Brewers will be in run mode again

Even after putting the brakes on some of the Brewers' aggressive baserunning late last season, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has not wavered in his belief that taking chances on the bases creates more benefit than harm.

Last call: Down to one Narron

Last Call is a spot for all the notes and anecdotes from Brewers camp that didn't find a home elsewhere on the site. Today, the Narron brothers.

Henderson on road to recovery

Unless Mother Nature has other ideas, Brewers reliever Jim Henderson will encounter a milestone on Sunday, when he is scheduled to face hitters for the first time since last year's right shoulder surgery. It's only live batting practice, but Henderson views it as a notable step in his comeback bid.

Family ties give Aramis good reason to end stellar career

While the Brewers weren't fully prepared for Ramirez's announcement that he plans to retire at the end of the season, they weren't shocked, either. It's clear the 36-year-old from the Dominican Republic is prepared to walk away no matter what happens in 2015.

When Fandom Springs a Leak

The Brewers' latest commitment to Francisco Rodriguez has by no means driven me off the cliff, but his incremental effect has me wondering about the nature of fandom.

Few things repel me more than a writer who scrawls from atop a moral pedestal---particularly in this medium, where armchair quarterbacking and red-faced, baseless spewing rides along AM frequencies and blog bandwidth throughout the sports talk world. Brewers fans are uniquely aware of this annoyance on account of the Ryan Braun debacle. Of course, a preface such as that is obnoxiously indicative of my own intention to engage in such rhetoric; nothing screams arrogance quite like, "Hey---I'm not racist/sexist/homophobic at all, but I must say, *insert frightening opinion here*."

Old yet new Brewer Francisco Rodriguez's picture splays across your screen just below the headline of this article. He is, no doubt, the inspiration for this commentary; but he is only one example of many athletes who have tested us in the recent past. Their condemnation has been done to death. My aim is not to preach morality or pass judgement here, but to assess their effect on fandom.

By now, most of us are well aware of Rodriguez's several belligerent off-the-field actions; most notably, the assault of his girlfriend's father in 2010 and the assault of his fiance in 2012. For those of you unfamiliar with the 2012 incident, the details are chilling (via Matt Snyder at CBSSports.com):

According to the police report, via Patch.com, police found Rodriguez's fiancee, a 23-year-old female, inside a closet and crying. She told the police he struck her on the head and her nose began to bleed immediately due to a history of physical violence against her.

She said she reached for a sweatshirt to stop the bleeding, and Rodriguez then grabbed her by the hair and threw her down to the ground, where he then allegedly repeatedly kicked her.

Later, police interviewed Rodriguez's maid, and she told them that this kind of behavior was "normal and known" for Rodriguez.

Two days later, Rodriguez's fiance changed her story. She cleared Rodriguez of all blame, and expressed her desire to return to her home country. The charges against Rodriguez were eventually dropped, as his fiance and the only other witness at the scene were in Venezuela, unresponsive to the prosecutor's attempts to bring the case to trial.

I do not know Francisco Rodriguez. I do know that the Francisco Rodriguez in the story above frightens me. However, I believe few souls are completely beyond repair. For all I know, Rodriguez has cleaned up his act. But, the most recent act is not in isolation---Rodriguez has exhibited a pattern of violence that cannot be ignored.

I will skip the macro sermon on the integrity of the game. We've all heard it. Ryan Braun helped to beat that dead horse. I want to attempt to refine my own perspective--to slip beneath the broad conversation and focus on cognitive dissonance concerning the nature of fandom in sport.

I have experienced a non-unique evolution as a Brewers fan. As a kid, Brewers players were heroes. They weren't even human beings. They were something else. Larger than life. The Brewers were absolutely awful when I was young. But, the fantasy persisted. I didn't care much for the pitchers (because they were all brutal), but I idolized some hitters: Jeromy Burnitz. John Jaha. Dave Nilsson. B.J. Surhoff. Kevin Seitzer. Fernando Vina.

Visiting players occasionally stirred my spirit. I recall sitting near the first base side foul pole at County Stadium when the Mariners were in town. Up in the nose bleeds, nearly eye level with the top of the pole. With the bases loaded, Ken Griffey Jr. launched a fly ball down the right field line, heading in our direction. The ball caromed off the foul pole directly in front of me, sending a booming clang echoing out among an awed audience, and a deep vibration up my spine. The grandiosity of that moment epitomizes my early quasi-spiritual relationship with the game. The baseball field was an idyllic playground. The players were, essentially, titanic, incomprehensibly talented children.

Delusions of grandeur trickled away as I grew older. I soon learned the players were humans. I learned that they did it for money. Social media sprung into existence. Exposure swiftly ripped away veils of anonymity, purging my naive mysticism for the game.

Soon enough, baseball players appeared no different to me than excellent computer programmers or air traffic controllers. Still in relative awe, but in a different way---awe in their near-superhuman excellence despite their being a human being. Somewhere along the line, I began to think of baseball players as human beings before baseball players. Because of this tendency, brushing off a Brewer's getting slapped with a DUI or a battery charge becomes a challenge, particularly when the offenses pile up.

Why is this a challenge? The uniform. The ball-and-glove logo on the cap. The name spread across the front of the jersey. If I identify as a Brewers fan, that player necessarily represents my team. Every fan's feeling of "representation" varies. As I've grown older, this feeling of representation has slowly disintegrated. Not only due to the nature of the team's players, of course, but simple questions, such as: Why do I determine my allegiances based on geography?Why do I continue to follow a team unconditionally, through constant personnel changes?; Why not just follow the team(s) with my favorite player(s)?

Many people are immune to such degeneration: Brewers fans, through and through. They're our guys. Regardless of off-the-field issues, if he plays well, and the team wins, nothing else matters. I envy that detachment, in a way. However, I find myself more and more often glossing over the jersey to the person who wears it.

But most often, the individual recedes into the background entirely. The game itself takes precedence. Nothing is lost there. I prefer the Brewers win, sure, but I find myself softening on that stance. On the fandom spectrum, I have shimmied away from the Brewers' end and toward baseball's. When the Brewers sign a pitcher that inspires me to root for the hitter, I shimmy quicker.

Francisco Rodriguez is not a person for whom I wish professional success, particularly in a vocation which has often had an influence in the incidents which haunt his past. The amateur psychoanalyst in me finds discomfort in encouraging him to indulge in a hyper-competitive activity that demands a determined will to dominate. Selfishly, my retroactive desire for serious formal discipline, such as suspension or banning from the league, burns far less than my desire for the Brewers' exercising of the choice to not employ him, sparing some of their fans persisting irritability. A choice is a statement. If the Brewers had made a different choice, I would more willingly pitch a tent in their camp.

The Brewers' front office doesn't seem to be too bothered. He assaulted his fiance as a Brewer in 2012. The Brewers re-signed him to a minor league deal in 2013. In 2014, the Brewers signed him again.

2015? Same story. This time, a two year deal. Two more years of awkward ninth innings---quietly hoping Francisco Rodriguez loses, and the Brewers win. To my discouragement, I find myself leaning ever so slightly more toward the former, and less toward the latter.

Last call: Nelson again scratched from live BP

For the second straight day, the Brewers scratched right-hander Jimmy Nelson from scheduled live batting practice because of a slight hamstring tweak.

After 2015 season, Aramis will call it a career

Shedding light on why he exercised his half of a mutual option with the Brewers in October rather than seek a multiyear contract in free agency, Aramis Ramirez said Friday that his 20th professional season will also be his last.

After 2015 season, Aramis will call it a career

Shedding light on why he exercised his half of a mutual option with the Brewers in October rather than seek a multiyear contract in free agency, Aramis Ramirez said Friday that his 20th professional season will also be his last.

BCB Community Prospect Rankings #5

Monte Harrison is your choice the Brewers No. 4 prospect. Over the weekend we'll vote on No. 5.

Hello and welcome to day five of our community prospect ranking project. Yesterday we held the vote for the Brewers Number 4 prospect. Your choice was Monte Harrison.

1. Orlando Arcia 11.
2. Tyrone Taylor 12.
3. Clint Coulter 13.
4. Monte Harrison 14.
5. 15.
6. 16.
7. 17.
8. 18.
9. 19.
10. 20.

We'll continue today with seven candidates for the Number 5 spot. I've added two pitchers from the 2011 draft to the poll: Taylor Jungmann and Jorge Lopez.

In an effort to not influence anyone, I'll be listing the prospects alphabetically by their last name. But first I have some prospect lists to link for you to check out if you want to find more information on each prospect. Let me know in the comments if there's a list I missed that you think is worth including.

Baseball Prospectus Top 10
Baseball America Top 10
Keith Law/ESPN Top 10
Minor League Ball Top 20
Miller Park Prospects Top 40

FanGraphs Top 200 (MLB)
Baseball America Top 100 (MLB)
ESPN Top 1-5051-100 (MLB)
MLB Pipeline Top 100 (MLB)

Taylor Jungmann

Position: Starting Pitcher, Age: 25, Ht: 6'6'', B/T: R/R, Acquired: 2011 Draft Rd 1-12th overall
Top level reached in 2014: AAA

2014 Stats
AA: Games: 9, Starts: 9, IP: 52.0, 20.9 K%, 6.8 BB%, 0.69 HR/9, .257 AVG, 1.29 WHIP, 2.77 ERA, 3.46 FIP
AAA: Games: 19, Starts: 18, IP: 23.1 K%, 10.6 BB%, 0.62 HR/9, .233 AVG, 1.32 WHIP, 3.98 ERA, 4.32 FIP

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus N/R
Baseball America N/R
Kieth Law/ESPN 12
Minor League Ball 5
Miller Park Prospects 8

Gilbert Lara

Position: Third Baseman, Age: 17, B/T: R/R, Acquired: International signing 2014
Top level reached in 2014: Did not play

2014 Stats
Not applicable

Highest ranking on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus 6
Baseball America 6
Kieth Law/ESPN 9
Minor League Ball 14
Miller Park Prospects 7

Jorge Lopez

Position: Starting Pitcher, Age: 22, Ht: 6'4'', B/T: R/R, Acquired: 2011 Draft Rd 2-70th overall
Top level reached in 2014: A+

2014 Stats
A+: Games: 25, Starts: 25, IP: 137.2, 20.4 K%, 7.9 BB%, 0.78 HR/9, .270 AVG, 1.38 WHIP, 4.58 ERA, 3.88 FIP

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus 7
Baseball America N/R
Kieth Law/ESPN 7
Minor League Ball 10
Miller Park Prospects 10

Kodi Medeiros

Position: Starting Pitcher, Age: 18, Ht: 6'2'', B/T: L/L, Acquired: 2014 Draft Rd 1-12th overall
Top level reached in 2014: Rookie League-Phoenix

2014 Stats
Rk: Games: 9, Starts: 4, IP: 17.1, 28.0 K%, 14.0 BB%, 1.02 HR/9, .304 AVG, 2.09 WHIP, 7.13 ERA, 4.94 FIP

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus 9
Baseball America N/R
Kieth Law/ESPN 13
Minor League Ball 9
Miller Park Prospects 6

Luis Sardinas

Position: SS, Age: 21, B/T: S/R, Acquired: Winter 2014 traded from Rangers (2009 int'l signee)
Top Level reached in 2014: MLB

2014 Stats
AA: 90 PA, 3.3 BB%, 13.3 K%, 253/278/333, 5 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 1 SB, .280 wOBA, 72 wRC+
AAA: 273 PA, 2.9 BB%, 14.3 K%, 290/310/374, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 1 HR, 9 SB, .305 wOBA, 76 wRC+
MLB: 125 PA, 4.0 BB%, 16.8 K%, 261/303/313, 6 Doubles, 0 Triples/HR, 5 SB, .279 wOBA, 70 wRC+

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus N/R
Baseball America 3
Kieth Law/ESPN N/R
Minor League Ball N/R
Miller Park Prospects N/R
Note: Sardinas was acquired after most prospect lists had been released. He also exceeded rookie limits which disqualified him from inclusion on some lists.

Devin Williams

Position: Starting Pitcher, Age: 20, Ht: 6'3'' B/T: R/R, Acquired: 2013 Draft Rd 2-54th overall
Top level reached in 2014: Rk-Helena

2014 Stats
Rk: Games: 15, Starts: 8, IP: 66.1, 23.2 K%, 7.0 BB%, 0.68 HR/9, .281 AVG, 1.42 WHIP, 4.48 ERA, 4.02 FIP

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus 3
Baseball America 9
Kieth Law/ESPN 3
Minor League Ball 6
Miller Park Prospects 5

Taylor Williams

Position: Starting Pitcher, Age: 23 Ht: 5'11'', B/T: R/R, Acquired: 2013 Draft Rd 4-122nd overall
Top level reached in 2014: A+

2014 Stats
A: Games: 22, Starts: 12, IP: 107 , 26.4 K%, 5.4 BB%, 0.34 HR/9, .197 AVG, 0.94 WHIP, 2.36 ERA, 2.69 FIP
A+: Games: 5, Starts: 5, IP: 25.1, 23.2 K%, 4.6 BB%, 1.42 HR/9 , .284 AVG, 1.34 WHIP, 4.26 ERA, 4.18 FIP

Highest rank on other lists:

Source Ranking
Baseball Prospectus 4
Baseball America 8
Kieth Law/ESPN N/R
Minor League Ball 7
Miller Park Prospects 9

Since it's the weekend, this poll closes at 10 am on Monday. So make sure you log your votes before then. I'll have the poll for #6 up at 10:01 am Monday morning.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs

Poll
Who is the Brewers No. 5 prospect?

  5 votes | Results

Brewers will look at all angles to find Ramirez’s replacement

Brewers officials weren't surprised Friday when Aramis Ramirez announced he intends to retire after this season. Club officials had already been thinking about who's on deck to play third base.