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7498
MDR Blog 7/3
07-03-2015
08:00 AM ET (US)
It’s been rumored for a while, but Brewers GM Doug Melvin gave some legitimacy this week to the possibility he might retire or take another position within the organization.

Melvin talked with CBS Sports Baseball Insider columnist Jon Heyman about his future. It wasn’t exactly an in-depth talk. "We've had discussions about my future," Melvin said by phone to Heyman. "I don't want to say anything more."

Heyman and others have used the term retirement when reporting on Melvin, but the rumors around the press box and hallways at Miller Park don’t have the 62-year-old veteran GM heading to the golf course or trout stream or rocking chair.

The most persistent rumor has been Melvin “moving upstairs” to a position something like “president of baseball operations” or “assistant to the owner.” Gord Ash, who has served as Melvin’s assistant, would probably not move up to the GM spot, but might stay in his present situation. Two younger candidates for GM are rumored.

Ray Montgomery, who is the scouting director for the Brewers, could be promoted to GM. Montgomery, who had a brief playing career, started his off-field career with the Brewers, as an area scout. He is credited in part for the signing of Rickie Weeks.

Montgomery was named the D-Backs’ scouting director in 2010. He left that position last year to return to the Brewers in a similar situation.

He is young (45), knows the Brewers organization, including the farm system, and seems comfortable in Milwaukee. He could be aided if Melvin and/or Ash stuck around for a while as advisors.

The second persistent rumor is that Craig Counsell would be moved up to GM from field manager. He served as an assistant to Melvin and generally was believed to be the heir apparent to the job before replacing Ron Roenicke on the field.

If Counsell was moved up, however, the Brewers would once again be hunting for a field manager. They might want to avoid that since they already have been criticized for multiple managerial changes.

Both Montgomery and Counsell might be better suited for a rebuilding project than the veterans Melvin and Ash are at this points in their careers. Stay tuned as the season moves on.

Let That Rebuilding Begin

The Brewers have played better lately. That’s both good and bad news. Certainly, it’s good news for the fans who are going to games this season. The club was deadly to watch in the first couple months of the season, but is more entertaining now.

It could be bad news though if the improved play prompts principal owner Mark Attanasio and Melvin to once again believe that the Brewers are close to being contenders. That was the mistake they made over the off-season, and for the fans sake, should not repeat.

Attanasio has appeared on TV and radio and admitted the team needs changes, but also has emphasized the club will not hold a wholesale fire sale. The rhetoric from others in the organization makes it sound like the Brewers will at least consider a camp fire sale.

This from Adam McCalvy via www.mlbtraderumors.com: The Brewers are being realistic about their status as sellers, pro scouting director Zack Minasian tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren’t honest with ourselves about where we’re at [in the standings],” Minasian told McCalvy.

Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, Gerardo Parra and Adam Lind are listed as the most likely trade candidates in the note. Bigger deals, which could bring bigger returns, include Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez.

This writer believes the Brewers should dump off Ramirez, Lohse, Jonathan Broxton and Neal Cotts, knowing they will get little in exchange and might even have to pick up part of the players’ salaries.

Parra, Lind and Francisco Rodriguez should not be dealt as easily. All have played well and should be moved only if the return is sufficient. In fact, Lind should probably not be dealt at all.

It makes sense to deal either Segura or Gomez, but only for a good return. The Brewers are loaded with shortstops in their organization, including last year’s franchise minor league player of the year in Orlando Arcia. So, there is depth at the position and Segura could be replaced from within the organization.

Gomez could bring some top prospects or an established pitcher. He also plays reckless baseball, which makes him an exciting player and a fan favorite, but makes him prone to injuries. That could become even more of a problem as he ages. He has been nagged by injuries this season, for example.

Finally, Gomez is a free agent after next season and likely will become too expensive for the Brewers. So, saying Bye, Bye to Go, Go makes sense.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers scored 28 runs in their sweep of Philadelphia and have averaged 6.6 runs per game during a five-game winning streak, part of a larger stretch of eight wins in 10 games.

** The Brewers pounded out a season-high 17 hits in their 9-5 win over the Phillies on Wednesday. They had 16 hits in their Thursday win.

** The Mets scouted Aramis Ramirez during the Brewers‘ recent series with the Twins but came away unimpressed with his play on both sides of the ball, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).

Cubs

** Jonathan Herrera and Miguel Montero hit 2-run HRs to back Jake Arrieta's 8 strong innings, as the Cubs completed a sweep of the Mets with a 6-1 win Thursday. The Cubs are 7-0 against the Mets this season, the first sweep of seven or more games for the team since 1885.

** Manager Joe Maddon brought in Simon Winthrop, a Las Vegas-based magician, who wowed the Cubs with a performance in an attempt to break a five-game losing streak. The Cubs went on to the sweep of the Mets.

** The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher.

Twins

** The Twins promoted top prospect Miguel Sano this week. Sano was recalled to replace DH Kennys Vargas, who was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga earlier.
Sano, 22, is considered the best right-handed power prospect in the game. He got his first MLB hit in Thursday’s game.

** RHP Kyle Gibson pitched eight scoreless innings as the Twins shut out the Royals, 2-0, in the first game of a big series Thursday.

** The Twins have made a splash on the international market, agreeing to a $4 million deal with Dominican Republic teenage shortstop Wander Javier.

White Sox

** White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been named American League Pitcher of the Month for June. Sale is the first White Sox pitcher to win the award since May 2012, when he received his first career monthly honor.

** The Sox handed St. Louis just its second two-game losing streak at home this season.

** RHP Jeff Samardzija and shortstop Alexei Ramirez remain the two Sox players most often mentioned in trade rumors.

SABR and Hall Event

Brian Lammi, the new owner of the rights to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, will be the guest speaker at a joint meeting of the Keltner Chapter of SABR and the Revive the Hall group July 25 at Major Goolsby‘s in Milwaukee.

Lammi owns Lammi Sports Management in Milwaukee. His company purchased the Hall rights late last year. The Hall has been dormant since 2009.

After Lammi speaks at Goolsby’s, a tour of the Hall plaques outside the UWM Panthers Arena will be held.

Speaking about selected members of the Hall will be Gregg Hoffmann, veteran journalist and author who has spearheaded the Revive the Hall effort; Gary D’Amato, sportswriter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ Drew Olson of ESPN Radio in Milwaukee, Laura Simmons-Larsen, relative to Hall member Al Simmons; Rick Schabowski and Bob Buege of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association and SABR.

The group will gather at 11 a.m. at Goolsby’s. Lunch will be available. There is no admission for the event and tour.

What’s Ahead

All Star starters will be unveiled Sunday night, with full rosters released on Monday.

The Cubs have a big week ahead with the Cardinals coming to Wrigley Field July 6-8. That’s followed by the Crosstown Cup series with the White Sox, July 10-12.

The Braves come to Miller Park July 6-8 to meet the Brewers. For those who remember the old Milwaukee Braves, the series also has some extra meaning.

Nothing has been officially announced, but Monday's series opener between the Blue Jays and White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field could feature a mound matchup between former Sox star southpaw Mark Buehrle and current star Sale.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7497
MDR Blog 6/26
06-26-2015
07:51 AM ET (US)
Paul Molitor will make his first appearance in Milwaukee as Twins manager this weekend.

Expect Brewers’ fans to give him a warm welcome. The Brewers are even giving away a bobblehead of him on Sunday. But, the fans and Brewers also will be hoping they can take at least two of three from the Twins, like they did at Target Field a couple weeks ago.

Pitching matchups will be the Twins‘ Trevor May vs. Brewers‘ Kyle Lohse on Friday, the Twins‘ Kyle Gibson vs. the Brewers‘ Matt Garza on Saturday and the Twins‘ Tommy Milone vs. the Brewers‘ Mike Fiers on Sunday.

The Friday game is a 7:10 start. The Saturday and Sunday games start at 1:10 p.m.

Hamilton Memories

I covered Darryl Hamilton for all his years with the Brewers and, like many others, was shocked to hear of his death early this week. He was a nice guy with an infectious smile and a way with people.

I have two favorite stories about Darryl: The first was in 1993 when the Brewers had to get a dog to chase seagulls which were settling onto the County Stadium field during games. The dog would be released between innings and run around the field, scattering the gulls. It was named Gus the Wonder Dog and became a celebrity that attracted national attention.

After one extended effort, Gus couldn’t hold it any longer and took a poop in left field, not far from where Hamilton situated himself. When asked about it after the game, Darryl flashed that smile and said, “I thought he had caught a bird. Then I saw they brought the shovel out, and I thought, ‘Oh well, it was only a matter of time.’ They had worked him pretty hard.”

My second favorite story came during spring training. Several of us sportswriters and others decided to go to a Gentlemen’s Club in Phoenix one night. About an hour after we were in the place, Hamilton, John Jaha and several other Brewers showed up. They saw us and immediately disappeared into the upstairs of the place.

The next morning, as soon as I walked into the Brewers clubhouse, Darryl came up to me and said, “I don’t want to see anything about last night in USA Today (for which I served as a correspondent at the time).” My response was, “Darryl, if I report I saw you guys in a strip club, wouldn’t I be telling my wife I was there too.” (I actually had told Pauline we were going to the place earlier. Openness is one reason we will be married 41 years this July.)

I remember Darryl looked relieved and flashed that smile, which baseball and the world will dearly miss.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** Carlos Gomez has been rumored to be on the Mets’ radar screen for a trade possibility. He started his career with the New York. The Mets also have a supply of good starting pitching, which the Brewers need. Aramis Ramirez also has been linked to the Mets in trade rumors. Gomez who has had leg problems, returned to the lineup Tuesday.

** LHP Neal Cotts has been linked to the Rangers in trade rumors.

** The Brewers series win over the Mets was just their second series win at home this season, the first coming in the first days of May when they took two out of three against the Cubs.

Cubs

** Tsuyoshi Wada, who came out of his start Monday after two-plus innings because of soreness in his left shoulder, did play catch on Wednesday, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the club was still uncertain about Wada’s return.

** Chris Denorfia’s walk-off sacrifice fly with one out in the 10th lifted the Cubs to their fourth straight win Tuesday, improving to 8-3 in extra-inning games. It was Chicago's ninth walk-off win this season, most in the Major Leagues.

** The Cubs announced Monday that they recalled outfielder Matt Szczur and optioned catcher Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa. Schwarber was up for six days while the Cubs played against American League teams. He was 8-for-22 (.364) with a home run and six RBIs in six games as a designated hitter. He made the jump from Double-A Tennessee to the Majors last week.

Twins

** The Twins will promote right-hander Alex Meyer from Triple-A Rochester for Friday’s game, according to a team press release. The Twins’ long-term hope for the righty is that he can work out of the rotation, but he’ll presumably join the bullpen for the time being. Fellow righty Michael Tonkin was optioned to Triple-A yesterday.

** RHP Ervin Santana is lined up to make his return to the rotation on July 5 in Kansas City once his 80-game suspension for PED use is up.

** Outfielder Aaron Hicks made a step forward in his recovery from a strained right forearm, as he faced live pitching in the batting cages without any issues Tuesday. RHP Ricky Nolasco, on the 15-day disabled list since June 4 with a right ankle impingement, threw on flat ground Tuesday without any issues. But his next step will be testing the ankle while throwing from a mound, which bothered him last time out.

White Sox

** The Astros remain interested in Sox RHP Jeff Samardzija. He also has been part of rumors involving the Cubs, who originally signed and brought him up, and the Yankees.

** The Sox bullpen might get some relief in the near future, as lefty Dan Jennings is headed to Triple-A Charlotte to start a rehab assignment from inflammation in the left side of his neck.

** Before their 6-2 win over the Twins Tuesday, the Sox hadn't scored more than three runs in a game since June 13 and entered the day hitting .206 in their last nine games. Things were especially troublesome at Target Field, where the Sox had scored three runs or fewer in the five games they played there this season.

What’s Ahead

While we featured the MDR series between the Twins and Brewers in the lede of this blog, the Cubs play a big NL Central series at St. Louis this weekend.

The Twins will start a four-game series in Kansas City against the Royals on Thursday in a showdown of AL Central rivals. That’s the featured What’s Ahead series next week for the four MDR teams.

In anticipation of the July 14 soccer match between Atlas F.C. and Newcastle F.C. that will be held at Miller Park, Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra and teammate Neal Cotts will compete in a penalty kick shootout for charity on at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 26, at Miller Park.

On that day, Parra and Cotts will compete in a best-of-five shootout to “ready the field,” as Miller Park will soon be converted to a soccer pitch configuration. A goal will be set up in the outfield of Miller Park and the two players will alternate taking shots at the net.

The only thing standing between the two Brewers and the goal will be goalie Nick Vorberg, a former goalie for the Milwaukee Wave for more than a decade and a Pacific University Athletic Hall of Fame member. After five kicks, the player with the most goals will be crowned as champion. Both players have agreed that the loser of the shootout will donate $5,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice.

Mark your calendar for July 25. Brian Lammi, the new owner of the rights to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, will join several members of SABR and the Revive the Hall effort in an event at Major Goolsby’s in Milwaukee, followed by tours of the Hall plaques. More details will follow in upcoming weeks.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7496
MDR Blog 6/19
06-19-2015
07:44 AM ET (US)
Two teams that have started to reap the rewards of rebuilding will meet this weekend when the Cubs travel to Target Field to take on the Twins.

Kyle Hendricks will face the Twins Phil Hughes on Friday night. Jon Lester will match up with Minnesota’s Trevor May on Saturday. On Sunday, the Cubs will send Jake Arrieta against Kyle Gibson.

The Cubs have been waiting for this for a long time. They’ve had highly heralded prospects for the past several years. Now, those players are in the big leagues and performing well. Veteran manager Joe Maddon has brought his experience to the young ballclub.

The Twins were expected to have another season or two of rebuilding, but under first year manager Paul Molitor they have played over .500 so far.

Minnesota went on a 3-7 streak over the last week or so, but won its second straight game on Thursday. The Cubs have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games.

What Might Have Been

Four men who the Brewers gave up on competed against their old team this week when Ned Yost and his red-hot Royals, with former Brewers Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar, swept a four-game series, two in Milwaukee and two in Kansas City.

Of course, Yost was fired with 12 games left in the 2008 season when it looked like the Brewers could blow a playoff spot for the second straight season. Cain and Escobar were part of the trade that brought Zack Greinke to the Brewers from the Royals in 2011.

The company line on the first move was that Yost needed to be replaced, and Dale Sveum, who also was part of the four-game series as the Royals’ hitting coach, was better suited to get the Brewers into the 2008 post-season as a Wild Card team.

Sveum did that by going 7-5, but then became the fourth man who the Brewers gave up on, when they hired Ken Macha as manager in 2009. Sveum stuck around as a coach, and eventually went to the Cubs as their manager. Company line: Macha had more experience.

The company line on the deal that sent Cain and Escobar to KC was that Greinke helped the Brewers to the 2011 post-season.

But, let’s engage in a little revisionist history. Yost likely would have gotten the Brewers into the 2008 playoffs if he had been allowed to stick around. Management pushed the panic button in part because Yost blew his cool down the stretch in 2007 when the Brewers missed the post-season. They feared it could happen again.

Yost admitted he made mistakes when he was with the Brewers and handled all questions with a lot of class during the series this week. But, in this revised history, the Brewers make the playoffs with him as manager. He sticks around for a couple seasons, and instead of suffering two bad seasons under Macha, the Brewers, benefiting from seamless management on the field, remain contenders for a couple more seasons. Yost eventually leaves on his own and is succeeded by Sveum.

Turning to Cain and Escobar, here’s the revised history. Cain is made the starting center fielder and after some growing pains becomes the player he is today -- which is every bit as good as Carlos Gomez has been.

Escobar assumes the role the Brewers originally foresaw for him as their starting shortstop and also becomes the All Star caliber performer he is for the Royals.

This revised history would have given the Brewers something they desperately have needed -- continuity in management and from the farm system to the big league team. Since Yost was fired in 2008, the Brewers have had four managers. Four of their eight starters are from their farm system. Less than half of their pitching staff is from their minor league system.

In exchange for the lack of continuity, the Brewers did get two rent-a-players in C.C. Sabathia and Greinke, and two post-season appearances. But, the latter might have happened in the revised history scenario, and the Brewers might still be contenders rather than a team looking at some major rebuilding.

Of course, this is all speculation. Hindsight often can be portrayed as 20-20. In baseball, as in life in general, we never can know the outcome of the path not taken.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** CF Carlos Gomez missed another game Thursday with his hip and groin problems and could be headed to DL.

** Matt Dominguez, claimed on waivers this week, could add insurance at third base if Aramis Ramirez is traded before the July deadline. LHP Wei-Chung Wang, who was put on waivers to make roster room for Dominguez, cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to the club’s Class-A affiliate, the team announced.


** The Brewers announced the first wave of signings from their 2015 First-Year Player Draft, highlighted by first-round pick Trent Clark (Outfielder, Richland High School - Texas), second-round pick Cody Ponce (RHP, Cal Poly Pomona University) and third-round pick Nash Walters (RHP, Lindale High School - Texas).

Cubs

** When the Cubs struck out in seven consecutive at-bats, from the sixth to eighth inning Thursday, it marked the first time the club accomplished the dubious feat since September 17, 1999, against the Brewers.

** The Cubs signed their first round drafter pick, outfielder Ian Happ, on Thursday.

** The Cubs launched four home runs and rookie Kyle Schwarber collected four hits in his first Major League start, in a 17-0 rout over the Indians on Wednesday night. Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Chris Denorfia and Kris Bryant hit the homers. Schwarber hit his first MLB homer on Thursday.

Twins

** Kennys Vargas came through with a walk-off solo blast with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Twins to a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon at Target field.

** RHP Ricky Nolasco is being fitted for orthotics, but his right ankle injury will not require surgery, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Thursday. Nolasco, on the DL since June 4 with a right ankle impingement, tried to throw a bullpen session on Sunday to test his ankle, but had to cut it short due to discomfort.

** Byron Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, made his home debut Wednesday after three road games. He went 0-for-3 at the plate with a pair of strikeouts, but made a nice running catch near the wall in right-center field to rob Matt Carpenter of an extra-base hit in the third inning.

White Sox

** The White Sox dropped their seventh straight Thursday, 3-2 to the Pirates.

** The Sox designated right-hander Hector Noesi for assignment and recalled fellow righty Scott Carroll from Triple-A Charlotte to fill his spot on the roster (Twitter link).

** Sox manager Robin Ventura was ejected for the 11th time in his managerial career when he protested a batter's interference call against Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the fourth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates.

What’s Ahead

After the Cubs play at Target Field, the White Sox will invade for a AL Central series with the Twins.

Next weekend, the Twins will be the ones to hit the road when they travel to Miller Park to meet the Brewers. It will be the first appearance of Molitor as a manager in the town where he became a star player.

The Sox announced an expanded list of players from the 2005 team scheduled to appear at the World Series Championship Reunion Weekend, presented by Your Local Ford Stores, on July 17-19. Former White Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand, former third baseman Joe Crede and infielder Geoff Blum are confirmed and will join first baseman Paul Konerko and pitchers Jon Garland and Cliff Politte.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7495
MDR Blog 6/13
06-13-2015
07:48 AM ET (US)
All four MDR teams had solid drafts this past week. Most national draft sites rated the Brewers and White Sox at B+ and the Cubs and Twins at B.

The Brewers concentrated on pitching with three picks in the first three rounds, but their first pick was an outfielder, Texas high schooler Trent Clark.

"He's something we've been looking for. He's a legitimate hitter, left-handed," GM Doug Melvin said Monday night. "He has good plate discipline. He has some power. He can play center field. We're pretty excited about getting a real professional hitter. That's something we felt we've lacked in our system recently.”

The pitchers taken include University of Virginia LHP Nate Korby, Texas high school RHP Nash Walters and Cal Poly RHP Cody Ponce. Twenty-six pitchers in all were selected by Milwaukee.

In two other highlighted selections, the Brewers took Jonathan Lucroy’s brother, David, a RHP, and outfielder Demi Orimoloye, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Canada. If he makes it to the big leagues, Orimoloye would be the first player born in Africa to do so.

The White Sox received laurels for picking Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer with their first selection. The Sox picked 18 pitchers overall.

"Obviously being able to add a talent like Fulmer at the top is a very good result for us," GM Rick Hahn said. "Being able to get what we feel is the best college arm for two consecutive Drafts is certainly a nice boost to the system and already paying dividends here in Chicago [with Carlos Rodon]."

The Sox also surprised some people with the late round pick of Taylore Cherry, a North Carolina player who stands 6-foot-9, 270 pounds. Cherry did not pitch last season.

An already deep farm system got deeper on the other side of Chicago, as the Cubs took outfielder Ian Happ with the ninth overall pick. Happ, from the University of Cincinnati, hit .369/.492/.672 with 14 home runs as a junior.

"We really feel he was one of the top, if not the best college hitter in this year's Draft," Cubs VP of baseball development Jason McLeod said. "We feel really confident in that."

The Cubs took 18 pitchers in all, including Arizona State LHP Ryan Kellogg and UCLA‘s David Berg. Kellogg is just one of eight players in school history to be a three-time First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. Berg, a submarine right-hander, is arguably the best reliever in NCAA baseball history.

College players made up the majority of Cubs’ picks.

A franchise in need of pitching, the Twins took some top pitchers in the early rounds. Illinois LHP Tyler Jay, who was taken with the No. 6 overall pick, is regarded by experts as the most Major League-ready player in the draft. Minnesota added another college flamethrower in the Competitive Balance B Round, selecting 6-foot-7 right-hander Kyle Cody.

"We've been kind of been trending toward power arms," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "It's a philosophy we've gone to the last few years. A lot of our scouts are scouting that way as well."

On Day 2 of the draft, the Twins went with six position players among their eight picks, including a pair of highly regarded high school third basemen in Travis Blankenhorn and Trey Cabbage.

Millers and the Saints

A review of Rex Hamann’s book, “The Millers and the Saints: Baseball Championships of the Twin Cities Rivals, 1903-1955,” can be found at the MDR page. It’s a detailed look at what is called the Big River Rivalry between the two American Association teams.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** RF Ryan Braun returned to the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game with dizziness, because of a buildup of fluid in his ear.

** 2B Scooter Gennett was recalled from Triple A, started Thursday and drove in the deciding run. Reliever David Goforth was sent down. LHP Will Smith also returned from suspension.

** CF Carlos Gomez could return to the lineup Saturday after sitting out three games with leg problems.

Cubs

** C Miguel Montero hit three home runs in a two-game stretch.

** Reliever Rafael Soriano, who was signed this week, likely will join the Cub after the All Star break.

** The right field bleachers opened this week at Wrigley Field. Dexter Fowler hit the first homer into them on Thursday.

Twins

** The Twins’ loss Friday night put their record at 3-8 in June.

** OF Torii Hunter and manager Paul Molitor were ejected Wednesday for arguing balls and strikes. Hunter received a two-game suspension and was fined for removing his jersey and throwing it onto the field.

** Reliever Tim Stauffer was designated for assignment Wednesday night. Michael Tonkin was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. LF Eddie Rosario returned after a one-game paternity leave and shortstop Jorge Polanco returned to Double-A Chattanooga.

White Sox

** Jose Abreu hit homers in three straight games this week for the first time in his career.
 
** LHP Chris Sale has struck out 10 or more in four straight starts. He's the first White Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat and the first in the Major Leagues since David Price did it in five straight games for the Rays last season. Sale also has struck 12 or more in three straight games, becoming the first in the Majors to do that since Randy Johnson in 2001.

** Manager Robin Ventura is missing this weekend’s series to attend the graduation of his daughter, Madison, from Cal Poly.

What’s Ahead

The Twins will host the Cubs at Target Field next weekend, June 19-21. The White Sox will follow the Cubs to take on the Twins.

Former Brewers manager Ned Yost brings his KC Royals into Miller Park Monday and Tuesday of this coming week.

The NCAA Division I baseball tournament starts Saturday, but the Midwest does not have a representative. High school state tourneys start in several Midwest states early next week and this weekend.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below,

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7494
MDR Blog 6/5
06-05-2015
07:46 AM ET (US)
Back in spring training, the Brewers had their sights set on contending in the NL Central, while the Twins looked to be facing a major rebuilding process.

My how things can change? When the two teams meet in the Twin Cities this weekend, it’s the Brewers who look to be headed for a Fire Sale and major rebuilding. The Twins, meanwhile, are fighting for the top spot in the AL Central.

Kyle Lohse, a former Twin, will start the series for the Brewers on Friday. Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins.

Another former Twin, Matt Garza, will start for Milwaukee on Saturday. The Twins were expected to name their Saturday starter later on Friday. On Sunday, Mike Fiers will face the Twins’ Mike Pelfrey.

Why have the two teams gone in such opposite directions since those spring training expectations? Both have had their share of injuries. Both got off to poor starts.

The main difference is the Twins have had some veterans take over leadership roles, primarily Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer. The Brewers’ vets -- Lohse, Garza, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun and others -- have been inconsistent and in at least a couple of those cases have given indications they might be in the waning years of their careers.

The Twins have gotten good performances by up-and-coming starts such as Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Gibson and others. Milwaukee players such as Khris Davis (now injured), Scooter Gennett, Wily Peralta (also now injured), Jimmy Nelson and others have not really stepped up.

Minnesota has been a solid fundamental team. The Brewers are the worst fielding team in baseball and one of the worst in base running.

At the top, former Brewer Paul Molitor has been masterful in bringing the Twins from a 1-6 start to where they are now. If it wasn’t for the Astros, he would be an early candidate for AL Manager of the Year.

Ron Roenicke, who started the season as the Brewers’ manager, was fired. Craig Counsell has taken over and is learning on the job.

Of course, things could take yet another twist before the season is over for both teams. But, for this series in early June, the Brewers and Twins are teams heading in opposite directions -- and not directions that were necessarily expected only a few weeks ago.

Draft Order

The MLB draft starts Monday night. The Twins have the No. 6 pick. The White Sox are drafting No. 8.

The Cubs immediately follow the Sox at No. 9. The Brewers will wait until No. 15 to pick.

All four MDR teams have picks in the various Competitive Balance rounds of the draft.

As usual, projected first rounders are all over the map. Kyle Tucker, a high school outfielder from Florida, has emerged as sort of a consensus for the Twins. The Sox are projected to be interested in Carson Fulmer, a right handed pitcher from Vanderbilt.

The Cubs are said to be interested in Andrew Benintendi, an outfielder from Arkansas. Kyle Funkhouser, a right handed pitcher from Louisville, is projected as the Brewers’ first pick by several people.

Of course, these projections often end up wrong.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** RF Ryan Braun is expected to be back with the team for the Twins series and could even return to the lineup on Friday, after undergoing a second treatment on his ailing hand.

** Newly-acquired infielder Hernan Perez will likely see action at three infield positions to see what he can do.

** OF Shane Peterson could stick with the Brewers until Khris Davis returns from the DL.

Cubs

** Catcher David Ross picked off the Nationals’ Clint Robinson at first base to end the game and give the Cubs a 2-1 win Thursday.

** The Cubs on Wednesday placed right fielder Jorge Soler on the 15-day disabled list due to a left ankle injury that occurred in Monday night's win. With Soler going on the DL, infielder/outfielder Mike Baxter was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Junior Lake will take Soler's place in right field and the cleanup spot for the time being.

** Benches cleared and heated words were exchanged in the sixth inning on Wednesday night in the Marlins' 7-3 win over the Cubs at Marlins Park. The dustup came after Lake belted a two-run homer off Miami starter Dan Haren.

Twins

** OF Torii Hunter hit his 200th career homer Thursday.

** RHP Ricky Nolasco was put on the DL with ankle problems. Tony Milone was called up to take his place.

** RHP Trevor May struck out nine in his first scoreless start in the Twins’ 2-0 win over the Red Sox.

White Sox

** LHP Carlos Rodon set a career high with 10 strikeouts against the Rangers Thursday.

** For the first time in his career as a starter, LHP Chris Sale has struck out 10 or more in three straight games. He fanned 13 on Wednesday.

** Jose Abreu missed three games because of swelling in his right index finger, but he returned with authority Wednesday. Abreu launched a 410-foot, two-run homer during a six-run second inning and then singled home another run in the fourth. Abreu is 15-for-39 with 24 RBIs when hitting with runners in scoring position this season.

What’s Ahead

The Twins will face the Royals in a AL Central showdown series, June 8-10, at Target Field. That series highlights action for the four MDR teams for the week.

NCAA and high school tournaments continue. Look for mention of any Midwest teams that make it into the finals.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7493
MDR Blog 5/29
05-29-2015
04:53 PM ET (US)
The Selig Experience, a state-of-the-art attraction, is opening at Miller Park this weekend to big crowds and rave reviews.

The attraction honors Commissioner Emeritus and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. The facility opened to the public Friday before the Brewers game against the Diamondbacks. On Thursday, there was a private unveiling party and media preview with Selig.

“When I look at all this, I say to you all, ‘Boy, have I been lucky,’” Selig said Thursday night. “I’m telling you that when I saw it, I couldn’t believe it.”

Fans can register in advance to see the Selig Experience at Miller Park by visiting Brewers.com/SeligExperience. Additional details include the following:

1) Every game, there will be two “reserved” shows. All other shows will be on a first come, first served basis. There is no charge for reserving a space in advance.

2) Fans must have a separate game ticket for entry into Miller Park, but there is no additional charge for admission to the Selig Experience.

3) Fans may reserve up to four spots for a tour, but may only register for one tour in advance. Registrations for multiple shows in advance will result in cancellation of all reservations.

4) Each show is limited to no more than 35 guests.

5) For the first reserved show each game day, fans must report to the Selig Experience no later than 10 minutes prior to the game’s scheduled start time, and the show will be scheduled to start approximately at the time of the game’s first pitch. The second reserved show will begin approximately one hour after the game’s first pitch, and fans will need to arrive 10 minutes prior to that scheduled show time. Late arrivals will not be granted access to the Selig Experience.

Located on Miller Park’s Loge Level in the left field corner, the Selig Experience is accessible to the general public during all Brewers home games, from the time that gates open until the 7 th inning. Admission is free for those with tickets to the game, and the attraction will also be open to selected tour groups.

A highlight of the attraction is a multimedia presentation that tells the story of Selig’s role in successfully bringing the Brewers to Milwaukee, saving Major League Baseball in the city with his commitment to build Miller Park, and his tireless efforts to promote and grow the game in his hometown.

The exhibition space totals approximately 1,500 square feet, and includes authentic artifacts from Selig’s tenure as the Brewers owner. It celebrates the fans’ love of the game, as told through the story of the Brewers founder.

The main multimedia show builds to a surprising encounter with the Commissioner himself inside an authentic reproduction of Selig’s County Stadium office, using a technology found in only a handful of exhibits around the world. After the show, Milwaukee fans are invited to take a sneak peek into Selig’s office for themselves.

The design and production of the Selig Experience was led by BRC Imagination Arts, an experience design agency that Turns Brands into Destinations™. Uihlein-Wilson Architects also contributed to the initial design of the space.

Updated Notes

Brewers

** SS Jean Segura was reinstated from the DL Friday, and RHP Brandon Kintzler was designed for assignment.

** The Brewers are expected to send down a reliever and call up a starter from the minors to fill Wily Peralta’s spot next week.

** RHP Rob Wooten has been outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs, according to the club’s transactions page.

Cubs

** The Cubs are tied for the most walkoff wins in the majors this season (5). They had just seven such victories in the entire 2014 season.

** Going into the weekend, Dexter Fowler was 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts.

** 3B Kris Bryant hit a 477-foot home run at Wrigley Field Tuesday.

Twins

** Before Friday’s game, the Twins had gone 18-6 this month, the most wins in the AL and tied with Washington (18-6) for second most wins in baseball.

** Going into the weekend, with nobody on base, the Twins were hitting just .238/.281/.368, but once they get runners into scoring position, they were batting .299/.375/.443.

** RHP Casey Fien, on the 15-day disabled list since April 30 with a right shoulder strain, tossed a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday and could be activated this weekend.

White Sox

** Following yesterday’s doubleheader at Baltimore, the White Sox optioned RHP Chris Beck to Class AAA Charlotte. Beck (4 ER/6.0 IP) suffered the loss in Game 2 in his MLB debut.

** LHP Chris Sale was dominant, striking out 12 in the White Sox 3-2 Game 1 win over Baltimore on Thursday. Sale extended his club record by recording double-digit strikeouts for the 21st time. Thursday marked the 11th time in Sale's career that he recorded 12 or more strikeouts, which is the most in the Major Leagues since 2012.

** Jose Abreu is batting .413 (19/46) with four home runs when there are no outs in an inning this season. The average is third highest in the majors (minimum 0.93 PA/team G).

What’s Ahead

The surprising Twins will host the Brewers at Target Field next weekend. The MDR Blog will be posted on Friday so we can advance the series.

The MLB amateur draft will be held June 8-10. Look for projections on the MDR teams’ first rounders in the MDR Blog next weekend.

SUNY-Cortland beat UW-La Crosse, 6-2, to win the NCAA Division III championship this week. Tournaments at other levels of college play and high school competition are underway. When results involve Midwest teams, they will be posted on the Blog.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7492
MDR Blog - 5/22
05-22-2015
07:55 AM ET (US)
A week or so into the season, or even the last time the White Sox and Twins met, a matchup between the teams wouldn’t get too many people very excited.

Things have changed. This weekend’s series in Chicago pits two teams that have played much better in recent weeks. That’s why the MDR Blog is coming out on Friday, to advance the three games.

First, let’s get the pitching details out of the way. Matchups will be:

Friday - Twins Phil Hughes vs. White Sox Jeff Samardzija
Saturday - Twins Trevor May vs. White Sox Chris Sale.
Sunday - Twins Kyle Gibson vs. White Sox Jose Quintana

Now, on to why this series matters. The Twins have surprised a lot of people by playing over .500 baseball so far.

Their turnaround from a 1-6 start can be traced, in part, to a four-game sweep of the Sox on April 30 through May 3.

Manager Paul Molitor, as detailed in the MDR Blog last week, has done a fine job. He’s gotten contributions from veteran Torii Hunter, who has turned into a team leader, Joe Mauer, who has his average inching toward his usual .300, and Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier, who have provided some power.

Gibson and Mike Pelfrey have led the starting pitchers. Hughes has started to come around. Ricky Nolasco returned from the DL and has contributed. Glen Perkins was 13 for his first 13 save opportunities.

The White Sox, who made some big moves over the off-season, looked to be a real disappointment about the time they dropped that series to the Twins. People in Chicago were calling for manager Robin Ventura’s head.

But, the Sox have played much better, including a six-game win streak that ended Tuesday. Avisail Garcia has put up gaudy numbers and has shown people while he was often referred to as a younger Miguel Cabrera while with the Tigers.

Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu have started to produce like they have shown they are capable of in the past. Adam La Roche’s average is still relatively low, but he has started to show his usual power.

Sale, Quintana and Samadzija seem to have shaken off slow starts and have improved on the mound. Don Robertson had an ERA barely over 1.00 and had been successful in 8 of 9 save opportunities.

Both the Twins and Sox are looking up at the Royals and Tigers in the AL Central. Their chances of contending for a division still are not great. But, they have played well enough to add interest to a May series in Chicago.

Look for results from the games to be posted on the MDR Facebook page.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** LHP Will Smith could face a suspension after he was ejected from Thursday’s game for having a foreign substance on his forearm.

** When Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez hit consecutive home runs Tuesday, it was the first time the Brewers had done so since Aug. 26, 2012, when Braun Ramirez and Corey Hart did it at Wrigley Field.

** 2B Scooter Gennett was told to work on consistency at the plate and in the field, and he will be recalled from Triple A. Gennett was sent to the minors Monday. RHP Corey Knebel was called up.

Cubs

** RHP Kyle Hendricks threw his first career complete game and shutout Thursday as the Cubs defeated the Padres, 3-0.

** When the Cubs made three errors in Tuesday’s game, it broke a streak of eight consecutive errorless games.

** The Cubs made a flurry of moves early in the week. LHP Phil Coke was designated for assignment. Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada was called up and started Wednesday. LHP Travis Wood was sent to the bullpen. RHP Brian Schlitter was optioned to Triple A, and outfielder Junior Lake was recalled.

Twins

** OF Aaron Hicks had seven hits in his first seven games since being recalled from the minors.

** Mauer hit his first home of the season Wednesday. It broke a career-long homerless drought of 76 games and 286 at-bats.

** The Twins optioned designated hitter Kennys Vargas to Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. Utility man Eduardo Nunez was activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

White Sox

** LHP Carlos Rodon has issued 15 walks in 16 innings over first three starts.

** Sale and the Indians Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber combined to yield just nine hits over 17 innings pitched, while striking out 19 and walking three in a 2-1 Sox win on Monday. Each pitcher allowed only one inning where multiple hitters reached base, the fourth inning for both.

** The White Sox suffered their first home series loss of the 2015 season after five straight home series wins.

What’s Ahead

The NCAA Division III baseball tournament is underway at Fox Cities Stadium. First round matchups include: Frostburg State vs. Ramapo, SUNY Cortland vs. Webster,
Trinity (Texas) vs. Emory, UW.-La Crosse vs. Salisbury. The results of the championship game will be posted on the MDR page. You can follow the tourney at http://www.ncaa.com/sports/baseball/d3.

The Selig Experience will be unveiled at Miller Park next week. A special ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, and public access starts Friday. The Selig Experience is a state-of-the-art attraction at Miller Park to honor Commissioner Emeritus and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.

The exhibition space totals approximately 1,500 square feet, and will include authentic artifacts from Selig’s tenure as the Brewers owner. It celebrates the fans’ love of the game, as told through the story of the Brewers founder.

Highlighting the MDR big league teams schedule for the week will be a weekend series, May 29-31 between the Cubs and AL champions the Royals at Wrigley Field.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7491
Deleted by author 05-22-2015 07:53 AM
7490
MDR Blog - 5/17
05-16-2015
07:55 AM ET (US)
Going into this weekend, Paul Molitor had a young Twins team playing over .500 and the players believing in themselves.

Most “experts” -- including this writer -- were picking the Twins for last place in the AL Central before the season started. They could still end up there, but so far have played much better that that.

Molitor inherited a team with one proven star in Joe Mauer, two up-and-coming potential stars in Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe, a veteran who once was a star in Torii Hunter, a solid catcher and a group of talented young, relatively inexperienced players with potential, both on the field and the mound.

This group has shown timely hitting at times, pitched better than many expected and look to have bought into Molitor’s aggressive, team approach to the game.

Molitor has followed “the book” in some areas, such as platooning players to minimize their weaknesses against certain pitchers. But, he’s also deviated from that book at times in playing some matchups more by instinct, mixing his lineups depending on the opponents and changing strategies depending on game situations.

Along with all this has been big dozes of positive input from Molitor. After starting the season 1-6, Molitor kept emphasizing the positives while also making adjustments to his lineups.

A key series came in a four-game sweep of the White Sox. "I think everybody is pleased that after what happened in the beginning, we've been able to turn this thing around and win some games," Molitor said after that series. "You have to get greedy when things are going well. You have to try to ride this thing out as long as possible."

The Twins have had their share of injuries to deal with. Molitor has had to go to young players called up from the minors. Many have done well in filling in for regulars. Molitor believes leadership from Hunter, Mauer and some of the more experienced players has helped a great deal.

"When you have your veteran players showing you how to do it day in and day out, I think people are watching and paying attention to that," Molitor said.

It’s still a long season, but so far Molitor has shown the ability to inspire, lead and apply strategy -- all qualities he also showed as The Ignitor for the Brewers during his playing days.

Brewers’ fans have to wonder what it might have been like if Molitor had remained with Milwaukee to finish out his playing career and joined the organization in some capacity, perhaps eventually as manager. That often has been speculated about, but relationships became strained before Molitor went to Toronto as a free agent. Things eventually were patched up considerably, and Molitor went into the Hall of Fame as a Brewer.

But, after winning a World Series in Toronto, he returned to his home, the Twin Cities, instead of Milwaukee. He got his 3,000th hit there, and after retiring as a player worked for the Twins in a variety of positions before being named manager.

Molitor does know Craig Counsell, another former Brewers’ player who was recently named manager in Milwaukee. "He spent a lot of time at County Stadium back in the day," Molitor told FOX Sports. “I remember him around the clubhouse as a kid when his dad worked for the Brewers.

"I remember how excited his dad was when he went off to Notre Dame, because that's where he had went. And then kind of a proud father talking about his kid, I'd always ask him, 'How's he doing down there?' He said, 'He's doing well.' . . .I don't know if you'd call Craig an overachiever in the game, because I don't know if he was the most talented guy. But he was a winner everywhere he went. He’ll do well there.”

The two will match up June 5-7 in the Twin Cities and June 26-28 in Milwaukee.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** RF Ryan Braun homered twice and made a diving catch to lead the Brewers to a 7-0 win over the Mets on Friday. Kyle Lohse pitched shutout ball.

** 3B Aramis Ramirez returned to action this weekend after missing games with tightness in his lower back. SS Jean Segura was placed on the DL with a broken finger. Prospect Luis Sardinas, acquired from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade, has been recalled to fill Segura’s spot.

** From www.mlbtraderumors.com: In his latest piece at FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal opines that the Reds and Brewers represent two of the teams that most desperately need to take a step back and sell some veteran pieces in order to improve for the future. However, Rosenthal notes that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Reds owner Bob Castellini are both exceptionally committed to winning, and either one could see enough misleading signs on the current roster to be persuaded into pushing for contention this season. (NOTE: That’s the same mistake Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin made over the off-season.)

Cubs

** The Cubs held off the Pirates on Friday for their fifth straight win, 11-10, in 12 innings. Matt Szczur singled off Radhames Liz to score Starlin Castro from third base for the winning run. Pittsburgh RF Gregory Polanco was running up for Szczur's very shallow fly when he tripped, letting the ball fall safe.

** Manager Joe Maddon got the 800th win of his career Thursday.

** The Cubs have signed RHP Felipe Paulino to a Minor League deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.

Twins

** The Twins rallied late, keyed by a game-tying RBI triple from Danny Santana, and a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Brian Dozier in the seventh inning, in a 3-2 win over the Rays on Friday night at Target Field.

** The Tigers are 7-2 against the Twins this year, outscoring them by a 56-23 margin.

** Former Twins pitcher Boof Bonser says he has retired in an interview with Twinkie Town. (The news was initially reported in January on the blog Boston Sports For Life.) The 33-year-old Bonser last pitched competitively in 2014, when he made 12 appearances for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2010.

White Sox

** A five-run seventh inning propelled the White Sox to a 7-6 victory over the A's on Friday night.

** The White Sox optioned second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday, allowing switch-hitter Carlos Sanchez to join the team and assume the starting role.

** White Sox RHP Javy Guerra has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Charlotte, reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter).

NCAA DIII Tourney

The NCAA Division III baseball tournament will be held next weekend at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton. Regional action was continuing this weekend. Check out the scores and more at http://d3baseball.com/playoffs/2015/playoff-central.

What’s Ahead

The Twins travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox next weekend. Pitching matchups will be posted later.

Tournament action will start in NCAA DI baseball, leading to the national tourney on June 23-24 in Omaha, Nebraska. Prep tournaments also are beginning around the Midwest. Look for links to the results in this blog.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7489
MDR Blog - 5/7
05-07-2015
08:34 AM ET (US)
When the Brewers chose Craig Counsell to replace Ron Roenicke last Monday, they were following a trend that is rather prevalent among MDR teams -- hiring guys with no previous managerial experience.

It started with the Cardinals, who while not one of the four MDR teams covered by the former web site and current blog are rivals of at least a couple of those teams. They chose Mike Matheny from their front office to take over on the field after Tony La Russa retired. It’s worked out well for them.

Then, the White Sox chose former third baseman and front office member Robin Ventura to take over their helm. The Sox struggled last season and so far this year, and some are calling for Ventura’s head. He was 85-77 in his first season as manager.

This past off-season, the Twins hired Paul Molitor to take over from Ron Gardenhire. Molitor had held various coaching and other positions with the Twins, but had never managed. He has a very young team playing over .500 baseball.

Some things are common among these three and Counsell. All four were considered savvy players, sort of coaches on the field. All four did have strong ties to their franchises, even though they did not serve as managers in the minors or big leagues.

Molitor was a Hall of Fame player. Ventura was an All Star. Matheny and Counsell were considered journeymen, but solid contributors. So, there was variety in their playing abilities, but they all knew the game well.

By the way, three of the four managers once played for the Brewers.

We’ll have to see how Counsell fits into the picture as far as winning or losing. Many think he will serve only for a while on the field and eventually take over for GM Doug Melvin. He served as a special assistant to Melvin before Monday. But, Counsell does have a three-year contract as manager.

What makes the hiring of Counsell, and the firing of Roenicke, somewhat odd is the timing. The change came only a little over a week after principal owner Mark Attanasio said he wasn’t blaming the manager or GM for the Brewers’ struggles. It came after the Brewers made very few moves during the off-season. It also came after Roenicke’s contract option was picked up through 2016. Finally, it came after the Brewers had just won their first series of the season, and won two straight for the first time this year.

Roenicke himself expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision, wrote MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “I told Doug I wished it would have happened a week ago,” Roenicke said, referring to the club’s back-to-back weekend victories over the division-rival Cubs. “I would have understood it better then.” Melvin said that he feels he gave Roenicke every opportunity that he could to right the ship, but ultimately making a change felt like the right thing to do.

Whether the decision really was Melvin’s or Attanasio’s, Roenicke was almost a cinch to get canned somewhere along the way unless the Brewers staged a remarkable turnaround. But a month into the season, combined with these other circumstances, is rather odd. In fact, only 19 managers have been fired within a season’s first 25 games.

Attanasio told JSOnline.com and other media that Melvin approached him about firing Roenicke. “We did our evaluation in a short period of time to move forward with Craig," said Attanasio. "When I was here talking to everybody a few weeks ago, a management change was not on the table. But in sport and life sometimes, things can change. When they do change, you have to be able to react to them. From my standpoint, we had won five games in April and nine games in September. That's not what we're trying to do in Milwaukee. I was receptive to Doug approaching this with me."

Attanasio has raised eyebrows with some of his decisions before. Many thought he was the one who insisted on firing Ned Yost with a little over a week to go in 2008. Then, Yost’s interim replacement, Dale Sveum, was passed over for the manager’s spot in favor of Ken Macha.

These moves, including the latest with Roenicke, fly in the face of most conventional baseball logic. The moves also don’t really fit the style Melvin has established over a long career in the game. But, Attanasio and Melvin say the latter initiated the latest changes.

No matter who started the process, we’ll have to see how the latest move compares to some others made by the Brewers since 2008, and how Counsell ends up comparing to Matheny, Ventura and Molitor.

Cubs vs. Brewers

The MDR Blog is being distributed on Thursday, so we can advance the Cubs-Brewers series at Miller Park. Pitching matchups for that series will include:

Friday - Cubs’ Jason Hammel vs. Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson
Saturday - Cubs’ Travis Wood vs. Brewers’ Kyle Lohse
Sunday - Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks vs. Brewers’ Matt Garza

Results from the series will be posted on the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook page.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Speculation started shortly after the Counsell press conference about the status of Melvin, who is in the last year of his contract. “I’m not worried about that,” Melvin said. “I just keep coming to work every day until I’m told not to.”

** Attanasio addressed Melvin’s role and possible rebuilding in a statement to JSOnline.com and other media. "I think Doug has done a good job in constructing the roster. We're all disappointed in the results, and we all need to do better. Over 11 years, I've made some pretty tough decisions and I'm ready to make them again. Whether it's remodel, retool, rebuild, whatever it takes to bring winning baseball to Milwaukee is what I'm going to do. The organization always comes first to me and for everybody….Doug has 22 years of experience and we're certainly going to try to lean on that as we figure this out."

** J.P. Breen of Baseball Prospectus examines Ryan Braun‘s lack of productivity, noting that Braun’s ability to handle pitches on the inner third of the plate has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons. That was understandable in 2014, Breen points out, due to a devastating nerve issue in Braun’s thumb that made it difficult for him to even shake hands with another person, let alone play baseball. Braun began starting his swing early in an effort to keep up with fastballs that he could once handle, leaving him susceptible to breaking pitches away. Breen wonders if Braun may still be working to correct some of those bad habits he developed last year.

Cubs

** Two sections of the bleachers at Wrigley Field opened this week.

** The Cubs announced they have selected the contract of LHP James Russell from Triple-A Iowa and designated right-hander Blake Parker for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Parker was later released.

** OF Chris Denorfia went back on the DL when he aggravated a hamstring injury. The Cubs also announced that they have designated right-hander Anthony Varvaro for assignment. His roster spot will go to fellow righty Justin Grimm, who was activated from the disabled list. Additionally, the Cubs have optioned Junior Lake to Triple-A Iowa and recalled outfielder Matt Szczur.

Twins

** Eddie Rosario crushed a first-pitch fastball from Scott Kazmir for a homer to become just the 29th player in Major League history to homer on the first pitch of a career. He also became the first Twins player to do it, and just the sixth in franchise history to homer in a first career at-bat.

** The Twins placed utility man Eduardo Nunez on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain and purchased infielder Doug Bernier's contract from Triple-A Rochester.

** The Twins placed outfielder Oswaldo Arcia on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip flexor strain on Monday and recalled Rosario from Triple-A Rochester.

White Sox

** With public criticism mounting against Ventura, first baseman Jose Abreu came to the defense of his skipper, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. “If the people want someone to blame, it’s the players, not Robin,” Abreu said.

** The White Sox will be without RHP Matt Albers longer than expected, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Albers injured a finger on his right hand in the Sox’ benches-clearing brawl with the Royals earlier this season, and the digit ultimately wound up requiring surgery which will keep him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.

** The White Sox announced that they’ve returned right-hander Javy Guerra from his rehab assignment at Triple-A, reinstated him from the disabled list and designated him for assignment.

What’s Ahead

After the Cubs leave town, the White Sox will come to Miller Park for a three-game series. Pitching matchups and results for that series will be posted on the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook page.

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association baseball tournament will start Friday and run through Saturday at Whitewater. The Warhawks repeated as the regular season champ for the third straight year.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7488
MDR Blog - 5/2
05-02-2015
05:36 PM ET (US)
This is a MDR Rivalry weekend with the Cubs hosting the Brewers, and Twins meeting the White Sox.

Jon Lester held the Brewers to three hits in seven innings to earn his first win as a Cub, a 1-0 decision on Friday at Wrigley Field. Addison Russell homered for the only run of the game. It was his first big league homer. Wily Peralta took the loss after allowing only that one run.

On Saturday, Mike Fiers held the Cubs hitless for the first 4.1 innings, and the Brewers went on to a 6-1 win. Ryan Braun got the Milwaukee offense going with a two-run homer in the first inning. Jean Segura had four hits.

Jake Arrieta took the loss. Anthony Rizzo homered for the Cubs.

The teams will wrap up the series Sunday afternoon. Jason Hammel will face the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson.

At Target Field, the Twins won the first three games of the series against the Sox.

In the series opener on Thursday, Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer as the Twins beat Chris Sale and the Sox, 12-2. The Twins scored seven runs in the third inning. Sale had given up just a combined eight earned runs in his previous four starts against the Twins for a 2.63 ERA, but matched that total in his start on Thursday.

On Friday, Kyle Gibson out-dueled the Sox’s Jose Quintana in a 1-0 win. Gibson gave up only four hits in eight innings. Quintana’s allowed the only run of the contest on a wild pitch.

Ricky Nolasco returned from the DL for the Twins on Saturday and got the win in a 5-3 decision. Torii Hunter and Trevor Plouffe homered for Minnesota. Melky Cabrera had three hits for the Sox. Hector Noesi took the loss.

Mike Pelfrey will face the Sox’s John Danks in the series finale on Sunday.

Results from the additional games in the Brewers-Cubs and Twins-Sox series will be posted on the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook page.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com)

Brewers

** Teams are looking at the Brewers as the first team who could start selling, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful start to the season. One exec listed Gomez, Khris Davis, Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Braun are somewhat overpriced. The Brewers have let other teams know they’re willing to listen to trade proposals, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.

** Gomez returned from the DL for the Brewers Saturday and had a single and two stolen bases. Scooter Gennett could return from the DL next week. Aramis Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of hamstring tightness, but was expected to start on Sunday.

** INF Luis Jimenez was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Gomez.

Cubs

** The Cubs survived a scary moment in the second inning Saturday when first baseman Rizzo and second baseman Russell collided in shallow right field chasing Carlos Gomez's bloop single. Both players remained in the game.

** Russell is the youngest player in the National League at 21, but he's not the youngest to hit a home run for the Cubs. Danny Murphy was 18 when he connected for the Cubs on Sept. 13, 1960. Murphy finished his brief career with four home runs. Starlin Castro was 20 years old when he hit his first home run in his first big league at-bat in May 2010. Russell was the youngest player to hit a home run in a 1-0 game since Eddie Mathews in 1952.

** “The Cubs have continued to touch base with the Phillies” about Cole Hamels, sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The likes of Kris Bryant or Russell are “unquestionably off the table,” yet Chicago has enough prospect depth to get the Phillies’ attention. Whether it’s Hamels or another notable arm, Wittenmyer expects the Cubs to target starting pitching at the trade deadline.

Twins

** Manager Paul Molitor on Saturday explained the Twins' surprising decision to send LHP Tommy Milone to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins officially activated right-hander Ricky Nolasco (inflammation in right elbow) and left-hander Brian Duensing (strained right intercostal) from the 15-day disabled list before Saturday's game against the White Sox. To make room for them, the Twins optioned both Milone and left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar to Triple-A after Friday's 1-0 win. Molitor believes it makes more sense to keep Milone stretched out as a starter than to use him in an unfamiliar role as a reliever.

** The Twins placed right-handed reliever Tim Stauffer on the 15-day disabled list with a right intercostal strain on Friday, and recalled right-handed reliever Ryan Pressly from Triple-A Rochester.

** The Twins placed right-handed reliever Casey Fien on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a right shoulder strain, and they recalled fellow right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester.

White Sox

** The Sox players, manager and broadcasters agreed it was “weird” playing the game Wednesday in Baltimore at which no fans were allowed because of the rioting in the city earlier in the week. "Any time a guy strikes out or gets a hit and you don't hear anything is unusual," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Anything that happened in that game, there was no reaction to outside of what you heard on the bench. It really felt like one of those early morning Spring Training games."

** The two postponements in Baltimore on Monday and Tuesday gave the Sox three in one week.

** The revamped White Sox bullpen closed out the month of April with a 2.91 ERA, which stands sixth in Major League Baseball.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs and Brewers will do it all over again next weekend with a series at Miller Park. Game times are 7:10 p.m. on Friday, 6:10 on Saturday and 1:10 on Sunday. The White Sox will follow the Cubs into Miller Park the week after.

Before their series in Milwaukee, the Cubs will clash with the Cardinals for four games during the week. The two team are at the top of the NL Central standings.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, May 9 ,at 11 am at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar located at 53rd and Bluemound Road in Milwaukee.

Guest Speaker will be Joe Niese, who has authored two books, "Burleigh Grimes: Baseball's Last Legal Spitballer," and "Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story."

There will also be presentations by Mary Shea on "Women in Baseball" and
Rick Schabowski on "Disco Demolition Night."

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7487
MDR Blog - 4/25
04-25-2015
07:35 AM ET (US)
The Brewers’ principal owner Mark Attanasio said earlier this week he’s not looking at GM Doug Melvin or manager Ron Roenicke as the reasons for the team’s poor start.

"Right now, my examinations are focused on how to improve our performance on the field," Attanasio said. "Relative to me, I'm not looking at the manager or the general manager right now."

He’s right to do so at this point, but Attanasio himself might be guilty of a couple mistakes that have set up the Brewers for a tough season.

Emphasis should be put on the “right now” part of his statement. Melvin is the second best GM -- to Harry Dalton, who built the winners of the late 70s and early 80s -- in franchise history, in this writer’s estimate.

But, Melvin has batted around .500 on personnel moves in recent seasons. That’s great for a hitter, but not that hot for a GM. It might be time for him to retire or be replaced.

Yet, Attanasio has been quoted as saying that Melvin can name the number of years he wants on a contract extension. That might not be the brightest approach if the Brewers continue to struggle.

Attanasio might already have made a similar mistake by extending Roenicke’s contract through 2016. If the Brewers continue to struggle, Roenicke probably should be fired by the All Star break. If that happens, the Brewers will be paying him for a season and half for doing nothing.

In his statements last week, Attanasio appropriately said the players were the reason the club has not played well. That’s accurate. The old adage in baseball is that the players make management look like geniuses or dopes, but when the latter happens it’s easier to fire one guy than 25.

The flaw in Attanasio’s approach on this one can be seen in his following statement:

"First of all, what I find in business and investing is you make you decisions based on the facts that you have in front of you looking forward, rather than trying to go back and say, should you have done this or should you have done that," he said.

"We did a huge amount of analysis. We've got 25 players, virtually every one of them is an established major-leaguer, and by my count all but five are below their career norms. Maybe six if you want to count (Francisco Rodriguez) in the bullpen, which I count. Frankie is doing fine.

"But you have 20 of 25 guys below their career norms. That is not what you would expect, because the sport is so analyzable and predictable. What makes a major-league player special is he can perform pretty much the same level year in and year out. We've got a lot of really established major-league players here, with very few newbies at this point.

"So this was not something built on false hope. I believe (the team will be better) if these guys play the way they can, including with the injuries."

Certainly, most decisions should be based on fact gathering, but in baseball you have a human factor that might not be as present in Attanasio’s other business of investing. Players get older. They suffer nagging injuries. Events in their lives beyond baseball can affect their performance on the field. Confidence can peak and wane. Some get complacent when they are set for life financially, etc., etc., etc.

Certainly, these factors could help account for sub-par performances late last season and/or so far this year by Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura (who lost a child last season), Jonathan Lucroy (who has been injured twice since the start of spring training) and others.

Anybody who has followed baseball for a long time would definitely have to dispute Attanasio’s statement that the “sport is so analyzable and predictable.” Yes, stats can be gathered and averaged out, but that doesn’t mean the players get to those lifetime stats in a steady, predictable manner. The ups and downs of the game are many and often not predictable. The trick to good personnel management is to get players when they are up and get rid of them when they are down.

Somewhere in the process, Attanasio, Melvin and others apparently decided the Brewers were closer to the team that held first place in the NL Central for 150 days last season than they were to the team that collapsed the last month and a half. Consequently, they made few significant changes in the team over the off-season. At least for now, it looks like they were wrong.

Attanasio should be given credit for building the competitiveness of the Brewers since he took over as principal owner. He has shown his dedication to the franchise and Milwaukee.

But, he came to the game primarily as a fan, not an inside baseball man. He’s been smart enough to rely on Melvin and other baseball men within his organization for that part of the operation.

Ultimately though, he is responsible for the overall outcome. The buck stops at his desk, since he can fire Melvin and those other baseball men.

The Brewers might turn things around and make Attanasio, Melvin and others look like geniuses. If not, Attanasio will be faced with some tough decisions that won’t be analyzable by the models used in business investing.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** GM Doug Melvin might be thinking in similar terms to the thesis in the lede of this blog. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com quoted Melvin as saying: “It’s good we have 140 some games left. But we’ve got to see change here. We’ve got to see the arrow pointing in the other direction pretty soon. Maybe there’s a point you have to say, you have to reset, retool.”

** RHP Tyler Thornburg, who primarily has pitched in relief, was sent to Triple A this week to stretch himself out so he can be a starter.

** The Brewers have outrighted Brandon Kintzler to Triple-A after the right-hander cleared waivers, the team announced via Twitter. Kintzler was designated for assignment early this week.

Cubs

** The Cubs’ Jon Lester did not get a decision in the 7-3, 11-inning win over the Reds, but he had his best outing to date, striking out a season-high 10 batters over six innings.

** Kris Bryant switched from 3B to CF on Thursday, but returned to third Friday after Dexter Fowler was declared fit to play after a groin injury.

** Addison Russell‘s promotion to the Cubs‘ Major League roster could lead to even more whispers that Starlin Castro could (or even should) be traded, yet Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times disagrees. Castro is off to a strong start in 2015 and seems to be ever-improving, not to mention his youth (he’s still just 25) and team-friendly contract.

Twins

** RHP Phil Hughes struck out nine but missed out on his first win as Seattle’s Felix Hernandez shut out the Twins, 2-0, Friday.

** RHP Ricky Nolasco, who is on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, progressed to throwing off a mound without any issues on Sunday and will start a rehab assignment with Class A Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

** Twins GM Terry Ryan again expressed disappointment when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Ervin Santana‘s suspension for PED use. “People are going to test positive because kids are kids and men are men,” said Ryan. “…You shouldn’t make that mistake. … If they take something, they ought to know what it is. That’s all, regardless of where you bought it or if it came from a reputable drug store or nutrition store or wherever. They’ve been educated pretty well about this program, and they know they’re going to get tested. They ought to know what’s going in (their bodies).”

White Sox

** RHP Jeff Samardzija and others could face suspensions for their involvement in a brawl with the Royals on Thursday.

** The Sox-Royals game, played during a steady rain Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, was suspended due to unplayable field conditions. The score was tied at two after eight innings. This contest will be resumed prior to Saturday's regularly scheduled game, with the same 1:10 p.m. CT start. The regularly scheduled game will begin after Friday's completion.

** RHP Kyle Drabek has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Charlotte, the team announced on Twitter. The former top prospect was designated for assignment on Monday in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for 2014 No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon.

What’s Ahead

Next weekend will be a MDR Rivalry matchup weekend. The Brewers travel to Wrigley Field Friday for a weekend series with the Cubs. It will be the first meeting of the I-94 and NL Central rivals this season.

The Twins will host the White Sox in an ALC matchup. Those teams played a series in early April.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7486
MDR Blog - 4/18
04-19-2015
07:30 AM ET (US)
Kris Bryant received the attention of a rock star when he made his MLB debut Friday at Wrigley Field.

With regional and national media tripping over each other, Bryant went 0-for-4 -- with three strikeouts -- on Friday, but made a couple nice defensive plays at third base. On Saturday, he walked twice and had two hits, a game-tying single.

"I've been waiting for this moment my whole life, and I'm out there trying to do too much in those four at-bats," Bryant said of his big league debut. "It was a good day for me -- my first game and the guys were treating me great. I couldn't ask for a better day, honestly."

Bryant really started drawing attention this spring when he batted .425 and led the Major Leagues with nine home runs -- and hit two more in exhibition games that didn't count.

That would seem to merit the rookie heading north with the big league club to start the regular season, but instead he began the season in Triple A. By putting him there, the Cubs can control his contractual obligation for another season, until 2021.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has maintained that the club wanted Bryant to open the season in the Minor Leagues so he could get into a good rhythm.

"His development is an important factor, and the needs of the big league team as well," Epstein said last week.

Mike Olt started the season at third, but was injured. The Cubs used Jonathan Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara at third while Olt heals, and even inserted left fielder Chris Coghlan. Chicago's third basemen were batting .148 (4-for-27), worst in the National League, with one home run and one RBI, plus a .233 on-base percentage.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was impressed with how Bryant handled third base this spring.

"I see him as a third baseman," Maddon said Wednesday. "That's where I saw him, and I thought he could do that. Conversationally with him, he likes playing the outfield, which I thought was interesting.

“If you could play him at two spots, and injuries occur, things have to be moved around, maybe somebody is available who does better here than there, that's a nice thing to have -- a player that young amenable to doing more than one thing. It doesn't happen all the time."

It’s also nice to have a young player who isn’t star struck by all the attention being paid to him. Of course, Bryant’s performance over the long haul will serve as the true gauge of his ability to withstand big league pressure, and hit big league pitching.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes came from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Gerardo Parra will start most games in center in place of the injured Carlos Gomez, with Logan Schafer providing backup.

** Jason Rogers was called up to take Gomez’s spot on the roster, and will see some time at first base, pinch-hitter and perhaps third.

** LHP Dontrelle Willis, who announced his retirement after injuring his neck before throwing a pitch in the Brewers' spring camp, was hired by Fox Sports 1 to be a studio analyst for its major-league baseball coverage.

Cubs

** Mike Olt could be in a cast for up to four weeks after breaking his right wrist.

** With Bryant at third base, Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera will likely share second base.

** While Bryant received the bulk of the attention, Jorge Soler entered the weekend ranked among the NL rookie leaders in several offensive categories, including batting average (.310), home runs (two), RBIs (seven) and on-base percentage (.382).

Twins

** RHP Phil Hughes fell to 0-3 with the loss in Saturday’s game.

** The Twins placed LHP reliever Brian Duensing on the 15-day disabled list with a right intercostal strain on Friday, and recalled fellow LHP Caleb Thielbar from Triple-A Rochester to take his place on the roster.

** Trevor Plouffe hit a walk-off solo homer in the 11th inning to give the Twins their third straight win, a 3-2 decision over the Indians on Friday night. The streak was snapped Saturday.

White Sox

** The trio of Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche combined to go 10-for-15 with three doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and six runs scored in a 12-3 win over the Tigers Saturday.

** LHP Chris Sale, who went 2-0 with the win Saturday, threw 28 pitches in the first inning, 23 of which went for strikes. He also threw 11 pitches in that opening frame that hit either 97 or 98 mph.

** The seven runs in the fourth inning Saturday were the most runs the White Sox scored in an inning since scoring seven in the seventh against the Tigers on July 29, 2014.

Brewers Rumors

Nothing starts the rumor bill quicker than a poor start to a season. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports opined, as reported by www.mlbtraderumors.com: The Brewers‘ poor start suggests that they could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Rosenthal notes that they could deal Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Gerardo Parra or even Aramis Ramirez (despite Ramirez’s plans to retire at the end of the season). A player who could bring a much greater return, though, is Carlos Gomez, who is signed to a bargain contract the next two years.

KKKKKKKKKKs

Freshman Mitchell Stalsberg, who starred at Viroqua High School, struck out 17 as he pitched Winona State’s first no-hitter since 2005 in a 11-0 win over Sioux Falls.

Stalsberg fanned the fourth-most batters in a single game in Warrior program history. The last time a WSU pitcher struck out more batters came more than 45 years ago, when Sam Shea sent down 18 batters on April 15, 1970. The record for strikeouts in a game is 21, set by Lee Paul in a 10-inning win over Saint Mary's in 1952.

What’s Ahead

All four MDR teams face division rivals early this week. The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh to meet the Pirates. The Brewers host the Reds at Miller Park.

In the AL, the White Sox host the Indians. The Twins travel to KC to play the Royals.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

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** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7485
MDR Blog - 4/11
04-11-2015
08:36 AM ET (US)
Newly-acquired Adam Lind has been the bright spot in the first week for the Brewers.

Lind was 6-for-10 with a home run in the first series against the Rockies. He went 2-for-3 Friday, giving him eight hits through the Brewers' first four games to tie a club record set in 1978 by Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and first tied by Damian Miller in 2005.

“I want to be an impact bat in the middle of the order and continue to do what I’ve done for the most part in my career,” Lind said. “Everybody has their ups and downs; hopefully this will be an up.”

A key for Lind is staying healthy. He had some back problems early in spring training, but has been healthy in recent weeks.

“My goal every year is to not go on the DL,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 goal. I want to produce and have a consistent season, and I think that can happen if I stay healthy.”

Lind also has shown he can handle first base. “I get the job done,” he said.

Raising Needed Questions

While Lind looked good, some questions have to be raised by the Brewers’ first week.
Ryan Braun lasted only one game before injuring himself.

Braun suffered a rib cage injury in the Brewers’ opener, left that game early and was out of the starting lineup Tuesday and Wednesday. He did pinch-hit in Wednesday’s game and returned to the lineup Friday.

After a 2014 season in which he was hampered by a hand injury, Braun had an encouraging spring training. But, his injury this week calls for the question to once again be asked: is this the post-steroid Ryan Braun?

You want to be fair and not jump to conclusions. By no means does raising the question connote that Braun is on the juice again. In fact, instead it is posed because you have to wonder if he can stay healthy without the aid of steroids, which he took for a similar side/rib cage injury.

You can point to other examples of steroid users who suffered numerous nagging injuries after going off the substances they were using -- Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, etc.

Some medical sources maintain that steroid users build muscle mass, but often tendons and connective tissue in the body do not keep up with that growth. Thus, users, even after they stop using, often have nerve problems (not unlike Braun had in his hand) and strains and tears in the connective support structure for muscles.

It should be said that a MRI on Braun did not show any major tears, but the injury does fit the connective support structure part of medical studies. “When it's in the ribcage, sometimes it's oblique, intercostal, ribcage -- they're all interconnected," Braun said. "If I had to guess, I would say it's more intercostal, which is the muscles in between the ribcage, than it is oblique.”

Let’s hope Braun gets through this injury and gets started on a good season. The Brewers desperately need his bat. You also hate to see a player with his talent be plagued by injuries at a still young age.

But, if he continues to be injury prone, you do have to ask if it is related to his big mistake a few years ago.

Question #2 - One start into the season is not enough to make judgments on any pitcher. But, you do have to ask if the first start struggles of the Brewers No. 1 and 2 starters, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza, could be early indications that both are starting down the slippery slope of the backside of the age hill.

Lohse is 36. He has always kept himself in good shape, but has reached the age where many pitchers experience changes in their stuff.

Garza is 31. The latter should not be considered an over the hill age, but Garza has had a history of injuries that could age a pitcher and his arm earlier. In fact, he has been on the disabled list in each of the last four seasons, including last year with the Brewers when he had an oblique problem. He’s averaged almost 10 missed starts per season during that span.

The Brewers are paying Lohse a reported $11 million and Garza $10 million to be their Nos. 1 and 2 in their rotation.

Both pitchers might bounce back from their first starts and have fine seasons. But, if they don’t, the Brewers had better hope Wily Peralta develops into an ace and Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson take big steps in their respective development.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Brewers starter Mike Fiers was on fire out of the gate Friday, striking out the side in the first on 12 pitches, but he took the loss.

** Another veteran pitcher, 33-year-old Francisco Rodriguez, blew his first save in a 5-4 loss to the Rockies.

** Owner Mark Attanasio says that he is still talking about a new deal with GM Doug Melvin, with the major question being how long the veteran executive wants to stay at the helm.

Cubs

** Starlin Castro and Javier Baez have been mentioned in trade rumors with the Padres, who are seeking a SS.

** RHP Jake Arrieta struck out seven in seven shutout innings of his season debut. Arrieta has held the Cardinals to three earned runs over 36 1/3 innings in six career starts.

** The Cubs have signed lefty James Russell, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. Russell was released by the Braves earlier this spring. He spent much of last season (and all of his career before it) with Chicago.

Twins

** LHP Tommy Milone walked two in the first inning, but fanned seven over 7 2/3 innings as the Twins posted their first win Friday.

** The Twins will place RHP Ricky Nolasco on the disabled list and recall prospect Trevor May to join the rotation, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Nolasco had his right elbow examined after he experienced discomfort in his first start.

** The Twins became the first American League team to be shut out in back-to-back games to open the season since the 1977 Seattle Mariners. The Twins finally got on the board against the Tigers in the 7th inning Thursday. It was the first run of the year for the Twins, who nearly set the Major League record of consecutive scoreless innings to open a season with 24 innings. The 1943 St. Louis Cardinals still have the record of 26 straight innings.

White Sox

** The loss Friday was the first for the White Sox in their home opener since 2007 against the Indians, and marked the first time since 1996 that the club lost on Opening Day and in the home opener in the same season.

** Sox starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana and John Danks combined to allow 14 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings in the Sox’s first three games.

** Danks lost his first game to the Royals Thursday after going 7-0 against KC in his career.

What’s Ahead

The Twins and White Sox will continue their series on Saturday and Sunday. Mike Pelfrey will start for the Twins against the Sox’s Jeff Samardzija on Saturday. On Sunday, Phil Hughes will face the Sox’s Chris Sale, who has completed his rehab from an avulsion fracture.

In the first game of the series, the Twins‘ Tommy Malone blanked the Sox, 6-0. Joe Mauer reached base four times. Brian Dozier homered.

As part of the record setting “20-in-15” (20 items in 2015) All-Fan Giveaways, the Brewers will be distributing Rob Deer Bobbleheads presented by Toyota to everyone in attendance of the 1:10 p.m. Sunday contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In addition, Deer will be on-hand to help celebrate the occasion. The former slugger will get the game underway as he throws out the ceremonial first pitch. He will also be available at 1:10 for autographs for 45 minutes on the Field Level concourse near Guest Relations at Miller Park.

A series between the Brewers and Cardinals will highlight the early part of the coming week. The series is part of a 22-game streak for the Brewers against NL Central opponents.

May 10 will conclude the fund-raising campaign for The Spirit of Badger Baseball 1870-1991 book. The date marks the 24th anniversary of the last Badger baseball game, played at Guy Lowman Field against the Purdue Boilermakers.

Those who wish to contribute to publishing costs of the book should send checks payable and mailed to: Steven D. Schmitt, 6017 Meadowood Dr., Madison, WI 53711.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7484
MDR Blog - 4/4
04-04-2015
08:04 AM ET (US)
With the season starting Sunday night, it’s time for the MDR Pompous Prognostications:

NL East

1. Nationals, 2. Marlins, 3. Braves, 4. Mets, 5. Phillies.

NL Central

1. Cardinals, 2. Cubs, 3. Pirates, 4. Brewers, 5. Reds.

NL West

1. Dodgers, 2. Giants, 3. Padres, 4. Rockies, 5. D-Backs.

AL East

1. Orioles, 2. Red Sox, 3. Blue Jays, 4. Rays, 5. Yankees.

AL Central

1. Indians, 2. White Sox, 3. Royals, 4. Tigers, 5. Twins.

AL West

1. Mariners, 2. Angels, 3. A’s, 4. Astros, 5. Rangers.

Wild Card teams

NL - Marlins. Giants, AL - White Sox, Angels.

NL Champ - Nationals, AL Champ - Mariners.

Nationals win championship.

Individual Award Winners

NL: MVP - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Cy Young - Max Scherzer, Nationals, Rookie of the Year - Kris Bryant, Cubs, Manager of the Year - Matt Williams, Nationals.

AL: MVP - Mike Trout, Angels, Cy Young - Felix Hernandez, Mariners, Rookie of the Year - Daniel Norris, Blue Jays, Manager of the Year - Terry Francona, Indians.

Some might note that Bryant is starting the season in the minors for the Cubs, but so did Ryan Braun in the year he won ROY.

As for the MDR teams, in the NL Central, the Cubs need Bryant (who should be up with the club by the end of April), Jorge Soler and Asmendy Alcantara to turn out to be real, and Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and the pitching staff to perform well. It would help if Javier Baez also worked out his problems in the minors and joined that group of young players who proved to be real. Joe Maddon should keep the Cubs in the mix.

The Brewers stood too pat, banking on Ryan Braun bouncing back and other players taking steps in their development. Their pitching also looks a little thin, especially if veterans like Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Francisco Rodriguez and others start showing their age.

In the AL Central, the White Sox might be the most improved team in baseball and should make a run at the division title or Wild Card spot.

Paul Molitor will make a young Twins team better, but not good enough to escape the cellar of what is a division with four solid teams.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Schafer Logan made the 25-man roster as an extra outfielder.

** The Pirates have acquired first baseman Hunter Morris from the Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later, the clubs announced. The 26-year-old had already been outrighted over the offseason.

** Gerardo Parra and Luis Jimenez are versatile which could help the Brewers. Parra, who can play all three outfield positions, also has been working out at first base. Jimenez, a utility infielder, has been behind the plate and could serve as a third catcher.


Cubs

** Keeping Kris Bryant in the minors for even 12 days will leave him with 171 days of Major League service time this season, or one day shy of a full year. In other words, rather than controlling Bryant from 2015-20, the Cubs would gain an extra year of control and have the rights to Bryant through the 2021 season.

** With Javier Baez in the minors, the Cubs could start Tommy La Stella or Arismendy Alcantara at second base.

** The Cubs selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Phil Coke, who had signed a minor league contract with the team. By making the team, Coke will be paid $2.25 million. In nine relief appearances this spring, Coke, 32, has given up four hits and has not allowed a run.

Twins

** Twins RHP Ervin Santana has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug Stanozolol, the league announced. Santana issued the following statement: “This is unexpected news for me and my family. I am issuing this statement so the public knows where I stand. First, my deepest apologies to my family, fans, colleagues, teammates and my current employer the Minnesota Twins. I am very disappointed that I tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. I am frustrated that I can’t pinpoint how the substance in question entered my body. I would never knowingly take anything illegal to enhance my performance. What I can guarantee is I never knowingly took anything illegal to enhance my performance. That’s just not me, never has been and never will.”

** RHP Mike Pelfrey will take Santana’s spot in the rotation.

** The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Shane Robinson, who had been in camp on a minor league deal. The 30-year-old Robinson had previously spent his entire career in the Cardinals organization and will presumably serve as the right-handed half of a center field platoon with Jordan Schafer.
 
White Sox

** The Sox signed veteran LHP Matt Lindstrom to a minor league deal.

** LHP Chris Sale, coming back from an injury, appears on track to start for the White Sox on April 12 against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, meaning the White Sox won't need a replacement at the season's outset.

** LHP Carlos Rodon, who has been talked about as a Rookie of the Year possibility, will begin the 2015 campaign in the Minors as a starter for Triple-A Charlotte.

What’s Ahead.

The Cubs jump start the MLB season with a Sunday night game against the Cardinals.
Jon Lester will face the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright.

On Monday, the Brewers will send Kyle Lohse against the Rockies‘ Kyle Kendrick at Miller Park.

In the AL, on Monday, the White Sox will send Jeff Samardzija against the Royals’ Yordano Ventura in KC. The Twins’ Phil Hughes will start against the Tigers’ David Price in Detroit.

Brief summaries of the openers will be posted on the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook page.

The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will hold a banquet at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on Thursday, April 9. Speakers include Dennis Menke who had a 13-year career with the Braves, Reds and Astros, and Ron Cardo and George Blanchard who served as batboys for the Braves. There will also be also be a pictorial tribute to Red Schoendienst who will be inducted into the Braves Wall of Honor at Miller Park earlier in the day.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7483
MDR Blog 3/28
03-28-2015
08:47 AM ET (US)
The Cubs have a set of the most highly-touted young prospects in baseball, but they have to produce for the team to climb into contention. How have some of the key youngsters performed this spring?

Kris Bryant, projected to be the third baseman eventually, was leading the Cactus League in home runs and hitting .406 coming into the weekend. He seems ready to take over at third now.

But, the Cubs might still send him to Triple A to start the season, primarily to delay the start of the MLB service clock on the rookie.

At the same time, manager Joe Maddon also has experimented with Bryant in the outfield. So, the Cubs might be thinking the “bat should play,” no matter when the service clock starts ticking.

Jorge Soler was hitting .333 going into the weekend and is penciled in as the starting right fielder on the Cubs’ depth chart. He demonstrated already last season he is ready.

Asmendy Alcantara was hitting .278 going into the weekend and has shown the versatility that brought him up to the big leagues last season as an outfielder and infielder. Maddon has said Alcantara has a chance to become another Ben Zobrist, the versatile star of the Rays.

Kyle Hendricks has had a nice spring on the mound and should end up part of the rotation.

Outfielder Albert Almora was hitting .364 this spring, but he and other prospects are likely a year away.

The one disappointment has been infielder Javier Baez, who up to last year was perhaps the most highly touted of the young players. Baez was hitting .159 and continuing the trend he showed last season to strike out better than a third of his times up with 16 Ks in 44 at-bats.

"Of course, there's a chance he doesn't make the team," Maddon said last week. "There's no lock in regard to that. The entitlement program doesn't exist -- everything has to be earned.

"He has things he has to learn how to do yet," Maddon added. "He shows signs of brilliance at times. To this point, he's had a lot of good at-bats and hit some balls hard. Then he'll show the out-of-control swing that bothers him a little bit, and I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me.

"It's a young guy trying to figure this all out. [He has] sterling bat speed, incredible bat speed. He just needs plate appearances."

If Baez would start the season in the minors, Alcantara could play second base with Almora possibly sticking as a backup to Dexter Fowler in center.

Right now, it looks like Bryant (no matter when his clock starts), Soler, Alcantara and Hendricks have played well enough to make the club and could be contributors to a Cubs resurgence. Others could follow. Baez will remain the question mark.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com)

Brewers

** RF Ryan Braun, who started the spring 0-for-13, carried a six game hitting streak into the weekend.

** RHP Mike Fiers made his first appearance since March 13 and gave up only one run in 3.2 innings.

** C Jonathan Lucroy saw his first action at first base.

Cubs

** Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo homered in a 6-3 win Friday over former teammate Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox.

** Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the team is likely to start the season with three catchers, ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers writes. Having Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo all start the season with the team does limit Joe Maddon’s tactical possibilities somewhat, but Epstein says that Maddon supports having three catchers.

** Cubs skipper Joe Maddon says he is talking with Epstein about a creative means to fit both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood on the 25-man roster, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets.

Twins

** The Twins have gained cost certainty over a key piece of their lineup after announcing a four-year, $20MM extension for second baseman Brian Dozier. The deal will pay Dozier $2MM this season, $3MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017 and $9MM in 2018.

** The Twins might benefit from shipping RHP Mike Pelfrey to a team that needs starting depth in exchange for a lefty pen piece, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

** The Twins have inquired about watching free agent right-hander Rafael Soriano throw, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter). Minnesota is known to be looking for bullpen help, and Soriano is the most established relief arm left on the open market.

White Sox

** White Sox GM Rick Hahn announced a five-year, $23.5MM extension with center fielder Adam Eaton on CSN Chicago. The deal includes two club options, which give the team risk-free control over Eaton for 2020 and 2021.

** The last place on the Sox roster apparently belongs to J.B. Shuck, who added a double, single and a stolen base to his Cactus League resume on Friday.

** Jeff Samardzija has yielded seven home runs over his last two starts and eight overall this spring.

Hank Returns to Maryvale

Hank “The Ballpark Pup,” returns to his old grounds in Phoenix this weekend. He is making an appearance at Maryvale Baseball Park. The appearance will be tied to an “adopt-a-pet” event and fundraiser for the Arizona Humane Society.

“Brewers fans and dog lovers in Arizona made it clear that they wanted to have a chance to see Hank again, and we are happy to make this a reality,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger.

“We are very grateful to our friends at Southwest Airlines for giving Hank an opportunity to visit his old hometown and look forward to raising funds and awareness for the Arizona Humane Society.”

Hank wandered into the Brewers’ spring camp last year and was quickly taken in as a team member.

What’s Ahead

Next weekend, the Pompous Prognostications will be included in the MDR Blog.

Look for the four MDR teams to make their final cuts by that weekend. On April 1,the Brewers meet the Cubs in Mesa in the last spring training game between MDR teams.

On Friday, June 19, at 7:10 p.m., the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Class-A affiliate of Milwaukee, and the Beloit Snappers, Class-A affiliate of Oakland, will square off at Miller Park.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
** www.onwisconsinsports.com
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