Report: Villar turned down Brewers $20 million extension

PHOENIX — While the Milwaukee Brewers prepare to begin Cactus League play at Maryvale Baseball Park, infielder Jonathan Villar has turned down a $20 million contract extension offered by the club, according to a report.

As pointed out by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee’s offer is likely a move focused on keeping Villar’s contract cost down in the future. Villar is eligible for arbitration after this season, and if he becomes the player they hope he can be, that won’t come cheap.

Entering his presumed first full season playing second base, Villar will make somewhere in the $513,000 range this season. After posting a .285 batting average in 2016 with 19 home runs, 63 RBI, 62 stolen bases, and an OBP of .369 (16th in National League), a similar performance this season would mean a big payday for Villar.

Villar claimed to have no knowledge of the reported deal, while GM David Stearns  said “I’m not going to comment on any contract negotiations.”

Braun headlines Brewers 2016 season awards

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was named the Most Valuable Player as part of a season-ending awards list released Monday by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Braun led the Brewers with a .305 batting average in 2016, adding a .903 OPS and driving in 91 runs.

The five-member panel selected Junior Guerra as the club’s Most Valuable Pitcher after leading the Crew with a 2.81 ERA and a 9-3 record.

Others earning recognition from the BBWAA were Jonathan Villar (Top Newcomer), Hernan Perez (Unsung Hero), and Chris Carter (Good Guy Award).

Villar and Carter were also considered by the panel for the MVP award.

3-run homer by Carlos Gomez helps Texas get past Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Brewers were done in by one of their former stars on Wednesday night in Texas.

Outfielder Carlos Gomez drilled a 3-run home run as part of a 4-run eighth inning to help the Rangers past the Crew 8-5. Gomez, who played six seasons in Milwaukee before being traded to Houston last year, had three hits in four at-bats for Texas, his 31st game with the Rangers since being cut by the Astros last month.

Another former Milwaukee player, pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, got the win by pitching a pair of scoreless innings.

Milwaukee was paced by Jonathan Villar, who led the game off with a home run, his 19th of the year.

If he hits one more, he’ll join an exclusive club of players that have hit at least 20 homers and stolen at least 60 bases in a single season. The last time in happened was in 1990 with Oakland’s Ricky Henderson, and just two other players — Joe Morgan and Eric Davis — have ever pulled the feat.

In his final start of the year, Milwaukee pitcher Chase Anderson went five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits. He finished the season with a 9-11 record and a 4.39 ERA.

The Brewers are off on Thursday, but will open the final series of their season on Friday in Colorado.

Offense propels Brewers to 8-3 win over Rangers

ARLINGTON, Tex. — The Milwaukee Brewers used a bevy of offense to get past the Texas Rangers 8-3 Monday night, backing up a Matt Garza start against his former team.

Garza threw six innings of three-run ball, surrendering six hits and striking out three. The last time Garza faced Texas was in 2010 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, a 6-3 victory on Oct. 9. in the American League Divisional Series.

Milwaukee’ bats recorded 10 hits in Monday night’s win, led by Jonathan Villar’s 3-for-4 day at the plate. He drove in five runs with a pair of home runs, while Domingo Santana added two RBIs on a 1-for-5 outing.

For the Rangers, the loss dropped them a half-game back of the Boston Red Sox as both teams battle for home-field advantage in the postseason.

Three homers not enough to get Brewers past Reds

CINCINNATI — The Milwaukee Brewers recorded three home runs at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday night but still fell to the Cincinnati Reds 6-4.

Dan Straily had a career night on the mound, throwing eight innings of two-run ball.  He struck out eight Milwaukee batters in the process to give Cincinnati a season-high fifth straight win.

The Brewers were paced offensively by Keon Broxton, Jonathan Villar, and Chris Carter, who all went deep in the loss. Villar also got his first career start at second base, but manager Craig Counsell wouldn’t say if that was a preview of what we could see from the Brewers in 2017.

“I just thought this was an opportunity to see [Villar] at second base,” Counsell said. “He’s going to play mostly third base for the rest of the season, but there’s going to be some spots where we see him at second base. I just want to see what it looks like.”

Matt Garza gave the Brewers five innings, only allowing one earned run (Joey Votta’s solo shot in the first inning) while striking out three.

Brewers call up top prospect Orlando Arcia

SAN DIEGO — The same night the Milwaukee Brewers traded away veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, manager Craig Counsell announced the team would be calling up top shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

“The thinking is it’s time to get started,” Counsell said following Monday’s game. “We’ve still got 55 games left, a good chunk of the season left, where we’re hopeful that it gives [Arcia] good experience going into next year”

The No. 1 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system has 404 minor league at-bats in 2015 with a .267 batting average with eight home runs and 15 steals.

Arcia will get the start at shortstop Tuesday night in San Diego, bumping Jonathan Villar over to third base.  Counsell says he’ll have to find a new place for Hernan Perez, whose hot season continued with his eighth home run of the season in Monday night’s 7-3 loss.

Milwaukee is now tied for the most prospects (eight) ranked in the Top 75.

D-Backs take advantage of Brewers errors

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson struck out seven batters, but five errors by the Crew led to an 8-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night.

Nelson lasted 4 2/3 innings before being pulled in favor of Jhan Marinez, but the damage was already done. Arizona struck for eight runs (six earned) at that point. Yosmany Tomas had a three-run blast in the first inning to set the pace, causing Brewers manager Craig Counsell to scratch his head.

“That first inning was out of the ‘Twilight Zone,'” Counsell said following the loss. “Certainly not something I’ve ever seen and it was just strange. First two innings, really.”

That second inning was when Jonathan Villar was caught stealing third base, his 12th time this season.

Throughout the contest, Milwaukee committed five errors, while the offense only recorded five hits.

The Brewers and Diamondbacks finish off the series at 1:10 p.m.

Brewers beat Cardinals in walk-off fashion

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers celebrated a 4-3 win over the St Louis Cardinals Friday evening after a replay review upheld a Jonathan Villar RBI single.

Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis came in for the slide at home and was initially called safe, giving Milwaukee the 4-3 walk-off win. But it wasn’t until the play was confirmed via replay review that the Brewers could celebrate their first win of the season in that fashion.

The Brewers received home runs from Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter, but the 3-2 lead evaporated after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina’s solo homer in the eighth inning.

St Louis lost Matt Holliday, Michael Wacha, and Trevor Rosenthal to injury in the game.

Jimmy Nelson gave Milwaukee six innings of two-run baseball, allowing six hits and striking out two. Ranks Three Brewers In Top 25

MILWAUKEE — compiled a list of the Top 100 players so far this season, ranking Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, shortstop Jonathan Villar, and outfielder Ryan Braun in the Top 25.

Lucroy is the highest-rated player on the list, checking in at No. 17. He’s described as “one of the top defensive catchers in baseball, and this season he’s healthy and hitting an an All-Star level.” Lucroy is currently batting .316 (second-best in his career) with a .342 on-base percentage (second best) and a .539 slugging percentage (career best).

Villar made the list at No. 20 and somewhat of a surprise, even for Brewers fans. Aside from his .307 batting average and 74 putouts this season, Villar’s biggest contribution has come on the basepaths. He leads Milwaukee with 21 stolen bases, with the next closest being Hernan Perez with seven.

Rounding out the list for the Brewers is Ryan Braun at No. 23. Although it’s a small sample size, Braun’s up to a career-best .337 batting average with a .406 on-base percentage. He’s been taking regular rest as he eases into the season following surgery for a herniated disc in his back, but so far it’s not had an extreme affect on his game.

Villar & Strong Pitching Propel Brewers

By Ryan Smith
June 2, 2016
PHILADELPHIA | The Milwaukee Brewers received strong pitching performances from a quartet of arms, and Jonathan Villar added some late insurance with a two-run ninth inning home run to launch the Brewers to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.
Chase Anderson took the ball to start and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and one run. His lone mistake of the evening was a home run ball he served up to Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco.
Will Smith entered in relief of Anderson and recorded four outs while allowing just one hit and no runs. It was Smith’s first appearance of the season; he missed the first two months of the campaign while recovering from his bizarre knee injury suffered in spring training. 
Tyler Thornburg and Jeremy Jeffress each pitched a scoreless inning in relief as well for Milwaukee, which has now won two games in a row, while the scuffling Phillies have dropped seven in a row.
All the Brewers would need offensively were single runs in the second and fourth innings. Aaron Hill doubled home one to get the Brewers on the board, and then Chris Carter unloaded his 14th home run of the season on a drive to the nook in left-center field.
Villar’s two-run blast was an unexpected and welcome insurance spot in the ninth before Jeffress slammed the door.
The Brewers turn the ball to Jimmy Nelson Friday night as Milwaukee looks to hand Philadelphia an eighth straight defeat.