Brewers revert to thrifty form


The Brewers’ offseason opened with speculation about a push for Josh Hamilton. 3 1/2 months later, their biggest pickup has been Tom Gorzelanny.

Mark Attanasio’s Brewers won 96 games and went to the NLCS in 2011, and while the team lost Prince Fielder afterwards, it was able to bring in Aramis Ramirez as a replacement. Still, despite Ramirez’s best efforts, the team dropped to 83 wins and a third-place finish in the NL Central last year. The bullpen was the biggest problem, and when the Brewers couldn’t extend Zack Greinke, they traded him away to the Angels, sacrificing their second star in 12 months.

The curious thing is that while the Brewers were open to giving Greinke a $100 million deal, they’ve made no effort to distribute that money this winter. Gone also are the salaries No. 3 starter Shaun Marcum, No. 4 starter Randy Wolf and overpaid reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Those were four of the Brewers’ six highest-paid players last year, accounting for more than $38 million of a season-opening $98 million payroll.

Lesser lights Myjer Morgan, Manny Parra, Kameron Loe and Jose Veras have also been lopped off. That’s another $7.7 million.

The replacements: Gorzelanny at $5.7 million for two years, fellow reliever Mike Gonzalez at $2.25 million and infielder Alex Gonzalez at $1.5 million. The only other newcomer due a significant salary is reliever Burke Badenhop (acquired from the Rays) at $1.55 million. All told, they’ll combine to make about as much this year as K-Rod did last year.

As is, the Brewers are looking at a payroll about $25 million-$30 million shy of their 2012 figure. And they certainly have needs. Marco Estrada rates as their No. 2 starter behind Yovani Gallardo. A legitimate eighth-inning guy would be nice. The lineup was pretty well set before Corey Hart’s recent knee surgery, but a quality outfield option would be useful in case either Norichika Aoki or Carlos Gomez can’t repeat his 2012 performance.

Alas, most of the quality players are long gone now. But Milwaukee would still seem to be an obvious fit for Kyle Lohse if the team wasn’t so intent on retaining its first-round pick. Instead, it seems the Brewers will do little and hope for the best. The bullpen can’t be any worse and some young pitching might step up, but the odds are against the offense being as strong again and this is a team that’s going to need a lot of luck to get back to the postseason.

Hall of Fame will no longer use Chief Wahoo on Hall of Fame plaques

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Last month, in the wake of his election to the Hall of Fame, Jim Thome made it clear that he wanted to be inducted as a Cleveland Indian but that he did not want to have Chief Wahoo on his plaque.

His reasoning: even though that was the cap he wore for almost all of his time in Cleveland, “because of all the history and everything involved” he did not think it was the right thing to do. The context, of course, was the club’s decision, under pressure from Major League Baseball, to scrap the Wahoo logo due to its racial insensitivity, which it appears Thome agrees with.

Hall plaque decisions are not 100% up to the player, however. Rather, the Hall of Fame, while taking player sentiment into account, makes a judgment about the historical accuracy and representativeness of Hall plaques. This is to prevent a club from entering into a contract with a player to wear its logo on the plaque even if he only played with them for a short time or from a player simply picking his favorite club (or spiting his least-favorite), even if he only spent an inconsequential season or two there. Think Wade Boggs as a Devil Ray or Frank Robinson as, I dunno, a Dodger.

In the case of Chief Wahoo, the Hall has not only granted Thome’s wish, but has decreed that no new plaque will have Wahoo on it going forward:

To be fair, I can’t think of another player who wore Wahoo who would make the Hall of Fame in an Indians cap after Thome. Possibly Manny Ramirez if he ever gets in, though he may have a better claim to a Red Sox cap (debate it in the comments). Albert Belle appears on Veterans Committee ballots, but I’d bet my cats that he’s never getting it in. If younger players like Corey Kluber or Francisco Lindor or someone make it in, they’ll likely have just as much history in a Block-C or whatever the Indians get to replace Wahoo with than anything else, so it’s not really an issue for them.

Still, a nice gesture from the Hall, both to accommodate Thome’s wishes and to acknowledge the inappropriateness of using Chief Wahoo for any purpose going forward.