You know it is the Monday after the World Series, because baseball roster activity goes through the roof. Today is certainly no different, as 8 members of the 2011 Brewers officially declared for Free Agency this morning. Among those gentlemen; Francisco Rodriguez, Yuniesky Betancourt, LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Jerry Hairston Jr., Craig Counsell, Mark Kotsay, and of course Prince Fielder.
K-Rod was not surprising because we knew the morning after the trade to acquire him that the Brewers would make no attempt to retain his services. A little more surprising is the Brewers buying out the option on Yuniesky Betancourt. While I do no think this necessarily means the end of the Brewers road for Betancourt, it certainly makes things more difficult. This off-season will have a very thin amount of options at Shortstop, so Betancourt could become a “hot commodity”, if you can believe that. The Brewers collectively paid out $6 million dollars to let Rodriguez and Betancourt walk, which sounds like alot until you consider that it would have cost $23.5 million to keep them both for 2012.
Just a few days after clearing a spot for him on the 40-man roster, the Brewers optioned Mitch Stetter down to Triple-A to continue his recovery from a hip injury. However, by optioning Stetter, the Brewers have opened the door for him to declare free-agency as well. This move is confusing to me because they could have kept someone like Mark DeFelice on the 40-man roster, instead of sending him down as well. Clearly the Brewers have something in mind for that currently open roster spot.
In crazy news, Tony LaRussa retired today. While I thought this would make me happy, it doesn’t. It is going to be much harder for me personally to hate the Cardinals with him out of the picture. That aside, he was one of the greatest skippers in the history of baseball and at least he got to leave on his won terms. I have always felt like leaving on top would be the most gratifying way to end a career, LaRussa and I may have something in common.
The Brewers gave out team awards this morning. No surprise here, Ryan Braun was named team MVP for 2011. In a similar lack of surprise, John Axford was named Most Valuable Pitcher. Gallardo had been the winner of this award the past two years, but there was no question who the best pitcher on this team was in 2011. Nyjer Morgan won the “Newcomer” award, which was a little surprising too me, but it was pretty unanimous, so that just goes to show what I know. Jonathan Lucroy was named “Unsung Hero” for 2011 and LaTroy Hawkins won the “Good Guy” award. This years all seemed to be much more obvious than last year (which is probably why McGehee was team MVP last year).
On one final note, our friend John Axford attending the American Mustache Institutes “Stache Bash 2011” on Friday night. John won the 2011 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award. Since John is our pal, and frequent RtB contributor Shawn Anderson is a member of the AMI, this was really great to hear about. Although, I was a little displeased to hear about the uproar that John’s Canadian heritage incited. Follow the link to read more about this prestigious award. Congrats John!! RtB is beyond excited for you.