Programming note: Beginning Monday, Nov. 3, the Frosty Mug will move to its own site at BrewersFrostyMug.net. The Mug you know and love will continue uninterrupted in this new space, and its Facebook and Twitter feeds will remain the same, but if you wish to continue following the Mug after the end of this month please bookmark (or follow the RSS feed from) its new location.
Some things to read while catching up on gossip.
The first day after the 2014 World Series featured a flurry of roster activity across baseball, and the Milwaukee Brewers are believed to have been a part of it. On Thursday, we saw a report that the team had exercised its 2015 club option for pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who would receive $13 million for his ninth season in the big leagues. And @Haudricourt confirmed the report Friday morning, adding that the Brewers also declined Rickie Weeks’ $14.5 million 2015 club option.
Gallardo has pitched to Jonathan Lucroy in 112 of his 214 career appearances as a Brewer, and on Thursday, his backstop was honored for his defensive contributions. Lucroy won a 2014 Fielding Bible Award, his first, and was one of 10 players honored this season. The awards expanded to include a “multi-position” player this year, with former Brewer Lorenzo Cain becoming the first player so honored. Lucroy, meanwhile, is also a nominee to win a National League Gold Glove when those awards are announced on Nov. 11.
As for Weeks, even though he’s now a free agent, Michael Trzinski of Reviewing the Brew wonders if the longtime Brewer might return next season anyway.
The Brewers’ other pending decision pertains to Aramis Ramirez, who could have a $14 million mutual option or a $4 million buyout headed his way in the next few days. Bill Berg of Reviewing the Brew gave Ramirez a “C” grade for his 2014 season.
Weeks and Ramirez were not listed among the five Brewers and 121 MLB players who became free agents on Thursday, but they could join that group if the Brewers opt not to bring them back. The MLBPA has the full list, including 2014 Brewers Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds and Francisco Rodriguez (h/t MLBTR). Here’s how the potentially departing Brewers rank on Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk’s list of the top 150 free agents:
Meanwhile, the free-agent market continues to take shape as other teams make their option decisions. One of the notable players to have his option declined on Thursday was Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is now arguably the best available player at that position. LaRoche will turn 35 next week and just finished his 11th MLB season, where his 26 home runs and .811 OPS (on-base plus slugging) were roughly comparable to his career averages.
Barring a trade, Matt Garza will be back with the Brewers next season and for the two years to follow. Garza was solid when healthy but missed some time in 2014, which is roughly in line with what we should have expected. Brew Crew Ball readers voted Garza as this season’s ninth-most valuable Brewer, and I wrote his profile. As of this writing Scooter Gennett leads the voting for the No. 10 spot those rankings, and you have until noon today to vote in that poll.
Readers may have selected Garza as the fifth-most valuable member of the Brewers’ starting rotation in 2014, but this number suggests he may have been the most challenging for opposing hitters. Timothy Finnegan of Fake Teams has Garza 38th on his list of starting pitchers ranked by opponents’ “hard-hit rate,” saying batters facing Garza made solid contact just 13.9 percent of the time. Garza was the only Brewer to appear among the top 50.
The Brewers featured a great collection of individual performances in 2014, even if the overall result wasn’t what most of us were hoping for. Those performances were captured in the team’s list of nominations for the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards:
- Jonathan Lucroy headlines the group as a nominee for Defensive Player of the Year.
- Francisco Rodriguez was nominated for Closer of the Year.
- Wily Peralta’s significant improvements across several statistical categories earned him a nomination for Breakout Pitcher of the Year.
- Carlos Gomez was nominated for the season’s top play for a home run-stealing catch against Joey Votto and the Reds in May.
- Martin Maldonado is a nominee in the awards’ “Oddity” category for a play in which he hit the cover off the ball in April. The Brewers’ other entry in that group is a three-run wild pitch against the Rockies in June.
- Yovani Gallardo was nominated for the best walk-off for a game-ending double against the Orioles in May.
Despite that collection of individual performances from players who are mostly returning for 2015, however, Las Vegas continues to view the Brewers as long-shots to contend next season. Bovada released its first 2015 World Series odds on Thursday and has the Brewers at 40/1 to win a championship, tied for MLB’s 21st-longest odds. The Cubs (50/1) are the only NL Central team farther down the list. With that said, this year’s 40/1 odds are an improvement over the 50/1 odds Bovada gave the Brewers at this time a year ago.
In the minors:
- Second baseman Hector Gomez and first baseman Nick Ramirez each had RBI-hits and Gomez also scored twice in Glendale’s 4-1 win over Peoria in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday (box score). Outfielder Tyrone Taylor went 0-for-4 in the game.
- Shortstop Orlando Arcia went 1-for-6 with a double and scored a run in Caribes’ 6-2 win over Caracas in Venezuela (box score).
Angels: Exercised closer Huston Street’s $7 million contract option for 2015, declined reliever Sean Burnett’s option and returned Rule 5 selection Brian Moran to the Mariners.
Athletics: Promoted Darren Bush from bullpen coach to hitting coach and named Scott Emerson their new bullpen coach.
Blue Jays: Acquired pitcher Liam Hendricks from the Royals for a minor leaguer.
Cardinals: Exercised pitcher John Lackey’s club option for slightly more than $500,000.
Cubs: Declined pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa’s club option for 2015.
Diamondbacks: Exercised club options for pitchers Daniel Hudson ($800,000) and Matt Reynolds ($600,000).
Dodgers: Pitcher Dan Haren exercised his player option and will receive $10 million in 2015.
Mariners: Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma’s $7 million contract option for 2015 has vested.
Marlins: Are expected to exercise catcher Jeff Mathis’ $1.5 million contract option for 2015.
Nationals: Exercised outfielder Denard Span’s $9 million club option for 2015 and declined options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever Rafael Soriano.
Orioles: Exercised contract options for 2015 for pitchers Wei-Yin Chen ($4.75 million) and Darren O’Day ($4.25 million).
Padres: Declined pitcher Josh Johnson’s contract option for 2015.
Phillies: Declined reliever Mike Adams’ contract option for 2015.
Red Sox: Signed reliever Koji Uehara to a two-year, $18 million contract.
White Sox: Declined pitcher Felipe Paulino’s contract option for 2015.
Today in former Brewers:
- J.J. Hardy has a new long-term contract with the Orioles, and Camden Hu of Camden Chat has a look at how he’s been consistently reliable for Baltimore.
- Marcus Jensen, who caught for the Brewers briefly in 1998 and 2002, has been hired by the A’s as a catching and assistant hitting coach (h/t @Mass_Haas).
With help from the Baseball Reference Play Index, we’d like to wish a happy birthday to:
- 1971-72 Brewer Bill Voss, who turns 71.
- Milwaukee native Ken Keltner, who would have turned 98. Keltner played 13 MLB seasons between 1937-50, primarily as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Today is also the ninth anniversary of left fielder Carlos Lee winning a Silver Slugger Award as a Brewer in 2005, becoming the first Brewer ever to win that award in the National League, and the 42nd anniversary of a seven-player trade that brought third baseman Don Money to Milwaukee in 1972. Follow the links for those events’ respective entries in Today In Brewer History at Brew Crew Ball.
Finally, as noted above, today is the final Frosty Mug of the 2014 season at Milwaukee Magazine. Starting Monday, you’ll be able to find a brief excerpt from the Mug each morning here, and the full version at BrewersFrostyMug.net.
Before I go, though, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who had a hand in making this partnership possible and making it work. I’ve been fortunate to know Howie Magner for a long time, and it’s been a pleasure working with my friend this season. It’s been great to get to know various members of the Milwaukee Magazine team, and I’ve very much appreciated the support of leaders Kurt Chandler and Linda Lundeen. And, of course, the Mug has been brought to you every day this season by Legends of the Field, a great sponsor I’ve been happy to work with. Thanks to all of them, and to you for reading. This season was a fascinating ride, and I’m glad I got to share it with you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a busy day planned.
Don’t forget to follow Kyle on Twitter @BrewFrostyMug, and check out and “like” the Mug’s Facebook page. The Frosty Mug runs mornings Monday-Friday and is brought to you by Legends of the Field, a sports memorabilia company you can trust.