Brewers decline Looper's $6.5 million option

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Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin has made it very clear that acquiring starting pitching is the Brewers’ biggest priority this offseason, even trading J.J. Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez in part to clear payroll space for rotation help.
Despite that this afternoon the Brewers declined their $6.5 million option on Braden Looper, choosing to pay him a $1 million buyout instead after the 35-year-old went 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA in 194.2 innings spread over a league-leading 34 starts this season.
On the surface it may seem strange to get rid of a veteran who went 14-7 in a rotation that had the league’s worst ERA, but Looper’s win-loss record vastly overstates his effectiveness. In addition to his ugly 5.22 ERA, he allowed the most earned runs (113) and homers (39) in the league while opponents batted .289/.344/.503 against him. He basically turned every hitter into Matt Kemp, who batted .297/.352/.490 this season.
Looper also had a sub par 100/64 K/BB ratio in 194.2 innings and fell apart down the stretch, posting a 5.54 ERA in the second half that included a 6.58 mark in September. In other words he was awful at just about everything except for getting good run support from the Brewers’ lineup, and as a 35-year-old who underwent post-season knee surgery he’s hardly a good bet to improve enough to be worth $6.5 million in 2010.
Melvin indicated that the Brewers would consider re-signing Looper at a lesser salary, but added that in the meantime “we wanted to keep our flexibility” with the $5.5 million saved. It’s a safe bet that Looper won’t get anything close to $5.5 million on the open market, so even if the Brewers fail to land the big upgrade via free agency that Melvin is aiming for there’s little risk in letting Looper shop himself around.

Starts times of postseason games announced


Every year the playoff schedule is announced, every year people complain. And it’s understandable why they do. After six months of games starting at around 7pm — bam! — the playoffs come and you’re either staying up late or tuning in early to watch your local nine.

Of course, the reason for this is that Major League Baseball has two fundamental problems to deal with when the playoffs come around (a) the country is big; and (b) baseball is local and two-thirds and more of the fans don’t have a local team to root for in the playoffs. As such, baseball has to make a schedule that somehow deals with teams — like the Mets and Dodgers — who have big time differences between their home fan bases while trying to rope in as many national viewers as possible.

This means compromises and weirdness like, say, the first couple of Mets-Dodgers games starting after 9pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday. Or the Texas Rangers starting a game at what, back home in Texas, will be 11:45AM. Which, admittedly, aren’t great start times, but do we expect Dodgers fans in L.A. to fight Friday rush hour traffic and be home in time to watch a game featuring the local team any earlier than 6pm? Seems like a tall order.

Anyway, the early round schedule was just released and you can see it below. If you are so inclined you can find all manner of inconveniences here. Sure, if you don’t have a job — or if being online and watching baseball all day is your job — Friday’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back playoff games are pretty sweet. But otherwise, just plan accordingly and do the best you can.

And remember: no one gives a rip about these schedule issues about ten minutes after the games start:

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Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez

Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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