Mat Gamel Rumors

Counsell May Sign By Monday

Barry Meister, who represents free agent infielder Craig Counsell, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that his client may have a deal finalized with the Brewers (or possibly another team) by Monday.  Milwaukee made an initial offer to the 39-year-old veteran on Dec. 4, and then reportedly upped it yesterday.  The conventional wisdom has been that Counsell will re-sign with the Brewers, given that he lives in the Milwaukee area and that both the player and team have seemed eager to work out a deal.  No dollar amounts have been mentioned, but it would surely be a raise from the one-year/$1MM contract that Counsell received from the Brewers last winter.  Despite Counsell's age, the offer may also be for more than one year in length.

Counsell has spent the last three seasons in Milwaukee and also played for the Brewers in 2004.  He hit .285/.357/.408 over 459 plate appearances in 2009, notching a career-high in OPS for a season in which he had more than 189 PAs.  Solid numbers aside, Counsell's value to the Brewers in 2010 will be to provide veteran leadership backing up the club's young infield corps of Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar and Casey McGehee.

Should the talks between Counsell and the Brewers fall apart at the eleventh hour, we know that the Reds and Dodgers have also shown interest in the veteran utilityman.


Odds & Ends: Scutaro, Fielder, Bowden

Some links on this Friday evening:

  • Daniel Barbarisi of The Providence Journal talks about the Red Sox shortstop search and concludes that Marco Scutaro is their best option.  The article mentions a few other possibilities, including Brewers infielder Felipe Lopez.  The 30-year-old is coming off of a career year but hasn't played shortstop regularly since 2007, when he posted a UZR/150 of -12.3.
  • In a column for CBSSports.com, Larry Dobrow lays out his suggestions for the Brewers this winter.  Dowbrow urges the club to lay the groundwork for a Prince Fielder deal and cash in their trade chips, Corey Hart and Mat Gamel.
  • Hey American League fans, ever wonder what Jim Bowden would do if he were your team's GM?  Well, wonder no more because with the help of his Amazing Technicolor Dreamtie, he lays out the moves he would make for several AL teams for FOX Sports.  Amongst other things, Bowden pushes the Yankees to beat Boston to the punch and deal Joba Chamberlain, Brett Gardner, and Ian Kennedy to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay.

Rogers On White Sox, Gamel, Cabrera, Yankees

The White Sox have a new third baseman of the future, writes Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Dayan Viciedo held his own as a 20-year-old in AA this year (.708 OPS), but Brent Morel has passed him on Rogers' depth chart with a torrid stint in the Arizona Fall League. Here are the rest of Rogers' rumors:

  •  A's GM Billy Beane likes what he sees from pitching prospect Fautino de los Santos, who is hitting the mid-nineties as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
  • Casey McGehee has emerged as a solid player, but the Brewers are reluctant to trade Mat Gamel, even if it would net them the starting pitching they covet.
  • The Twins are talking to Orlando Cabrera about returning to play second base.
  • Rogers says the Yankees are more likely to sign Johnny Damon than Hideki Matsui.


Mat Gamel, Trade Bait?

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is speculating that Mat Gamel might be a candidate to be traded in the offseason based on comments made by Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash during their end-of-season press conference on Wednesday.

The Brewers' management team said that Casey McGehee has "taken the bull by the horns" for the starting third base job next season in the wake of McGehee's .301/.360/.499 performance in 394 plate appearances as a rookie last season.  Gamel, in contrast, posted a .242/.338/.422 line in 148 plate appearances.

Melvin ruled out Gamel moving to the outfield and Ash said that the Brewers will "probably have to be higher risk taking than we have been in the past" in terms of dealing prospects, thus making it appear that Milwaukee will at least listen to offers for their slugging prospect.  Gamel is a year removed from an overall .923 OPS between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville in 2008 and is an attractive option for a team looking to shed payroll and give the Brewers one of the starters on their winter wish-list.  An American League destination might be the ideal spot for Gamel, who made seven errors in 61 chances at third base last season.


Brewers Hope To Add Two Starters

Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke to reporters today, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has quotes.  A few highlights:

  • Melvin feels that re-signing closer Trevor Hoffman early will aid the Brewers in attracting free agent starting pitchers.  Melvin hopes to add two starters.
  • When asked about trading Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun, Melvin responded, "I don't see that happening."  Might as well close the book on those rumors.
  • The Brewers view Rickie Weeks as their starting second baseman, which implies they'll let free agent Felipe Lopez leave. 
  • Melvin told Haudricourt it would "be very difficult" for the Brewers to keep both J.J. Hardy and Alcides Escobar.  Hardy could be a great pickup given the scarcity of shortstops.  Also, Haudricourt thinks Mat Gamel could be available in trade.

Brewers Face Plenty Of Roster Decisions

After a tremendous run last year that resulted in the club's first playoff berth in a quarter-century, the Brewers sat 13.5 GB of a playoff spot coming into today's action, and sport the National League's worst starting rotation thanks to their 5.22 ERA. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, the club has a ton of roster decisions to make this offseason, although GM Doug Melvin says "We've got a lot of decisions, and none of them will be discussed until the end of the season."

Some of the issues facing the Brew Crew this offseason are…

  • Impending Free Agents: Trevor Hoffman, Claudio Vargas, Mike Cameron, Felipe Lopez, Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, Frank Catalanotto, and Corey Patterson will all be free agents after the season. The clubs holds a $3.7MM option for David Weathers next year ($400K buyout), and there's a $6.5MM mutual option for Braden Looper ($1MM buyout) that McCalvy says the club "will almost certainly pick up."
  • Arbitration Eligibles: Dave Bush, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Seth McClung, J.J. Hardy, Jody Gerut, and Todd Coffey are all eligible for salary arbitration. Coffey, who's been the club's primary setup man, figures to get a nice raise over his current $800K salary.
  • Starting Pitching: As I mentioned earlier, Milwaukee sports the NL's worst starting staff. McCalvy reports that "Melvin promised this week that he would be much more aggressive this winter in his search for answers," and that the club might take a "little more chances and risks" than they're accustomed to taking.

The Brewers also have questions about the key up-the-middle positions. They have to sort out the Hardy-Alcides Escobar situation at short, and decide whether to try and retain Lopez or give Weeks another shot at second base duty. Cameron and Kendall have both made it clear they'd like to return, but those decisions will have to wait until the winter.

Milwaukee also must figure out third base, and whether Mat Gamel or Casey McGehee deserves the job. Prince Fielder has the other corner infield spot locked down, and is under contract for $10.5MM next year before being arbitration eligible in 2011, his final year before free agency. McCalvy also mentions that manager Ken Macha faces a lame-duck year next season, and that Melvin is fielding questions about whether another managerial change may be in order.


Perrotto’s Latest: Twins, Damon, Franklin, Penny, Dye

John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus brings us his latest from around the leagues:

  • When they come off the DL, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins will be used in relief. So, the Twins are hoping to add a starter who can pitch in the playoffs. This means they have until tomorrow at midnight to do so.
  • The Yankees would like to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one year deal and give Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, while pursuing Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.
  • The Marlins and Giants are frontrunners to land Brad Penny.
  • The Cardinals expect to exercise Ryan Franklin‘s $2.75MM club option and then sign an extension with their closer for 2011.
  • The Royals want to extend G.M. Dayton Moore who is signed through 2010.
  • Perrotto says the Cubs are likely to deal Milton Bradley this winter, even if it means eating a large portion of the $21MM owed to him through 2011.
  • Jermaine Dye will more than likely not see his $12MM option exercised by the White Sox after a dip in production in tandem with the salary demands of Alex Rios and Jake Peavy.
  • For the postseason, the Dodgers are seeking “a left-handed bat with power” for their bench.
  • The Nats are auditioning Livan Hernandez as a veteran innings eater for 2010.
  • The Diamondbacks may non-tender Conor Jackson.
  • Brewers manager Ken Macha said G.M. Doug Melvin “scoured the area for pitching” before the deadline but was unable to add a starter because he refused to trade Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar.
  • After making seven trades this year, the Pirates are the youngest team in the MLB.

Brewers GM On Trades, Free Agents, Draft

Brewers GM Doug Melvin said on 1250 WSSP in Milwaukee that he's glad he didn't go after some of the free agent arms that were available last offseason. Here's the clip and here are the details:

  • Melvin admits that pitchers like John Smoltz and Oliver Perez were tempting, but says he's glad he resisted.
  • The Brewers were interested in Jarrod Washburn at the deadline, but didn't have enough young pitching to complete a deal with the Mariners. 
  • The Brewers were in on the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, but were reluctant to give up Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel 
  • Melvin sounds hesitant to experiment with Rickie Weeks in center field.  
  • The Brewers will have some "some flexibility" to add free agents this offseason. 
  • Melvin expects the Red Sox to pursue free agent position players aggressively. 
  • As of today, Melvin says he's not motivated to move J.J. Hardy, but hints that the Brewers could move him after the season to make room for Alcides Escobar.
  • Melvin's pleased with the progress 2009 first rounder Eric Arnett has made.

Haudricourt On: Hall, Pitching, Cain

Tom Haudricourt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has some topics of discussion for your reading pleasure this Sunday afternoon:

  • Haudricourt says that there's a best case scenario for Bill Hall, and it's not returning to the Brewers' lineup. Haudricourt feels the best thing for both sides is for Hall to play strongly at the Triple-A level, draw interest from a team needing infield help, and get traded. This would require the Brewers eating a significant portion of the roughly $10MM Hall has left on his deal, but with Casey McGehee's emergence and Mat Gamel waiting in the wings, Hall is an odd man out.
  • It's not fair to blame the Brewers' lack of minor league pitching depth on injuries to first round picks such as Mike Jones and Mark Rogers. As Haudricourt says, at some point, you have to develop a mid- or late-round pick into a viable major leaguer. His example: Randy Wells – a 38th round pick – and his 2.84 ERA.
  • Matt Cain's dominance this season serves as a testimonial as to why the Brewers were unable to acquire him when they were rumored to be pursuing the San Francisco righty in the past. Haudricourt says the Giants never intended to deal Cain, and his 12-2 record and 2.12 ERA are the reasons for that.
  • Haudricourt wonders aloud how nice Zack Greinke would look in a Brewers uniform, and offers this quote from the Kansas City ace: "The way we've been playing, it's as bad as any team I've played for." Strong words from someone who's been with the Royals since 2004. Greinke is just 10-6 despite leading the Majors with a 2.08 ERA, and has a 2.97 ERA over his five no-decision this season. Ouch.
  • Haudricourt discusses the Indians as well, pointing out that no team had ever traded the AL Cy Young winner in back-to-back seasons. He quotes Cliff Lee:
"I'll miss the guys, but this is an opportunity to help a first-place team and the defending world champions. So I'm excited."

Failed Deadline Blockbusters

Today was hectic, but imagine how much wilder it would have been if these two deals had gone through:

  • Via Twitter, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Padres almost dealt Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers for James Loney, Russell Martin, Blake DeWittJames McDonald and Ivan Dejesus. Wow.
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports confirms that the division rivals considered a blockbuster deal involving those players.
  • Knobler also says the Rangers and Angels both pursued Heath Bell aggressively this afternoon. The Angels and Padres were discussing Jose Arredondo, Sean O'Sullivan and Sean Rodriguez
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin says his team was involved in a "big one that didn't happen," according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • The Crew also had interest in Jarrod Washburn and Brian Bannister.
  • Melvin says everyone asked the Brewers for Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar. Since the Brewers didn't want to deal either prospect and don't have the young pitching to offer rival teams, they had limited options.