Tag Archives: Mike Cameron

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.

Is it really all that bad? Maybe?

Posted by Steve

Brewer fans are already lighting up message boards with anger over the newly announced trade: J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez.  If you listen to them, Doug Melvin just mishandled the Brewers most valuable trade chip.

I suppose he may have, but I’m not convinced.  Since Hardy laid an egg this year, I’ve been saying it’s extremely difficult to gauge his trade value.  Of this I’m certain:  nobody was going to give up established starting pitching for him unless it was a bad contract.  Before last season, sure.  But Hardy really hurt the Brewers by slashing his trade value.

As far as Carlos Gomez is concerned…  Well, yeah I admit he was one of the players I mocked the most in baseball.  His offense in the majors to this point has been awful (.292 OBP).  And can’t stand how often he attempts to bunt.  But, just bear with me and consider the following:

  • Gomez is still only 23, and will be 24 this season.  His OBP in the minors was .339, so there’s reason enough to believe his offense could/should improve.
  • His defense in center field is even better than Mike Cameron’s.  He’s blazing fast and will cover a ton of ground in center.  I really like that the Brewers are putting an emphasis on defense.  I was afraid of a Corey Hart/Jody Gerut platoon in center, which would have been a big defensive downgrade from Mike Cameron.
  • This, of course, means the end of Mike Cameron’s run in Milwaukee.  That’s too bad; he is one of my favorite Brewers ever.  But, this means the Brewers save a ton of money.  Between Hardy and Cameron’s salaries, the Brewers have slashed $14.5 million off last year’s payroll.  I say last year only because it’s hard to say what A. Hardy would have received in arbitration or B. Cameron would have required to bring back.  Still, it’s a big chunk of change that can now be spent on pitching.  They could actually afford someone like John Lackey now (not necessarily saying they should, just saying they probably could).
  • I didn’t see Hardy as the Brewers biggest trade chip.  I think Mat Gamel has more trade value, and unfortunately I expect him to be traded.  If he goes, it will definitely be for pitching.
  • The Brewers could do what the Twins did with Gomez.  They often played Denard Span, a superior offensive player, in center field, but subbed in Gomez late in a game when they got a lead.  When the Twins were trailing late, they’d sub in Span for Gomez.  The Brewers could do this with Jody Gerut.
  • Female fans are sure to be devastated, but thankfully this trade is heartthrob for heartthrob.  Gomez was number two to only to All-World, Mr. Sideburns himself, Joe Mauer in Minnesota among the ladies.

So, there you have it.  Obviously you should decide for yourself whether to like this trade, but I am alright with it.  I will say that while I’m “alright with it” as a Brewer fan, I love it from a Twins perspective.  They can play Denard Span every day in center field, and they get what should be a big upgrade at shortstop.  The Twins haven’t had a good shortstop in years.  Of course, this is all dependent on Hardy bouncing back, but their only risk if he doesn’t is giving up a guy who played part time for them.

I’m not pleased to see Hardy go.  I still think he’s the better bet over Escobar to have a better year this season.  But, the Brewers aren’t trading Escobar, and they can’t afford the luxury of keeping two good players at one position when they have such huge pitching needs.

When it boils down to it, this trade was spare part for spare part.  Both players had fallen out of favor with their teams, and each is moving to a team that has a bigger need for him.

Finally, I’d just like to add that I seem to have cemented myself as “that Brewer fan that people know.”  How do I know this?  Because in the first hour after this trade hit the press, my phone lit up with text messages.  I heard from people I haven’t spoken to in weeks, even months in a couple cases.  “Gomez for Hardy!”  “What do you think of the trade?”  “Gomez!?  Really!?” etc, etc.

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.

If you think Mike Cameron sucks, I will fight you.

Posted by Steve

Before I get started, allow me to explain this title.  It references a couple things.  First, I was at a New Year’s party this year and a guy I didn’t know pretty much started yelling at me when I said Mike Cameron was a good player.  Secondly, I came across a Mariners blog awhile ago that said something similar about Adrian Beltre.  I liked it.

I think I’m a pretty positive person by nature.  Therefore, despite all the bad things worth talking about this season, I feel like discussing some positive news.  Today that comes in the form of Mike Cameron’s possible return.

Adam McCalvy, Brewers beat writer at MLB.com, has a blog entry that quotes Cameron saying he wants to return and that he’s willing to “make a sacrifice” to do so.

I’ve come across several fans who fail to see the value of Mike Cameron.  They hate the fact that he made $10 million this year.  When discussing next year’s team, many posters at brewerfan include Cameron’s salary among money that can be used elsewhere to improve the team.  Problem is, you won’t find anywhere else to spend that 10 mil that will give you as much value as Mike Cameron.

WAR, fangraphs’ win value stat, a attempts to quantify a player’s total value.  Largely because of his great defense, Cameron is one of the most valuable players in baseball.  Cameron ranks 32nd in WAR in all of baseball this year.  That puts him ahead of players such as Ryan Howard, Victor Martinez, Justin Morneau, Brian McCann and David Wright.  In case you were curious, Prince Fielder is 12th in WAR and Ryan Braun is 24th.  Among center fielders, Cameron is fifth in UZR (defensive metric), eigth in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage.  He’s and fifth in WAR among all center fielders.

In other words:  Mike Cameron is a very good baseball player.

It’s hard to know what Cameron meant by “make a sacrifice,” but I’m happy to hear he’d like to return.  It could get tricky, because with the year he’s had, offering him arbitration would certainly give him a raise on his $10 million salary from this season.  The Brewers probably won’t be interested in bringing him back for more than the 10 mil.  Frankly, you can’t ask him to take a big pay cut after the season he’s had, so if I was Doug Melvin I’d offer him an eight million dollar deal with a mutual option of 8 mil for 2011.  That would rival what he’d get on the free agent market, yet it’s not anything too risky for the Brewers.

The Brewers do have players whose ties should be cut in order to save money next season.  Braden Looper, Jason Kendall and Seth McClung fit in this category, but Mike Cameron does not.  Anything that you could sign for Cameron’s money will bring back less production than Cameron himself.

July in review: It sucked.

Posted by Steve

Entering July, the Brewers were 42-35 and had a two game lead in the NL Central.  Hard to believe that was just a month ago.  A 9-17 month has dropped the Crew to fourth place, prevented them from trading for an impact starting pitcher and dropped their playoff odds to 2.4%.  It’s not often that a team’s season goes down the toilet in just one month, but the Brewers managed to pull it off beautifully.

To find the reason for their struggles, there’s no need to look beyond starting pitching.  The Brewers have allowed the third most runs per game in the National League.  Their starters are averaging 5.6 innings per game started, the second worst mark in the NL.  That has unsurprisingly taken a toll on a bullpen that was a team strength, but has worn down due to overuse.  Things aren’t going to go well when you have one above average starting pitcher on your team.  Let’s look at this brutal rotation.

Yovani Gallardo

Good, but not great.  His strikeout totals are great, but he’s fifth-worst in the league in walks per nine innings with 4.3.  The walks have prevented him from being efficient and pitching deep into games consistently.  It has not, however, prevented the Brewers from riding him like a rented mule.  Gallardo leads the NL in pitches thrown per start with 108.  That is mind-boggling.  No, it’s actually infuriating.  More than anything, even more than the awful July that took the Brewers out of the playoff race, the way Gallardo has been abused has me furious.  THE GUY THREW 24 INNINGS LAST YEAR!  He’s 23 years old!  Am I missing something that Ken Macha isn’t?  This is completely unacceptable.

Manny Parra

Not good.  Manny has had some good starts, but most have been the of the nibbling-then-grooving-strikes variety.  He can be maddening to watch.  I’m able to defend him a bit; he has had terrible luck.  His ERA is an ugly 6.5, but his BABIP is .368 and his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 4.59.  In other words, he hasn’t been terrible, just below average.  His walk rate continues to be terrible, though.

Dave Bush

Incomplete.  Bush’s injury has doomed the Brewers, because it allowed for the Mike Burns era to occur.  Bush was the most known commodity in the Brewers’ rotation.  You knew you’d be getting an unspectacular yet solid starter who, until this year, would be able to pitch all season.

Braden Looper/Jeff Suppan

Awful.  Simply horrendous.  I lumped these two together because each one doesn’t even deserve his own paragraph.  If you want a good laugh (cry?), head over to fangraphs.com.  Sort by league leaders, choose National League and sort by worst FIP.  Alright, I’m sure you aren’t feeling that ambitious, so I’ll do you a favor and tell you what you’d find: Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan are number 1 and 2 on that list.  That’s right ladies and gents!  Out of all qualified starting pitchers in the National League, the Brewers have not one, but the two very worst pitchers in the league!  That’s actually incredibly impressive.  I wonder if that’s even happened before?

This terrible month has also eliminated them from being buyers at the trade deadline.  It made no sense to give up any prospects for rental players with the team hovering at .500.  The problem is, selling wasn’t a great option either.  The rental players they had to sell include Trevor Hoffman, Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell and Felipe Lopez.  There’s a strong possibility that the Brewers will attempt to bring back at least three of those players for next season, because they want to win next year.  It’s tough to be a true seller when your aim is to compete the very next season.  Also, many have mentioned J.J. Hardy in trade rumors, but I didn’t list him among the candidates to trade because I’m just not ready to hand over the everyday shortstop job to Alcides Escobar.  Escobar is hitting .302/.352/.413 in AAA.  Not horrible, but far from beating down the door to the majors.  So basically, the Brewers were forced to stand pat.

(And yes, I count the Claudio Vargas deal as standing pat.  They didn’t give up anything of value, so it’s low-risk, but I can’t stand watching the Human Rain Delay pitch).

It hurts to say it, but we have to be realistic.  The Brewers are done for 2009.  There’s no way they can compete with three terrible starting pitchers (Suppan, Looper and Burns) in the rotation.  It’s a damn shame, too.  They’re wasting career years from Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

Prince is actually having an MVP season.  He leads in probably the number one stathead category, WPA (Win Probability Added).  From fangraphs: WPA takes into account the importance of each situation in the game. A walk off home run is going to be weighted more then a home run in a game that has already gotten out of hand. This makes it a great tool for determining how valuable a player was to his team’s win total.

In other words, a strong argument could be made that Fielder has been the MVP.  If nothing else, he’s the runaway number 2 candidate to Pujols.  Either way, they’re wasting an outstanding year with their crap pitching.

It’s sad that we’re already forced to look ahead to the 2010 season.  This team is likely going to look a LOT different next year, as it should.  In the meantime, here’s to another two months of watching the Looper Grimace.

You down with OBP? Yeah, you know me.

Posted by Steve

I know I continue to harp on the Brewers’ excellent patience so far this year, but that’s only because it was so bad last season.  I said before the season that I felt the loss of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets would be offset more by the offense than the pitching.  We’re only about five weeks in, but so far that’s definitely been the case.  The improved discipline has made a huge difference so far, and is seen in just about every player.

Rickie Weeks

Current OBP: .343

OBP at this time last year: .320

2008 OBP: .342

Pretty much everyone seems to prefer 2009’s Rickie Weeks to the Weeks of years past.  I’m not sure I do, although I’ll save my reasons for a different post.

Corey Hart

Current OBP: .345

OBP at this time last year: .358

2008 OBP: .300

What’s encouraging about Hart is that he isn’t even really hitting well.  His average is only .262, but because he’s walking at a career-best rate, his OBP is still alright.  If he gets his average up, the OBP will only improve (assuming he continues to be patient).

Ryan Braun

Current OBP: .463

OBP at this time last year: .311

2008 OBP: .335

Braun has been an absolute beast this season.  Like Hart, Braun is another player who struggled with plate discipline last year.  He’s been vastly improved so far in 2009 in that area.  My brother pointed out the other day that his numbers this season are basically what Albert Pujols has put up the last few years.  Again, I realize it’s only been a little over one month, but if he keeps within shouting distance of this pace he’ll be a top three MVP candidate (and actually deserve it this time).

Prince Fielder

Current OBP: .410

OBP at this time last year: .348

2008 OBP: .372

Prince has already taken 27 walks and is on pace to destroy the team record.  His batting average is only .255!  Just wait until he gets that up to the regular .270-.280 range.

Mike Cameron

Current OBP: .395

OBP at this time last year: .269 (had only played in 11 games at this point)

2008 OBP: .331

Up until a couple days ago, the Brewers had three starters with OBPs above .400, which is impressive even if it’s only May.  It’s unreasonable to expect this to continue with Cameron, whose career OBP is .341, but a .341 OBP combined with his slugging and defense adds up to an extremely valuable player.  Right now that valuable player is playing out of his mind.

J.J. Hardy

Current OBP: .289

OBP at this time last year: .338

2008 OBP: .343

Well, they couldn’t all be hitting at the same time, could they?  Hardy is definitely off to a rough start. He’s had slow starts before though, so I’m not very worried.  The good news is he’s really the only one who has been disappointing to this point.

Bill Hall

Current OBP: .364

OBP at this time last year: .276

2008 OBP: .293

By this time last season, Hall was already careening towards a terrible offensive year.  He still isn’t hitting righties (.678 OPS) but he is absolutely mashing lefties (1.269 OPS).  Hall has been very good defensively this year as well (save for the occasional holding onto the ball too long to show off his arm).  If he plays at this rate all year he’ll justify or possibly outperform his contract, which is something he certainly did not do last season.

Jason Kendall

Current OBP: .315

OBP at this time last year: .369

2008 OBP: .327

Kendall can’t hit, but it’s not a disappointment because we weren’t expecting him to.  I continue to not understand why the team refuses to pinch hit for him late in the game in big spots.  I hoped this would change with Macha replacing Yost, but we’ve yet to see it.  I went on a pretty good rant on Sunday when he let Kendall hit with two outs and the bases loaded against Carlos Marmol with Craig Counsell and Brad Nelson both available.

Craig Counsell

Current OBP: .429

OBP at this time last year: .308

2008 OBP: .355

He’s not a starter, but I included Craiggers in here because he’s been hitting out of his mind.  He’s always been a good on-base guy, but recently he’s done it despite a low batting average (hit just .226 last season).  What gives me a little hope is his new, non-ridiculous batting stance he’s using this season.  Not that I expect him to hit .333 all season like he is right now, but .275 or even .285 might be within reason.