The Milwaukee Brewers are starting to make moves at a brisk pace this off-season. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan was sent outright to Triple-A Nashville yesterday while a couple more moves follow today.
The Brewers have elected to outright first baseman Travis Ishikawa, as well as, cut reliever Kameron Loe to make room in the bullpen for minor-league reliever Arcenio Leon. Ishikawa has not announced yet if he will accept the assignment or test out free agency. However, both Morgan and Loe have already stated they will test the free agent waters to see if they can grab another big-league job.
It is certainly not a surprise to see both Morgan and Loe go. For everything Morgan did well in 2011, he did the complete opposite in 2012. The right fielder was given every opportunity to succeed as a starter on the team but struggled mightily at the plate and committed too many errors on defense. Manager Ron Roenicke had no choice but to bench Morgan, which ironically worked out very well for Milwaukee, as they were able to see what Norichika Aoki can do on a full-time basis.
Loe is an even less surprise as everyone who followed the Brewers this past year knows the bullpen will be overhauled this off-season. Not to mention, his numbers did not help Milwaukee’s overall horrid bullpen statistics that ranked last in all of baseball. Loe went 6-5 with a 4.61 ERA, 55 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average of .284 in 68 1/3 innings this season.
Unfortunately, he struggled badly in September, which could be the reason he ultimately got axed. The last month of the season is when relievers need to reach back for a little bit more and record the necessary outs. Loe did not do that as he posted a 10.38 ERA and a .390 opponent average in 8 2/3 innings.
It certainly did not help that all three players who were essentially released from the team were arbitration eligible this off-season. Ishikawa was projected to make $900,000 while Morgan and Loe could each have made $2.6 million. The fact that these players did not perform up to par and were supposed to make decent money on top of it made the decision very easy for the Brewers’ front office.
Newcomer Leon went 3-2 with a 4.38 ERA and two saves in 63 2/3 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi this past season. The 26-year-old will have a great opportunity to make the ball club in the spring, especially after Milwaukee makes more room in the bullpen.
“We’re taking a look at a plus arm,” said assistant GM Gordon Ash. “Sometimes, you find a nugget like this. We’ve had a number of positive scouting reports on him. Hopefully, we can help him harness his control. He’s a guy worth taking a look at and it helps that he has an option remaining.”
The Brewers will look to Logan Schafer, who batted .304 in 23 at-bats this season, to replace the backup outfield position held by Morgan. Meanwhile, a healthy Mat Gamel will be a solid backup at first base in place of Ishikawa.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.