Thursday, January 28, 2010

Edmonds signs with Milwaukee

Today, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. If Edmonds makes the club, he would be guaranteed $850,000, but could make upwards of $2 million in incentives.

I really have to admit, I didn't see this one coming. When the Brewers were mentioned as having interest in another outfielder, I was confused. The Brewers already have a capable backup who can play all three positions in Jody Gerut. With the Brewers being tied to names such as Ryan Freel, Reed Johnson, or Gabe Gross, I figured why spend money on a 5th outfielder. While I not questioning the ability of either Gross or Johnson (I am for Freel), it just didn't seem like a necessary expense. This is what is so perfect about the Edmonds signing.

By signing Jim Edmonds, the Brewers are not contractually obligated to pay him, or give him a roster spot. If Edmonds comes to spring training and struggles, the Brewers can just release him.

Edmonds did not play baseball in 2009, so it is tough to gauge what the Brewers can expect out of him. After a rough start to the 2008 season in San Diego, Edmonds was released and picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He then rebounded to post a .937 OPS in 250 at bats in Chicago.

Even with his productive stint in Chicago, Edmonds value to the Brewers is on the bench. He could provide a decent option if Corey Hart continues to struggle. Edmonds has completely dominated right handed pitching throughout his career. From 2000-2009, Edmonds posted OPS' over .880 against righties in every season but one (2007 -.775). In 2008, Edmonds posted a .883 against right handed pitching.

If Edmonds is capable of playing at his 2008 level, the Brewers need to be wary of where/when they use him. At this point in his career, Edmonds is not the player he once was. In earlier years, Edmonds could produce against lefties, but those days are gone. In his last three seasons, Edmonds has failed to produce an OPS above .650 against lefties (.479, .631, .441). On top of that, Edmonds' well documented defensive prowess is no longer one of his strong points. While playing CF in 2008, Edmonds racked up a -23.3 UZR/150 in 840 innings. Those are not the defensive numbers of a everyday outfielder, especially an everyday centerfielder.

One thing to watch after this signing is the bench for the Milwaukee Brewers. If Edmonds makes the team, the bench now becomes filled with lefties. Joining Edmonds would be Joe Inglett, Jody Gerut, Craig Counsell, Mat Gamel and whoever the Brewers decide to backup Gregg Zaun. While that is a very strong bench, a right handed option is still needed. Sure Mat Gamel can hit left handed pitching (Macha doesn't understand that), but the Brewers are really short on right handed hitters. I look for Adam Heether to make a run at the opening day roster. He would provide a right handed bat off the bench and can play just about anywhere in the field. Melvin mentioned one of the things he liked about Joe Inglett was his ability to play outfield. If Edmonds makes the club, Inglett's outfield abilities really become useless, which really opens the door for Heether. Inglett probably plays better defense than Heether around the board, but a righty is needed off the bench.

All in all, I really like this signing for the Brewers. Edmonds comes very cheap and could provide some value for the Brewers next season. With that being said, he needs to be used correctly. At this point in his career, Edmonds has no reason to step foot in center field. Also, Edmonds should not be allowed to bat against left handed pitching. The clear cut role for Edmonds would be to back up the corner outfielders. He provides a good option off the bench and could spot start if Corey Hart or Ryan Braun need a day off. Only time will tell if this pays off, but this has the potential to be a very good signing for the Brewers.


Michael said...

Wow, I just found your blog a few days ago thanks to Mccalvy's Twitter page. I have to say that I'm happy a I found Brewer Blog that uses sabermetrics, I've been looking for one for a while now. I've read all of your recent posts and for the most part have liked wt you've written.

As for your Edmonds blog post: I think you're right that there should be a right handed hitter on the bench other than the back up catcher. If Edmonds makes the team they have 3 lefties with only one more bench spot to be had. The players competing for that spot appear to be Irribaren (L), Inglett (L), and Heether (R) (Gamel will probably start in AAA). I don't think Irribaren has a real shot because he isn't all that versatile. Heether has some pop and is right handed which plays in his favor. Individually I like Inglett better than Heether, but we'll see if how the rest of the bench unfolds affects the Heether/Inglett decision.

As for back up catcher: I like Kottaras (L) and Salome (R), but I'm not as high on Treanor (R).
Salome Chone wOBA: .327
Kottaras Chone wOBA: .323
Treanor Chone wOBA: .300

I don't know how the Salome/Lucroy situation will play out. I don't see them playing on the same team at AAA so Lucroy will either have to stay in AA for a while or Salome will be in the bigs or traded. I would prefer Salome as the back up, but wouldn't have Kottaras.

Jonathan Ede said...

Hello Michael,

Welcome to the blog. I'm always interested in new readers. As for the Heether/Inglett discussion, it's very interesting. I've always been a fan of Heether and I really think he deserves a shot in major leagues (especially after last season). I think Heether is a better hitter, but Inglett is a better defender. All in all, it's a wash, but with Heether being a righty, he might get the nod over Inglett. Also, with Heether probably being a better hitter, he might get the nod. Who would you rather have on your bench, Heether or Inglett? Also consider the Brewers already have a better Joe Inglett type player in Craig Counsell.

As for the catching situation, I think the Brewers' best catcher, other than Zaun, is Jonathan Lucroy. In the end, I think Kottaras, or Treanor will end up being the backup catcher because Salome/Lucroy are best suited in the minor leagues, getting consistent playing time. The talent gap between Kottaras and Treanor is minimal. With Treanor being the righty, right now I would give him the nod as the back up. Who would you rather have on the roster... Kottaras, or Treanor?

Michael said...

Heether and Inglett are projected by CHONE for similar wOBAs with Heether having an ISO about 20 points higher. They've both had very good minor league careers. In a team neutral situation, I would lean a little towards Inglett because he's been solid in his limited big league time. Both back up outfielders are likely to be left handed because Gerut, Edmonds, Oeltjen, and Stern are all left handed. Since the back up catcher is rarely used as a pinch hitter I would lean towards keeping Heether for the rare situation that a lefty reliever comes in to face a Brewers' pinch hitter (usually that lefty would be saved for Fielder).

As for the catching situation. If I had to choose between Kottaras and Treanor I would choose Kottaras. My first choice would be Salome though. I don't think he really projects as an everyday catcher in the bigs so I don't think sitting on the bench will hinder his development. Lucroy should spend this season in AAA with the intention of him being the starting catcher come 2011.

I know I made a case for the Brewers needing a righty on the bench, but I don't think it's a big deal. If a team only has one lefty reliever does anyone think they would bring him in to face Inglett? Or would they save him to face Prince? I know some teams have 2 lefties, but usually they aren't both dominant against left hitters. There is always a chance that Gerut ends up being the starting CF and Gomez is a right handed bat on the bench.

G.J. Waala said...

Freel definitely leaves it all on the field but his durability is questionable.

It sounds like Edmonds is going to be a regular pinch hitter & also be a corner OF sub when Braunie & Hart need a day off. Gerut might simply become Go-Go's CF sub.

Jonathan Ede said...

Freel has always been a fan favorite. I can remember him time and time again diving all over the diamond with no regard for his safety. His versatility and solid numbers at the plate actually lead to him be a 9.7 WAR player from 2003-2006. Needless to say, those days are behind Freel. At this point in his career, it's tough to think he can keep a ML roster spot.

Jonathan Ede said...


I completely agree about having Inglett over Heether on a neutral team. I guess I've never considered this, but Gamel might actually just start in AAA, leaving another roster spot open. Who knows, maybe Heether and Inglett will both make the team. Although that would leave just 11 pitching spots. With the way Macha runs through relievers, I think they need a minimum of 12 out there. So even if Gamel starts in Nashville, it will still come down to Inglett/Heether. Of course that all hinges on Edmonds making the team. If Edmonds has nothing left (I think he does have something left), Inglett and Heether would probably make the team. Melvin said he liked Inglett's versatility in the outfield, so he would be a lock if Gerut is the only backup outfielder.

On the catching situation, I guess I wouldn't mind having Salome as a backup. I am very high on Jonathan Lucroy for the future. He posted a 15.4 BB% last season in AA. I think he's best suited playing everyday for Nashville next season. If putting Salome on the majoe league roster means more starts for Lucroy at AAA, then I'm all for it. It's nice to think we have a bright future at a position where the Brewers have rarely excelled.