Tag Archives: Mark Rogers

Less Randy Wolf = More interest in Brewers

Posted by Steve

It’s only a fraction of how necessary it was to release Jeff Suppan a few years ago, but it still needed to happen: Randy Wolf has been released.

I’ll at least take a paragraph to reflect on Wolf’s tenure and his signing in general. He was okay here for two years, with last year being his best. His peripherals weren’t really even that different this year save for a bit of a higher home run rate; he was killed by a .340 BABIP. If you’re mad at Wolf for this performance, I don’t really agree with you. The honus should go on Doug Melvin for giving a declining player a three-year deal. Of course, if Wolf didn’t get a three-year offer from Milwaukee, he’d very likely wouldn’t have signed here, but so what? It’s just Randy Wolf. Point is, I don’t want to go more than two years on any free agent pitcher unless his numbers show he is solidly above average.

Essentially, my interest in the Brewers’ rotation going forward is inversely proportional to the presence of Randy Wolf. And now that Randy Wolf is gone, the rotation just got a lot more interesting.

We’ll get to see, presumably, all of the young-ish pitchers who have a shot at the rotation next season. Not just Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers, who have already had auditions, but Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg as well. We will also see a cameo from Shaun Marcum, who is auditioning for next season–I suppose there’s still an outsider’s outside chance Marcum could be dealt on waivers, but he’ll only have one, maybe two starts before the August deadline, so the chances of that are almost nil. More likely, he’s taking a longer audition for a chance to get a nice contract somewhere next season.

Basically, the rotation will consist of Marcum and Gallardo every five days,with some mash-up of Fiers, Rogers, Thornburg, Peralta, and Marco Estrada taking the last three spots. There have been rumblings of the Brewers shutting down Rogers, Fiers and even Estrada to prevent them from taking too much of a jump in innings from last season, which of course is smart in a now meaningless season. One way to accomplish this would be to piggyback them in starts–essentially each guy pitches three innings on the same day every five days. The starting pitcher would be Mirke Fiergers or something.

I did hear some concern over the release of Wolf in that the Brewers might need a veteran to eat some innings if they end up needing to shut down most/all of the younger pitchers. I’m really not worried about that; if that happens, the Brewers just need to call up some AAA soldier. I’m warning you now, Brewer fans: Brace yourself once again for some Claudio Vargas appearances in September.

Anyway, the Brewers are making some smart decisions now that they’re out of contention. By the end of this season, they should have a solid grasp of whether Jean Segura is ready to be the starting shortstop (I’ve actually been more impressed with his glove than his bat to this point, which doesn’t match his scouting report), and which of these pitchers should open up 2013 in the starting rotation.

Plus, it will simply be more fun to watch these guys pitch over Randy Wolf.

The forgotten pitchers

Posted by Steve

Despite the return of Francisco Rodriguez, I have my doubts that the Brewers’ bullpen will be as good as it was last year. Takashi Saito will certainly be missed, and so will LaTroy Hawkins. In fact, the Brewers are entering Spring Training with only four short relievers who had big league success last season (Axford, K-Rod, Loe, Veras).

This of course means they will need a lot of contribution from guys who didn’t play a role last year. Notice I didn’t necessarily say new pitchers, though. That’s because it’s quite likely that most of that production will be filled by old faces–the likes of Manny Parra, Zach Braddock, Mark Rogers, and Brandon Kintzler. Parra, Rogers, and Kintzler are all coming off surgeries that cost them much or all of 2011, and Braddock is attempting to bounce back from some sleep/personal issues. The (very) early report on all of them is pretty good.

The fact that Rogers, a guy plagued with one injury after another over his career, is even throwing and feeling okay is good news. The former high first round pick is out of options, which means he’ll need to make the team this season. It seems the surgery he had last season for carpal tunnel syndrome was somewhat responsible for his sometimes high walk total, if you believe what Rogers says. If that’s the case, I feel pretty good about Rogers’ chances of becoming a good reliever. He still has great stuff, even after all this time, and I hope the Brewers give him a real shot in the pen. He will miss the first eight games of the season, however, as he finishes a 25-game suspension for a banned supplement. Seems the Brewers can’t get away from that stuff.

Another former starter who will need to be turned reliever is Manny Parra. Parra missed all of last year with shoulder surgery, but it sounds like he’s 100% this Spring. Parra and Rogers are very similar: missed last year due to surgery, former starter, and out of options. For this reason, I consider Parra all but a lock to make the team. If you remember, his last couple years he was being yanked around between starting and relieving, which yielded mixed results. Perhaps finally entering the year with a clear role will be beneficial for him.

Then there’s Zach Braddock, who not very long ago was my favorite Brewers prospect. Braddock had electric stuff, especially for a lefty, coming up through the system and into his rookie year. Then came 2011, which was a mess. Braddock battled off-field issues (which are fruitless to speculate on, in my opinion) that pretty much threw out his entire season. Reading his quotes yesterday, he sounds to me like he’s feeling great and throwing the ball well too. The Brewers basically went all of last season without a lefty reliever. Now it seems like they could have two power lefties out of the bullpen if things go well with Braddock and Parra.

Lastly, there’s Brandon Kintzler. He threw 14 strong innings before falling to injury himself last season. In 2010, he had a phenomenal year between AA and AAA. I expect him to play a role in the bullpen this season, even if he doesn’t make the big league team immediately.

Obviously, the Brewers can’t bank on all four of these pitchers have successful seasons, but if they got strong performances from even two of them, it would go a long way toward matching the production of last year’s bullpen, a huge strength of the team. You figure the locks for the pen are Axford, K-Rod, Veras, Loe, and Marco Estrada (although I’m not personally convinced Estrada should be a lock). That leaves two spots for the four I’ve mentioned, with Rogers being eliminated because of his suspension to start the season. Due to the fact that Parra has no options, I expect him to make the team. That means Kintzler, Braddock, or others such as Frankie de la Cruz, Mike McClendon or Tim Dillard will likely battle it out for one spot. Due to the nature of the long season/inevitable injuries, though, I expect to see most, if not all of these players in Milwaukee at some point in the season.

 

PECOTA Pitching

Posted by Steve

Opening day is just a few days off, and I am just plain giddy. Between high expectations for the Brewers and two awesome fantasy leagues, I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited for a season. Of course, that means I’m running out of time to analyze PECOTA projections. Here’s what BP came up with for Brewers pitchers.

Before I get into the pitchers, though, I want to tough on a pretty fascinating chart they’ve had on the Brewers. They took a closer look at the wide gap between the Brewers’ offensive and pitching output the last two seasons, and found it was historic.

During the 2009-2010 seasons, Brewer hitters accumulated a 497.1 VORP, third in baseball behind the Yankees and Red Sox. During the same span, Brewer pitchers accumulated a 73.2 VORP, second worst in baseball behind the Pirates. This means their hitters have contributed 423.9 VORP more than their pitchers, which is the third most offensive-dominated team over a two-year span since 1954.

So, we knew they were wasting a good offense. But if you truly wanted to see how ugly it was, there’s as good (or bad) of an illustration as any.

One last point about PECOTA’s pitching projections: they don’t seem to project anyone for 200 innings. For example, even though Zack Greinke has thrown for 220, 229.1, and 2o2.1 innings the last three seasons, PECOTA projects him for 179 innings this season (and that was before his cracked rib). I’m guessing this is because pitchers who throw 200 innings are becoming increasingly rare, and they’re taking some account for injury to each pitcher, because just about every pitcher who threw a full season last year is projected for lower innings totals.

Edit: Looked into this more, and apparently the innings projections are low because they’re giving the average expected innings, not the most likely. Russ on brewerfan broke it down nicely for me:

“A typical workhorse might look something like this (actual numbers for illustration only):

200-220 IP: 40% chance
180-200 IP 25%
140-180 IP: 25%
100 – 140 IP: 20%
Below 100: 5%

While it’s most likely that that player will end up with between 200-220 IP, the average is brought down by the small chance of missing significant time.”

Gosh, I love brewerfan.net. On to the projections.

Zack Greinke

179 innings, 3.52 ERA, 181 ks, 55 BBs, 17 HRs

To be honest, this is a pretty conservative projection in my mind. You certainly couldn’t be upset with this line, but he had an FIP of 3.34 last season. Moving to the NL, you’d expect that to drop a bit. I personally expect something like 3.0 to 3.2.

There’s one excerpt that makes me shake my head: “Moving to Milwaukee–one of the few teams with even poorer defensive numbers than the Royals–won’t help Greinke…” Ugh.

One last thing about Greinke. One guess as to who his #1 comparable on baseball reference is through age 26.

Yep. Of course it’s Ben Sheets.

Yovani Gallardo

150.1 innings, 3.79 ERA, 159 ks, 65 BBs, 12 HRs

They called Gallardo “baseball’s most overlooked ace.” Again, his walks are higher than I’d like, but he makes up for it some by strikeout out more than a batter per inning. Yo’s still only 25, and he’s an extremely valuable piece signed to a great contract.

They also commented on Gallardo’s bat. I found this very entertaining: “Gallardo out-slugged Ryan Braun, had a higher TAv than Casey McGehee, and owns a career .677 OPS that surpasses that of Carlos Gomez.”

Shawn Marcum

134.2 innings, 3.88 ERA, 113 ks, 39 BBs, 19 HRs

I love me some good k/bb ratio guys, and Marcum was sixth in all of baseball last season–in the AL East. For whatever reason, they don’t think Marcum can keep up the phenomenal walk rate of last season. That does seem tough to do, but Marcum seems to benefit a ton by escaping the AL East. This is still a nice walk rate, and if this line is extrapolated out to a full season, he’ll have given the Brewers great production.

Randy Wolf

161 innings, 4.46 ERA, 116 ks, 61 BBs, 22 HRs

“His walk and strikeout rates reached their worst levels in years, he struggled against lefties… He’s not about to pull a complete Suppan, but there’s trouble ahead.”

Yikes. To be honest, though, it seems like BP thinks his real collapse came last year, not this season. They have his improve chance at 42%, while his collapse percentage is “only” 26.

Chris Narveson

115 innings, 4.74 ERA, 94 ks, 47 BBs, 17 HRs

Those would be perfectly acceptable numbers for a fifth starter. In fact, that would be one of the best fifth starters the Brewers have had in years. a 2:1 kk/bb ratio is pretty dece as well. Better yet, they have his Improve at 41% and his Collapse at just 14%.

John Axford

73.1 innings, 1.6 WHIP, 77 ks, 51 BBs, 7 HRs

This is probably the most pessimistic projection for a Brewer pitcher, and it has to do with Axford’s career walk rate. It’s always been pretty high, and they seem to think it will catch up with him big time this season. “Although it’s possible that Axford has developed a newfound ability to find the strike zone and will spend the next half-decade closing games at Miller Park, Brewers fans will just as likely wake up one morning to discover that yesterday’s Rollie Fingers has morphed into today’s Derrick Turnbow. You’ve been warned.” Dun dun dunnnn.

Zach Braddock

47 innings, 1.43 WHIP, 57 ks, 28 BBs, 5 HRs

Second verse, same as the first? Like Axford, Braddock showed great stuff last season. Like Axford, Braddock walked too many batters. Both pitchers made up for it somewhat last season with a very good strikeout rate, but unless control improves, the walks will catch up with Braddock. He’s still a young pitcher, so I’m more excited about Braddock’s long-term future in Milwaukee than Axford’s.

Takashi Saito

58 innings, 1.19 WHIP, 65 ks, 21 BBs, 5 HRs

That’s more like it. Saito historically has a great k/bb ratio, and PECOTA has that resulting in very solid production once again this season. Saito might end up as the most underrated acquisition of the off-season. He’s a very good relief pitcher despite his advanced age, and if he doesn’t fall off a cliff, he’ll be an important piece of the bullpen.

LaTroy Hawkins

52 innings, 1.37 WHIP, 37 ks, 17 BBs, 6 HRs

The Brewers got virtually nothing from Hawkins in a season lost to injury, and Hawkins would need to have a pretty great season for his signing not to go down as another pitching free agent blunder. This projection actually seems pretty optimistic to me, which is pretty sad when you know you’d be pleased with a 1.37 WHIP for a relief pitcher.

Kameron Loe

116.1 innings, 1.48 WHIP, 70 ks, 42 BBs, 15 HRs

Another projection, another mediocre line. BP points out that Loe’s swinging strike rate jumped to almost 10%, by far a career high. For that reason, they aren’t sure his 2010 wasn’t a fluke. Interestingly, his innings projection is so high because they project him for 7 starts, which I can’t say I understand. Put it this way: If Kameron Loe has to make 7 starts, the Brewers will probably be in trouble. He’s much more suited as a right-handed specialist, as lefties historically crush him.

Manny Parra

134 innings, 1.59 WHIP, 118 ks, 67 BBs, 17 HRs

Ugly line here too, but a little curious, since they project him as a starting pitcher. No doubt this is a reasonable expectation if the Brewers once again kept Parra in their rotation, but I wish they’d have projected him as a reliever. Last season, Parra had terrible numbers as a starter (1.74 WHIP, 1.83 k/bb) but was much better as a reliever (1.35 WHIP, 2.73 k/bb). I have at least some hope that Parra can be an effective relief pitcher.

Sean Green

65 innings, 1.50 WHIP, 51 ks, 33 BBs, 6 HRs

Green is a groundball specialist, which is often a nice way of saying he doesn’t strike out many hitters. He throws a ton of sinkers that either get ground balls or move out of the strike zone. He’ll probably be a fringe bullpen guy, one of the last on the team. Shouldn’t be terrible, though.

Sergio Mitre

93 innings, 1.39 WHIP, 56 ks, 27 BBs, 13 HRs

Like Loe, they project Mitre for a handful of starts that he hopefully won’t get. Mitre had a .226 BABIP last season, which suggests he’s in for a rude wakeup call. Even though the Brewers turned around and replaced Chris Dickerson, I don’t see the reason for adding Mitre. I’d much rather have their fourth and fifth outfielders be Morgan and Dickerson than have Mitre at all.

Other notables

Mark Rogers

85 innings, 4.66 ERA, 76 ks, 57 BBs, 9 HRs

Walks have been Rogers’ problem, and if PECOTA is correct, they’ll be a huge problem this year if he’s in the majors. He’s got great stuff, but he has to improve his control if he ever wants to be an effective major league starter. It’s good that he’s getting more time in AAA.

Amaury Rivas

88 innings, 5.43 ERA, 56 ks, 44 BBs, 13 HRs

Rivas will be another candidate to eat up some spot starts during inevitable injuries. Problem is, he’s already 25, and his strikeout rates are too low to expect him to be a successful starting pitcher. PECOTA calls him middle-reliever material at best.

Mark DiFelice

No projection

Prepare for the return. It’s coming.

Final Thoughts

I think I just put more stock into hitting projections, which are probably easier to project because of the innings projection difficulty and the increased likelihood of injury for pitchers as opposed to hitters. That’s why I’m not too troubled by their overall underwhelming projections for Brewer pitching. They do like The Big Three, but probably not as much as what we’re hoping we get. The bullpen is more of a concern, as really the only guy they think will be above average is Saito. I am worried somewhat that Axford could turn into Turnbow, but I also think we’ll see Mark DiFelice back in the bullpen before too long, which would be a boost if he’s anywhere close to his pre-injury form. Regardless, with three frontline starters, it seems likely that their bullpen will be much more rested than the last few years.

I am worried about the defense, but the staff itself is the best in a long time outside of 2008–and even stacking it up against that staff would make for an interesting debate.

Back from hiatus

Posted by Steve

Not really sure how this happened, but I managed not to post for a couple weeks. It’s not like there hasn’t been a ton to talk about, so I really have no excuse. If it’s any consolation, I have definitely had baseball on the mind. I’ve been working on setting up a sweet fantasy auction league, and I recently got the New Baseball Prospectus handbook after not getting one the last couple years. I’ll get around to the PECOTA projection post pretty soon, I reckon’.

Where to start? I guess Greinke’s injury is as good a place as any. It’s crappy for sure, but I don’t understand people who are angry at him for playing basketball. It’s not like he was racing a motorcycle or something. If he really only misses three starts, it’s not all that bad. Frustrating, sure, but definitely not the end of the world.

However, injuries are starting to pile up. Aside from Greinke, Mat Gamel, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Jonathan Lucroy, Mark Rogers, Manny Parra and Mitch Stetter all have injuries of varying degrees. None are serious at this point, but the team could certainly be healthier.

At least we aren’t Cardinal fans, because then we’d be pretentious and self-righteous. Also, our ace pitcher would be out for the year, and our best hitter, who also happens to be the best hitter on the planet, has one foot out the door.

On the other hand, I’ve been catching some Brewer games on the radio as much as I can. The other day on my lunch break, Yuniesky Betancourt made an error and misjudged a pop-up in a 20-minute span. Here’s hoping that wasn’t a microcosm for the Brewers’ 2011 season, but I will say that I cannot believe Doug Melvin is truly entering the season with Betancourt as his starting shortstop. He had several opportunities to upgrade with free agents, and he chose not to. Using Betancourt all season will cost them runs, which will cost them games. There’s a reason he’s used as the “bad shortstop” in this amazing FIP video.

Other thoughts:

  • The Brewers are apparently trying to convince us that Carlos Gomez is coming around. Of course, he still hasn’t drawn a walk, so, yeah… Not buying it.
  • On a similar note, doesn’t a strict platoon between Gomez and Chris Dickerson make perfect sense? Dickerson can’t hit lefties. Gomez can’t hit anybody, but he at least hits lefties better than Dickerson. If they stuck to a platoon, they could probably at least approach league average production for CF with good defense.
  • With Greinke out, the Brewers will need to figure out who to use as their fifth starter. They’d probably like that to be Mark Rogers, but after his setback it’s not clear yet whether he’ll be ready. I’m fine with Rogers filling in for the short term, but I really want him to get more time in AAA. As well as he pitched in Milwaukee last September, he still needs to show better control. His 5.6 walks per nine innings in the minors last season is way too high, and he won’t have sustained success in the majors until he improves his control.
  • I am pumped for the return of Mark DiFelice. Big time. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he made the team, but even if he doesn’t, I all but guarantee we’ll see him in Milwaukee for much of this season. If he is close to what he was, the Brewers have the potential for a great bullpen between Axford, Saito, Braddock, DiFelice, and Lowe.
  • Aside from retaining Betancourt as the starting shortstop, the most baffling personnel move to me is the signing of Mark Kotsay. Kotsay is a good OF/1B fill-in with solid defense and a nice left-handed bat… If it’s 2004. That was his last good season. Kotsay has been below replacement level the last two seasons, and hasn’t been solidly above replacement level since 2005! His defense is now horrendous in his advance age, and Bill James is projecting him for a .674 OPS. Giving him a major league contract is a baffling move, and I’m going to yell things if he makes the team over Mat Gamel. Gamel is at worst the sixth best hitter in the organization (I’d argue fourth best) and can’t just get a regular spot.

One more story for tonight, along with the caveat that I will be posting much more frequently from this point on. Last weekend I was out in downtown Milwaukee and randomly ran into some guys from Kansas City. I was dumbfounded by their reason for being here: Since KC has no NBA team, they’re all Bucks fans. They drove to Milwaukee from Kansas City to watch the Bucks! That blew my mind, since the Bucks are so crappy this year.

Anyway, I of course asked if they were Royals fans, and before I knew it, one of them was buying me a beer (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and excitedly talking baseball. They were all huge Royals fans, and really wanted to hear about the players they got in the Greinke trade. I ended up telling them that when their team is really good in a year or two, they will come to hate Ned Yost. Other highlights:

“Greinke is a weird guy. He likes World of Warcraft more than baseball. I guess it doesn’t matter, though, since he’s an awesome pitcher.”

I was met with looks of horror when I mentioned Betancourt. “Thank GOD he’s gone.”

“Rooting against the Royals is like rooting against Special Olympians.”

And finally…

“Nobody is worse than Cardinal fans. They get all offended if you show any bit of emotion, or even enjoyment. Sure they have really nice and knowledgeable fans, but they also have the ones who brag about how nice and knowledgeable they are. I CAN’T STAND Cardinal fans.”

Pitching overhaul

Posted by Steve

After Doug Melvin’s first few years as Brewers’ GM, it appeared that the new regime may have rebuilt the team into a regular contender. It culminated in 2008 with that thrilling wildcard run. At that point, it seemed that Melvin would be known as the man who revived the franchise.

Fast forward just two years later, and it seems Melvin’s legacy may be completely changed. In a couple short years, the Brewers have gone from hopeful contenders to seeing their window nearly closed. Melvin has seen perceptions of him go from savior to one who has been unable to build a competitive pitching staff. And it’s not just at the Major League level; for whatever reason, the Brewers have had a terrible time drafting and advancing pitching through their minor league system. Some examples of blunders/bad luck:

  • In 2004 the Brewers had a very high pick–fifth, to be exact. They took hard-throwing high school pitcher Mark Rogers. He suffered a torn labrum and has missed two seasons due to shoulder issues. He has somehow managed to continue pitching, and is currently in AA, but without those injuries he’d probably be in Milwaukee by now.
  • Jeremy Jeffress was the Brewers’ first round pick in 2008. Another high school pitcher, Jeffress went 16th overall. He has twice been suspended for non-performance-enhancing drugs (revealed to be marijuana) and has essentially missed a full season. Jeffress is also pitching this year, but like Rogers, would have been further along had he not missed that playing time.
  • Last year, the team took college right-hander Eric Arnett in the first round. Arnett was expected to move quickly through the minors. Instead, he’s endured a nightmare season in which he was actually demoted from low-A Wisconsin for a short period. It’s certainly too early to call Arnett a bust, but this has more or less been a lost season as far as his development is concerned. The Brewers are surely disappointed with his performance so far.
  • Obviously, the Dylan Covey situation from this past draft has been a topic of conversation over the last week, and it’s one of the weirdest yet.

Only one of those four have been due to actual poor performance. Injury, a failed drug test, and an ill-timed Diabetes diagnosis have done the team in. Add that with Ben Sheets’ vestibular neuritis and Yovani Gallardo’s freak ACL tear, and the Brewers have sure had some bizarre luck with pitching over the last six or seven years.

Additionally, as much as the Brewers were praised for rebuilding through the draft, they have not had a great success rate with first rounders in the last seven years or so. In fact, aside from Ryan Braun, the last first rounder to reach the big leagues with the Brewers was 2003 draftee Rickie Weeks!

Now, things aren’t all bad. Jeffress has pitched well in relief, and I actually wouldn’t be shocked to see him in Milwaukee come September. Additionally, the Brewers do have some impact pitchers in their system currently–Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Heckathorn are two of the most exciting ones–but these pitchers are mostly in the lower levels of the minors.

————

This article is a couple weeks old now, but I wanted to get to it anyway. It’s no less timely now, and I find it very interesting. It concerns the Brewers’ new approach to developing and acquiring pitching. I highly suggest reading the entire article.

The “checklist” they came up with is interesting. Notably, their last two big free agent pitching signings (Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf) both wouldn’t have passed. Their study on homegrown pitching staffs proved interesting as well. I think many fans just assume many teams have multiple homegrown starters, but the reality is that not many have more than a couple.

If you grow frustrated as you read that article, you aren’t alone. That was my reaction as I read all the ways the deck is stacked against teams like the Brewers. Doug Melvin is exactly right about the draft process being broken. The draft is meant to give the worst teams the best players in the draft, but “signability” has kept that from happening in many cases.

Finally, on to the part of the article that truly angered me: no trade clauses.

It’s bad enough that the Brewers are at a disadvantage on the free agent market in payroll, but the fact that Milwaukee is on many players’ list of places not to play makes things even tougher. This fact in particular just about floored me:

Melvin had his staff compile a list of what he considered the “good, quality pitchers” in baseball and found that 24 of them have no-trade clauses that include Milwaukee.

Now, admittedly “good, quality pitchers” is pretty vague, but that’s still pretty incredible. You also have to love another tasty nugget that came out of this article: the Brewers made a huge offer for Roy Halladay before this season, but he vetoed it. Roy Freaking Halladay. Ugh.

Finally, Melvin mentioned something that I wouldn’t have even realized: many free agents feign interest in signing with the Brewers, only to sign elsewhere and then include Milwaukee in a no-trade clause! Talk about two-timing!

As Melvin said, these challenges don’t excuse the poor pitching, but you can’t help but sympathize with what he’s up against. He’s operating in an uneven financial playing field, and trying to rebuild through a broken draft system and free agent compensation system (remember the CC compensation debacle?).

If anything can be drawn from this, it’s that Melvin and company feel secure enough in their jobs. That must mean he’s not in danger of being fired this off-season. I will be very interested in how they address the starting rotation for next season. It’s bound to look very different. Really, the only ones with spots secured are Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf (mainly due to his contract). Dave Bush is unlikely to be back. Manny Parra hasn’t done anything to guarantee himself a spot, and Chris Narveson has been alright but still upgradeable.

Surely at least one pitcher will come from a Prince Fielder trade. It’s likely to be a young pitcher with limited or no MLB experience, but you can bet he’ll meet that checklist of at least a plus fastball and a quality breaking pitch. If nothing else, this has to mean we’ve finally seen the end of overpaying for aging veterans like Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf, right? Please?