Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In The Spirit Of Christmas And Our Reader Poll

Well, not a whole heck of a lot of Brewers news happening right now so I figured in the spirit of Christmas coming in two days and with our "best comedy on TV" reader poll, here is a clip from "Parks And Recreation". This was from their "Christmas Sex Scandal" episode. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brewers Sign Another Backup Catcher

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the candidates for the backup catcher job behind starter Gregg Zaun. You can add a new name to that competition list. Former Marlins and Tigers catcher Matt Treanor who was signed to a minor league contact with an invite to spring training. Treanor is 34 years old and honestly, the best and most interesting thing about him is that he is married to her. Yes that is Misty May, one of the most famous beach volleyball players of all-time. Well done Matt. But I'm not sure that is enough to win you the backup catching job over Lucroy, Kottaras or Salome.

Possible Mailbag And Best TV Comedy

I would like to attempt to do a "mailbag" post coming up soon. I say attempt because I am not really sure how strong the readership is quite yet. So if you have a question, please drop me an email at: I would like to start making this at least a monthly post, but we will see how many emails actually make it into my inbox.

Also, please vote in the new reader poll, the first non Brewers/baseball question in our reader polls. What is the best comedy on TV right now? I'm going to mostly make this baseball related questions but will occasionally drop these random polls questions.

Keith Law Chat 12/17/09

The winner of our reader poll for "favorite national sports writer" and favorite of VFBC was back on Thursday for another chat. Here were the Brewers related questions/answers from Keith. Topics include top of the Brewers order, Mark Mulder and the signings of Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins.

Shawn (Madison)

Between Escobar, Weeks, or Gomez (yeah right) do the Brewers have anybody that can get on base enough to hit at the top of their lineup ahead of Prince and Braun?

(1:10 PM)

Weeks has always worked the count well when healthy. Escobar is impatient and Gomez would swing at strike zero.

Kruse (Iraq)

Do you see the Brewers making anymore additions to starting pitching before the start of the season? Wolf was a nice start. I have heard Mulder rumors? Would that push Suppan out of the starting rotation? Please say yes because I cannot take another year of seeing his stuff, even as an end of the rotation guy.

(1:26 PM)

I have no problem with them taking a flyer on Mulder, but I'd have no expectations of him, either. Guy hasn't been healthy and effective in a long time. They do still need one more starter if they want to compete in that division, though. I like Parra's arm but banking on him to become a #3 would be foolish.

Ryan (Madison)

Hey Klaw. I just wanted your thoughts on the Brewers signing of Wolf and Hawkins. Three years too long for Wolf? Can Hawkins help solidify the bullpen? Something obviously had to be done to improve their pitching and I'm just wondering if you believe they are at least on the right track. Thanks

(2:19 PM)

A year too long on each guy, but if they've decided to try to contend in 2010, they had little choice but to over commit on arms. It wouldn't be my strategy for the team.

Reader Poll Results

"Who is your favorite national baseball writer?"

Ken Rosenthal: 20% (2 Votes)

Peter Gammons: 30% (3 Votes)

Jon Heyman: 0% (No Votes)

Buster Olney: 10% (1 Vote)

Tom Verducci: 0% (No Votes)

Keith Law: 40% (4 Votes)

Jayson Stark: 0% (No Votes)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Backup Catcher

With the Brewers signing of Gregg Zaun and the departure of Jason Kendall, we know who the starting catcher will be in 2010. But when Mike Rivera was not tendered a contract before the deadline to do so, it left a big question mark as to who will be the backup catcher in 2010 and get around 60 starts behind the plate. The Brewers have three options going into spring training. Prospects Jonathan Lucroy and Angel Salome, or recently claimed off waivers from Boston George Kottaras.

Lucroy had a very nice season at AA Huntsville in 2009 and put up a good line of .267/.380/.418, 9 HR and 66 RBI's. On defense Lucroy threw out 40% of base stealer's and had a .991 fielding % with 7 errors. Lucroy had started 2009 as the Brewers #2 catching prospect behind Angel Salome, but after his strong season for Huntsville as well as a very good showing in the AFL (.310/.354/.483, 2 HR and 10 RBI's), Lucroy has jumped Salome in many fans minds as well as the Brewers organizations mind as the #1 catching prospect and more then likely should be the starter in 2011.

Salome regressed some in 2009 while playing at AAA Nashville after having a monster year in 2008 at AA Huntsville, but he also battled some injuries playing in only 82 games. His line was .286/.334/.413, 6 HR and 44 RBI's. On defense Salome threw out just 30% of base stealer's with a fielding % of .976 and 10 errors. The thought seemed to be that Salome was better on offense while Lucroy was better on defense, but it seems that Lucroy is catching up on offense and still the better defender and that is why he has jumped Salome.

George Kottaras was claimed off waivers early this offseason after playing 45 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2009. His line was .237/.308/.387, 1 HR and 10 RBI's. Defensively Kottaras threw out just 16% of base stealer's with a fielding % of .992 and 8 errors. He was used often as the catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Kottaras like Gregg Zaun is a switch hitter at the plate.

So there you have the three candidates. Kottaras has something the other two don't, a good chunk of big league experience. But Lucroy and Salome have more talent and more future potential. It sounds as if it will be an open competition between the three and whoever performs best in spring may break camp with the job. As of right now I would like it to be either Lucroy or Kottaras. Lucroy could use a season as the backup learning the ropes behind Zaun before taking over in 2011 as the starter. If they don't go that route I would like to see Kottaras get it, Lucroy start at AAA and Salome traded. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wolf Meets The Milwaukee Media

Today the Brewers officially announced the signing of Randy Wolf as he met the Milwaukee media for the first time. While he did admit some disappointment that his hometown Dodgers did not do more to keep him, he is very excited about being a Brewer. And the two big reasons other then the fact the Brewers offered the best contract was a trip Doug Melvin took to LA to sit down and meet with Wolf along with owner Mark Attanasio. The other reason, which didn't surprise me when I heard it was Wolf had a 45 minute conversation with Trevor Hoffman on what it is like playing in Milwaukee. The Brewers strongly desired Wolf and he appreciated that.

Shortly after Wolf's presser he did an interview via phone with ESPN 540's Steve "The Homer" True. You can listen to the interview here. Good listen, Wolf is a big movie buff and a bit of a Star Wars nerd. Once again, I'm very glad to have him here, really like him and Gallardo at the top of the rotation for the next few years.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Winter Meetings Over, But Still More Work To Be Done

The Winter Meetings ended last week in Indianapolis and the Brewers left with two pieces that will definitely help the club compete for the NL Central crown in 2010. SP Randy Wolf and RP LaTroy Hawkins. Wolf will slot nicely into the 2nd spot in the rotation after Yovani Gallardo and Hawkins will be a viable setup option for Trevor Hoffman, and may even get some save opportunities once in awhile. Don't forget before the Winter Meetings the Brewers brought Gregg Zaun in to be their starting catcher in 2010. While these three moves will help and should make the club better, there is still some work to be done by Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and the rest of the Brewers front office.

First and foremost they need to get one more starting pitcher. Wolf was a big signing but they still need a guy to slot behind Wolf but in front of Parra and Bush. A couple of guys that come to mind are either Erik Bedard, Doug Davis, Jarrd Washburn, Justin Duchscherer, Chien Ming-Wang (if non-tendered) or Kevin Correia (if non-tendered). If they can go and sign one of these guys I really like our rotation of Gallardo, Wolf, (Free Agent), Manny Parra, Dave Bush. That would be far and away better then last season. And if Bush stays healthy and Parra improves it could be very good. Second the Brewers need to resign Craig Counsell, and if they don't they need to find another veteran utility infielder that can spell 2B, SS or 3B. I hope they can resign Counsell, I would even be willing to give him a 2 year deal. He is coming off his best offensive season and his defense and intangibles are very important to a young club.

Those are really the only two things I think they need to resolve. Maybe a 4th and or 5th OF if they non-tender Jody Gerut. But really after they get that second SP and get their utility infielder they pretty much have all the other players already in the 40 man roster, it will just be a matter of who wins battles in Spring Training and what their roles will be on the club in 2010. So far I like what they have done and its nice to see the rest of the NL Central not doing much. I really believe that this Brewers team and compete with any of the teams in the NL Central.

Reader Poll Results

"Which of these SP would you most like to see the Brewers sign?"

Randy Wolf: 100% (6 Votes)

Doug Davis: 0% (0 Votes)

Jarrod Washburn: 0% (0 Votes)

Jon Garland: 0% (0 Votes)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Starting Rotation And Bullpen Get A Boost: Randy Wolf & LaTroy Hawkins

Pretty good day if you are a member of the Brewers organization or one of their fans. Today at the Winter Meetings in Indy, Doug Melvin worked out two deals to help bolster the Brewers pitching. A 3 year $29.75 mill deal with SP Randy Wolf and a 2 year $7.5 mill deal with RP LaTroy Hawkins. The Wolf deal had been speculated for a few days now and was clearly Melvin's number one target this offseason. The Hawkins rumors started today and before you knew it a deal was done. Both pitchers are coming off fantastic 2009 seasons. For the Dodgers Wolf was 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and struck out 160 in 214 IP. Hawkins while pitching for the Astros was 1-4, 11 saves with a 2.13 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and struck out 45 in 63 IP.

Both players are a little older Wolf being 33 and Hawkins 36. So that might be a little worrisome. But overall I like both signings. In my opinion and many others Wolf was probably the second best SP on the market behind John Lackey (you could make a case for Harden, Sheets or Bedard but there are health issues there), he is coming off back-to-back seasons where he was stellar and made 30+ starts. While he is somewhat of a finesse pitcher who gets a lot of fly balls, he can strike guys out which is something Brewers pitcher other then Gallardo didn't do much of in 2009. While he is not quite the #2 we wanted behind Gallardo, he is a damn good #3, better then anyone else we had in 2009 other then Gallardo. Some people want to say this was a "Suppan Deal", I don't look at it that way. Wolf is a far better pitcher then Suppan and we signed him for less years and money (there is a 4th year club option). In this day and age you have to somewhat overpay for pitching because there just is not that much good pitching out there. And with as bad as the Brewers rotation was in 2009, Doug Melvin had to do something and is probably not done as far as starting pitching is concerned.

As for Hawkins, he should fit in perfectly as a setup man for Trevor Hoffman and during the course of the year and can serve as a closer if Hoffman needs a rest or God forbid Hoffman spends anytime on the DL. Right now as it stand with Hoffman as our closer I like how the pen shapes up in front of him with Hawkins, Vargas (deal is close as reported today by McCalvy and Haudricourt), Coffey and Stetter. OF course a few spots will be up for grabs between Villanueva, Smith, Narveson, etc. All in all a successful start to the offseason in my eyes with the trade of Hardy for Gomez and now the signings of Zaun, Wolf and Hawkins. Now lets go get another starter and lock up Counsell to be our utility infielder. Do it Doug!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peter Gammons Leaving ESPN After 20 Years

Today is a sad day, Peter Gammons one of the absolute best baseball writers and TV personalities for ESPN and will be leaving ESPN after the Winter Meetings end this week. Gammons is 64 years old and had been with ESPN since 1989, before that Gammons wrote for the Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated. In my opinion Gammons is the smartest and most insightful member of the baseball media. As long as I can remember having cable and ESPN he has been the guy giving me all my baseball insider news year after year. And with a lot of the shit personalities on Baseball Tonight and various other ESPN baseball coverage Gammons will be sorely missed. Along with Keith Law, Gammons was the reason I finally caved in and got a subscription to ESPN The Magazine just to get the Insider access. Now it looks like Keith Law is the only guy I will be reading. Sure they have Buster Olney, Jayson Stark, Jerry Crasnick and Tim Kurkjian. But none of those guys can even hold Gammons jock. Oh, and besides being one of the best baseball writers ever, Peter is a big fan of indie rock, blues rock, plays guitar and one of his favorite bands is Pearl Jam. What is not to love about this guy?

No word has been made yet if Peter is just leaving ESPN or if he is actually retiring. I'm really hoping that he joins MLB Network and writes columns on Peter, please do all of us baseball fans who need your knowledge and join MLB Network. Baseball just won't be the same without your expertise.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MLB Winter Meetings 2009 Dec. 7-10

Tomorrow in Indianapolis the yearly offseason winter meeting will begin. It's four days of GM's, agents, players and media members gathering together in hotel rooms and lobbies to heat up the "hot stove". Hopefully it will be an exciting four days for us Brewers fans. Would be nice for Doug and Gord to land us at least one of the two starting pitchers we need so badly. Also maybe resign Counsell or sign a different utility infielder to take his place in 2010. Buster Olney of wrote today in his Insider only Winter Meeting preview that the Brewers will land either Randy Wolf or Joel Pineiro. Personally, I'm not a big fan of Pineiro, don't get me wrong, he was great in 2009. But I just have a gut feeling it was a fluke of a season and I would hate to see the Brewers give him a 3 or 4 year deal based off that. As far as Randy Wolf, he is my top choice for which free agent pitcher I would like the Crew to sign. He is coming off a great 2009 and has a proven track record of being a very reliable #3 borderline #2 type pitcher. He can probably be had on a 3 year deal for between $25-$30 mill.

You can be sure if any Brewers moves are made, I will have my reaction here at View From Bernie's Chalet. So check back throughout the week for updates.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Miller Park Will Be Zaunbieland In 2010

Let me start this post out saying this. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey gooodbyyye! So long to Jason Kendall and his wet paper towel of a bat. No more of our catcher having a .305 SLG%. I will give it to Kendall, he was dynamite on defense in 2008 which really helped in our push to our first postseason appearance in 26 years. But in 2009, his bat like it has been for sometime now was anemic and his defense took a MAJOR step back. I wonder how hard Doug Melvin laughed in his face when Kendall's agent said he wanted to make $5 mill again in 2010? Probably as hard as Jerry Seinfeld laughed at Marty Funkhouser's joke in episode #9 of "Curb" this season.

Now that I got my Kendall bashing out of the way let me say I love the move to sign Gregg Zaun to be the starting catcher for the Brewers in 2010, how can you not? The guy has his own website that plays Rush's "Limelight" before you enter the homepage. 1 year deal worth $1.9 mill with a second year club option. Zaun is a solid vet who has in my opinion been a pretty underrated catcher for quite a few years. While Zaun is certainly no Joe Mauer or Brian McCann, he is a switch hitting catcher who does a good job of getting on base (.345 OBP in 09') and can actually hit for a little power (8 HR/.416 SLG in 09'). He also does a decent job throwing runners out and is one of the best at blocking balls in the dirt. Kendall struggled MIGHTILY in both those categories in 2009. While I would have been okay with the Brewers letting prospect Jonathan Lucroy take over as the starting catcher in 2010, this is probably better for the club. Now you can give Lucroy a whole season at AAA to further develop his game before becoming the starting catcher in 2011.

The Brewers also still have Angel Salome down in AAA, recently signed off waivers George Kottares and arbitration eligible Mike Rivera. My guess is that Salome is traded in some package for pitching, Kottares wins the backup job and Rivera is non-tendered. Nice to see Doug make a good signing for a need of the team early in free agency this season to get the ball rolling. Hopefully during the winter meetings next week he can start getting the pitching help we need to really contend in 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reader Poll Results

"Should the Brewers resign Craig Counsell?"

Yes: 72% (8 Votes)

No: 27% (3 Votes)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keith Law Chat 12/3/09

After the Thanksgiving break Keith Law was back with another chat on today. Here are the Brewers related questions/answers. Only two today, Manny Parra possible out of the bullpen? And Keith is not sure if McGehee or Gamel are the answer at 3B in Milwaukee. Ouch.

Dan (Milwaukee)

Do you think Manny Parra would benefit from starting the season in the minors or do you think he will finally put it all together out of Spring Training?

(1:03 PM)

I think it's time to think about putting him in the pen.

Dan (Milwaukee)

What do you think of Casey Mcghee? Do you really think he is the Brewers future at third? Is it wise for the Brewers to shop Gamel? What kind of return could he get?

(1:09 PM)

I don't think either guy is the future at 3rd. McGehee isn't going to hit enough, and Gamel can't play it.

I could see Parra being a good lefty out of the bullpen, but with his stuff I wouldn't give up on him as a starter and if I did I would trade him before I stuck him in the pen. As for the question on McGehee and Gamel, I like them both. I like Gamel more long term because of his potential with the bat but he has to improve his defense which he has shown signs of, but the jury is still out. It would be interesting to see what McGehee could do starting a full season with a healthy knee, see if 2009 was a fluke or if he is for real. His minor league numbers say it was a fluke. That doesn't mean it was. The Brewers have an interesting situation with those two players.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Don't Get It

As reported Monday by Adam McCalvy of, the Brewers did not offer arbitration to any of their 5 ranked free agents on Tuesday. Okay, I totally understand why Melvin would not offer arby to Cameron, Kendall, Looper or Weathers. Because more then likely those four guys would have taken it and meant we would be overpaying for guys we don't need nor want. But I just don't get how you don't offer arby to 2B Felipe Lopez. It just baffles my brain thinking about why you wouldn't? Doug thinks that had he offered it to Felipe he might have accepted it and then they might have to pay him $4 or $5 mill and you have a "logjam" on the infield because Lopez would want to start. Would it really be a problem to have too many good infielders? I don't think so, what if there is an injury? Then you would be covered. And the most likely and best scenario is that Lopez would have declined arby since he wants and will most likely get a multi year deal from a team looking for a good starting 2B. Thus the Brewers would have gotten a supplemental pick in the 2010 draft. But instead, no Lopez and no draft pick. I'm a big Doug Melvin fan and believer but I am not to happy with this non-move.