I think we've officially ridden this series about as far as it can go. Today is the 29th installment of what opened as the MVBrewer series. Here are the others, if you missed them:
Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Chris Narveson and Francisco Rodriguez.
Other Valuable Brewers: Kameron Loe, Jerry Hairston Jr., LaTroy Hawkins, Marco Estrada, George Kottaras, Yuniesky Betancourt and Takashi Saito.
Lesser Brewers: Tim Dillard, Craig Counsell, Mark Kotsay, Taylor Green, Zach Braddock, Casey McGehee and Mat Gamel.
So now it's time for us to take a quick look at who's left before we close the door.
When the Brewers claimed Wilson off waivers in May, I thought they had gotten me a replacement for Yuniesky Betancourt for my birthday. Wilson, however, was never really given an opportunity as a full time starter and made less than 100 plate appearances despite being with the team for most of four full months.
Wilson's 2011 highlight might have been July 16-17, when he made back-to-back starts at short and picked up two multi-hit games, his only two as a Brewer. Yuniesky Betancourt was back in the lineup the next day and Wilson didn't make another start at short all season. He signed a minor league deal with the Braves this winter.
After losing nearly the entire 2010 season due to injury, Schafer bounced back and had a really good minor league season in 2011 (.315/.385/.439 over three levels) to earn his first cup of coffee in the majors.
Schafer made his major league debut and scored his first run on September 2, and picked up his only major league hit to date on September 18. He turned 25 in September and probably has an outside chance to make the Brewers out of spring training in 2012.
Despite having developed a reputation as a defense-only catcher, Maldonado put up a good offensive season in the minors in 2011 (.287/.373/.436 between AA and AAA) and earned a callup to serve as the team's third catcher in September.
Serving as an emergency backstop means spending a lot of time sitting: Maldonado made just three September appearances and got one PA, a strikeout. But the Puerto Rico native is still only 25 and likely to be the Brewer backup backstop in 2012 if something happens to Jonathan Lucroy or George Kottaras.
Kintzler made a major league Opening Day roster for the first time in 2011, but his stay with the team was brief. After appearing in just nine games in April and May he was shut down with what was initially diagnosed as triceps tendonitis, and later underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right forearm.
Kintzler picked up his first major league win on April 18. This fall he made four appearances in the Arizona Fall League, and is expected to rejoin the team in spring training.
Actually, the fact that Mike McClendon is still here is something of a surprise. He was pretty good in nine appearances as a reliever with the Brewers (mostly in May), but was sent down in June and never returned to the big club, while others were consistently called up in his place. This led to speculation that he was destined to be one of the PTBNLs in the Francisco Rodriguez trade, as it seemed like the only logical explanation for keeping down a guy with a 2.86 ERA in a small major league sample size.
At any rate, the speculation was wrong and McClendon, who struck out 7.4 batters per nine and posted a 3.53 ERA in 38 relief appearances for Nashville this season, should be back with the team next spring.
Frankie De La Cruz
De La Cruz (whose real first name is Eulogio) was one of the callups that led to us wondering about McClendon. He was added to the 40 man roster and called up in September to work primarily in mop-up duty, but performed pretty well in that role. He pitched 13 innings over eleven appearances for the Brewers and allowed multiple runs just one time. He also did not allow a single home run, becoming just the 17th pitcher in Brewer history to throw 13 or more innings in a season without allowing a long ball.
According to Brewerfan.net, FDLC is out of options. He'll either need to make the roster next spring or be exposed to waivers.
There's no pitcher anywhere in the Brewer organization that had a bigger breakout season in 2011 than Michael Fiers. In just his second full pro season Fiers posted a 1.86 ERA over 126 innings between Huntsville and Nashville, striking out 132 batters. By doing so he won the minor league ERA title and earned a late September callup to the Brewers.
Fiers only appeared in two games in Milwaukee, allowing no runs on two hits and three walks over two innings. With that said, he'd probably be a candidate to start the 2012 season in the rotation under different circumstances.
Fiers is already 26 years old, but it'll be interesting to see how the Brewers use him in 2012.
Thanks for playing:
Danny Ray Herrera