Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Weeks Extension

The Milwaukee Brewers announced Wednesday they have agreed to a four year extension with second baseman Rickie Weeks. The deal, in its entirety, would pay Weeks $38.5 million through the 2014 season, with an $11.5 million option for 2015.

This news could not have come at a more opportune time. Weeks had taken an Albert Pujols like stance on negotiating his contract with the Brewers. With Weeks' deadline fast approaching, give both sides credit in getting this deal done.

When analyzing this deal, it seems to be a simple case of risk reward. While Rickie was entirely healthy in the 2010 season, his past has been something that raises flags. When looking at Weeks, you can't overlook the injuries that have plagued him in his career. However, you also can't dismiss the incredible talent he has showed when staying healthy. This season, Weeks was able to put everything together in a very impressive 6.1 WAR, which ranked highest among all Brewers.

When looking at contracts in baseball, it generally is broken down by who got a better deal; the player, or the team. Then, based on that assumption, the deal is either looked at positively, or negatively. In this case, it seems pretty clear that both sides won. Weeks, 28, succeeded in securing his future financial responsibilities and the Brewers got a top of the line talent for cheap.

Weeks was going to become a free agent after this season. For arguments sake, let's say Weeks stayed healthy and replicated his 2010 production. On the free agent market, Weeks could have easily fetched $15 million per season. Elite, power hitting second basemen are tough to come by, especially ones who are prone to draw walks. Worst case scenario, if Weeks' injury problems resurface, the Brewers are only on the hook for four seasons. Having that $11.5 as a safety zone makes this deal look even better for the Brewers. Based on fair market value, Weeks would have to accrue 10 WAR during the length of his contract. With his talent, Weeks should easily surpass that number.

This contract will take Weeks through his age 32 season. Getting a player of Rickie's caliber, in his prime, for this price is an absolute steal. Sure he has a tendency to strike out, but Weeks is able to combat that with power and patience. Getting him locked up will go along way to securing the success of this franchise for years to come. The future after 2012 may have looked dark before today, but that just got much brighter. Congratulations to Gord Ash, Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers on a fantastic offseason.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ranking the Staff

Since the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, there has been a lot of talk of just how good the Brewers starting staff is. With the value that is put on starting pitching in today's game, it shouldn't be surprising that there are numerous teams with strong pitching staffs. Let's take a look at how the Brewers staff ranks amongst the best. For a general reference point, we will be using their 2010 WAR.

Milwaukee Brewers

Zack Greinke (5.2 WAR)
Yovani Gallardo (4.6 WAR)
Shaun Marcum (3.5 WAR)
Randy Wolf (0.7 WAR)
Chris Narveson (1.7 WAR)

Brewers Staff- 14.7 WAR

Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay (6.6 WAR)
Cliff Lee (7.1 WAR)
Roy Oswalt (4.7 WAR)
Cole Hamels (3.8 WAR)
Joe Blanton (1.9 WAR)

Phillies Staff- 24.1 WAR

San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum (5.1 WAR)
Matt Cain (4.0 WAR)
Jonathan Sanchez (2.6 WAR)
Madison Bumgarner (2.0 WAR)
Barry Zito (2.1 WAR)

Giants Staff- 15.8 WAR

St. Louis Cardinals

Adam Wainwright (6.1 WAR)
Chris Carpenter (3.7 WAR)
Jaime Garcia (3.2 WAR)
Jake Westbrook (2.3 WAR)
Kyle Lohse (0.7 WAR)

Cardinals Staff- 16 WAR

Oakland Athletics

Dallas Braden (3.0 WAR)
Brett Anderson (2.6 WAR)
Trevor Cahill (2.2 WAR)
Gio Gonzalez (3.2 WAR)
Brandon McCarthy (DNP 1.3 WAR in 2009)

Athletics Staff- 12.3 WAR

Minnesota Twins

Francisco Liriano (6.0 WAR)
Carl Pavano (3.2 WAR)
Scott Baker (2.5 WAR)
Brian Duensing (1.7 WAR)
Nick Blackburn (0.4 WAR)

Twins Staff- 13.8 WAR

Based on this result, the rankings would go as follows for the best team staffs in baseball:

Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins
Oakland Athletics

That's a pretty impressive jump for the Brewers, who finished 26th in team ERA last season. One thing to keep in mind is the way Randy Wolf's year went. Just after the all-star break, Wolf had pitched his way to a WAR of -1.0. He was able to find his stuff down the stretch and salvage 2010. If he is able to pitch that way in 2011, the Brewers could easily have the second best starting staff in baseball. Very encouraging news for Brewers fans accustomed to seeing large numbers posted on Miller Park's scoreboard for visiting teams.