Results tagged ‘ Doug Melvin ’

Our Uniform is Your Canvas: The Brewers Are Putting the “YOU” in “YOUniform”

So I have been pretty excited about this promotion for some time now.  It’s really been hard to keep this one a secret.  I’m a self-proclaimed sports uniform/jersey/logo nerd.  It’s OK, I’m cool with it. If you are like me, or have a knack for creativity and design or just want to put your mark on Brewers baseball, then this contest is for you.

The Brewers are inviting fans to take part in their “Design a YOUniform” contest. That is right. We are looking for fans to design a Brewers uniform and cap that the Brewers will wear during a 2013 Spring Training game.

Where would you begin?

Where would you begin?

Templates for the contest and complete rules will be available online at Brewers.com/uniform and at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park.  The template allows fans to design the jersey top and cap and contestants can create their design digitally or by hand.  Design templates will be available beginning Friday at 10 a.m. CT and the deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, December 13.  The completed designs can be uploaded to Brewers.com/uniform or dropped off at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic.

The first group of entries will be judged by an internal Brewers committee.  That group will narrow the entries down to four finalists.  On Tuesday, January 15 at 10 a.m. CT, the four finalists will be announced on Brewers.com.  A fan vote will open up on Brewers.com that day and a panel of judges including Brewers pitcher John Axford, Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin, Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger, Brewers Senior Director of Merchandise Branding Jill Aronoff, representatives from Majestic, New Era and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will judge the four finalists (the fan poll will be weighted the same as one judge’s vote).

Have at it!

Have at it!

At Brewers On Deck on Sunday, January 27 at the Delta Center in downtown Milwaukee, the four finalists will be on hand to present their designs.  Axford will announce the winner of the contest on the Main Stage at Brewers On Deck.  Each of the four finalists will receive a trip to Milwaukee for Brewers On Deck including $250!

The winning uniforms and caps will be worn by Brewers players and coaches during the Brewers vs. Cubs Spring Training game on Friday, March 22 at Maryvale Baseball Park.  The winning designer will receive a trip to Spring Training to see that game.  The prize package for the winner is packed with goodies:

-  Airfare for two people to Phoenix

- Game tickets for the March 22 Brewers vs. Cubs game at Maryvale Baseball Park

- A cash prize for hotel, transportation and other incidentals

- The opportunity to select one player’s jersey and cap from that day

- 10 t-shirts and 10 caps made from the design

Not to mention, the winner can brag about being the fan that won one of the coolest contests in team history.

“People have great ideas for how they would design an alternate uniform for the team, and this is the ultimate opportunity for everyone to have their say,” said Schlesinger in a press release. “Participants can pick their favorite colors, original logos, and script, or they can utilize elements of the Brewers current uniforms with their own unique twist. It’s literally a blank template and a chance for everyone to show off their creative sides.”

Get creative Brewers fans, we cannot wait to see some of your designs.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Josh Prince Commands Attention With Strong Offensive Numbers and Defensive Versatility

Ranking second in the league in hitting with a .403 batting average and recording 31 hits in 21 games is cause for notice at the Arizona Fall League.  When combined with playing six different positions in the field, you can make yourself one of the most talked about players in the league.

The Brewers Josh Prince has made the most of his opportunities in the Arizona Fall League in the field and at the plate.

“I’ve played third base, second base, left field, right field and center field ” Prince said of his defensive positions during the Fall League.  “I came up through the organization as a shortstop so I know I can play there as well.  Being versatile is big.  If you look in baseball there are not a lot of players that can play (all those positions).  It really helps my chances of getting there (to the big leagues).”

Josh Prince in the batting cage at the Arizona Fall League

Josh Prince in the batting cage at the Arizona Fall League

The Brewers drafted Prince as a shortstop in the third round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of Tulane University.  He first worked with Brewers outfield/baserunning instructor Reggie Williams on proper positioning in Spring Training and continued in the outfield at Double-A Huntsville.  His extended season in Arizona has also given him many opportunities to work on defense.

“He has had a very good year,” said Darnell Coles, Huntsville Stars manager and Phoenix Desert Dogs hitting coach.  “Coming from playing shortstop to the outfield this year is tough.  A lot of it was learning on the spot and he is still learning but he has done a very good job as an outfielder.  Being able to play these positions adds value to our organization and to him as a player.  If a guy gets hurt, you know he can fill in defensively wherever and you don’t have to worry about it.  Plus his bat and base running are great.”

Coles has worked with Prince all year in Huntsville and has help develop his swing to a comfortable point as his offensive numbers show.

“I’ve been working with Darnell on flattening out my swing and giving myself better opportunities to get hits when I am a little tardy or a little early,” Prince said.  “I just want to be able to stay through the ball.  That is the biggest reason why I have had success here.”

Josh Prince sees his ability to run as an important part of his game.

Josh Prince sees his ability to run the bases as an important part of his game.

Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin also likes what he has seen from Prince at the Arizona Fall League and compared his defensive versatility to that of Jerry Hairston.

“His bat has really taken off this fall,” Melvin said.  “He is a very aggressive baserunner–a high energy guy.  His versatility is going to be his calling card to get to the big leagues.”

Prince hit .251 with seven home runs and 55 RBI during the 2012 regular season at Huntsville with a .346 OBP and .360 slugging percentage.  Both his OBP (.489) and slugging percentage (.588) currently rank in the top four in the Arizona Fall League.

“It’s been awesome out here,” Prince said of his Fall League experience. “The weather is great, the baseball talent here is amazing and we are having fun too.  The coaches are making this fun and enjoyable for us while at the same time teaching us.  I’m happy I am putting up the numbers I am, but I’m constantly working on getting better.”

For Prince that work will continue through the offseason into the winter.

“There is no time for rest,” Prince said.  “I’ll get home, hit the gym and start working out.  With playing in this league, there is not much time for rest.  I have missed some time in the gym and need to make up for that conditioning I have lost to prepare myself for a full season next year.”

Chances are most Brewers fans have not seen the type of game that Prince plays, but he described his play on the field as exciting.

“First and foremost, I want people to know me as a follower of Jesus Christ,” Prince said.  “I know that He is the guy I play for and I want people to remember me for that.  On the field, I want Brewers fans to know me as a guy who is versatile and a guy that can run.  I like to steal bases, I like to try to get on base and score runs for the team.  I feel like I can play anywhere and do a good job at any of those positions.”

With the combination of Prince’s ability to run, his defensive versatility and the offensive numbers he has put up during the Arizona Fall League, Brewers fans might be seeing this exciting player at Miller Park very soon.

Josh Prince can be found on Twitter: @JoshPrince17.

–JOHN 

johnandcait@brewers.com

Khris Davis Looking to Continue to Grow as a Hitter

Despite an early season injury, Khris Davis had a breakout year in 2012.  The Brewers’ 7th round draft pick in the 2009 First Year Player Draft joined Double-A Huntsville after recovering from a calf injury.  With the Stars, he hit .383 with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 44 games.  The injury nagged him throughout the season, but he battled through and earned a promotion to Triple-A Nashville late in the year.

“My season had its ups and downs,” Davis said.  “That is just baseball, it’s a roller coaster ride.  You have to learn to get through it all and I think I did that and performed well.”

With the Sounds, the outfielder hit .310 with four home runs and 24 RBI.  Over his last 45 games of the 2012 season between Huntsville and Nashville, Davis recorded hits in 37 of those games (.365, 60-for-164).

“He’s just gradually gotten better each year,” said Darnell Coles, manager of the Huntsville Stars and hitting coach for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.  “He is one of the best players in the organization at hitting through the middle.  He got hurt a little bit during the beginning of the year, but came back from that strong.  He didn’t stop hitting in Double-A and moved up to Triple-A where he hit as well.”

Khris Davis

Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin also had good things to say about Davis’ development.

“He is one of the most disciplined hitters in our organization,” Melvin said.  “He has some good power, too. We haven’t really seen it during the Fall League, but we know it is there.”

Fortunately, Davis has the opportunity to continue to grow as a hitter here at the Arizona Fall League.  Working every day with Coles and playing against top competition for six weeks will certainly benefit Davis’ development.

“I feel like there is always room for improvement when it comes to hitting,” Davis said.  “No one is as good as they want to be.  There is still a lot of work to be done as far as my work and study as a hitter.”

Khris Davis

Currently in the Fall League, Davis is hitting .226 with six RBI.

“I wanted to work on cutting back on my strikeouts and being more aggressive earlier in the counts and not take as many pitches,” Davis said of his goals while at the Arizona Fall League.  “I feel if I get ahead early, it works to my advantage as a hitter.”

Davis, who was drafted out of Cal State-Fullerton, is participating in his first Arizona Fall League, but makes his offseason residence in Phoenix and went to high school in the area at Deer Valley.  He has previously participated in Brewers winter conditioning programs and plans on remaining in the area and working out at the Brewers Maryvale complex before Spring Training.

“The Brewers winter programs have been great for me,” Davis said.  “There is always a lot of one-on-one attention there and that is always good.  To be in front of their eyes working is beneficial to me as a player.”

He doesn’t plan on taking much of a break after the league wraps up next week.

“I want to get in the weight room and work on my strength,” Davis said.  “I don’t want to take too much time off.  We don’t have the luxury to do that as the sport is year-round.  There isn’t much of a break; you need to have a special mindset in the offseason to prepare for the next season.”

Until then, Davis has another week in the Arizona Fall League and another week for some one-on-one coaching with Coles.

“He has got a chance to be a special hitter in the big leagues,” Coles said of Davis.  “For him, it is now just a process of continuing to grow and understand himself as a hitter.”

 –JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Hunter Morris Concludes His Dream Season With Arizona Fall League Invite

Hopefully Hunter Morris has a nice trophy case at home because the list of awards he received in 2012 is quite long.

Southern League Most Valuable Player, Brewers Minor League Player of the Year, Topps Southern League Player of the Year, Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award–just to name a few.

It might sound cliché, but Morris credits his on field success this year to old-fashioned hard work.

“It was a long process and a lot of work went into what I accomplished this year,” Morris said.  “I think it was a combination of things as far as success on the field.  I have put in a lot of work defensively and that helped my all-around game, but l certainly didn’t take any days off from working on my offense and maintaining my swing.

The awards were a byproduct of hard work.  There were certainly a lot of guys who were deserving of those awards I received.  I consider myself lucky and fortunate to be on the receiving end of those awards.”

Morris nearly had a Triple Crown as he led the Southern League in home runs (28), RBI (113), hits (158), slugging percentage (.563), total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74).  He finished fourth in the league with a .303 batting average.

“My consistency throughout the year was the biggest blessing I had,” Morris said.  “If something went wrong, I was able to fix it within a few at bats or a game or two.  Keeping those peaks and valleys to a minimum as far as the success and the struggles is important.  I was able to go out and focus on playing hard, rather than over-thinking things.  It was easy to relax and play.”

Hunter Morris bats in today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris bats in today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Not only did Morris turn in stellar numbers at the plate, but his fielding was an important part to his MVP season.  He had a .995 fielding percentage and committed only six errors in 136 games played.

“Hunter has improved a lot defensively,” said Brewers President – Baseball Operations and General Manager, Doug Melvin.  “He looks a lot more fluid out there at first base.  His work with Bob Miscik, our roving infield instructor throughout the year was key and the repetitions he has received at the Fall League will continue to help.  We debated sending Morris to the Fall League because of the season we had, but the competition is good for him and will help him cap off a great year.”

Morris also credits Huntsville Stars Manager Darnell Coles—who is in Arizona serving as Hitting Coach for the Phoenix Desert Dogs—with a lot of extra defensive work this month.

“Working with Darnell has been great,” Morris said.  “He has really worked hard with me on getting better defensively, he has done everything I could have asked of him.  He played some first base in his career, understands the position and helped me out a ton.  My defense can always get better and I want to get better throughout my career.”

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

A unique part of Morris’ dream season was the fact that it took place in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. often in front of family and friends.

“Having the season I had in front of my family and friends at home certainly made it a little more special,” Morris said.  “Baseball is baseball, you have to go out and play no matter if you are 3,000 miles away from home or in your own backyard like I was, but it was certainly nice to be home with my wife and son every day.

That was a huge blessing for me, but at the same time, it kind of takes away from baseball.  There were days when I was taking my son to doctor’s appointments at 8 a.m. on game day when my teammates were sleeping in.  Fortunately, I was able to put my family first and still have that proper balance of performing well on the field and focusing on baseball.  I loved every minute of being able to spend the season with my family, it was great.”

Entering today in Arizona, Morris was hitting .268 with one home run and six RBI, modest numbers compared to what he put up during the regular season, but Morris has played over 160 games since Spring Training and he is focusing on how to fight through the fatigue of a long season.

“I have struggled a bit at the plate out here, but that is probably a product of having played baseball since February 10th of this year,” Morris said.  “That is also one of the learning curves I need to go through to train myself to get through 162 or 175 games instead of 140 games.  I’m preparing myself to get through longer seasons.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but being here helps me work through struggles.  I’m just trying to build on the season I had, there is not a whole lot I am looking to change from the year.”

Today was Morris' 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

Today was Morris’ 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

This is Morris’ second stint in the Arizona Fall League.  The Brewers drafted him in 2010 and he received an invite from the club to play after his first professional season.

“Certainly a lot more twists and turns a few years ago, but this was my first truly long season that I have had.  Last year and the 2010 season is nowhere near the length of time that I have been playing this year.  It is a great situation for me to come out here and play with a lot of great guys, build relationships, make friends and work on fundamentals.  The experience as a whole, you are getting something out of it no matter how you perform.”

It seems as though Morris will make the move up to Triple-A Nashville from his hometown Huntsville Stars in 2013, but he is not taking anything for granted at this point.

“A lot of that is out of my control,” Morris said.  “I’m going to go home, take a week off, pick up right after Thanksgiving and get in the weight room to work on conditioning.  It will be a short offseason, so I have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.  I’d like to be in better shape come Spring Training, which can be a challenge, but I plan on going home, working hard and continuing to build on this season.”

Morris can be found on Twitter @HunterMorris15.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Arizona Fall League Matures in 20th Anniversary Season

The Arizona Fall League continues to help develop Major League talent every year.  The developmental league, just winding down a six-week schedule in the Phoenix area, is in its 20th year.  Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin and Vice President – Assistant General Manager Gord Ash have each seen the league grow since day one.

“The league itself is very well scouted and an important stepping stone for future Major Leaguers,” Melvin said.  “We send all of our scouts there knowing that this is one of the top developmental leagues.  It will continue to be the top developmental league for years to come because of the competition involved.”

When Major League organizations take seven top prospects and send them to take part in this league, the competition is very high.  Teams are in the homestretch of a 32-game schedule.  Games are held six-days a week around the Phoenix-area.

“The level of competition is what makes the league so important to the development of these players,” Ash said.  “They aren’t playing a regular season game; there is an elite level of competitive talent there.  It’s not just a game either; there is work and practice too which helps fundamentals.  There is no travel which decreases stress for players, you are in one place and focused on baseball.”

Each organization send scouts to games throughout the league to view this level of competition.  Seeing these players play in the Arizona Fall League helps teams come assess what opponents have in their developmental system and comes in handy around the trade deadline.

Take the Brewers mid-season trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels.  One of the key players in the trade, Jean Segura, played in the Fall League last year and was seen by Brewers scouts.

“Segura is a good example of a player we saw in the Fall League last year and liked,” Melvin said.  “We were able to see him against that high level of competition.  He proved to us he was ready and when the Angels called on Greinke, we were ready with reports on Segura that included the Fall League.

The players know every game there is a minimum of 30 scouts each game. During the year, scouts may only see five, six or seven legitimate prospects in games, but here you get a chance to see a lot of players in every game.  We send all of our scouts down there at different times.”

While a number of Brewers players like Josh Prince have put up impressive numbers during the Fall League, they aren’t the most important gauge of a player’s success in the league.  Switching positions, working on driving the ball to the opposite field or a pitcher’s introduction to a new pitch are all things that are common in the league, giving a skewed perception of numbers.

“I don’t get too worried about performance and numbers; maybe they are working on something,” Melvin added. It is important for guys to get work in.  Get at bats and innings pitched against solid competition day in and day out.  That is the spirit of the league.  Good numbers are able to show us that players are ready to compete at the next level.”

Melvin and Ash each visited the Fall League in October along with other members of the Brewers Front Office staff.  Not only is this a great opportunity for the organization to take inventory of young talent on the field, but it also a chance for the club to get to know players off the field.  With no travel, the schedule is less hectic, allowing a chance for some social activities.

“We take the players out to dinner with our staff,” Melvin said.  “It’s important for us to share stories with them and get to know them in a relaxed environment away from the ballpark.  I want to hear what the players have to say about our organization and their thoughts on how we do things.  They also want to hear from us.”

Fans were once a rarity at Fall League games, but with a number of sparkling new facilities in Phoenix, the stands for Fall League games have seen more and more fans.

“It’s caught on from a fan perspective,” Ash said.  “There are more fans.  The improved facilities in Phoenix also play a part in that.  From a perception point of view, fans understand that these are players they will soon see in the big leagues.  And it’s not necessarily just the Phoenix people.  I have seen a lot of people obviously from the hometown of the teams—almost like a mini-Spring Training.  It has certainly caught on as a top developmental league.”

I arrived in Phoenix today and will be sharing stories about the Brewers involved in the league.  If you have followed the stats and read my first Fall League preview, you might have noticed that a few Brewers prospects are missing from box scores.  OF Brock Kjeldgaard broke his left foot on Oct. 27 after he fouled a ball of his foot.  He has returned to Milwaukee where he will have surgery this week by Dr. Richard Marx.  He expects to be ready in time for Spring Training and finished his stint in the Fall League hitting .385 with four home runs and nine RBI in just seven games.

RHP Santo Manzanillo has returned to the Brewers facility in the Dominican Republic where his is rehabbing from a sore right shoulder. He pitched in only three games, tallying 2.0 innings of relief.

The Brewers players are participating in the league as members of the Phoenix Desert Dogs.  The team has a 9-10 record.

Follow along with the MLB Fall League online at mlbfallball.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/mlbfallball and via Twitter @MLBazFallLeague.  Stay tuned for my updates from Arizona here on the blog!

JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Brewers Sign Jack Kalman to Major League Contract!

Many of you will remember that back in January, we launched the second year of our Fan-tastic Forty promotion. All fans that purchased or renewed ticket packages of 20 games or more had the opportunity to win a variety of unique prizes and experiences spread out over 40 days.

Prizes included a tour of the Miller Park roof, a game of catch with a Brewers reliever, getting your photo on a Brewers 2012 Season Ticket and much more, ending with the final prize of signing a one-day Major League contract, complete with full uniform and one day’s pay at the MLB minimum salary.

A Brewers Season Seat Holder since 1975, Jack Kalman of Franklin won the prize and a press conference was held to formally welcome him to the team today, with many of Jack’s family and friends in attendance, including his wife, Vicki, and Audrey Kuenn, wife of the late former Brewers manager, Harvey Kuenn.

“We appreciate your loyalty as a fan,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin, when presenting Jack with his contract. “It’s exciting to know that we have fans like you who have followed the organization for many years, through the ups and downs.”

Jack is a retired kitchen cabinet manufacturer who owned and operated Style-Line Manufacturing in West Allis for 34 years.

He started going to baseball games at Milwaukee County Stadium at age 12 and he attended the World Series games in 1957 when the Milwaukee Braves became World Champions. Jack has never missed an Opening Day game of the Milwaukee Braves or Milwaukee Brewers. In 1982, he went to all 81 regular season games and all seven World Series games. A close personal friend of the late Harvey Kuenn, Jack regaled the crowd at his press conference with stories and even reminisced about staying in the same hotel suite  for Game 1 of the World Series with the then-Brewers manager and his wife and going out after the game with Harvey to celebrate the Brewers 10-0 victory over the Cardinals.

It was because of Harvey that Jack chose to wear #32 on his uniform.

“I thank everybody and this is really awesome, a lot more than I expected. Thank you.” Jack said.

In addition to the salary and uniform, Jack was also able to park in our VIP Lot and will be throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Brewers Debut 2012 TV Spots

Today is a very exciting day–the debut of our 2012 TV Spots!

As you know, in February, members of our Consumer Marketing Department (myself included), as well as our creative team comprised of 2-Story Creative and Metaphystico, went down to Arizona to film our 2012 TV spots featuring our players, as we’ve done for the past few seasons.

This year, as you’ll recall, we also had a special guest at our shoot.

Packers MVP Quarterback Aaron Rodgers paid a visit to his friends on the team, took part in Brewers Spring Training workouts and then participated in our shoot, along with the numerous other players who are appearing in this year’s spots, including Jonathan Lucroy, Yovani Gallardo, and our own MVP, Ryan Braun, among others.

We filmed five spots with Aaron–the first of which was released today. The four remaining Rodgers spots will be released every few weeks as we start the season–so look for a continuation of this story here on John and Cait…Plus 9 and on brewers.com/2012TV.

In addition to the spots with Rodgers, we also filmed new spots that feature only Brewers players.

You can view the new spots by clicking on the links below. Then, make sure you come back here and vote on your favorite!

3-Step Drop: Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke know talent when they see it. This year at Spring Training they had their eyes on a promising rookie from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Big Numbers: Aramis Ramirez loves baseball. He enjoys hanging out in the clubhouse, working on the field, wearing a Brewers uniform and most of all, putting up big numbers.

Translation: Mat Gamel is new to first base this year. Norichika Aoki is new to just about everything in the United States. Fortunately, Brewers Baseball is a universal language.

Radio Control: Pitcher Shaun Marcum is focused on control. Not just on the mound – all around the stadium. (Take note of a new cameo appearance by Yovani Gallardo at the end!)

It was a fun TV shoot and we’re very proud of the finished product. We hope you like the spots as much as we enjoyed working on them!

Click on the poll below to tell us which one is your favorite so far!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Photos From Aoki Press Conference

One of the newest Brewers, Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, reported to camp at Maryvale Baseball Park today and we held a press conference to welcome him.  General Manager Doug Melvin, manager Ron Roenicke and interpreter Kosuke Inaji (who was with the Brewers last year serving as Takashi Saito’s interpreter) all took part in the press conference.  It was attended by a number of Milwaukee media who are down here as well as international media.

The Brewers signed Aoki to a two-year contract on January 17.  The Brewers were awarded the negotiating rights to Aoki on December 19 after the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League accepted the highest bid.

Aoki, who turned 30 on January 5, has played his entire eight-year professional career with Yakult, batting .329 with 84 HR, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases in 985 games.  He has batted over .300 in six of his seven full seasons and was Central League batting champion in 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358).  He was 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year and is a six-time Golden Glove Award winner.

Aoki has participated in both World Baseball Classic events (2006 and 2009), batting .310 with 8 RBI in 15 games, and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics, batting .294 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 9 games for Japan.  Aoki worked out for the Brewers on January 8 here at Maryvale Baseball Park.  He bats left and throws right and will wear #7 as a Brewer.

Aoki (left in jeans) arrives to Brewers camp today.

Aoki (left in jeans) arrives to Brewers camp today.

Doug Melvin along with Aoki, interpreter Kosuke Inaji and Ron Roenicke begin the press conference.

Doug Melvin along with Aoki, interpreter Kosuke Inaji and Ron Roenicke begin the press conference.

The group addressed questions from the media for around 30 minutes.

The group addressed questions from the media for around 30 minutes.

We can expect a large group of international media to follow Aoki all season long.

We can expect a large group of international media to follow Aoki all season long.

Aoki is planning on taking the field later this morning for an informal workout.

Aoki is planning on taking the field later this morning for an informal workout.

 

Aoki works with Inaji, Brewers Media Relations Director Mike Vassallo and Matt Vasgersian of MLB Network on a promotional read for the network.

Aoki works with Inaji, Brewers Media Relations Director Mike Vassallo and Matt Vasgersian of MLB Network on a promotional read for the network.

 

Aoki was scheduled to participate in an informal workout today at 11:30 a.m. Phoenix time.  I will hopefully have pictures of that later in the day.

– JOHN

john.steinmiller@brewers.com

Craig Counsell Joins Brewers Front Office

Last night, I attended the Dugout Club’s annual banquet dinner in Madison with Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.  After Doug addressed the group of over 500 people, he took some questions and was very candid with his answers.  There were a lot of the “usual” questions, but Doug was a little sheepish when he was asked a couple times about the status of Craig Counsell.

Doug didn’t want to give away the news of today’s announcement of Craig joining the Brewers front office as Special Assistant to the General Manager.  Counsell was introduced at a press conference this afternoon at Miller Park.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Counsell said.  “I’m excited for this challenge and I’m excited that I have a lot to learn.  That is what I want to do, I really want to learn.  I’m also excited that I won’t have to try and get hits anymore, that became a bit of a challenge at the end.”

Craig didn’t come out to Jimi Hendrix, but his new co-workers at One Brewers Way welcomed him by filling the media interview room.  Doug Melvin presented Craig with a new sport coat and a framed “Counsell” jersey to hang in his office.

“When I was 19, I met Sandy Alderson when he was general manager of the A’s,” Counsell said.  “For me, I thought to myself, that this is what I want to do when I grow up.  I want to be a GM, I want to do what Sandy Alderson does. Twenty years of playing kind of got in the way–which I am fortunate to have happen.  I thought back to it the other day and now I’m going to do what I wanted to do when I was 19 years old.”

What exactly is a “Special Assistant?”  It seems at first, Counsell will get his feet wet involving himself in as much as possible.  Counsell’s role with the club will involve a lot of “learning” and he said he will be in the office at Miller Park on a daily basis–after all, his wife, Michelle, said “he needed to get a job.”

“At first it is going to be a lot of learning,” Counsell said  “I’m going to help evaluate players, help in the Minor Leagues, hopefully, being a resource as a guy who just got done playing that can help the front office.  And then, I have to learn the baseball calendar.  Spring Training, the Draft, the trading deadline, the rhythm and flow of what the front office does everyday.”

Counsell, 41, completed his 15th Major League season as a player in 2011.  He owns a career .255 batting average in 1,623 games with Colorado (1995, ‘97), Florida (1997-99), Los Angeles (1999), Arizona (2000-03, ‘05-06) and Milwaukee (2004, ‘07-11).  He played on four teams that qualified for the postseason, including World Series championships with Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001).  He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 National League Championship Series after batting .381 in the Diamondbacks’ five-game victory against Atlanta.

Craig talked today about his favorite memories as a player were being able to play in two World Series Game Sevens–and coming out on the winning end of each one.  The Whitefish Bay native also talked about his love for the Brewers.

“The Brewers are important to me, there is a sense of loyalty for the memories we have created here,” Counsell.  “This allows me to work for an organization that has been important to me.”

Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy asked if Counsell had officially signed his retirement papers or if he was waiting and leaving the door open to playing.

“This closes the window, I’m done for sure,” Counsell said.  “It was time (to retire).  I’m not planning on playing.”

Counsell follows in the footsteps of his father, John, who worked in the Milwaukee front office as Director of the Speakers Bureau from 1979-85 and Director of Community Relations from 1986-87 following a five-year playing career as an outfielder in the Twins organization (1964-68).  Counsell, a 1988 graduate of Whitefish Bay High School, currently resides in that same town with his wife, Michelle, their sons, Brady and Jack, and daughters, Finley and Rowan.

Here are a couple of photos from today’s press conference along with some of my favorite Craig Counsell photos from his career:

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I’m very fortunate to have worked with Craig as a player over the last five seasons and I look forward to working with him as a member of the Front Office.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

John and Cait’s Top Ten Brewers Moments of 2011

It’s the time of year where everyone posts and comments on “End of the Year Lists.” From the top movies, music, and books of the year to the top restaurants, people and cars–it seems like there is a list for everything.  Well, John and Cait will not let you down, as we have compiled a list of our Top Ten Brewers Moments from what was a very memorable and historic season.

We worked together on this list.  Some comments are from Cait and other are from John. Some moments were John’s and others were Cait’s. You might agree with some and disagree with others, as all ten moments will surely be up for debate. You can share with us your top ten Brewers moments from 2011 through the comments section at the bottom of this post.

#10 – Late Night at Miller Park, Brewers vs. Rockies, May 20

Were you one of the 33,361 on hand to witness the Brewers vs. Rockies game as it kicked off at 7:10pm on a warm Friday evening in May at Miller Park? Maybe the better question is: were you still remaining 4 hours and 35 minutes later when Prince Fielder hit his 2-run walk-off blast in the bottom of the 14th? This memorable game featured a volley of scoring. Brewers led 1-0 after 1. Rockies led 2-1 after 3. Brewers tied it 2-2 in the 4th. Colorado took the lead 3-2 in the 5th and tacked on another run in the 6th, before the Brewers brought it back to 4-3 in the bottom of that inning.  A homer by Casey McGehee tied the game 4-4 in the 8th. The game went into extras and there was no more scoring until the Rockies took the lead in the 13th, 5-4. The Crew answered with a towering blast by Yuniesky Betancourt and it was back to even. The Rockies scratched their way back on top, 6-5 in the 14th, but then Fielder hit his booming 2-run, 422-footer to right and rewarded those Brewers fans who had stuck it out to the end by sending them home happy.

Prince watches his game winning home run at Miller Park against Colorado on May 20 (photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mark Hoffman)

Prince watches his game winning home run at Miller Park against Colorado on May 20 (photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mark Hoffman)

#9 – Brewers Fans Rock the Vote; Fielder Blast Rocks the AL in 2011 All-Star Game at Chase Field

For the first time in our 43-year history, three players, a homegrown trio–Ryan Braun (first-round Draft pick in 2005), Prince Fielder (first-round Draft pick in 2002) and Rickie Weeks (first-round Draft pick in 2003)–were elected to start the All-Star Game, making the Crew the only NL team with multiple starters.

Braun was elected for his fourth straight All-Star start, leading NL outfielders in balloting for the fourth straight season, and this time leading all NL players in votes. Fielder, a three-time All-Star, was elected to his second start and Weeks was elected to his very first All-Star Game.

Although Braun did not end up playing in the 2011 All-Star Game due to a calf strain, this was still a memorable achievement for the Crew and the Brewers fans whose voting paid off!

More memories and history were also made at the actual game itself as Fielder’s three-run home run in the fourth inning at Chase Field gave the National League the lead in the game and contributed in a big way to its 5-1 victory over the American League.

With that blast, Fielder became the first player in Brewers history to hit a home run in the All-Star Game and after the game, he was named the Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game, another first for our franchise.

#8 – Crew Turns Triple Play, Brewers vs. Dodgers, August 15

On Monday, August 15, four Brewers defenders combined on the sixth triple play in franchise history, a sensational play that bailed starter Randy Wolf out of a two-on, no-out jam in the second inning and aided in their 3-0 win over the Dodgers at Miller Park. The 4-6-3-2 triple play went like this: With Dodgers at first and second and nobody out in a scoreless game, James Loney hit a grounder up the middle. Josh Wilson  ranged to his right, gobbled up the baseball and flipped it with his glove to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the first out. Betancourt threw to Prince Fielder at first for out No. 2, and Fielder, seeing Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp trying to sneak home, fired to catcher George Kottaras for the inning-ending tag.

In other news, the Crew also turned four double plays in this defensive clinic of a game.

Yuniesky Betancourt turns a triple play in the 2nd inning on August 15. (Photo courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Benny Sieu)

Yuniesky Betancourt turns a triple play in the 2nd inning on August 15. (Photo courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Benny Sieu)

#7 – Doug Melvin Named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year

Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin was awarded the Baseball America Executive of the Year award for 2011.  Melvin and his staff worked hard to put a winner on the field and the bold moves that were made helped the Brewers to a National League Central Division Championship.

As anyone who works for Melvin would say, he is a treat. Very knowledgeable about the game and its many intricacies, Melvin is also a very kind and caring person. His success is well-deserved!

#6 – Ryan Braun Signs Contract Extension, April 21

On Thursday, April 21, Ryan Braun signed a $105 million, five-year contract extension adding to a seven-year deal he signed in May 2008, meaning that Braun will be a part of the Brewers franchise through 2020.

“I’m proud to be a Milwaukee Brewer, I really am,” Braun said on that historic day. “I’m going to be for the next 10 years. It’s an exciting day for me, my family, the organization. It’s like being part of a family.

“It’s truly special to me to come to work here every day, and I’m excited about being able to do that for the next 10 years. Thanks to the fans – that was the single biggest reason I wanted to stay here. To be in one of the smallest media markets in baseball and to have 3 million people to come watch us every year is incredibly special.

“The more time we spend in other cities, the more we recognize how special it is here. The fans are the single biggest factor. I’m excited, man, truly excited to be able to say I’m a Milwaukee Brewer from this point forward.”

Having Braun want to be the cornerstone of the Brewers franchise is a treat for Brewers fans. He truly enjoys playing here in Milwaukee and the fans will look forward to his play for many years to come.

#5 – Muhammad Ali Visits Brewers Spring Training Camp

This was a very special moment for the team at Spring Training. It was so neat to see the look in the eyes of Brewers players when Muhammad Ali entered the clubhouse. Being in the presence of such a powerful figure was inspiring to many of the players and staff members on hand that day. Although his health isn’t 100%, it was still amazing to see Ali in person, making for one of the most memorable days of 2011.

Ali with the Brewers team at Spring Training.

Ali with the Brewers team at Spring Training.

#4 – John Visits Fenway Park and Cait Presents/Club Wins SAMMY at the 2011 National Sports Forum

Since each fan has his or her own personal memories of 2011, we figured we should pick a moment that was unique to each of us this year, so here you have them: John’s visit to Fenway and Cait bringing home the SAMMY Award.

John: Prior to June, I had never been to Fenway Park in Boston. I made the weekend trip with the team and it definitely lived up to the hype. I enjoyed how they were able to transform a historic ballpark into the modern era while still keeping much of the historical foundation. I have heard many great stories about Fenway and I certainly was not disappointed. I try to visit one park I have never been to each year and was happy to cross this one off this list. I already have my new park picked out for 2012–Citi Field in New York!

John at Fenway Park

John at Fenway Park

The Green Monster

The Green Monster

Cait: I knew it was going to be a great year when the winning started in January at the National Sports Forum in Louisville, KY. As a Club, we were a finalist for the SAMMY Award (Sales, Advertising, Marketing or Management Idea of the Year) for a Season Seat Holder renewal campaign that had been particularly successful for us in 2010. Although we had been a finalist for the award for another campaign the previous year but had not won, and although I am not particularly fond of speaking in front of large groups of strangers, I was tasked with presenting our campaign at the conference and this time, we were triumphant. I was very proud to help bring home this award for our talented team.

With the SAMMY Award at the 2011 National Sports Forum (L-R: Senior Director of Marketing, Kathy Schwab; Senior Director of Ticket Sales, Billy Friess; Senior Manager of Advertising & Marketing, Caitlin Moyer)

#3 – Opening Day vs. Atlanta, April 4

Even though the Brewers fell to the Braves on this day, there is always something special about Opening Day. Everyone is excited, optimistic and energetic. Everything around the ballpark is fresh, clean and sparkling. From a working standpoint, there is a lot to get done. The rush up to Opening Day can be quite stressful filling in last minute details, but once the first pitch is thrown, we can relax and enjoy the game!

John with Ken Spindler and Mike Vassallo--the Media Relations crew--for our traditional Opening Day photo.

John with Ken Spindler and Mike Vassallo--the Media Relations crew--for our traditional Opening Day photo.

The Marketing Team on Opening Day (Back Row, L-R: Kathy Schwab, Jeff Harding, Kelly Candotti, Thad McGrew, Jim Bathey; Front Row, L-R: Molly Arndt, Diny Hurwitz, Caitlin Moyer)

#2 – Brewers Clinch the NL Central Division, September 23

The Brewers entered the game against the Marlins with a “Magic Number” of 2, meaning they not only needed to win, but also needed St. Louis to lose in order to clinch the division at Miller Park. The game was tied at 1 for much of the game, until Ryan Braun stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Cait: I was on-hand that night to help with a potential streamer launch if we were to win the game and St. Louis was to lose. I remember loading the cannons with the game still tied and making my way to my post, hoping against all hope that I’d get to shoot them that night. But the score of our game was tied and so was the Cubs-Cardinals game. The air was a little tense, and I will never forget leaning over to one of my co-workers and jokingly stage whispering, “Here’s where he hits the home run,” alluding to Ryan Braun’s heroic home run against the Cubs on the last day of the season in 2008 which sent us to the Postseason for then the first time in 26 years. And then he did it. Chills. I still get chills just thinking about it.

John: There was a special feeling in the ballpark that night. You just felt like it was our time to finish this off. Great crowd, Friday night, Yovani on the mound–it was all aligned for things to go our way. The game itself was kind of a blur. I know everyone remembers Braun’s home run, but remember Braun’s diving catch and laser-perfect throw to get Emilio Bonifacio out at first? To me that was the play of the game. It was a fantastic night and one I will never forget.

Nyjer Morgan, myself, Zack Minasian and Cory Melvin after the Brewers clinched the N.L. Central Division.

Nyjer Morgan, John, Zack Minasian and Cory Melvin after the Brewers clinched the NL Central Division.

The Crew went on to win 4-1 on that go-ahead, 3-run home run. Then, as if Braun’s blast wasn’t enough of a sense of déjà vu for the crowd of 44, 584, fans and players had to wait for the Cubs-Cardinals game to end in order to find out if they would clinch the division that night. In an ironic twist of fate, the packed house cheered loudly for the rival Cubs who had hit their own 3-run home run in the 8th and went on to prevail over the Cardinals 5-1 as confetti and streamers finally rained down from the rafters at Miller Park.

#1 – Game 5 of the NLDS, October 7

For those of you who were at Miller Park that Friday evening, you definitely understand why this would be #1. The excitement in the building was more than electric. The crowd was deafening. The sigh of relief let out by Brewers fans could be felt across the nation as Nyjer Morgan drove in Carlos Gomez for the game-winning run, sending the Crew to its first-ever National League Championship Series.

Here we are celebrating after Game 5 of the NLDS!

And…there you have it, our favorite moments of 2011. What are yours? Please feel free to debate in the comment field below.

Here’s to many more memorable moments in 2012!

- John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

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