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7442
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
04-13-2014
09:12 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 4/13

The Brewers have been the hottest team in baseball, starting with a three-game sweep of the champions, Boston Red Sox, last weekend.

Almost all aspects of the game have come together quickly for the Crew. The starting pitching and relief corps had been excellent going into the weekend. Carlos Gomez has been red hot as the leadoff man. He led off with a homer in the bottom of the 1st inning Saturday.

Aramis Ramirez has avoided his usual slow start and been a RBI machine. Mark Reynolds has hit with power and played surprisingly well at first base.

Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy have made contributions on offense. In fact, it’s been different guys contributing in different games that had extended a winning streak to eight games as of Saturday night.

About the only negatives have been some shaky fielding in a couple games, but there also have been brilliant plays. For example, on Saturday, the club pulled off a heads-up double play, with RHP Jim Henderson tagging out a runner at the plate.

Rickie Weeks has struggled as part of the platoon at second base with Scooter Gennett, who has been a regular contributor. But, Weeks showed some signs in recent games of becoming more of a contributor.

Should the Brewers’ fans line up for post-season tickets already? Not yet.

The team still plays in one of the better divisions in baseball. The Pirates and Cardinals have not exactly flopped in the early going. The Reds have struggled, but they have some injury problems, especially in pitching, that explain that to a large degree.

Milwaukee’s bats will cool off. The pitchers will start to struggle at times eventually. The club also isn’t likely to remain completely healthy the whole season.

But, the Brewers have shown they have the talent to compete, even in the tough NL Central. They already have tied a road trip record for consecutive wins to start a season. That was set by Team Streak in 1987. Of course, Team Streak followed a record winning streak to start the season by losing almost as many consecutive games.

It’s a long season; the players like to call it a marathon rather than a sprint. But, the Brewers have sprinted out of the starting block in 2013, and it certainly is a lot of fun for the fans.

Player of the Week

Carlos Gomez has sparked the Brewers’ good play from the leadoff spot in the order. Going into Saturday’s game, he was hitting .386 with three homers and seven RBIs. For this, he earned the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week include:

** the Cubs’ Starlin Castro, who had seven hits in the series with the Pirates and two Saturday to raise his average to .326.

** the Twins’ Jason Kubel, who was hitting .405 while playing the outfield and some at DH.

** the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez, who was hitting .429 with two homers and 10 RBIs going into the weekend.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** RHP Yovani Gallardo‘s streak of scoreless innings to start the season came to its end in the 3rd Saturday at 14 2/3 innings, good for the fifth-best start in franchise history.

** CF Carlos Gomez was presented with his 2013 Gold Glove Award in a ceremony before the Saturday game.

** The Brewers’ bullpen had a major league-leading ERA of 0.83 going into Sunday‘s game.

Cubs

** C Welington Castillo smacked a three-run homer with two outs in the 11th inning Saturday to lift the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals.

** Cubs manager Rick Renteria met with Jose Veras Saturday morning and told the right-hander that as of now, he is no longer the closer and will be used in non-save situations to try to get back on track.

** The Cubs restocked the bullpen Saturday when they added LHP Chris Rusin, and are expected to make another move on Sunday.

Twins

** The Twins erupted in the 2nd inning for six runs, thanks to two Royals errors and Joe Mauer's first home run of the season.

** RHP Ricky Nolasco became the first Twins starter other than RHP Kyle Gibson to record a victory this season on Saturday.

** OF Josh Willingham went on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a sore left wrist sustained on a hit-by-pitch last Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 7.

White Sox

** CF Adam Eaton launched his first White Sox homer Saturday, scored two more times and reached base in his seventh straight at-bat dating back to Friday.

** Entering Saturday's action, the White Sox lead the AL in hits (32), at-bats (110) and RBIs (56) with runners in scoring position.

** A MRI pinpointed the source of RHP Nate Jones' issues as his lower back.

SABR Events

Here are details on two SABR meetings:

** Wrigley Field at 100: Past, Present, and Future; Saturday April 19, 1 pm to 5 pm at The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd Floor (across the street from the Art Institute). Parking: Use the garage at Adams & Wabash. Cliff Dwellers will provide a coupon for a discounted rate. Please RSVP to Rich Hansen.

** Brewers President of Baseball Operations/GM Doug Melvin will speak at the upcoming Keltner SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) meeting on Saturday, May 3, at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill located at 5230 W. Bluemound Rd. The event is FREE and open to the public beginning at 11 am. Food and beverage will be available for purchase. We will be taking a collection up at the meeting and all monies will be donated to the Brewers Community Foundation. Doug will be available to answer your questions. For further details and if you’re interested in giving a presentation, contact SABR Chapter President Rick Schabowski at 414-322-4997 or RICKIU76@aol.com.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers will host their arch-rivals, the Cardinals, in a three-game series, starting Monday at Miller Park. The Cubs play the Yankees in New York in an inter-league series.

The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will honor former Braves catcher Joe Torre on Thursday, May 8, at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Former Braves player Howie Bedell will also be honored. Contact Rick Schabowski for further details.

Tickets are $100 each. Send a check payable to: MBHA, PO Box 210074, Milwaukee, WI 53221. Tickets will be mailed. Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7441
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
04-06-2014
09:19 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 4/6

So, the first week of the regular season is over. There are many weeks to go, but let’s take a look at how the MDR teams opened up.

The White Sox got off to a fast start by taking two of three from the Twins in a MDR Rivalry series. Alejandro De Aza hit three homers in the series. Jose Abreu had several big hits. Tyler Flowers started a run of seven straight hits that earned him a franchise record and the MDR Player of the Week honor.

After that series, the Sox cooled off with losses to the Royals on Friday and Saturday. Chicago finished the week 2-3.

Chris Colabello drove in six runs to lead the Twins to a win in the final game of the series with the Sox.

The Indians beat the Twins in the opening game of their series on Friday, but Jason Kubel had three hits and Brian Dozier homered to lead the Twins to a 7-3 win on Saturday. Kyle Gibson got the win. The Twins finished the week 2-3.

The Brewers had a 3-2 record in the first week. They got some good starting pitching in their opening series against the Braves, but dropped two of three. Yovani Gallardo and the bullpen completed a shutout on Opening Day.

Kyle Lohse pitched well, but the Brewers dropped a 5-2 decision to the Braves in the second game of the series. Matt Garza and Aaron Harang worked dueling no-hitters into the 7th inning at Miller Park on Wednesday, but Harang and the Braves pulled out a 1-0 win in the series finale.

Milwaukee ruined the BoSox’s home opener with a 6-2 win Friday and pulled out a 7-6 win on Saturday.

The Cubs went 1-4 for the week On Monday, Neil Walker hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off Carlos Villanueva, and on Wednesday, Tony Sanchez delivered an RBI single with one out in the 16th to give the Pirates a 4-3 win over the Cubs on Wednesday.

Chicago bounced back for a 3-2 win on Thursday to complete the series in Pittsburgh.

The Cubs failed to start the 100th season at Wrigley Field with a win when they dropped a 7-2 decision to the Phillies on Friday. Cliff Lee shut them out, 1-0, on Saturday. Jeff Samardzija took the loss.

Player of the Week

White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers was hitting .571 going into the weekend. He had seven hits in a row, becoming the first Sox catcher in history to do so. For that performance, he earned the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: Brewers’ Khris Davis, who had a career-high four hits Saturday, including what turned out to be a key double in the 11th inning; Cubs’ Emilio Bonifacio, who had nine hits in his first two games; Twins’ Chris Colabello, who had six RBIs in a game against the Sox.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** 1B Lyle Overbay had a key hit in Friday’s win over the Red Sox, who released him less than a week before last year's Opening Day.

** RF Ryan Braun is again dealing with a thumb injury that hampered his swing in 2013, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Braun and the team's doctors thought the extended rest between his suspension and the offseason would heal his thumb. That was the case early in Spring Training, as he was pain-free, but as spring wore on, Braun began to again experience numbness in his right thumb.

** The son of Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is following dad into the coaching ranks.
Lance Roenicke, 25, was informed at the end of Spring Training that the Brewers didn't have a spot for him in their Minor League system, which is relatively rich with outfielders. But farm director Reid Nichols offered him an opportunity to be a player/coach at Class A Wisconsin.

Cubs

** RHP Jeff Samardzija had a 1.29 ERA after two starts, but was 0-1.

** The Cubs scored their first run of the season after manager Rick Renteria challenged a play at second on Wednesday in Chicago's 4-3 loss to the Pirates.

** The Cubs are exploring the idea of selling minority ownership shares as a way to help finance the stadium renovation, multiple sources tell Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. The team is looking at selling a non-controlling interest, though no official decision has been reached.


Twins

** Manager Ron Gardenhire picked up his 1,000th career win on Saturday.

** The Twins will have the fifth-most money to spend during the international signing period beginning July 2, with a bonus pool of $3,686,600, by virtue of finishing with the fifth-worst record in the Majors last season. The Twins also have the 10th-most money to spend on the First-Year Player Draft, with $7,525,600 to use on 10 picks.

** Major League Baseball announced that former Twins manager Tom Kelly and Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven will square off against each other in the Futures Game. Kelly will manage the U.S. Team, and Blyleven, born in the Netherlands, will manage the World Team on July 13 at Target Field.

White Sox

** Gordon Beckham was expected to be back in the starting lineup for Double-A Birmingham after he was a late scratch prior to Friday's contest. Beckham was scheduled to play second and hit second Friday during an injury rehab assignment to test his strained left oblique.

** Nate Jones was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's series opener with the Royals due to a muscle strain in his left hip. The right-handed reliever was replaced by Jake Petricka, a fellow right-handed reliever who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

** General manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com that the Alejandro De Aza/ Dayan Viciedo left field situation could break down as a lefty/righty platoon.

Party of the Century

The Cubs issued the following statement about celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field:

“As we celebrate 100 years of Wrigley Field history, Cubs fans are invited to join the ‘Party of the Century, a season dedicated to the storied past of this great ballpark. The 2014 season will honor 10 decades of Wrigley Field history with 10 unique decade-themed, throwback homestands complete with special guests, events, food, promotions and more. Go to cubs.com for more info.”

Melvin at SABR

Brewers GM Doug Melvin will be the featured speaker at the next Keltner SABR Chapter Meeting on Saturday, May 3. The meeting will be at JBs Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill (The former Long Wongs), 5230 W. Bluemound Road in Milwaukee at 11 AM. There will be other interesting presentations and excellent baseball talk. More details will be posted closer to event. Go to http://www.keltnersabr.com for more info.

What’s Ahead

The Twins finally open at home when they host the A’s Monday at Target Field. The club was on the road for the entire first week of the season.
##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7440
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
03-30-2014
09:29 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report - 3/30

All four MDR teams open the regular season on Monday. In a special Opening Day format, here are nutshell summaries for each and a Pompous Prognostication as to where they might finish:

Brewers

From What’s Brewing: Heading into Opening Day, expectations are high in the Brewers clubhouse. After losing the core of their roster for much of the 2013 season, the team is confident that the return of key players will allow them to once again compete for an NL Central title.

"In 2011, when we went to the playoffs, we had very few injuries that year, especially to our key players," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy. "I think that's the name of the game at this point, because we have a lot of talent in here." Most of that talent is held over from last year, starting with All-Stars Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura at the top of the batting order.

The Brewers added even more talent this off-season when they brought in free-agent pitcher Matt Garza to join proven starters Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse at the top of the rotation. The addition of talented youngsters including Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett and Will Smith to an Opening Day roster that features a healthy Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez has the Brewers optimistic for what the 2014 season will bring. As pitcher Kyle Lohse puts it, "I think we're always underdogs... I like it that way."

Opening Day Lineup: 1. CF Carlos Gomez, 2. SS Jean Segura, 3. RF Ryan Braun, 4. 3B Aramis Ramirez, 5. C Jonathan Lucroy, 6. 1B Lyle Overbay, 7. LF Khris Davis, 8. 2B Scooter Gennett, 9. RHP Yovani Gallardo.

Pompous Prognostication: Third in NL Central.

Cubs

From Cubs.com: The Cubs open the 2014 season in Pittsburgh, and it marks the beginning of the Rick Renteria era in Chicago. After four straight sub-.500 seasons, the Cubs have turned the team over to the affable Renteria, who has spent 16 years as a manager or coach and another 13 as a player. This spring, Renteria, 52, has fielded more questions about (Javier) Baez and the other prospects than the current roster, and he knows Cubs fans are eager to see the kids play. His message? Patience.

"My biggest concern is the guys who are here," Renteria said. "I understand all the youngsters are developing and moving along, which is great, but they'll be here when they get here. I think as a manager, I have a team. I have a team of guys who have been here, and I have to make sure they understand I'm pulling for them. The other aspects that fall into place will take care of themselves."

The Cubs who are here include Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, Darwin Barney and Junior Lake. They've got their work cut out for them. Rizzo hit 23 homers and drove in 80 runs, but batted .191 with runners in scoring position. Castro is coming off a .245 season, and Barney hit .208 last year. New hitting coach Bill Mueller has been busy in the cages.

Opening Day Lineup: 1. CF Junior Lake, 2. SS Starlin Castro, 3. 1B Anthony Rizzo, 4. 3B Mike Olt, 5. RF Nate Schierholtz, 6. LF Justin Ruggiano, 7. C Welington Castillo, 8. 2B Darwin Barney, 9. RHP Jeff Samardzija.

Pompous Prognostication: Fifth in NL Central.

Twins

From twinsbaseball.com: Minnesota's starters combined to post the fifth-worst ERA in the Majors in 2011 en route to 99 losses; the second-worst in '12, leading to 96 losses; and the worst last season, culminating in another 96-loss season.

But the Twins figure to have an improved rotation this season after signing free-agent right-handers Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey for a combined $84 million over the winter. And with that improved rotation comes hope, even though Minnesota is still considered a long shot to compete in the American League Central in 2014.…

Jason Kubel is arguably their biggest offensive addition, but he was added via a Minor League deal, while catcher Kurt Suzuki is known more for his defense than his offense.
The Twins are counting on bounce-back years from players such as Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe while also hoping young players such as Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks have breakout years.

The biggest change offensively is that six-time All-Star Joe Mauer is moving from catcher to first base after sustaining a season-ending concussion last August; Minnesota is hopeful the shift will allow the team's best player to see more playing time.

Opening Day Lineup: 1. 2B Brian Dozier, 2. C Joe Mauer 3. LF Josh Willingham, 4. DH Jason Kubel, 5. 3B Trevor Plouffe, 6. RF Oswaldo Arcia, 7. C Kurt Suzuki, 8. CF Aaron Hicks, 9. SS Pedro Florimon.

Pompous Prognostication: Fourth in AL Central.

White Sox

From whitesox.com: This reshaped model on the South Side has been geared for ultimate contention in 2015, 2016 and beyond, as the young core of players such as Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson, to name a few, develop together. But don't think for a second the White Sox have written off 2014 and are hoping for nothing more than a nice improvement over last year's 63-99 struggle.

There's an organizational belief that this team not only can be competitive but also can contend in the American League Central. For that contention to happen, the 2014 White Sox have to get going in the right direction pretty much from Opening Day.

"I think this is the type of team that could be really dangerous if we get off to a good start because then they start to believe," said White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams. "Right now we are better than outsiders think we are. And I think we are better than [the players] believe we are."…

Pitching will drive this contention bid, topped by Chris Sale, who makes his second straight Opening Day start, and Jose Quintana. John Danks stands as the most crucial member of the starting rotation, having found control of his all-important cutter and a slight uptick in velocity almost 20 months removed from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Opening Day Lineup: 1. CF Adam Eaton, 2. 2B Marcus Semien, 3. 1B Jose Abreu, 4. RF Avisail Garcia, 5. DH Adam Dunn, 6. LF Dayan Viciedo, 7. SS Alexei Ramirez, 8. 3B Conor Gillaspie, 9. C Tyler Flowers.

Pompous Prognostication: Fifth in AL Central.

Pompous Prognostications

You’ve already read the Prognostications for the four MDR teams. Now, I’ll be even more Pompous and Prognosticate the division winners and post-season winners for this season:

NL Division Winners - NL East, Nationals; NL Central, Cardinals; NL West, Dodgers; Wild Cards, Pirates and Giants; NL Champs, Cardinals.

AL Division Winners - AL East, Rays; AL Central, Royals; AL West, Angels; Wild Cards, Orioles and Tigers. AL Champs, Angels.

World Series Champion - Cardinals over Angels.

MVPs - AL, Mike Trout, Angels; NL, Bryce Harper, Nationals.

Cy Young - AL, Yu Davish, Rangers; NL, Adam Wainwright, Cardinals.

Rookies of the Year - AL, Jose Abreu, White Sox; NL, Billy Hamilton, Reds.

Managers of the Year - AL, Joe Maddon, Rays; NL, Mike Matheny, Cardinals.

As you can see, I’m picking a couple surprise teams in the Orioles as a wild card and Royals as division winners in the AL, but in the end going with the team that seems to be the consensus pick to win it all -- the Cardinals.

What’s Ahead

The Twins and White Sox open the season with a MDR Rivalry matchup. Ricky Nolasco will face the Sox’s Chris Sale.

No game is scheduled for Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Twins’ Kevin Correia will match up against the Sox’s Felipe Paulino. Phil Hughes will face the Sox’s Jose Quintana on Thursday.

After the opening series, the Twins play the Indians and the Sox face the Royals.

The Brewers open against the Braves and then jump into inter-league play against the Red Sox. The Cubs open on the road against the Pirates and then start the 100th season at Wrigley Field on Friday against the Phillies.

The regular format, including Updated Notes and other features, will return in next week’s MDR Blog.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com

##
Edited 03-30-2014 10:15 AM
7439
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
03-23-2014
06:11 PM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report - 3/23

The Brewers will go with a platoon of two veterans -- Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay -- at first base, at least to start the season.

The announcement was made Sunday. Both players will be added to the 25-man roster on Saturday. Juan Francisco, who had a hot spring and was a holdover from last season, will no longer be in the mix. It was not announced what the Brewers will do with Francisco, who is out of minor league options.

After a slow start at the plate, the 30-year-old Reynolds had six RBI over two games (March 18-19) and claimed a team-leading 11 RBIs at that point in the exhibition season.

"I feel like my timing is coming back and I can start barreling some balls and put some good at-bats on them,“ Reynolds said at the time.

“Sometimes it takes a swinging bunt, a swinging whatever -- something to boost your confidence, because it starts to eat at you, even in Spring Training. It was good to get on the board."

Reynolds, who signed a minor league free agent deal before spring training, had 202 home runs and 568 RBIs in seven seasons going into this year. He hit 44 homers in 2009 for the D-Backs, 32 in 2010 and 37 for the Orioles in 2011.

He also had 1,276 strikeouts -- an average of 209 per season -- in those seven years. He set a major leaguer record with 223 K’s in 2009.

“It’s part of my game, and my reputation,” the 30-year-old Reynolds freely admitted of his strikeouts. “I have always worked on trying to reduce them. I’m working on that again. The key is to be productive despite the strikeouts.”

Overbay, 37, was a doubles machine, setting the club record with 53, with the Brewers while holding down first base before Prince Fielder was called up to become a mainstay at the position.

After Fielder came up, Overbay was dealt to Toronto. He put up some good numbers there -- with a .312 average in 2006 and 83 home runs and 336 RBI’s in five seasons with the Blue Jays.

He then became a bit of a journeyman, playing at Pittsburgh and Arizona in 2011, Arizona and Atlanta in 2012 and the Yankees in 2013.

His batting average at the plate dropped during those years. Last year, Overbay hit .240 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs in 445 at-bats for the Yankees. He had a .267 career average going into this season.

But, one thing that has remained constant is Overbay’s fielding at first base. His lowest fielding percentage in 13 seasons has been .992. It was probably the main reason he made the club out of spring training, especially since the Brewers’ first basemen led the league in errors last season with 21.

“I’ve always taken pride in my defense,” Overbay said. “I work hard on it. It’s an area where you can contribute to a team even when you’re not hitting.”

Overbay said he really enjoyed his first stint with the Brewers. “From my teammates, to the front office and staff, to the fans, I enjoyed it,” he said.

“There still are people left here from those days, and some of the new people are great. So, I’m really happy to be back in Milwaukee. I loved my time here; they embraced me, and every part of it was fun. I‘m hoping this can be fun too.”

Cubs-Sox Matchup

The Cubs’ Luis Valbuena hit two home runs, and Chris Rusin pitched five shutout innings, in a 7-0 win over the White Sox in the Windy City matchup in the Cactus League. Sox starter John Danks allowed four runs on four hits.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** The Brewers exercised an option on manager Ron Roenicke's contract for 2015 and added another club option for '16.

** CF Carlos Gomez was named the new leadoff hitter.

** The Brewers released 13 Minor League playersThursday including one-time relief prospect Santo Manzanillo, who was not the same after injuring his shoulder in a November 2011 auto accident in the Dominican Republic. Others released: included: pitchers Jonathan Armold, Eduard Reyes, R.J. Seidel, Taylor Wall and Alan Williams; catchers Brent Dean and Tyler Roberts; infielders Adam Giacalone, Jalen Harris, Renaldo Jenkins and Jesse Weiss; and outfielder Ben McMahan.

Cubs

** LHP Travis Wood was named the home opener starter.

** Shortstop Starlin Castro, sidelined since March 2 with a strained right hamstring, said he can make up for missed time by getting at-bats in Minor League games. SS Javier Baez, who had an impressive spring, was sent back to the minors.

** RHP Jeff Samardzija, who will open the Cubs' season on March 31 against the Pirates, struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings and felt much better than he did in his previous outing,
 when he was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings.

Twins

** RHP Kevin Correia, making his third Grapefruit League start, gave up four runs on six hits over six innings with one strikeout.

** The Twins announced that RHP Vance Worley has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Rochester.

** Top prospect Byron Buxton was held out of Minor League action for a fourth straight day with a sore left wrist. Buxton, who is rated the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com, originally injured his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale tossed seven innings and 100 pitches during a simulated game on Thursday's team off-day. Sale will pitch Tuesday at home against the A's, before making his second straight Opening Day start on March 31 in Chicago against the Twins.

** Going into this weekend. 1B Jose Abreu was hitting .308 (12-for-39) with two home runs and nine RBIs. He had struck out six times and walked once in Cactus League play.

** Catcher Josh Phegley, right-hander Andre Rienzo and lefty Eric Surkamp were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, while infielder Andy Wilkins and right-handers Chris Beck and Cody Winiarski were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Millers-Saints Publishing Project

This note from MDR friend Rex Hamann:

Please consider donating to my Kickstarter Fund Drive Project. My hope is to produce a self-published book on the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints from the database I’ve been developing the last two years. Any amount you feel comfortable with would help me toward my goal. Please see the link below where you can find out more about what I’m doing and how to contribute. If you donate $25 or more you qualify for a free issue of the American Association Almanac, the baseball history publication I’ve been publishing since 2001. Any help would be greatly appreciated! And of course, if I don’t make my goal, you bear no obligation.

Here is the link:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1249385545/millers-vs-saints-line-score-database-project?ref=email

What’s Ahead

Spring training is in its last full week, with MDR teams scheduled to open the regular season on March 31. The Sox will play a Cactus League game against the Cubs on Thursday. The Sox open the regular season against the Twins.

The Brewers have announced that the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will play a Midwest League game at Miller Park on Saturday, May 24. The Timber Rattlers will face the Beloit Snappers, the Class-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Game time is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7438
Spam deleted by QuickTopic 03-17-2014 01:06 AM
7437
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
03-09-2014
08:06 PM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 3/9

By Gregg Hoffmann

Two young players might hold the keys to the Brewers’ offense this season.

Jean Segura had an All Star season at shortstop in 2013 with 294, 12 homers, 49 RBIs and 74 runs scored. He stole 44 bases, second in the National League.

Khris Davis eventually took over left field when Ryan Braun was suspended for PED use, hit 294 with 11 home runs and 27 runs batted in a 41-game span when he played regularly, and .279 overall in three separate stints with the club. The 11 homers led Milwaukee over that 41-game span, and the 27 RBI tied Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy for the team lead.

It would help the Brewers a great deal if both could match or improve on their performances in 2014. “It was a great season,” Segura said of 2013. “Things came together in my game. I’m still a young player (24). I am still learning. I have things I want to improve on.”

Segura slumped after the All Star break, perhaps in part because of fatigue in his first full big league season. "I did struggle in the second half, but I don't want to give that excuse,” Segura said. “I don't want people to think I'm saying, 'Oh, I'm struggling because I'm tired.' I'm struggling because I'm struggling. I learned I have to pace myself over the season. It’s a long season.”

Manager Ron Roenicke is toying with Segura in the leadoff spot this spring. “I don’t want to him to change because I put him in the leadoff spot,” Roenicke said of Segura, who hit second most of last season. “He does have many of the tools to lead off though

“"He's not the typical guy to do it because he's aggressive. He's a swinger. I don't want him to change because I put him in the leadoff spot.”

Davis surprised some people by making the team out of spring training last year. He was sent down to the minors during the season, but eventually settled into left after Braun was suspended.

"No one expected me to break camp last year," the 26-year-old Davis said. “Timing is everything. I just felt like things clicked last spring. I was able to break camp with the club, but didn’t get much playing time. I was sent down for a while. Then, that changed.

"This year is different. I definitely feel like I'm being watched, and it's definitely different."

Davis’ defense is one of the main concerns about him playing every day, but he is working on it. “I’ve worked hard on my defense,” Davis said. "I love playing defense. I love playing the outfield. There's nothing like robbing (hitters). I definitely want to rob some this year."

Young players often struggle a bit once the league learns their weaknesses. If Segura and Davis can avoid that, and continue to improve on their 2013 performances, it will greatly help the Brewers’ attack.

Longer features on Segura and Davis will appear in Game Day, the Brewers’ program, during the regular season.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** Elian Herrera might have an inside track on a utility role since he can play infield and outfield.

** 3B Aramis Ramirez made his Cactus League debut Saturday, after taking it easy in early camp because of off-season colon surgery. He had two hits.

** First baseman Juan Francisco could be squeezed out and find himself on the move, writes Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal. Francisco is out of options, and the Brew Crew could prefer to take Lyle Overbay as a potential pairing with Mark Reynolds due to Overbay's superior glove. Rosenthal speculates that the Tigers could be a good fit for Francisco.

Cubs

** Shortstop Starlin Castro, sidelined since Sunday with a mild right hamstring strain, hopes to begin baseball activities early this week.

** While Jeff Samardzija has been a chief subject of trade rumors this offseason, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on Sirius that his preference would be to sign the right-hander to a long-term extension.

** Mike Olt has looked good thus far in camp with the Cubs, and the team's preference reportedly is for him to win the third base job out of spring training rather than head back to Triple-A.

Twins

** Chris Colabello came through in the clutch on Friday, capping the Twins' comeback from an early five-run deficit with a ninth-inning RBI single to help ensure a 6-5 victory over the Pirates. The first baseman went 3-for-3 with two runs after entering the game for Joe Mauer.


** RHP Phil Hughes has posted a 1.59 ERA in two starts after a solid effort on Saturday.

** Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno and Vance Worley are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation. The trio also has deal with top prospect Kyle Gibson, who is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Any of the three could end up in the bullpen, but at least one seems likely to go.

White Sox

**The White Sox announced LHP Jose Quintana had a left shin contusion and is day to day after being hit by a come backer on Saturday.

** Closer candidate Ronald Belisario finally made it to spring training this weekend after missing three weeks because of visa issues in Venezuela

** The Sox seem to only have one spot open for a third baseman at this time, though that could change if they trade an outfielder like Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza. As it stands, Gillaspie is competing for third base with Jeff Keppinger and rookie Matt Davidson.

Ruggiano Stars

Justin Ruggiano went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs as the Cubs out-slugged the Brewers, 10-8, in a MDR matchup in the Cactus League Sunday. Ruggiano is hitting .583 this spring.

What’s Ahead

The White Sox play the Brewers at Maryvale on Monday. That’s the only matchup of MDR teams for the week.

The teams have started making roster cuts. More are likely to come this week. Most cuts will be sending minor leaguers, who have been in the big league camps, back to their camps.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7436
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
03-05-2014
05:19 PM ET (US)
Swami’s Spring Training Report, Vol. 8, No. 1

Monday, March 3, 2014

“Things could be worse. Suppose your errors were counted and published every day like those of a baseball player.” – Anonymous

Our first venture to the ballpark this year took us to sunny Maryvale for the Brewers-Cubs encounter that was notable more for what happened off the field than on. My daughter Heidi, her husband, Ed Butler and our grandkids 6-yr. old Sam and 5-yr. old Sophie joined us from Chicago to watch (more or less, mostly less) the Crew drop a 4-2 decision in what could charitably be called a lack-luster performance.

FIRST, THE GAME – Not much to report except Ryan Braun walked and then went 2 for 2 to bring his early spring totals to 8 hits in 10 trips. In his first at bat, a leather-lunged Cubs backer, (we were sitting in the third row behind the dugout in the Chicago section) bellowed something about Braun being a disgrace to the game. When I yelled, “Do I see Sammy Sosa out there?” he shut up. In subsequent trips, the applause for Braun from the Brewer fans was significantly positive. The other reportable bit of news concerned Wei-Chung Wang, a string bean, 6’ 1”, Taiwanese lefthander who turned in a nifty one inning stint in the 6th. He’s a Rule 5 pickup the Brewers are looking at that cost $50,000 (cheap at today’s prices) but must either stay on the 25-man roster all-season or be offered back to Pittsburg for $25,000. His only minor league experience was at the Rookie Level where he notched 42 strikeouts in 47 innings while walking only four last year. Caution…He missed all of the 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery. Incidentally, his name is pronounced “Wong” not “Wang.”

NOT A SELLOUT – When my wife, Mary, ordered our tickets on line, there were supposedly only 69 tickets left. Amazed that the game would be sold out (I’ve never seen Maryvale sell out even against the Diamondbacks or the Cubs), I was informed by her that they were giving away Hank Aaron bobbleheads. That explains it, I thought. Let it be shown that the park was about half full (4,009 not counting the vendors, etc.) and they only had 2,000 statuettes to give out. Unfortunately, we got there too late for the free gift. Whereupon Heidi set about trying to buy one, offering $20 to various people who all turned her down. (She wanted one for her sister, Amy, who has been a life-long Aaron fan, even sending him a birthday card every year when she was young.) Finally a kindly gentleman named Chris Hendrickson of Madison GAVE her one, even going out to his car between innings to get it. Thanks Chris! A Badger through and through.

FOUL BALLS – In 50 years of attending major league games, I’ve never gotten a souvenir ball. I had a few fall just out of reach, and once one landed in my seat while I was away at the concession stand. Today, when we moved into the shade in the Brewers’ section (sorry for those of you frozen back home, but it was really warm in the Arizona sun today), we watched not one, but two foul balls get hit into the exact seats we had left behind the Cubs’ dugout. Then with the kids gone to the concession stand, a high popup came floating down right toward my son-in-law. However, a guy in a red Angels’ jersey outreached him from behind, but dropped it. In the ensuing scramble, Ed got his hands on it, but the Angels’ fan wound up with it. Upon returning to his seat, my grandson Sam proudly displayed a ball that had been given to him by a volunteer usher, Joe Gamez of Phoenix. Whereupon, the Angels’ fan, Jesse Rodriguez of Palm Desert, California, promptly gave his ball to my granddaughter Sophie! Rodriguez, who is seeing four games in three days, spilled his beer in retrieving the ball and we couldn’t even repay his kindness with a refill since they stop the suds after the 7th. Thanks Joe and Jessie!

NOTABLES – Before we had even entered the park, we bumped into Larry and Jan Barbera from Menomonee Falls, here for a month. They were accompanied by Lisa Kelly from the Falls, Bob and Judy Johnson from Mequon and Don and Carol Vilione of Brookfield. Once again, we talked to Fred Ebling and his wife from the Falls. And heading out after the game, I saw General Manager Doug Melvin going in to the park wearing a hefty-looking jacket. He must have just flown in from Milwaukee.

 ODDS AND ENDS - Newly acquired southpaw Will Smith sported jersey #13, not worn since Zack Greinke left in 2012…..The crew left 11 base runners stranded today, too many if you’re looking to win….A slimmed down Martin Maldonado gunned down one would-be base stealer in the 2nd and then nearly picked a guy off second in the 5th. How often do you see that happen? Hopefully the dropped poundage by Maldy will lead to better production at the plate as his average plummeted from .266 in 2012 to just .169 last season…..Nothing much developing on the muddled first base situation. Mark Reynolds played there today. Juan Francisco handled third in Aramis Ramirez’ absence. A third candidate, Sean Halton, was the designated hitter. (In a National League game? you ask.). Yes, the home team gets to decide in spring training whether to use the DH or not. Like it or not, I think you’re going to see the NL use the DH eventually. Meanwhile back at first base, there’s also former Brewer Lyle Overbay still in the mix at age 37. He may be the best option of them all….The Hot Dog, who finished last in the regular season standings last year with just 10 wins, copped the sausage race today. Granddaughter Sophie got all their autographs following the sprint….Nearly forgot the screaming line drive foul that just missed Heidi’s head in the 7th. His lips stained blue from his snow cone, Sam queried, “Wasn’t that awesome, Momma?” Yes, Sam it was, as was the whole experience with you guys today.

We plan on Maryvale again this weekend. Meanwhile, stay warm in Badgerland.


Your humble scribe,

 

Ed “Swami” Schlumpf
7435
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
03-04-2014
08:18 PM ET (US)
MDR Blog 3/4

You can’t tell much from one game, especially a Cactus League exhibition game in the first week of March. But, here are a few observations from Monday’s game between the Brewers and Cubs.

First, the Brewers:

Competition seems to be working well so far as Juan Francisco and Rickie Weeks are off to good starts. Francisco is facing competition for first base from veterans Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds. Weeks is getting pushed at second base by Scooter Gennett.

Carlos Gomez looks more confident than ever before. While Aramis Ramirez still is the elder statesman for Latin players on the team, Gomez is becoming a leader for them and the club in general.

The Brewers seem to be following the strength in numbers as far as pitching. The rotation will likely include Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Willy Peralta and Marco Estrada with Tyler Thornburg and Will Smith working as both spot starters and in the bullpen.

Competition for the bullpen spots is fierce. Jim Henderson is set as the closer, but otherwise there are five or six arms for at most three spots.

As far as the Cubs:

Javier Baez is making as real push to make the team out of spring training. With Starlin Castro nursing a hamstring injury, Baez is getting most of the playing time at shortstop and is looking good. He was hitting .444, with a homer in the game against Milwaukee, through Monday action.

Baez is just one of several prospects -- Kris Bryant, Jorge Solier and others -- who are in camp and making impressions for various reasons.

Justin Ruggiano is establishing himself quickly as the starting centerfielder. He was hitting .667 with a homer and four RBIs through Monday action.

Anthony Rizzo looks determined to become the star many think he can be at first base. He was hitting .429 through Tuesday action.

Things could be different by next week. That’s the nature of spring training, but these are just some observations, from one game, in early March, in the Cactus League.

Brewers

** RF Ryan Braun homered on the second pitch of his first at-bat in the Cactus League

** RHPs Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza pitched in the first three exhibition games and could stay in that order for the regular season.

** Former Brewers Robin Yount, Geoff Jenkins and Damian Miller have been in camp as special instructors.

Cubs

** INF Eric Chavez hit the first home run at the new Cubs Park, a two-run shot in the 5th inning. SS Starlin Castro went 2-for-2.

** The Cubs drew a Cactus League-record crowd of 14,486 in their debut at Cubs Park.

** Top prospects Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler appeared together in a game on Saturday. Bryant homered in Friday’s game.

Twins

** The Twins are interested in free-agent starter Joe Saunders if they can get him for the right price.

** Veteran Mike Pelfrey allowed just one hit over two scoreless frames as the Twins opened up their Grapefruit League slate with an 8-2 win over the Red Sox on Friday.

** Top Twins prospect Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery.

White Sox

** The Sox have signed 24 pre-arbitration eligible players to one-year deals, LHP Jose Quintana, who posted a 3.51 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 200 innings in 2013, received a $50K raise to $550K, and reliever Nate Jones got a $37K raise to $545K.

** LHP Chris Sale went 2 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and allowed one hit in his spring debut.

** Adam Dunn attended the Oscars with the full blessing of manager Robin Ventura and the ball club. Dunn appeared in “Dallas Buyers Club,” one of the films nominated.

Hank Mania

A stray dog that wandered into the Brewers spring training camp and was adopted by the players has become a media and internet star. Named Hank, after legendary slugger Hank Aaron, the pooch joins in workouts and generally mugs for the cameras.

He also ran in a sausage race. You can see that by clicking on http://m.mlb.com/mil/video/topic/26668332/v31389613/.
What’s Ahead

The Brewers play the Cubs in a split-squad game on Sunday. The White Sox and Brewers play next Monday.

As many starting pitchers make their second starts of spring training, look for them to go three or four innings, rather than the two innings often pitched in their first spring appearances. Position players also will start to play more innings in the next week or so.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7434
Rick Schabowski
02-23-2014
10:48 AM ET (US)
Happy Birthday to Gregg!



< replied-to message removed by QT >
7433
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-23-2014
09:13 AM ET (US)
MDR Blog - 2/23

First base is a first, or at least a high, priority for all four MDR teams this spring.

The Brewers are looking at three veterans to fill a void left by the departure of Corey Hart. Juan Francisco was one player who played the position while Hart was injured last season. Francisco showed raw power, but also struck out a lot and was a bit of a butcher in the field.

Mark Reynolds, signed over the winter, is sort of a right-handed hitting version of Francisco. He has been a regular before though in his career.

Lyle Overbay manned first base before Prince Fielder came up from the minors and was a doubles machine, setting the franchise record. Overbay has continued to play well for other teams, but has aged and has declining numbers in recent years.

Joining these three as a possible candidate is Hunter Morris, the franchise minor league player of the year a couple seasons ago.

The Cubs are supposed to have a budding star at 1B in Anthony Rizzo, but he has not really completely lived up to his billing with .233, 23 home runs and 80 RBIs in 2013.
Rizzo will start the season as the starter at the position once again, but more is expected from a guy who has a $41 million deal.

Don’t look for Rizzo to be benched unless he has a horrible start. He’s still only 24 and might have been the victim of unrealistic expectations last season. But, if the Cubs are going to improve this year, it would help if Rizzo lived up to his billing.

The White Sox have a logjam at first with veteran Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Cuban newcomer Jose Abreu. The latter could see the most action in the field. Konerko could share time there and serve as DH.

Dunn has worked out in the outfield in early spring training. He could see time in left field as well as serve in the 1B-DH mix. The Sox also have been looking to move Dunn for the right return.

If that can’t be done though, and all three players can produce, the Sox could have a powerful middle of the lineup.

The Twins are filling first base by moving their best player, All Star and former MVP/batting champ Joe Mauer from catcher to the position. Mauer once formed half of the M&M boys when Justin Morneau also was winning MVP awards at 1B.

But, Morneau has moved on, and Mauer has played first before. It probably will be easier on his legs and could even extend his career. It is a position change, however, so Mauer will have some adjustments to make.

Of course, that’s what spring training is for -- to look at possibilities at various positions, allow players to work on elements of their games, and for adjustments to be made. The four MDR teams could be better this season is these things are accomplished at first base this spring.

Update Notes

Brewers

** Owner Mark Attanasio: "Our overall perception is that other teams in the division got weaker and we got stronger. We'll see if that's true, but we clearly got stronger."

** 3B Aramis Ramirez underwent surgery in December to remove a non-cancerous polyp from his colon and will not be game-ready when Cactus League play begins.

**LHP Will Smith has been garnering rave reviews. Manager Ron Roenicke called Smith's last bullpen session, "incredible."

Cubs

** OF Nate Schierholtz had a sore jaw and headache after a Friday collision with Junior Lake during a drill.

**INF Javier Baez, ranked the No. 5 prospect in the game by Baseball America, may be looking for a new agent. Baez broke a window in a car with a long home run in a batting practice session.

** INF Emilio Bonifacio signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, could give the Cubs a leadoff option.

Twins

** Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon was back at Hammond Stadium on Thursday after undergoing emergency laparoscopic surgery to remove his appendix..

** To show their support for general manager Terry Ryan, who recently underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his neck, all 110 Twins players and staff members wore matching black Stand Up To Cancer T-shirts on Saturday for their first full-squad workout.

** Josh Willingham confirmed his desire to remain with the Twins: "I do love playing in Minnesota," Willingham said. "I would love to stay here for another year or so."


White Sox
** LHP John Danks was concerned about velocity as he returned from surgery last season, but now his focus is on regaining control of his cutter.

** Manager Robin Ventura talked about having an intrasquad game on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

** White Sox great Frank Thomas will appear as a studio baseball analyst this season for Los Angeles-based Fox Sports 1, The Associated Press reports.

What’s Ahead

Games start later this week in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. The Brewers open at the A’s on Thursday. The Cubs host the D-Backs in a split-squad contest at their new ballpark in Mesa on Thursday.

The Sox go to the other side of their training facility to meet the Dodgers on Friday. In the Grapefruit League, the Twins open at the Red Sox on Friday.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com

** www.onwisconsinsports.com
7432
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-16-2014
12:15 PM ET (US)
MDR Blog - 2/16

It’s getting real old, but you can bet once again the PED suspension of Ryan Braun will be of interest and a distraction in the Brewers’ spring training camp.

Braun addressed the issue at the On Deck event at the end of January when he said: “I try not to focus on the things that are out of my control. With that being said I’ve already experienced this already in the past a couple times. Dealt with it in 2012, dealt with it for the majority of 2013, so I think I have an idea of what I’m getting myself into.

“I made a huge mistake. I’ve paid a great price for that mistake. The opportunities I’ve had to reach out to season ticket holders, reach out to suite holders and interact with people, I let them know that basically I made a mistake. I deeply regret it. I wish I could change it.

“I recognize I don’t have an opportunity to do that, so all I can do is focus on the present, focus on the future, look forward to this year and go out there and do the things that I’ve done in the past.”

In that last paragraph, Braun does hit on the only approach he can take. Move on, stay clean and perform on the field.

Whether you’re ready to give Braun another chance, or consider him the Lance Armstrong of baseball, there isn’t much more he can say on the subject. He could have done himself, the Brewers and their fans a favor by being honest about his use of PEDs before last season.

When he says he dealt with it in 2012, he doesn’t mention that what he did was lie about his use. Only after a long investigation, and apparently irrefutable evidence against him, did he fess up, take his punishment like a man and start telling the truth in 2013.

But, he has done so -- finally -- and now should move on to play baseball. He owes that to himself, his teammates and the fans. The media owe it to the last two groups to also move on. Yet, you can bet it is likely the topic will still persist this spring.

Update Notes

Brewers

** The Brewers will end up with a team-record payroll of more than $100MM, according to team sources.

** Reports say the Brewers have reached agreement with Dominican Republic third base prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara for a signing bonus of $3.2 million, but GM Doug Melvin said the reports were premature.

** RHP Donovan Hand was removed from the 40-man roster and accepted an assignment to AAA Nashville, but will be in spring training camp to fight for a spot in the bullpen.

Cubs

** The Cubs have officially signed pitcher James McDonald to a big league deal. The deal was originally thought to be a minor league contract. The Cubs also have officially signed free agent starter Jason Hammel to a one-year, $6MM deal.

** RHP Jake Arrieta might not be ready for the start of the Chicago Cubs' regular season because of right shoulder tightness.

** The Cubs and Mesa officials held ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday for their new spring training ballpark.

Twins

** Alex Presley and Aaron Hicks could fight it out for CF.

** The Twins have claimed LHP Brooks Raley off waivers from the Cubs.

** The Twins announced last week that general manager Terry Ryan was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer. He underwent treatment at Mayo Clinic.

White Sox

** LHP John Danks will enter training camp at 100% for the first time in two years.

** Adam Dunn says the White Sox’s acquisition of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and re-signing of Paul Konerko doesn’t change anything about his primary goal of making the playoffs.

** Former White Sox manager Jim Fregosi died at 71 from a stroke.

Aaron Surgery

Hank Aaron got through a long career and a long tenure in Milwaukee without many injuries, but underwent hip replacement surgery over the weekend after falling on the ice. Don’t blame Milwaukee’s weather. The fall apparently happened in Atlanta.

What’s Ahead

All four MDR teams start their camps in earnest this week. Cactus and Florida league games started in 11 days.

##

You can get the MDR Blog at:

MDR Blog - http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

MLB Blogs at http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/2014/02/16/mdr-blog-216/
7431
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-13-2014
04:25 PM ET (US)
BREWERS “BEYOND THE DIAMOND” COMMUNITY INITIATIVE RETURNS FOR SECOND YEAR IN 2014
 
 
 
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers announced the return of the organization’s community initiative called “Beyond the Diamond,” which features a series of community outreach events that will take place throughout the season. The program is built around a partnership between Brewers players, coaches, alumni, Brewers Wives and team personnel working hands-on in the community. The community events are funded in part by Brewers Community Foundation and focus on the areas of health, education, recreation and basic needs.
 
 
 
“Beyond the Diamond” events this year will include “S.C.O.R.E. for Excellence Day,” hospital visits, a military luncheon, playground build, Habitat for Humanity project, and more. Each month from May through August, players, coaches and team personnel will be divided into groups to attend one of the following community outreach events:
 
 
 
· May 14 (Basic Needs) Habitat Build-a-thon: Brewers players, staff, alumni and Brewers Wives will assist organizers from Habitat for Humanity and residents of the local community to build a home. The event is sponsored by Brewers Community Foundation.
 
· May 28 (Education) S.C.O.R.E. for Excellence Day: Brewers players and alumni will visit a middle school and deliver the important message of S.C.O.R.E. T-shirts and game tickets will be given to the selected school. S.C.O.R.E., an acronym for School, Community, Opportunities, Role Models and Excellence, is the Brewers signature character education program.
 
· June 24 (Recreation) KaBoom Playground Build: Brewers Wives, staff and alumni will assist organizers from KaBoom and residents of the local community to build a new playground at a site to be determined. Brewers players will also attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, thank the volunteers and take group photos with volunteers and supporters. The playground build will be sponsored by players, Brewers Wives and Brewers Community Foundation.
 
· July 11 (Basic Needs) Guest House: Brewers Community Foundation, Brewers players, Brewers Wives and staff will partner with the Guest House, a homeless shelter for men, to build a rainwater collection and picnic shelter for the Cream City Garden Project.
 
· July 26 (Recreation) RBI Tournament Visit: Players will visit the central leagues during their tournament and interact with them. Youth players will take part in a Major League Moment (joining Brewers players on the field) prior to the game and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
 
· August 8 (Education) Wisconsin Humane Society PAL Graduation: Players and Brewers Wives will participate in The Humane Society’s People and Animals Learning (PAL) Graduation. PAL is a two-week summer camp for underserved Milwaukee children, ages 10-13. The kids are paired up to train a shelter dog for two weeks, along with other confidence-building and violence prevention activities. At the graduation, kids show off their new dog-handling skills and receive diplomas. Players will assist in handing out the diplomas during the graduation ceremony.
 
· August 22 (Health) Military Luncheon: Brewers players and alumni will have an exclusive lunch with troops and their families at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. Each military branch will be represented.

Additional information on each program will be distributed prior to each event.
7430
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-09-2014
12:19 PM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 2/9

Spring training starts this week, so let’s take a look at the major things the four MDR teams need to work on and determine this spring.

Brewers - First on the priority list will be figuring out the 1B puzzle. Veterans Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds will join Juan Francisco in the main competition. Hunter Morris also could be secondary consideration in the mix.

Sticking with the right side of the infield, Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks should compete for the starting job. If Gennett looks much better, Weeks could be moved before the end of spring training. Otherwise they could end up in a soft platoon.

Incorporating newcomers Matt Garza and Will Smith into the pitching staff is another priority. Garza likely will become the No. 2 starter while Smith could compete for a starting or bullpen spot.

Ryan Braun will move to right field and should expect continued questions about his suspension for PED use. Khris Davis will take over in left. Both will work on their defense.

Cubs - Rick Renteria takes over as manager, so the Cubs will have to make the inevitable adjustments that come with a new man at the top. Renteria also needs to get to know his players.

Jeff Samardzija’s role at the top of the pitching staff still has to be worked out after some long arbitration discussions. After Samardzija, the rotation setup has to be determined. Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta, newcomer Jason Hammel all are in the mix. The bullpen has even more candidates with roles still to be determined.

Justin Ruggiano is expected to take over in center field. Junior Lake in left and Nate Schierholtz in right don’t have backup listed on the team’s depth chart. So, there are opportunities there this spring.

The Cubs want to take looks at some young players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant in the infield, but the starters likely will remain Anthony Rizzo at 1B, Darwin Barney at 2B, Starlin Castro at SS and Luis Valbuena at 3B.

Twins

The Twins’ main task will be to rebuild their starting rotation, with the addition of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. They also were still included in rumors about Johan Santana as of this writing.

Joe Mauer will work on the nuances of 1B, although he has played there before. Meanwhile, Kurt Suzuki will take over as the main catcher and have to learn the Twins’ pitching staff.

Trevor Plouffe could receive a challenge at 3B from prospect Miguel Sano. If Sano has a good spring, the Twins likely will find some place for him.

Jason Kubel returns to the Twins and will be worked in as a DH, outfielder and perhaps backup first baseman.

The Twins were still included in rumors about some of the free agents out there. You can see more about that in the Update Notes section of this blog.

White Sox

Jose Abreu undoubtedly will get the most media attention in the Sox’s camp and is listed as the top 1B candidate on the team’s depth chart. The roles of veterans Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn will have to be worked out in conjunction with Abreu. Rumors persisted that the Sox were looking to move Dunn.

Adam Eaton is seen as the starting center fielder, flanked by Dayan Viciedo and Avisail Garcia. That would make Alejandro De Aza a fourth outfielder.

Third base always seems to be uncertain for the Sox. Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger will compete for the starting spot at that position.

The rotation has Chris Sale and Jose Quintana at the top and then a lot of questions, which will need to be answered. Nate Jones steps into the closer role.

Update Notes

Brewers

** Broadcaster Bob Uecker said he is cutting down on his road trips and overall broadcast schedule.

** LHP Tom Gorzelanny (shoulder surgery) had yet to begin a throwing program, but is targeting Opening Day to be ready.

** After signing last week, K-Rod has had three separate stints with the Brewers. Has any other player done so?

Cubs

** Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija signed a one-year, $5.345 million deal Saturday, avoiding arbitration. Samardzija was the club’s last arbitration-eligible player,


** 2B Darwin Barney settles at $2.3million. Barney hit a career-worst .208 with a .569 OPS last season.

** RHP James McDonald was signed to a minor league deal.

Twins

** RHP Matt Guerrier signed a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp.

** Rumors persisted about the Twins’ interest in RHP Bronson Arroyo, but he signed with Arizona. LHP Johan Santana also remains a rumor, but he might not be ready to pitch until summer.

** The Twins had some interest in former Phillies closer Ryan Madson.

White Sox

** The Sox announced Friday the signing of right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs to a one-year, $1.1-million deal.

** Adam Dunn enjoyed his big-screen debut as a bartender in the Oscar-nominated film “Dallas Buyers Club,” made by the production company in which he invests.

** Bo Jackson, former Sox OF and DH, is rejoining the organization as a team ambassador.

Elsewhere In Baseball

The American Association will have at least 16 of its former players in major league spring training camp. Six of the players made their professional debut in the league.

Three pitchers will be in MDR teams’ camps: Brandon Kintzler (Brewers) and Kris Johnson and Caleb Thielbar (Twins),

What’s Ahead

The MDR Blog will now go weekly and add MLB.com to vehicles for its distribution.
Updates to it will be made at the end of the column on Gregg Hoffmann’s Facebook page.

Pitchers and catchers for MDR teams start reporting Thursday when Cubs open their camp. The Cubs also have the earliest reporting date for position players, Feb. 18. Full workouts start Feb. 19. The first spring games involving MDR teams start Feb. 27.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at:

http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC

www.onwisconsinsports.com
Edited 02-09-2014 12:21 PM
7429
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-08-2014
08:15 AM ET (US)

Brewers bring K-Rod back on a 1-year deal



The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year contract today. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
 
Rodriguez, 32, is 41-36 with a 2.70 ERA and 304 saves in 730 relief appearances. Rodriguez is 7-8 with a 3.15 ERA and 13 saves in 134 games as a Brewer. He was traded by Milwaukee to Baltimore last season on July 23 in exchange for third baseman Nicky Delmonico.
7428
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
02-03-2014
08:31 AM ET (US)
As a person who loves baseball and has read over 100 books on baseball of all eras, I have never heard of the Blocked Ball Rule from the late 1890s. Interesting stuff from the SABR-L.




From: ron selter
Subject: RE The Blocked Ball Rule and Home Runs

The following item is a result of research into home runs in the late 19th
Century-Specifically the National League from 1893-1900.

The Blocked Ball Rule And Home Runs



A most interesting home run was hit on June 18, 1895 at the Brooklyn NL
ballpark-Eastern Park. Gus Weyhing of the visiting Louisville Colonels hit
a ball to RF that landed fair and then bounced into the foul area RF
pavilion. The ball then either bounced or was thrown back onto the field.
The Brooklyn right fielder relayed the ball to the infield and thence to the
plate where Weyhing was caught at the plate trying for an Inside-the-Park
Home-Run. The umpire declared the batter safe as per rule 35 any blocked
ball (one leaving the field of play) must be returned to and held by the
pitcher and then put back in play.

           This rule (Rule 36 from the 1902 Reach Guide) reads as follows

A Block is a batted or thrown ball that is touched stopped, or handled by
any person not engaged in the game. Whenever a Block occurs, the umpire
shall declare it and the base runners may run the bases without being put
out until the ball is returned to and held by the pitcher standing in his
position.

In the 1890's it was a rule and a practice by all of the major league clubs
(this practice continued well into the Deadball Era) that fans were required
to return to the field any ball hit or thrown into the stands. Thus it was
not unusual for fans to throw a ball (usually a foul ball) back onto the
field. This rule led to a number of strange situations. In a game at
Cleveland (7-7-1894), Herman Long of the Boston Beaneaters hit a ball over
the LF fence that landed on the sloping roof of a building located a short
distance behind the fence and bounced back into the field. The Cleveland
left-fielder relayed the ball back to the infield and held the batter at
third. However the umpire ruled it a home run, saying the Cleveland team
did not deserve the help of a roof outside the park acting as an outfielder.

Another strange aspect was that the defensive team was not limited to
fielding a batted ball on the field. In one game, a ball hit into the LF
bleachers was sought after by two of the visiting team's outfielders who
went into the stands to retrieve the ball. However, the home town fans
refused to give up the ball until the batter had scored. Outfielders could
and did go over the fence (or under it at the Polo Grounds) or into the
stands to retrieve a ball. Thus in the game of 8-30-1894 at the Polo
Grounds in NY, the Giant's Eddie Burke hit a ball beyond the RF ropes (much
of the outfield "fence" at the 1890's Polo Grounds consisted of ropes on
posts) but was held to a triple.

Tom Gettinger of Louisville in a game at Boston's South End Grounds III on
8-21-1895 was awarded a home run on a ball hit into the RF bleachers on a
ruling of a blocked ball by the umpire.

Some players missed out on apparent home runs by the application of the
Blocked ball rule. In a game at Baltimore (8-23-1894) Tommy Dowd of the
visiting St. Louis Browns hit a ball that bounded into the LF bleachers.
The ball was returned to the field by a fan (likely a Baltimore fan) and the
ball was relayed to the infield and then to the pitcher who threw home to
get Dowd at the plate.

To make matters even more variable and confusing, grounds rule at each park
could limit the applicability of the Blocked ball rule. At Cincinnati's
League Park II, balls hit into the CF bleachers (but not the LF or RF
bleachers) and returned to the field were per a ground rule home runs (game
of 7-4-1894). It was a good idea for a batter who hit a ball over the fence
to run at full speed to be sure of making a home run before the ball was
returned to the field. Such an incident occurred at Cincinnati's League
Park II (7-16-1894) where the home town batter Bid McPhee hit a long fly
into the LF bleachers and made the circuit before it could be handled again.

At the Polo Grounds (Polo Grounds IV) in the 1893-95 seasons, there were a
number of disputes caused by the invocation of the Blocked ball rule. The
Giants for the 1896 season made a ground rule that balls hit over the ropes
were home runs, while balls hit under the ropes could be returned to the
field and put in play subject to the Blocked ball rule. Starting with the
1897 season, a new ground rule made all balls hit over or under the ropes
home runs thus eliminating much of the need for the Blocked ball rule.

These Blocked ball incidents continued into the Deadball Era. In a game at
Cleveland's League Park III (7-16-1901) Tommy Dowd of the visiting Boston
Americans hit a ball that landed on the scoreboard platform in RF. The
teen-agers working the scoreboard threw the ball back onto the field. The
Cleveland outfielder relayed the ball to the Cleveland second baseman (Beck)
who tagged Dowd between bases. The Cleveland infielders realizing this was
a Blocked ball situation threw the ball to the pitcher who then threw home
in an attempt to get Dowd at the plate. The throw was too late and Dowd had
an Inside-the-Park-Home-Run.


DDD




Dennis D. Degenhardt




Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field? - - - Jim Bouton
7427
Gregg HoffmannPerson was signed in when posted
01-27-2014
07:18 AM ET (US)
Brewers ink Matt Garza to a four-year deal

The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent right-handed starterMatt Garza to a four-year contract with a vesting option for the 2018 season today. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

 "Matt is an established top-of-the-rotation pitcher who provides our staff with experience and quality depth," said Melvin.

 Garza, 30, is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA in 194 games (191 starts) during eight Major League seasons with Minnesota (2006-07), Tampa Bay (2008-10), Chicago-NL (2011-13) and Texas (2013). After missing nearly the first two months of 2013 due to injury (side/back), he returned to post a 10-6 record with a 3.82 ERA in 24 starts between the Cubs (11gs) and Rangers (13gs) last season.
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