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MDR Blog 2/22
08:15 AM ET (US)
Pitchers and catchers have reported for all four MDR teams. Let’s take a look at the catching situation for all four.

The Brewers will start with their starting catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Martin Maldonado will get extra work until Lucroy is ready to return. Juan Centeno is the other catcher on the big league roster.

Miguel Montero and David Ross have joined Welington Castillo in the Cubs catching corps. The time for Castillo with the Cubs is up, says Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Montero likely will move to the forefront in that competition, but the depth at the position can’t hurt.

The Twins no long automatically pencil in Joe Mauer at catcher. Instead, he’s at first base. Kurt Suzuki is coming off an All Star season for the Twins and will see most of the action. He’s backed up by Josmil Pinto, who has some offense potential, and Chris Herrmann.

You can pencil in Tyler Flowers as the starter behind the plate for the White Sox. But, the Sox also have Adrian Nieto, Ron Brantly and veteran George Kottaras, who signed a minor league contract with an invitation to the big league camp.

Catcher can be a key position for any team. No. 1 priority most times is defense. Handling pitchers is another important skill. Offense often is third.

Lucroy, once he gets healthy, adds the latter and has improved considerably in the other two areas. That’s why he’s an All Star.

Montero will add offense for the Cubs, but he and Ross were primarily brought aboard to improve the defense over Castillo’s performance.

Suzuki and Flowers provided offense in 2014 that was better than the major league average and are adequate in the other two areas.

Papelbon Rumors

The Phillies asked the Brewers for a “top prospect” in return for closer Jonathan Papelbon if the club was to pick up a big piece of the remainder of his deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. In response, Milwaukee offered to send Jonathan Broxton back to Philadelphia to help balance the cash.

Papelbon said from the Phillies camp that his agents have not contacted him about any specific deal. The talks are now dormant, says Rosenthal. That would appear to take the Brewers out of the picture for Papelbon at this point.

Updated Notes

(Some notes in this section came from


** Manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about being on the hot seat as he enters the final year of his contract. “I know I’ve got a contract this year and I’ll try to do the best I can. I can’t control what happens with that. I just plan to get the guys playing well, and hopefully we’ll get off to a good start again and we’ll see what happens.“

** The Brewers have signed right-hander Josh Roenicke to a minor league conract. The 32-year-old Roenicke — the nephew of Brewers manager Ron Roenicke — spent the 2014 season with the Triple-A affiliates for the Nationals and Rockies. Righty David Herndon has signed a minor league deal with the Brewers. The 29-year-old, who is trying to reach the bigs for the first time since 2012, has been significantly limited by injuries over the last several seasons.

** Pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, should be game-ready by the end of camp, but the Brewers are plotting a cautious approach.


** Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is baseball’s best prospect, according to Baseball America’s newly-released list of the top 100 prospects in the game.

** Recently-retired veteran Kevin Youkilis will be joining the Cubs as a special assistant, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter.

** Right-hander Gonzalez Germen has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Iowa by the Cubs, tweets Gonzales.


** The Twins will welcome number one prospect Byron Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.

** A Twins official told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter links) not to put too much stock into the idea that the Twins are still after a right-handed bat. That’s something they could explore, but it probably wouldn’t come until late March.

** The Twins and Lee County in Florida will host a family open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the renovated CenturyLink Sports Complex Sunday.

White Sox

** The White Sox and right-hander Matt Albers are in agreement on a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Albers will earn $1.5MM if he makes the Major League roster, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links).

** The White Sox training camp in Glendale, Arizona, was invaded by scorpions Saturday. Crews were working on eradicating the bugs.

** Third baseman Nick Delmonico, who was released by the Brewers last week, has latched on with the White Sox on a minor league deal.

Honoring Mr. Cub

The Cubs announced the team’s plans to pay tribute to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks during Spring Training, Opening Night at Wrigley Field and throughout the course of the 2015 season. “Mr. Cub” passed away last month at the age of 83.

Beginning in Spring Training and continuing throughout the 2015 season, the team will wear a commemorative #14 patch on both its home and away jerseys. The Cubs will open their Spring Training schedule by wearing #14 hats during both split squad games March 5, with additional acknowledgments planned for that day’s opening game at Sloan Park.

Banks will be honored with a pre-game ceremony before Major League Baseball’s Cubs vs. Cardinals Season Opener at Wrigley Field, April 5, and each fan attending that night’s game will receive a commemorative pin in memoriam of the Hall of Famer. Fans will see many other tributes paying homage to Mr. Banks’ remarkable life and career throughout the evening.

A collection of videos, photos and articles have been posted to over the last several weeks, while the team’s Vine Line Magazine will publish a special feature edition honoring Mr. Cub in March. Additional tributes will be finalized and incorporated throughout the 2015 season.

“There is no level of recognition that can properly acknowledge how much Ernie Banks meant to this franchise and fan base,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “Collectively, we must ensure Mr. Cub’s legacy rightfully lives on at the Friendly Confines and with future generations of baseball fans.”

What’s Ahead

Full squads will report for all four MDR teams in the next week. Cactus League and Grapefruit League action starts March 4-5.

With the start of spring training, the MDR Blog will now be distributed weekly through the regular season.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

MDR Blog - 2/1
08:43 AM ET (US)
Spring training starts later this month, so let’s take a look at what the four MDR teams will be looking to do in their respective camps.


After a very inactive winter, the Brewers picked it up in January, trading Yovani Gallardo for three players. With Marco Estrada also gone, their main priority will be to set up their pitching staff.
On paper, the rotation looks like Wily Peralta, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson. But, where these five will end up in the rotation could be influenced by how they perform in spring training games. The rotation is not as deep without Gallardo and Estrada, who provided versatility in the rotation and in the bullpen. Tyler Thornburg could fill the Estrada role, if he has recovered from arm problems.

Others in the bullpen include Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, Brandon Kintzler and Rob Wooten. Jim Henderson also could end up in the mix if he is healthy. Jonathan Broxton likely will be the closer.

With Adam Lind taking over at first base, the position players seem rather set. Geraldo Parra’s role still is to be determined. He could also end up platooning with Khris Davis in left.

Scooter Gennett won’t have to platoon at second base with Rickie Weeks gone, but the Brewers might look to have a righthanded hitting backup, in case Gennett struggles against lefties.

Another priority for the club is to make sure Ryan Braun’s hand injury has been repaired, and he is ready to perform at a higher level than last season.

Reporting Dates: Pitchers and catchers - Feb. 20, Full squad - Feb. 25.

First Cactus League game: March 5 - Dodgers. An exhibition against UWM will be played March 4.


There will be a real buzz in the Cubs camp this spring, with a big name manager in Joe Maddon, several of the young players seemingly ready to contribute and a couple veteran newcomers.

Jon Lester is in the latter category and will go to the top of the rotation. After Lester, Maddon has to determine who will fill out the rotation. Jason Hammel is back and could be No. 2. Back from last season are Jake Arrieta, Kyle Kendricks and Travis Wood among others.

The Cubs traded 3B Luis Valbuena, probably in part to make room for prospect Kris Bryant, but talk is he will start the season at Triple A. A red hot spring could change that.
Shortstop and first base seem set with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Second base is open with Javier Baez the frontrunner for the position if he can cut down on his strikeouts.

Who ends up where in the outfield will be a question. Newly acquired Dexter Fowler likely will end up in center. Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler are leading candidates for the corner outfield positions, but others could be in the mix.

The Cubs upgraded their catching with the acquisition of Miguel Montero and David Ross, who join returnee Welington Castillo. Both will have to work to get to know the pitching staff.

Reporting dates: Pitchers and catchers - Feb. 19, Full squad - Feb. 24

First Cactus League game: March 5 - A’s.


Paul Molitor takes over as manager of the Twins and will want to establish his style and a tone for the team as early in spring training as possible.

Molitor also will want to configure a pitching staff, which has added Ervin Santana to the rotation. Closer Glen Perkins will need some time to make sure he has recovered from an injury-plagued 2014, and the bullpen will have to be set up leading to Perkins.

The outfield looks to have Oswaldo Arcia in left and veteran Torri Hunter in right. Aaron Hicks will get another chance in center, but if he falls short that might be a spot where there will be some competition.

Joe Mauer at first base, Brian Dozier at second and Trevor Plouffe at third should get plenty of work in the spring to establish themselves as the offensive core of the team.

Molitor might have his most work in re-establishing a winning attitude among the Twins, after the club has struggled the last couple seasons.

Reporting Dates: Pitchers and catchers - Feb. 22, Full squad - Feb. 27.

First Grapefruit League game: March 5 - Red Sox. The Twins will play the University of Minnesota on March 4.

White Sox

The Sox will have several new faces in camp and will face the challenge of blending them with the holdovers.

Jeff Samardzija will join a rotation headed by Chris Sale. The bullpen looks to have added depth, but what roles individuals will play will have to be determined.

Melky Cabrera comes in to play left field. He won’t have to compete with Dayan Viciedo, since he was designated for assignment to make room for Gordon Beckham, who will join the mix at second base.

Adam La Roche, who spent most of his time at first base in the NL, will have to adjust to the DH role. He also might be worked into the first base situation, with Jose Abreu periodically serving as DH.

Tyler Flowers looks to start spring as the regular catcher, but the club has plenty of depth with Geovany Soto, George Kottaras, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Nieto.

Manager Robin Ventura has new pieces that should strengthen the Sox puzzle overall, but he will have to arrange those pieces in a way that keeps all the players happy and ready to contribute.

Reporting Dates: Pitchers and catchers - Feb. 20, Full squad - Feb. 24.

First Cactus League game: March 4 - Dodgers.

Mr. Cub

Many baseball fans will miss Ernie Banks, who died in late January. My own family has a longtime story about Ernie. When I was first starting my freelance business, I did writing and photography work for Al Rainovic’s Midwest Diamond Report.

I was taking photos during batting practice at Wrigley when Banks, then serving as sort of an ambassador for the Cubs, asked me if I could take a group photo of a bunch of fans from Peoria. I got 80 photo sales from that, a lot for somebody just starting.

My sister, an avid Cubs fan, saw Ernie talking with me and said to my wife, “Ernie is talking with Butch (my nickname in my family).” I later told her he was my business associate.

That remained a joke in our family until Ernie died. As I progressed in my business, I interviewed Banks several times and found him to be a great guy. He will be missed.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from


** LHP Neal Cotts was signed to a one-year deal and will join the bullpen.

** Principal owner Mark Attanasio said the Brewers roster is not yet set. The club reportedly is looking for another pitcher and more depth.

** Right-hander Hiram Burgos is heading back to the Brewers. Burgos was a 40-man casualty in September, but will remain in the only professional organization he has known. The 27-year-old made one brief, unsuccessful stint in the big leagues. He missed significant time last year due to shoulder surgery.


** Javier Baez had a tough time in Puerto Rico winter ball, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports, as the Cubs prospect is still plagued by strikeouts. It is starting to look like Baez could begin the 2015 season in Triple-A unless he enjoys a big Spring Training.

** The Cubs announced that they have claimed righty Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Rangers.

** The Cubs and outfielder Dexter Fowler have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million.


** Lefty reliever Brian Duensing and the Twins have agreed to terms for one year and $2.7 million.

** Despite some apparent suggestions, the Twins are not interested in free agent second baseman Rickie Weeks, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

** Alex Meyer, the Twins fourth best prospect and 27th overall per, figures to compete to become the club’s fifth starter, reports Rhett Bollinger of Candidates for the back of the rotation include Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May.

White Sox

** The White Sox rank at the very top of the list of off-season winners compiled by Jon Heyman of GM Rick Hahn ticked through many of the team’s questions this winter and should have a competitive team to show for it, says Heyman.

** Right-handers Jairo Asencio and J.D. Martin were signed to minor league deals and invited them to Spring Training.

** The White Sox announced that they have signed right-handers Jesse Crain and Scott Carroll to minor league deals with invites to big league Spring Training.

Handy Andy Review

For a MDR Review of Joe Niese’s “Handy Andy” book on Andy Pafko, go to the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook page (you can find the link below). It’s a great read.

What’s Ahead

You could see teams make some last minute deals as they try to wrap up their spring training rosters.

The MDR Blog will be published again on Feb. 22 and will then run weekly through spring training and the regular season.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
MDR Blog - January
08:35 AM ET (US)
One of my favorite things to do when Midwest Diamond Report was a free standing web site was to pick the Top 5 stories of the year. Why stop now? The Top 5 MDR Stories for 2014 are:

1. Cubs and White Sox off-season moves. Both Chicago teams have been among the most active clubs in the free agent and trade markets and could become contenders because of it. Look for more on this in the second section of this blog.

2. Managers Hired. The Twins fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire and hired former Brewer and Twin star Paul Molitor. The Cubs let Rick Renteria go and hired veteran Joe Maddon.

3. Brewers Hot Start and Collapse. For the first several months of the season, the Brewers had the best record in baseball, but they collapsed and missed the post-season.

4. Abreu’s Rookie Season. Cuban exile Jose Abreu had a great season for the White Sox to earn the AL Rookie of the Year honor.

5. Braun’s Struggles. All eyes were on the Brewers’ Ryan Braun after he returned from his suspension for PED use. Braun struggled to much less than a MVP-caliber season, raising questions as to whether a hand injury slowed him or is this the type of player he will be without chemical help.

Major Moves

As listed at Nos. 1 and 2 among 2014 MDR stories, the Cubs and White Sox have made plenty of news with their off-season changes.

At the time of this writing, the Cubs had added pitchers Jon Lester, Jason Hammel and Jason Matte and catchers Miguel Montero and David Ross. The Sox had added outfielder Melky Cabrera, first baseman Adam La Roche and pitchers Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Dan Jennings.

Indications are that the clubs might not be done yet. When you add the veteran players to the Cubs core of young, promising prospects, the club could become a contender in the NL Central.

The newcomers for the White Sox join a core that includes Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu and pitcher Chris Sale.

While not as active as the Chicago teams, the Twins added veteran Torii Hunter to the outfield and Ervin Santana to the starting rotation.

Then, there are the Brewers. They added Adam Lind to play first base early in the fall, but overall have been quiet. They also have indicated that they plan to continue to be so. Maybe the Brewers had less improvement to make than the other three MDR clubs. Their lack of activity could turn out to be justified, but they also could watch the Cubs, Sox and Twins zoom by them in 2015.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from Check out this excellent source of baseball information.)


** This from the Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors site: “Another middling record won’t cut it in the increasingly-competitive NL Central, so it’s possible (GM Doug) Melvin could be on the hot seat if the Brewers aren’t in contention. That said, given Melvin’s history with the team, I’d guess he’ll receive a two- or three-year extension to give him a bit more time to get things on track.”

** The Brewers sent catcher Shawn Zarraga to Los Angeles in exchange for versatile outfielder Matt Long, who was actually traded twice Thursday, and left-hander Jarret Martin, a reliever who jumped right into's list of the Top 20 Brewers prospects, at No. 18.

** The Brewers are on the lookout for outfield depth for their new Triple-A affiliate at Colorado Springs, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America. Jeremy Hermida is headed to Japan to play with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and Caleb Gindl and Eugenio Velez have departed as minor-league free agents. The Brewers also (intentionally) allowed Sean Halton and Kentrail Davis to leave in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. “We have to get to work and sign some free agents,” says assistant GM Gord Ash.


** The Cubs have reportedly signed versatile free-agent outfielder Chris Denorfia to one-year deal.

** SS Starlin Castro has been cleared of any involvement in the shooting by the Dominican General of National Police, tweets Bruce Levine of Six people were injured in the shooting, which took place at a nightclub early Saturday morning. Kinzer says Castro went to the police station voluntarily to clear his name, but police told him they had video proof that he wasn’t involved.

** Anthony Carter‘s deal with the Cubs is a split contract, Steve Adams of MLBTR reports on Twitter. Carter will earn at a $575K rate for time spent at the big league level.


** RHP Phil Hughes received a three-year extension worth $42 million that brings his total contract value to $66 million over six years, including last season, when he made $8 million. Hughes, who was slated to make $8 million in both 2015 and '16, will now make $9.2 million each of those years before making $13.2 million per season from 2017-19.

** The Twins signed RHP Tim Stauffer to a one-year deal worth $2.2 million.

** The Twins outrighted both outfielder Chris Parmelee and catcher Eric Fryer to Triple-A Rochester. Parmelee was previously designated for assignment for the second time in his career on Dec. 13.

White Sox

** In an Insider-only piece for, Tony Blengino describes Adam LaRoche signing with the White Sox as “a perfect marriage of club, player, ballpark and contract.” Using analyses of LaRoche’s swing and U.S. Cellular Field’s park factor, Blengino thinks the veteran first baseman could challenge for the AL homer crown if he stays healthy.

** The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of Needs include bullpen and bench depth.

** RHP Nate Jones plans on resuming throwing in January after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his elbow last July.

Immortalized in Bronze

If you didn’t see it when announced, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame looks to be on track for revival, after the rights to it were purchased by Lammi Sports Management in Milwaukee.

Members of the Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group, who maintained the Revive the Hall Facebook page and conducted tours, etc. of the Hall, hope to remain involved as a support/auxiliary group.

Keep up on developments by going to the Revive the Hall Facebook page.

What’s Ahead

You could still see some moves by MDR teams in January, although traditionally this month slows down and teams wait to see how players perform in spring training before assessing what they need to do.

This month is one of promo tours and events. The Cubs Convention is Jan. 16-18. Soxfest is a week later, Jan. 23-25.

The Twins still hold a winter caravan, which will run Jan. 12-22. It’s followed by Twinsfest on Jan. 23-25. The Brewers hold their On Deck event on Jan. 25.

The next MDR Blog will be Feb. 8 and will preview the spring training camps for the four MDR teams. The Blog will go weekly again when those camps start.

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

Rick Schabowski
08:23 AM ET (US)
This is great........Thanks for keeping all of us up to date Gregg!!!
< replied-to message removed by QT >
MDR Blog - 12/1
08:12 AM ET (US)
By Gregg Hoffmann

Two MDR teams took different approaches to hiring new managers after the regular season.

The Cubs hired veteran Joe Maddon to replace Rick Renteria. The Twins hired former Brewer and Twin player Paul Molitor, a first time manager, to replace Ron Gardenhire.

Maddon has a proven track record and is considered an innovative manager of the game. He‘s known for his positive approach and demonstrated that when he was introduced as the Cubs‘ skipper.

"I'm going to talk playoffs [next year], I'm going to talk World Series," Maddon said. "I promise you I am, and I'm going to believe it."

The Cubs are loaded with young prospects, so a veteran leader at the top could help guide the youngsters. The club also might seek some veteran, free agent pitchers, and Maddon could help there too.

"It might help with recruiting," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Carrie Muskat of "Everyone wants to play for Joe, which is nice.

“I like where we are as an organization. It's a lot more fun to have an eye on competing. We're going to try to build the right way and not force it, not rush it. We're going to find the right fits and make the right moves and compete."

Molitor has been with the Twins in a variety of coaching capacities since retiring as a player, but the jump to the top managerial spot is a big one. But, other teams have had some success with managers who had less on-field coaching experience -- such as Mike Matheny with the Cardinals and Robin Ventura with the White Sox.

The move to Molitor also isn’t something that was a last minute decision. "It's been a long journey for me," said Molitor, who has been rumored before to be up for big jobs with the Twins and Brewers.

"I've had opportunities to think about this for many years. I've spun it through and spun it out, and finally everything kind of seemed to come together right. ... I have no doubt this is where I'm supposed to be.

"I'm coming here to win," added Molitor. "I think it's very important to lay that out there right from the start. Things can change in this game very dramatically at this level very quickly."

This writer got to know Molitor quite well during his playing days with the Brewers. He was one of those rare players who could teach the game both by doing and verbally. We produced a baseball tips column for youngsters, which was picked up by a few state newspapers in the early ‘90s. Molitor showed a deep knowledge of the game through that project and an ability to articulate that knowledge.

Of course, managing is different from being a knowledgeable player, or even a coach. Not all who were great players have had success as managers.

"We've seen successful athletes have trouble in managing or general management positions," Molitor said. "But this is a different challenge than playing. My playing obviously influenced this, but this is totally different. But I got a text from Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall of Fame, and he told me to relax and that my plaque isn't going anywhere."

Molitor isn’t inheriting a situation like Maddon has with the Cubs. The Twins have some promising young players, but seem to have a longer road to rebuilding. But, don’t bet against Molitor long range.

Both the Cubs and Twins should be interesting to watch next season, despite their different approaches to hiring managers.

Updated Notes


** RHP Taylor Jungmann, relievers David Goforth and Michael Strong and shortstop Yadiel Rivera were added to Milwaukee's 40-man roster

** Right-hander John Ely has agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers. The 28-year-old saw sporadic playing time with the Dodgers over the 2010-12 time frame. The Brewers also announced last week that they have re-signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Pete Orr to minor league deals.

** Craig Counsell said he removed himself from the running to be the next Rays manager, in part because he's enjoying his role as a special assistant to the general manager for the Brewers.


** Free agent LHP Jon Lester reportedly has visited the Cubs and received a six-year offer from the club. Catcher Russell Martin, also of interest to the Cubs, signed with the Blue Jays. The Cubs also have interest in LHP Cole Hamels.

** The Wrigley Field bleachers, currently undergoing a major renovation, may not be ready by Opening Night because of unseasonably cold weather and delays with related projects.

** First baseman Anthony Rizzo accepted the 23rd Annual Branch Rickey Award for humanitarian service. At 25, he is the youngest recipient.


** Veteran free agent OF Torii Hunter has said he is interested in returning to the Twins, but other sources said he is more interested in other clubs.

** Molitor is filling out his coaching staff. Eddie Guardado will serve as bullpen coach. . The Twins also have announced the hires of pitching coach Neil Allen, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez, bench coach Joe Vavra and third-base coach Gene Glynn.

** The Twins added four players to their 40-man roster, including top prospects Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer and Eddie Rosario. The Twins have outrighted righty Anthony Swarzak.

White Sox

** The White Sox added a veteran power bat, agreeing to a two-year, $25-million contract with 1B Adam LaRoche. LaRoche wasn’t keen to fully transition to a full-time DH role, yet he told reporters during his introductory White Sox press conference that he’s happy to cede most of the first base duties to Jose Abreu. “They’ve got a kid [Abreu] that’s obviously going to be around and be really good for a long time,” LaRoche said.

** The Sox and A’s reportedly were talking about a deal that would send former Cub Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago for shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

** The White Sox have outrighted righty Ronald Belisario. Belisario was designated recently to make room for the claim of reliever Onelki Garcia. The White Sox have signed OF Tony Campana.

Halls of Fame

A group wants to establish a La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame, with a walkway of commemorative plaques at Copeland Park and eventually a museum.

I’m serving on the board of this group and think it’s a great idea. If you want to donate to the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame, contact board chairman Mike Haupert at

Sticking with the Hall of Fame theme, the Old Time Ballplayers Association in Milwaukee inducted Greg Ebbert, Ken “Red” Oberbruner, Jamey Oberbruner, Greg Mahlberg, Ron Barbian and Jim Andrews into their Hall in early November.

MDR On Facebook

The MDR Blog now has an accompanying Facebook page. Updates to the Blog will be added there rather than my own personal Facebook page.

Don’t expect it to be updated as often as the old Midwest Diamond Report web site was updated, but it will allow a space for trades, rumors, spectacular results, etc. to be posted in between postings of the Blog.

Also feel free to add comments to it. The address can be found among the listing of place where the Blog is posted.

Pompous Prognostications

This writer didn’t do as well with his post-season individual awards as with his team finishes predictions. I picked Jose Abreu as the AL Rookie of the Year and Mike Trout as AL MVP, but swung and missed at the other award winners.

What’s Ahead

Baseball’s Winter Meetings will be held Dec. 8-11 in San Diego. Some moves often come out of those meetings.

The Rule 5 Draft will be held Dec. 11. The GIBBY awards will be announced Dec. 6. Hall of Fame nominations also will be announced in December.

Baseball then calms down for the holidays, but promotional events and preparation for spring training will happen in January.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
MDR Blog - 11/2
08:07 AM ET (US)
The MDR Blog returns for its first monthly off-season publication. Breaking news is included in the Updated Notes section.


Any Brewers’ fan had to notice the number of former Milwaukee players on the Royals during the post-season.

Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki and Lorenzo Cain were the first three batters in the lineup most games. Of course, Ned Yost was the manager and Dale Sveum the bench coach.

How did these guys get from the Brewers to the Royals? Let’s start with Yost. If you remember, he was fired with a dozen games left in 2008. Sveum took the club the rest of the way to the post-season.

Yost had done much during his tenure from 2003 to 2008 to bring a young Brewers team to the brink of being a contender. He nurtured and nudged when needed, but in 2007 when the Brewers were in the hunt he blew his cool.

Within a short period of time down the stretch drive, Yost was ejected three times and gave the image of a manager who was having a tough time managing his own emotions. Those young players who had followed him to near the top noticed and faded to 83-79 and second place in the NL Central.

When the Brewers contended in 2008, they started to fade again later in the season. Amidst fears that the outcome would be the same as 2007, Yost was fired. The Brewers finished 90-72, again in second place but good enough to get into post-season as a wild card.

Under Sveum, the team went 7-5 and did get in to the post-season, but that wasn’t good enough to earn Sveum the managerial spot in 2009. Instead, the Brewers turned to Ken Macha, who generally was a bust.

Yost handled his firing with class, and took over a club in KC that was young, talented and building, much like the Brewers were during his tenure. With the Royals, he made it all the way to the World Series.

Two of the Royals’ stars had to be somewhat familiar to Yost, since they were in the Brewers’ minor league system when he was in Milwaukee. Escobar was drafted by the Brewers in 2003 and was seen as the shortstop of the future by the time he was called up in 2009.

The Brewers had so much faith in him that they dealt J.J. Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez to make room at short. He hit .304 in 125 at-bats in 2009, but slumped to .235 as a regular in 2010.

Escobar then was part of the deal that brought Zack Greinke to the Brewers. Another part of that deal was Cain.

Cain was drafted by the Brewers in 2004 and showed real promise on his way through the farm system. He hit .306 in 147 at-bats with the Brewers in 2010 and looked to have a shot at center field for Milwaukee. But, the Brewers decided to stick with Gomez and sent Cain to KC as part of the Greinke deal.

You can argue that Gomez and Cain are somewhat clones of each other. Both have power and speed, and certain flairs to their style. Cain looks to be a more consistent hitter overall and might have more of an upside long term.

Aoki had a couple nice seasons for the Brewers, but was seeking a longer term contract extension and the club wanted to move Ryan Braun to right field, to make room for Khris Davis in left. So, Aoki was sent to KC for reliever Will Smith.

Sveum became the Cubs’ manager after he was passed over by the Brewers, eventually was fired in Chicago but again linked up with Yost in KC.

Our assessments of the moves that helped bring a World Series to KC for the first time since 1985:

Most close followers of the club felt it was principal owner Mark Attanasio who pushed for Yost’s firing in 2008. He wanted to avoid a similar outcome to the previous year, saw things he didn’t like and pushed the panic button. For the most part, the firing with a dozen games to go wasn’t GM Doug Melvin’s style.

You could argue that the Brewers’ collapse this past season was worse than that of 2007 and, following the logic from 2008, manager Ron Roenicke should have been canned because of it. A big difference was the Brewers extended Roenicke’s contact this season and would have had to pay him for a couple seasons for doing nothing.

Any thoughts on how the Brewers might have done with Yost still the manager is just speculation. The same can be true about Sveum possibly becoming the Brewers’ skipper. Time to move on for all involved.

Escobar was a strange situation. Trading Hardy was a first step in breaking up a corps of young players who were supposed to made the Brewers contenders for years. The Brewers obviously had a lot of faith in Escobar, but to give him only one full season as a regular showed something changed.

Cain was considered a raw talent by the Brewers, but so was Gomez. So, when it came time to make a move that would made the Brewers contenders in 2011, Escobar and Cain had the potential to interest KC.

From the Brewers’ viewpoint, the deal was similar to acquiring C.C. Sabathia in 2008. And, like that move, the acquisition of Greinke helped Milwaukee to the post-season. When Greinke was traded to the Angels the following year, the Brewers also got their now regular shortstop in Jean Segura and prospect pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena.

How Segura and the others perform in the future might ultimately swing the deal with KC to the Brewers’ side. Right now, the deal for Greinke looks like a move for what was then the immediate at the expense of the future.

Aoki for Smith is a deal that could have been avoided. If the Brewers had moved Braun to first base, as they were talking about doing in 2015, Aoki could have stayed in right field and remained the most effective leadoff hitter the Brewers have had in years.

The Brewers might have felt that Aoki, a star in Japan for several season, was too old to make a longer term commitment to.

Smith, while a workhorse for Milwaukee last season, burned out later in the year. You could argue the club could have turned elsewhere for the bullpen help.

There always is an element of rolling the dice in any baseball dea;. The Brewers did just that in the deals with the Royals, opting to fill what they considered more immediate needs in exchange for future potential. Right now, in 2014, it looks like the Royals got the better of the deals. That might not have looked to have been the case in 2011, or might not in the future.

Updated Notes


** 1B Adam Lind was acquired from the Blue Jays for RHP Marco Estrada on Saturday. Lind likely will take over the 1B spot for Milwaukee.

** The Brewers exercised their $13 million option on RHP Yovani Gallardo, declined an $11.5 million option on 2B Rickie Weeks and exercised their half of a $14 million mutual option on 3B Aramis Ramirez, who has three days to accept or decline. Ramirez is expected to accept the option. Ramirez was reported to meet with his agent on Sunday to determine if he will exercise his side of the option, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

** Corner infielder Luis Jimenez was claimed off waivers from the Angels. The Brewers also claimed catcher Juan Centeno off waivers from the New York Mets. Darnell Coles was hired as hitting coach.


** Joe Maddon, who declined an option with the Rays, was hired as Cubs’ manager, replacing Rick Renteria. A statement on the move has been posted at: More on the Maddon move in the December MDR Blog.

** The Cubs declined an option of RHP Kyuji Fujikawa. The Cubs made a series of other roster trims, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Outfielder Ryan Kalish and infielders Chris Valaika and Josh Vitters have each been outrighted, according to Gonzales. Righty James McDonald has elected free agency as well.

** The Cubs have exercised their option on starting pitcher Jacob Turner, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets. Turner’s option is worth $1MM, or $500K if he’s in the minors. The Cubs can control Turner for three years thereafter via arbitration.


** While the Twins have initially denied reports that a manager has been chosen, a source has told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter) that Paul Molitor has been offered a contract. Molitor and Angels coach Torey Lovullo reportedly were the front runners for the job, according to earlier reports.

** The Twins have sold left-handed starter Kris Johnson to the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball. The Twins also declined their $3.6MM option on Jared Burton. The Twins have re-signed minor league right-hander Mark Hamburger to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

** The Twins have interest in LHP Mark Buehrle, a current Blue Jay and former White Sox.

White Sox

** The White Sox have informed righty Felipe Paulino that they will not pick up his $4MM option, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Chicago will instead pay him a $250K buyout.

**The White Sox would love to move LHP John Danks, but the $28.5MM owed to him over the next two years will be a deterrent to teams.

** Retired Sox player Paul Konerko was the co-recipient of the Clemente Award with the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins.

What’s Ahead

The major awards from this past season will start to be announced in upcoming days. Free agents also will be declaring soon.

Often deals are discussed during the playoffs and World Series, but official announcements are held until after the Series ends. So, expect the Twins to announce their manager very soon and some possible deals involving MDR teams to come up in the next month.

The MDR Blog will next be published on Dec. 7. It will remain monthly until the week before spring training, when it will go back to weekly publication.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

Cubs Statement
08:06 AM ET (US)

Cubs dismiss manager Rick Renteria

The Chicago Cubs today announced that the club has fired manager Rick Renteria. Renteria, the 53rd manager in franchise history, led the club for the 2014 season after being named to the position on November 7, 2013.

 Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein released the following statement:

 Today we made the difficult decision to replace Rick Renteria as manager of the Chicago Cubs. On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organization.

 Rick’s sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.

Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.

 Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon – who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us – had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.

While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.

 We offered Rick a choice of other positions with the Cubs, but he is of course free to leave the organization and pursue opportunities elsewhere. Armed with the experience of a successful season and all the qualities that made him our choice a year ago, Rick will no doubt make an excellent major league manager when given his next chance.

 Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him. Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best.

 We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago. The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans. As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation. To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.
MDR Blog - 9/29
08:32 AM ET (US)
This is the last weekly MDR Blog for the 2014 season. Let’s review the season for the four MDR teams and give some ideas on what they have to do to improve. We’ll also pick a MDR All Star team and give some season honors.

Season reviews

Brewers (82-80)

For 150 days, the Brewers stayed in first place in the NL Central, but a couple weaknesses were percolating and eventually did in their pennant chances. First, they had an erratic offensive attack, too dependent on the home run. Second, manager Ron Roenicke burned out his relievers -- Tyler Thornburg, Will Smith, Brandon Kintzler, Zach Duke, etc.

In the last month of the season, the Brewers could not hit homers, and therefore had an overall anemic attack. Carlos Gomez slumped, in part due to nagging injuries, but in part because he was never the superstar caliber he played at earlier in the season. He’s come a long way, but not that far.

Aramis Ramirez, Khris Davis and others also cooled off. Then, there is Ryan Braun. The former MVP was said to be suffering from a hand injury which cut his production, but you also have to question whether this is Ryan Braun post-steroid era.

Braun allegedly took steroids in 2011 to help recover from an injury. This time, he couldn’t do that. Also, it just might be that his bat is not as explosive without some chemical help.

So, that’s the No. 1 decision the Brewers brass will have to eventually make -- do they want to pay MVP level salaries to what could be an injury prone outfielder, who while still productive is not as good as he once was? Don’t expect them to address that over this off-season, but they might have to down the road.

There has been some discussion about moving Braun to first base and going with an outfield of Gomez, Davis and Gerardo Parra next season. That’s more likely than Braun being sent elsewhere.

Some decisions should not be as complex as that on Braun. Rickie Weeks, Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay should be gone. Thanks for your contributions, but adios. Then, there are some interesting possible scenarios.

Ramirez and Yovani Gallardo have option years on their contracts. This writer says exercise Ramirez’s option. There is no internal option available yet at third base, with the exception of prospect Jason Rogers. Despite his annual injuries, and his age, Ramirez still is productive at the plate and while he has lost a step in the field can still provide good defense.

Let Gallardo go. He has turned into a .500 pitcher who can look brilliant in some games and not so much in others. Another option would be to exercise the option and then use him to go after a first baseman -- most notably Justin Morneau of the Rockies.

The Brewers reportedly went after Morneau in August, after the waiver deadline, but couldn’t offer enough and the Rockies withdrew him from waivers. Maybe without the pressure of the season, the two teams now can work something out.

Milwaukee can’t go with Reynolds and Overbay at first again, and if you deal Gallardo you have a place for Mike Fiers in the rotation with Marco Estrada and Jimmy Nelson as possible fifth starters. Another trade possibility could be Matt Garza, although his salary and general inconsistency might not make him that marketable.

Even without Gallardo or Garza, the Brewers would still have a good rotation as their core. They need to add more consistent offense if they want to contend in 2015.

Cubs (73-89)

The Cubs started addressing their rebuilding process in 2014 with the additions of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Kendricks and others.

Look for the possibility of Kris Bryant joining the group next season, and there are others waiting in the wings.

Probably the biggest challenge for the Cubs will be to add pitching. Jake Arrieta, Kendricks, Hector Rondon and others could end up key cogs on the mound, but the club needs to add a No. 1 and perhaps No. 2 starter.

Welington Castillo is inconsistent at catcher, but provides some offense and could remain the starter. Anthony Rizzo had a fine season before he was slowed by injuries. Chris Coghlin, a one-time Rookie of the Year, played well and demonstrated he could be a regular in the outfield.

The Cubs will have to decide what they do with Starlin Castro, one of their All Stars. Baez could remain at second base, with Castro remaining at shortstop. Castro also could be traded, perhaps for a pitcher, and Baez could move to short.

Don’t look for the Cubs to contend in 2015, but they started their rebuilding process in 2014 and should show improvement next year.

Twins (70-92)

The Twins went after starting pitching last off-season and with the exception of Phil Hughes did not show much improvement. Look for them to go after pitching again this off-season.

Glen Perkins, their All Star closer, had arm problems at the end of the season, but should be mended by spring and provides a solid performer at the end of the bullpen.

Brian Dozier had a nice season at second base. Trevor Plouffe did the same at third base before suffering a season-ending injury. Oswaldo Arcia showed some pop in the outfield, and there are other candidates out there that show promise.

Joe Mauer once again had nagging injuries slow him. The Twins can only hope Mauer still has a season or two of health and production left.

In addition, to starting pitching, the Twins desperately need more offense. They have candidates who could help in that area, but none have become clear solutions to the problem. In fact, in some ways, 2014 was a season of spinning wheels for the Twins.

Ron Gardenhire has survived a couple horrible seasons as manager. The Twins’ brass obviously doesn’t believe he has been part of the problem. But, the team made little progress in the rebuilding process this year, so you could see Gardenhire go.

White Sox (73-89)

Like their crosstown rivals, the Cubs, the White Sox started their rebuilding process in 2014. Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham and others went elsewhere. Paul Konerko retired.

In their place are Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia (once he came off the DL), Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie and other young players.

Chris Sale had another good season on the mound. There are other promising pitching candidates too.

That’s not to paint too rosy of a picture for the Sox. They still finished second to last in the AL Central. And, these young players might not develop into players that can make the Sox contenders again.

The Sox also face decisions on Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. Can they help the club rise in the standings or would dealing them help more? Second base is wide open, with several possibilities.

But, especially when you compare them to the Twins, the Sox made more progress in starting a rebuilding process in the ALC.

MDR Season Honors

Player of the Year - The White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who finished at .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs, a OBP of .383 and OPS of .964.

Pitcher of the Year - The Sox’s Chris Sale, who finished 12-4, with a 2.17 ERA, 208 strikeouts and 39 walks in 174 innings.

Rookie of the Year - With Abreu picked the Player of the Year, we looked elsewhere for our Rookie of the Year selection. The Cubs’ Kyle Kendricks, who wasn‘t as highly touted as some of the other team‘s rookies, but went 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA after he was called up from the minors. He gets the honor.

No manager of the year was selected. Ron Roenicke would have been the pick, but could not be selected after the Brewers’ collapse. In fact, he could end up a casualty of that collapse.

All Star Team

Despite their collapse at the end of the season, the Brewers dominated the MDR All Star team selections:

Catcher - Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
First base - Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
Second base - Brian Dozier, Twins
Shortstop - Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Third Base - Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
Left field - Chris Coghlan, Cubs
Center field - Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Right field - Ryan Braun, Brewers
DH - Jose Abreu, White Sox
RHP - Phil Hughes, Twins, and Wily Peralta, Brewers
LHP - Chris Sale, White Sox
Reliever - Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers

Selig Farewell

Commissioner Bud Selig visited the ballpark he helped get built last Friday when he met the media at Miller Park as part of a farewell tour that included every park in the big leagues. For some comments on Selig’s tenure as commish, check out a section of the first monthly MDR Blog in November.

Pompous Prognostications

Providing proof that even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while, this writer last spring picked all the NL playoff teams -- the Nationals in the East, Cardinals in the Central, Dodgers in the West and the Pirates and Giants in the Wild Card.

In the AL, I had the Angels winning the West, and the Royals, Tigers and Orioles getting into the playoffs -- but not in the right order of finish. I picked the Rays in the AL East, which did not happen.

As for the MDR teams, I correctly had the Brewers third and Cubs fifth in the NLC. In the AL, I had the Twins fourth and Sox fifth. Those teams were switched in the actual final standings.

We’ll check how my picks for MVP and other awards turned out when the MDR Blog returns the weekend of Nov. 1. It will run monthly until spring training and then go back to weekly.

Until we return, enjoy the playoffs and World Series.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

MDR Blog - 9/22
06:27 PM ET (US)
The Brewers remained mathematically in the NL Wild Card race after weekend action, but we all know that statistics can lie.

With six games left, the Brewers find themselves 4 games behind the Pirates in the race for the final Wild Card spot. It would take a miracle for them to catch the Bucs, and this team isn’t playing like a club that can pull off any miracles.

On the six game road trip, they have scored a total of eight runs. An erratic hitting team all season, one that depended too much on the home run, the Brewers turned downright anemic in their attack.

That’s the major reason, they fell out of first place in the NLC and why they lost four of six games on this road trip to the two teams they had to beat to still have a real chance at the post-season.

Sure, you can argue Jonathan Broxton and the bullpen blew a couple games, but that isn’t the area that cost the team the most. They simply could not score runs.

You can accept it when Adam Wainwright sticks it to you. But they made Vance Worley look like Wainwright on Sunday in a 1-0 loss.

There is plenty of blame go to around, but those who have to shoulder the most are the teams’ stars. Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Braun virtually disappeared during this road trip. Jonathan Lucroy held his own a little better, but still didn’t live up to what had been a MVP-type season before the overall slump.

Some tough decisions face GM Doug Melvin and his staff after the season. The Brewers’ starting rotation was outstanding during the road trip and deserved much better. Even if most of those guys come back, they won’t be able to overcome the all-or-nothing offense the Brewers displayed all season. And, it has been mostly nothing the last month or so.

Melvin has to find some more consistent bats if the Brewers have any chance of staying in first place for more than 150 games and right to the end of the season next year.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Chris Coghlan had a week’s production in one game to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor. Coghlan went 4-for-4 with two homers, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the 8th inning, to spark the Cubs to a 8-7 win over the Dodgers.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:

** the Brewers’ entire starting rotation, which pitched great against the Cardinals and Pirates with virtually nothing to show for it.

** the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit his 21st homer of the season, and first since Aug. 10.

** the White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who hit .360 for the week.

Updated Notes


** RHP Wily Peralta allowed only two singles in his first six innings Sunday.

** RHP Francisco Rodriguez moved into a tie for 10th on the all-time saves list with his save Saturday. It was his 43rd of the season and 347th overall.

** RHP Matt Garza on his ejection after hitting the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen twice: "If people think I hit McCutchen on purpose, with a 1-2 count in a game like this, then you're just an idiot, OK? Because a game like this, a starter doesn't go after a guy like that. It's a [1-2] count and I'm trying to pitch inside. Guy leans in, it hits him on the elbow, that's my day. So it is what it is, and I'm happy we pulled it out."


** Rookie RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.28 ERA) and Jake Arrieta (9-5, 2.65) will switch spots for the Cardinals series, with Hendricks going Tuesday and Arrieta going Wednesday.

** Cubs catcher Welington Castillo returned to action after sustaining a left rib contusion during Friday's 14-5 loss to the Dodgers.

** RHP Hector Rondon, a 2012 Rule 5 Draft pick by the Cubs, has allowed one earned run in 16 appearances since Aug. 8, good for a 0.56 ERA with 12 saves, including Saturday.


** Of Aaron Hicks was held out of Sunday’s game with back stiffness.

** LHP Glen Perkins was shut down for the rest of the season after he underwent MRI exams on his shoulder, elbow and forearm on Thursday and Friday and was officially diagnosed with a strained right forearm and nerve irritation in his forearm.

** SS Eduardo Escobar is hopeful he'll return to the lineup by Monday, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expressed doubts Escobar will be ready to play by then.
Escobar suffered a jammed right shoulder diving for a ball on Tuesday.

White Sox

** RF Avisail Garcia had three hits, including two home runs, in a 10-5 win over the Rays Sunday.

** 1B Paul Konerko will play as much as possible in what will be his final week before retirement.

** LHP Chris Sale surrendered nine hits and five runs over just five innings in Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Royals and lost the AL ERA lead.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers and Cubs will wrap up the season next weekend at Miller Park. The Brewers hope it will be a meaningful series in the Wild Card race, not just a I-94 Rivalry series.

Expect plenty of kudos for Paul Konerko as he plays his last week before retirement.

Next weekend’s MDR Blog will actually be posted on Monday, Sept. 29, so a complete summary of the regular season can be written. A special format will include: 1) brief reviews of the four MDR teams’ seasons, 2) MDR season honors and a 2014 All Star team, 3) a look at how the Pompous Prognostications came out and 4) the publishing schedule for the off-season.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
MDR Blog 9/14
09:30 AM ET (US)
Mike Fiers has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise bad run by the Brewers, but the righthander now has another challenge on his hands.

If you didn’t see it, Fiers’ beaning of Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton was gruesome. You could see it shook up Fiers. Things got worse when he also hit the next batter and both benches emptied.

Both pitches just got away from Fiers. He had no intention of going head-hunting. Fiers was fined an undisclosed amount, not for hitting Stanton, but for his actions during an argument, which contributed to the benches clearing.

Some will accuse Fiers of being a head hunter, and he likely will have to endure some abuse from some fans. His biggest challenge could be within his own mind and heart.

"I reached out last night," an obviously emotional Fiers said after the incident. "Left a message, whenever they want to get back, or if they do. If not, just wanted to reach out, let them know how I feel and just how I feel about the whole situation."

It was reported Friday that Stanton, who leads the NL in homers, will not require major surgery to repair facial fractures and dental damage.

This is not the first time the Brewers have dealt with such a situation. Seven years ago, Brewers pitcher Matt Wise broke the cheekbone of the Reds’ Pedro Lopez with a high fastball. Wise went from one of the team's best relievers to an ineffective pitcher who pitched just nine innings in the final two months. He admitted he had emotional difficulties pitching inside and having confidence in his control.

Fiers will have to put the incident behind him and be able to move on with the same confident approach that has led to his winning streak for the Brewers. He already has shown he is mentally tough. In 2013, he rebounded from losing his mother and
a broken arm.

"Everyone knows it was an accident. We've got to move past it," Fiers said. "I've got another start in five days, which I need to be ready for to give this team another quality start."

If he is ready, Fiers will pitch Tuesday against the Cardinals. It’s a huge series for the Brewers. who are desperately trying to hang on to slim post-season hopes.

Twins-White Sox series

Friday night’s game between the White Sox and Twins was postponed due to a forecast of rain throughout the evening and rescheduled for Saturday as part of a doubleheader.

The Sox swept that doubleheader. Jose Quintana struck out 13 in a 5-1 win. Dayan Viciedo hit a walkoff homer off Glen Perkins for s 7-6 win in the nightcap.

Forty-five strikeouts were recorded by the two teams in the doubleheader to set a MLB record for a DH in which no games went into extra innings.

Hector Noesi will try to help the Sox sweep the series when he faces the Twins’ Trevor May on Sunday.

Player of the Week

The White Sox’s Chris Sale lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.99 with eight shutout innings Thursday. He struck out nine. That earned him the MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:

** the Brewers’ Matt Clark, who hit two homers in starts at first base to give the club’s slumping offense a pickup.

** the Cubs’ Welington Castillo, who hit .400 for the week.

** the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia, who had a five-game hitting streak and hit .471 for the week.

Updated Notes


** The Brewers have averaged only 2.77 runs per game in September.

** Matt Clark took a gamble and opted out of his minor league deal with the Mets to sign with the Brewers.

** RHPs Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin were sent to the Reds to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade.


** The Cubs’ losing streak ended Saturday with a 6-4 win over the Pirates..

** Rookie Jorge Soler returned to Miami on Friday for the birth of his first child, and was expected to rejoin the Cubs in Chicago on Monday.

** Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was allowed to walk without a supportive walking boot on his left ankle Friday, and predicts he'll be back before the season ends. Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo continued to make progress in his rehab from a lower back strain, and was able to run the bases for the first time on Friday.


** Phil Hughes struck out a career-high 11 batters on Saturday.

** Twins closer Glen Perkins was back in uniform and blew a save Saturday. The lefthander had not appeared in a game since Sept. 4 because of a stiff neck.

** Rookie center fielder Danny Santana returned from a lower back strain and reclaimed his spot atop the Twins' batting order on Thursday afternoon.

White Sox

** 1B/DH Jose Abreu became only the fourth rookie in history to record 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

** The White Sox have just $46MM in commitments to the 2015 payroll before arbitration and General Manager Rick Hahn isn’t exactly sure how he’ll allocate that money just yet, writes Scott Merkin of

** Top prospect Micah Johnson has been shut down for the year due to an injury, but he’ll be firmly in the second base mix with Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers’ big series with the Cardinals highlights the coming week. A sweep by the Brewers could get them right back in the NL Central race and the Wild Card hunt. A sweep by the Cardinals could knock the Brewers out of both races.

Wily Peralta, Fiers and Kyle Lohse will start the three games for Milwaukee. Lance Lynn is scheduled to start Tuesday, but the Cardinals had not named their starters for the other two games, as of this writing.

Members of the Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group will conduct tours of the state Hall of Fame plaques outside the U.S. Cellular Arena on Saturday, as part of Historic Milwaukee’s Open Doors program.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
MDR Blog - 9/6
09:11 AM ET (US)
The Brewers had a depressing week, falling out of first place in the NL Central for the first time since early April.

Their 9-game losing streak included a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. The games weren’t even very close. The slip continued with a loss to the Cardinals, who had moved into first place. The Brewers finally snapped that streak with a win over the Cards on Friday.

Adding to the depression about poor play on the field was the unexpected death of scouting director Bruce Seid. He was only 53.

Multiple factors have led to the Brewers’ slump. First, a streaky hitting team has fallen into an overall hitting slump, with an average of two runs per game.. The losses of Carlos Gomez to an injury, and Ryan Braun to a paternity leave, further hurt the offense. Neither were really hitting that well though before they exited.

The starting pitchers, an asset most of the season, looked to have run out of gas. Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Jimmy Nelson, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza, who was returning from an injury, all were rocked around during the club’s losing streak. Only Mike Fiers, called up in August, looked good. He broke the losing streak Friday.

Meanwhile, the bullpen has been inconsistent for weeks. That could be because of overuse in some cases. The pitching staff’s overall ERA during the streak was 6.44.

While the Brewers fell out of first place, they still are in the Wild Card race as of this writing. Their win on Friday gave them a one-game lead over the Braves for the final Wild Card position. The Pirates also hang in that race. So, the Brewers will have to turn around their slide soon to make the post-season at all.
Cubs Rising

The Cubs’ sweep of the Brewers should give their fans hope for the future. Some of their touted prospects -- Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and others -- have played well and could form a core for the team in future seasons.

Chicago’s hot streak is the club’s best since 2002. Even more impressive is the fact that the Cubs have been without their two All-Stars, Starlin Castro, who is likely lost for the season with a high ankle sprain suffered Tuesday night, and Anthony Rizzo, who has tightness in his lower back.

"We're playing good baseball now," outfielder Chris Valaika said. "I've seen it all year with these guys in Triple-A. If we keep this rolling, showing teams we can play going into next year, I think we'll have something special."

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Hendricks beat the Brewers to improve his record to 6-1. Hendricks, who compiled a 1.69 ERA and 4-0 record in six August starts, was picked the NL Rookie Pitcher of the Month. That’s good enough for him to also receive the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:

** the Brewers’ Fiers, who ran his record to 5-2 with the streak-winning victory Friday.

** the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who hit .350 with two homers.

** the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .625 in five games and had an eight-game hitting streak.

Updated Notes


** 2B Scooter Gennett left Friday’s game in the 8th inning for precautionary reasons because of his quad problem. He had two key hits before exiting.

** After the Brewers losing streak, FanGraph gave the team just a 16.8 percent chance of winning the division and a less-than-50/50 (49 percent) chance of reaching that 50/50 Wild Card round.

** Ryan Braun and his wife, Larisa, had their first child., Celine Elysse, late Wednesday.


** The Cubs and Pirates were set to resume a game Saturday suspended by rain on Friday. The teams were tied 3-3.

** Javier Baez will take over at shortstop with Castro sidelined with his ankle sprain.

** The Cubs selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Kalish from Triple-A Iowa and transferred outfielder Ryan Sweeney to the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday.


** Eight relievers were used in a loss to the Angels on Friday.

** Aaron Hicks made his first start in center field since June 7 on Wednesday for the Twins, giving regular center fielder Danny Santana his first start at his natural shortstop position since Aug. 21.

** RHP Trevor May collected his first Major League win as the Twins dumped the White Sox, 11-4, on Wednesday night at Target Field. The Twins and Sox split the two-game series.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale maintained his AL-leading ERA (2.09) in a 2-1 loss to the Indians Friday.

** Michael Taylor picked up his first hit with the White Sox on Wednesday.

** The White Sox cut more than $2 million by moving Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn over the last couple weeks.

What’s Ahead

The Twins and White Sox will meet in another MDR rivalry series next weekend in Chicago.

After their series with the Cardinals, the Brewers host the Marlins at Miller Park. The Cubs travel to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays.

The White Sox’s plan a tribute to retiring Paul Konerko on Sept. 27.

Author Joe Niese has several days left in a a 30-day Kickstarter campaign for publishing an Andy Pafko book. Anyone interested in the project and contributing to it can go to: .


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
MDR Blog - 8/30
06:42 PM ET (US)
The Brewers will start their NL Central month on Monday and will have to play well to hang on to the division lead and a chance for post-season play.

All but three games in September, a series with the Marlins, will be against NLC opponents. It starts with a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Pitchers for the Cub were named early this weekend, with Jacob Turner starting Monday, Jake Arrieta Tuesday and Kyle Hendricks Wednesday. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke held off naming his starters until it was determined when Matt Garza could come off the DL and join the rotation. (The starters will be added to the Facebook posting of this blog when they are announced.)

The Brewers split a four-game series at Wrigley a couple weeks ago and will want to do better against the last place Cubs. But, the Cubs have called up some of their top prospects, would like to play the role of spoilers and set a tone for next season.

After the series at Wrigley, the Brewers return home to host the Cardinals, who have missed several opportunities in the last week to overtake Milwaukee. In fact, the Cubs beat the Cards on Friday and Saturday to help the Brewers.

The Brewers undoubtedly are grateful for that, but they hope to build some momentum at Wrigley for that big series with the Cardinals.

Player of the Week

Jorge Soler homered in his first at-bat as a Cub. Starlin Castro was the last Cubs to do so. Soler followed his initial homer up with two more on Friday night. For that, the rookie earned the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams' Players of the Week included:

** the Brewers’ Lyle Overbay, who hit .500 for the week, including some clutch hits in key situations.

** the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who made history Friday night, as he connected on the 10,000th home run in franchise history, and also set a doubles record for franchise third basemen. (See Updated Notes section).

** the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who continued his hot hitting, including a 3-for-3 night Friday

Updated Noted


** The Brewers could have interest in current Rockies and former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau after the season. They reportedly claimed him off waivers, but could not work out a deal with the Rockies for the remainder of this season.

** RHP Jimmy Nelson was picked the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. Nelson was 10-2 for Nashville before being called up by the Brewers.

** RHP Wily Peralta has surrendered 14 runs (13 earned) on 13 hits in eight innings in his last two starts.


** Logan Watkins hit his first Major League home run one day after his 25th birthday.

** Javier Baez had a tie-breaking double, and Arismendy Alcantara homered, to join Soler in a Cubs’ rookie night Friday.

** The Cubs placed outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano on the disabled list.


** Plouffe set a franchise record for doubles by a third baseman when he passed Corey Koskie (37) with his 38th double of the season last week.

** OF Jordan Schafer, who was selected off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 2,
was hitting .328/.411/.438 with five doubles, one triple, nine RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 21 games, entering Friday.

** RHP Samuel Deduno was claimed from the Twins on outright waivers on Saturday, the Astros have announced.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale got the win Saturday to improve his record to 11-3. He struck out 13 and defeated the Tigers’ Max Scherzer, who is 15-5. Both pitchers are former La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League.

** The Sox’s losing streak reached seven games before a 3-2 win over the Indians on Wednesday.

** White Sox senior vice president, sales and marketing Brooks Boyer told Friday that nothing has been decided at this point about a reduced 2015 broadcast work schedule for Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. The White Sox play-by-play announcer, who is working his 30th season in the club's television booth, told WSCR 670-AM on Thursday that he had considered cutting back on future road games.

What’s Ahead

In addition to the Cubs-Brewers series detailed earlier, the White Sox and Twins will meet this week in a two-game series that means much less in the ALC pennant race.

The Sox’s Hector Noesi will face Tommy Milone in the first game on Tuesday. John Danks will match up against the Twins’ Trevor May on Wednesday.

The final Milwaukee Old Time Ballplayers game is a HOF Induction ceremony at Miller Park home plate on Friday, Sept. 5. The group’s Hall of Fame banquet will be held at American Serb Hall on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m.

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below:

Edited 08-30-2014 06:51 PM
MDR Blog - 8/24
09:17 AM ET (US)
Next weekend is Labor Day weekend. Now it’s become time to watch the standings.

Anything prior to this time, while entertaining, has been premature. Pennants are won, and lost, in September.

That’s even more true this season. Schedule makers have matched up divisional foes throughout most of baseball for the final month. With the exception of three games against the Marlins, for example, the Brewers will play all NL Central teams in September.

The Brewers have led the division since very early April, but as of this writing had only a half game edge. In part, that’s because the Cardinals have gotten hot. The Pirates, who had a bad losing streak, have come to Miller Park and taken two straight.

Pitching and defense win anytime in the season, but they’re even more important in September. The Brewers need to get back to doing both well to hang on to first place. They did neither very well in the first two games of the series with Pittsburgh.

The bullpen has been a legitimate concern for a while now. Manager Ron Roenicke has a tendency to ride the hot reliever. That works for the short term, but can lead to burnout and arm fatigue long term.

Will Smith, so good in the first half, has shown signs of both in recent weeks. So have Zach Duke and Brandon Kintzler. The prolonged absence of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson has not helped.

There might be an opportunity for a starter, either Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson, to bolster the bullpen when Matt Garza returns. They should follow the example set by Marco Estrada, go to the pen and do their best to contribute.

The Brewers also could use Ryan Braun to return to MVP caliber play. Braun is on his way to a 100 RBI season, which is very good, but his batting average has been around 30 points lower than what we came to expect and he has struck out a lot.

Some will say this is the “post steroid Braun.” They could be right, but that’s a discussion for another day when it can be looked at in more depth. A hot final month of the season would be welcomed for Braun, who in the past could carry a team at times.

Jean Segura also needs to step up his offense the final month. Second winds for Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, who have had MVP-like seasons so far, also would help.

The Brewers should still have a good shot at a Wild Card berth if they fall out of first place, but there are a lot of advantages to finishing on the top of the heap. If they’re going to do that, the Brewers need to heat up in the final month.

Player of the Week

The Twins’ Kennys Vargas had eight hits and seven RBIs in four games. Six of his RBIs came in a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday. For this, he earns the MDR Player of the Week honor.

At 6-5, 275 pounds, Vargas also might end up playing in the defensive line of the Vikings after the baseball season is over.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:

** the Brewers’ Khris Davis, who hit .357 in five games with three doubles.

** the Cubs’ Luis Valbuena, who hit .400 with two homers in seven games.

** the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .333 and drove in five runs to reach 94 for the season.

Updated Notes


** RHP Kyle Lohse returns to the mound Monday in the Brewers’ first game at San Diego.

** RHP Wily Peralta, going for his 16th win, allowed seven hits, three walks and eight runs (seven earned), including three home runs, Saturday in a loss to the Pirates.

** SS Jean Segura did not start Saturday after making two errors Friday and showing a “lack of focus.”


** RHP Justin Grimm pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in relief Saturday.

** Javier Baez homered Friday and Saturday. His seven homers are the most by Cub through 19 games since Mandy Brooks in 1925.

** RHP Kyle Hendricks' streak of quality starts ended at six Saturday due to a rain delay.


** The Twins scored 20 runs on Friday and 32 in their first two games against the Tigers this weekend.

** Eduardo Escobar picked up three hits Saturday, after setting a career-high with five hits on Friday.

** LHP Glen Perkins was picked to the preliminary roster of the U.S. team that will play Japan.

White Sox

** INF Gordon Beckham was traded to the Angels on Thursday.

** The White Sox optioned reliever Eric Surkamp to Triple-A Charlotte following Friday night's 4-3 loss.

** OF Adam Eaton started a rehab assignment for an oblique injury in the minors.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers head to the West Coast to play the Padres and Giants this week before starting that predominantly NLC schedule.

The Cubs, looking to play the role of spoilers, travel to play the Reds and Cardinals.

In the AL, the White Sox match up against the Indians and Tigers. The Twins go on the road to play the Royals and Orioles.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

MDR Blog - 8/17
09:46 AM ET (US)
The Brewers will send Wily Peralta to the mound Sunday afternoon in an attempt to sweep the Dodgers. At 25, Peralta has found himself in some impressive company this season.

The Brewers’ righthander was the first pitcher in the big leagues to reach 14 wins -- by a few hours over the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright. He has spent much of the season among the leaders in wins and in other categories.

That has included Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke and Wainwright, among others.

"There's a lot of great starting pitchers out there, and to be able to be among them, that's amazing, a great feeling," Peralta said after winning his 14th on Aug. 7. "That's a thing that I've been working hard [for] in the off-season and been working hard in the season to be on top.

“That's a few Cy Young guys. That's what I've been working for. I've improved in pretty much everything. My command has been unbelievable this year, and that's something I was struggling with last year. I was working behind the counts on hitters. I said in spring that was one of my goals -- attack hitters.

"I've been given the opportunity," Peralta added. "My other teammates are going to do it, too. I've been given the opportunity and I've been doing the job."

Peralta has been considered a prospect since signing as a non-drafted free agent in 2005. He missed the 2007 season with Tommy John surgery, but worked his way back. He first came up to the Brewers in 2012, going 2-1, with a 2.48 ERA, in six games.

Last season, he started slow, but came on as the season went on, producing 17 quality starts while finishing 11-15. He’s tried to take a similar approach this season.

“Doing same thing I was doing last year,” Peralta said when asked what he has been doing right.. “Trying to be consistent. It was great last year.

“(Rick) Kranitz helps me a lot. He’s a great coach. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can do. I try to keep it off my mind. Try to not have too much to think about.”

Peralta unofficially has taken over the Brewers’ ace role and that of stopper. He and rookie Jimmy Nelson could end up providing a 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation for years to come.

For a full feature on Peralta, check out a feature in a September issue of Game Day, the Brewers’ program.

Player of the Week
Mike Fiers was called up to replace injured Matt Garza and won two games within eight days, striking out 14 Cubs batters last Thursday. For that, he earns the MDR Player of the week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week include:

** the Cubs’ Kyle Kendricks, who held the Brewers scoreless in a Chicago win.

** the Twins’ Phil Hughes, who beat the Royals for his 13th win of the season.

** the White Sox’s Adam Dunn, who hit .467 with two homers and five RBIs during the week.

Updated Notes


** After coming up empty at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Brewers are still actively seeking to fortify their bullpen, principal owner Mark Attanasio told Saturday.

** SS Jean Segura missed Saturday’s game after bruising a hand while breaking up a double play.

** RHP Matt Garza, who remains on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, played catch for the second straight day and threw all of his pitches.


** Outfielder Matt Szczur is being called up Sunday and RHP Dan Straily was added on Saturday to make a spot start.

** Outfielder Junior Lake was optioned to Iowa to make room on the 25-man roster for Straily

** Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant had to leave Saturday's game with Triple-A Iowa before the third inning after apparently aggravating a minor foot injury.


** Danny Santana made his first start at shortstop, his natural position, since June and could stay at the position for a while.

** Reliever Anthony Swarzak threw without any issues on Friday and Saturday, and said he's been cleared to make his return after sustaining a sprained right ankle on Tuesday.

** The Twins optioned RHP Yohan Pino to Triple-A Rochester to make room for RHP Ricky Nolasco, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list to start Friday's game against the Royals.

White Sox

** Versatile outfielder Avisail Garcia has rejoined the White Sox just four months after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder.

** The White Sox maded a series of roster moves on Saturday: left-hander Charlie Leesman was designated for assignment, outfielder Moises Sierra was placed on the disabled list, right-hander Javy Guerra was placed on the bereavement list and left-hander Eric Surkamp was recalled to take Guerra's spot.

** Carlos Rodon, the White Sox top pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, will be promoted to Triple-A Charlotte following four games with Class A Winston-Salem.

Elsewhere In Baseball

The Lakeshore Chinooks won their first Northwoods League championship by sweeping the Mankato MoonDogs in the Summer Collegiate World Series. Joe Pavlovich (UW-Oshkosh) went six shutout innings in the win for the Chinooks and allowed just four hits while striking out seven.

Teammate Jake Tuttle (UW-Milwaukee) went the final three innings for the save. The Chinooks got run support as Luke Meeteer (UW-Milwaukee) hit a solo home run and Brett Siddall (Cansius) added a RBI single.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers will continue their drive for a post-season spot by hosting the Blue Jays and Pirates at Miller Park this week.

After completing a wrap-around series with the Mets on Monday, the Cubs return to Wrigley Field to host the Giants.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

MDR Blog - 8/10
08:11 PM ET (US)
The Brewers and Cubs will play a I-94 Rivalry series at Wrigley Field this week.

Yovani Gallardo will start out the series against the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta on Monday. The Brewers’ Wily Peralta and Kyle Hendricks will face off Tuesday. Kyle Lohse will start for Milwaukee in the series finale on Wednesday. The Cubs had not named their starter as of this writing.

For the Brewers, deeply involved in a three or four-team race, every series is important as they enter the stretch drive. They especially don’t want to lose to a team that has struggled as badly as the Cubs have.

The Cubs still look at the series as an intra-division rivalry and would love to play the role of spoilers. They also have called up top prospect Javier Baez and are trying to get a feel for what their future might look like.

Festivities are planned as part of the 100th birthday party of Wrigley Field. Go to the What’s Ahead section of this blog for more on that/

Look for brief game summaries on the Facebook posting of this blog.

Player of the Week

Aramis Ramirez was hitting over .400 for the week going into Saturday night’s game and driving in runs for the Brewers with regularity. So, he gets the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included:

** the Cubs’ Javier Baez, who hit only .263 in his first week of action, but hit three homers.

** the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who hit .391 with seven RBIs for the week.

** the White Sox’s Alejandro De Aza, who hit .429 in five games.
Updated Notes


** RHP Mike Fiers became the seventh pitcher to start for the Brewers this season when he started against the Dodgers Saturday. Before that day, the Brewers and Angels were the only teams to use only six starters.

** Jonathan Lucroy is on pace to break Lyle Overbay’s franchise record of 53 doubles.

** RHP Rob Wooten was sent down to make room for Fiers on the roster. Wooten has been up and down between the minors and Brewers three times this season.


** RHP Jacob Turner, acquired from the Marlins on Friday, is expected to join the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

** LHP Felix Doubront threw a side session on Saturday, his third since joining the Cubs, but there was no word yet regarding a possible minor league rehab outing for the left-hander.

** Kris Bryant continues to dominate Triple-A pitching at Iowa, but Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says Bryant won't be coming to Chicago this season unless some highly unlikely things happen in the next couple of months.


** Highly regarded prospect Trevor May made his Major League debut for the Twins on Saturday against the A's.

** The Twins optioned first baseman Chris Colabello to Triple-A after Friday's 6-5 loss to make room for May on the roster.

** Twins third-base coach Joe Vavra will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

White Sox

** OF Avisail Garcia's injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte has resulted in a 13-for-26 showing at the plate.

**CF Adam Eaton returned to the White Sox starting lineup Friday night at Safeco Field, but he only lasted one at-bat against Hisashi Iwakuma, exiting with soreness in his right rib cage.

** The White Sox will honor retiring captain Paul Konerko throughout the month of September with tributes and a special promotional calendar for fans for each of the month's 11 home games, including the creation of "Club Konerko" in Sections 158 and 159.

What’s Ahead

Of course, the three-game series between the Brewers and Cubs is the biggest event of this coming week.
Associated with that, the Cubs are hosting a seven-game homestand vs. the Rays and Brewers, Aug. 8-14, while honoring the 1980s decade at Wrigley Field. The decade saw important moments like the ballpark's first night game and the "Sandberg Game," as well as the beginning of traditions like Harry Caray's 7th inning stretch.

The Northwoods League ends its regular season Sunday, and the playoffs start Monday. The NWL surpassed 1 million in attendance for the first time in its history this season.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

MDR Blog - 8/3
08:59 AM ET (US)
The four MDR teams made some moves before last Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but no earth-shaking, or even game-changing, ones.

In a deal with the D-backs, the Brewers brought in a lefty bat and a Gold Glove outfielder in Gerardo Parra for minor leaguers Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda. Parra made his first start in left on Saturday, scored a run and made a diving catch, but also had a throwing error and struck out to end the game.

The Cubs acquired switch-hitting catching prospect Victor Caratini from the Braves for infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, LHP pitcher James Russell and a cash consideration.

Caratini, 20, was selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2013 Draft (65th overall) and entered this season ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the Atlanta farm system.

The Cubs also acquired LHP Felix Doubront from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. Doubront, 26, is 26-22 with three saves and a 4.82 ERA (224 ER/418.0 IP) in 98 major league outings (69 starts) during the last five years with the Red Sox.

Of course, the Cubs made their major trade several days before the deadline when they sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel packing to the A’s. They also traded 2B Darwin Barney to the Dodgers earlier.

The Twins bolstered their rotation, acquiring left-hander Tommy Milone from the A's in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld. It was the lone trade for the Twins, who also decided to hold on to catcher Kurt Suzuki, as they signed him to a two-year extension.

The White Sox apparently came close to a three-team trade, but ended up with no deal.

Among the four teams, the Brewers were the only one making deals for this season’s pennant race. Parra will help as a reserve in the outfield. He’s as good or better fielder than Logan Schafer and has proven he can hit big league pitching.

But, when you compare the Brewers’ activity to the Cardinals, who landed two rotation-ready pitchers, the Parra move pales. The Brewers could have used another top of the rotation pitcher or bullpen guy, but GM Doug Melvin apparently thought he could find the latter from within the organization and the asking price for the former was just too high. Most teams wanted rookie pitcher Jimmy Nelson or other top prospects.

Melvin might turn out to be right, but he and Brewers’ fans also might regret the fact the club made no major moves to get ready for the pennant drive.

It’s also still possible for the Brewers, and the other three MDR teams, to make deals in August, but players first must clear waivers.

Sox-Twins Series

The rubber game in a MDR series between the White Sox and Twins will be played Sunday. On Friday, the Sox won 10-8, as Tyler Flowers homered and Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 21 games with three hits.

Chris Parmelee homered for the Twins. Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe had three hits each.

The Twins pounded out a 8-6 win on Saturday. Plouffe had four hits. Oswaldo Arcia’s two-run double provided the winning runs. Adam Eaton had four hits for the Sox.

In an important NL Central matchup, the Brewers were going for a series win Sunday, after beating the Cardinals Friday behind Wily Peralta and losing on Saturday.

Player of the Week

The afore-mentioned Wily Peralta gets the MDR Player of the Week honor after recording his 13th win in a 7-4 win over the Cardinals. He beat St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright Friday night.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:

** the Cubs’ Chris Coghlan, who was hitting .385 in his last seven games and had a five-game hitting streak.

** the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who had three hits Friday and four on Saturday.

** the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who extended his hitting streak to 21 games before going hitless on Saturday.

Updated Notes


** OF Logan Schafer was optioned to the minors to make room for Gerardo Parra.

** RHP Jimmy Nelson, scratched from Saturday’s start because of a blister, will start Tuesday.

** 2B Scooter Gennett, suffering from a finger injury and a quad, left Saturday’s game after aggravating the quad.


** Felix Doubront, acquired before the trade deadline, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain.

** INF Chris Valaika was selected by the Cubs from Triple-A Iowa to take Emilio Bonifacio's spot on the roster

** RHP Blake Parker was called up from Triple A.


** Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco are headed for rehab assignments with Class A Cedar Rapids and will play in Tuesday's game.

** The Twins recalled first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas from Double-A New Britain.

** Twins 2B Brian Dozier was back in the lineup for Friday's series opener after missing Thursday with a swollen and jammed thumb.

White Sox

** OF Adam Eaton is hitting .421 over his last 18 games despite playing with a broken middle finger on his right hand.

** RHP Matt Lindstrom and OF Avisail Garcia had successful starts to their minor league injury rehab stints Friday night with Triple-A Charlotte.

** The southpaw starting trio of John Danks, Jose Quintana and Chris Sale have combined to go 25-14 with a 3.25 ERA and 343 strikeouts in 384 2/3 innings over 61 combined starts.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers return home to Miller Park Tuesday to start series against the NL West contenders, the Giants and Dodgers.

A tour of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame will be conducted Saturday, Aug. 9, as part of the Keltner SABR meeting. Gather at Goolsby’s across from the Hall plaques at 11 a. m.


The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

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