Tag Archives: Craig Counsell

Aoki, K-Rod, and others

Posted by Steve

It’s been quite a while since the last post, but that’s really because there has been virtually no Brewers news to discuss. Then all of a sudden, today we were hit with rapid-fire Brewers news.

How about an off-season Cornucopia of Thoughts?

K-Rod
I was pleasantly surprised that he agreed to a base salary of $8 million. I was expecting at least 11. At 8 mil, the Brewers no longer need to trade him. Or if they want to he’ll be easier to trade. My guess is they end up keeping him, because their bullpen is fairly weak without him. I can’t say I’m excited to watch him pitch, though.

Aoki
A possible fallout of the K-Rod deal might very well have been that the Brewers could now afford to sign Norichika Aoki, although I’m guessing this would have happened anyway. Since I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that Braun will be out 50 games, I’m happy about this signing (with the caveat that the yet-to-be-revealed salary isn’t insane). Hopefully he will be a competent fill-in for Braun for those 50 games. If nothing else, he will be a nice improvement on defense. In fact, when Hart is playing first on occasion (as Melvin recent admitted he’s planning for), an outfield of Aoki-Gomez-Morgan will be fantastic defensively. Even though two of those guys can’t throw, that outfield will rival Arizona’s or any other as one of the best in baseball because of all the ground they’ll cover. When you consider the Brewers have Alex Gonzalez over Yuni and Aoki over Kotsay, you might come to the conclusion that the defense this year could be much improved.

Mainly though, I’m just hoping Aoki can get on base at a pretty nice clip. The Brewers sorely need some OBP guys with Gomez/Morgan, Gonzalez, and Jonathan Lucroy in the everyday lineup.

Other signings
The Brewers have agreed to terms with Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan on one year deals to avoid arbitration in recent days. When I was projecting the budget, I thought guys like Parra and Loe might be non-tendered. It sure seems like the Brewers will have a larger payroll than I expected; they’ll be pushing $100 million. Pretty crazy considering they were around $40 mil when Mark Attanasio took over the team.

Ryan Braun
This thing is sure dragging out. As I said earlier, I am fully expecting Braun to be out for the first 50 games. I have no idea whether he’s innocent (nobody really does), but my guess is he might be able to save some face in the public eye, but will fall short of overturning his suspension. MLB doesn’t care about intent, so whether there was intent to use a drug as a performance enhancer or not doesn’t really matter.

Craig Counsell
Craig Counsell is joining the Brewers’ front office as a special assistant to the GM. Most everyone seems excited that Counsell is staying in the organization. That’s fine, I guess, but wow is this one of those things that justifies my decision to abandon my pursuit of a job in baseball. Some of my friends have been in Baseball Ops for over five years, are really good at what they do, and are still going year-to-year on low-paying internships. Meanwhile, Craiggers waltzes into a nice cushy job with no front office experience. I’d be much more annoyed if I was still trying to make it, I suppose.

Cardinals 2, Ron Roenicke 1

Posted by Steve

It’s funny how, despite a massive division lead, poorly managed games can get me fired up as though this was still a tight race. I should be going to bed, but I just got home from the game and I have to get this off my chest.

That ninth inning was as mismanaged as it can get. After Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee each had great at-bats to draw walks, Runnin’ Ron took matters into his own hands.

This is a run expectancy matrix. It shows that bunting is the wrong move; the average runs scored is higher with runners on first and second and nobody out than it is with second and third with one out.

Even though it’s the wrong move, I suppose in a vacuum I can give him a pass, because most managers make that move (which is why it drives me nuts that managers are allowed to widely make the wrong strategical moves, but I digress). This was not in a vacuum, however, because the runner at second base was Prince Fielder. The guy bunting at the plate was Yuniesky Betancourt, who apparently has never tried to bunt in his entire life. When you combine a slow runner with a clueless bunter, it makes that decision a colossally stupid one.

I’m not just saying this in hindsight, either. I was in disbelief that Roenicke was even allowing Betancourt to hit with both Mark Kotsay and Taylor Green available (my brother wisely pointed out that I shouldn’t be surprised, because Roenicke hasn’t benched Yuni yet, so why would he now?).

The right move would have been to let one of the lefties hit for Betancourt and let them swing away. Salas had just walked a batter and looked very shaky… And he has Betancourt bunt right away? How stupid. And how poorly executed by the worst starting player in baseball, who apparently cannot play badly enough to get benched no matter how hard he tries. And if RRR was so intent on bunting, why not use Counsell instead? It’s all baffling.

Really the only possible good thing to come out of this game is if Betancourt has to go on the DL. Seriously, how can a major league baseball player not know to not wrap his hand around the bat when bunting!? That is literally the first thing you’re taught as a kid when you’re learning to bunt. Hoping for injury sounds harsh, but the baffling Brewer braintrust (alliteration!) has shown us that injury is the only way to get this poor player out of the lineup.

This game was virtually meaningless in the grand scheme, as the Brewers are 99.9% for the playoffs according to BP. But it illustrates a great concern about their manager’s poor in-game strategy that could really hurt them in the playoffs.

 

 

Infield Emergency

Posted by Steve

I was at the game Wednesday night, so I saw Rickie Weeks’ injury live. I couldn’t even get excited about the game or the win after seeing that. Then I went to a friend’s, where MLB Network was on in the background. They showed the injury. Then they showed it again. Then they showed in from a different, zoomed-in angle. Then, they took to their in-studio diamond where Larry Bowa was apparently showing the right way to step on a base or something. In other words, it was inescapable, and it kept reminding me how doomed the Brewers might be.

Unless something significant happens, that injury may spell the end of the Brewers’ season. The need for infield depth just became an emergency.

The Brewers quickly added Felipe Lopez today in a cash trade, who has the potential to be a decent fill-in. They still need more, though–much more. Eric Farris sure won’t be the answer. More on this after my rant.

<rant>

What on God’s Green Earth does Taylor Green have to do to get called up? At the time of Farris’ call-up, Green had an .957 OPS. Farris’ was .665. What in tarnation?!

There are a few explanations for this, and they’re all dumb. The first is a nightmare scenario: that Green is on the PTBNL list for the K-Rod trade. If that’s the case, I go from liking the deal to hating it. Bullpen help was a ways down the list of the Brewers’ biggest needs, so if they gave up someone who could have helped more than K-Rod this year (and the next six!), I’ll be furious.

Another scenario is that the Brewers dont’ see Green as a second baseman, which Ron Roenicke said today. To that I say: NOW they’re worried about infield defense? They already have the worst infield defense in baseball. Weeks is not a great defender, so even though Green’s natural position is third, it’s worth it to get his bat in the lineup. The offense is a serious concern moving forward without Weeks.

The final scenario is that Green is not on the 40-man roster, so they called up Farris, who was. Again, who cares? Green will be on the 40-man soon enough anyway. He’s their best option at third in the entire organization for the last few months, yet they’re worried about finding a spot on the 40-man. Unreal.

By the way, in case you were wondering how Green responded to once again being snubbed out of a call-up, he had two homers, two walks, a single and a double in last night’s game. It is beyond absurd that he isn’t in Milwaukee at this point.

</rant>

Anywho. Lopez is likely the best option of the ugly, four-headed monster of Craig Counsell/Josh Wilson/Felipe Lopez/Eric Farris, so I’d just as soon give him the majority of starts at second base. But he won’t be nearly enough. They absolutely need one more middle infielder, and really could use two.

They still need a full-time shortstop, and I’m still holding out hope on someone like Clint Barmes, Brendan Ryan, Rafael Furcal, etc. Then, after that, they need a utility infielder who can back up at least 2B/3B, and preferably a SS/2B/3B backup. Barmes and Carroll is ideal, though that will be tough to do and is unlikely.

All I know is the Brewers’ infield needs to look drastically different on Monday than it does right now if I’m going to feel good about their chances to make the playoffs. If I had my druthers (+1), Betancourt, Farris, and one of Wilson/Counsell would be gone by next week.

Doug Melvin will do something, but I’m expecting to be underwhelmed. He’s in a very tough position, but everything he’s said and done to this point in his acceptance of Betancourt and McGehee tells me that he doesn’t see the situation as nearly as dire as it truly is.

Cornucopia of Vents

Posted by Steve

There is so much to say about the Brewers right now, and none of it is good.

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Braun’s calf strain really has Roenicke in a bind, so I won’t complain too much about the lineups the last couple games. But the ineptitude of the bench has been highlighted, and that is certainly something open to fair criticism. Craig Counsell, Josh Wilson, and Mark Kotsay each have no business on an MLB roster–Counsell and Kotsay because age has caught up with them, and Wilson because he just isn’t good. Kotsay in particular needs to hit the road, as there are multiple options in AAA who would be an improvement.

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Casey McGehee is absolutely killing the team. He followed up a very bad May (.593 OPS) with a woeful June (.422(!) OPS). According to WAR, he’s been the seventh-most damaging player in baseball to this point. At the very least, he needs to be platooned for a while with Taylor Green (or I guess Mat Gamel, but Green’s the better defender). Preferably, though, I’d like to see McGehee sent to AAA for a few weeks to see if he can figure anything out. He can’t be allowed to hurt the team like this any longer.

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Zack Greinke is having the most baffling, bizarre, frustrating season of any pitcher in baseball. That isn’t hyperbole. He’s inspired three fangraphs articles already this season, and the most recent one is fascinating.

To summarize, his xFIP is 3.51 runs lower than his ERA! Since 2002, The biggest gap between xFIP and ERA since 2002 is 1.88! Greinke has been about twice as unlucky as the most unlucky pitcher in the last nine years! Just unbelievable.

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Want to hear an infuriating stat?

This season, Kameron Loe has faced 87 right-handers and 86 left-handers.

For someone whose splits clearly prove he’s a right-handed specialist, Loe is being used terribly.

Roenicke is just as inept as Ned Yost when it comes to bullpen management. The “eight inning guy” thing is moronic. He has four solid pitchers who can effectively bridge the gap to Axford when used correctly, but Runnin’ Ron has shown no ability to do that. Braddock, Saito, and Hawkins can all be high-leverage guys, as can Loe when it’s against right-handers. RRR needs to look at Loe’s splits and chuck out his eighth inning guy theory.

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Yuniesky Betancourt has been on a bit of a run here the last handful of games. He has raised his OBP to .261, which is sort of like saying you upgraded from Roundy’s brand toilet paper to Scott’s single-ply.

What hasn’t upgraded is his defense. Fangraphs has Betancourt as the worst qualified shortstop defensively.

Q: What do you get when you combine the second-worst OBP at shortstop with the worst defense at shortstop?

A: The worst full time player in Brewers history!

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Really, the only good thing to discuss is that the Brewers have three All-Star starters, but there is even some frustration there. John Axford was a pretty bad snub from the All-Star Game. Bruce Bochy chose Brian Wilson over Axford. While awesome, Wilson has been pretty bad this season. And you know Bochy will use him as a closer. Can’t wait to see him walk a couple guys and blow a save in the game.

And then there’s Rickie Weeks. I’m thrilled to finally see him get the recognition he’s deserved for a couple years now. It’s cool that he’ll get the exposure of the home run derby. It’s just unfortunate that it’s coinciding with a terrible (yet under-the-radar) slump. Weeks is really struggling, and his numbers have plummeted over the last 3-4 weeks.

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It seems the All-Star Break can’t come soon enough for the Crew. Hopefully at that point, Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke will realize both the bench and bullpen management need a major overhaul.

Let’s go down to Nashville

Posted by Steve

As well as the Brewers are playing, they have some areas that could certainly be shored up. The bench is terrible. Wil Nieves might be the worst player in the majors. They could use another dependable relief pitcher. Conveniently, pretty much all of that can be improved upon from within the organization.

The Brewers have some players performing very well in AAA. Let’s look at who could, and probably should, be up in Milwaukee.

Mark DiFelice

I’ve been driving the DiFelice Bus for weeks now, and he continues to impress: 19.2 innings, 22 strikeouts, 4 walks (one intentional), two home runs, and a 0.9 WHIP. He sure seems to be the same guy he was before his injury/surgery.

The tough part there is deciding who he’d replace. Nobody’s pitching particularly poorly. My choice is a bit unconventional, but I’d send down Marco Estrada. Not because he’s been bad or anything, but because I think he has more value to the Brewers as a sixth starter than as a fourth or fifth reliever. Call up DiFelice, let him do his thing, and let Estrada get stretched back out for when he’s inevitably needed to make some starts in Milwaukee again.

Taylor Green or Mat Gamel

There’s may only be room for one of them, but for both of these guys to be in Milwaukee while the likes of Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Casey McGehee and Josh Wilson (although I guess he’s wait-and-see with the strangely good start he’s had) sop up at-bats in Milwaukee is ludicrous.

Green is 24 years old without much left to prove in the minor leagues. He’s ready to be an MLB bench player right now. Green is hitting .277/.361/.484 in AAA. Not world-beating, but nice numbers. He plays third and second, and he’d be a clear upgrade defensively from McGehee. McGehee is beyond struggling right now; he’s completely useless. Platooning him with a left-handed hitting Green is too obvious. Plus, McGehee’s big-time struggles are resulting in more Craig Counsell ABs, which is just no longer a good thing–he’s cooked.

If Green doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors, Gamel has proven all there is to prove and more. He’s hitting .306/.383/.517 so far in AAA. His career OPS in AAA is .873, which covers four seasons and 937 plate appearances.

I realize the Brewers are playing him at first to replace Fielder, but he can’t possibly be any worse than McGehee at third even with defense factored in. I’d even be willing to bet Gamel would be a defensive upgrade at this point–McGehee has been that bad defensively. Plus, with interleague games coming up, the Brewers need another solid bat available.

The Brewers need to realize they’re in a pennant race, and make sacrifices accordingly. It makes no sense to go all in on this season by trading a boatload of prospects for Greinke and Marcum, and then not field the best bench possible. Gamel is no longer some young prospect who needs to play every day and develop. He’s 25, and more than likely a finished product. He can manage part-time duty in MLB. Same with Green, who’s 24.

Caleb Gindl

If they aren’t going to call up Gamel, at least call up Caleb Gindl and ship out Mark Kotsay. Gindl is a better defensive outfielder at this point (definitely could handle CF in a pinch better than Kotsay), and is sure to be an upgrade over Kotsay and his .306 slugging percentage. Gindl isn’t setting the world on fire, but his .280/.368/.420 line in AAA translates into a solid enough fifth outfielder–something Kotsay is not.

George Kottaras

It was a baffling move when they sent Kottaras down in favor of Wil Nieves, and it looks even worse today. Nieves is the proud owner of a sparkling .400 (!!!) OPS (Here’s a fun fact: Ten MLB players have on-base percentages higher than Wil Nieves’ OPS).

Meanwhile, George Kottaras is blistering AAA pitching to the tune of a .930 OPS. Their reasoning for Nieves over Kottaras was defense, but Nieves has not looked anything close to impressive defensively. Why not just take the vastly superior offensive player? It makes no sense.

So if you’re counting at home, here are the moves I’d like to see:

  • DFA Nieves, call up Kottaras
  • Send down Estrada, return him to a starting role, and call up DiFelice
  • DFA Kotsay, call up Gamel (Or Gindl, if you’re so insistent on keeping Gamel at 1B in Nashville all year)
  • Call up Green. Corresponding move I could go either way on: either send Wilson down to AAA, or DFA Counsell. I love CC, but he’s pretty clearly done.
These moves would make the Brewers a better team than they are today–perhaps by a significant margin.

 

Edmonds trade

Posted by Steve

It may have come later than expected, but we finally have a trade to analyze. The Brewers dealt Jim Edmonds to the Reds for outfielder Chris Dickerson.

Edmonds was the most likely player to be traded out of any Brewer this season. He was on a one-year deal and performed well in a platoon role. At 40 years old, it makes sense to send him to a contender rather than have him (possibly) finish up his career on a bad team. Plus, the Brewers are thankfully committing to playing Lorenzo Cain in center for the rest of the season. There was no reason for them to play Edmonds over Cain at this point.

As far as the trade itself, I’m very pleased with the return. I don’t see how anyone couldn’t be impressed by it, actually. They turned a non-roster Spring Training invite into a Major League outfielder with four remaining years of team control. I’m very surprised the Reds gave up a major-league ready player; I assumed the Brewers would have to take a flyer on some low-level prospect. Dickerson is a talented outfielder who plays all three outfield positions well. He’s a defensive upgrade to Ryan Braun and Corey Hart, and he’s an offensive upgrade to Carlos Gomez. He doesn’t have a ton of pop in his bat, but in parts of three seasons, Dickerson has a .367 on-base percentage. His ability to get on base could allow the Brewers to move Rickie Weeks down in the lineup to a run-producing spot after Prince Fielder is dealt this off-season.

A few random thoughts on this deal: It’s interesting to note that the Brewers seem to have gotten a better return for a 40-year old Jim Edmonds than they did for J.J. Hardy last year. I also chuckle at the thought of Dusty Baker considering Dickerson expendable because he doesn’t value walks. Finally, this trade reminds me very much of the one for Jody Gerut last season. Gerut could have been described in the same way as Dickerson: an outfielder with on-base skills but not much power who can play all three outfield positions. Gerut, to my surprise, has not worked out–I’m guessing his time in Milwaukee has run out. I expect Dickerson to have more success.

This gives the Brewers plenty of options for next season. I’d like to see Lorenzo Cain given every opportunity to be the full time center fielder. Unlike Alcides Escobar or Carlos Gomez, Cain has actually earned that opportunity by hitting in the minors. Gomez has a minor league option left; he should be sent to AAA to play full time. Maybe he’ll actually hit. If not, let him go or just settle on him as a fifth outfielder. An outfield of Braun, Hart, Cain, Dickerson, and Gomez sounds good to me. Dickerson can spell any of the three starters against tough righties. He would also be a good candidate for a semi-regular platoon outfielder should the Brewers choose to move Hart or even Braun to first base.

As far as remaining waiver deals, I would not be surprised to see Craig Counsell traded soon. Like Edmonds, at his advanced age, Counsell has no purpose on a team that’s going nowhere. He has value to a contending team as a utility infielder, and the Brewers should get whatever they can for him.

Yesss… Everything is going according to plan *Evil laughter*

Posted by Steve

At the end of 2009, I made a post about what I’d like to see from the Brewers this off-season.  To summarize, the four main things I wanted to see off the bat were:  Seth McClung non-tendered, Braden Looper’s option declined, Jason Kendall not re-signed, and David Weathers’ option declined.  Lo and behold, here we sit on December 18, and all of these things have occurred.  H-yeah!

Really the only thing that happened that I wasn’t hoping for was the Hardy-Gomez swap, and losing Cameron in the process.  But that deal also saved quite a bit of money which has been/will be used to upgrade the pitching staff.

Craig Counsell was signed for $2 million, an absolute bargain for a great utility infielder.  You can’t expect his offense to be quite as good as 2009, but then again, it was the first time he ditched that crazy batting stance, so expecting something close isn’t unreasonable.  Counsell has been a great value for the Brewers.  He’s outperformed his contract each of the last three years.  Fangraphs had him worth $12.7 million last season!  With Weeks coming back from serious injury and Escobar being thrown to the wolves, Counsell will provide much needed depth.

I still fully expect the Brewers to add at least one more starter to bump Jeff Suppan out of the rotation, but that probably won’t happen until at least mid-January.  Doug Melvin will probably let the market play out and see what value is there as Spring Training approaches, whether that’s through a trade or free agency.

Changing course here.  Making things even better is today’s  trade by our lovable losers to the south, the Cubs.  They traded Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva.  Carlos Silva!  It sounds like the Cubs are getting some cash back in the deal, but that really is beside the point.  They were so desperate to get rid of Bradley that they were willing to take on a player with basically no value.

Bradley’s WAR

2009: 1.0

2008: 4.5

2007: 2.4

Silva’s WAR

2009: -0.1

2008: 1.5

2007: 3.3

They traded Bradley for one of the worst contracts in the game, who also happened to have negative value last season.  How great is that?  They backed themselves into a corner so badly that they would have rather taken on a near worthless pitcher than give Bradley a chance to rebound!  Better yet, one of the guys rumored to be a candidate to replace Bradley is none other than Scott Podsednik.  If the Cubs replace Rich Harden with Carlos Silva and Milton Bradley with Scott Podsednik in the same off-season, I may not be able to contain myself.

Of course, I did what I always do when something bad happens to the Cubs: go read North Side Baseball.  Here are some of my favorites:

(From this morning, when the trade was still a rumor)We know it won’t be Silva unless Hendry is truly feeling career suicidal.

That’d be awesome if we traded Bradley and then basically replaced him with Scotty Pods. That’ll make our team better.

Silva carries himself like an ace; the rest will figure itself out.

Is it pretty safe to say that Hendry hate is at an all time high?

It’s okay guys, Rich Harden gets hurt a lot. This is a lateral move in the rotation at worst. And since Silva is probably nice (since he’s fat) we’re going to have great chemistry

The meatball cub fans will love this move simply because Bradley is out of town. Silva is a terrible return for Milton.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!  The holidays just got a little happier!