Tag Archives: baseball

Rethinking the Agenda

Had a nice weekend full of baseball, friends, movies, and much-needed housework.  When all was said and (mostly) done, I had a list of about five things that I wanted to accomplish, computer- or website-wise, that were left undone.  I managed to plow through a couple of them (including my first photo uploads to this site in almost a year – check out the Storyhill pics from last Labor Day), but some were only half-finished.  I had to try pretty hard to not be disappointed with myself, even after a nice June weekend.

Clearwater Lake, Deerwood, MN

Not having had a summer like this in over a decade, it’s hard for me to let myself roll with the proverbial punches and take advantage of the nice weather and low-obligation without a plan.  I feel like if I don’t have a list, I’m going to miss out on something I should have been doing.  But, I guess if the last ten years should have taught me anything, it’s that there will always be more time to get your list done.

I took a couple positive steps in the last week that I hope will lead to maximum summer enjoyment: I moved the BryGuy show back to the latest possible part of the evening (we’re starting at 9PM beginning this week), and I set all of the ‘to-do’s’ on my RTM list to be due no earlier than 8PM on any given day.  Moreover, instead of insisting to myself that the tasks on that list get completed on the days I set them due, I opted to be satisfied with a little progress, and a revision of the date and specifics of the goal.

Summer’s too short around here.  I need to make sure I’m enjoying it.

In the Wake of a Trade for Marcum, Brewers Need a Slight Re-Direction

The Brewers went back to Toronto for the second time in three days when they traded 2B prospect and former #1 pick Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum on Sunday.  No matter what the minions of the blog commenters would have you believe, this is a good, reasonable move.  Here are the justifications:
  • Lawrie is a good prospect who played well at a young age in AA last year, but Milwaukee is going to get a long-term contract done with Rickie Weeks.  There won’t be any room at second base up here for at least 5 years or so.
  • Marcum is coming off a 2009 Tommy John surgery, but he threw 200 innings in 2010 with a 13-8 record and 3.64 ERA (which would make him better than the majority of Milwaukee’s current stable of pitchers).  Tommy John surgery is not the death-knell that the media generally hypes it up to be.  It is a complicated surgery with a long recovery period, but many players have returned to success after the procedure.  Marcum is not “damaged goods” just for having had this surgery.
  • This solidifies about 70% of the Brewers rotation for 2011.  They plan to go with Gallardo, Wolf, Marcum, and Narveson somewhere near the back (I count Narveson for about half a starter, which gets me to 70%).  Not to say this is a world championship rotation, but the top three look stronger than what we were going with a year ago (which, don’t forget – included Jeff Suppan), and the youth movement that emerged in the bullpen in 2010 is a step in the right direction, too.  If the Brewers can swing a deal for another #2- or #3-caliber starter (perhaps Casey McGehee or Mat Gamel and/or Carlos Gomez again, along with some minor leaguers?), combined with the prospects of giving Mark Rogers and/or Jeremy Jeffress a shot at a few starts… there is definitely more *hope* for the pitching in this scenario.  Maybe better performance, maybe not, but more upside for sure.

Here’s the facts, Brewers faithful: we are not going to be able to move Prince for the sort of stud pitching we once dreamed of.  Tom Haudricourt from the Journal-Sentinel has eloquently explained this several times since the end of the 2010 season.  The market is not there, and the few trade partners that seemed possible are just going to buy what they need instead.  To give up Prince for a Marcum would be highway robbery.  But Marcum is the sort of pitcher that was available, and Lawrie is a reasonable price to pay.

What to do with Fielder, though, when the clock is ticking on this final season of arbitration?  I am now of the opinion that the goal in trading Prince has to change.  We can raid the farm system to pick up some mid-level pitching, but that is going to leave us in trouble 2-4 years down the road.  There is no longer a team willing to pay the appropriate asking price for Fielder (top-of-the-rotation pitching), given that he is a one-year rental who will be a free agent next winter.  Melvin should be taking a page out his playbook from days gone by, when the Brewers featured a trio of Richie Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz and Geoff Jenkins, and move Fielder for as many prospects as he can get.

Where is the drawback, really?  We were considering moving a player that’s already on the roster over to first base anyway, in the event that Prince was gone.  If we trade someone else (or a few someone else’s) for another starting pitcher, that hole is plugged as well.  The Brewers are not going to be able to get the quality that they seek for Fielder, so they should just go for quantity instead.  I’m not saying that they shouldn’t still have some criteria– clearly, you’d want to look at prospects that have shown some major-league ability, and try to balance out the rosters at Huntsville and Nashville as best you can, but beyond that– just go for as many as you can.  I’m thinking that for the right team, who needs a big lefty bat to lift them this year, the Crew could get at least 3, maybe 4 prospects.  That’s one or two more draft picks than they would end up with if they stick with him this season and just let him go in free agency.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any shame in *how* you get there, just as long as you still meet your overall goals for the off-season:

  • Pick up 2 starting pitchers
  • Move Fielder
  • Minimal damage to the farm system
  • Still have a first baseman on opening day

Let’s get it done, Doug.

Opener Time

Another summer full of promise gets underway today.  I’ve spent a lot of time and words in this space in the past making assessments and speculating on the fate of the local 9 from year to year.  There’s so much to read, though, in so many places, so I’ll try to keep my comments more brief.  Here’s a list of 10 things I think we’ll see from the Brewers this season.

  1. Trevor Hoffman will become the first pitcher in baseball history to hit 600 saves for his career, before June 1.
  2. Veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds will get more playing time between center and right than anyone would have predicted when he signed.
  3. Ryan Braun will hit over .300 again, and pace the ballclub in batting average.
  4. Prince Fielder will hit over 40 homeruns again, and will get  mentioned again when we reach MVP chatter time.
  5. Alcides Escobar will be a Rookie of the Year candidate, and he’ll win it if he can hit over .260.
  6. Yovanni Gallardo will win 15 games.
  7. One of the team’s young catching prospects (Angel Salome or Jonathan Lucroy) will be called up to the team by the 4th of July.
  8. Jeff Suppan will be traded or released before July 1.
  9. We’re going to watch the opener in open-air sunshine.
  10. The Brewers will win 86 games.

Enjoy the season!

One Spare Lonesome Ticket

A week from today, I will be pulling in to the parking lot at Miller Park to commence with Opening Day festivities.  Would you care to join us?

Dave has one spare ticket, and it’s a nice one.  It’s in the “Field Infield Box” area:

  • Section 125
  • Row 23
  • Seat 13

It’s available for face value ($80).  Great opportunity to join us and have a nice view, if you’re still looking.  Shoot Dave an email if interested: schrubbe at gmail dot com.

Sorry, all – need to clarify on this: the ticket you would be purchasing is a single.  The four of us that are going together are in 2 pairs at the moment, and the extra is in a different part of the ballpark.  I apologize for any confusion.

Best… Bobblehead… Ever.

For the 40th anniversary of Brewers baseball in Milwaukee this summer, the team is running a series of bobblehead promotions that recognize the most notable moments in Brewers history for each decade.  Clearly, getting back to the post-season was the gem of the 2000s, so CC Sabathia has a bobble.  And his pose, taken out of context, is hilarious:

For a little perspective, the bobble is supposed to be CC’s celebration upon completing the playoff-clinching game against the Cubs in 2008.  Here’s a pic from that day:


Some Housecleaning

After we moved, there was a long period of time where all our spare moments were taken up with sorting through stuff, moving things around, putting things away, etc., and then all of a sudden it was the holiday season.  By about mid-January, I could sense that we were moving past that stuff and a little extra time would be opening up.  I’m glad, not only for the sake of my sanity, but I feel like I can start making lists of other things to worry about again.  A little quality time with this site is one of them.

I changed to a new ‘theme’ shortly before we moved out of Milwaukee, and I still like it quite a bit.  It has some limitations with a few things– the photo gallery “sub-pages” no longer display correctly, and using an image in the banner at the top is troublesome.  These are things I want to work on sooner than later.

A few other miscellaneous tidbits:

  • I’ll be getting an event created on FB in the next several hours as well, but be advised that Michelle and I are inviting all sorts of peeps we know to come out to Sun Prairie/Portage on Saturday, 2/27, for a ski weekend at Cascade, followed by a party back at the “lodge” (i.e., our residence) about 30 minutes to the south.  More details to come soon.
  • Speaking of event planning, it’s time to think about Brewers baseball (even though I hope to get *plenty* of skiing in before opening day).  I’ll add some other details about possible outing(s) to the Brewers 2010 page in the next couple days.
  • I just realized that the Mozilla project Sea Monkey just recently came out with a 2.0 release.  They say there’s a better/easier extension system with this version, so I’m going to give it a go; if I can get most of my Firefox and Thunderbird extensions to work with SM, that would be cool.

OK, I should probably return some phone calls.  Have a good weekend!

The Fates of Forty Men 2009 – Part 5: Outfielders & Catchers

Overall, the performance by the Brewers in these areas was up to par in 2009.  Granted, though, that “overall” rating was bolstered pretty significantly by Ryan Braun’s bat and Mike Cameron’s glove.  They’re going to have some tough choices to make for 2010, because, as they say, “defense starts up the middle,” and two key parts of the Brewers defense are facing free agency.

* – lock for the 2010 opening day roster

** – good bet to be on the opening day roster

Ryan Braun* – You can talk all you want about how everyone has to be theoretically on the table as trade fodder when the Brewers are as desperate for some starting pitching as they must be this winter.  Braun is one of two exceptions (Yovanni Gallardo is the other) on this roster.  He’s got a contract that will last another 6 years, and since his Major League debut in 2007, he really hasn’t slowed down.  Braun made his second all-star appearance this year, while en route to hitting .320 with 32 homeruns, 114 RBI, 20 stolen bases, and he was the only player in the majors to collect 200 hits (and the first Brewer to do it since Paul Molitor in 1991).  To sum it up, he’s a stud.  Only Prince Fielder’s amazing season keeps Braun from being the club MVP this year.  One uncanny aspect of Braun’s offensive game: he still whiffs at too many pitches out of the zone and strikes out more than he should.  In the field, Braun took a step backward on paper at least, committing 2 errors in left field after an errorless 2008.  Fact is, though, the guy was still in just his second season as an outfielder.  The fact that he plays as well as he does out there is a testament to his athleticism.  He’ll continue to slowly but surely get better with the glove (look at the strides Prince made in his 4th full season in the majors), and as long as the Brewers have him, they will have a perennial MVP candidate.

Mike Cameron – Cameron continued to show why he is important to this team in 2009: his offensive stats aren’t flashy (he is downright frustrating to watch at the plate at times), but he hits from a variety of spots in the order, and beyond that, he is a great clubhouse guy and tracks down a ton of balls in center field.  The knocks against him this off-season: (1) he’s a free agent who made 10 million bucks this year, (2) he’ll be 37 on opening day in 2010.  But at the same time, the Brewers have nobody ready to step up and play the sort of D in center that they’ve gotten used to the last couple seasons.  If the Crew lets him go and devotes that money to pitching instead, they better get themselves some strikeout pitchers, because Jeff Suppan’s 5.29 ERA would look a helluva lot worse without Cameron scaling the wall and sprinting around the gaps behind him…

Corey Hart – Corey had an up-and-down (but mostly down) season.  Hitting coach Dale Sveum drilled the importance of patience into the heads of the Brewers free swingers, and for Hart, that meant a 30-point jump in his on-base-percentage and a 3-year low in strikeouts, but his average was also the lowest its been since he became an everyday player, and his homerun total took a dramatic tumble (24 in 2007, 20 in 2008, 12 in 2009).  The timing of his appendectomy couldn’t have been worse; he was finally starting to string some hits together, then sat out most of August and never really bounced back.  He’s definitely a guy that has showed promise from time to time, both on offense and defense.  With the Brewers’ stacked farm system, though, and maybe no place but right field to stick Mat Gamel in 2010, Hart’s name is going to be tossed around a lot in trade rumors this off-season.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see him shipped out in a package deal, but if he doesn’t get moved, he’s probably back starting somewhere in the outfield next year.

Jody Gerut** – Right about the middle of June, swapping Tony Gwynn Jr. for this guy seemed like about the dumbest move of the season for Milwaukee.  Gerut came around later when Hart went out and there was some more playing time to go around.  He showed a little pop here and there, and wasn’t bad with the glove.  He’s up for arbitration and probably will be an affordable backup outfielder.  If they really gut the roster (dumping Cameron and Hart), it could put Gerut in the mix for starting in 2010.  That scares the crap out of me.

Frank Catalanotto – ‘Cat’ was brought in as a left-handed backup outfielder when Brad Nelson and Chris Duffy, who both had nice springs, crapped out.  He, too, had some decent games and collected a key hit here or there.  He’s nothing special, though, and I expect disinterest in his return to be mutual.  If he lands anywhere, I expect to see him back in the AL.

Corey Patterson – The one-time top Cubs prospect didn’t do much in 2009, appearing in a total of just 16 major league games.  He’s 30 now, and has never hit better than .276 in a season where he played at least 100 games.  This is another guy like Gerut, though, who could tumble into the Brewers plans if the incumbents are gone.  It’s another situation where I’d worry about our team’s prospects if he is around and being considered for a starting job…

Jason Bourgeois – As opposed to the other three backups on the 40-man, Bourgeois is on his way up instead of down.  He has bounced around the minors a lot (played with 5 organizations so far), but might finally have shown enough to stick in the big leagues.  He’s got speed, and doesn’t look totally overmatched at the plate.  The Brewers could end up keeping him on the 25-man if they don’t come up with any decent alternatives to backup in the outfield.  Otherwise, don’t expect to see him on April 5.

Jason Kendall** – The Brewers starting catcher the past two seasons finds himself in a similar position to Mike Cameron– he has done a decent job, not a great one, at a position where the Brewers just don’t have a lot of good options to replace him.  For all the people you hear saying “Mike Rivera could start,” let me say this: get your fat head out of your stupid ass.  When they signed Kendall to a 2-year deal in the winter of 2007, you know they were thinking, “that’s about how long it will be until Angel Salome is ready,” and that plan has fallen through.  Salome had an injury-plagued 2009 and definitely took a step back down in Nashville.  It’s sounding like Jonathan Lucroy, who was the #1 catcher at AA Huntsville this year, has passed Salome on the organizational depth chart.  But, odds of Lucroy being ready to be a big league catcher in 2010?  Razor thin.  Personally, I don’t dislike Kendall.  He’s a tough guy, plays a lot at a rough position, handles the pitchers well, and if not spectacular behind the dish, he is stable.  The Brewers might have to just suck it up for another year or two with the 35-year-old Kendall and wait for Lucroy to be ready.  The other options, frankly, suck.

Mike Rivera** – Rivera is a decent backup catcher.  That is all.  He got a little more playing time this season, and his offensive numbers looked much more ordinary than in 2008, where every ball he swung at seemed to turn to gold.  At 33, he has never been an everyday catcher in the majors, and he never will.  He’s arbitration-eligible for the first time and should come back pretty cheap.  If not, the Brewers could easily move Salome up to Milwaukee and not regard it as a loss.

Angel Salome – After a 2008 where Salome owned the Southern League with a .360 average and earned a September call-up to the playoff-bound Brewers, it was notable that he did not make it to Milwaukee in 2009.  The Brewers need one of two things from a catcher: they need a guy who is going to rake at the plate, hitting in the 2, 5, or 6 hole, or a guy who is going to way above average defensively, making his offensive liabilities something they can live with.  Right now, Salome is neither.  He had a chance to bump Rivera off the 25-man with a great spring in 2009, but instead he was hurt and saw limited playing time.  He’ll get a similar chance in 2010, but the odds of seeing him in Milwaukee seem lower right now than they were a year ago.

The Fates of Forty Men 2009 – Part 4: Infielders

The Brewers had a couple pleasant surprises, some tough injuries, and ultimately are left with hard decisions as we make our way into the offseason.  Overall, though, the position players were the strength of the club.  If people are healthy, they should score runs next year, no matter what.  If guys need to be traded, there are reinforcements or comparable alternatives on the way…

* – lock to be on the 2010 opening day roster

** – good bet to be on the 2010 opening day roster

Prince Fielder** – Prince was pretty easily the MVP of the team this season.  After smacking 50 homeruns and starting in the all-star game in 2007, his production “dipped” slightly in 2008.  This season, he not only brought all of his offensive numbers up, he also played in 162 games and made some significant strides in the field; he is no longer a defensive liability at first base.  He has a contract for 2010 already, and still one more year of arbitration after that.  The toughest question the Brewers will face in the off-season about Prince is, “is it time to trade him?”  There is a (sometimes) unspoken understanding that the Brewers won’t be able to pay Fielder enough to keep him in the long term, and his agent, Scott Boras, will price the big guy out of the Milwaukee market.  In my humble opinion, Prince has shown that he is at least as valuable as having a top-tier starting pitcher.  This guy will be a perennial MVP candidate who pitchers are scared to face.  He has also become a leader in the clubhouse.  I’m feeling the same about Prince as I was last year about CC Sabathia– we may lose him in the end, but he’s too good to not ride the wave.  Trade him, and who bats 4th in your lineup?  How do you protect Ryan Braun?  I hope the Brewers make every effort to sign him to a long-term deal this winter, but who can predict what will happen?  The only thing I can predict: no matter where he plays, Fielder will be the most feared bat in any lineup.

Rickie Weeks** – Weeks was well on his way to his best season yet when he tore another sheath in his wrist.  He was settling in to his position defensively, hitting for a respectable average, and doing the things you expect a leadoff guy to do (in addition to blasting 9 homeruns in the first 7 weeks of the season).  Doug Melvin has given him a vote of confidence, and moreover, said that moving him to another position was not an option that the team was considering.  With the overall goal of improving the starting rotation at nearly any cost, though, it’s tough to take definitive meaning from that season-ending press conference.  I expect Rickie to be back (he’s still in the midst of his arbitration years), but I don’t think you can really discount the slight possibility of a trade with anyone.

Casey McGehee** – What a surprise from this time a year ago!  The Cubs minor league  castoff played well enough once he got his chances to warrant serious Rookie of the Year consideration.  The guy came from basically nowhere to hit .300 and drive in 60+ runs.  There were a few balls he didn’t get to over at third base, but he was dealing with bone fragments in his knee all year, and was still pretty solid for the most part.  What I worry about with McGehee is the Bill Hall syndrome: how do we know for sure that this isn’t going to end up being the best season of his career?  Is it reasonable to expect him back next year, hitting 5th in the lineup with the same sort of production we saw down the stretch?  It’s tough to say.  With another bluechip prospect right behind him at third base, I feel like the Brewers will have to consider using Casey in a trade scenario if anyone is interested.  That is, if Mat Gamel gets himself straightened out in winter ball.

J.J. Hardy – How the heart-throb has fallen.  Two years ago JJ was an al-star shortstop and one of the cornerstones of Milwaukee’s resurgence.  In 2009, he never got himself going at the plate, and the August demotion not only delayed his free agency by a year, but more or less sealed the deal with the Brewers moving on to Alcides Escobar at short.  I would be shocked if Hardy is still on the team in February, much less April.  What I worry about, of course, is his value.  He was a more attractive trade commodity a year ago.  At this point, do you use him in a package deal for a major league starter?  Or could he possibly net a near-ready, mid-level pitching prospect from a team in dire need of a starting shortstop?  Either way, all those Milwaukee ladies with their #7 jerseys are going to be sad next Opening Day…

Craig Counsell** – Counsell had possibly the best season of his career in 2009, at 39 years old.  Last season, it seemed like the Crew was willing to check out what else was available on the market for utility middle infielders.  They wound up back with Counsell at a very reasonable price.  Assuming Craig is interested in coming back, I will also assume the Brewers are interested in having him.  A similar “wait-and-see” exercise and a late signing wouldn’t surprise me, though.

Alcides Escobar* – When Escobar joined the team on August 12, I leaned over to Dave Schrubbe (figuratively) and said, “Well, there’s our starting shortstop for the foreseeable future.”  While he was here in the waning weeks of the season, he did nothing to make me think otherwise.  Earlier in the year, when Hardy was bumbling, another one of my favorite phrases was, “I don’t care how raw Escobar’s offensive game is; anybody could come up here and hit .230.”  Well, he did that and them some, finishing with a .304 average in 125 ABs, and pulling off a series of amazing plays all over the middle of the infield.  The Brewers have an embarrassment of riches at this position, and Escobar is going to be our guy for at least another 5 years.

Mat Gamel – The other half of the Brewers bluechip AAA duo for 2009 looked more certain than his counterpart, Escobar, to be up in Milwaukee this season.  He made it, but really didn’t make much of it.  The blame fell on inconsistent playing time, and Doug Melvin admitted in later interviews that if they were only going to have Gamel up with the big club to ride the pine and pinch hit time to time, he would have been better served to stay at Nashville all year.  Personally, I couldn’t decide which impressed me less– the .242 average, or the 54 strikeouts in 128 ABs.  I am hoping against hope that he magically shakes the funk while playing in Venezuela over the winter, but right now, the more likely scenario seems to be that Gamel goes back to Nashville to start 2010, and Casey McGehee starts the year at third base.  Things could be worse, but this is not how it was supposed to play out.

Hernan Iribarren – I don’t know if this guy sticks on the 40-man all these years just by default, or what.  A couple years back, it was sounding like he might actually push Weeks for his job if the latter couldn’t step it up at 2nd base.  Then they moved him to the outfield, then back to the infield, and then he spent a little time on the bench here or there as an injury fill-in, but hasn’t done anything spectacular in Milwaukee.  Still, he hit .311 in 105 games for Nashville this summer.  Seems to be a capable infielder, so if Counsell decir.des to retire, and/or they end up having to trade Weeks, I could see Iribarren in Milwaukee to start 2010.  Do I think either of those things will actually happen?  No.

Felipe Lopez – Definitely the best mid-season pickup the team made this year.  After scrambling to fill the leadoff spot after Weeks got hurt, they finally traded for Lopez and solidified both the top of the order and 2nd base.  Lopez had some fantastic hitting streaks and great individual games on his way to hitting .310 with a .383 OBP.  Both respectable numbers for a leadoff guy, and he hits both ways.  The one place his game is lacking at the top of the order is on the basepaths– only stole 6 bases all year.  Lopez was here after being signed to a 1-year deal by Arizona.  He is a free agent again after the season, but the Brewers could offer him arbitration.  If they do so, he projects as a ‘Class A’ free agent, so it would mean the team that signs him would owe Milwaukee their first round draft pick next year, plus the Crew would get a sandwich pick beteween rounds 1 and 2.  That steep a price on a second baseman would pretty much assure that no one else would pursue him.  Hence, count on the Brewers to say thanks for the help, but see ya later.

The Fates of Forty Men 2009 – Part 3: Relief Pitching

The bullpen was one of the strengths of this team through most of the season.  There were some great stories of redemption, resurgence, and long-awaited debuts.  If the starters could have gotten through at least six innings a regular basis, the relief guys probably would have looked even better down the stretch.

The bullpen, though, is one of those areas on many teams that gets re-tooled from year to year.  Pitching is such a hot commodity, it’s often tough for a small market club to retain their best players once they reach free agency.  The Brewers have been following a fairly prudent model the last several seasons by starting with a solid closer and working backwards.

They got step #1 taken care of for 2010 by locking up Trevor Hoffman right away on Tuesday.  Oh, and speaking of season reviews and the mainstream sports media: I have to mention that Adam McCalvy from brewers.com has a pretty nice summary of everything that went right and wrong for the Brewers this year, so if you missed it, I think it’s worth a look.

* – player is a lock to be on the 25-man opening day roster
** – a good bet for the 25-man
Trevor Hoffman* – Baseball’s all-time saves leader did exactly what was expected: solidified the back of the bullpen and served as an outstanding role model for all the young guys on the team.  For a guy to come in here at 41, convert his first 13 save chances while en route to an eventual 37, and never have a whiff of an injury after recovering from a strained oblique in spring training, that’s all pretty remarkable.  Getting him back in the fold immediately (and still at a relatively affordable price) will allow Doug Melvin to focus on bigger problems.
Todd Coffey* – Always a fan favorite when he sprints out the ‘pen to reach the mound, Coffey continued to show why Melvin knew what he was doing when he plucked this guy off Cincinnati’s scrap heap last September.  There were a few rare occasions that he couldn’t get a hold or wound cough up some runs, but the guy led the staff with 78 appearances and racked up a 2.90 ERA.  He started the year by not allowing a run in 16 straight appearances.  Definitely will be back, as the Brewers have control of his contract through arbitration.
Mitch Stetter* – I remember watching his first game of the year on TV, and he walked the first batter he faced on 4 pitches so far outside the zone it was like Ricky Vaughn had taken the mound.  After the butterflies settled down in that first inning, Stetter became the stalwart lefty out of the Brewers bullpen.  Like Brian Shouse did in 2008 and to a lesser extent in ’07, Stetter showed that he was more than strictly a lefty specialist.  At one point in June, he set a franchise record by setting down 15 straight batters (over the course of several appearances) via strikeout.  Stetter is also up for arbitration and should be back.
David Riske** – I know what you’re saying– “David who??”  Riske signed a nice, affordable 3-year deal in the winter of 2008, in part because he had a solid record of staying healthy and doing a good job of locating his pitches.  In his first season with Milwaukee, he pitched in 45 games but was banged up most of the way, and banged around more than a couple times.  In ’09, he appeared in one game before being shut down for the year with elbow problems.  Unless the Brewers decide they have better options or can include him as a throw-in on a trade, expect him back for another go-’round in 2010.
Mark DiFelice** – Last year, I wrote that DiFelice making the opening day roster would be a bad sign for the Brewers.  In a way, it turned out to be true, but not because of anything DiFelice did.  Last winter, he perfected a much bally-hooed cut fastball, and the 32-year-old rookie baffled enough hitters with it to strike out 48 in 51 2/3 innings.  The burden of too many innings is probably what did DiFelice and his shoulder in back in August.  The Brewers have exclusive rights to tender him a contract for next season.
Carlos Villaneuva** – Villaneuva showed once again that he is at his best in short stints out the bullpen; his time as a fill-in starter did not go well.  He still gives up a lot of hits in bunches, but then will come back and strike out 2 or 3 in order.  One thing I noticed about him this year is more of a bulldog-type attitude.  He seems to an anti-Parra in a way, doing whatever’s asked of him, and not appearing to get too riled no matter what.  He’s arbitration eligible for the first time and will probably be back.
Chris Smith – Smith bounced back and forth from Nashville to Milwaukee around mid-season while the team was scrambling to find some fresh arms after the starters went in the tank or on the DL.  He threw some good innings, and definitely got better as time went on.  Ended up with 35 appearances.  He’ll probably get a nice long look down in Arizona, but whether or not he sticks depends on what the Brewers are able to acquire in terms of free agents.
David Weathers – In his second turn with Brewers, the journeyman righty dished up 26 hits and 13 earned runs in just 24 innings of work, covering 25 appearances.  The Crew picked him up from the Reds on August 9, when their desperation for anybody that could take the ball for an inning or two was at its peak.  Paying the buyout on his contract could be $400,000 of the best dollars Melvin spends this winter.
Claudio Vargas – Another late-season pickup, this time from the Dodgers in exchange for basically nothing (just Vinny Rottino), the erstwhile Brewers starter threw exclusively from the ‘pen and displayed some of that rare talent for pitching into and out of some remarkable jams.  Who knows?  He might’ve escaped a few more if Ken Macha would have given him the sort of leash he had with Ned Yost back in ’07.  Vargas is a free agent that Melvin has already cut once before.  They might give him a look, but I’d be surprised to see him back (almost as surprised as Vargas was in August when he found out he was coming back to Milwaukee).
Seth McClung – After a brilliant ’08 when Big Red seemed to come into his own, and a winter during which he was seriously discussed as a 5th starter, he was back to inconsistent mop-up duty for long stretches in 2009, before succumbing to the injury bug.  The Brewers have arbitration rights with McClung, but may decide that their money is better spent elsewhere.
John Axford – A one-time Yankees cast-0ff, Axford was a late addition to the 40-man after playing parts of the year at single-A, double-A, and triple-A.  He’s another guy who could factor in with a good spring in 2010.
Omar Aguilar – Split 2009 between high-A Brevard County and AA Huntsville.  Playing in the Arizona Fall League, but it would be pretty shocking to see him with the Brewers in 2010.  Nashville, if he’s lucky.
Alex Periard – Threw 42 innings covering 12 starts between Wisconsin and Brevard.  Another would-be shocker for making the team.
Mark Rogers – The Brewers first-round pick in the 2004 draft finally played a full season in the minors without setbacks.  Also going to Arizona for the Fall League, but will not be ready to contribute in Milwaukee until at LEAST 2011.
Cody Scarpetta – Only on the 40-man roster because of a technicality regarding the way he was signed.  Played at single-A Wisconsin in 2009, no chance of playing for the Brewers in 2010.