Posted by Steve
For the most part, the off-season has begun the way I was hoping. The Brewers declined David Weathers’ option (admittedly, this should have been a no-brainer). Then on Friday they announced they were also declining to pick up the $6 million option for Braden Looper.
What a relief. The only positive thing you can say about Looper’s time with the Brewers was that he stayed healthy all season. He was most definitely part of the problem with the pitching staff. The production he provided for one fifth of the starting rotation must be improved upon next season. He likely isn’t as bad as he performed in 2009 (he was easily one of the five worst starters in baseball and had never been that bad before), but even if he’s slightly better next year, the Brewers will still get more bang for their buck if they spend that money elsewhere. I’d be surprised if Looper stays in someone’s rotation next season.
Some interesting reports surfacing in the aftermath of the J.J. Hardy trade. Tom Haudricourt has reported that both Boston and Pittsburgh made offers for Hardy. From Boston, the Brewers asked for talented young pitchers Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard, and probably got rejected in about half a second. TH reports the Red Sox offered prospect Michael Bowden. Bowden is a decent prospect but nothing more. He had a 3.11 ERA in 126.1 innings at AAA, but he had just a pedestrian strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.87. That doesn’t bode well for the big leagues. Bowden is not likely to be any better than any of the Brewers starters outside of maybe Jeff Suppan next season, and they don’t need another number 5 starter.
The reported Pittsburgh offers were a bit more interesting. One offer was for closer Matt Capps. Capps regressed terribly last season, as his home runs and walks allowed were way up. The other offer was Ryan Doumit, which is at least a better offer than Capps. Doumit has a career .780 OPS, which is a nice number for a catcher. However, the Brewers seem to like the idea of giving Jonathan Lucroy a shot this year. Furthermore, both Capps and Doumit are due for arbitration raises and will cost at least a few million more than Carlos Gomez.
Many weren’t pleased with the return for Hardy, but I’ve yet to hear a reported offer that I prefer to the one the Brewers took.
Not great news, as rotoworld/Buster Olney reports Craig Counsell is in high demand after his solid season in Milwaukee, and could actually garner a two-year deal. If that happens, it’s likely that Counsell will not return to the Brewers. That would be too bad; Counsell was a great utility player last season. You have to wonder how good his career numbers may have been had he scrapped that goofy batting stance even earlier than last season.
Lastly, it’s been quite awhile, but we finally have a return of the Milwaukee Brewers to my dreams. Surprisingly, this one actually did not involve Rickie Weeks. Allow me to share.
I am at my annual family Christmas gathering, but for some reason, one of the guests is none other than Manny Parra. Making it weirder is the fact his presence is completely normal to me. I start chatting with him; he’s a friendly guy.
At one point a thought comes to me. At work, Parra was one of the tougher pitchers to chart. I always felt he threw a slider, but others were not totally convinced. For guys like that, we were supposed to keep a look out for any interviews in which the pitcher discussed his repertoire. It occurs to me that I have a golden opportunity–I can simply ask Manny what he throws!
“Hey, Manny, I actually have a question for you. People have a tough time charting some of your pitches. I have you as fastball, changeup, splitter, slider, curve. Is that right?”
“No, man! That’s not right at all! All I throw is a fastball and a changeup.”
“Really? But I’ve seen you throw multiple curveballs. And I’ve heard you talk about your splitter!”
“I swear, just fastball and change.”
I woke up completely convinced that Parra only threw those two pitches.