In the News (1/12)

Right Field BleachersCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2009

Old School Snapper from posted a sweet video to YouTube. The MLB nazis will surely have it down soon, but enjoy it while you can.

Brewers News

-jihad at Brew Crew Ball predicts the Brewers 2009 season using CHONE projections. He comes up with a projected win total of 89.1, but points out that CHONE assumes a lot of innings for each pitcher, health for the whole team and major bounce backs for some of the hitters.

He guesses the win total will be closer to 86, which is also the number that RFB’s Jack came up with using WAR last week (86.32 to be exact). That’s about what my gut says this team is good for right now too. And 86 wins is good enough to stay in the Wild Card race. With some luck, that could bounce up around 90 and lead to another playoff appearance.

-Replacement Level Yankees Weblog projects the Brewers at 83.4 wins and third place in the NL Central, behind the Cubs (91.5) and the Cardinals (84.8). The Astros are predicted to finish fourth (83.3), just .1 win behind the Brewers. They give the Brewers a 13.5 percent chance to win the division and a 10.5 percent chance to win the Wild Card, which would mean they project the Brewers at a 24 percent chance to make the playoffs right now.

-The Brewers Winter Warm-Up is coming up. My fiance locked up tickets for this early and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

-Former Brewers announcer Daron Sutton was on 540 ESPN last week.

Rumors and Speculation

- Haudricourt has a story loaded with news tidbits:

  • The Brewers are not likely to sign a high-profile pitcher.
  • They have not even contacted Boras regarding Lowe (or any of his other clients for that matter).
  • The Brewers payroll will probably stand at close to $80 million right now after arbitration contracts and that is probably close to the team’s limit. Quevedo at the Buffet also took a shot at predicting the ‘09 payroll and came up with $74.345 million.
  • Signing Ben Sheets is a “possibility,” according to Melvin, but it doesn’t sound like anything is in the works at the moment.
  • It looks like the Brewers will avoid signing any Type A free agents because they don’t want to give up the first-round draft pick.
  • The Yankees proposed sending Nick Swisher to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron. I’d be for this idea. They’re both nice players, but Cameron is only signed for this season and is older than Swisher. Swisher is signed for three seasons with an option for a fourth (2009: $5.3 million, 2010: $6.75 million, 2011: $9 million, 2012: $10.25 million club option, $1 million buyout). He is a switch hitter, which would add a much needed left-handed bat to the Brewers line-up against righties, and he takes a ton of walks, something most Brewers hitters struggle with. He had a down year last season when he was misused as a leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the White Sox, but he has been productive throughout his career and should thrive in the potent Brewers line-up if they bring him in. If the Brewers did this (which it appears they won’t), I’d like to see the Brewers move Hart to center and put Swisher in right. And if Fielder is traded while Swisher is on the team, Swisher could move to first, where he has experience playing, and a prospect or free agent could take over in right.

- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says the Brewers match up well with the Red Sox:

8. Prince Fielder, Brewers first baseman: The Brewers will say he is not available, but could they be overwhelmed with a package of young players? One AL talent evaluator said, “He makes a lot of sense for Boston. They need a big bat in the lineup, it would combat what the Yankees have done with Mark Teixeira. They could go to their Teixeira plan of moving [KevinYoukilis to third and trading Mike Lowell. In this type of package, you can start with Clay Buchholz and go from there.”

Clay Buchholz? Eh… He’s shown flashes (the no-hitter comes to mind instantly), but his stats are not impressive so far and one has to wonder if he’s yet another Boston or Yankee prospect whose talent is blown way out of proportion before he proves anything in the big leagues. Don’t get me wrong. I’d be happy to have Buchholz on the Brewers. But not in exchange for a sure thing like Fielder.

Opinions on Fielder’s value aside, he’s produced nicely at the big league level for three straight years already and the Red Sox would control him for three more years, plus they have the resources to sign him beyond that if they want to. If the Red Sox would trade the Brewers Buchholz along with Jacoby Ellsbury.

Sure, I’d probably jump at that. But the Red Sox won’t offer that much… Buchholz and Lowell? I’d consider it if the Brewers also signed Dunn to play first, but I don’t think the Red Sox would do it and the money wouldn’t make sense for the Brewers with Lowell making $12 million each of the next two years and Dunn likely commanding at least $10 million a year as a free agent.

Cafardo also mentions Sheets:

9. Ben Sheets, free agent pitcher: We’re hearing more and more that a team like the Braves or Rangers could pony up a couple of years on a contract that would land the oft-injured righthander. At this stage of free agency, he seems like big-time quality for a price that has surely come down. “I think as the weeks go on, more and more teams are going to take a good, hard look at him,” said a National League manager. “Given his history, he’s just not going to get a big deal, and the realization might be sinking in that he and his agents know it.”

- Nate at Two Fisted Slopper wonders if the Hoffman signing could open the door to a trade for Jake Peavy. I like the idea in principle, but I don’t see it happening and it would pain me to see Hardy or Escobar  traded at this point.

- MLB Rumors predicts Braden Looper will land in Milwaukee.

- Al at Al’s Ramblings points out that Wisconsin native Eric Hinske does not project to be much better in ‘09 than current Brewers bench players Mike Lamb, Trot Nixon and Brad Nelson at the plate. Tyler, however, will point out that his Menasha Man Crush has more moxy, versatility and a handful of other buzz words that people use to describe players they like more than others despite those players not really being very good.

Minor Leagues

-’s Top Prospect Fan Poll is out. Gamel, Escobar, Jeffress, Salome and Green round out the top five. There are three catchers (Salome, Lawrie and Lucroy) in the top seven and only two pitchers (Jeffress and Odorizzi - No. 10) in the top ten.

- The No. 18 prospects on the combined Top 25 list are Seth Lintz for Between the Green Pillars and Erik Komatsu for Bernie’s Crew.

- Lisa Winston of does a profile and Q&A on outfield prospect Lorenzo Cain. Cain is one of my favorite Brewer prospects. I look forward to seeing him play in Milwaukee.

- Rob Wooten was recognized in his hometown on Rob Wooten Day and he talked about his transition from college to the pros. Wooten appears to be being groomed as a closer in the minors.

NL Central

Phil Rogers at the Chicago Tribune says, “Cubs Get Stronger as Division Gets Weaker.” To be fair, I’m guessing Phil doesn’t write his own headlines and the column doesn’t exactly say what the headline does, but, regardless of who wrote it, I just don’t think that headline is true. The part I take most issue with is “Cubs getting stronger.” I’d argue otherwise.

They lost their closer, they traded away one of their most consistent and versatile players, Aaron Miles should not be starting on a competitive team, they’re relying on an injury-prone hot head in right, all of their already aging players are one year older, Rich Harden will not stay healthy, Ryan Dempster will not repeat his ‘08 season, starting pitching depth is an issue and the stars will undoubtedly not align so well for the Northsiders in ‘09. I still think they should win the division, but getting better? If the barometer of “getting better” is winning more games than last year, I can’t see it happening.

- Lefthanded Japanese pitcher Ken Takahashi is apparently close to a deal with the Cubs.

- Red Reporter asks the question, “Is Dusty Baker the right manager for Willy Taveras?,” which, of course, begs the question from me, Is Dusty Baker the right manager for ANYONE?

Other News

- Mark Kotsay, who would have been a nice addition to the Brewers as a back-up player, signed a $1.5 million deal (plus incentives) to be a reserve on the Red Sox. I wish the Brewers would have made a strong run at him for that kind of money, especially since he must be OK with being a bench player if he signed in Boston.