career just because they are left-handed, and many have also converted to relievers to help their cause further. Links from Other Sites Attanasio eager to settle plans for spring hub | Adam McCalvy, Brewers.com While the Brewers want to stay in Arizona, the need to find a better home is growing by the year. Brewers embrace owner's direct message | Adam McCalvy, Brewers.com Mark Attanasio’s message to the players caught several of them off guard, but it’s one that they are happy to follow. Villar embraces move across the diamond | Adam McCalvy, Brewers.com Jonathan Villar moves to second base this season, and it’s a move that he’s more than willing to make. Brewers will record early bullpens for reference | Adam McCalvy, Brewers.com In an effort to get as much information as they can for their pitchers, the Brewers are recording the early bullpens for pitchers in camp. Rivera hopes Caribbean Series success carries over | Adam McCalvy, Brewers.com Yadiel Rivera had a great winter in winter ball, and comes to camp hoping to turn that into a job. Milwaukee Brewers: Scooter Gennett Should Not Be a Utility Player | Tim Muma, Dairyland Express While Scooter Gennett has the bat to be a bench player, he doesn’t have the defensive skills to work as a utility player. Brewers by position: Ryan Braun is last man standing in rebuildBrewers by position: Eric Thames has something to prove at first baseBrewers by position: Shortstop Orlando Arcia learning from tough early lessonsTom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel In a position-by-position preview of the Brewers, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Orlando Arcia. Notes: Pitcher Tyler Cravy proving he belongs in majors | Tom Haudricourt and Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Tyler Cravy brings a strong end to the 2016 season into camp as he looks to get a job in the Brewers bullpen. Fans flock to Brewers box office for first tickets | Jacob Carpenter, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel The annual Arctic Tailgate was held this weekend as single-game tickets went on sale, but conditions this year weren’t as arctic as in the past. Thinking Outside The Box 1: The Piggyback Rotation | Colin Anderle, BP Milwaukee The piggyback rotation has received more attention recently, and with more starting [...]



Neftali Feliz reports to camp, not officially Milwaukee Brewers closer

2017-02-20T14:00:02-06:00

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The presumed closer isn’t the official closer just yet, but is in camp after getting his work visa

Reliever Neftali Feliz is finally in Brewers camp, getting to Maryvale nearly a week after his fellow pitchers after dealing with work visa issues before being able to leave his native Domincan Republic.

The 28-year-old righty is sitting at 99 career saves, and figures to be the Brewers' closer this season, but according to the AP, manager Craig Counsell won't make that official announcement just yet -- even if he's talking him up already.

"Neftali is going to get really important outs for us," Counsell said. "That's what we signed him to do."

"He's got a track record. What we saw last year was him getting back to the player that broke into the big leagues and was really a dynamic arm and reliever, and capable of great things."

"We felt last year he got back to the form that he had early in his career. He fought through some injuries. It affected him for a while, but the guy we saw last year was the guy that's been a dominant reliever."

Feliz finished last season on the disabled list with elbow soreness -- a potential red flag for a guy whose career was nearly derailed by Tommy John surgery -- but the Brewers felt comfortable enough to take a one-year gamble on him.

Feliz was one of General Manager David Stearns' rare major league signings this past winter, agreeing to a one-year, $5.35 million deal that allows for another potential $1.5+ million in incentives -- many of which are tied to games finished.

According to Cot's Contracts, on top of $75,000 for pitching in 64, 68, 72 and 76 games, Feliz will earn a quarter-million dollars each for getting the final out in 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games.

Carlos Torres (2), Corey Knebel (2) and Jacob Barnes (1) are the only other pitchers on the Brewers roster who recorded a save last year.




Ex-Milwaukee Brewers find New Homes

2017-02-20T09:00:02-06:00

There’s almost enough for an expansion team here! Like every major league team, the Brewers have lots of former players spread throughout baseball. Many of them changed teams this off season, some traded, some signed as free agents, some taking minor league deals in an attempt to get back to the show, and some still looking for gainful employment. I can’t claim that this is a comprehensive list, but I will claim that I spent way too much time trying to track all of them down. TRADES The Brewers sent Tyler Thornburg (2012-2016) to Boston and Martin Maldonado (2011-2016) to the Angels in their own trades. In addition, former Brewers Jean Segura (2012-2015) and Mitch Haniger (Brewer prospect 2012-2014) escaped the Arizona D’Backs in a trade to Seattle. Perhaps Arizona is purging themselves of ex-Brewers because they couldn’t instill a winning culture in them. Or any other guys on the team, for that matter. SIGNINGS Wow! Lots of guys that played for the Brewers in the past signed with new organizations this past off season. Twenty, by my count. I probably missed some that played in the Brewers’ minor league system, but this list is long enough as it is. Chris Carter: Released by the Brewers after the 2016 season, his only one in Milwaukee, Sleepy signed to play in the city that never sleeps with the New York Yankees. Juan Centeno: Juan will promote rallies for the Houston Astros next season...or maybe in their minor league system (it’s a minor league deal). He spent last year with the Twins and played for the Brewers in 2015. Neal Cotts: After spending time with 4 (!) organizations in 2016, Cotts signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals this off season. He played for the Brewers in 2015. R. A. Dickey: OK, Dickey never pitched for the major leagues Brewers, but legend has it he developed his knuckleball while in the Brewers’ minors (2007-2008). He will pitch for the Braves next year. Jake Elmore: Jake will attempt to utilize his utility for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, again on a minor league deal. He was with Milwaukee last season. Juan Francisco: A minor league deal lands Juan with the Orioles after a season in Toronto in 2014 and two years out of the bigs. He was a Brewer in 2013. Sam Freeman: The hard-throwing lefty will try to harness his control for yet another organization in 2017, having signed a minor league deal with Atlanta. He threw for the Brewers last year. Carlos Gomez: Gogo re-signed as a Free Agent with the Rangers after joining them last season from the Astros. A one year $11.5 mil deal is higher than I expected, but I sure don’t resent him getting it. Have a great year, Carlos! Jim Henderson: A minor league deal with the Cubs gives the big righty another shot at the show. Jim pitched last year with the Mets after missing 2015, and pitched for Milwaukee in 2012, 13, and 14. Aaron Hill: Hill’s glorious half season with the Brewers last year ended in Boston after a mid-season trade. This year he has a minor league deal with the Giants, who have added about a thousand guys just like Hill to pick and choose from. It’s nice to be rich. Adam Lind: Adam joins the Nationals with a disappointing campaign in Seattle ended in 2016. We will see if any of the three lottery ticket young arms the Brewers got from the Mariners after the 2015 season turn his trade into a real steal. Casey McGehee: It’s back overseas to Japan next year for Casey and family, playing for the Nomiuri Giants of the NPR...er, NPB. Casey played with Detroit last year and spent 2009, 10, and 11 with the Brewers. Will Middlebrooks: Will’s quest to regain his flash success with the Red Sox in 2012 continues. Will smashed his way to a .337 OPS in 10 games for the Brewers last year, and gets a chance on a minor league deal with the Rangers. Shane Peterson: Shane has parlayed his 2015 success...er, season with the Brewers into a minor league deal with Tampa Bay. He di[...]



Digging Out Things the Milwaukee Brewers Were Good at in 2016

2017-02-20T08:00:02-06:00

The Brewers did some things well last season. I promise only one of these is sarcastic. Ignoring overrated traditional metrics of success like hits, on base percentage, team wins, or runs scored vs. runs allowed, you’ll find the Brewers had an excellent season in 2016. I spent a Friday night spam sorting Fangraphs tables to reveal things the Brewers were good at in 2016. Some are well documented, some less so. Stealing Bases (1st in MLB) Buoyed by Jonathon Villar’s league leading 62 SB’s, the Brewers stole way more bases than anyone else (181). If my math’s right, that’s like 7 steals per inning. Not bad. The Reds were closest with 139. Domination. Weighted Stolen Base Runs Above Average (wSB – 2nd in NL, 3rd in MLB) The Brewers were 10 runs above average in terms of stolen bases. The Brewers got caught a lot, but given the run value of a CS in 2016 vs. the solid 181/56 SB/CS ratio (that’s a bit better than 3 steals per CS), the Brewers graded quite well. The Cubs might have won the World Series, but they had nothing on the Brewers in wSB (-4.3). The Cardinals finished dead last at -6.9. Take that. If you were a little dismissive about the #1 rank for stolen bases, you’ll be happy to learn the CS total didn’t negate the value of the big SB total. It was actually worth something. Walking (2nd in NL, 3rd in MLB) The Brewers had their 6th best season for walks in franchise history, and their best mark since they walked 610 times in 2009 (Thanks Prince Fielder). The Cubs (656) and Blue Jays (632) finished with a significant advantage. Unfortunately, the Brewers were poor at actually hitting the baseball, finishing with the league’s 2nd fewest hits and 4th worst batting average. And they led the league in strikeouts, setting a franchise record. Which brings us to... 3TO% - (1st in MLB) Ever get that feeling you were in love with the Brewers last year but you couldn’t put your finger on it? Here’s the reason: The Brewers were the most 3TO team in the league last year. No team made defenses work less. Most plate appearances were boom or bust, and that’s how Milwaukee baseball fans like it. Free passes, whiffs, and dingers. The Russell Branyan formula. HR/Fly Ball (1st in NL, T-1st in MLB) Now we’re talking. 15.6% of the fly balls the Brewers hit in 2016 ended up in the seats—the best mark in the league. Close behind at 2nd in the NL was the Diamondbacks at 14.5%. Next? The Cardinals. Not great company. Since when does a higher HR rate in any reasonable context correlate to futility? There’s a moment right after bat meets ball when TV viewers make a split-second judgment call before the camera switches—the difference between a pop-up and a 450 foot home run can be near indecipherable with the right launch angle. You need a trained eye to accurately gauge ball flight based on the angle of the ball coming off the bat + perceived exit velocity. Personally, every time the ball shoots toward the upper corner of the TV screen, my first thought is “homer?” In 2016, the Brewers gave us the answer I wanted more than any other team in the league. Having Fastballs Thrown at Them (FB% - 2nd in MLB) Only the Reds saw a higher % of fastballs than the Brewers (60.1% vs 59.8%). A bit of a surprise to me, as I’d expect a younger team like the Brewers to see more breaking stuff. This may warrant further investigation. Hitting Splitfinger Fastballs (wSF - 4th in MLB) Splitters are tough to hit. They’re rarely intentionally thrown for a strike, for one thing. The Brewers have quietly been stockpiling split artists. They also had pretty good success hitting splitters in 2016, finishing at 2.6 runs above average. They trailed only the Padres, Cardinals, and Phillies. More great company. Swinging and Missing (SwStr% - 1st in NL, 4th in MLB) The Brewers didn’t swing much in 2016 relative to the league (26th in Swing%), but when[...]



Attanasio drops an f-bomb, talks Milwaukee Brewers payroll, Maryvale future

2017-02-19T14:30:01-06:00

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio’s annual spring address to the team features some colorful verbs Full-squad workouts are now officially underway, after position players reported to camp on Saturday. With everyone now in Maryvale, some interesting Brewers notes came out of the weekend, and most of them came from the team's owner. Mark Attanasio made his annual address once every member of the organization was gathered, and this year it included some uncharacteristic language from a normally mild-mannered guy, telling the players "don't (fun) it up." To be clear, it doesn't appear to be a "win or else" threat, like you may expect from the Steinbrenner family this time of year. Instead, the comment was made in more of a "don't let your opportunity to break out slip by" sense. While the Brewers aren't expected to compete this year, Attanasio says the 2017 season will tell him and the front office just how much more rebuilding needs to be done: "This is the youngest team we've ever had. So we're really going in the right direction. There's a group of guys who are going to be part of this next push and who are going to be part of the next playoff team, and that's exciting. So they have to seize it." Attanasio also addressed the team's payroll, which should once again be one of -- if not the -- lowest in baseball to start the year (last week, we projected the Opening Day payroll to be roughly $62.45 million). He says the low figure is the result of what GM David Stearns and his staff wanted to do, not because he set a spending cap for the team. "The team and its composition 'informs' the payroll. We don’t set a number," Attanasio said. "The payroll is about where it was last year. There weren't any restrictions on David and (assistant) Matt (Arnold) this winter. They went out, right out of the box, and signed Eric Thames. They wanted to get Neftali Feliz to close. There were other things they looked at that didn't come together, but there wasn’t any kind of restriction." Attanasio says in addition to the much-hyped concession stand improvements at Miller Park, the money they've saved on payroll over the past couple years is being reinvested within the organization, whether it's part of his efforts to buy the High-A affiliate in Carolina or improving the team's facilities in the Dominican and Arizona. On the top of the Brewers' camp in Maryvale, Attanasio says the team would like to stay in Arizona, but he continues to push for either significantly upgrading the Maryvale site or moving elsewhere. The team had been rumored to be possibly interested in a move to Florida, but Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt that his "first and second choice" would be training somewhere in Arizona. While the Brewers' current facility -- and the surrounding neighborhood -- in Maryvale certainly has its problems, there are advantages to staying in Arizona. Namely (weekend rainstorm notwithstanding) weather is rarely an issue in Arizona, whereas teams in Florida constantly have to dodge rain showers. Florida also doesn't have a Cactus Cup. The Brewers' pursuit for the prestigious crown soon gets underway. We're less than a week from kinda-real baseball. [...]