Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers expect to place Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list in the near future, according to his Twitter page. Ramirez exited Friday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks while sliding into second base, spraining his left knee. The 34-year-old third-baseman had gone 5-for-13 with two runs batted in and three doubles prior to the injury.
The Brewers are thin on the bench, and are mulling a move that would bring a player up from the minors, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy.
“We’re going to look at it [Saturday] and make a decision,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s similar to what [Ramirez] did in Spring Training, so tomorrow we’ll have a better answer as to whether it’s a DL or if we think it’s just a few days.”
Second baseman Scooter Gennett is one such possibility and though he is not currently on the team’s 40-man roster, Hunter Morris also remains a possibility.
Placing first-baseman Corey Hart on the 60-day disabled list may be the only option for the club. This would allow players not currently on the 40-man roster to be called up to help with the Brewers’ bench.
UPDATE 4/6, 3:22 p.m.: Reports are indicating that Ramirez is expect to miss two to three weeks with his sprained knee. Utility infielder Josh Prince has been activated to the Brewers’ roster.
This past winter, the Milwaukee Brewers shelled out a healthy does of capital to 33-year-old free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez with the hope that he would mitigate the loss of offensive productivity produced by longtime first baseman Prince Fielder, but after a horrible spring training and first few series’ of the regular season, that hasn’t been the case.
In 20 preseason games (55 total plate appearances), Milwaukee’s new third-baseman managed a .218/.232/.309 line with just one home run, three runs batted in and six runs scored, drawing just one walk while striking out nine times. While it’s true that spring training games don’t count for much, Brewers fans were concerned about whether or not his preseason struggles would carry over to the regular season.
Well, it seems they have.
Through Milwaukee’s first six games (26 total plate appearances) of the regular season, Ramirez holds true to an unsightly .091/.192/.182 line with no home runs, five runs batted in and three runs scored. His pitch recognition and plate discipline have looked awful this season and that has resulted in a strikeout rate north of 25 percent on the young 2012 season.
The question everyone wants answered is whether or not Ramirez can recover from his awful spring campaign and return to his slugging ways of old. Needless to say, his bat will have a big say on how late into October the Brewers plan on playing this season. If he does — as he’s expected to — then the Brewers will be well on their way to repeating as NL Central division champs and could very well be World Series contenders. It he doesn’t, though, then Melvin will look foolish and the club’s entire 2012 campaign will be tossed out the window.
While there’s no way of definitively knowing whether or not Ramirez will bounce back from his abhorrent start, there are a few indicators that could help to induce our judgement.
Here is a look at Ramirez’s swing-pitch zone though his first six games this season.
Now, here’s a look at Ramirez’s swing-pitch zone through his first six games (of last season with the Chicago Cubs.
As you can clearly see, Ramirez’s strike-zone through the first six games of this season is noticeably more expanded than that of the first six games of last season. This suggests that either he’s become less patient as a hitter or that he’s simply struggling with pitch recognition and strike-zone discipline. It many not be all that much of a concern at this juncture, but if his struggles at the plate persist, then it will be hard for him to gather confidence in his bat and who knows how high his strikeout rate will be a mid-season.
But while Ramirez has undoubtedly labored at the plate early on this season, history suggests that his offensive production increases as the season carries on. Ramirez holds true to a less-than-impressive career .257/.330/.452 line in April but has been able to get hot toward the latter stages of the regular season, posting a career .306/.367/.539 line in the month of August.
At this juncture, there’s really no way of determining whether or not Ramirez can recover from such an abysmal spring. The pressures of replacing a talent of Fielder’s magnitude are overwhelmingly high, so the biggest thing for Milwaukee’s new third baseman will be to remain as positive as possible and just stay loose.
Only time will tell from here on out.
It’s been a long, difficult, often perplexing offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers and their fanbase. But if recent indications prove valid, things may take another turn for the worse.
Last month, we learned from a report leaked by ESPN that Brewers left fielder and recently named 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun had reportedly tested positive for either a performance enhancing drug and/or banned substance during Milwaukee’s historic playoff run last October. Major League Baseball subsequently gave Braun a 50-game suspension for his actions, and Braun is currently in the appeal process.
Many fans remained optimistic regarding the future of their beloved left fielder, however, Braun’s appeal to the league doesn’t seem likely to be overturned, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently wrote. Should Braun not be in Milwaukee’s lineup on opening day against the St. Louis Cardinals, there are dozens of potential directions manager Ron Roenicke might set his starting lineup. Let’s take a look at the most logical approach to how it might look.
1. CF Carlos Gomez
Carlos Gomez is still very much in the prime of his career and with the opportunity to be the everyday starter in center-field to start next season, I expect him to be where he batted on opening day 2011: At the top of Ron Roenicke’s lineup.
Being one of the fastest center fielders in baseball as well as being one of the best bag-stealers (he has a career 78% stolen base percentage), Gomez clearly should be Milwaukee’s lead-off man to start next season. Granted, he’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts and work on getting on base, but I still believe he’s the right man for the job.
2. LF Nyjer Morgan
Nyjer Morgan probably fits the bill to be the Brewers’ leadoff hitter better than anyone on the roster. Based on what he did last year in the No.2 hole, though, he’ll probably stay put — at least for opening day.
In 429 total plate appearances, Morgan spent 352 of them batting second — exactly 82 percent. In that role, he batted .310 with two HR and 31 RBI, 46 runs and a .353 on-base percentage that finished as one of the best OBP in the National League. Without having to split time in center-field with Carlos Gomez to start the season, GM Doug Melvin will be able to adequately judge whether or not Morgan is worth re-signing at season’s end. If he can bat over .300 as he did in 2011, there’s no question he’s worth keeping around.
I have to admit — Rickie Weeks originally came to mind as the best option to take Ryan Braun’s spot in the lineup, but after doing my research, I found Corey Hart is simply the better overall substitute. Not only did Hart’s numbers from a season ago (26 HR, 80 RBI, .510 SLG, .226 ISO) trump Weeks’ (20 HR, 77 RBI, .468 SLG, .199 ISO) from a power standpoint, but their career statistics also marginally favor Hart.
Since entering the league in 2005, Hart has stockpiled 124 home runs, 425 RBI, a .487 slugging percentage and maintains a 19.6 K%. Weeks, who also broke onto the scene in 2005, has 109 home runs, 314 RBI, a .435 slugging percentage and has struck out 22.6 percent of the time. While the raw numbers don’t substantially favor Hart over Weeks, the subtle contrast coupled with how strong he finished his 2011 campaign should give Hart the nod.
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
After agreeing to terms with Milwaukee to a three-year, $36 Million contract, Aramis Ramirez knew expectations would be high with Prince Fielder on his way out. However, with Braun’s suspension now likely to be upheld, expectations have risen considerably. The pressure on Ramirez to help carry the Brewers through the first 50 games next season is mounting quickly. So, where does he best fit in Milwaukee’s lineup?
Ramirez, 33, has a great deal of experience hitting third and fourth, and his bat seems to be the best possible protection for Corey Hart to start the season. He’ll probably hit behind Braun once his suspension is up, moreover.
5. 2B Rickie Weeks
If Rickie Weeks can stay healthy, for a full season, for the first in his career, there’s no doubt he’ll reach 35 home runs and there’s an outside chance he could hit 40. He has a tremendous amount of power that has concealed itself over the past few seasons, and I’ve gone on record saying that if not for injury last season, he would have been the is the best offensive second baseman in baseball.
I originally had him batting third, but quickly found out Corey Hart would be better suited for the job. That consequently puts Weeks fifth in Roenicke’s lineup and inherent protector of Aramis Ramirez to start next season.
6. 1B Mat Gamel
Mat Gamel has been an exceptional talent at the minor league level for a number of seasons, but there are some concerns over how well his game will translate as a full-time starter in the big leagues. In 171 career at-bats, the 26-year-old holds true to a .222 BA, .309 on-base percentage and in 2009 (his only true taste of the majors) he struck out in 36.5 percent of his plate appearances. He has a lot of upside and potential but he definitely has his work cut out for him at the start of next season.
That said, there isn’t yet a discernible spot for him in Roenicke’s opening-day lineup. He could potentially be placed in a number of spots to start the season. Given how evident his power was in triple-A last season, though, I can’t see him falling any lower than sixth in the order.
One of Melvin’s preeminent goals of the offseason was to upgrade at shortstop. He accomplished just that in signing Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, $4.25 Million deal with a $4 Million 2013 option.
During his 12-year career, Gonzelez has become one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, harboring a .981 fielding percentage and 5.938 zone rating last season at 33 years of age. His hustle in the field will manifest itself early next season.
Gonzalez’s pop at the plate has diminished, but he will still be held accountable to at least a .250/.270/.390 line next season. He has experience batting just about anywhere in a lineup, which will make Ron Roenicke’s job that much easier. For now, though, batting seventh seems to be the most logical spot for Gonzalez.
8. C Jonathan Lucroy
Jonathan Lucroy isn’t a superstar, and he probably never will be. But that’s okay — he’s exactly what the Brewers need him to be: Dependable.
After splitting time Gregg Zaun in 2010, Lucroy inherited the starting role at the beginning of last season, and boy did he make the most of it. In 430 at-bats, he batted .265 with 12 home runs, 59 RBI and boasted a .391 slugging percentage.
In the field, though, he was a superstar. He committed just seven errors (.993 FPCT) despite having to deal with a staff that administered a league-high 70 wild pitches. Lucroy spent 64 percent of his at-bats out of the eight-hole last season. Expect him to be in familiar scenery on opening day this season.
9. P Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo is just 25 years old and will enter his third consecutive season as Milwaukee’s No. 1 starter. When it’s all said and done, he’ll easily be the greatest pitcher in franchise history.
Last season, he went 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA while striking out 207 in 207.1 innings (33 GS). He led all Brewers starters in wins, ERA and strikeouts, and finished with a better K/9IP (8.99) than AL MVP Justin Verlander (8.96). Each year Gallardo continues to better every facet of his game and I suspect him to take the next step and lower his ERA to 3.20 or lower in 2012.
The Milwaukee Brewers have answered nearly all of the question marks that faced them coming into their 2011-2012 offseason, and now wait in anticipation for spring training to commence roughly two months from now. Let’s take a look at how their lineup might look on opening day 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
1. Corey Hart, RF
Nearly half of Corey Hart’s plate appearances last season came as Milwaukee’s lead-off man but I suspect 100 percent of his at-bats to be at the top of Milwaukee’s order on opening day against the Cardinals. Roenicke toyed with a number of players at lead-off before Hart returned to the lineup from an abdominal strain in late April but none definitively fit the role.
In 256 at-bats at the top of Milwaukee’s order, Hart posted a .301 BA, 15 HR, 36 RBI, 47 runs as well as a .366 on-base percentage, roughly comparable to Jose Reyes’ .388 from a season ago. Many feel the Rickie Weeks is best suited here as he clearly has the most background at the top of Milwaukee’s order. However, Aramis Ramirez will need adequate protection and Weeks’ game is slowly converting to power first, speed second. Hart is the right man for the job.
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
Nyjer Morgan may be best suited to be a lead-off type hitter, but there’s simply no ignoring what he accomplished out of the No.2 hole last season.
In 429 total plate appearances, Morgan spent 352 of them in batting second — exactly 82 percent. In that role, he batted .310 with 2 HR and 31 RBI, 46 R and a .353 on-base percentage that finished as one of the best OBP in the National League. With either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter, both right-handed, likely to take the mound for St. Louis, expect Morgan to get the nod over Carlos Gomez strictly because of Morgan’s left-handed bat.
No matter what the final verdict is on Ryan Braun’s alleged PED-usage, GM Doug Melvin says he is going about his normal business as through he expects him to be in the starting lineup on opening day. So, we’ll do the same. Do you really need an explanation?
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Aramis Ramirez has lingered in either the third or fourth spot for most of his career, and since the No.3 spot is already taken, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll bat cleanup next season. Out of the cleanup spot last season with the Cubs, Ramirez batted .291 with 8 HR, 32 RBI and a .450 slugging percentage in a feeble Chicago lineup.
While we shouldn’t expect him to completely fill Fielder’s shoes next season, we should expect a solid middle-of-the-order bat that can protect Braun. Anything short of a .275 BA, 25 HR and 85 RBI would be considered inadequate on Ramirez’s behalf.
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
Gone are the days of Rickie Weeks being Milwaukee’s lead-off man. At 29 years of age and a bevy of past injuries, he’s clearly entering the second phase of his professional career in that he’s much more of a power-first, speed-second type player. Last season, Weeks amassed 20 home runs and 49 RBI with a .269/.350/.468 line despite missing a substantial chunk of his season due to a ankle injury.
With Prince Fielder gone and Ryan Braun still facing a 50-game suspension to start his season, Weeks will much more better suited to be batting either fourth or fifth in Milwaukee’s lineup. He has the potential to hit 30 or possibly even 35 home runs next season and should be the one protecting Aramis Ramirez new season.
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
Incumbent 26-year-old prospect Mat Gamel has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in six minor-league seasons, but filling the shoes of Prince Fielder at first base won’t be a cakewalk by any means.
Last season in triple-A, Gamel managed 28 home runs and 90 RBI with a .310/.372/.540 line. Impressive to say the least, but he’ll need to vindicate his career .222 BA and .309 OBP with the Brewers in a timely fashion. Batting behind Rickie Weeks is most likely the best spot for him on opening day. He’ll be a modest defensive upgrade from Fielder but don’t expect him to be a gold-glove caliber first baseman as he’s been known to be a bit lackadaisical from time to time.
One of Melvin’s preeminent goals of this offseason was to upgrade at shortstop. He accomplished just that in signing Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, $4.25 Million deal with a $4 Million 2013 option.
During his 12-year career, Gonzelez has become one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, harboring a .981 fielding percentage and 5.938 zone rating last season at 33 years of age. His hustle in the field will manifest itself early next season, and will be a noticeable upgrade from Yunieksy Betancourt.
Gonzalez’s pop at the plate has diminished, but he will still be held accountable to at least a .250/.270/.390 line next season. He has experience batting just about anywhere in a lineup, which will make Roenicke’s job that much more easy.
8. Jonathon Lucroy, C
Jonathon Lucroy is by no means a superstar talent behind the plate nor in the batter’s box, but 2011 certified just how important he is to Roenicke’s ballclub.
Last season, Lucroy committed just seven errors on his way to a .993 fielding percentage — a commendable feat given Milwaukee’s league-high 70 wild pitches from a season ago. He also posted a 7.87 range factor that ranked fifth-best among all MLB catchers. At the plate, he managed a .265 average with 12 HR and 59 RBI, but garnered a 21.2 K%. Improving his plate discipline and on-base percentage will be key moving forward. Expect him to be in the No. 8 hole on opening day nonetheless.
9. Yovani Gallardo, P
Yovani Gallardo is just 25 years old and will enter his third consecutive season as Milwaukee’s No. 1 starter. When it’s all said and done, he’ll probably be the greatest pitcher in franchise history.
Last season, he went 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA while striking out 207 in 207.1 innings (33 GS). He led all Brewers starters in wins, ERA, and strikeouts and finished with a better K/9IP (8.99) than AL MVP Justin Verlander (8.96). Each year Gallardo continues to better every facet of his game and I suspect him to take the next step and lower his ERA to 3.20 or lower in 2012. There’s really no question as to who will take the mound for Milwaukee on opening day.
Updated Starting Lineup and 25-Man Roster Projection
1. RF Corey Hart
2. CF Nyjer Morgan
3. LF Ryan Braun
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
5. 2B Rickie Weeks
6. 1B Mat Gamel
7. SS Alex Gonzalez
8. C Jonathon Lucroy
9. P Yovani Gallardo
C George Kottaras
CF Carlos Gomez
3B Taylor Green
OF Logan Schafer
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Shaun Marcum
LHP Randy Wolf
LHP Chris Narveson
RHP John Axford
RHP Francisco Rodriguez
RHP Kameron Loe
RHP Jose Veras
RHP Frankie De La Cruz
LHP Zack Braddock
LHP Mitch Stetter
RHP Wily Peralta
Amid the controversy surrounding National League MVP Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers have made their first prominent move of the offseason.
According to sources, the Brewers have reached an agreement with free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The contract is supposedly up to three-years and is reportedly worth anywhere from $34 to $37 Million. The deal will become official after Ramirez passes a physical.
Ramirez, 33, batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI with the Chicago Cubs last season. He now becomes Milwaukee’s primary threat at the plate at the beginning of next season should Braun’s appeal to the league fall through.
The Brewers have been searching the free-agent market since the end of their playoff run at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals last October, and Ramirez will not only provide a sumptuous bat to manager Ron Roenicke’s lineup, but will also bring in a veteran glove to an infield that struggled mightily throughout last season.
Last week, Milwaukee also added free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2013. With Ramirez now locked up, the left-side of Milwaukee’s infield will have a completely different outlook in 2012.
Money was tight before this deal went down, which more than likely ends what hope remained for Brewers fans hoping for a potential re-signing of Prince Fielder this offseason. The future of incumbent third-baseman Casey McGehee is now murky at best, and the likelihood of a trade is now at an all-time high.
GM Doug Melvin may or may not still be looking for a late-inning reliever, but with Francisco Rodriguez accepting arbitration last week, the Brewers’ need for a eighth-inning setup man probably isn’t as high as it was before the Ramirez signing.
Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @alecdopp, and read his blog.
After two grueling days at the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings, the Milwaukee Brewers and GM Doug Melvin may have finally found their replacement for former slugger Prince Fielder.
Late last night, sources confirmed that the Brewers are now considered the “favorites” to land former Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The Phillies and Angels were considered to be Milwaukee’s only real competition to land the slugger this winter, but talks have subsided and Philadelphia may be pulling out of the sweepstakes altogether.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Paul Kinzer, Ramirez’s agent, last night saying:
“He likes that team. He wants to go to a team that has pitching and gives him a chance to win a ring. He thinks the Brewers can do that.”
Ramirez has made it known that he is seeking either a four-year deal or a three-year deal with an option for a fourth. Many believe that since the Brewers aren’t likely to retain Fielder, Ramirez has become the club’s next best option. Last season, the 33-year-old, batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI last season in Chicago.
In addition to Ramirez, the Brewers also have a strong interest in free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as sources affirmed on Tuesday. No proposal has been made, but there nonetheless remains an active pursuit of the veteran shortstop.
With the Winter Meetings winding down, expect the rumor mill surrounding the club to be at full-force. With the mutual interest in Ramirez coming into focus, we could see a preliminary offering on the table by nightfall.
Next week (Dec. 5-8), the baseball cosmos will shift it’s collective focus to the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings, where many of the top available free-agents from the 2012 class are likely to ink brand new deals.
Between the apparent need for a veteran shortstop and eighth-inning setup man, GM Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t likely to be big players at this winter’s meetings (unlike last winter). However, there are needs that will be addressed and noteworthy names that could be acquired.
Here are five names Melvin and the Brewers will target at next week’s crucial meetings.
Furcal, 34, is clearly on the downswing of professional career, but that doesn’t mean the Brewers aren’t interested in signing him. The speedster was a centerpiece to the Cardinals’ late regular season push toward the postseason, batting .255 with 7 HR and 16 RBI, drawing 17 walks and only striking out 18 individual times. While he’s in no way the threat he once was on the bases, many believe he can still hold his own in the field. His durability may become a cause for concern, as he’s played just 174 games over his last two seasons. Melvin has been in brief discussions with Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer.
Outside of finding an upgrade at shortstop, there’s no doubting that Melvin’s No. 2 priority is to find a power reliever that can adequately replace Francisco Rodriguez next season.
Former Texas Rangers closer Frank Francisco could catch Melvin’s eye, as he’s proven to be one of the best strikeout relievers in all of MLB over the past few seasons. With the Blue Jays, Francisco garnered a 3.55 ERA while striking out 53 in 50.1 IP. He also notched 17 saves to go with a 9.41 K/9 ratio in 2011.
The market shouldn’t be too demanding for his services, so if the Brewers aren’t able to lock him up next week, they should be able to compete for him shortly thereafter.
If not for the acquisition of Jerry Hairston at the trade deadline last season, who knows how the Brewers’ season would’ve ended.
Acquired from the Nationals, the 35-year-old veteran utility-man extraordinaire batted .385 with 4 RBI and a .961 OPS in 11 postseason games as the full-time starting third baseman with Milwaukee. Reports suggest Melvin has already offered Hairston a one-year deal to return as a Brewer next season, however the price and duration have not yet been disclosed.
Obviously, Hairston will look to explore his options with such a high demand for quality infielding gloves this winter. His time for beating around the bush won’t last too much longer. Expect the Brewers to offer him a new-and-improved deal at next week’s meetings.
With the uncertain future of Casey McGehee at third base and Prince Fielder likely on his way out, now could be the time for the Brewers to act and sign a prominent name to bolster their lineup. Aramis Ramirez might be that chief addition.
Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, has said that at least four or five teams are seriously interested in signing the former Cub this winter. Could the Brewers be one of them? According to sources, Milwaukee could very much be a potential destination for Ramirez.
Last season, the long-time Cub batted .306 with 26 HR, 93 RBI and a .510 OPS. He’s reportedly seeking a four-year deal or three-year deal with an option. While the Brewers may or may not be willing to bestow such a contract, Ramirez remains a top target for Milwaukee at next week’s meetings.
I’m not sure if there’s any one player more qualified to fill Milwaukee’s shortstop void than Rollins.
Even at 33 years of age, the long-time Phillie can still swing the bat with great efficiency (.268 BA, 16 HR, 68 RBI last season). He’s also relatively volatile on the basepaths, notching 33 stolen bases last season with Philadelphia, which would work wonders in Ron Roenicke’s aggressive-style of running on the basepaths. More importantly, though, his seasoned glove would be a sumptuous add-on to Milwaukee’s infield. Yielding a .988 FPCT and 2.9 UZR last season, Rollins was still one of the top defensive shortstops in all of baseball.
Reports have shown Rollins is looking for a five-year deal this offseason, which is probably out of Milwaukee’s price range. However, Melvin has said he intends on touching base with Dan Lozano, Rollins’ agent, on a possible short-term deal.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter @alecdopp