A 25-year-old from Puerto Rico, Burgos was the Brewers' minor-league pitcher of the year in 2012 after going 10-4 with a 1.95 earned run average in 28 appearances across three levels of play.
He struck out 153 batters and walked 49.
Burgos began 2013 at Triple-A Nashville and was 0-2 in three starts, but maintained a solid 2.70 earned run average.
It's the first time this season the Milwaukee rotation has required a fifth starter.
For the Cubs, righty Edwin Jackson tries for a fourth time for his first win with another new team.
Now 29, Jackson was 10-11 in 31 starts with Washington last season before signing a four-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs on Jan. 2.
He's three games under .500 (70-73) in 237 career appearances while pitching for eight combined teams - Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox, Arizona, St. Louis, Washington, Detroit and the Cubs.
He dropped a 7-4 decision to Milwaukee on April 8 in Chicago after allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings,
In eight career starts against the Brewers, he's 3-3 with a 3.57 earned run average.
On Friday, Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer and Carlos Gomez added a solo shot as the Brewers defeated the Cubs, 5-4.
Jonathan Lucroy hit an RBI triple and Rickie Weeks had one hit and a run scored for the Brewers, who have won five straight overall and their last six at home versus the Cubs. Starter Marco Estrada (2-0) gave up three runs on seven hits and struck out four over six innings.
David DeJesus had two hits, including a two-run shot, and Luis Valbuena and Anthony Rizzo each hit solo home runs for Chicago, which has lost four of five.
Jeff Samardzija (1-3) yielded five runs -- four earned -- on six hits over seven innings and fanned four in defeat.
The teams split two games on April 8-9 in Chicago. Milwaukee won 13 of 17 games between the teams last season.
Saturday, 23 March 2013 13:42 | Written by Chris Carter
If the Milwaukee Brewers went all in to win the NL Central in 2011, they now are experiencing the repercussions of trying to walk with big-market swagger while possessing small-market resources.
Yovani Gallardo is Milwaukee's only proven starter. (AP Photo)
While the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are maintaining their payrolls from 2012, the Brewers were forced to dramatically reduce salary, partly in response to an attendance drop last year. Thus, general manager Doug Melvin had little room to address pitching issues that sabotaged the club in 2012.
The Brewers won 13 fewer games in 2012 than they did in 2011. They finished 14 games behind the Reds and five games behind the Cardinals for the NL’s second wild-card berth. The culprit? Milwaukee finished ahead of only Chicago, Houston and Colorado in NL team ERA.
Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf are long gone, leaving behind Yovani Gallardo and a band of unproven arms to try to compete with the Reds’ deep pitching and the Cardinals’ influx of power arms.
“I can name a lot of free agents out there that I would love to have on our team. Is it really a reality that can happen? Probably not,” manager Ron Roenicke said during the winter meetings.
Despite the rotation’s youth, it has promise. Gallardo was an All-Star in 2010 and finished seventh in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2011. Marco Estrada finished strong (5-2, 2.03 ERA in his final eight starts) last season. Mike Fiers produced an impressive 3.75 strikeouts-to-walks mark and was a rookie of the year contender before falling back to earth. Wily Peralta offers promise. Mark Rogers went 3-1 in seven starts. Lefthander Chris Narveson, coming off shoulder surgery, will challenge Rogers for a job.
The bullpen posted a major league-worst 4.66 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. Closer John Axford blew six of his first 22 opportunities before briefly losing his role. Relievers suffered 29 blown saves and 33 losses (both MLB-highs), and Milwaukee lost 26 games in its opponent’s final at-bat.
Largely because of the pitching problems, the Brewers didn’t manage a winning month until August. From Aug. 19 on, however, they went an MLB-best 29-13.
The powerful offense carried them. Led by left fielder Ryan Braun, last year’s Brewers outscored the 2011 edition despite losing first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency. However, Braun was linked to PED use for a second consecutive offseason.
The Brewers led the NL with 202 homers and 776 runs. Braun (.319 average, 41 homers, 112 RBIs) and third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.300-27-105 RBIs) return as the key cogs, as does catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who batted .320 with an impressive .881 OPS. Second baseman Rickie Weeks labored early but finished with 21 homers, 85 runs and 16 steals. The outfield of Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki managed at least 30 steals apiece.
However, first baseman Corey Hart should miss at least the first month after knee surgery, and backup Mat Gamels tore his ACL for the second time in less than a year. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez likely will start the season at first base.
For better and worse, the Brewers look much like their 2012 selves.
1. RF Norichika Aoki
2. 2B Rickie Weeks
3. LF Ryan Braun
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
5. 1B * Corey Hart
6. C Jonathan Lucroy
7. CF Carlos Gomez
8. SS Jean Segura
* Will begin the season on the disabled list
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Marco Estrada
RHP Michael Fiers
RHP Wily Peralta
LHP Chris Narveson/RHP Mark Rogers
RHP John Axford
3 REASONS TO BELIEVE
Mr. Dependable: Ryan Braun. He has had consecutive MVP-type seasons, winning the honor in 2011. Based on his career trends, there is nothing to suggest Braun will decline in 2013. That is, of course, unless he loses 50 games from a suspension stemming from his link to the Biogenesis clinic. MLB is investigating whether the clinic supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs.
X-factor: John Axford. He finished in the top 10 in Cy Young Award voting and in the top 20 in MVP voting after a stellar 2011 season (NL-best 46 saves, 1.95 ERA, 3.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio). But Axford regressed badly in 2012. After blowing just two saves in 2011, he blew nine last season. He also had a 4.65 ERA and took an axe to his K/BB ratio (2.38). The Brewers’ 2013 season might mirror Axford’s. Will he be the reliable reliever from 2011 or the mess from 2012?
On deck: Jean Segura. The shortstop was a key piece in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels last season. In 163 plate appearances with Milwaukee, Segura hit .264/.321/.331. The Brewers expect him to start, and he will be a huge addition if he hits like he did in his six seasons in the minors (.313/.367/.439).
— Anthony Witrado
OFFENSE: Braun constructed another MVP-caliber season, and Hart remains one of the league’s most underrated power bats. Despite the fact the lineup features only one lefthanded bat (Aoki), the Brewers managed a .750 OPS against righthanded pitching.
DEFENSE: Installing Aoki in right field, moving Hart to first base and committing Gomez as an everyday center fielder makes them better defensively. Weeks should offer more range now that he has recovered from ankle issues.
ROTATION: Milwaukee failed in a bid to sign Ryan Dempster, leaving Gallardo as the projected ace. Estrada is the only other starter with any experience to speak of.
BULLPEN: The Brewers, owner of the NL’s worst bullpen in 2012, helped themselves by signing Tom Gorzelanny and Michael Gonzalez. Burke Badenhop, acquired from the Tamp Bay Rays, could become a factor.
BENCH: Gamel’s injury costs Milwaukee a lefthanded bat off the bench. Catcher Martin Maldonado is rated by some organizations as a potential starter. Budget constraints have left this area thin.
A major league scout analyzes CF Carlos Gomez:
“Carlos Gomez made remarkable strides last season, when he transformed from a gifted but unpredictable talent to a plus center fielder with newfound power and a better idea at the plate. Gomez, 27, hit .260 with 19 home runs a year after scraping for a .225 average and only 24 RBIs in 94 games. … He used to sit on his backside and spin off pitches, making him an easy mark for a breaking ball. But he’s changed his swing. Now he’s more balanced at the plate and has developed better plate discipline and can bunt for hits. Gomez can be a spectacular center fielder. He doesn’t get great jumps but has the speed to outrun his mistakes.”
Last year marked the first time in the past eight seasons that Brewers catchers compiled an OPS above .700 (.815). Lucroy contributed an .881 OPS in 96 games. Only Carlos Ruiz (.941) and Buster Posey (.937) finished higher among NL catchers.
What could go right: If the Brewers find a staff leader (Gallardo?) and the youngsters deliver on their promise, they could improve what was the club’s fatal weakness in 2012. Then, if the offense, which led the NL in homers, stolen bases and runs, remains potent, the Brew Crew could more closely resemble the bunch that won 96 games in 2011 than the one that scrambled for 83 wins in 2012.
What could go wrong: The pitching staff easily could be as bad as it was last season (13th in the NL in ERA). If Axford has another bad month and Gorzelanny doesn’t help shore up a shaky setup situation, Milwaukee will struggle to contend.
Bottom line: The bullpen still represents a wild card within a roster that has taken a salary trim, but Axford could become a huge presence should he reclaim his 2011 consistency. The same dynamic looms as Melvin finds his hands increasingly tied.
U.S. men's national team battles snow, gets much-needed victory over Costa Rica
Saturday, 23 March 2013 13:20 | Written by Chris Carter
COMMERCE CITY, Colo.—The U.S. national team got its World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on one of the most surreal evenings in program history, defeating Costa Rica, 1-0, in a blizzard at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park outside Denver.
Match officials, including the Salvadoran referee, contemplated suspending the game during a second-half break. But U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who said he “kind of grew up in the snow” in southern Germany, insisted that play continue.
Snow was a factor in the U.S. team's World Cup Qualifying match against Costa Rica. (AP Photo)
“That’s why I went a little bit on the field as well, and with my bad Spanish I told the referee we are not stopping that game,” Klinsmann said. “It’s only the lines. And they clean up the lines and we kept playing.”
Costa Rican officials were furious following the match. Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it an “embarrassment for soccer” and word circulated later that an official protest was planned. But it’s unlikely to go very far. Neither team had an advantage in the swirling snow and the hosts emerged deserving winners because they capitalized on an early chance. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey combined on a 16th minute goal that gave the U.S. a key advantage as the conditions deteriorated.
“The key was getting the goal early,” Dempsey said immediately after the final whistle. “It was difficult to play in these conditions and when we got the goal, they were under pressure to push the game. They were getting frustrated because the snow was up past their ankles. … Getting the goal early gives us the confidence to see the game out.”
It was a goal, and a win, the U.S. desperately needed. An ugly loss in last month's opening game of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying left Klinsmann’s team at an early crossroads. A loss, or even a draw, on Friday would have put the U.S. in precarious position heading into next week’s game in Mexico. But the Americans played well, especially under the circumstances, and deserved the victory.
Klinsmann promised following the loss in Honduras that he’d fix the issues that hampered the U.S. in possession, and he was true to his word on Friday. The hosts took the field in a 4-4-2 formation (which evolved into a 4-2-3-1 when Dempsey withdrew) that gave the U.S. cover in all areas of the field. It featured some welcome experience in a makeshift back four and flank midfielders who were comfortable on the ball. The snow turned simple plays into an adventure, but the Americans were well-positioned to deal with the game’s challenges.
Klinsmann deployed Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson, who was a qualifying regular last year, in central defense. Geoff Cameron, who’s played in the middle for the U.S. but appears frequently on the flank for Stoke City, was on the right. DaMarcus Beasley, an experienced workhorse who earned his 98th international cap, played on the left.
Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones manned central midfield and had more room to roam without a defensive anchor like Danny Williams or Kyle Beckerman behind them. Herculez Gomez and Graham Zusi were on the wings and Clint Dempsey, starting his first game in five weeks, and the in-form Jozy Altidore started up front.
“When you look at the guys we had on the field, I think it helped a little bit in terms of the natural flow of the game,” Altidore said It was hard to tell in the snow, hard to see, but adding a Graham in there, even a Herc, getting up and down, we were combining a little bit.”
There were plows before kick off and shovels during the match. A zamboni or two would have been useful as well. As the snow poured down, the field became covered and slick. Controlling the ball was difficult, passes slowed in the deepening drifts and the game had a random quality that hardly seemed suitable for a qualifier of this importance.
Although the Costa Rican players surely didn’t grow up playing in such conditions, there was nothing about Friday’s weather that was familiar or comfortable for anybody. Considering the fact that seven Tico starters play in Europe, including four in Scandinavia, it was hard to make a case for a significant home-field advantage beyond the 19,374 partisans in attendance.
“Obviously it was a nice snow battle,” Klinsmann said. “Great character shown by all the players, how they fought and how they just gave everything they had really. Those are conditions that make it very difficult to judge things on a tactical level, on a game level. It is then we just have to adjust to the snow and battle it out and finish it off with three points and then move on.”
The Big Bounce
Sure enough, the game was decided by a fortunate bounce that went the Americans’ way. But it was a bounce that was earned by Altidore, who has struggled to find his rhythm in past games under Klinsmann but who seemed more comfortable on Friday playing alongside Dempsey and with a bit more support in midfield.
Altidore settled a 16th-minute pass from Dempsey near the top of the penalty area, slid to his right and struck a low shot toward the left post. The ball struck hard-luck Costa Rica defender Roy Miller, who’s had his share of early-season struggles with the New York Red Bulls, and caromed in front of the goal. Dempsey charged in and finished off the rebound easily for his seventh goal in eight World Cup qualifiers during the current cycle.
“I think Clint played it to me outside and I just tried to make some space so I could get a shot,” Altidore said. “Clint’s always got that sniff, man. He’s always following plays up.”
It was Dempsey’s 12th career goal in World Cup qualifying, tying Landon Donovan’s U.S. record.
Struggling through the snow
Scoring chances weren’t frequent but each team had its opportunities. The U.S. thought it deserved a penalty kick in the 42nd when Dempsey was tripped by Miller, but referee Joel Aguilar waived play on.
Zusi was felled seconds later and Dempsey thought his subsequent shot was handled by a defender, but again the whistle stayed silent.
Costa Rica thought it had scored in the 70th but the play was called offside. Guzan was well-positioned on several Tico shots and made saves that couldn’t have possibly been routine.
The U.S. made the plays it had to make in defense and Beasley, starting at left back for the first time since ’09, was energetic and effective, breaking up several promising Costa Rican forays. Bradley was commanding in the middle and was smart and accurate with his passing, while Jones covered a ton of ground and continued until the game’s 83rd minute despite receiving stitches at half time to close a wound in his leg.
One goal likely was going to be enough to win this memorable affair, especially if it came early before the field became too unplayable. Dempsey got it, and the U.S. could breathe a sigh of relief following a difficult start to the year.
The U.S. will head into Tuesday’s game at the Estadio Azteca vs. Mexico in second place in the six-team Hexagonal at 1-1-0. Friday’s other two games ended in ties, allowing the Americans to ascend from last place.
Even if the U.S. loses next week (it is 0-13-1 in qualifiers in Mexico), they will be in good position having already played two difficult away games and having proven once again that they always rise to the occasion on home soil. Even if it’s covered by several inches of snow.
“I was freezing, shivering in the hot tub saying to these guys, ‘We just played one for the books’,” Altidore said. “Hopefully we can build on this now and go to Azteca and get a result.”
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter May Retire, Kyle Lohse Return Imminent?
Saturday, 23 February 2013 14:42 | Written by Chris Carter
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter continues to feel the effects from a nerve injury in his arm. That injury cost him most of the 2012 MLB season. General manager John Mozeliak claimed that Carpenter feels numbness and bruising in his right shoulder and hand. Carpenter will probably miss all of 2013. At age 37, retirement is a strong possibility.
Who will replace Carpenter? Kyle Lohse is still on the open market. Lohse is coming off a season when he had a 16-3 record with a 2.86 ERA. Teams are weary of giving the 34-year-old pitcher a huge contract extension. They don't want to lose a draft pick after Lohse rejected his qualifying offer. As far as payroll is concerned, the Cardinals could afford him from the money they'd get from Carpenter retiring.
The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly comfortable with the young arms in their farm system. Some of their top young arms include Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. Let's not forget that this team never caved in to the demands of Albert Pujols. They replaced his contributions with Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and other young players. Lance Lynn was also a nice surprise for this team in 2012.
Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial Dies
Monday, 21 January 2013 01:45 | Written by Chris Carter
One of baseball's all time greats, Stan Musial, passed away on Saturday, January 19 at the age of 92. The most famous member of the St. Louis Cardinals ever he played 22 seasons with the team.
Musial had a career batting average of .331 with 475 home runs and 1,951 runs batted in good for sixth all time. He won three most valuable players awards and placed in the top ten in voting an incredible 14 times. He made 20 All-Star teams. Add to all those accomplishments the fact that Musial never struck out more than 46 times in a season. That is two months of play for some guys in today's game.
He wasn't just an incredible baseball player, but was known to be a gentleman as well. He served in the Navy during World War II. The Cardinals have a statue of Musial outside of Busch Stadium.
Just a few weeks ago baseball fans debated about the Hall of Fame merits of steroid users like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. If they are compared to Stan Musial then you quickly realize when many writers felt those two simply didn't belong in Cooperstown.
Saturday was a tough day for baseball fans. First was the loss of the terrific manager Earl Weaver and then the great Stan the Man. Two totally different personalities that both earned a place in the hearts of baseball fans. They will both be greatly missed.