07/24/2003 9:05 PM ET
Brewers notes: A flurry of moves
Legends Uecker and Dalton receive honors
MILWAUKEE -- In a flurry of minor league transactions with long-term consequences, the Brewers tabbed another rookie for the starting rotation, promoted one of their best minor league pitchers to Triple-A and added their No. 1 prospect to the crop of hopefuls at Double-A.
The Triple-A Indianapolis Indians removed right-hander Wes Obermueller from their list of probable pitchers, and the Brewers were expected to tab the 26-year-old hurler to start Friday's game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Southern League strikeout leader Luis Martinez was promoted from Double-A Huntsville to Indianapolis, where he took Obermueller's starting spot at Richmond on Thursday night.
Brewers 2002 Minor League Player of the Year Brad Nelson, ranked by a number of publications as the organization's No. 1 prospect, was promoted from Advanced Single-A High Desert to Huntsville. Brewers director of player development Reid Nichols said the team hopes to get Nelson into this year's Arizona Fall League.
In other moves, infielder Richard Paz also earned a promotion from Huntsville to Indianapolis to fill a spot vacated by Bill Hall, who was promoted to Milwaukee earlier this week. Right-handed pitcher Dave Nolasco moved from High Desert to Huntsville to fill Martinez's spot, and outfielder Daryl Clark was demoted from Huntsville to High Desert to make way for Nelson.
Obermueller will have the most immediate impact. He came to the Brewers earlier this month along with Double-A infielder Alejandro Machado from Kansas City for veteran reliever Curtis Leskanic. Obermueller, who was 0-2 at Indianapolis in three starts, made two Major League starts for the Royals last September.
The Brewers needed a starter after rookie left-hander Matt Ford was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left elbow.
Martinez, 23, was 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA and a league-best 116 strikeouts for first-half Southern League champion Huntsville. Martinez was Milwaukee's Minor League Pitcher of the Month in April after he went 3-1 with a 0.31 ERA in five starts. He started the season with 21 scoreless innings before giving up an unearned run in his fourth start.
"It got to the point where the Major League level was looking for pitching, and his name came up more than once," Nichols said. "My thinking was that if we're talking about getting him to the big leagues we might as well get him to Triple-A."
Nelson's promotion was perhaps the biggest surprise. He played in 40 games at High Desert, batting .315 with nine doubles, one homer and 16 runs batted in but was disabled from April 12-June 14 with a wrist injury.
By promoting him now, the Brewers rescued Nelson from a tough situation at High Desert. The club has endured changes in the coaching staff and the roster, and entered play Thursday 7-25 in the second half and 32-70 overall.
"I'd like to see Brad in a better atmosphere than that," Nichols said. "When you play on a winning team, you come to the ballpark talking about baseball, not about what your plans are for the winter."
The move also gives Nelson a better chance at a roster spot with the Maryvale Saguaros, an entry in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Each organization is only allowed one player with fewer than 30 days of service in Double-A or higher, so moving Nelson now opens opportunities for a younger player.
Nelson began playing the outfield at High Desert, and will see action at Huntsville as an outfielder and designated hitter and will split playing time with incumbent first baseman Brandon Gemoll. The Stars infield is a who's who of Brewers prospects: third baseman Corey Hart, shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Machado.
"They have gelled," Nichols said. "We knew going in that we had some pretty good players at Huntsville."
Night of Fame: The stands at Helfaer Field, the youth facility outside Miller Park, were packed an hour and a half before Thursday's Brewers-Astros game for a ceremony honoring 2003 Brewers Walk of Fame inductees Bob Uecker and Harry Dalton.
Uecker, the longtime Brewers radio voice, will be in Cooperstown, N.Y. this weekend to accept the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dalton, the Brewers general manager from 1978-1991, made a rare Milwaukee appearance. The Brewers had nine winning seasons in Dalton's 14-year tenure and he presided over the Brewers' only two trips to the postseason. He was the 1982 Executive of the Year and the Brewers won Baseball America Organization of the Year honors in three straight seasons from 1985-1987.
"I guess I knew we did all those things, but it didn't seem like it at the time," said Dalton. "We were just coming to work wanting to win."
Dalton gave manager Ned Yost his first shot as a big leaguer, and Yost said of Dalton, "You always knew who was holding the hammer, and that was Harry."
"The type of players [Dalton] got were important," said former Brewers slugger Larry Hisle. "They weren't players that had good statistics; when you took the field you knew our sole purpose was to win. He assembled a wonderful, wonderful team.
"It's still difficult for me to believe that we went from 95 losses to 93 wins, especially in that division [the American League East] with the Yankees, Baltimore and Boston. Those teams were as good as any in baseball."
Bullpen in flux: Since he suffered a blown save July 13 and lost the closer's job, Mike DeJean has struck out eight in four scoreless one-inning stints of middle relief. Valerio De Los Santos suffered a blown save Wednesday night, but DeJean is not about to demand his job back.
"Ned Yost calls the shots around here and I am not clucking to anybody in this organization because they have been doing it longer than I have," DeJean said, referring to the Brewers manager. "I just pitch whenever they ask me to pitch and hopefully do my job and keep going.
"I'm not going to say, 'I'm the closer,' because I've never felt like that. I felt like I put myself in position to do the job and I went through a bad stretch there. ... Yeah, of course I want to get back in that position, but I'm not going to stand up on a podium and beat my chest and say I'm the man. That's just not my style."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com