What did Santa bring your favorite team for Christmas?
We’ve all had a year when we didn’t get what we wanted for Christmas, just as we all have had a Christmas when we got what we wanted only to find out we were idiots for asking Santa for it in the first place and ended up in deep regret just a couple years later.
Much like a kid at Christmas, a fan's wish list is often lengthier than what Santa can deliver. After hearing whispers throughout the summer and fall of a possible Josh Hamilton to Milwaukee free-agent signing, the Los Angeles Angels scratched that off Brewers fans’ Christmas lists when they signed the slugger to a five-year, $125 million contract. While it would have been nice to have that bat in the lineup, spending that amount of money is way too risky, especially when the Brewers already have 2012 NL MVP runner-up Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki set to patrol the Miller Park grass.
There also were rumors that the Brewers had an interest in free-agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy, a former member of the Oakland A’s whom you may remember seeing take a wicked line drive to the face. I was excited about this potential signing for a couple of reasons. First, whenever you have the chance to add a proven big-league starter to the fold, you should. Second, after the way Mr. McCarthy’s season ended, it had all the makings of a feel-good comeback in 2013. Lastly -- and perhaps most importantly -- Brandon McCarthy is one of MLB's best tweeters. Check him out for yourself and follow @BMcCarthy32 . Any hope of seeing the "Moneyball" disciple in a Brewers uni ended when he signed a two-year, $15.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Anyone who paid a lick of attention to the 2012 Brewers knows that the bullpen was its weakest link and the team's biggest need during this off-season. When it comes to available bullpen help, I really can’t tell you what available guys would be a good fit in our system. It seems like there are just so many relievers who change teams after a year or two, which makes it difficult for even for the most pseudo-hard core Brewers blogger like myself to keep track. Our very own Brew Crew will only return one pitcher back from last year's bullpen; that is, of course, closer John Axford. Rumors swirled during the winter meetings about a possible signing of Jason Grilli, a 6-foot-5 right-hander who spent the past two seasons in Pittsburgh and managed an ERA under 3.00 in both. It was not to be, however, as Grilli ultimately tripled his $1.1 million salary and re-signed for two more years with the Pirates.
So who did the Brewers get their fans for Christmas? Well, so far we added a backup short stop in former Florida Marlin Donnie Murphy, who not only shares the first name but also the look of former Funky Buncher Donnie Wahlberg. While not a crucial hole to fill, it is nice to have a veteran presence behind Jean Segura who, barring injury, will be the Brewers opening-day shortstop. Speaking of Segura, he just won the Dominican Winter League batting title. He hit a robust .324 and was second in the league with 11 steals. While that league certainly is not entirely made up of MLB-ready talent, let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come.
The Brewers added the first piece to the bullpen puzzle when they signed former Chicago Cubs reliever Tom Gorzelanny. While my initial reaction was, of course, "Oh no, not a former Cubbie," I have to remember that I always trust in Doug Melvin. When you get past that initial reaction, you see that Gorzelanny is a good left-hander who posted a 2.88 ERA in 45 games for the Cubs last season. He may be one of the Brewers' key signings this off-season.
Speaking of those rival Cubs, I have to say I’m a bit jealous of what they got for Christmas. First they signed former Brewers starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva to a two-year deal, and followed that up by signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal. Jackson posted a 10-11 record with the Washington Nations last season. As long as those guys don’t catch the curse of the Cubbies, the North Siders should definitely be an improved team for 2013.
Did any Peace & Glove readers get what they wanted for their teams from Santa, or are you holding out hope that he has more work to do?
Tim Thompson is a carsalesman, farmer, and huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. He lives in Milton area with his wife and two kids. Tim is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.