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The Brewers have announced that they’ve fired manager Ron Roenicke. The team says it will announce his replacement at a press conference at 10:30am Monday. The Brewers will not make any further changes to their coaching staff at present, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweets.
The Brewers posted a solid 342-331 record in four-plus seasons with Roenicke at the helm, and he led the Brewers to an NL Central division championship in 2011. The team also had winning records in 2012 and 2014, although it collapsed badly down the stretch last season. It exercised its 2016 option on Roenicke in Spring Training, and GM Doug Melvin said less than two weeks ago that he and owner Mark Attanasio weren’t even considering firing Roenicke.
The Brewers were off to a dreadful 7-18 start this season, however, that led to plenty of reports and speculation about a major shakeup within the organization. The team began its year with four straight losses and hasn’t gotten back on track, dealing with an injury to star catcher Jonathan Lucroy and subpar performances from a number of key players. The Brewers did, however, win their last two games, perhaps suggesting (as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweets) that they had already decided to fire Roenicke before this weekend.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter) and others have already speculated about the possibility that Craig Counsell, who has worked with the Brewers front office since retiring as a player, could be Roenicke’s replacement. There’s also been speculation about former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, although SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Gardenhire will not be replacing Roenicke.
“This has been a difficult start to the season, something that we certainly didn’t anticipate,” says Melvin. “We appreciate all that Ron has done for our organization, and he has handled his duties with great professionalism and dedication.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
There have been numerous reports about the Brewers trading veteran players and rebuilding. But they aren’t likely to do so this early in the season, if only because it’s hard to find trading partners, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. If the Brewers don’t start trading immediately, though, it doesn’t sound like it will be because of any lack of eagerness on their part. “Very few teams are open to taking on money at this time of year. You get similar answers: ‘We’re still looking at our club right now,'” says GM Doug Melvin. “The frustrating part is you would like to make some moves and do some things. But, early in the year, the only thing you can do is (between) your club and Triple-A.” Here are more notes from the National League.
- Brewers first baseman Adam Lind could make a good trade target for the Pirates, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. The Pirates could certainly use more offense, but they already have a left-handed first baseman in Pedro Alvarez, and he’s one of a handful of players on the team not hitting poorly. The Bucs could also move Alvarez to third base and have Josh Harrison go back to a utility role, although that seems unlikely, given Alvarez’s extreme problems with throwing last season.
- The Rockies have struggled in part because they haven’t been bold enough in their pursuit of starting pitching, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. The team has been reluctant to make big commitments to starting pitchers since their deals with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle went south, Saunders writes. Of course, one problem is that it’s very difficult to get free agent starting pitchers to play half their games in Coors Field. Instead, Saunders suggests the Rockies could make a bold trade for a top starting pitcher, the way the Royals did with James Shields.
The Brewers‘ decision to designate Luis Jimenez for assignment was mostly the result of Jimenez’s poor fit for the team’s current situation, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. The team had hoped to use Jimenez as a late-inning defensive replacement for the aging Aramis Ramirez, but there turned out to be few situations in which he came in handy. “Unfortunately, we thought the season would go differently so far and I would use him in a different role,” says manager Ron Roenicke. “Because we’re always behind, his role hasn’t become important.” Here’s more from the NL Central.
- The Reds have announced that outfielder/first baseman Donald Lutz has had Tommy John surgery after sustaining an elbow injury last week. The 26-year-old Lutz was hitting .190/.292/.262 in 48 plate appearances for Triple-A Louisville and struggled in brief stints with the Reds in 2013 and 2014, although he’s generally hit for good power in the minor leagues. He remains on the Reds’ 40-man roster.
- The Cubs are having pitching prospect C.J. Edwards (a key component of the 2013 Matt Garza deal) begin his season in the bullpen, Gordon Wittenmyer writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). The Cubs still could use Edwards as a starter in the future, however. “We certainly in no way, shape or form have given up on him as a starter, but we also realize we’ll probably have to manage his innings a little bit this year,” says GM Jed Hoyer. Edwards pitched only 53 2/3 innings last season while dealing with a shoulder issue (although he added 15 innings in the Arizona Fall League), and his innings will be limited again in 2015. Having him begin his season in the bullpen will allow the Cubs to determine later in the season whether to move him back into a starting role. Edwards has struggled so far at Double-A Tennessee, striking out 11 batters but walking ten in 9 2/3 innings.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- With Jed Lowrie out, the Astros could soon promote Carlos Correa even if that risks making him Super Two-eligible, Rosenthal says. Correa is currently dominating at Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .370/.452/.716 at the tender age of 20.
- The Dodgers continue to receive reports on Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who’s playing simulated games while waiting for his visa. The Dodgers agreed to sign him to a $62.5MM deal in March, although the deal isn’t official due to the visa issue. Once Olivera gets that visa, Rosenthal says, he could be ready to play in the big leagues within three to four weeks.
- The Giants and Phillies discussed a deal for Cole Hamels this past offseason. They could revive those talks at some point, although the Giants might not have the kind of elite prospect the Phillies seem to be seeking as a centerpiece.
- Aramis Ramirez‘s contract with the Brewers has a limited no-trade clause, but Ramirez’s agent says his client would likely approve a deal to a contender if the Brewers were to strike one. Ramirez hasn’t hit well this year, but if he can improve his trade stock, the Giants could have interest, due to Casey McGehee‘s poor performance this season.
The Brewers have let other teams know they’re willing to listen to trade proposals, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. Olney’s note is consistent with recent reporting from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who have both written that other teams expect the Brewers will become sellers after their awful start.
Of course, 5-18 teams typically don’t have many high-performing players, and many of the players the Brewers will have to offer will be of the buy-low variety. Olney doesn’t say who the Brewers might shop, but Kyle Lohse and Gerardo Parra are both free agents after the season. They are, however, both off to poor starts (although Lohse’s peripherals are still reasonably good, which means other teams might view him somewhat favorably, particularly as a rental). Aramis Ramirez, a free-agent-to-be who plans to retire in the offseason, hasn’t played well, either. Reliever Jonathan Broxton‘s contract and performance make him more of a liability than an asset. At least, however, that contract is short-term — Ryan Braun‘s lengthy and expensive deal should make him difficult to trade. Matt Garza, who is signed through 2017 with a vesting option for 2018, might be a reasonably attractive trade candidate, although his performance in five starts this season hasn’t been stellar.
On the other side of the ledger, Neal Cotts is a decent lefty relief option who’s a free agent after the season. Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is signed through 2016 with a 2017 option, has pitched well so far. Adam Lind, who is off to a terrific start and is signed to a deal with a reasonably priced 2016 option, might be a nice trade piece as well. Carlos Gomez recently returned from the disabled list and would surely fetch a very nice return, although it’s unclear whether the Brewers would want to trade a superstar. Jonathan Lucroy would fit into the same category if he were healthy.
The Brewers claimed the 27-year-old Jimenez from the Angels in October. He made the team out of Spring Training but played infrequently, making only two starts and hitting just 1-for-15. Jimenez played second and third base for Milwaukee, although he’s mostly been a third baseman in recent years. He hit .286/.321/.505 in 501 plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2014, generally in line with his minor-league track record of hitting for good average and power but drawing few walks.
In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.
Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…
- Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
- The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
- The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
- Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
- Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
- The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
- Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Gordon | Alex Rodriguez | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Gomez | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cole Hamels | Francisco Rodriguez | Gerardo Parra | Jean Segura | Jonathan Lucroy | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Kris Bryant | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lucas Duda | Manuel Margot | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | Mookie Betts | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Robin Ventura | Ryan Braun | Salvador Perez
In the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s departure from the Angels, his five-year, $125MM deal with the club may be the worst free agent signing of all time, ESPN’s Jayson Stark opines. The Hamilton deal tops Stark’s list of the five worst signings ever, which also includes another ongoing contract in Melvin Upton Jr.‘s five-year, $72.25MM pact with the Braves. Two other current deals receive dishonorable mentions: Shin-Soo Choo‘s seven year, $130MM contract with the Rangers is cited as a “disaster in the making,” while Alex Rodriguez‘s ten-year, $275MM contract with the Yankees is a “category unto himself.”
Here’s more from around the baseball world…
- The Angels seem likely to make a trade for left field help, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, though such a move isn’t likely to happen for at least another month. Acquiring a new left fielder to replace Hamilton would allow the Halos to shift Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron into a platoon at DH.
- David Price said he hasn’t “heard anything” new about extension talks with the Tigers, the southpaw told Mlive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter link).
- Teams are looking at the Brewers as the first team who could start selling, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. One executive speculated that Milwaukee could make everyone available except Jonathan Lucroy and Jimmy Nelson. Sherman thinks Carlos Gomez could be a big trade chip if the Brewers decide on a full rebuild and don’t think they can sign Gomez to an extension.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman is satisfied with Stephen Drew and isn’t looking for any internal replacements at second base, he tells ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand. Drew is hitting .177/.274/.419 with four homers in 74 plate appearances and has posted below-average defensive numbers as a second baseman. Despite Drew’s numbers, Jose Pirela‘s concussion recovery and Rob Refsnyder‘s defensive issues have left the Yankees without a ready replacement for the veteran.
- In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Jim Bowden gives his opinion on how five struggling teams can solve their problems. One suggested fix, for the Nationals, is simply to do nothing; Bowden thinks the front office should wait until everyone is healthy before deciding if changes need to be made.
There’s a belief in the industry that the 4-16 Brewers could begin selling off pieces in the near future if they don’t turn their season around, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman hears that veteran right-handers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza could both be in play. Lohse, 36, is a free agent at the end of the year and is owed $11MM in 2015. The 31-year-old Garza has quite a bit more remaining on his deal, as he’s in just the second year of a four-year contract. Garza is owed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn that same sum in both 2016 and 2017 as well. His contract also contains a $13MM vesting option that becomes a $5MM club option if it does not vest.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak spoke with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how the club will handle the loss of Adam Wainwright. While the short-term fix will be to rely on internal options, Mozeliak acknowledged that the bulk of innings the team expects from Wainwright might eventually lead him to look outside the organization. As Goold notes, a desire to limit the innings of young pitchers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha only further adds uncertainty to how the team will replace those innings. Goold notes that the team has spoken to the Phillies about Cole Hamels in the past but found the asking price unreasonable. Whatever route the team winds up taking to overcome this roadblock, Mozeliak has stated that he has the flexibility to add significant payroll this season if necessary, Goold reminds.
- Reds skipper Bryan Price explained to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com why Tony Cingrani isn’t viewed as an option to step into the rotation even after a potentially season-ending injury to Homer Bailey. “I made the decision – I was involved, a big supporter of putting him in the bullpen – not because that’s what we needed for this club at the time,” said Price. “What I felt was it was where he was best suited coming off a year of a lot of injury and shoulder concerns and the limited development of his off-speed pitches.” Price added that he certainly isn’t ruling out the possibility of Cingrani proving him wrong and one day being an excellent starting pitcher, but for the time being, he appears locked into the Cincinnati bullpen.
Former Indians closer Chris Perez has opted out of his Minor League pact with the Brewers, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (on Twitter). With the decision, Perez is again a free agent, so the CAA client will be able to field offers from any of the 29 other clubs.
Perez, still just 29, struggled a great deal in his six appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In 7 2/3 innings, he allowed eight runs (9.39 ERA) on 14 hits (one homer) with an unsightly 3-to-4 K/BB ratio.
Over the past two big league seasons, Perez saw his stock drop considerably, posting a combined 4.31 ERA in 100 1/3 innings between Cleveland and the Dodgers. That mark lines up in a near-perfect manner with his 4.32 xFIP in that time, although FIP (which doesn’t normalize his homer-to-flyball ratio as xFIP does) feels that his ERA should’ve been a bit north of 5.00. In those 100 1/3 innings, Perez averaged 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9, though it’s worth noting that he did rediscover his previously diminished velocity in 2014, averaging 94.2 mph on his heater.
From 2010-12, Perez was a serviceable ninth-inning arm for Cleveland, pitching to a 2.84 ERA (138 ERA+) with 7.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 180 1/3 frames. That strikeout rate isn’t as high as one would hope to see out of a shutdown closer, though it’s skewed by what appears to have been a fluky 5.9 K/9 in 2011. Perez’s relative youth, velocity and 133 career saves should allow him to latch on with another club in spite of his 2015 struggles at the Triple-A level.