Today’s travel day hasn’t been a busy one for Brewers fans, but there are a few minor stories from the last few days that I thought were worth covering:
— Manny Parra, who hasn’t pitched since July 24th with shoulder trouble, could be back soon. The left-hander threw a simulated game on Wednesday and is expected to travel with the team for the upcoming road trip. Ron Roenicke was tight-lipped as to when Parra will be back in games, but all indications are that it will be soon, especially judging by Roenicke’s indication that a rehab assignment won’t be necessary.
Parra was pitching very well prior to getting hurt (save for an ugly outing immediately prior to getting shut down, Parra had rolled off nine straight scoreless appearances), but he is only a small piece of a bullpen puzzle that needs a lot more help than a good, yet inconsistent middle reliever can provide. His return will, however, help ameliorate the current roster crunch: Parra has still been taking up a roster spot during his injury.
— By now, you all should know not to be shocked when a pitcher you have never heard of puts together a couple good high-leverage innings, but Jim Henderson is a very, very cool story. The 29-year old reliever, who has spent the last nine years of his life clinging (sometimes barely) to the exciting job of a veteran minor-league reliever, has parlayed a good minor-league season, seven effective innings in the majors, and a complete implosion of the pitchers around him into a spot on the Brewers’ closer commitee. If you’re going to read one article besides this one today, make it this account of Henderson finally getting the call to the majors (h/t to JP Breen for tweeting out that link first).
As amazing as two consecutive successful saves may seem to fans of the 2012 Brewers, Henderson shouldn’t be declared the bullpen’s savior just yet. Every single reliever in the majors is capable of putting together the string of outings Henderson has had in his brief big-league stint, and his minor-league numbers suggest a pitcher that isn’t quite back-of-the-bullpen material. At this point, though, there’s no harm in giving Henderson a chance to fail in the majors. In case you forgot, when this line of thinking was applied to John Axford, it worked fairly well for about a year-and-a-half.
— Yuniesky Betancourt, the starting shortstop for last year’s division-winning club, was designated for assignment by the Royals. In 57 games this year, he was hitting .228/.256/.400, which is actually better, according to OPS, than the .252/.271/.381 line he put up in 2011. However, the list of good things to say about his season pretty much ends there: Betancourt has played all of one game at shortstop this year, defensive metrics haven’t even liked his work at second base, and numerous questions about his effort have been raised, most of which seem completely plausible.
Right now, it’s not clear if any team will take a flyer on Betancourt or if the Royals will have no option but to release him. Up to this point in his career, though, some team, like the 2011 Brewers or 2012 Royals, has always been sufficiently misguided, optimistic, or desperate to subject themselves to this:
(GIF courtesy of the brave folks at Notgraphs, who risk life and limb every day for the noble purpose of providing illicit animated photos for the use of blogs the world over.)