Brewers claim All-Star catcher off waivers

David Stearns is back at it in the Brewers front office scouring the waiver wire. He claimed yet another player off of waivers yesterday, while the Brewers finished up their series with the Atlanta Braves with a 7-0 win. Catcher Stephen Vogt was the player claimed off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics. Vogt, 32, was an AL All-Star for the A’s in 2015 and 2016, but has seen his production fall so far this season. He was batting .217 with four home runs and 20 runs batted in this season before being designated for assignment by the Athletics.

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado, left, tags out Oakland Athletics' Stephen Vogt in a seventh-inning rundown during a baseball game Tuesday, June 21, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Why I like this move

I absolutely love this move by the Brewers front office! Jett Bandy has been struggling since May and has seen his batting average drop over one hundred points since then. Bandy also had one option left on his contract, so the Brewers could demote him to Triple-A Colorado Springs without having to place him on waivers. This move now allows them have four major league caliber catchers within the organization in Manny Pina, Andrew Susac, Bandy, and now Stephen Vogt.

Vogt also carries a team friendly deal, as he is making just under three million dollars a year. The Brewers will also have three more years of control of Vogt as he is under contract until 2020. The amount and length of his contract are perfect for the Brewers. He’s a cheap contract in the prime of his career until the end of his deal. Vogt has been  thought of as a good offensive and defensive catcher throughout his career in the major leagues.

A change in scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Vogt. He’s been with Oakland for the past five seasons and hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013. He will also bring more veteran leadership to a young Brewers team. Vogt was previously teammates with Eric Sogard. Sogard has had nothing but good things to say about Vogt since the news of his acquisition. The change in scenery should allow for Vogt to get his offense back on track, as Miller park is by far a more hitter friendly park than is the Oakland Coliseum.

Overall, this was a cheap move that could really benefit the Brewers ball club in every aspect of the game. Vogt should help the Brewers offensively and defensively as well as bring another veteran voice to the team. Once again, Stearns has shown that he can make a low-risk move with high ceiling potential.

Brewers offense stalls in 3-1 loss to Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers dropped their second straight game Saturday evening, failing to build on an early lead in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. After loading the bases in the first inning and scoring one run, the Brewers couldn’t figure out R.A. Dickey and would get just a single runner in scoring position […]

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Defense helps push Atlanta past the Brewers 5-4

Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series. The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo […]

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Brewers celebrate with another win over Pirates

MILWAUKEE | After the Brewers lost their 2nd straight to the Pirates at Miller Park on Tuesday night and saw their lead in the NL Central drop to just half a game, some were wondering if the “real” Brewers were finally showing up. The Brewers are happy to disappoint those people. For the second time […]

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Santana, Arcia help Milwaukee to a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh

Timely hitting from Domingo Santana and a brilliant play from shortstop Orlando Arcia helped Milwaukee get past Pittsburgh 4-3 Wednesday night at Miller Park. The Brewers never led in the game until the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Santana stepped up to the plate with two outs and drilled what proved to be the […]

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The Brewers need to continue to search for bullpen pieces

The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly signed relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league deal after he was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wilhelmsen was previously drafted by the Brewers but injuries and drug issues derailed his time with the organization. He did have some solid seasons with the Seattle Mariners, where he saved 53 […]

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Brewers soar to 7-0 win over Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers avoided a series sweep Sunday afternoon, handing the Atlanta Braves a 7-0 loss behind the stellar pitching of Zach Davies.

Although Davies didn’t record a strikeout, he allowed just four hits over the course of his seven innings, keeping his road record blemish-free. It’s the first game this season in which Davies has made it out of the sixth inning and he was backed up by a flurry of offense.

Travis Shaw didn’t waste any time, blasting a first inning home run that got the attention of Atlanta’s Julio Tehran. Keon Broxton followed suit in the second inning before things really started clicking for Milwaukee. After Davies recorded his first extra-base hit of his career, three runs scored for the Brewers to take Tehran out of the game early.

“The big inning for me was the third when we had two outs and nobody on and we put together five or six at-bats that were outstanding,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s one of our best innings of the year, I think, the way we put it together.”

The Braves left 17 runners on base, which was a problem for the Brewers in the previous two games of the series.

Milwaukee’s offense gets better

The Brewers offense figures to keep rolling this week, as it’s expected Ryan Braun will return from the disabled list to take over the Lewis Brinson, who was demoted to Triple A following the win. Jett Bandy was also sent down and will be replaced by newcomer Stephen Vogt, who was claimed off waivers on Sunday from the Oakland A’s.

Bandy was hitting just .053 in the month of June, with only two hits in 38 at-bats. Vogt comes into Milwaukee with two All-Star selections under his belt, though his batting average has dipped to .217 in the 2017 season.

Brewers offense stalls in 3-1 loss to Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers dropped their second straight game Saturday evening, failing to build on an early lead in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

After loading the bases in the first inning and scoring one run, the Brewers couldn’t figure out R.A. Dickey and would get just a single runner in scoring position the remainder of the game. Dickey struck out six Milwaukee batters on the way to his sixth win of the year.

“We didn’t have that many swings and misses the first time through the lineup,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “As we went through the lineup, the swings and misses started increasing, so I think [Dickey] got a better feel for making it move, and we didn’t have that many answers.”

The Brewers went down on strikes 10 times, as outfielder Lewis Brinson went 0-for-4 on the day (3-for-30 since joining the Major League roster).

Matt Garza had a respectable performance on the mound for Milwaukee, throwing six innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits. But it was his fourth loss in five starts, with an ERA of 6.91 during that span.

Defense helps push Atlanta past the Brewers 5-4

Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series.

The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo managed to corral and start an inning-ending double play.

It was shortstop Darby Swanson’s turn for some defensive heroics in the bottom of the ninth. After a lead-off double by Eric Thames, the former first overall pick grabbed a grounder off the bat of Domingo Santana on the second base side. Instead of going to first like most, Swanson pivoted and threw to third, where Camargo applied the tag on a sliding Thames for the first out. Later, Swanson made a diving backhanded stab of a Manny Pina liner for the final out.

“The ball Aguliar hit was a great double play, and the [ball] Domingo hit, that’s a really nice play,” manager Craig Counsell said.

“The game came down, to me, [that] they made some excellent defensive plays at the end of the game.”

Milwaukee also struggled to get much going against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. He allowed just one run on four hits in his five innings of work.

“We had some action every inning with him out there,” Counsell said. “We just never got that last hit. Never got a man to third with less than two outs or anything like that. We had men on against him every inning. We were just one hit away.”

Jimmy Nelson (5-4) was tagged with the loss. He also went five innings, giving up four runs in addition to striking out eight. He pitched his final inning in an absolute downpour, and the Braves managed to get a pair of runs off of him there.

“I’m not a weather man. I stay out of that,” Counsell said when asked if he thought the game should be stopped. “The umpires, they’ve got all the information. It’s never an easy call when it’s raining like that.”

Milwaukee will look to bounce back Saturday afternoon with game No. 2 of the series getting underway at 3:10 p.m.

Brewers celebrate with another win over Pirates

MILWAUKEE | After the Brewers lost their 2nd straight to the Pirates at Miller Park on Tuesday night and saw their lead in the NL Central drop to just half a game, some were wondering if the “real” Brewers were finally showing up. The Brewers are happy to disappoint those people. For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Brewers beat the Pirates to earn a split in the series and see their first place lead move back to two games over the Cubs.

The Brewers beat the Pirates 4-2 on Thursday afternoon Miller Park thanks to some clutch hitting from Travis Shaw and solid pitching from Chase Anderson. Shaw hit a solo homer in the 1st, his 14th of the season. Shaw also had run scoring doubles in both the 5th and the 7th. Chase Anderson tossed 6 innings giving up just 2 runs and striking out 7. Anderson moves to 6-2 on the season with a sparkling 2.92 ERA. Leadoff man Eric Sogard also went 3-4 to improve his battling average to .366. Eric Thames also had an RBI single in the first. Thames now has 40 RBI’s on the season.

Brewers closer Corey Knebel pitched a scoreless 9th inning for his 12th save of the season.

The Brewers improve to 40-35. They start a six-game road trip in Atlanta tomorrow night before heading to Cincinnati.

Santana, Arcia help Milwaukee to a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh

Timely hitting from Domingo Santana and a brilliant play from shortstop Orlando Arcia helped Milwaukee get past Pittsburgh 4-3 Wednesday night at Miller Park.

The Brewers never led in the game until the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Santana stepped up to the plate with two outs and drilled what proved to be the game-winning two-run homer. It was his first home run since June 7 and his 12th on the year.

“He’s got opposite field power. We’ve seen it a bunch this year,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s a huge spot.”

Arica and first baseman Eric Thames made sure it would hold up. With the tying run on second base, John Jaso sent a grounder up the middle that looked destined for the outfield. But Arcia somehow tracked it down, spun and threw a one-hopper to Thames, who scooped it up for the final out of the game.

“Off the bat, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot,” Thames said. “I was like, ‘Oh, please don’t be a hit.’ Then all of a sudden I see Arcia going for it. I was like, ‘There’s no way he’s going to catch that.’”

But Arcia did, and in doing so made one of the plays of the year so far for the first-place Brewers.

“I was yelling don’t throw it,” Counsell said with a laugh afterwards. “That’s probably what stands out the most.

“It’s a special play in a huge moment.”

Corey Knebel was the benefactor of the play as he picked up his 11th save of the season to help Milwaukee snap a two-game losing streak.

Junior Guerra got the start, going six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out six.

Milwaukee, which owns a 1.5 game lead on the Cubs in the NL Central, will try to salvage a split of its four-game series with the Pirates Thursday afternoon.

The Brewers need to continue to search for bullpen pieces

The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly signed relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league deal after he was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wilhelmsen was previously drafted by the Brewers but injuries and drug issues derailed his time with the organization. He did have some solid seasons with the Seattle Mariners, where he saved 53 games between 2012-2013.  The Diamondbacks are paying most of his contract for the remaining of his season with the Brewers. If he doesn’t work out, it wont really affect the Brewers payroll. This isn’t a big-time move, but it’s the type of move the Brewers need to continue to make.

The organization’s rebuild is obviously ahead of schedule. The Brewers shouldn’t be going “all-in” on this season just because they are contending in the National League Central. They shouldn’t be selling off big name prospects in order to land a solid pitcher. Being a “buyer” at the deadline to try to make a playoff push could compromise the farm system. It’s a top-rated farm system that  David Stearns  has worked hard to bolster the past two seasons. That doesn’t mean that Stearns shouldn’t continue to make moves or small-time deals to try to improve the current team. He should continue to search free agency as well as the waiver wire to try to find serviceable arms for the Brewers bullpen.

Recent Moves

Former Brewers general manager Doug Melvin as well as Stearns have already shown that they can find players to help the team win. Lots of players currently on the Brewers roster have been waiver wire, minor league, or small signing deals. Some of the players who have been claimed off of waivers by the Brewers in the past few years are, Hernan Perez, Junior Guerra, Jesus Aguilar, Nick Franklin, and Oliver Drake. Other small signings that have occurred the last couple years are Eric Sogard, Jared Hughes, and Paolo Espino. Obviously not all of the moves the Brewers have made have worked out, but the majority has.

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Neftali Feliz definitely didn’t work out for the Brewers and was designated for assignment and ultimately released by the team. The team has also gotten rid of Rob Scahill, Jhan Marinez, and Tommy Milone, all of who weren’t able to get the job done this season.  If I was in the Brewers front office I would definitely be designating a few more relievers for assignment (DFA).

Proposed Moves

The first guy I’d have to start with is Wily Peralta. At the beginning of the season, I was all for giving him as many opportunities as possible. I was just hoping he could get back to his 2014 form.  After watching the Pirates game on Monday night, I’ve seen enough. He needs to go. Another reliever that needs to be DFA’d would be Oliver Drake. He was a veteran given another chance to potentially make the team, but in my opinion hasn’t done enough to deserve a spot in the bullpen. I may be in the minority on this one, but I’d be willing to give Carlos Torres a little more leash after the success he showed last season. The Brewers should continue to give veteran pitchers like Wilhelmsen, who have had success at the major league level a chance.

 

The absolute worst case scenario would be that the Brewers never end up finding any guys that can really come in and anchor down the bullpen, but that would leave them back to square one.  The Brewers already have the lowest payroll in baseball, so the addition of minimal salaries shouldn’t greatly affect it or their willingness to sign players. And we all know how bad Brewers owner Mark Anttanasio wants to win. I think he would be for whatever move may help the Brewers contend now and in the future. Going after more low-risk relief pitchers  would be the best way for the organization to go about trying to win now as well as keep the farm system in tact and not derail the future.

Brewers offense stalls in 3-1 loss to Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers dropped their second straight game Saturday evening, failing to build on an early lead in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. After loading the bases in the first inning and scoring one run, the Brewers couldn’t figure out R.A. Dickey and would get just a single runner in scoring position […]

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Defense helps push Atlanta past the Brewers 5-4

Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series. The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo […]

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Brewers celebrate with another win over Pirates

MILWAUKEE | After the Brewers lost their 2nd straight to the Pirates at Miller Park on Tuesday night and saw their lead in the NL Central drop to just half a game, some were wondering if the “real” Brewers were finally showing up. The Brewers are happy to disappoint those people. For the second time […]

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Davies struggles, offense sputters in 7-3 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead and ultimately hung on for a 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night.

Brewers starter Zach Davies was tagged for all seven runs scored by the Pirates, allowing 10 hits in the process. He left after five innings of work, having yet to make it into the seventh inning this season. In fact, Davies only has three games this season in which he’s thrown six innings. Davies has now allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts.

“I should be ready from pitch one,” Davies said. “I’m kind of over the mechanical, the sequencing, all those kind of excuses. I think it’s just time to go out and compete.”

But Tuesday night’s loss wasn’t solely on Davies. The offense stranded 21 base runners, with Eric Thames and Manny Piña each going 0-for-5 at the plate. Thames’ last hit was on June 17, making it on base just once since.

One of the few positives for Milwaukee was outfielder Nick Franklin’s two RBI, one of which came on a second-inning home run and the other with an RBI double in the third.

Brewers pitching falls apart in 8-1 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — An area of weakness reared its ugly head as the Milwaukee Brewers fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 Monday night.

That weakness was relief pitching. Wily Peralta took over for Matt Garza in the sixth inning only to leave an inning later after allowing four runs to score on five hits. But by the time Peralta was taken out in favor of Paolo Espino, the damage was done and Milwaukee couldn’t climb out of the 8-1 hole.

“I think the ability to create ground balls was really [Peralta’s] strength with his fastball,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the loss. “The velocity is usually what makes the slider a better pitch, but we’re not getting either, really.”

The Brewers’ bullpen has now allowed 130 runs this season (third most in MLB), while maintaining its last-place ranking with 19 losses.

But Garza’s 5.1 innings didn’t give Milwaukee the start it needed to succeed, with a sixth inning Andrew McCutchen home run giving the Pirates a 4-1 lead. Opposing pitcher Gerrit Cole even helped his cause with a sacrifice base hit.

The Brewers offense can be summed up by the solo home run in the second inning from Travis Shaw that just escaped over the center field wall. That was one of just five hits Milwaukee recorded on the night.

Starting Pitchers need to be going deeper into games

Jimmy Nelson threw a complete game for the Brewers Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres. It took Nelson 118 pitches to record the 27th and final out in a game the Brewers desperately needed to rest its weary bullpen. Believe it or not, this was the first complete game thrown by a Milwaukee pitcher since Taylor Jungmann did it in 2015. If you listened to the telecast with Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder on FSN Wisconsin, you would have picked up on how Schroeder continued to make comments about how hard of a decision this must have been for manager Craig Counsell.

The Number 100

The reasoning behind this was because of Nelson’s high pitch count. The Brewers bullpen has been used quite a bit and has been awful this season. Nelson was in uncharted territory for him. He has averaged 93.5 pitchers per start this season, and was already over 100 pitches after he finished his eighth inning of work. Counsell believed in his pitcher and Jimmy came threw for the Crew as he finished off the Padres in the ninth, and gave the Brewers a series win. Nelson struck out 10 batters, while only surrendering one run on six hits and two walks in his complete game.

When I was a kid a don’t ever really remember hearing much about pitch counts for Major League pitchers. I can still remember my junior high days when CC Sabathia was grabbing the ball every third day and throwing complete games like it was nothing. It feels like all of a sudden Major League Organizations decided on the number 100 for when to go out and pull your starting pitcher. 100 is a nice round number to wrap your brain around, but shouldn’t be the factor that ultimately ends a pitcher’s start.

Going Deeper into Games

There is no perfect time to know when to remove a pitcher from the game. To me it should come down to feel. The manager should have a feel for when his pitcher is at the end of this rope. I applaud Counsell for staying with Nelson in yesterday’s game. Nelson was rolling along. He was pitching well and was emotionally invested in the game. You could tell he didn’t want to come out of the game in that spot. If the pitcher is still pitching well and feels good, why not leave him in?

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Brewers fans know how bad the bullpen has been this season. The bullpen has already blown 19 of the teams 33 losses. That leads the Major Leagues in games blown by a bullpen. I don’t care if the bullpen has been heavily worked or not. I’m not confident in handing the ball to any of the relievers not named Barnes or Knebel! The Brewers are winning and leading the National League Central and should be able to lean on their starters for more innings. It would be easier to put more on the starters plates, than to revamp the bullpen at this point in the season.

Today’s Game

I’m sick of hearing how they need to protect young arms. These guys aren’t “young” anymore. Outside of Zach Davies, all of the Brewers starters are in they’re late 20’s or early 30’s. This should be a time in their careers where you can stretch out their innings. Allowing for these pitchers to work through tough situations should make them better pitchers in the long run. When pitchers are tired and don’t have the same velocity as they did in the earlier innings, this is where they learn how to pitch. It will make them have to rely on their location, develop new pitches and tricks to get batters out, etc.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Some may argue that more innings and pitches equals more injuries. I think that’s true to a point. Yes, more pitches and innings allows for more opportunity for injuries. But in today’s baseball, guys are throwing harder than ever before and surgeries are becoming common practice. Arm injuries no longer end guys careers, and in some cases allow them to come back stronger. It’s not if your starting pitcher is going to have arm surgery, it’s when. Injuries are a part of the game, but shouldn’t deter managers from allowing pitchers to go longer in games to help the team win.

 

Brewers soar to 7-0 win over Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers avoided a series sweep Sunday afternoon, handing the Atlanta Braves a 7-0 loss behind the stellar pitching of Zach Davies. Although Davies didn’t record a strikeout, he allowed just four hits over the course of his seven innings, keeping his road record blemish-free. It’s the first game this season in which […]

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Brewers offense stalls in 3-1 loss to Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers dropped their second straight game Saturday evening, failing to build on an early lead in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. After loading the bases in the first inning and scoring one run, the Brewers couldn’t figure out R.A. Dickey and would get just a single runner in scoring position […]

0 comments

Defense helps push Atlanta past the Brewers 5-4

Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series. The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo […]

0 comments