Tag Archives: Alcides Escobar

PECOTA Hitting

Posted by Steve

On to hitting projections. I’m doing my best to get this done before Opening Day, so here goes.

Rickie Weeks

.259/.359/.440, 16 HRs, 12 SBs, 2.0 WARP

While this is still a valuable player at second base, they have Weeks taking a big step back from his 4.6 WARP season of 2010. Most of it comes in the fact that he has an injury history, and they project him for 484 plate appearances compared to last year’s 754. Basically, what this is saying is that if Rickie’s healthy, he’ll produce–which he always has.

Carlos Gomez

.245/.293/.343, 5 HRs, 22 SBs, 0.1 WARP

Gross. Just gross. And Roenicke’s going to hit this joker second in the lineup. Gomez is what he is at age 25, and that is someone who swings at everything. His defense is very good, but his bat makes him nothing more than a backup outfielder, and that’s what he’s most likely to be for the rest of his career. A platoon with Nyjer Morgan is ideal at this point.

Ryan Braun

.303/.364/.531, 30 HRs, 16 SBs, 4.8 WARP

Finally, someone projected to improve upon last season. I think this is the first one between the pitcher and hitter projections so far. They pointed out his odd struggles against lefties last season after mashing them all of his career, and say it’s likely that it’s a small sample fluke. These projections aren’t really meant for guys like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder–you know those guys are going to hit.

Prince Fielder

.279/.394/.528, 36 HRs, 3 SBs, 3.9 WARP

Another player likely to improve. Fielder showed great discipline, drawing 114 walks last season, but his slugging percentage was just .471. It’s hard to believe Prince is still only 27. He’s had a great tenure in Milwaukee, and there should be no hard feelings when he takes a huge contract somewhere else. Before then, though, he’ll anchor the Brewers’ lineup for one more playoff push.

Casey McGehee

.280/.336/.437, 16 HRs, 1 SB, 1.7 WARP

McGehee continues to reward the Brewers for their waiver pickup in 2009. His defense was awful last season, but his bat still made him a solid starter. Here’s hoping being a full year removed from knee surgery has helped him get into good shape and that he’ll be able to move around better at third base. The Brewers need all the range they can get on the left side of the diamond with Yuniesky Betancourt playing shortstop.

Corey Hart

.277/.334/.473, 18 HRs, 14 SBs, 1.4 WARP

Hart is due for some regression, though hopefully not much, if he performs at a similar level. His BABIP was .324 last year, and while that isn’t astronomical, it’s much higher than his career norm. I’d love to see Hart take more walks, but at age 29, he is what he is. I should be fair and mention that Roenicke is probably only using Gomez in the second spot until Hart comes off the DL.

Yuniesky Betancourt

.263/.287/.378, 9 HRs, 5 SBs, -0.1 WARP

Ladies and gentlemen, your starting shortstop! That’s right friends, your starting shortstop is projected to be below replacement level. What a nightmare of a decision by the Brewers to hand him the job. Best case scenario is that he’s so bad early that the Brewers make a transaction to replace him as early in the season as possible.

Jonathan Lucroy

.264/.328/.384, 9 HRs, 2 SBs, 1.4 WARP

I’d certainly be pleased with this line from Lucroy in his sophomore season. Last year, he was .253/.300/.329, so that’s a big jump. BP points out that he had good on-base ability and double digit home run power in the minors, so they expect him to grow into a solid, everyday catcher. His defense has drawn rave reviews as well.

Nyjer Morgan

.274/.330/.353, 3 HRs, 34 SBs, 0.8 WARP

The vast majority of Morgan’s value comes through defense and baserunning, but he’s definitely an offensive upgrade to Carlos Gomez. I’m anxious to see how long until Gomez’s inability forces a strict platoon with Morgan. I’ll say by the end of May.

Mark Kotsay

.250/.308/.350, 4 HRs, 4 SBs, -0.9 WARP

Encouraging that we’re already on our second player on the 25 man roster that’s below replacement level. -0.9 is truly impressive. This is another terrible decision to have Kotsay over Joe Inglett, Brandon Boggs, or really, anyone else. Gotta love this excerpt from BP, which was written before he signed in Milwaukee: “Given Kotsay’s limited value at any position or at the plate, you can reasonably wonder where he’ll wash up, but places like Houston and Pittsburgh might suit him.” Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Kotsay!

George Kottaras

.233/.329/.400, 9 HRs, 1 SB, 0.8 WARP

There are good things about George Kottaras, especially when compared to most catchers. He has a great eye at the plate, and he’s got a bit of pop in his bat. Unfortunately, he hasn’t ever carried a high batting average. More unfortunately, his defense was horrific last season. Opponents stole on him at will, which led to him losing his job to Lucroy. Kottaras will get a shot at some starts while Lucroy is on the mend, and when Lucroy returns, he’s likely to be kept on as the backup catcher.

Jeremy Reed

Not even noteworthy enough to garner a projection by BP, but he is quite possibly the third man on the 25-man roster who will be below replacement level. His WARP was 0.0 last season.

Erick Almonte

Same story. A 33 year-old who has all of 100 days of major league service isn’t going to get a BP projection. Odds of Almonte, Reed, or Kotsay staying on the big league team all season are pretty low.

Other notables

Alcides Escobar

.271/.313/.370, 7 HRs, 24 SBs, 1.4 WARP

“Escobar was handed the Brewers’ shortstop job in spring training and ran with it, straight through a patch of poison ivy, off a cliff, and into a vat of liquid nitrogen.”

It’s worth noting that this projection sees a pretty substantial improvement in Escobar’s second full season, and that it’s much better than what they project for Yuni Betancourt. Escobar seems to be the biggest immediate loss of all the players they gave up.

Chris Dickerson

.256/.344/.388, 6 HRs, 1 SB, 0.5 WARP

The highest projected OBP by far out of the three of Dickerson, Gomez, and Morgan, and that’s the one the Brewers traded away for a league average at best reliever. Ugh.

Lorenzo Cain

.253/.318/.367, 6 HRs, 11 SBs, 0.4 WARP

While I think Lorenzo Cain will be a solid player, it’s nice to see the Brewers didn’t give up a projected star next season or anything. Cain had a very good debut with Milwaukee, but a lot of it was due to his unsustainable .370 BABIP.

————

Well, we’ve gone through pitching and hitting projections… So what’s the bottom line? The starting rotation should be pretty great, but you have to wonder about the defense and depth for the rest of the team. I wouldn’t call them the odds on favorite for the NL Central, but they’re one of them. As of February, BP had the Brewers projected for 85 wins. I’ll go out on a limb and say 87 wins, which will be within a game or so of Cincinnati either way. The Wildcard won’t come from the Central (should be either the Dodgers or Braves), so the Brewers will need to win the division to make the playoffs.

Should be an exciting season. Keep turnin’ up the heat.


Doug Melvin for GM of Everything Forever

Posted by Steve

“Mizuno gave me a samurai sword for winning the Cy Young. It’s awesome. … I’m going to hang it up and maybe start a collection. Not a gun collection, but a samurai sword collection. If you can do it. I don’t know if you’re allowed.”

-Zack Greinke, on letting his parents keep his Cy Young Award while he keeps the sword.

Wow. What a day.

I heard about the Greinke trade this morning, yet I’m just getting around to posting now because I was checking for updates and reading about it for much of the day. My immediate reaction was that of over-the-top excitement that bordered on embarrassing. After a day to let everything settle, I can say that I’m at least as excited about this deal as I was for the CC Sabathia trade. To be honest, this is likely to have a bigger impact baseball-wise than that deal.

Before I really get into this, I just want to say that I will once again be wearing my “Melvin: The Man, the Myth, the Mustache” t-shirt with pride once again. After the past couple seasons, I said that I at least wanted to see some creativity from Doug. No more free agent signings of over-the-hill pitchers as their main off-season move.

I think it’s fair to say he obliged.

“I feel like I’ve acquired a CC Sabathia except for two years and maybe longer. It feels good. It was a costly trade. We gave up a lot of good, young players. This is a credit to our scouting and player development people to have the kind of young players it takes to make a trade like this.”

Kudos to you, Doug. This was an incredible move.

I’ll see how much I cover here, because there’s A LOT to get through. First, I might as well talk about what the Brewers gave up.

SI’s Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite baseball journalists, called the players the Brewers gave up “interesting.” I think that’s a great way to describe them. Interesting, not great or sure things. No prospect in this group was elite. If I had to rank them in order of my disappointment in losing them, it would look like this:

1. Lorenzo Cain

Cain is number one for me because he is the most developed and therefore most ready to contribute right away. If there’s one thing I’ve concluded since I became a baseball nut, it’s that prospects are not worth nearly as much as proven big leaguers. Cain has proven himself in the minors, and he’s ready to get his shot as a starting center fielder. Losing Cain hurts the Brewers more in 2011 than any of the other three players they lost.

2. Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi probably had the highest ceiling of any Brewers pitching prospect. He has a good chance to be their best drafted starting pitcher since Yovani Gallardo. Yet, he is only 20 years old and hasn’t touched AA yet. There is still plenty left to do before he can become a good big league starter. The saying “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” comes to mind here, as it will take at least two seasons in all likelihood until he really contributes at the major league level.

3. Alcides Escobar

How his star has fallen in a year or two. If you visited this blog at all last season, you know I was not very high on Escobar. He was never a good hitter at any level of the minors, which is why I didn’t understand the rush to get him to the majors. All we heard about was his incredible defense, yet I was mostly underwhelmed by his glove last season–especially when compared to the steady glove of J.J. Hardy. It certainly wasn’t enough to make up for his terrible offense and poor plate discipline.

He’s still young, and he could certainly develop into a capable offensive shortstop. Still, the Brewers aren’t likely to get worse production in 2011 from the shortstop position than last season, no matter who they throw out there. It’s why I don’t mind losing him.

4. Jeremy Jeffress

I loved following Jeffress in the minors. Love his high k rates and his high velocity. I also felt he was the most ready to contribute to the Brewers next season out of all their prospects. Yet, most scouting reports I read on him have him eventually ending up in the bullpen because of the lack of a third effective pitch. No matter how much I like a pitcher, his value is severely lessened if he ends up in the bullpen.

I don’t mean to make it seem like I don’t think the Brewers paid very much. They gave up a lot. All four players are highly regarded, and three of them are likely to be big leaguers next season. Thing is, while all four of these players could end up as good major leaguers, none project to have anywhere near the value that Greinke has right now. In fact, none are even close to the level of prospect that Greinke was as a minor leaguer. This is very much a quantity for quality deal, and a general rule of thumb is that quality trumps quantity.

Going beyond a simple rule of thumb, this deal makes a ton of sense for the Brewers. Their hand for 2011 was forced by the lack of a decent trade market for Prince Fielder. Once they realized they weren’t likely to get a good return for Prince, they went into win-now mode. This was definitely reflected in the Marcum deal. You can argue that the farm system is gutted, that they may have given up good players, and that their defense is a mess. One thing you can’t argue, though, is that they suddenly have a great rotation to go along with a good offense.

I could look closely at the numbers to explain why Greinke is a huge addition, but I’m not really sure that’s necessary. It’s widely accepted that Greinke is on the very short list of the best starting pitchers in baseball, is only 27, and is under contract for two more years (with a possible extension looming?). Plus, I’m not really going to say much here that you can’t find in 20 other articles/posts that analyze Greinke’s impact. Instead, I’ll just add some of my own observations.

  • Greinke reminds me so much of my favorite Brewer ever, one Ben Sheets, that it’s crazy. They are/were awesome right handed starting pitchers with great stuff and command, but more specifically, they’re both funny people who are extremely quotable. Not to mention, I did a comparison of them a while back. Finally, Greinke’s most similar player through age 26 according to Baseball Reference is… You guessed it: Ben Sheets.
  • What is Ken Macha thinking right now? He must feel like he’s taken a swift kick to the groin. He was fired largely because the Brewers’ pitching was terrible, but that wasn’t his fault. Now as soon as he gets canned, this happens. On the other hand, congrats Ron Roenicke on turning the Brewers around! You know people will be saying it next year; you just know it.
  • The Brewers really gave up five pieces in this deal: the four players to get Greinke, and then having to take back Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt is gawdawful. Not only is his defense bad, but he has absolutely miserable plate discipline. He has a career on-base percentage of .288 and a career walk rate of… Brace yourself… 3.4 percent! The Brewers cannot allow Betancourt to be their main shortstop. I’d rather sign someone like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. I’d even prefer Craig Counsell over Betancourt, except Counsell can’t handle a full season at this point. They need to find another option at shortstop somewhow.
  • What about center field now that Cain is gone? It sure looks like a Dickerson/Gomez platoon. One idea: check in with Boston on Mike Cameron. They just signed Crawford and now have an outfield of Ellsbury, Crawford and Bay. Might as well check on shortstop Marco Scutaro, too.
  • Even though they’re downgrading at center field and shortstop, their production next season really can’t be much worse than what it was last season. Cain is a better option than Gomez for sure, but remember that Cain wasn’t up until the season had pretty much gotten away from the Brewers. In other words, most of their center field production came from Gomez. And even though Betancourt is a bad player, he and Escobar had an identical WAR of 0.6 last season.
  • Fun fact: the leader in WAR over the last two years is Zack Greinke with 14.7. The player with the worst WAR over the last two years? That’d be Yuniesky Betancourt with -1.2. In other words, you could say the Brewers acquired the best player and the worst player in baseball.
  • I’m still very concerned about the Brewers’ defense, in fact, probably even more than I was before this trade. Their infield defense in particular looks very bad. While its impact may be lessoned with more strikeout pitchers than last season, it’s still ugly. Doug’s signature move of the off-season is complete, but I’d still like to see him explore options to improve the club defensively. Maybe try dangling either McGehee or Gamel along with Betancourt (or heck, just DFA Betancourt) to see about a shortstop/bullpen/center field upgrade.
  • Even though it hurts to give up Jefress and Odorizzi, the Brewers suddenly don’t have as big of an immediate need for pitching. Their top four in their rotation is set for the next two seasons. Plus, they still have some young, cheap impact arms in the form of Zach Braddock, Mark Rogers, and John Axford.
  • The Brewers’ farm system may now be the worst in baseball, but they’ll have some chances to restock it soon. They have two first rounders next season due to the Dylan Covey fiasco, and they’ll have some comp picks when Fielder walks in a year (hopefully they won’t have additional comp picks from Rickie Weeks).

All things considered, this was a great day to be a Brewer fan. They went from a mediocre team to probably the division favorite in the span of a couple short weeks. The only downside to this is that we still have to wait more than three months for Opening Day.

Have the Brewers improved?

Posted by Steve

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted, but that’s partially because it’s been quite awhile since there’s been any Brewer-related news to discuss.  Since the Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins signings, the Brewers haven’t done too much.  Look for things to pick up in the next few weeks, as they’ll likely add another pitcher.  I’m hoping for John Smoltz but am expecting Jarrod Washburn or Doug Davis, which frankly doesn’t excite me–especially if it’s a two year deal.

Until something happens though, we need something to talk about, right?  I thought I’d take a look at whether the Brewers have actually improved this off-season.  It’s clear Randy Wolf is an upgrade over Braden Looper and therefore improves the pitching, but does that necessarily mean the team will be better?  If you recall, I thought entering last season the Brewers might stay afloat despite their loss of Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia because of a likely improvement of their offense.  That offense did improve quite a bit, but the pitching was simply too bad.

In 2010, the pitching will most likely be better, but I’m not sure it will be enough to overcome a likely decline in offensive production.

Using an admittedly simplistic method of comparing 2009 win shares of the key players leaving this season to the win shares of the players joining the team can give us a general idea of where the team currently stands in comparison to 2009.  I’m choosing to leave off bit players like Mike Rivera (deptarting) or Trent Oeltjen (arriving) because it’s unclear what role these players will play, or in some cases, who will fill the vacant position.  It’s unclear whether the backup catcher will be George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy or Angel Salome, for example.

WAR stands for win shares above replacement.  If a player has a WAR of 1.0, it means the formula finds his performance worth one more win than if a replacement level player filled the exact same role.  At the risk of going off on a tangent, replacement level is defined as the expected level of performance the average team can obtain if it needs to replace a starting player at minimal cost.  In other words, a replacement level player is a scrub–generally a player who spends his career bouncing from the majors to the minors.  Players have generally gone for about $4.25-$4.5 million per win on the open market, which is how Fangraphs calculates their dollar value amounts.  For example, Randy Wolf had a WAR of 3.0, which means (according to Fangraphs) he was “worth” $13.5 million in 2009.

Here’s the 2009 WAR of the players in question.

Departing Players

Mike Cameron: 4.3

J.J. Hardy: 1.4

Braden Looper: -0.9

Mark DiFelice: 0.4

Jason Kendall: 1.2

Total: 6.4 Wins


Arriving Players

Randy Wolf: 3.0 WAR

Carlos Gomez: 0.7 WAR

LaTroy Hawkins: 0.3

Gregg Zaun: 1.8

Total: 5.8 Wins


Now, before you go panicking that the Brewers aren’t any better, there are several things to consider here.  Simply taking all these players’ 2009 performances and translating them to 2010 doesn’t work.  Obviously, some will improve and some will decline.

The Brewers pick up a huge gain in going from Braden Looper, who was actually below replacement, to Randy Wolf (not-so-fun fact: The Brewers actually had two pitchers in their rotation who were below replacement level last year in Looper and Jeff Suppan).  Most, if not all of that gain is lost, however, in downgrading from Mike Cameron to Carlos Gomez.  The Brewers are banking seriously on improvement from Carlos Gomez if they’re willing to hand him the centerfield job, which seems to be the case.  Expecting some improvement from Gomez isn’t unreasonable, as he just turned 24.  Still, he’ll almost certainly be a far cry from Mike Cameron in terms of overall value.

There are other things to consider.  Alcides Escobar’s WAR needs to be considered, but it’s difficult to calculate with just his 2009 numbers.  Simply taking his 2009 WAR and extrapolating it over a full season wouldn’t be too accurate because his 134 plate appearances is such a small sample size with which to work.

I was also unsure what to do with the second base situation.  Felipe Lopez and Rickie Weeks combined for great production from that position.  Lopez is gone, and Weeks is returning from injury, so I wasn’t sure how to use that.

Fangraphs does allow its users to project seasons, so I thought I’d throw this out here for kicks.  These are how Fangraphs’ users (likely just a bunch of baseball geeks like myself, or even geekier) project those players’ performance in 2010.  I’ll add Lopez and Weeks in this version.  This is probably the result we should be more concerned with as far as whether the Crew has improved.

Departing Players

Mike Cameron: 3.6 Slight decline projected for Cameron; not unreasonable at his age

J.J. Hardy: 3.4 Pretty large rebound projected for Hardy, which doesn’t surprise me.

Braden Looper: 0.5 Nobody even bothered to project for poor Braden, but I figured it was reasonable to assume he’d be slightly better than the gawdawfulness of -0.9 he displayed last season, since he’d never been that bad before. I decided on 0.5.

Mark DiFelice: 0.4 DiFelice is unfortunately out for the year, so we’ll stick with his 2009 production, since it still needs to be replaced somehow.

Jason Kendall: 0.9 Fangraphs expects him to be even worse.  Oh Royals, what were you thinking?

Felipe Lopez: 2.6 Lopez’s WAR between Arizon and Milwaukee was an outstanding 4.6 last year, so they’re expecting a decline.

Total: 11.4 Wins


Arriving Players

Alcides Escobar: 2.4 I have to think the Brewers would be pleased with this production in Escobar’s rookie season.

Randy Wolf: 3.0 They expect a very similar year for Wolf.

LaTroy Hawkins: 0.3 Nobody bothered to project Hawkins either.  He’s been between 0.3 and 0.8 each of the last four seasons.  I’ll go with 0.3 to be safe.

Gregg Zaun: 1.4 Slight decline expected from Zaun, but still a pretty safe bet to out-produce Jason Kendall.

Carlos Gomez: 1.1 Another one without a WAR projection, but I’ll base this on Bill James’ projection.  James has Gomez improving a bit offensively, so I bumped him from .7 in 2009 to 1.1 in 2010.  As we know, Gomez’s value, if he’s going to have any, will come from his defense.

Rickie Weeks: 3.9 A pretty optimistic projection for Weeks, one that would require him to finally stay healthy all season in order to reach.

Total Wins: 12.1

At least that looks a little better.  Again, I’m not calling this anything close to foolproof.  It’s still thrown off by the fact that Lopez and Weeks split second base last season, and obviously these are simply projections.  Still, it seems like the changes they’ve made made don’t amount to much more than a wash.  It certainly changes if they add another starter and bump Jeff Suppan out of the rotation, but until then, the Brewers look like a .500-ish team again to me.  I’ll get into this more in the future, but while I figured the offense would improve from 2008 to 2009, it’s almost certain to decline this year.  Not just going from Mike Cameron to Carlos Gomez, but elsewhere too.  Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are likely to decline some–both had fantastic years that out-produced their projections.  Casey McGehee is likely to decline.  Rickie Weeks is likely not going to put up the numbers that the Weeks/Lopez platoon did last season.  Really, the only regular player with reasonable expectation for improvement is Corey Hart, and even he has become nearly impossible to figure out.

If the Brewers do add a starter, it’s probable that they’ll be an 80-85 win team at that point, which is talented enough to get into the playoffs if some luck goes your way.  Still, they’re very unlikely to unseat the Cardinals as the favorites entering the season.

Return of the Sha-wuuhhh?

Posted by Steve

My dad pulled off an incredibly cruel prank on me today.  Here’s how the phone conversation went:

D: So, did you hear the news about Ned Yost?

S: Did Houston actually hire him!?

D: Yep!

S: Oh my God!  That’s fantastic!  I don’t believe it!

D: A five-year contract!

S: WHAT!?!? (about ready to pass out)

D:  Nah, I’m just kiddin’.  He did have his interview today, though.

Boy, that will sure let the wind out of your sails.  Still, the fact that he’s actually being considered has me in a great mood.  Can you imagine having Ned Yost in the Brewers’ division?  I need to stop thinking about this to avoid getting my hopes up.

——–

If you watch any of the playoff games on TBS, pay attention to the strike zone they’ve been showing.  I guarantee there will be a minimum of ten missed ball/strike calls that were more than three inches off–in other words, not even borderline calls.  More likely, it will be 15-20 or more in a game.  In this technological age, how can this still be considered acceptable?  These people are the very best umpires in the world, and their ineptitude is front and center for the world to see.  When Phil Cuzzi can’t tell a fair ball from a foul one while standing 15 feet away, isn’t that proof that an improvement is needed?

The two main arguments against replay, or even an electronic strike zone, hold no water with me.

Adding replay would take more time and add to the length of the game.  Dan told me the other day that he watched someone argue this on ESPN as highlights of Jim Leyland arguing a call played in the background.  Hilarious.  Managers coming out to argue doesn’t slow down the game?  There’s a decent chance that adding this could actually cut down on game time when you consider that we wouldn’t need to watch mangers arguing for minutes at a time.  Put an official in the press box who’s assigned to replays and can immediately look at them, and it wouldn’t even be as much of an ordeal as home run calls currently are.

Umpires and human error are part of the game. Really?  Part of the game?  Ask any team who gets screwed by a bad call if they think it should be part of the game.  It’s been part of the game because, until recently, it was the best option available.  Now, an option exists that is more efficient than human umpires, but baseball refuses to use it.  As usual, the sport is behind the times.  Football has had an effective replay system for years, and it’s definitely improved the game.  Basketball uses instant replay.  Even tennis has a challenge replay system.  Yet here sit the old timers in control of baseball, resisting any sort of change from “back in the day.”

Are we really saying that having umpires and the element of human error is more important than getting calls right?  Because I’ll never be convinced of that.

——–

The Brewers writers at the Journal-Sentinel once again did their “player grades” at the end of the season, and once again I take exception to many of them.  Here are the ones I disagree with the most.

Jacon Kendall: C

C?  As in average?  Because Jason Kendall wasn’t even close to average, particularly on offense.  Comically, the writers admit that Kendall’s effectiveness at throwing out runners dropped dramatically, and that he has no power.  Yet his grade is held up by things that are completely intangible, such as his “toughness, leadership, the way he calls games and the way he handles himself behind the plate.”  Commence nausea.  I can’t believe how much people are willing to put up with a crappy player because of this garbage.

Braden Looper: C+

Oh goodness.  That’s above average.  Looper was decidedly below average.  He was actually bad.  His FIP was the worst in the Majors among qualified starters.  His strikeout rate was poor, and his home run rate was abysmal–also worst in the Majors (by far).  Literally the only good thing you can say about Braden Looper is that he stayed healthy all year.  Yet, even though they site his insane run support average of 8.97 runs per game, they still give him some credit for garnering 14 wins.

Rickie Weeks earns an INCOMPLETE, which I guess I understand, but then how can they give Alcides Escobar a B+?  Escobar had 134 plate appearances this year, while Weeks had 162.  Weeks was obviously far more productive… So how can Escobar receive a grade when Weeks did not?  What did Escobar do to deserve a B+?  Hit for a .701 OPS?  Weeks’ .857 OPS wasn’t worth grading, though.  Naturally.

Better yet, they concluded that Mat Gamel’s 148 plate appearances of .760 OPS was worth a C-.  Escobar got to play regularly, while Gamel would go days at a time without an appearance.  How does this add up?

Trevor Time and Macha… Malaise?

Posted by Steve

News!  One day after the season, and we already have 2010 news to talk about.

First things first.  The Crew put a nice cap on a disappointing season by sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis.  If that in any way has a negative effect on St. Louis as they head into the playoffs, I’m all for it.  In fact, I will say right now that if the Cardinals do not win the World Series, it will be because they ended the season on a low note–thanks to the Brewers.

An 80-82 record for 2009 stinks, but since I’ve been all about 2010 for the last two months, we can easily make it a good thing!  That record is in the bottom 15 of MLB teams, which means the Brewers can sign a Type A free agent and still keep their first round pick.  I don’t necessarily expect them to do so, but at least it’s an option.

Slipping through the cracks on this crazy Monday afternoon (apparently there’s some football game tonight?) may be the news that Trevor Hoffman has quickly re-signed with the Brewers for next season.  The deal is for $8 million, and Buster Olney reports that there is a mutual option for 2011.

Spending $8 million on someone who will soon be 42 years old is generally a good way to build a bad team, but Hoffman is definitely an exception.  Hoffman was fantastic this season: 1.83 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 3.43 strikeout to walk ratio.  At worst, he was one of the top 20 relief pitchers in the majors.

Hoffman is getting a raise from the $6 mil he made in 2009, and $8 mil for a closer is about the most I’m comfortable with.  He has a great track record, though, and has showed no sign of slowing down.  The Brewers have every reason to expect him to be a good closer again next season.

The other move I’d like to see get done quickly is the re-signing of Mike Cameron for another year.  Cameron made a comment a few weeks ago along the lines of being “willing to make sacrifices” to come back next season.  That certainly seems to mean a pay cut, or at least no pay raise.

There’s a sentiment that bringing back Hoffman and Cameron eats up money that should be spent on starting pitching, but I don’t agree with it.  These are productive players who are worth their salary.  There are other ways to trim the fat off the payroll and free up space to acquire pitching.  The Brewers should make the following moves:

  • Non-tender Seth McClung.  He was awful this year and will be set to make a couple million bucks next season.  No need to spend that on his 1.03 k/bb ratio.
  • Decline Braden Looper’s $6 million option.  Looper was bad this year–below replacement level, in fact.  His “production” should be replaced and improved upon by a newcomer.
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT RE-SIGN JASON KENDALL.  He was quite possibly the worst everyday player in baseball.  Seeing his $4.25 million salary come off the books is a beautiful sight to behold.  I’d much rather let Jonathan Lucroy, Angel Salome and Mike Rivera battle it out and split time.  It probably still won’t be very productive, but it can’t be any worse than what they had this season–and it will be cheap.  Plus, the Brewers are likely to have one black hole in their everyday lineup next year (Escobar), so they can’t afford to play both Escobar and Kendall.
  • Decline David Weathers’ $3.7 million option.  Weathers is no longer good.  His overall numbers this season are poor.  There’s no reason not to give some youngers guys a shot next year.  Someone like John Axford is likely to put up at least the 1.5-ish whip that Weathers brings, only he’ll do it for the league minimum.  I will miss his new nickname used in the BIS office, though:  Jeff Karstens’ dad.

I’m also pretty much resigned to the fact that the Brewers will probably be trading J.J. Hardy, which means at least $4.5 million more off the books (before the salaries of the player(s) they receive in return).

That’s roughly $20 million right there that can be trimmed without losing very much production.  I’d much rather save money there than save it by letting actual productive players (Hoffman and Cameron) walk.

Finally, we’re on to Ken Macha.  He is being brought back next season, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  Doug Melvin was not the driving force behind the firing of Ned Yost, and it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t want to fire a manager that he hand-picked one year ago.

I’m not crazy about the move, but I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world.  He’s certainly not as bad as Ned Yost.  What’s funny is Macha and Yost seem to be polar opposites in a lot of ways.  For the first two months of the season, I thought Macha did an outstanding job with bullpen management.  Meanwhile, “Ned Yost” and “outstanding bullpen management” have never been used in the same sentence until this one was created.

Yost’s strength was with a young team with no pressure to win.  He wasn’t bad when Fielder, Hart, Hardy, Weeks, etc. were all breaking into the big leagues and nobody expected the Brewers to win games.  He was protective of his players to the point of absurdity.  But when the team’s talent grew, Yost was in way over his head.

On the other hand, Macha has only managed winning teams until this season.  He isn’t afraid to criticize a player in the media, which is fine.  He never did anything over the top, and to be honest it was refreshing after listening to Yost say “Soup pitched great!” so many times in 2008.  Because he’s only had winning teams, I didn’t realize that he apparently hates playing young players.  His mishandling of Mat Gamel all season is embarrassing and completely inexcusable.  He abused Yovani Gallardo.  He wasn’t even crazy about playing Alcides Escobar full time when J.J. Hardy was in AAA.  He said Josh Butler would get a start.  Not only did he not give Butler a start; but Butler was sent home before the season even ended with only four major league innings under his belt.  That Craig Counsell continued to get starts in September was also an embarrassment.  Counsell had a good season, but you know what you have in him.  September is the time for non-contenders to get a better look at their young players, and Macha just refused to do that.

Here’s hoping the Brewers field a more talented team next year, because I’m guessing (okay, hoping) that Macha is more equipped for that type of team.

Say, this was fun.  I really enjoyed getting to use the Sha-wuuhhh?? tag again for nostalgia’s sake.

This could get ugly

Posted by Steve

There’s not much interesting going on with the Brewers right now, but the J.J. Hardy contract situation is quite an exception.  In just a few days (Sept. 1), Hardy will have lost the MLB service time he needed to become a free agent after the 2010 season.

Just to state the obvious quickly:

  • Unless the Brewers recall him before Sept. 1, Hardy will instead be under team control for two more years and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season.
  • If this happens, Hardy will most likely be very ticked off.

The Brewers have said that Hardy’s free agent status wasn’t a primary factor in sending him to the minors.  That’s at least somewhat believable, because Hardy’s poor offensive performance did in fact justify the demotion.  However, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think it will weigh heavily on their decision.

There has been speculation that Hardy’s agent, along with the players union, would cry foul on the Brewers if this was to happen.  I don’t mean to suck up to the team, but I don’t see a strong case against the Brewers.  This is not an instance like the Twins holding down Francisco Liriano while he was dominating AAA hitters because they wanted to delay his MLB service time.  Hardy is not dominating anything.  In fact, he’s not even staying above water.

In all likelihood, the Brewers hoped Hardy would go down to the minors for a couple weeks, relax and get his bat going.  If he had started hitting, they would have called him up by now and this wouldn’t even be an issue.  Problem is, he’s not still not hitting–not even in the minors.  Extremely small sample size acknowledged, but Hardy has hit .216/.259/.412 in Nashville.  How can anyone claim foul play on the Brewers when Hardy hasn’t earned his way back to Milwaukee?

The way I see it, the Brewers have two choices.  Neither one is all that appealing.

The first option would be to call him back up within the next day or two.  He hasn’t earned it, but at least they wouldn’t ruffle any feathers by messing with his free agency.  If they opted not to trade him, he could be brought back as the shortstop next season without any ill will.

The other option is to keep him in Nashville for the remainder of their season (Sept. 7).  Calling him up the day after his free agency is pushed back would be a low blow, and a painfully obvious one at that.  By keeping him there through the end of the AAA season, it sends the message that Hardy still hasn’t performed well enough to earn his MLB spot back.  It keeps the focus on his performance rather than his contract situation.

There still could be negative consequences to this option, even though it’s the one I advocate.  I don’t think Hardy would have a case because of how poorly he hit, but there could still be an issue with the player’s union.  Even assuming nothing comes of that, Hardy may still be pretty angry with the Brewers.  A worst case scenario could see him refusing to play in Milwaukee and demanding a trade.

Many probably disagree with me at this point, but I’d still like to see Hardy as the Brewers’ shortstop in 2010.  Escobar’s potential is apparent, but Hardy is still the better bet to be the better player next year.  My ideal situation is to let Escobar spend 2010 in AAA and make him hit his way up to the big leagues–something he hasn’t done yet.

This dicy situation may make that impossible, however.  If nothing else, it improves his trade value if a team knows they control him for two more years instead of one.  Unfortunately, Hardy’s poorly timed down year probably kickstarted his departure from Milwaukee earlier than everyone would have liked.

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EDIT!

Looks like I got this post in just before it was irrelevant, because MLB.com just reported the Brewers intend to leave Hardy in AAA past Sept. 1. I’m very curious to see how this plays out.

Sorting through “Black Wednesday”

Posted by Steve

Things sure hit the fan today.  You’ve probably heard by now, but just to recap, the Brewers made the following moves today.

DFA’d Bill Hall

Optioned J.J. Hardy to AAA Nashville

Called up Alcides Escobar

Called up Jason Bourgeois

Fired Bill Castro

Wow.  That’s a lot to compute, and to be honest, a lot to be angry about.

Hardy

Let’s start with the most shocking move, which has to be sending J.J. Hardy down to AAA.  Hardy has been a gigantic disappointment this year.  He had a great season last year, and he should be right in his physical prime, so this nosedive is perplexing.  Still, this move definitely caught me off guard.

A big wrinkle in this appears to be what this will do for Hardy’s service time.  It seems possible that by sending him to the minors now, he’d lose enough service time to delay his free agent year from 2010 to 2011.  If this move allows the Brewers to keep Hardy for two more year after this season rather than one, it’s a shrewd/dirty move depending on your perspective.  It would allow Hardy another year to rebuild his diminished trade value.

I personally think that if this is the motivation behind the move, it’s a smart play.  Hardy can only blame himself; if he hadn’t had such a poor 2009 he wouldn’t have been sent down.  Doug Melvin seemed to play dumb when asked about this situation, but of course it’s in his best interest to make this move seem entirely performance-based.  Hardy’s performance does justify the demotion, so I’m willing to buy that reasoning.

Escobar

A lot about calling up Alcides Escobar doesn’t sit well with me.  For one, he hasn’t shown he’s at all ready for the Majors.  What’s so special about a .762 OPS in AAA?  He’s only 22; why not make him actually earn his way onto the roster?  By doing this, you’re burning up two months of his service time.  Ironically, this is the same mistake they made with J.J. Hardy years ago.  Hardy was rushed to the big leagues, struggled mightily and is now set to hit free agency a year earlier than if he was kept in AAA.  Escobar at 29 is much more valuable than Escobar at 22.

The other aspect of this that bugs me is Ken Macha’s refusal to play young players.  He botched the Mat Gamel situation miserably, and he seems poised to do it again with Escobar.  Macha is already talking about using Escobar mainly against lefties.  How absurd.  Is Doug Melvin actually going to let this guy platoon each of their two top prospects for extended periods in the same season?  Top prospects need to be playing everyday somewhere.

Much of this Escobar/Hardy situation hinges on what is done for next season.  It is my firm belief that Escobar belongs in AAA to start next season.  He is just not ready to contribute offensively at the big league level.  Jose Reyes, a player many seem to hope Escobar can become, struggled mightily in the Majors early in his career when he should have been down in the minors.  Reyes wasn’t a good offensive player until his fourth season in the majors.  Elvis Andrus, another young shortstop Escobar is often compared to (both are great defenders with good speed), is also an example of a player who’s been rushed.  Andrus has a .685 OPS.  That’s terrible, and the Rangers are foolish for having him up in the majors this season.  I don’t want to see this happen with Escobar, especially if Hardy ends up getting his free agency delayed a year.  Hardy should be the Brewers’ shortstop next year.  As bad as he’s been, he still has had prolonged success at the Major League level and is therefore a much better bet than Escobar in 2010.  If Hardy’s traded, the Brewers need to find a stopgap.  Escobar is still the future, but he needs to earn his way into the starting spot.  It would be nice if he wasn’t an offensive black hole when he took over the shortstop job.

Hall

This really is just an ugly ending to a long, bad story.  This is one that I can’t blame the Brewers for at all.  Hall has been bad ever since signing his contract extension, and he’s actually gotten progressively worse each season.  He even stopped hitting lefties this year, which was his only redeeming quality outside of defense last season.  The Brewers are on the hook for quite a bit of money, but I can’t even blame them for giving Hall that contract.  At that time, he was coming off a great year, and even had a good year prior to that one.  There was no sign whatsoever of such a drastic collapse.  Just about every fan was thrilled when they signed Hall to that deal.  Heck, one of the first posts I ever made here was praising the extension.  Hall was one of my favorite Brewers, and his departure also means the end to my favorite Brewers cheer of all time: Eight Letters! Four Ls!

Castro

This move bugs me as much as anything else that happened today.  Bill Castro, an organizational soldier for the last 18 years, is fired before even completing his first season as pitching coach?  That’s deflecting blame and making Castro the scapegoat for the terrible pitching this year.  Is Castro the one who assembled a rotation featuring the Terrible Twosome of Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper?  Did Castro injure Dave Bush?  Castro was only able to work with what he was given, and what he was given this season was crap.  Castro was as responsible for the successes of pitchers over the years as any pitching coach the Brewers have had during the course of his 17 years as bullpen coach.  I understand that there’s no evidence that Castro has done a good job, but 17 years as a respected bullpen coach should earn him the chance to coach next year’s pitching staff with (hopefully) an upgrade in talent.

Again, this reminds me of the Yost firing from last year, minus the justification.  This seems more like a Mark Attanasio move than a Doug Melvin move.

These are some dark times in the Brewers organization.  Ken Macha is likely to be reevaluated after the season, and I’ve been disappointed with him continually since the end of May.  Abusing Gallardo and mismanaging Gamel are inexcusable.  I like Doug Melvin, but he deserves some blame for this season as well.  Most GMs aren’t allowed to hire a third manager.  I hope not, but I can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the Mustachioed Marvel.

Might as well talk about Roy Halladay

Posted by Steve

I don’t feel like saying much about yesterday’s game, except that if Seth McClung is still on the roster in a month I’ll be convinced that the Brewers aren’t interested in contending this year.  Instead, let’s go for something more exciting.

The trade deadline is suddenly just a couple weeks away, and talks of where Mega-Ace Roy Halladay might end up is the hot issue in baseball.  The Brewers are one of a handful of teams who have confirmed interest in Halladay.

This is interesting, because it conflicts with the reports a couple weeks ago that Doug Melvin considers Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel untouchable.  If that’s the case, the Brewers don’t have a shot at Halladay–any trade talks for Halladay will start with at least one of them.

This must mean that the Brewers are at least entertaining the idea of moving one or even both of their top two prospects.  Melvin changed his tune just a bit the other day, instead saying that they are “as close to untouchable as you can get.”  That implies that there could be exceptions to that rule.  That’s a good thing, because Halladay definitely qualifies as an exception.

When it was first revealed a few weeks ago that the Blue Jays would entertain offers for Halladay, I didn’t expect the Brewers to be involved.  The asking price is unquestionably sky high, and I assumed the Brewers wouldn’t be willing to meet it.

Naturally, the topic of Halladay came up a lot at work, and the more I talked about it, the more I started to come around to the idea of meeting that price.

There are definitely good reasons to keep their top guys.  Gamel should be the full time third baseman by next season, and despite his unimpressive numbers so far, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from him both offensively and defensively.  Escobar would likely be the shortstop by 2011 at the latest, and possibly by next season if the team decides to move J.J. Hardy before then.  That’s two players who profile as above average starters who’d be under team control for six years each.  Obviously, that’s a very valuable asset.

There are also very good reasons for giving up a lot for Halladay, though.  We saw firsthand how much acquiring an ace can tip the scales in a playoff race.  Halladay is actually a better pitcher than CC Sabathia (not that anyone should be expected to match what CC did in Milwaukee last year, but Halladay is the better pitcher overall).  The key here, though, is that Halladay is not a rental pitcher.  He’s under contract for next season as well.  Acquiring Halladay would be as much about 2010 as it would be about this year.  That extra year of service adds a ton of value, and it’s why the Jays can (and should) expect a lot more than what the Brewers gave up for Sabathia last season.

The key is Alcides Escobar.  I see no way of acquiring Halladay without trading Escobar.  The Blue Jays are looking for a long-term solution at short, and from what I’ve read, they love Escobar.  I personally am not crazy about giving up both Gamel and Escobar for Halladay, but I’m not convinced the Brewers would need to.  With my usual disclaimer that I generally don’t make a lot of trade proposals, here’s what I’ve come up with for Halladay.

Brewers receive Roy Halladay

Blue Jays receive SS Alcides Escobar, 2B Brett Lawrie, SP Wily Peralta

That’s pretty much as high as I’d be willing to go.  That’s the number 1 (Escobar), 3 (Lawrie) and probably 10 or so (Peralta) prospects in the Brewers’ system.  Escobar’s praises are well known, and Lawrie was the team’s first round pick just last year, so obviously that’s a big package in itself.  Peralta is a 20 year old pitcher who’s throwing very well this year, though he’s only in A ball.

That may not be completely ideal for Toronto, as they reportedly want more pitching, but I don’t believe many teams could top that offer.  One may be the Phillies, who I see as the favorite to get Halladay if he is even traded this year.  Although Escobar is a higher rated prospect than anyone in their system, they have higher level pitching than the Brewers.  An offer of SPs Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Drabek along with OF Dominic Brown would probably top my offer, as both Carrasco and Drabek are pretty close to the majors.  I also think the Phillies are more willing to part with their top prospects than the Brewers since they’re more of a playoff team at this point.

I’ll also throw out another off the wall idea as long as we’re shooting for the moon.  If the Blue Jays didn’t take that offer, I’d take that same offer to Arizona for Dan Haren.  I see no reason for Arizona to be shopping Haren, as he’s under control long-term and I don’t think the Diamondbacks think they’ll be bad team for the next few years.  Yet, Ken Rosenthal reported a few weeks ago that Arizona might be willing to trade Haren if they received an “overwhelming” offer.  Is this offer overwhelming?  I guess I’m not sure.  It’s certainly more than what they sent to the A’s to acquire him a couple years ago, but with as good as he’s been, it might not be.

Giving up Escobar+ for an ace like Halladay or Haren would be mortgaging the future quite a bit, but it greatly increases the odds of a championship this season and next.  The Brewers would instantly become the favorites in the NL Central this year, and they’d once again be able to go for broke next season with the base of Braun, Fielder, Hardy, and Gallardo still intact.

Starting Rotation: Pretty much an emergency

Posted by Steve

Before I get started, I want to say that I used my best judgment and ultimately decided to end the tarnation streak at three.  I could have gone with something like, “What in tarnation is wrong with the starting rotation?” or “What in tarnation can the Brewers get in the trade market?” but it just felt forced.  Nothing kills a joke like overuse, so I decided to tuck away the tarnation tag until it truly fits.

I’m feeling one of those cheezy radio commercials here that are played during a game.  You know, the ones that try to relate something like banking, truck driving or insurance to baseball.

In baseball, you should never make a trade just to make a trade.  The same goes for blogging!  Don’t use a tarnation tag just to use a tarnation tag.  Before using a tarnation tag, be sure it adds to the enjoyment of the post.  For more information, call the Digger’s Hotline.

Anyway.  Things have been pretty ugly as of late.  One of the more active threads on BF right now is discussing whether the Brewers should be sellers at the deadline.  That’s jumping the gun in my opinion, but something will need to be done before long if the Brewers are going to make a serious run for the playoffs.

I’ve said I felt the offense would improve to the point of making up for the drop in pitching from last season.  So far, the offense has been good but not great–fourth in the NL in with 4.77 runs per game compared to seventh (4.63 runs per game) last season.  That won’t be enough to overcome for the poor pitching.

I didn’t expect the starting pitching to be very good as a whole to begin with, but it’s been even worse than expected.  They’ve had one good start in the last eight games.  Yo’s last start was good, but I’ve made light of his recent struggles.  I’m also getting concerned about his heavy workload.  Bush and Looper have been very hittable lately (and Bush’s arm fatigue wrinkles things even further).  As amazing as it sounds, the only pitcher pitching up to his capability over the last month is none other than Jeff Suppan.  What’s worse is the struggles of the rotation is taking a toll on the bullpen, which was stellar over the first two months.

Things wouldn’t be so dire if it wasn’t for Manny Parra.  He’s really screwed the pooch.  Dan went over why Parra is probably set to bounce back at some point, but the fact of the matter is it’s a very poorly timed implosion on his part.

Before the season, I assumed that in order to make the playoffs, the Brewers would need to bring in another solid starting pitcher to improve the rotation–at least a number three-type starter.  I still feel this way.  The problem is, quality starting pitching is not as abundant as it was around last season’s trade deadline.

Injuries have taken a toll on the trade market.  Jake Peavy was probably a lock to be traded somewhere (already was but vetoed the trade to the White Sox), but his foot injury may have him sidelined past the trade deadline.  This was a bit of a relief to me, because there was plenty of chatter that the Brewers were in talks with San Diego to acquire Peavy.  I was all ready to write an anti-Peavy post, but his injury made the point moot.  In a nutshell, my reasons against Peavy were mainly his hefty contract, but also his decline in numbers, drop in his velocity and moving out of a friendly pitcher’s park.

Roy Halladay, a phenomenal pitcher, was recently put on the DL–to be fair, he was only an outside shot to be traded this year anyway.  Erik Bedard is another good pitcher who could be traded but recently went on the DL.

Matt Cain was a popular trade target for some fans, but the Giants are hanging around so far and won’t deal him if they’re still in contention for a wildcard spot around the deadline.

Complicating the matter is the Brewers have told teams that Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar are untouchable.  That means you can cross off guys like Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cain anyway.

I’m ready to make a pitch for my number one trade target.  Before I say who, keep in mind there is no CC Sabathia readily available this year.  There isn’t even a Rich Harden.  The best pitcher who could be available is Cliff Lee, but he’s under contract for next year; therefore Cleveland is likely to ask for a ton.  I’m not even sure they’ll trade him, because they might want to keep him to make a run next season.  To find a match, you need to identify the best pitcher likely to be available that won’t require either Gamel or Escobar.  In my mind, that pitcher is Erik Bedard.

Bedard had been a good to great pitcher in each of the last five seasons.  He’s having an outstanding 2009 so far: 65 2/3 innigs, 2.47 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 65 strikeouts and 22 walks.  So far this season, he’s been an ace.

So why, then, would the Brewers be able to acquire him without giving up Gamel or Escobar?  Here’s why.

1) Bedard is injury prone.  He only threw 81 innings last season.  He’s currently on the DL with “shoulder fatigue,” which is never a good sign.  I wouldn’t even be discussing him, but an MRI revealed no structural damage and the plan as of now is to have him back in the rotation before too long.  If that ends up not happening, this entire point is moot and I’ll have to live with the fact that I wasted 20 minutes typing about an Erik Bedard trade.

2) He’s not a workhorse.  He will in absolutely no way come close to what Sabathia did last year.  And I’m not referring to performance, as nobody should be expected to put up the numbers CC did last year, but I’m referring to innings pitched.  Sabathia consistently went deep into the game, and made several starts on three days’ rest.  Bedard won’t do either of those things.  He has one, count em, one complete game in his entire career.  He’s generally a six inning pitcher, which is almost exactly what he’s averaged per start this season.  Not that that’s bad, but coupled with his injury history, it lowers his price to trade suitors.

3) Here’s the big one: he’s a free agent at the end of this year.  Therefore, it would be another rental situation.  The Brewers gave up a top 100 prospect in Matt LaPorta for a rental last year, but that was for a Hall of Fame-talent pitcher.  There’s no way they’d give up Gamel or Escobar to rent Bedard, nor would the Mariners expect them to.

A Mariners-Brewers trade is also logical because Jack Z is Seattle’s GM now, and he’s obviously extremely familiar with the Brewers’ system.  I’m sure there’s plenty of players in Milwaukee’s system that he’d love to add.

If Bedard doesn’t work out, there are some lesser pitchers who could be available.  Another free agent-to-be the Mariners have is Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season in years.  His stuff isn’t as good as Bedard’s, but he’s more durable and therefore less of a risk.  He actually probably wouldn’t even be that much cheaper than Bedard, and I’d be just about as pleased to get him.

Same goes for Randy Johnson.  The Brewers could get him without giving up Gamel or Escobar, but as I mentioned with Matt Cain, the Giants won’t trade him as long as they’re playing fairly well.

Another decent-yet-unexciting pickup could be our old friend Doug Davis.  He’s another guy in a contract year.

Any of these players I mentioned are better than most of the guys in the Brewers’ starting rotation right now.  The ideal pickup would be someone who’s better than everyone besides Gallardo, but there just aren’t many fits for reasons discussed above.  Regardless, the Brewers should be able to right the ship if they can add a solid pitcher.  If Manny Parra can get his head on straight as well, they’d be back in good shape.

Oh, and I’m still giving this the What in tarnation?!@ category even though it’s not in the title because I discussed why it wasn’t getting the What in tarnation?!@ category.  Wrap your mind around that one.

The Fanboy Curse

Posted by Steve

I’m becoming convinced that something about me is dangerous.  Like any Brewer fan, I like most of the players.  There are, however, some who I like a lot more than most fans.  For years my favorite player has been Ben Sheets, who has to be one of the unluckiest players in the game.  For the last several years he has been plagued by some of the most obscure ailments: a herniated disc, vestibular neuritis, a torn lat, blisters, a groin strain, an inflamed finger ligament.  Finally the big blow came in the form of shoulder surgery.  Through all of that I stood up for Sheets when those ailments clouded the fact that whenever he was healthy he was elite.

If you’ve been here before, you know another player I like a lot more than most is Rickie Weeks.  Weeks has had his struggles ever since the Brewers rushed him to the majors, both offensively and defensively.  I stood by his potential and stayed patient, always feeling he’d become a good player.  Over the years he has battled wrist and thumb injuries.  A few weeks ago he was hit in the face with a 94 mph fastball.  Yesterday, he injured his wrist again.  There is still no word on the severity of the injury, but he already left St. Louis to get it checked out.  If this is serious, it’s incredibly frustrating.  He was on his way to a very good season; he even had a decent shot at the All-Star Game if he kept it up.  I’m still hoping this was precautionary, but a 15-day DL stint at minimum seems likely.  I don’t see why they’d have immediately sent him to get it checked if it wasn’t at least that serious.

If I was Mark DiFelice, I’d stay away from cutlery, lawn mowers, ovens, salad tongs, etc. as much as possible.

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Speaking of DiFelice, word is starting to get out around the Major Leagues.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has a great article on DiFelice out today.  His quote is my favorite part:

“There’s something to say for how slow I throw,” DiFelice said. “Guys hate hitting against me, because they wonder if I’m going to throw anything else, if I’ve got something up my sleeve. Nope. Sorry.”

Love it!  I also love the exchange with Edinson Volquez.

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We had GamelWatch, but there is no need for EscobarWatch for the Brewers’ supposed top prospect.  Escobar is off to a very slow start at AAA, with an OPS of .677.  This reiterates how foolish it would have been to trade Hardy and hand the shortstop position to Escobar without having him earn it first.  Escobar would have been an automatic out in the lineup (i.e. Jason Kendall at best) if he was in Milwaukee to start the year.  He’s still young, and Hardy is still under contract through next season, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving Escobar at least a full season in AAA.

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Might as well at least mention that the first place Brewers are absolutely on fire, huh?  A sweep of St. Louis tonight would be outstanding.  Ever since their whining last year about the Brewers’ having the audacity to untuck their jerseys after a win, beating the guardians of baseball etiquette has been at least as enjoyable as beating the Cubs.  The self-proclaimed “best fans in baseball” who can’t even sell out a Saturday game against the team they share first place with need to get over themselves.  It was suggested at brewerfan that Brian and Bill untuck their shirts for the postgame today if the Brewers win.  I wholeheartedly support this.  Let’s make it two sweeps in a row!

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I should know better than to even look at PECOTA’s playoff odds at this point after the Brewers’ collapses the last few years, but I simply can’t help myself.  Currently PECOTA gives the Crew a 58.6 % chance at making the playoffs, compared to 62% for the Cubs.  I believe they only gave the Brewers around a 25% chance at the start of the season, but they are currently projecting 93 wins.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that at this point.