Sunday, December 27, 2009

Can Casey McGehee Protect Fielder?

It's a question that really bares meaning to the Milwaukee Brewers next season. There is no doubt McGehee played great in 2009, but is that really what we can expect? Can Casey keep up his phenomenal play, or will he regress in 2010?

McGehee took over the five spot after a hot month, while playing nearly everyday at third base. The five spot struggled to produce before McGehee stepped in last season. McGehee never looked back, excelling while protecting Prince Fielder. He went onto post an .859 OPS, while sporting a .360 OBP and .499 slugging percentage. Looking at those numbers, and there is little question about his ability to bat fifth next season, but you can't just stop at those numbers.

McGehee's career numbers would suggest he is not as good of a hitter as he showed last season. In fact, in his six pro seasons prior to last year, McGehee never posted an OPS over .800. Adding to that, McGehee's numbers last season were heavily influenced by a hot month of June. In June, McGehee posted a .368/.429/.671/1.100 line in 76 at bats. Take those 76 at bats out of McGehee's season and his numbers drop significantly.

MeGehee's second half numbers, although still high, are much more along the lines of what fans can expect next season. He posted a .282/.342/.469/.811 line, in 209 post all star break at bats. I would be more than happy with that kind of production next season, but I fear that's rather optimistic.

The early projections that have come out thus far are expecting a pretty big step back for McGehee in 2010. Bill James projects McGehee to post a .272/.328/.429/.757 line next season, while CHONE projects him for .262/.324/.410/.734. Those are not the kind of numbers teams are looking for from their five hitter.

The Brewers might just have a viable option to bat fifth with their other third baseman. Mat Gamel's projections are interesting to say the least. Bill James projects Gamel to post a .277/.354/.464/.818 line. CHONE, on the other hand, is much less impressed with Gamel, seeing a .251/.322/.407/.729 line next year. While CHONE's projection seems very low, it was nice to see such high numbers out of James.

Mat Gamel struggled in 2009, while getting limited playing time in Milwaukee. His struggles last season could be attributed to Ken Macha's lack of knowledge of Gamel's splits. Gamel rarely hit against left handed pitching in the majors, although he clearly has excelled against them throughout the minors. In 105 at bats against righties, Gamel hit .229 with a .341 OBP and .400 slugging percentage. Although his .741 OPS against RHP was disappointing, it wasn't that far off his minor league numbers. Where Gamel excelled against the top minor league pitching was when he faced southpaws. His OPS splits against LHP in his last two pro seasons were 1.061 and .935. Although he only batted 23 times against LHP in Milwaukee, he still posted a .304/.333/.522/.855 line. While 23 at bats really tells nothing, Gamel looked much more comfortable when facing LHP, as opposed to righties.

While I don't expect Gamel to start opening day at third base, it should be looked at as an option. Sure McGehee will play better defense, but I fear the Brewers are valuing 2010 too much. Gamel struggled and McGehee flourished. Career numbers would suggest a rise in Gamel's numbers and a regression with McGehee. With McGehee likely to come back to earth somewhat, it's tough to immediately slot him behind Fielder. If he is unable to keep his numbers up, Fielder will see fewer and fewer pitches to hit.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who Bats Second?

There is no question one of the most important slots in a batting order is the player who bats second. They have to take pitches, watch the leadoff man (if on), and get on base for the run producers. It just so happens this is also a huge question mark for the Brewers next season.

The Brewers have one of the best 3-4 combinations in baseball with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. On top of that, Rickie Weeks, if healthy, has developed a great eye at the plate and has shown the ability to get on base in front of Braun and Fielder. Still, there seems to be a void after Weeks with the current players on the team.

The Brewers have a lot of different options for the two spot in the lineup. The current candidates for the slot have been named as Alcides Escobar, Corey Hart and Carlos Gomez. While looking at each player, there really seems to be a clear cut option out of that group.

Alcides Escobar

Since J.J. Hardy was demoted to the minor league last season, the Brewers made it apparent Escobar was the future of the team. Over the remainder of the season, Escobar made 38 starts and received 125 at bats. In those at bats, Escobar posted a .301/.333/.368/.701 line. While the .301 batting average was nice to see, there is little to suggest Escobar can accomplish it while playing a full season. His .349 BABIP would suggest some luck was involved.

Nevertheless, while the raised batting average was nice to see, Escobar continued to show he has a lot of work to do. In his 125 at bats, Escobar walked just four times. That equates to an awful 3.1 BB%. Combine Escobar's low BB% with his 14.4% K% and some would wonder about his ability to handle the two spot next season.

To be fair to Alcides, he has shown a consistent rise in his walk totals throughout his career. Before being promoted to the major leagues, Escobar saw his BB% climb to 6.9 in Nashville last season. While that number is still a little low, there's evidence to show Escobar is beginning to head in the right direction.

This was one of my biggest problems with the Hardy trade. I feel the best option for this season was to let Alcides play everyday in AAA, while letting Hardy rebound and raise his trade value. Hardy would've been a better option for the two hole and the Brewers could've saved Escobar's service time by letting him mature in the minors.

Corey Hart

Corey had another disappointing season in 2009 after his horrible second half in 2008. In 419 at bats, Hart posted a .260/.335/.418/.753 line, while playing RF. The most troubling part about 2009 for Hart was his huge dip in power. His .418 slugging percentage is not what the Brewers are looking for out of a corner outfielder. He hit just 12 home runs and saw his isolated power (slugging minus batting average) drop to .158.

Even with his dip in power, 2009 saw Hart regain his eye at the plate. In 2008, Hart's OBP dropped to .300. That season, Hart walked just 4.2% of the time. Last season, Hart's OBP raised 35 points, even though his batting average dropped eight points. His walk rate increased from 4.2% to 9.3%, which was much more along the lines of his career averages.

Where Hart should bat in the lineup really depends on what kind of production he is capable of. If Hart is able to regain his power, the Brewers really don't see him batting in the two hole. However, if Hart's power continues to elude him, he might be the Brewers best option batting second. He has shown an ability throughout his career to get on base and is one of the fastest players on the team. With Ken Macha stating he is going to run more, Hart's ability to take pitches will help Rickie Weeks.

Carlos Gomez

While Gomez is the fastest player on the club, he has no business near the top of the order. When the Brewers acquired Gomez, many casual fans suggested he was the new leadoff hitter. This could not be further from the truth. For Gomez to succeed, and bat anywhere near the top of the order, he needs to develop more patience at the plate.

Since Gomez began playing in the major leagues, he has continued to swing at pitch after pitch outside of the strike zone. This lead to the high strikeout and low walk totals that sent Gomez out of Minnesota. In his 1017 major league at bats, Gomez has posted a .246/.292/.346/.638 line. That is not the line of a two hitter in the major leagues.

Obviously, Gomez' main problem is his free swinging approach at the plate. His walk total percentages in the major leagues are 6.0, 4.2, 6.5. His strikeout totals have continued to remain well above league average (21.6, 24.6, 22.9). Until Gomez is able to show improvements in both categories, he should remain near the bottom of the Brewers lineup.


Right now, Corey Hart looks to be the best option for the Brewers two hitter. However, if Hart bats second, the bottom of the order cannot generate anywhere near the amount of production it needs to. If Hart batted second, the 6-7-8 batters would be a combination of Gregg Zaun, Alcides Escobar and Carlos Gomez. Follow that with the pitchers spot and the Brewers can't expect much production other than the first five in the order.

With this being the case, Alcides Escobar will need to take over batting second. As I stated earlier, this spot comes with a lot of responsibility, which is a lot to put on the shoulders of a 23 year old learning on the go.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Jack Zduriencik the Best GM in Baseball?

In his tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers, Jack Zduriencik greatly influenced the talent in the organization's farm system. In his time, the Brewers had frequent success in the draft. Players taken under Zduriencik were Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun, just to name a few. While drafting is an important part of baseball, it becomes even more important in a small market like Milwaukee.

Because of his success, Zduriencik was a candidate for just about every General Manager job when they opened. In 2007, Zduriencik interviewed for a vacancy in Pittsburgh, only to passed over once again. Needless to say, Zduriencik's misfortune was the Brewers relief. However, luck had to run out eventually.

The next season, Zduriencik accepted the GM spot for the Seattle Mariners. Zduriencik wanted to stay in Milwaukee, but after Doug Melvin signed another extension with the Brewers, he realized his time was not coming in Milwaukee. Instead, Zduriencik accepted the tough job of turning around the 101-loss Mariners. Well, at least it was supposed to be tough.

In his first season with the Mariners, Jack Z has completely turned the franchise around. He has built the club perfectly around his surrounding in Safeco Field. The large gaps of Safeco require a good defense and that's exactly what Jack Z has created. Almost immediately after he took over, Zduriencik traded for one of the best defenders in baseball history: Franklin Gutierrez. Literally, Gutierrez has unlimited range. His UZR/150 ratings are unfathomable. Last season, Gutierrez posted a 30.9 UZR/150. In easier terms, Gutierrez' defense saved the Mariners one run ever 47 innings he played in the field. Those numbers are simply incredible.

Zduriencik didn't stop there. He also traded for slick fielding SS Jack Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wilson, while often criticized for his bat, is another great defender. Combined between Pittsburgh and Seattle last season, Wilson posted a 20.4 UZR/150 while playing SS.

Acquiring this kind of team lead to the Mariners scoring an incredible 12.0 UZR/150 as a team last season, easily best in baseball. Despite scoring just 640 runs last season (3rd worst in baseball), the Mariners won 85 games. Their combination of pitching and defense allows them to compete without raking the ball.

This offseason, Zduriencik has only improved the club. He is nearing completion of a trade that would send Carlos Silva (and his $24 million contract) to Chicago in exchange for Milton Bradley. If completed, this is an absolute steal for the Mariners. While his ERA seems a little inflated, Silva is still one of the worst pitchers in baseball right now. Bradley surely brings attitude problems to Seattle, but also immense talent. An outfielder of Ichiro, Gutierrez and Bradley would save an incredible amount of runs. Also, Bradley's bat fits perfectly into the middle of the Mariners order. Add in the signing of Chone Figgins and the acquisition of Cliff Lee and the Mariners are set for success next season.

It's tough to say I fault Milwaukee in all this. Doug Melvin has done a pretty decent job as GM of the Brewers. While Zduriencik might have been the better option, letting Melvin go wasn't going to happen. Nevertheless, I have to say what Zduriencik has done in one season is pretty incredible. He took a 101-loss franchise and has turned it into a championship contender. Too bad he wasn't overlooked, again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Craig Counsell Signs with Brewers

Today, the Milwaukee Brewers resigned Craig Counsell to a one year deal. Counsell played a huge role in 2009 for the Brewers. If everything goes according to plan, Counsell's main job will consist of coming off the bench. There was little doubt the Brewers were going to keep Counsell. The deal is reportedly worth just over $2 million.

Counsell had a great 2009. After Rickie Weeks went down for the season with a wrist injury, Counsell posted one of his best seasons ever. In 404 at bats, he posted a .285/.357/.408/.765 line, while playing above average defense. Throughout his career, Counsell's main attribute has been his glove. While his UZR's have fluctuated, he has consistently been a very good defender, even near the end of his career.

My main concern with the Counsell negotiations with Milwaukee was overlooking his prior failures at the plate. There is little to suggest Counsell can post the same numbers as 2009. Bill James currently projects Counsell to post a .246/.337/.327/.664 line in 2010. Those numbers would be in line with what the Brewers should expect out of Counsell. To be honest, last season's production really came out of nowhere. Before 2009, Counsell hadn't posted an OPS over .675 since 2005. While his change in batting stance might have helped somewhat, Counsell isn't going to set any records with the bat. While OPS under .700 aren't exciting, it seems rather consistent with what teams get from a backup middle infielders.

What sets Counsell apart from other infield reserve is his versatility and glove. Counsell is able to play 2B, SS and 3B. While other players are also able to do this, what sets Counsell apart is he can play great defense at every position. According to the defensive projections of, Counsell will play each of those positions above average in 2010. His projected UZR/150 for SS is 1.8, 2B is 1.6 and 3B is 1.3. Those are impressive numbers to say the least.

While Counsell can qualify as a good bench player, he also provides insurance to Rickie Weeks. Weeks surely has the talent to be one of the best second baseman in the game, but has had problems with injuries in the past. It's nice to know the Brewers have a viable backup if Weeks is sidelined. Counsell with also serve as a nice option if Alcides Escobar struggles in his transition to the major leagues.

After Counsell's 2009, I am really surprised how easy it was to retain his services. A two year deal would've been tough to swallow, but Doug Melvin was able to retain Counsell short term, and at a good price. While fans shouldn't expect similar production at the plate this season, Counsell remains a fan favorite and a premier gloveman in baseball.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy Week in Review

After a busy week for the Milwaukee Brewers, let's take a look at how the Winter Meetings and the Contract Deadline influenced the club.

Winter Meetings

I think anybody could've predicted the winter meetings for the Milwaukee Brewers. There was no question this franchise was in desperate need of starting pitching. To fill a much needed vacancy, the Brewers signed veteran Randy Wolf to a 3 year/$29.75 million deal. They didn't stop there, however. The Brewers then signed RP LaTroy Hawkins to a two year deal, setting up a very solid back end of the bullpen.

While some may argue Wolf's deal was too long and pricey, the Brewers got exactly what they needed. Other pitchers such as Doug Davis and Jarrod Washburn would've only compounded the problem, not solved it. The one question I have with the Wolf deal was the length, but let's face it, he wouldn't have come to Milwaukee without that third year. While 2012, and 2011 for that matter are tough to swallow, Wolf is well worth the $10 million he will be paid next season. Sure the last two years are a risk, but when you try to get free agents to come to Milwaukee risks usually have to be taken. Having said that, this contract is no where near the deal Jeff Suppan received from the Brewers. Wolf is much better and has shown his ability to strike out batters, while limiting walks. That is something Suppan just cannot do. Can we please stop comparing these two contracts? Suppan is nowhere near as good of a pitcher as Randy Wolf is.

Signing a reliever was not really a concern until the injury to Mark DiFelice surfaced. When a void was created, Melvin pounced on Hawkins after two amazing seasons pitching out of the Astros bullpen. If Hawkins is able to maintain that type of production , Milwaukee will have one of the best late game combos in baseball. If not, while $7.5 million is a risk, it won't set back this franchise too much.

Tendered Contracts Deadline

With eight active players to make a decision on, Doug Melvin had to decide the future of this ball club. The three main decisions can in the form of Dave Bush, Jody Gerut and Mike Rivera. When I first started hearing reports from Melvin stating he would explore all options on these players, I was nervous to say the lease. Releasing Dave Bush and Jody Gerut made absolutely no sense and would've put this organization's depth in serious jeopardy. When a team lack starting pitching, how does letting go a solid pitcher with minimal risk make sense? When a team is unsure as to the actual talents of a young, struggling CF, how does releasing a proven option make sense? They don't. While Bush and Gerut will cost this team nearly $6 million next season, the risk was far too great to release either player. Both are capable of being integral parts of next season's club. If Bush is healthy, he becomes one of the most attractive options in the starting rotation. Gerut provides a great 4th outfielder off the bench, although he should start over Carlos Gomez right now. The Brewers were smart to renew their deals, but it was surprising it was even a question in the first place.

When Mike Rivera was let go, I was shocked to say the least. Sure he would be getting a raise, but after only making $415,000 last season, it wouldn't have been that much money. While I like Rivera in his time as a Brewer, I really don't think he could succeed if he saw consistent playing time. With Gregg Zaun, the Brewers are asking for around 120 game out of him. That left an extra 40+ games for a backup to start. While Mike Rivera looked good in limited, and I mean limited action, his minor league numbers suggest he wasn't ready to take over those 40+ games. The Brewers have better options in the minor leagues and it really didn't make sense to renew Rivera. I was hoping they wouldn't renew, but I was surprised they actually didn't.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To Tender or Decline?

Decisions need to be made on whether to tender contracts to eight different Brewers. The deadline for major league baseball teams to make this decision is Saturday at 11:59 ET (10:59 CT).

Players include: Corey Hart, Todd Coffey, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Villanueva, Dave Bush, Jody Gerut, Mike Rivera and Seth McClung. Obviously, the Brewers will be offering contracts to the first four players, but the others are up for debate. For this post, we will look at the four players in question for the Crew.

Dave Bush

For the life of me, I can't understand why the Brewers are even questioning bringing him back. Bush is coming off an injury plagued 2009 after he was nailed in his pitching elbow by a line drive off the bat of Hanley Ramirez on June 4th in Miami. Bush limped to the finish line in 2009, but seems to be back to full strength for the 2010 season.

Other than C.C. Sabathia, Bush was one of the main reasons the Brewers made the playoffs in 2008. After posting an ERA near six in April and May, Bush dominated the remainder of the season. In his final 131.1 innings that year, Bush posted a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts. He struck out 82 batters in that time frame, while only walking 29. That included July, which Bush fanned 28 batters, while only walking one.

Sure his 2009 was terrible, but Dave Bush is an easy candidate for tendering a contract. Let's put it like this... if Dave Bush was a free agent pitcher, would you sign him to a one year deal worth $4.5 million? That is an obvious yes. There is no risk in offering him arbitration. If he hasn't fully healed, you can just cut the cord after next season. On top of that, Bush will still be under team control after next season, meaning he still can't test the free agent waters. It really is a shame that the Brewers are even considering non-tendering Bush. Sure he is likely going to be given a contract, but my question is why is this even worth discussing?

Jody Gerut

Gerut is another player who should be given a contract. While he struggled mightily in the beginning of this season, Gerut finished strong and gives the Brewers a great option off the bench.

His stats for the first part of 2009 were downright awful. He played for the Padres and pinch hit in Milwaukee for the 1st half and posted a .191./.226/.309/.535 line in 164 at bats. When Milwaukee started fading in the NL Central, Gerut was given more playing time and his stats improved near his career norms. In the 2nd half, Gerut rebounded to the tune of a .279/.343/.459/.802 line in 122 at bats. Those numbers are great, but what was even more exciting was that line was coming from a centerfielder. There are not many centerfielders who are able to put up that kind of production.

Gerut's second half was no fluke. In 2008, while playing everyday, Gerut hit .296 with an OBP of .351. On top of that, Gerut slugged an incredible .494 while playing in cavernous Petco Park. Gerut was also great in the field that season. His UZR/150 was listed at a 9.5, which is very good. Even while not getting consistent playing time in 2009, Gerut's UZR/150 was still 5.9.

Seeing that kind of production makes Gerut not only a easy decision to tender a contract, but should mean a starting job in CF over Carlos Gomez. Sure Gomez has potential, but Gerut is just hands down a better player at this point.

Mike Rivera

Rivera is the toughest decision the team has to make. There is no doubt in my mind if Rivera was given regular playing time in the major leagues, he would not succeed. He sure looked good while replacing Jason Kendall in the lineup, but anybody would look good replacing Jason Kendall in the lineup.

Rivera has looked good while playing with the Brewers, but in very limited action. I worry the small sample size with catch up with him. During the past two seasons, Rivera has accumulated just 176 at bats. In 2009, Rivera posted a .228/.326/.342/.668 line in 114 at bats. While those stats are acceptable for a backup catcher, I'm not sure he will be able to provide that type of production again. I am constantly brought back to the last time Rivera received constant playing time. In 2007, Rivera played everyday for the Nashville Sounds and racked up 349 at bats. In that season, Rivera batted just .215 with an OBP of .270. Keep in mind that those numbers are against minor league pitching.

If Gregg Zaun were to go down with an injury, I'm not sure Rivera has the ability to take over. I have grown to like Rivera over the past two seasons, but I think that may be due to my anger with Jason Kendall more than what Rivera actually did. Either way, Rivera made just $415,000 last season and wouldn't cost much. Whether he is offered a contract or not, I'm really not going to be that upset. I'm just worried we are expecting too much out of Rivera if we are asking him to start 40+ games next season.

Seth McClung

McClung is the only player on the list I feel is a clear candidate for release. He's shown signs in the past for success, but completely lost all ability to throw strikes in 2009. While many raved of his early season success in the bullpen, I was not so convinced. Although he maintained a low ERA early, he walked far too many batters, while seeing his strikeouts diminish. After being moved to the starting rotation, his luck caught up with him. He struggled time and time again and was moved back to the bullpen, where he continued that trend. After it was all said and done, McClung finished with a 4.94 ERA in 62 innings. He struck out just 40 batters, while walking 39. Strikeout to walk ratios of 1:1 do not belong in the major leagues. Add LaTroy Hawkins into the mix and there is simply no room to keep McClung; especially considering the $2 million contract he would receive.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LaTroy Hawkins Reaction

If you haven't heard, after the Brewers signed Randy Wolf they announced the signing of LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins, 36, signed a two year deal reportedly worth $7.5 million.

The toughest thing for me to swallow about this signing is just a couple of days ago, signing a reliever was an after thought. After it was confirmed the Brewers lost Mark DiFelice for the season, a void was created in the bullpen. One could argue that void could've been filled internally, but the Brewers decided to go a different route.

By signing Hawkins, the Brewers create a very solid back end of the bullpen. A combination of Hawkins/Coffey/Hoffman is one of the best 7/8/9th inning tandems in the league. Of course, that all rests on the ability of Hawkins.

If Hawkins is able to maintain his recent success of the past two seasons, this is a good signing for the Brewers. After being traded mid-season in 2008 to the Astros, Hawkins was amazing. In the next year and a half, Hawkins posted a 1.71 ERA for Houston. In that period, he struck out 70 batters, while walking just 21 in 84.1 innings. The thing that surprised me the most about his success in Houston was his career was seemingly in the tubes when he got there. He essentially lost all ability to control his pitches and his strikeouts were falling drastically.

I was surprised to see the deal was for two years, rather than one. Hawkins is only getting older. He turns 37 less than two weeks from now. Although his velocity has maintained, it's tough to think he will continue to throw in the mid to high 90's as he approaches 40. While $7.5 million is not going to kill the Brewers, it is a lot to give for a 7th inning reliever.

Essentially, the success of this signing depends on which Hawkins is coming to Milwaukee; pre-Houston Astros, or post.

Randy Wolf Signs with Brewers

The deal is finally official. The Brewers have just signed Randy Wolf to a three year deal worth $29.75 with a club option for a fourth season.

Wolf, 33, substantially increased his payday by posting a stellar 2009 where he went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA. Those number do need to be taken with a grain of salt considering he pitched in the NL West, home to the worst offenses in baseball. In 2009, Wolf struck out 160 batters while walking just 58 for a K:BB ratio just under 3:1. He doesn't really have overpowering stuff, but locates the ball really well and has four pitches.

Wolf brings stability to a rotation that ranked near the bottom in just about every pitching category last season. If he is able to maintain the form of his 2009 season, this is a great addition. I would say the contract Wolf received was generous, but not too bad considering the missteps that could've been taken. There was talk the Brewers were exploring similar contracts with Doug Davis and Jarrod Washburn.

One of the main reasons I like this trade is the consistent numbers Wolf continues to post. Throughout his career, Wolf has consistently posted around 7 K/9, while usually allowing less than 3BB/9. In today's game, consistent quality numbers like that are hard to find.

There are people who are, just based on age and money, going to compare this signing to Jeff Suppan, that's just wrong. At the time of the signings, Suppan was, and still isn't anywhere near as good a pitcher as Wolf. Wolf is averaging more than 2.5K/9 more than Suppan, while walking the same amount of batters. He has better stuff than Suppan and is a very solid option at the top of the rotation. Also, he is getting less money and fewer years.

I think the funniest thing in this entire deal was the Dodgers not offering arbitration to Randy Wolf. Wolf was a Type A free agent and would've got the Dodgers two top draft picks in next years draft. Sure Wolf would've probably received less money, but the Brewers are now able to save their second round pick.

While the deal looks good now, fans have to realize Wolf is nearing his mid-30's. His numbers are likely to regress while in Milwaukee. I don't expect his 3.23 ERA to translate into the same season in 2010, but his number suggest he could easily post a sub-4 ERA. Bill James currently projects him at a 3.87, while other projections seeing him around a 4.2 next season. I think the likely outcome is right in the middle. Is a 4.00 ERA worth $10 a season? That's up for debate, but there is no question the Brewers needed a pitcher like Wolf in their rotation. This team lacks pitching depth at the top of their farm system and couldn't afford trading major league talent for an arm. Sure other short term deals would've been a better option, but Doug Melvin did a good job getting Wolf.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Corey Hart for John Maine Swap? (Update on the Randy Wolf Talks)

WOLF UPDATE: 12/08 3:30PM

Randy Wolf has been offered a three yeal deal reportedly worth $31 million from the Brewers. The Mets are still in the mix, but are reluctant to offer a third year. My guess is Wolf will probably sign rather soon with the Brewers. He'd be crazy to turn down that deal, unless the Mets are willing to match it and it seems right now they are not going to do that.

Late night reports from Indianapolis have surfaced on a possible trade that would send Corey Hart to the New York Mets in exchange for SP John Maine.

This is a tough trade to analyze considering no one really knows how healthy John Maine is. Maine is coming off back to back injury plagued seasons. After the 2008 season, doctors remarked the bone spur removed from his shoulder was "one of the largest they had ever seen." He was placed on the DL again in 2009 with shoulder fatigue and made just 15 starts.

When Maine is healthy, he can be a very solid pitcher. By all accounts he was not healthy for the past two season, but his production prior to that was phenomenal. So, the question is what pitcher would the Brewers be getting in return. Maine could easily regain his dominant form, but could also just as easily complete failed and spend most of his time on the DL.

Corey Hart has had some very disappointing seasons since his amazing 2007 campaign. He has seen the production with his bat and glove fall pretty drastically. Last season, Hart posted a .260/.335/.418 line last season, which was actually better than 2008 where he was named to the all-star team. He saw his OBP improve to .335, which is still below average for a corner outfielder. Couple that with a declining slugging percentage and one could see why the Brewers might want to move Hart, but I'm not so sure.

Corey Hart is just two seasons removed from an incredible 2007 where he nearly produced a .900 OPS. I still think he is a very valuable part to this team and trading him for a question mark doesn't make a lot of sense. If Maine was healthy, this would be a different story, but it seems like an unnecessary risk. Why trade for Maine when you could just sign a short term deal with someone like John Smoltz? Trading Hart would only create another hole in the outfield. I'm not saying that the Brewers shouldn't field offers on Hart, but trading him for the sake of trading him makes no sense.


The deal is near completion. An announcement will likely come tomorrow. The figures on the three year deal have not been released, but Tom Haudricourt believes the deal is for 3yrs/$25-27 million. Not bad all things considered.

Stay posted, if Monday is any indication this is going to be a very busy week for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Brewers Close to Signing Randy Wolf

According to multiple sources, the Brewers are close to signing Randy Wolf to a three year deal. Stay tuned for updates. Here are the links...

Ed Price (AOL Fanhouse)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Meetings Preview

One of the most important time period in baseball kicks off on Monday: The Winter Meetings. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the Brewers club, so let's take a look of some possibilities that are being rumored.

Jeff Suppan for Juan Pierre

It is a trade that make some sense financially, but being beneficial to the Brewers is up for debate. Pierre has two year remaining on his current contract. He is scheduled to make $10 million this season and another $8.5 million next season. Suppan is in his final season and will make $12.5 million, while also receiving a $2 buyout when the Brewers decline his option next offseason. So essentially the Brewers would be adding $4 million in payroll if they complete the deal. While Pierre had a phenomenal 2009, he has shown little in his career to suggest he could actually contain some value to the Brewers. By all accounts, Pierre's 2009 was a fluke season surrounded by constantly terrible production just about every other year. Sure Suppan really contains no value for this team, but I would rather just shed the contract at the end of this season and free up the money as soon as possible. While Pierre doesn't sound very attractive, that doesn't mean Suppan couldn't be traded for an equally bad contract. The Diamondbacks are considering releasing Eric Byrnes, who is set to make $11 million in the final year of his contract. Byrnes has been an awful hitter the last two season, but a change of scenery may be in order. He has always played very good defense and would have some value as a 4th/5th outfielder in Milwaukee. With the Diamondbacks losing some of their pitchers via trade and free agency, Suppan might help bridge the gap for one season. The Brewers would probably have to throw in some cash, but I think this trade makes sense for both teams.

Free Agent Pitchers

Well as many of you know, the Brewers have essentially been linked to every pitcher in baseball. As the offseason goes on, the picture begins to fill out for pitchers. Arbitration offers are now in and in a weak market, some pitchers are considering accepting to wait until next season. Carl Pavano is currently pondering accepting the arbitration offer the Twins gave him. I truly believe Pavano is poised for a bounce back season, and the Brewers could easily beat the arbitration offer. In the current contract, Pavano will not make more than $4 million next season, which seems like a very small risk for a pitcher with huge upside.

The other "top" starters are demanding large contracts lasting many years. John Lackey is seeking a contract greater than A.J. Burnett's $82 million deal last winter. While Lackey is a phenomenal pitcher, there is no way the Brewers can afford to hand out that kind of contract. That is why I feel it is essential to pursue pitchers willing to sign short term, with one exception. The Brewers have been linked to Randy Wolf on numerous occasions. He is currently seeking a three year deal at about $10 million per season. Wolf's K:BB ratio has consistently remainder very solid. He has shown the ability to stay healthy and would not be a terrible sign. I usually am opposed to long term deals, but there are much worse things than three deals to a pitcher like Wolf.

One of the bigger mistakes this club can make would be to sign Doug Davis to a long term deal. I really do like Davis. I don't know what it is about him, but he always seems to post better numbers than he should. His poor K:BB would suggest a below average pitcher, yet he consistently has been pretty good. While I would like to think this could continue, his luck is going to have to run out. Walking more than 100 batters is not a good sign. Davis is only getter older. His walk totals continue to rise and his strikeouts continue to drop. If any deal on the market has Jeff Suppan written all over it, Davis is the pitcher. The Brewers really need to steer clear of Davis, especially for a long term deal.

Brewers pursuing Rafael Betancourt

When the Brewers were originally linked to C.C. Sabathia, there were reports of the deal including Betancourt, but nothing ever happened. In my book, he is one of the better relievers in baseball and an excellent setup option. He made $3.35 million last season and is setup for a substantial raise. I'm not sure it would be in the best interest of the Brewers to sign Betancourt to a large contract before working out the starting pitching problem. While he would be a nice pickup, the Brewers bullpen is in decent shape as is.

The winter meetings are always one of the most exciting times of the year. Trades and signings can pop up out of nowhere. With the roster having so many unanswered questions, Brewers fans better be ready an interesting couple of days. Stay Tuned.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Looking at Friday's Moves

Today, the Brewers signed Gregg Zaun, minor league OF Trent Oeltjen and made a formal contract offer to Craig Counsell. Coming into the winter meetings, Melvin continues to fill out the roster in 2010.

While some fans will try to convince you Mike Rivera can be an everyday catcher, he is not. Before the signing, the Brewers catching situation was a platoon between Rivera and minor leaguer catching prospect Jonathan Lucroy. While I like Lucroy's upside, he needs more time to develop in the minor leagues. Signing Zaun was a good way to bridge the gap and not rush him into a role he isn't ready for.

Zaun, 38, is an immediate upgrade at the catching position. He has consistently shown a good eye at the plate, and plays average defense behind the plate. Zaun was signed to a one year deal with a club option for 2011. He will make $1.9 million next season, which is $3.1 million less than the Brewers spent last season on Jason Kendall. In 2009, Zaun posted a .260/.345/.416/.761 line with eight home runs while splitting time between Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

There is little to not like about this deal. Zaun essentially signed for next to nothing and if he plays well, he can be retained for just $2.25 million next season. With the weak catching market, the Brewers did very well hear. I am pleasantly surprised the Brewers didn't resign Kendall. Kendall made way too much money for how he played in Milwaukee. While he was once a great catcher, his career is essentially finished. When you are struggling to break .600 OPS, it's time call it. Zaun will post a higher OBP than Kendall and has much more of an ability to drive the ball.

Looking at Craig Counsell, I am worried about the Brewers newly made offer. There is no question Craig was phenomenal last season, but overpaying for Counsell would be a mistake. There are multiple club who are interested in Counsell, which is likely to drive the price up. When he signed back in 2006, Counsell agreed to a two year deal worth $6 million. After his 2009, he is probably going to earn close to that, if not more. Counsell's production can easily be replaced internally and there is no reason to waste money on an aging, back-up, middle-infielder. I would like to have Counsell back, but if he asks too much, the Brewers need to look elsewhere. It hard to believe Counsell can repeat the production of his 2009 season, and is likely going to regress back into the player he was in his first couple of season in Milwaukee.

The Brewers also added depth to their outfield option by signing Trent Oeltjen. Oeltjen, 27, shows some promise after back to back solid seasons in AAA. While playing for Arizona's AAA affiliate last season, he posted an .862 OPS. His .369 BABIP is likely the reason for his recent success, but he is still worth a look.

Be happy Brewer fans, for once the catching position possess some ability with the bat. Signing Zaun adds a switch hitter to the lineup, which never hurts. With the winter meetings starting Monday, stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wasteful Spending: Chicago Cubs

Over the past couple of season, there have been some head scratching contracts in baseball. The Brewers have been the victim of one of those in Jeff Suppan, but in actuality it could be much worse. Many other teams have fallen victim to longer contracts worth more money, setting themselves back even further. One of those teams is certainly the Chicago Cubs.

I have really never understood why Jim Hendry has been given such a pass in Chicago. He continues to make bad signing after bad signing. His streak was extended today when he resigned John Grabow to a two year contract worth $7 million. This contract really makes no sense. Grabow, 31, is only declining in his career. He has seen his walk total rise consistently and his strikeouts drop. He was able to keep his ERA under 4 again this season, but that was only due to his extremely low BABIP. His production over the next two season could easily be equaled by a much cheaper left handed pitcher. Sure $7 million isn't going to kill the franchise, but this money could be spent in a much better fashion.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with Hendry's contracts. The Cubs current roster is riddled with overpayed players locked into long term deals.

After his career year in 2006, Alfonso Soriano received plenty of attention in the offseason when he became a free agent. Soriano posted a .351 OBP, which was 33 points higher than his career average of .318. A lot of signs pointed to a fluke season, but teams had money and Soriano was going to get paid. Lucky for the Brewers, the Cubs and Hendry came calling. The Cubs signed Soriano to an 8yr/$136 million deal. When this contract was signed, I couldn't have been happier. I realized the Cubs would be a better team in the first couple of seasons, but the final years of the deal were going to be brutal. Why sign a below average LF to an eight year deal that will pay him until he turns 39? It just doesn't make sense. After a solid 2007 and 2008, Soriano was awful this season. He posted a .241/.303/.423 line to the tune of a .726 OPS. A .726 OPS is awful, but it is even worse considering he plays LF and is one of the highest paid players in baseball. This contract is only going to get worse. Soriano has five years left on his deal and will be payed $19 million in each of those seasons. He is only getting older and will be a huge drain on the Cubs for the remainder of his deal.

Hendry has shown a pattern of bad contracts in the past.

Before the raises in arbitration, the Cubs currently have $123 million committed to the 2010 team. All but $4 of that $123 million is locked up in just eight players: Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly and Milton Bradley. Each of those players will make more than $10 million this season. Let me repeat that, the Cubs have eight players making more than $10 million this season! In contrast, the Yankees have seven and the Brewers have just two (Suppan and Fielder).

If this doesn't prove the value of building a farm system, I don't know what does. The Brewers have one of the best players in baseball locked up cheaply by doing this. In 2008, the Brewers signed Ryan Braun to an eight year deal worth $45 million, locking him up until 2015. Braun signed the deal to buy out his arbitration years and receive financial security in the future. So, let's compare what building a farm system can get you. The Brewers drafted Braun and watched him rise through the minor leagues. After success at the big league level, Braun signed the same length deal Alfonso Soriano received from the Cubs. However, over the length of their contracts, the Brewers will net $91 million more than the Cubs. Also, Braun is entering the prime of his career, while Soriano will only decline.

I really can't stress enough how important saving money is in baseball. While it may look very attracting to sign John Lackey long term this offseason, the Brewers need to be careful. The Brewers have more than $20 million coming off the books in 2011 when Suppan and Hall's contracts are off the board. Will that money be spent to put together an extenstion for Fielder, or sign a pitcher like Lackey? It's really tough to say, but this franchise is in dire need of arms. Lackey has been consistent throughout his career, but is getting older. There are cheaper options out there that can be explored. Lackey would require a long term deal worth a boatload of cash. Could that deal work well in Milwaukee? Yes, but if it were to fail the Brewers would be crippled financially. Our young players are going to be hitting the market soon and cash will be needed to lock them up. Just use the Cubs as an example of what can happen if too much money is spent on expensive free agents.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mistakes must be avoided

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off a season that saw their pitching staff post a 4.83 ERA. That was good enough for 15th in the national league, just ahead of the Washington Nationals. With pitching clearly the main reason behind the disappointing season, Doug Melvin has labeled it his main priority for the offseason. While there is no question this should be the case, Melvin needs to be careful who he pursues.

The Brewers have been linked to basically every pitcher on the market this offseason. I heard numerous reports about John Lackey, Randy Wolf, Jarrod Washburn and Doug Davis. Let's look at the possible consequences that go around with each player.

John Lackey

He is clearly the top pitcher in this year's free agent market. He is coming off a solid 2009, where he posted a 3.83 ERA in the American League. He struck out 139 batters in 176.1 innings, posting a 3:1 K:BB ratio in the process. Lackey will surely be sought after, but it really depends on what kinds of teams are in on Lackey to determine his possible payday. If teams like the Yankees, Phillies, or Red Sox get involved, the Brewers need to stay away. They do not have the financial resources to get in a bidding war with those franchises. However, if those teams stay away and Milwaukee gets in a bidding war with mid-level market teams, Lackey could be had for a reasonable price. I am really against giving long term deals to pitchers (see Jeff Suppan), but Lackey has been amazingly consistent throughout his career.

Randy Wolf

Wolf is coming off a stealer 2009 with the LA Dodgers. He went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA in 34 starts. Wolf is a rather tough pitcher to analyze. He struck out 160 batters in 214.1 innings, while walking 58. He has always posted a respectable amount of strikeouts and hasn't surrendered a ridiculous amount of walks. His numbers last season need to be taken with a grain of salt. He pitched in the NL West, a division consists of the Padres, Giants, Diamondbacks and Rockies. I'm pretty sure Jeff Suppan might even be able to hold his own facing those offenses, well maybe not. Wolf is likely going to want a two year deal and a healthy contract. He would not be a bad option, but he is going to be 34 next season.

Jarrod Washburn

Alright, let's give credit where credit is due. The Brewers were frequently criticized for their inability to complete a deal for Washburn at the deadline. After his hot start for the Mariners, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the deadline. Well he went onto start just eight games for the Tigers and was a huge disappointment. In those starts he went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in 43 innings. He struck out just 21 batters, while walking 16. So, kudos to Melvin for not forcing a trade and giving up a top prospect. Well, hold on I can't give him credit yet because he is accordingly planning to pursue the 35 year old free agent. This is the main deal I am afraid of. Washburn has consistently been a under performing starting pitchers and is only getting older. During the past four seasons, he has not had more than 100 K's. Couple that with a rising walk rate and him coming off an injury and this signing reeks bust. He is represented by Scott Boras and is seeking a two year deal, minimum. He is interested in coming to the Brewers (he was born in Wisconsin). Even with a hometown discount, the Brewers need to stay away from Washburn.

Doug Davis

Davis has confirmed he is interested in returning to Milwaukee. Davis has always shown an ability to strike out batters, but has always struggled with high walk totals. There is speculation he is looking for a 2/3 year deal at around $8 million per season. While I wouldn't be opposed to Davis, he has done little to warrant a contract of that magnitude. He is a good option at the back of a rotation, but paying $8 million per season for a 4/5 starter is way too much.

The Brewers need to realize what they have at stake over the next couple of seasons. While the contracts of Suppan and Hall will be coming off the books, there is no need to spend money without caution. This is why I think the best options are available elsewhere.

My favorite candidate for at trade at the deadline was Carl Pavano and my stance on him has not changed. There is little doubt in my mind Pavano will lower his ERA of 5.10 he posted last season. There is no reason a pitcher whos K:BB ratio is nearly 4:1 ERA should be anywhere near 5. If anything, that ERA is a blessing for teams trying to sign him. He would come very cheap and would likely only demand a one year deal. It seems to be the same story for another free agent starter.

John Smoltz signed a one year deal in Boston, but after a rough couple of starts, Smoltz was released. He caught on with the St. Louis Cardinals and finished the year out nicely. Combined between the two teams, Smoltz struck out 73, while walking just 18 in 78 innings. He is another victim of unlucky runs and would be a great bargain in Milwaukee.

While Pavano and Smoltz might not be the names on the minds of fans in Milwaukee, there are cheap options who are likely to rebound in 2010. There is little doubt in my mind a combination of Smoltz and Pavano would make a huge impact. Not only would that combination outperform the other options, they would come at a fraction of the cost.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why I like Advanced Statistics

When I was a kid, my best times were spent at County Stadium and Miller Park. My dad would take would take my brother and I to watch the Brewers throughout the 90's and into the early 2000's. Although the Brewers were generally over matched in talent, the games were always a blast.

I remember looking at the scoreboard at County and seeing three main stats: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. These were the tools to identifying a good player. If he hit .300, he was an excellent contact hitter. If he drove in runs, he was clutch. Sure I was just a kid, but I understood these stats were the ways to tell if a player was any good.

It was under this line of thinking were Alex Sanchez became one of my favorite players. Sure he wasn't a power hitter, but leadoff hitters weren't supposed to be. Heck, in 2002 he batted .289, while stealing 37 bases. I was disappointed when the Brewers cut ties with Sanchez because of an attitude problem. Sanchez went onto bat well over .300 for the Tigers over the next two seasons, thus further angering me.

The fact of the matter is Alex Sanchez is, and was never really a good baseball player. So why did I think this all along?

Well, the basic statistics of baseball let me down.

If I just looked at Sanchez using the three basic offensive stats, he was a good player. Problem is, those stats are so misleading. The year the Brewers got rid of Sanchez, he walked just seven times in nearly 200 at bats, posting just a .316 OBP in the process. I really can't blame myself, because OBP wasn't shown on the scoreboard in Miller Park until 2004. Also, when I saw Sanchez had 51 stolen bases in his time in Milwaukee, it never dawned on me to realize he was caught 22 times. That 69% success rate only hurt, not helped, his below average offensive production.

Recently, a good defender has been defined by how many times he appears on "web gems." Well, I swear Sanchez appeared on a couple of highlight shows for his speed running down balls in the gaps, so he must have had some value in the field. Wrong again. In his time in Milwaukee, Sanchez was an absolute terrible defender. His UZR/150 was a -12, thus costing the Brewers another 12 runs per season in the field to go along with poor offensive production.

Even though the scoreboard now shows "better" stats like OBP and OPS, the basic fan is still not understanding the game. I bet if I went around asking fans at Miller Park if Ryan Braun's UZR/150 was above, or below average I would get 40,000 confused looks and be labeled a baseball geek.

The problem with all of this is so many fans just don't get the game. I don't care if someone has no interest in the game and is just going to have a good time. These are not the fans that bother me. What bothers me are the fans who insist players like Mike Cameron and Rickie Weeks are bad players because they strike out too much, or how good Jason Kendall is because he is a veteran who has experience and knows how to put the ball in play.

This is not to say baseball has not improved somewhat. I think it's cool I can now see what a pitcher's WHIP, or batter's OPS is. Sure these are not the best ways to identify is a player is good, but it is a start.

Who knows in 20 years, WAR (wins above replacement) and wOBA (weighted on base average) might find their way onto the scoreboard. I can't say this is entirely the fans faults. I also watch the Brewers every night and I am subjected to the baseball knowledge of Bill Schroeder. Of coarse statements like "you can't measure what Jason Kendall brings to this team, nobody calls a better game" are sure to influence the common fan. However, the stats are out there. It is very frustrating to have conversations with people who not only don't understand what you are saying, but have no interest trying understand it. Sometimes it's just better to take a step back and realize it's really just not worth it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ok, Let me Clarify

When the trade for Carlos Gomez went down, I was disappointed to say the least. Looking back a couple of days later, while still questioning the move, I have calmed down a bit.

My biggest problem with the trade is it really didn't fit into the path this organization was taking. Gomez is a young player, who could turn out to be good. That talent is unlikely to be realized within the Brewers given time frame to win. With Prince Fielder likely leaving in two years, the Brewers needed to make a decision this offseason. Should they trade him or not? If they do end up trading Fielder, this trade seems to make more sense, but recent quotes from the Brewers organization would suggest otherwise. Thus, the Gomez trade was kind of confusing to me.

Some projections are out for next season. Bill James currently projects Gomez to post a .310 OBP with a .375 slugging percentage. If this projection proves accurate, Gomez would be in store for another sub-.700 OPS season. While the centerfielder is not usually the strongest hitter in a lineup, that kind of production is not what the Brewers need. Like I've said, Gomez is fast, but not that great of a hitter at this point in his career.

The one main encouraging offensive stat I found on Gomez was his walk rate increased this season, while his strikeout rate went down. Gomez walked just 4.2% of the time in 2008, but rose that to 6.5% last season. His K rate in 2008 was 24.6%, but that fell to 22.9%. Neither of those are anywhere near where Gomez needs to be, but with a player like him, baby steps need to be taken.

Gomez' high K/low BB rates are largely due to his free swinging approach. In his career, Gomez has swung at 52% of the pitches he has seen, which is very high for a major league hitter. During those swings, Gomez has chased pitches out of the strike zone 35% of the time, which is again alarmingly high.

Gomez' biggest problem has come when he tries to muscle up. You know the old baseball saying, "you're fast, keep the ball on the ground," well Gomez takes that to new levels. Gomez' career slugging percentage on fly balls is .373. It's tough to realize just how bad that is without a reference point. Well, the major league average for fly balls is over .600. In 2009, Gomez hit a home run on just 3.7% of the fly balls he hit (the league average is around 11%). One reason for these terrible numbers could be his inability to center on pitches. He has an incredibly high amount of pop ups that don't leave the infield. Gomez' infield flyball rate in 2009 was 20%. That means when Gomez hit a ball into the air, 20% of the time it failed to reach the outfield. Gomez is not using his greatest asset, which is his incredible speed.

Carlos' main value to the Brewers is going to be his defense. The ground he is able to cover is simply incredible. The UZR/150 is a way to determine the effectiveness of a defense. Bluntly, it states what a player saves/hurts its team in value per 150 games using runs. In his career, Gomez has averaged a UZR/150 of right around 15. The current outfielders Gomez will be paired with are Ryan Braun and Corey Hart. In 2009, Braun's UZR/150 was a -14.4, while Hart posted a -9.1. One could argue those numbers were negatively influenced by the great range of Mike Cameron, but neither player's defense is gold glove worthy. With a very "average" (and I'm being generous) outfield surrounding him, Gomez should really help the Brewers defense.

If there was any truth to the speculation the Red Sox offered Michael Bowden, I don't understand why Doug Melvin didn't pursue it further. I know the Red Sox were trying to not part ways with Daniel Bard, or Clay Bucholtz, but Bowden is another prized prospect. If Bowden was really offered, I think the Brewers could have figured out a way to pry one those pitchers away by using another piece. Sure Bowden is not in the same class as those two, but he is not miles away from them.

Doug Melvin took a really big risk in putting the teams stock in Carlos Gomez. Gomez seems to be his worst enemy. If he is able to become more selective and keep the ball on the ground, this move could look brilliant for Melvin. I am just not sure if 2010 was the right time to take such a huge gamble on a player that could easily fail.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breaking Down the Hardy/Gomez Trade

Today the Brewers shipped off J.J. Hardy to Minnesota in exchange for Carlos Gomez. While I understand what Doug Melvin is thinking here, I don't agree with it.

In Gomez, Melvin has stated the "Brewers have found their future centerfielder." My question is why? What has Carlos Gomez done in the major leagues that warrants this type of guarantee?

Carlos Gomez biggest asset is his defense. I remember going to a couple of Twins games and being frustrated watching Gomez run down ball after ball in the gap. He is arguably the fastest player in the game today.

Problem for the Brewers is that Gomez can't steal first base. He just can't hit, period. His on base percentage last season was .287. Yes, you read that correctly, .287. I know what you're thinking, it must have been a down year. Well, in 2008 he walked just 25 times in 577 at bats, posting a .296 on base percentage in the process. Those numbers are simply incredible. If Gomez bats anywhere but eighth next, the Brewers are in trouble.

In Hardy, the Twins are getting one of the better shortstops in the game. Hardy is coming off a rough 2009 offensively, but maintained his amazing defensive prowess. There is little doubt in my mind Hardy will rebound offensively and help the Twins offense next season.

Sure Gomez is under team control for the next four years, but he is not the answer. I don't understand why Melvin forced his hand so soon. Hardy was the best shortstop available via trades, or free agency. He really back himself in a corner when he stated either Hardy or Escobar would be traded. Escobar was obviously going to be the starting shortstop in 2010, but there is no sense in trading Hardy just for the sake of making a trade. Hardy was only going to make $4.5 million next season. While that would expensive for a bench player, Hardy could have raised his trade value. Starting Hardy in 2010 made sense because I'm not sure how ready Escobar is. Escobar would have benefited from more seasoning down at AAA.

With the trade, the likely lineup today looks like this.

Weeks 2B
Escobar SS
Braun LF
Fielder 1B
McGehee 3B
Hart RF
Gomez CF
Kendall C

All I can say is yikes. This lineup would likely score 50-60 less runs than the 2009 Brewers. Sure the top five are solid, but the bottom of the order would struggle mightily. Kendall remains unsigned and now is the main piece the Brewers can improve on in 2010. His offense inabilities were somewhat hidden amongst high run outputs, but his spot now needs production.

The trade also lays out the offseason. It is highly unlikely Mike Cameron will be back next season. While he continues to age, Cameron's numbers have not slipped. It will be a tough transition next season for the Brewers offense. Losing Cameron in favor of Carlos Gomez is a huge downgrade offensively. I wasn't completely opposed to letting Cameron go, but not giving the job to Carlos Gomez. Jody Gerut is now the best option in CF. There is no doubt in my mind Gerut would outproduce Gomez in 2010. I just cringe to think that Gomez might see 600 at bats next season.

While losing Cameron will hurt run production, money has been opened up. Melvin still plans to add two starting pitchers and now has money to spend. I look for the Brewers to be active in free agency. The top starting pitching option remains John Lackey. This trade only strengthen the chances of Lackey wearing a Brewers jersey next season.

Words cannot express how disappointed I am in this trade. I have generally been a supporter of Melvin in the past, but this is inexcusable. Trading coveted shortstops for below average players is not the way to improve this team. Prince Fielder is most likely going to leave in two years. The window to win was closing, but a trade like this might just close it for good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Busy Week

Like many Brewer fans, I was excited for this offseason to begin. This is probably one of the biggest offseason's in franchise history. Soon after the season ended, the Brewers immediately began the critical six months ahead.

The Brewers first resigned closer Trevor Hoffman to a one year deal with an option for 2011. The contract is for $8 million next season and $7 million in 2011.

There are a couple of things look at when examining this signing.

1) Price

When I first saw the contract details, I was surprised. The Brewers had leverage on Hoffman. Hoffman was a type A free agent and was probably not going to sign elsewhere for much money. With that being said, there was no chance the Brewers were going to part ways with Hoffman. In his year here, he immediately became a fan favorite. On top of that he was simply amazing at the back end of a demolished bullpen. Also, Hoffman is only signed for one season. It is risky to sign a pitcher to multiple year contracts because injury is much more prevalent. The one year deal for Hoffman is nice, especially after how good he pitched last season.

2) Age

Trevor Hoffman's incredible career is coming to an end. In a couple of days, Hoffman will be turning 42. Some have criticized the Brewers for signing him for a relatively large deal. I can't see the argument with those people. Sure Trevor is getting older, but he still is one of the best relievers in baseball. His strikeout rate per nine innings the last two seasons has been 9 and 8K/9. He still possess amazing control, walking only 20 batters over the past two seasons. Age aside, if he continues to miss bats he will continue to be a solid pitcher.

3) Marketability

Shortly after the contract was finalized, Doug Melvin stated how important it was to lock Hoffman up right away. He wants to use Hoffman to pursue other top free agents. Hoffman has throughly enjoyed his time here and could be a nice pitchman to help garner interest to Milwaukee. Let's face it, over the past couple of decades many free agents have never taken Milwaukee seriously. Hoffman may help this and land the Brewers a new impact pitcher next season.

After the Hoffman signing occurred, Doug Melvin came out with some interesting comments regarding plans for next season.

-Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not going to be traded.

Ryan Braun being traded was insane, but Prince seemed to make some sense. I highly doubt Fielder will remain with the team past 2011, so that now becomes the window to win. Sure Fielder could still be traded in the future, but if they are not willing to deal him now, the offers are only going to go down from here.

-The Brewers will try and add two starting pitchers for next season.

One can very easily read between the lines here and note the Brewers currently have five starting pitchers. Jeff Suppan's spot in the rotation is not guaranteed, nor should it be. Suppan is a bad pitcher who, if he starts every five days, constantly hurts the Brewers. He is consistently digressing and should not be counted on next season.

The real question is who are these two starting pitchers going to be. The Brewers finished the season 80-82, which ranks 17th in MLB. This means that if the Brewers sign a type A free agent, it will cost the Brewers a second round pick, rather than a first rounder. The one type A free agent that makes sense is John Lackey. Lackey is a great pitcher that would fit nicely in Milwaukee. Also, being a type A free agent might limit the interest shown in Lackey. It would take a hefty contract over multiple season, but Lackey would be a huge addition to the rotation. The other pitcher is up for debate. I would suspect the Brewers would be going after someone in a trade, but if not, John Smoltz and Justin Duchscherer look like nice chances to take.

-The second baseman for next season is Rickie Weeks.

This is not really news. Rickie Weeks was off to an outstanding start in 2009 before going down with an injury. Lopez will be offered arbitration and will sign elsewhere. With him being a type A free agent, Melvin's trade for Lopez in July looks like a absolute steal. Two draft pick will come in return for Lopez, netting the Brewers a nice gain.

-There is interest in J.J. Hardy, even after his rough 2009.

There is no question that Hardy had a tough time at the plate in 2009, but he still remains a fabulous shortstop. He is the perfect candidate for any team searching for a shortstop. I think Hardy will rebound at the plate in 2010, but not while playing for the Brewers. I love everything that Hardy bring and he was a big reason the Brewers made the playoffs in 2008. Good luck to J.J. going forward.

-Casey McGehee is the top choice at 3B in 2010.

This was the most troubling news. There is no question that McGehee had a fabulous 2009, but can we expect the same next year? I highly doubt that Casey can consistently post the line he has this season. The Brewers top prospect has been Mat Gamel. He has hit well at every level. It seems dumb to give up on him after one season. The sample size on both players is alarming. The Brewers are willing to give up on Gamel after 128 at bats and give the job to McGehee after 355 at bats. Gamel has consistently outperformed McGehee throughout the minor leagues. Sure Gamel has trade value, but so does McGehee. I really hope the Brewers don't trade Gamel this offseason. I have a feeling he is going to be needed in the near future.

After all this news was released, the one common thing is the future is now. The Brewers realize that Prince could easily be gone in two years and are willing to go after it during that span. It will be an exciting two seasons if this is the case, but is it worth risking the entire future of the franchise? I don't want to sit through another decade like the late 90's/early 2000's. Hopefully the Brewers can contend without selling the farm. One thing is for sure, this is going to be one fun offseason.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Heeeeee's Back!

I just stumbled across Anthony Witrado's recent interview during his weekly appearance on 1250 WSSP's: The Big Show.

I have harped on Witrado before in this blog, but this was just classic.

The Brewers have struggled somewhat in September/October. Going into Sunday's finale, the Brewers are 15-16 over their last 31 games. Sure that may not look great, but they have played some very good competition in that span.

Witrado started the interview off by commenting on how much the Brewers have already "mentally checked-out" early this season. The example that he lists is Ryan Braun and a fly ball Witrado felt should have been caught. I know exactly what play he was describing. Normally, it is a play that should be made, but Braun does struggle getting jumps on balls.

He goes onto talk about how much of a lack of effort Braun is showing, among others. How in the world are you going to make an argument against Braun for the last 31 games he has played in? If anything, Braun has been phenomenal in that period. During his "early vacation," Braun is hitting .355 with an OBP over .400. Sure his power is down, but he is still slugging in the high .400's.

I just don't understand what the motivation is behind making an enemy out of the Brewers franchise player. He publicly criticized Prince Fielder earlier this season when Fielder confronted Guillermo Mota after being hit. I just don't understand why he feels he needs to belittle the top players of the organization. It would seem to me that would be a quick ticket out of town.

The interview continued with Witrado discussing a Sunday's possible starter for the Brewers. He reported that Jeff Suppan was a strong candidate to get the ball. I do agree with him that there is no real point in pitching Suppan, but he, like always, took it a step further. When asked what the motivation was behind starting Suppan, Witrado again displayed his lack of knowledge.

"You know, it could be a contract thing," Witrado said.

Anthony comes on the show every week and calls himself the "baseball insider." It's great to know that our "insider" has no idea what he is talking about. There is no place in Suppan's awful contract that states he is due more money if he makes 30 starts. Great "inside" information.

The last, and most ridiculous part of the interview came next. With the host ending the interview, Anthony had to get his last two cents in.

It has been well know that Witrado, for some reason, doesn't like Ryan Braun. It all started earlier this season when Witrado said the Brewers should trade Ryan Braun. I just can't fathom why a reporter who follows this team would ever say that. For one, Ryan Braun is one of the cornerstones in Milwaukee. He is locked up until 2015. There is no reason the Brewers should consider trading Braun away as he is hitting his prime. With his increase walk rate this season, I am even more excited of what the future holds with him.

Here is the quote from Witrado:

"I've talked to some people who are involved with making decisions with this organization. And, as your baseball insider, I will tell you that the idea that I floated out there about trading Ryan Braun, I'm not alone."

Thank god out baseball insider is here to inform us. How official is that statement. Some people who are involved with making decisions? What does that even mean. The host points out that Ryan Braun has a no trade clause in his contract. To that, Witrado replies, "the way Ryan Braun is playing right now and carrying himself, do you think that he'd deny a trade to a good team?"

Yes, Anthony I think he would. Ryan Braun wouldn't sign an eight year contract in a place he doesn't want to be. Don't worry, we received further explanation on who these decision makers are.

"I was told by people who wear Brewers polo shirts that hey, we heard you on the radio and, we was waiting for somebody to bring that up."

I highly doubt that these "decision makers in Brewers polo's" are looking for Anthony Witrado to lead them in the right direction. If he had it his way, Prince Fielder would've been traded earlier this season for childlike behavior. Now, Ryan Braun would be out the door due his poor (.355/.404/.473) play recently. Hey Anthony, before you start analyzing our roster makeup, why don't you focus on your job. You seem to struggle enough with that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Could Catch Next Season?

In my most recent post, I focused on the starting pitching market available via the free agent market. The Brewers have some holes to fill in order to catch the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs talent in 2010. One of those holes is behind the plate.

This season was Jason Kendall's second in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. After a good season with the glove in 2008, Kendall has completely regressed this season. During both of his two seasons he has struggled mightily with the bat. This season, Kendall has posted a .239/.329/.295/.624 line (avg/obp/slug/ops) in 435 at bats. That line belongs nowhere near the major leagues, let alone starting everyday. The catching spot is something that needs to be improved to close the gap in the NL Central.

With Kendall becoming a free agent at seasons end, what can the Brewers do in order to improve? Well, step one is going to be cutting ties with him. Kendall was once an amazing player in Pittsburgh, but those days are behind him. The way Kendall has regressed year after year should only be more proof to the Brewers of what to expect in 2010.

The internal options the Brewers have aren't much more appealing. Mike Rivera should not be an everyday catcher. In the minors, the Brewers have some options in Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy. After his amazing 2008 in AA, Salome has struggled at AAA this season. He will be option down the road, but next season he won't be ready. Lucroy has looked very good at AA this season posting an OBP of .380 and a OPS of .800. Even so, Lucroy, like Salome, will not be ready next season.

Rather than discussing the endless trade rumors that are often thrown around, I am going to focus on what will be available in free agency. Below is a list of free agent catchers.

Brad Ausmus
Paul Bako
Rod Barajas
Josh Bard
Michael Barrett (club option)
Henry Blanco
Ramon Castro
Sal Fasano
Toby Hall
Ramon Hernandez ($8.5M club option that won't be exercised)
Jason Kendall
Jason LaRue
Bengie Molina
Jose Molina
Miguel Olivo ($3.25M mutual option)
Mike Redmond
Ivan Rodriguez
Brian Schneider
Yorvit Torrealba ($4M mutual option)
Javier Valentin
Jason Varitek ($5M club option)
Vance Wilson
Gregg Zaun ($2M club option)

One name on that list that has been thrown around is Bengie Molina. Molina is the kind of player that would be a huge mistake. To the common fan, his 18 HR's and 75 RBI's look appealing, but one look at his OBP screams stay away. He currently sports a .280 OBP, batiing cleanup for the San Francisco Giants. His .425 slugging % is good for a catcher, but he should never be batting fourth in any lineup. No wonder the Giants rank 27th in runs scored. If you're looking for a reference point to describe Molina, think Johnny Estrada during his one season in Milwaukee. Their numbers are almost identical. Undoubtedly, some GM is going to overpay for Molina and give his a multi-year deal. Say what you will about Doug Melvin, but he rarely makes those kind of mistakes.

Going through the catchers, I keep thinking just how bad this list is. There are really multiple options on that list that look all that appealing. However, the one name that could work would be Ramon Castro. Castro has struggled since being traded to the White Sox this season, but that has only been in 68 at bats. He has shown a decent ability to get on base, while posting above average power numbers for a catcher. Along with that, Castro is pretty good defensively. This season he has thrown out 17 of 47 would be base stealers. That line is good for a 36% throw out % and is much better than the 20% currently given by Kendall.

Castro was considered expendable by the Mets earlier this season when they fell in love with Omir Santos after a good couple of at bats. When his name was being thrown around in trade rumors, I thought the Brewers should pounce.

Castro will not be the next Joe Mauer, but he could provide a stop-gap at catcher while Lucroy and Salome continue to progress through the minor leagues. I don't think it is out of the question to think Castro could post a line of .250/.325/.415/.740 for the Brewers next season, while playing above average defense. He would come cheaply to the Brewers next season. I highly doubt the market for Castro will be off the charts. It is not inconceivable to think that a one year deal worth around $2 million could get it done.

With that being said, this list should be evidence of how important developing a young catcher is. It gives the Twins such a huge advantage to pencil Joe Mauer everyday into a spot that rarely yields much offensive production. Hopefully Lucroy and Salome will develop into solid catchers, but that will not happen this offseason. The Brewers need to bridge the gap and the best option that I can see would be Castro. That is, unless a good trade offer comes around.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Looking at the Market

The Brewers have had a rough season this year. A lot of the blame has been placed on the starting pitching, and rightly so. Brewers pitching has been terrible this season. They currently ranked second to last in the national league in ERA, so let's focus on what might be available this offseason.

I am a believer in not giving huge, multi-year contracts to pitchers. Sure some pitchers do work out, but if that pitcher were to go down the Brewers franchise would be reeling for many years to come. Some teams are able to get away with a terrible contract, but not the Brewers, especially with so many young players coming to their free agency years. Anyway, below is a list of starting pitchers whose contracts expire after this year. I am only going to list pitchers that I would actually have impact for a major league team.

Erik Bedard
Jose Contreras
Doug Davis
Justin Duchscherer
Rich Harden
Tim Hudson ($12MM mutual option)
Randy Johnson
John Lackey
Brett Myers
Carl Pavano
Brad Penny
Andy Pettitte
Joel Pineiro
Ben Sheets
John Smoltz
Jarrod Washburn
Brandon Webb (Club Option that might not be exercised)
Randy Wolf

Out of that list of pitchers, there are a lot of different directions that the Brewers could go. The top tier starters include Bedard, Harden, Hudson (if option not picked up), Lackey, Pineiro and Webb. All of those pitchers are going to expect a hefty pay day. Pineiro seems like an interesting option. He is having a career year for the Cardinals. His control is amazing and he posses the ability to induce groundballs. Currently he leads the major leagues in groundball percentage at around 63%. I'm sure he would be a great pitcher to plug into the 2010 rotation, but the Brewers need to look for a better deal that wouldn't hurt the budget so much.

The most appealing option for the Brewers would be a one year deal. There is a small amount of risk that goes into that type of deal. If the player doesn't pan out, you can just cut your losses. On that list, there are a couple of pitchers that could drastically improve the Brewers staff next season. My personal favorites are Justin Duchscherer and Carl Pavano.

Duchscherer is coming off an injury and will likely have to take a pay cut. He was one of the best pitchers in the American League prior to the injury and would transition nicely into the National League Central. The only problem with Duchscherer are the unanswered questions. Is he the same pitcher? How seriously did the injury hurt the remainder of his career? Those are the same questions that will be asked by every team in baseball interesting in him. This is why I feel he could be had for a one year, incentive based deal.

Anyone that reads this blog knows how much I like Carl Pavano. I was hoping the Brewers would trade for him near the deadline. He has pitched well since going to the Twins near the deadline. Pavano's numbers aren't mind blowing upon first look, but he is a good pitcher. His K/BB ratio is off the charts. He has struck out 127 batters in 176 innings, while only walking 35. He currently sports a 4.91 ERA between Cleveland and Minnesota. With his higher ERA he might not have a ton of interest this offseason. With the market for him down, the Brewers could pounce on him for a cheap contract.

However, before these decisions are made, the Brewers have some options that need to be addressed. Mike Cameron's contract is going to be up after this year. He wants to return to Milwaukee, but many have questioned if Cameron's money could be spent better with a starting pitcher. I think Cameron is a huge part of this club. Losing him means losing one of the best run producing centerfielders in the league.

The Brewers also have an option on Braden Looper that needs to be decided. He is owed $6.5 million next year if the option is exercised. My question is, what has Looper shown the Brewers to justify this option being picked up? His fly ball and walk ratios are both up. His strikeouts are down. He leads the league in HR allowed, setting a club record in the process. Why would the Brewers think of shedding Cameron's money, only to give $6.5 million to Looper? I think Looper is a little better than he has pitched this year, but the other options out there seem to be much better.

We are looking at one fun offseason. There are so many different ways the Brewers can go. Let's just hope the right decisions are made. Today is the one year anniversary of the Brewers clinching the NL Wildcard. If the right decisions are made, next year could be just as exciting as 2008. The window for this franchise is closing. Fielder will likely be gone after 2011. The front office needs to decide how seriously they think they can win. If 2010 looks like a tough time to win, then Fielder needs to be traded. If 2010 looks hopeful, and I think it can be, they need to strike now.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lopez Maintaining Type A Status; Kendall Falling

The latest Elias Sports Bureau rankings just came out with good news for the Brewers. With his hot bat since coming to Milwaukee, Felipe Lopez has now solidified himself as a type A free agent. Jason Kendall continues to struggle and is on the verge of losing his type B status. Here is the link to the MLB trade rumors column that has all the players if you're interested. So, what does this mean for the Brewers?

A type A free agent, if lost, allows the team losing him to gain compensation picks. With a type A, the team signing that players loses one of their top draft picks. If the team was in the bottom 15 in standings, they lose their second round pick. If a team is one of the best 15 in the league, they forfeit their first round pick. Also, the team losing his receives a sandwich pick between the first and second round. Needless to say, these draft picks are very valuable.

Lopez has played great all season long. He will be looked at by many different teams this offseason who need to fill a void at second base. The Brewers are surely going to offer Lopez arbitration in order to have a chance at these draft picks. In a perfect world, Lopez would be signed by a top team giving the Brewers two additional first round picks. Problem is things don't always go the way you would like.

Last season Juan Cruz and Mark Grudzielanek were type A free agents. Because of their type A status, they were completely ignored in the free agent market. Teams didn't want to part with a first round pick for a setup man and an aging second baseman. With the market for Cruz dwindling, he settled for a 2yr/$6 million deal with the Royals, which is well below market value for a reliever of his caliber. Grudzielanek wasn't quite so lucky. He had to wait until after the draft to be signed by the Twins. Because it was after the draft, the Twins didn't owe the Royals any compensation.

I'm not saying that either case will happen to Lopez. He is coming off an amazing season, but how willing would some teams be with losing a top pick? The Brewers might have to get creative with this one. A possibility might be to look at what the Diamondbacks almost did last offseason with Cruz.

The Diamondbacks were looking at a sign and trade option in order to assure teams that they would keep their picks. If this was done with Lopez, a decent package would be coming back in return. Sure the Brewers would lose their chance at draft picks, but they might be able to pry a young arm away from a team in desperate need of a second baseman. A player acquired via the trade market will be further developed than one gained via the draft. This team is in desperate need of arms in their system.

These options would not be available if not for the great play of Lopez since the trade. One can only think of the possibilities that were opened up when Lopez was acquired back in July.

The other Brewers name of note that I mentioned was Jason Kendall. Kendall has been listed as a solid type B free agent all season. Kendall is hitting just .194 in the month of September. Due to his lack of production, he has slipped in the rankings. He is the second to last ranked type B catcher. If he continues to struggle in the last games of the season, it is not inconceivable to think that he might lose his type B status.

Many would think that losing his status might hurt the Brewers, but I am not in that thinking. My main concern about next season is Kendall coming back. He is way past his prime and is one of the worst everyday players in major league baseball. If he stays a type B free agent, it worries me to think that the Brewers might offer him arbitration, thinking that another team will sign him, giving the Brewers a sandwich pick in next years draft. I highly doubt that Kendall's services are going to be in demand this offseason. If he is offered arbitration by the Brewers, he is likely the starting catcher in 2010. However, if he loses his type B status, the Brewers might just let him go. With no chance at compensation, the odds of Kendall returning diminish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is going on?

The Brewers current situation is way to familiar to Milwaukee baseball fans. They are out of the playoffs and essentially playing for nothing. When teams are in this situation they allow younger players to get their feet wet and see what they have, or so I thought.

I was at each of the Brewers last two games. I have been eager to see the young players get some time. Last night, I logged onto the internet prior to leaving for the game and saw that, yet again, Mat Gamel was not in the lineup.

I have frequently been disappointed that Gamel has not seen playing time. Casey McGehee has gotten the majority of the starts at the hot corner. I somewhat understand why McGehee has been playing. The Brewers have been trying to give him a chance at winning the rookie of the year award. McGehee is one thing, Craig Counsell is quite another.

Counsell started last nights game at third base and batted second. Surprisingly enough this is not a rare occasion.

The Brewers have a tough decision the rest of the way at shortstop. They are trying to get playing time for Alcides Escobar, while at the same time trying to raise J.J. Hardy's trade value. For some reason that is beyond me, Counsell has recently started at shortstop. There is already to little playing time to go around at shortstop and third base, so why is Counsell starting? The Brewers don't benefit one bit by playing Counsell this month.

Gamel and Escobar aren't the only young players that have been ignored this month.

Arguably, the Brewers best pitching prospect is Josh Butler. With Manny Parra going down, and Gallardo being shut down, September would be a great time to use him in the rotation. Instead, an open rotation spot has gone to Chris Narveson. I don't think Narveson is a bad pitcher, but he has nowhere near the amount of upside of Josh Butler.

I still have tickets to three more game this season (one of the bad things that can happen when you buy season tickets). Come on Ken, give me some reason to have an interest in the games.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Centerfield in 2010

The Brewers have some decisions to make this offseason. The pitching struggles have been well documented, but another question mark arises in center field.

You will never meet a bigger fan of Mike Cameron than me. His combination of power, speed, range and great eye are rare in CF. He has already stated how much he likes Milwaukee and would sign under market value here. With that said, market value could still be rather expensive. Let's say that Cameron is asking $8-10 million for next season. If the Brewers were to pass on Cameron, that money could be used in the free agent market. The real question is what can the Brewers expect out of Jody Gerut.

Gerut was widely criticized after his trade to Milwaukee. I think it was a combination of his early struggles, coupled with who he was traded for. Before we go any further, let's look at what Tony Gwynn Jr (TGJ) has done while playing everyday in San Diego. In 357 at bats, Gwynn is posting a line of .266/.344/.333 for an incredibly low .677 OPS. Yes, he is fast, but you can't steal first base. TGJ is not an everyday player. He should be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. He is given too much credit for his name alone.

Lately, with playing time has come production. The bat has come around and he looks like he has the ability of an everyday major league centerfielder. Throughout his career he has always been a good hitter with above average defense. I really don't think it is out of the question to expect Gerut to put up a line similar to his 2008. In pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego, Gerut hit .296 in 328 at bats, while posting a .351 OBP. Even more remarkable, Gerut was somehow able to post a slugging percentage of .494, while hitting 14 home runs.

This argument hinges entirely on what the Brewers are getting out of Gerut. Cameron's offensive numbers are going to be there. Gerut's are, at best, not guaranteed. The question is, is the risk of losing Cameron worth the money saved?

Personally I think not. Gerut is going to be back cheaply next season anyway. He would be an excellent option as a fourth outfielder. Could he start? Yes. Should he be given the job over Cameron after what Mike has done the last two seasons? No, in my opinion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Prince to Reign in San Fran?

Recently, I have heard numerous reports stating that the Brewers would be open to trading Prince Fielder this offseason. My response to that statement is, why not? I believe in the thinking that no player in untouchable. You could say that this is the case for Ryan Braun, but if the Giants offered Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, Braun would be traded. So what could the Brewers get in return for Prince Fielder?

The main team that I have heard is the San Francisco Giants. Currently, Travis Ishikawa is the everyday first baseman for the Giants. He is one of the least productive first basemen in baseball. A trade for Fielder would help solidify an offense that ranks near the bottom in every offensive category in baseball.

The Giants also have the pieces to get a trade done. The first rumor that I heard was Prince Fielder for Matt Cain. Cain is a great pitcher and will get some votes for this years Cy Young award. Cain would be an interesting option, but something I think the Brewers should avoid. The other package that is being thrown out there is Fielder for the Giants top two prospects. Those prospects are Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. This is the trade, if offered, the Brewers should jump at.

Both prospects have dominated the minor leagues. Buster Posey is the top ranked catching prospect (now that Matt Wieters is in the major leagues), and Bumgarner is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.

What makes Posey so valuable is the position he is able to play. Posey, 22, is a catcher that has an ability to hit. He is currently blocked in San Francisco by Bengie Molina. Molina is a free agent in the offseason, but the Giants have expressed interest in retaining his services. Molina has always hit decently for power, but his on base percentage is awful. He currently carries a .283 OBP and hits cleanup everyday. Maybe that's the reason the Giants are so offensively challenged.

Anyway, back to Posey. This season, between A-AAA, Posey hit .325 in 422 at bats. His OBP was an amazing .416, while boasting a .531 slugging percentage. That equates to an OPS of .974 out of, let me repeated, a catcher. That kind of production in Milwaukee out of the backstop would be unbelievable.

The other prospect in this proposed deal would be Bumgarner. Bumgarner, 20, is something that the Brewers are severely lacking. He is a young, developed starting pitcher. In his first two seasons of pro ball, Bumgarner has been amazing. He is 27-5 with a 1.65 ERA. He has struck out 256 batters in 273 innings, while only walking 55. A rotation that contains Bumgarner and Gallardo just gets me giddy with excitement.

The best thing about these two players is how long they are controlled for. Bumgarner and Posey were just called up for the first time. That means that they have another five seasons before they hit free agency. Fielder is controlled through 2011, but is unlikely to remain in Milwaukee past then. A team like Milwaukee is not able to let him walk without receiving compensation. A Bumgarner/Posey package would put this franchise in good shape for many seasons to come.

Losing Fielder would hurt the offensive production in 2010, but it wouldn't demolish the offense. A first baseman who can hit can be found. Just look at what the Seattle Mariners were able to get for $1 million this offseason with Russell Branyan. First baseman can be replaced, but stud prospects like Bumgarner and Posey only come around so often.

This trade just seems to make so much sense for both teams. The Giants would be getting a great hitter to shore up their lackluster offense, and the Brewers would get a young catcher and starting pitcher (two things this franchise needs). The Giants have the money to sign Fielder past 2011. The Brewers don't have this great fortune, so trading him now, rather than waiting makes sense. If they wait until next year, the chips coming back will be substantially less.

Prince Fielder is one of my favorite players. He is an amazing hitter. What he has done this season is truly remarkable, but this trade would be too much to pass up. No matter how much I like Fielder, two years of his service is not worth what the Giants are reported willing to part with. I would love to see him back as a Brewer next season, but if this trade happens, the Brewers are set for the future. Either way, strap in Brewers fans, this is going to be one exciting offseason.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Possible Rotation Option in 2010?

I stumbled across this video a while back and thought you readers would enjoy it.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Things I Just Can't Fathom

There are certain things in baseball that are difficult to understand. Why is the foul pole in fair territory? Why does Ozzie Guillen think that Nick Punto is a good hitter? Why would the Mets trade Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano? Some things are just confusing.

That brings me to Wednesday's Brewers/Cardinals game. When I logged onto the internet, I noticed that the Brewers were not starting Mat Gamel. The Brewers have zero chance of making the playoffs, so why would he not play? Isn't the point of September to get your prospects consistent at bats? Instead, Craig Counsell was given the nod over Gamel.

I have nothing against Counsell. He has had a great season, but the Brewers gain nothing by playing him over Gamel. Why would the Brewers even call up Gamel if he wasn't going to play. It is just a waste of his service time.

Anyway, this was not the most confusing thing that happened in Wednesday's game.

The Brewers were trailing the Cardinals 5-0 entering the bottom of the eight inning. Adam Wainwright was spinning an absolute gem for the Cardinals through seven. The Brewers had the pitchers spot leading off the eight inning. Promptly, Ken Macha went to his bench and called on Gamel to pinch hit. As soon as Gamel was announced, Tony LaRussa popped out of the dugout and pulled Wainwright in favor of Trever Miller.

The move that LaRussa made seemed to play right into the Brewers hands. As I mentioned in the post before this, Gamel absolutely kills left handed pitching.

Trever Miller is having an incredible season in St. Louis. He has dominated left handed hitters all season long. This, to me, seemed like a great opportunity for Gamel to face a tough lefty. So after listening to the radio commercial break, I was ready to see what Gamel could do.

When the game came back on the air, it was announced that Gamel had been pulled back. Instead of letting Gamel hit, Macha went to the bench and summoned Jason Bourgeois. This was a huge head scratcher for me. Why would Macha pull back one of our top prospects in favor of 27 year old journeyman outfielder? Without realizing that this game meant very little to the Brewers, lets look at some of the basic reasons you could think off.

Gamel-Miller would be a lefty-lefty matchup.

True, but as I have already mentioned, Gamel kills left handed pitching. Miller is tough on lefties, but I'll take my chances.

Bourgeois is a right handed batter and would fair better against Miller.

Bourgeois, actually is a better hitter against right handed pitchers. This season at AAA, he was hitting righties to a .325 clip, while batting .293 vs lefties.

If the Brewers seriously have thoughts about Jason Bourgeois next season, they are in trouble. Maybe my thoughts on Bourgeois are a bit harsh. I was at the game on Sunday when Bourgeois batted second and went 0-6.

The most confusing thing to me is what are the Brewers going to do next season. I think the perception of Gamel is that he is a platoon player in Macha's mind. This guy can flat out rake if he plays everyday. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if McGehee platooned everyday with Gamel next season. If this is the case, the Brewers would be wasting a great talent. Gamel should be starting everyday for the rest of this season, not being used as a bluff card.