Showing posts with label Rickie Weeks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rickie Weeks. Show all posts

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Three Things To Watch This Spring For The Brewers



As pitchers and catchers report to camp for the Milwaukee Brewers, many questions remain unanswered. Although the progression of Spring Training will provide clarity to these questions that arose during the offseason, here are a few things to watch during this Spring Training for The Crew.

1. Who's on first? Who's on second?

There will be major competition to two positions throughout spring as there is a three way (maybe even a four way) battle at for a two-man platoon of first base and a two-man battle for playing time at second base.

Juan Francisco will be joined by either Mark Reynolds or Lyle Overbay on the Opening Day 25 man roster once the dust settles from Spring Training. Both Reynolds and Overbay were signed on minor league deals with invites to major league spring training to duke it out for a starting first base position. Unless there is an injury, I don't see how Lyle Overbay makes the 25 man roster. I really think this one may be locked up before spring training even begins. Could a name like Sean Halton or Hunter Morris emerge as a candidate as well? I'd say yes, but there's a reason why the Brewers went out and signed Reynolds and Overbay in the first place.

As for second base, either Rickie Weeks or Scooter Gennett will be starting at second base on Opening Day while the other will ride the bench and enjoy some sunflower seeds and Gatorade. No matter who starts and who doesn't on Opening Day, though, this will be a platoon just like first base. Who ever plays and who doesn't will ultimately reflect on the pitching match-up and obviously who's swinging the hot bat and who's not. Earlier in the offseason, Ron Roenicke implied that Scooter Gennett was the favorite to be the starting second baseman heading into the 2014 season, but all of that can change with a hot spring by the recently married Rickie Weeks.


2. Who will take over the lead off duties?

The Brewers have an extremely large void at the lead off spot in the batting order now that Norichika Aoki is gone as he was traded to the Royals earlier this offseason for south-paw pitcher Will Smith. The plus about Aoki is that he always found a way to get on base. Infield singles, bunting, hit by pitches, walking...he found a way to get on. Aoki also lead the entire league in at bats per strikeout at 14.9. In order to replicate the same offensive statistics as the Brewers did last year, they will need to be careful on who they put in that role.

Because of his speed, the obvious candidate that comes to mind for some would be Carlos Gomez. He had a break out year last season and is set up to have an even bigger one this year. That being said, Carlos is not known for being patient at the plate and tends to strike out more often than not. Granted he set personal records in hits (152), batting average (.284), on base % (.338), stolen bases (40), and walks (37) last season, he also set a personal record in strikeouts (146). I personally think he's better suited batting in the two-hole behind the lead-off hitter or in the 6th spot in the order if his power stroke returns. His placement depends on who else is in the lineup that day.

The most realistic candidate for the leadoff spot is Jean Segura. He's got about the same amount of speed as Carlos Gomez. He offers the same attributes and Nori Aoki did as a lead off hitter. Segura's on base percentage of .329 is right on cue with the league average (.329). Segura and Aoki have the same exact RC/9 (runs created per 9 innings/27 outs). Basically, if you took nine Jean Seguras or nine Nori Aokis and put them in a lineup, they would produce 4.8 runs per game. They both have near identical offensive win % (Jean is .543, Nori is .545) Just like RC/9, if you have nine of either player, you would win 54% of your games. One of my favorite advanced stats to look at for a lead off hitter is total average. You find that by adding up total bases, hit by pitches, walks, and stolen bases (subtract caught stealing) and divide that by subtracting hits from at bats and then adding caught stealing and ground in to double players (Total Bases + HBP + BB + SB - CS) / (AB - H + CS + GIDP). By doing that, you'll find that Jean Segura beats out Nori Aoki's .660 total average with a .699 total average of his own.

(Note: Scooter Gennett has a lot to work on before he can even be considered as a lead off hitter.)

My quick projected lineup for opening day:

(Assuming LHP Mike Minor is Atlanta's Opening Day Starter)

1. Jean Segura
2. Carlos Gomez
3. Ryan Braun
4. Aramis Ramirez
5. Mark Reynolds
6. Jonathon Lucroy
7. Rickie Weeks
8. Khris Davis
9. Yovani Gallardo

(Assuming RHP Kris Medlen is Atlanta's Opening Day Starter)

1. Jean Segura
2. Scooter Gennett
3. Ryan Braun
4. Aramis Ramirez
5. Jonathon Lucroy
6. Carlos Gomez
7. Juan Francisco
8. Khris Davis
9. Yovani Gallardo


3. Who will round out the final spots of the bullpen?

The bullpen has between four to five spots already filled. You'd have to assume that Jim Henderson, Francisco Rodriguez, Brandon Kintzler, Tom Gorzelanny, and Will Smith all have bullpen spots secured. That being said, there are about five more guys available for the Brewers to pick from to fill the final two spots.

Tyler Thornburg - With the signing of Matt Garza, Tyler Thornburg was unfortunately bumped from the starting rotation. He could still make the team, but he'll have to settle for a bullpen role. If he has a strong spring and the Brewers think he's more valuable in the Brewers bullpen rather in the Sounds starting rotation, he could take one of the final spots.

Rob Wooten - We got to see Rob for the first time last season. He produced a respectable 3-1 record, 3.90 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 27.2 innings pitched. He has good control and movement on his low-90s fastball. He makes a case to make the bullpen.

Alfredo Figaro - The flamethrower could find his way back into the bullpen if the Brewers feel they need his arm back in there. I, however, feel Figaro will be DFA'd when a spot for Mark Reynolds needs to be cleared.

Michael Blazek - Acquired from the Cardinals last season in which we sent them John Axford, some say Michael Blazek is John Axford 2.0. Big arm with closer potential. He'll definitely get a serious look.

Photo: brewers.com
Wei-Chung Wang - A Rule 5 Draft pick, Wang (right) would have to stay on the Brewers' 25 man roster for the entire season. Otherwise, he'd be sent back to the Pirates unless the Brewers and Pirates work out some sort of deal. Wang will be given a look this spring, but it's going to be difficult for him to stay on the team when he's never pitched passed rookie ball. He may end up becoming a trade chip if he pitches well.

Outside looking in: Donovan Hand, Jimmy Nelson, Zach Duke, Michael Olmsted.

Hopefully this gets everyone even more excited for Brewers baseball! 43 days until Opening Day. 43 days.


Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Packers, Brewers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live in-game commentary, breaking news, rumors, previews, and post game discussion. Follow the entire writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, and @10iskristin

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Brewers' Remaining First Base Options



The Winter Meetings have come to an end and the Brewers left Orlando with their tails between their legs after losing out on the bid for free agent Corey Hart who landed with the Mariners. The team was constantly checking in on Ike Davis from the Mets and Logan Morrison of the Marlins, who was eventually moved to the Mariners.

Now the team must figure out what direction they will go between now until the start to Spring Training and eventually leading up to Opening Day. Do they pick from the scraps remaining in the free agent market? Do they attempt to make a trade without giving up major parts of our farm system? Or, do they stick with what we have currently? I'll take a look at every option available...as painful as it may be.

Free Agent Market


Mark Reynolds

Mark is probably what most Brewers fans want at first base if they are fans who crave another power hitter. He's the most powerful right handed bat left on the market, but for every homerun he would hit for the Brewers he'll strike out twenty five times. A platoon with Juan Francisco would guarantee an aneurysm from Tom Haudricourt on Twitter on a daily basis. And, honestly, I don't think Mark Reynolds is a good option at all. His career slash line is .233/.339/.464 and averages 180 strikeouts a year.

Defensively, he would be a solid addition to provide depth not only at first base but third base as well. He's had three times the playing time at third base than first base, but he has played just fine at first. He holds a 99 Fielding % at first and a 92.8 Fielding % at third.

He honestly hasn't had a season to write home about since 2009, and even then it was just "meh". That's if you are like me and don't measure someone's season by home runs and RBI. Overall, I don't see the Brewers bringing in Mark Reynolds because for the money they'll have to fork over won't be worth the production he will give the team. He's young at the age of 30, but with the rapid decline in his play recently, you'd think he's 40.


Michael Young


When I first heard about the Brewers having interest in Michael Young, I honestly wasn't too excited about it. It is one of those things that makes sense, but wouldn't even be a thought if there were better options available. This is the case with Michael Young.

He holds a pretty respectable career slash line of .300/.346/.441. He's not a huge power hitter. He's just your average hitter and gets on base. He could play any position in the infield, so depth wise he'd be a great addition. For first base specifically, he's played 111 career games there (out of 1,900+ total career games).

The Brewers are also looking at Michael Young because of his veteran leadership (see: #LohseLeadership). He's a 7-time All-Star, a gold glove winner, and has post-season experience. He would be this year's Mark Kotsay or Jerry Hairston Jr.


Jeff Baker

You guys ready for this? As I said the other day on Twitter, when Jeff Baker is the best free agent first basemen on the market, you might have a problem. I originally said this as a joke, but the more I looked at his statistics last year with Texas, I warmed up to the idea of Baker platooning with Francisco. Baker actually would be a great signing and wouldn't cost Milwaukee too much. First of all, Baker is only 32 years old. He's an ultra utility man. He can play first, second, and third base as well as the corner outfield positions.

Last year with Texas, he slashed a .279/.360/.545 143 OPS+ in 74 games played. Call me crazy, but there may be something there. Those are the best numbers he's put up in his career. Also, before Jeff Baker landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury from high-fiving a teammate, Jeff Baker was hitting .317/.391/.695 (1.086 OPS). Just saying. 


Yuniesky Betancourt

Never mind.


Other names available that I know the Brewers have no interest in is obviously Kendrys Morales because we would lose our draft pick if we sign him. Casey Kotchman is awful. Lyle Overbay and Carlos Pena are old. So, yeah.

Trade


Ike Davis

We've seen this for weeks now. The Mets and Brewers are/were trying to work out a trade but the Brewers don't want to sacrifice any young pitching, which is smart on Melvin's part. Trading for Ike Davis is a crap shoot. He had an atrocious season last year, at least it would appear on paper he did. But, what if I told you it wasn't the entire season? I did some research and what I found out was kind of surprising.


What this shows exactly is that Ike Davis was sent down to the minor leagues after his horrific start to the 2013 season. His second half numbers show his production when he was called back up to the majors. Did he figure something out while in the minors? Statistics support that theory. Lower strikeouts, high walk rate, and getting on base more. He was clearly seeing the ball better. Melvin sees something in this guy and I think a change of scenery would help Davis.


Justin Smoak

Now that the Mariners have acquired every first baseman in the league, they obviously don't need Justin Smoak anymore. Justin Smoak is a switch hitter, but so is Cesar Izturis. Smoak is a far better hitter batting left handed vs. right handed.

A lot of people say Smoak is broken and can't be fixed. I really can't argue that because his stats are pretty bad, but I will say there was a huge improvement last year from years before.


In 2012, Justin Smoak (in 132 games) hit .217/.290/.364, 85 OPS+, .242 BABIP, 49 BB, 111 SO, -0.2 WAR.

In 2013, Justin Smoak (in 131 games) hit .238/.334/.412, 113 OPS+, .278 BABIP, 64 BB, 119 SO, +1.1 WAR.

The one downfall about Smoak is that he's only a first baseman and provides absolutely no depth at any other position. That is obviously something that will factor into who Doug Melvin wants to target.


C.J. Cron

Not sure if everyone remembers, but the Angels signed Albert Pujols to a contract where he's their first baseman until he's 42 years old. So, obviously you'd have to imagine the Angels would be willing to deal Cron. Since the Angels are already wheeling and dealing, the Brewer may want to at least kick a tire or two.

This is not a move where Cron would be starting right away. The only way the Brewers make this trade is if they are dead set on having an internal option (see below) platoon with Juan Francisco. A move for Cron would also mean they have all but given up on Hunter Morris, which already seems like they are heading down that road as it is.


Adam Dunn

No.


Other names that are out there are Mitch Moreland and Kyle Blanks. Both of these guys will be tough to pry from their teams as they both are highly valued. The Rangers can always use Moreland in a DH role with Fielder at first base now and the Padres like Blanks as first base/outfield depth.

Internal Options


Juan Francisco

Doug Melvin said that unless things change, Juan Francisco is slated to be the starting first baseman for the Brewers in 2014. But he also mentioned he's looking into other options (Michael Young, Ike Davis, etc.). Juan will be something to watch this year. He's been playing well in the Dominican Winter League. If he has a sharp spring, I think we might see a nice turnaround for Juan. He's been an experiment that I hope the Brewers staff can fix and repair. He also provides depth at third base.


Hunter Morris/Sean Halton/Jason Rogers

Doug Melvin also said that these three will be in the mix as possible depth for first base. Out of the three, Sean Halton makes the most sense. If the team was confident in Hunter Morris he would have been called up already and Jason Rogers hasn't played passed Double-A ball yet. As scary as it sounds, we may end up settling for a Francisco/Halton platoon.


Rickie Weeks?

"Go home, Andrew. You're drunk."


If I were to pick an option from each category, I'd go with Jeff Baker from the free agents just because he's a right handed bat who had a lot of under the radar success last year. Trade, I have to go with Ike Davis. I really think he figured things out after his demotion last year. Internally, it's tough to say because I don't like any of it. I suppose Halton is the way to go but I think Weeks should give it a shot. It all remains to be seen.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Packers, Brewers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live in-game commentary, breaking news, rumors, previews, and post game discussion. Follow the entire writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, @10iskristin, and @JoeWiscoSports.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Meetings Notes: Brewers Edition




The Winter Meetings are well underway and it's off to a hot start for many major league teams. This article will be updated as more information becomes available. The following is what is out as of right now that I know of.

- The Brewers have contacted the New York Mets again regarding 1B Ike Davis, as have the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets asking price is said to still be way too high and nothing is expected to happen there. [via MLB Trade Rumors]

- The Brewers remain in the hunt for Miami Marlins 1B/OF Logan Morrison, as well as a few other teams including the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Pirates. There was a rumbling that Rickie Weeks may be on the table for Logan Morrison but I can't confirm that. Personally, if you're talking Weeks in a trade, you have to assume the Brewers are paying most of that salary anyways or a third team is involved in the trade. [via MLB Trade Rumors]

- The Brewers have contacted the San Francisco Giants about 1B Brett Phill. [via Henry Schulman]

- The Brewers are looking for veteran relief pitchers. They have not contacted John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez but have checked in on former Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. [via Tom Haudricourt]

- The Brewers have met with Corey Hart's agent. The Brewers will wait for Hart's agent to gather other offers and then will negotiate. Hart remains the Brewers' #1 priority. [via MLB Trade Rumors]

- Six teams have apparently checked in on former Brewers "pop out to right field with bases loaded and two out" man Yuniesky Betancourt. Marlins are the most interested, shockingly. [via Chris Cottilo]

- Tom Gorzelanny had shoulder surgery. He won't be able to pitch until mid March. Don't be alarmed, it's said to only be a "clean up" procedure. [via Tom Haudricourt]

- Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks are on schedule with their rehabs. [via Tom Haudricourt]

- Ryan Braun got married over the weekend. [Multiple Reports]

UPDATE: (12/10/13 1:43PM CT)


- Tom Haudricourt states in his following tweets that the "Brewers would not trade for a first baseman unless they get a definite no from Corey Hart. And they are hoping for answer very soon." Tom next tweet was rather confusing to tell what he meant to say, but believes the "Brewers have told Corey Hart what they'd be willing to do. A matter of accepting it or not. If not, trade for 1B." In addition, Tom states that "Weeks is recovering from major injury, has $11 M contract and has been in two-year offensive decline. Not a very marketable trade candidate."



Adam's tweet pretty much echos Haudrcourt's, but that's the latest on Corey Hart.

UPDATE: (12/10/13 4:36PM CT)

- Report: Corey Hart and the Milwaukee Brewers are actively moving towards a contract agreement and have been all day. It is expected to be completed before the Winter Meetings are over. Full report on said activities were reported by the Brewer Nation Blog.


The Brewers, as mentioned above, will not pursue a trade until the hear from Corey Hart on the offer they submitted to him. I can't imagine the Brewers will wait an extended amount of time on Hart. I would expect an announcement within the next 24 hours.

- Ron Roenicke named Tyler Thornburg the Brewers front runner to be the 5th starter for the rotation in 2014. The rotation would sit at Lohse, Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Thornburg. [via Adam McCalvy]

- Ron Roenicke also says that he doesn't need to know the specifics on Ryan Braun's steroid use and neither does anyone else. [via Adam McCalvy]

- Ron Roenicke confirms Scooter Gennett is penciled in as the starting second baseman for the Brewers heading into the 2014 season. Rickie Weeks' future is up in the air. [via Adam McCalvy]

Personally, if Rickie wants to impress, he may want to think about trying third base out. That would be a tough transition for him because of his arm strength. But, he really has no other choice.

UPDATE: (12/10/13 8:20PM CT)

Corey Hart could make his decision as early as tonight, tweets Adam McCalvy. The Brewers were reported earlier to have been working with Hart all day on a deal. Hopefully it pays off.

If the Brewers miss out of Hart and don't end up being the team that signs him, it appears they have a back up plan...Ike Davis. (UGH)

UPDATE: (12/10/13 9:42PM CT)


Good to hear. I did not want Ike Davis. Lots of people did not want Ike Davis. I'm so happy to know Melvin isn't willing to trade a young pitcher like Tyler Thornburg for a crap shoot in Davis. Now signing Corey Hart is even more important.

UPDATE: (12/11/13 9:07PM CT)

- Reports have suggested that Doug Melvin has set a noon deadline for Corey Hart on his decision. Haudricourt is very optimistic about Hart returning to the Brewers. But, he notes that all it takes is one team to swoop in to change that optimism. If Hart doesn't return, the Brewers seem to be set on their internal options of Juan Francisco, Sean Halton, and Hunter Morris. They are no longer in talks with the Marlins about Logan Morrison and the Mets about Ike Davis. [via Tom Haudricourt]


Now it appears Morrison/Marlins trade might end up being the backup plan if Hart says no, according to Tom Haudricourt.

- According to Adam Marchand of ESPN, the Brewers are among eight other teams that have checked in on left handed pitcher Johan Santana. Other teams to check in are the Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Twins, Rays, Orioles, and Royals. Not sure the extent of the interest or how much both sides talked, but it makes sense. Johan would be a pretty affordable option to have. He has had injury issues, specifically to his throwing shoulder. Those surgeries have made Johan miss two out of the last three seasons. [via ESPN]

- According to Adam McCalvy, Doug Melvin spoke to James Loney’s agent early Wednesday morning. McCalvy wrote "...there could theoretically be opportunity there if Loney comes down from his reported three-year request." McCalvy added "trades with the Mets for Ike Davis or the Marlins for Logan Morrison are possible, though the Mets’ ask was pretty high for Davis, a player who struggled so mightily in 2013 that he was demoted to Triple-A at one point. New York wants Tyler Thornburg, and sounded firm on it." [via Brewers Beat]

According to multiple reports, Corey Hart is down to two teams...the Brewers and the Mariners. Corey has strong connections with Seattle, as GM Jack Zduriencik drafted him. If the Mariners get Hart, you have to wonder if they'd be willing to trade Justin Smoak. And, since the Brewers are all for trading for Ike Davis or Logan Morrison, I don't see why they wouldn't consider Smoak. [via Multiple Reports]

- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Corey Hart is heading to the Mariners on a one year deal. Adam McCalvy also confirmed Hart is going to Seattle. From what it sounds like, Seattle offered him a deal he simply could not turn down. Should be interesting to see the exact details of it.

The Brewers were prepared to sign Hart to a one year deal was worth $4MM guaranteed with $2.5MM in earning incentives, totaling a max of $6.5MM

Seattle's deal is worth $6MM guaranteed with $7MM earning incentives, totaling $13MM.

- Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that the Brewers have been talking to James Loney. He implies that he could be the next target for the Brewers if the team chooses not to trade for Davis, Morrison, etc.

- Moments after the Mariners signed Corey Hart, they also acquired Logan Morrison from the Marlins in exchange for RHP Carter Capps. They really hurts the remaining players available for the Brewers. Ike Davis, Justin Smoak, and Mitch Moreland via trade, or free agent James Loney. Brewers are in talks with James Loney's agent. [via Multiple Sources]

- Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers have sincere interest in James Loney, but don't expect to get anything done before they leave Orlando tomorrow. [via Adam McCalvy]


- Doug Melvin hints he may have his eye on someone in the Rule 5 Draft, since the team's 40 man roster sits at 39. Let the speculation begin.


More to come as it becomes available....


Until next time, Beer, Brats, and Championships.

- Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live, in-game commentary, breaking news, previews and post game discussions. Follow the entire Wisconsin Sports Blog writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, and @10iskristin.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Brewers First Half Report Card: Offense

As you very well know, baseball is a team sport, not an individual sport. However, I thought it would be fun to hand out grades based off of individual performances. Here’s a breakdown of how I think each Brewers position player has performed this year.

Yuniesky Betancourt (1B, 3B); D+

While he was somehow productive for the entire month of April (I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happened there), his play has been abysmal lately. He is currently on pace to break records that nobody wants to break. His defense isn’t completely horrible at first base, but if I never have to watch him play third base ever again, it will still be too soon. There are really only 4 things that you can count on Yuni to do anymore – pop up, strike out, hits into a double play, and run slower to first base at a slower pace than Lou Piniella walking to a pitching mound. Well, it seems like that long, anyways.

Ryan Braun (LF); B+

He’s had a terribly hard time trying to stay healthy this year and he is currently on the disabled list. There were a couple weeks at the end of April and in early May when he was providing typical Ryan Braun production, but after his thumb injury really started to bother him, he began striking out in bundles. Even if this is a “down year” for Braun, he still owns a .304 batting average and has batted in 36 runs this season. He has 9 home runs on the year, and has also hit two triples. He was still getting hits consistently before landing on the disabled list, but you could tell he was having a hard time swinging the bat. Hopefully once his thumb heals up, we will see the vintage Ryan Braun back in the 3-hole.

Nori Aoki (RF); B-

He has been a pleasant surprise for the Brewers for the past couple of seasons. While he has had a couple of cold spells this year, he has been relatively consistent offensively throughout his time in the big leagues. However, he is prone to getting thrown out on the bases fairly frequently. This is something the Brewers struggle with as a team, but I’ve noticed it with Nori more than any other player. This is not a trait that you want to have in your lead-off hitter, especially with a player such as Jean Segura hitting behind him. His defense also tends to be rather shaky at times. When you look at the statistics, they tell you that he is a good defender, but when you watch him play in a game, you see otherwise. He often takes poor routes while attempting to catch fly balls that most outfielders would catch easily. He also plays very deep in the outfield (I’m not sure if this is because this is what he is comfortable with, or if it’s because the Brewers coaching staff thinks that this is what’s best) and this allows the opponents to get singles more often than they would if he wouldn’t be playing at the warning track for every single player. Overall, he has been a solid player and provides good offense as a lead-off hitter, but when you’re getting picked off bases consistently and giving away runs on defense, this offsets your offense production.

Carlos Gomez (CF); A

If you would have told me before the season that on July 2nd Gomez would have a batting average in the .300s, I would have asked you how much you have had to drink today. This is just a remarkable season for Gomez, and he keeps impressing Brewers fans more and more every day. His current splits are .309/.349/.557. His defense is also impeccable – exactly 1 fly ball has gotten over Gomez’s head this year, and that play resulted in an error. He makes playing center field look easy. (Although, after watching Nyjer Morgan play center field for the Brewers the last two seasons, a random little league player could make playing center field look easy… Kidding. Kind of). He does occasionally get picked off base when he probably shouldn’t, but he’s gotten better with that recently. He already has 16 stolen bases on the season and has only been caught stealing 3 times. He’s one of the few bright spots on the Brewers this year and I think he has a legitimate shot at finishing the year with a batting average in the .300s.

Logan Schafer (LF; CF; RF); C-

Logan saw limited playing time at the beginning of the season, but once Ryan Braun was placed on the disabled list, he’s taken over in left field for the majority of the games. While his offense hasn’t been very impressive this season, his defense has almost made up for it. He’s already gunned down 2 players at the plate this season from the outfield and covers a ton of ground on defense. He has plenty of speed, so I’m kind of surprised that he doesn’t try to bunt for base hits more often. Overall, an average/acceptable performance for someone who is trying to fill in for an MVP.

Aramis Ramirez (3B); B-

While he has been productive at times this year, he has been dealing with an injury since the beginning of the season when he slid into second base and jammed his knee in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This landed him on the disabled list and he still is not able to play every day. He currently has 47 hits, only 5 of which are homeruns. He also has 11 doubles. These aren’t exactly the kind of numbers that you want to see out of your cleanup hitter, and you have to believe that his knee injury is interfering with his power numbers this season. Hopefully he will able to regain full health and revert back to his pre-injury form.

Jean Segura (SS); A

Segura’s performance this year has probably come as an even bigger surprise to me than Gomez’s breakout year. Segura has impressed both offensively and defensively. He has struggled recently, but has delivered an outstanding performance so far this season. His current splits are .325/.358/.503. He also has 24 stolen bases on the year and has only been caught stealing 3 times. He shows incredible range at shortstop and has a very strong throwing arm; we’ve already seen him throw out plenty of base-runners from his knees. There’s not much more I can say about Segura other than he has been unbelievable this year. Poor Angels

Rickie Weeks (2B); C+

While his first six weeks or so of the season were completely terrible both offensively and defensively, he has been a hitting machine lately. I myself was about ready to give up on Weeks, but then at the beginning of June he started to prove all of the doubters wrong. He just won the Brewers’ player of the month award for June and has worked his way out of a platoon. I don’t know if some of his struggles at the plate were mental, or if the slight changes that he made to his batting mechanics helped or if there was some other reason for his struggles, but he has certainly earned his starting job back.

Jonathan Lucroy (C); A-

Lucroy also had a slow start offensively this season, but he has also been hitting a lot more recently. He is currently batting .267 and leads the team with 42 RBI. I don’t know if “clutch hitting” is real or not, but if it is, he has been the definition of clutch. Even when he was struggling, he always seemed to get his hits while there were runners in scoring position. He is also fantastic at framing the ball while catching. I gave him an A- because even though his offensive numbers aren’t as impressive as they have been in previous years, he has been very good at calling and catching games this year. People often give all of the credit to the pitchers when they have good performances, but Lucroy definitely makes the pitching staff better. (Or, should I say, not quite so horrible).

Martin Maldonado (C); C

Martín was never known for his hitting in the minor leagues, and that’s starting to show this season. He’s always been an excellent defensive catcher and has an outstanding throwing arm. His offense this season has not been good, but he’s done a good job calling and catching games. For a backup catcher, this production is about all you can ask for.

Until next time, Beer, Brats, and Championships.

- Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin)

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live, in-game commentary, breaking news, previews and post game discussions. Follow the entire Wisconsin Sports Blog writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @SMahon2Go, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, @Mik3_Schu, and @10iskristin.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Few Ideas for the Brewers at the Trade Deadline

The Brewers will be an active team during the the closing weeks of July as the Non-waiver Trade Deadline looms.

We know it's coming. Doug said it's happening. Mark A. hinted it. Major changes are coming. They will be freeing salary cap while reloading the farm system in the process. Rebuilding for success is about to begin.

I had a long conversation regarding these possible trade ideas with fellow Brewers blogger Ryan Topp (@RyanTopp), who writes over at the Disciples of Uecker blog. We collaborated for a few hours on who are high priority people that need to move, and less important players that don't necessarily need to be moved, but should be shopped.

Here are a few trades that make a lot of sense for both parties involved. These aren't rumors, so don't take them as rumors. These are just ideas of mine that I have put together through research of the prospects and team needs. So, let's get started.

1. Milwaukee Brewers trade 3B Aramis Ramirez to the Boston Red Sox for LHP Brian Johnson and 2B Mookie Betts.

This one is easy. Aramis is set to be the highest paid Brewer next year at 16 million dollars. That is a lot of money that could be freed up for a rebuilding team. Also, the Red Sox need a lot of help at the hot corner. It's been a cold corner for them, actually. Will Middlebrooks has been terrible this year. The phenomenon that is José Iglesias will eventually cool off as well, although he is playing about as good as anyone right now in the Bigs. When it's all said and done, the Red Sox will need a right handed power bat in that lineup. Ramirez could play some DH for the Red Sox if Big Papi were to play first base on those days. The Red Sox have been a nice surprise this year, and Ramirez could be a nice threat added to that already solid lineup.

As for who the Brewers could get, I like the upside in Brian Johnson. He's a south paw who has a 4-pitch arsenal. He has a good sinking fast ball that touches around 92-93, a great slider that is his out pitch, a developing change up, and a decent curve. He's having a bit of an off year at age 22, so he could be available. Brian is ranked the #13 prospect in the Red Sox organization, according to MLB.com.

Mookie Betts is a hidden gem in the Red Sox farm system.
The other component to this trade is someone hidden in the Red Sox farm system, but someone who I think has a bright future in the MLB. Second baseman Mookie Betts is showing great patience in A-ball. He's actually having a very unique season. He's one of only five players currently in the minors who has at least 7 home runs with more walks than strikeouts. Betts actually has almost twice as many walks as strike outs with at least 7 round trippers. (8 HR, 46 walks, 29 strikeouts). To put that into perspective, since 2001, only Barry Bonds has accomplished such a statistic.

I believe the Red Sox would love to have Aramis Ramirez. If they bring him back for next year, it would give the Red Sox another year to develop 3B Garin Cecchini so he's ready by 2015 to take over the hot corner in Boston.  

2. Milwaukee Brewers trade RHP Yovani Gallardo and 1B/OF Corey Hart to the Texas Rangers for 3B Mike Olt, RHP Neil Ramirez, and RHP C.J. Edwards.

There are two Yovani trades I could come up with. (Actually, the first one is mine and the other belongs to Ryan Topp) 

This might seem as a stretch for some, as Texas rarely trades away top prospects. But, there's a part of me that believes Texas has a secret man crush on these two Brewers. A lot of this trade may be apart of a desperation move by Texas if suspensions are handed out to Nelson Cruz for being a part of the Biogenesis scandal.

The Rangers are having all sorts of starting pitching issues to people not named Yu Darvish. Injury after injury after injury has caused over half the rotation to land on the DL. Gallardo has been proven to be a rather healthy guy since his ACL tear and recovery, which is appealing to any team looking for a reliable pitcher.

Another thing worth noting is that a trade very similar to this almost happened between the Brewers and Rangers last season when the Brewers were shopping Zack Greinke. Much like I mentioned above, the Rangers were reluctant to want to move any big prospects. However, now the Rangers have talked about moving guys like third base prospect Mike Olt, who would have to be the big name to come from Texas to the Brewers if they were to send Gallardo.

Neil Ramirez and C.J. Edwards are two pitching prospects the Brewers would likely be interested in. Much like the Zack Greinke trade, the Brewers will focus on getting a top prospect and then get two potentially great players as well. However, this time the Brewers will have to send more than one player, and it could be Corey Hart if he can prove he can play after the All-Star break. Texas would love the power bat of Corey Hart especially if worse comes to worst for Nelson Cruz. But the likelihood of any team wanting Hart is slim. So maybe you look to move Nori Aoki? Just to shop him, as he is one of the guys you wouldn't mind having in future plans but definite depth is there in the minors in case you do move him. Furthermore, Logan Schafer is sure proving he can be an every day player, thus losing Aoki wouldn't pinch as much.

OR

Milwaukee Brewers trade RHP Yovani Gallardo and 2B Rickie Weeks to the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Kevin Gausman, 1B Christian Walker, and C Michael Ohlman

Baltimore makes about the most sense on paper. Baltimore desperately needs pitching, and they have a ton of prospects. Plus, their issues at second base were like the Brewers' issues at shortstop a few years back. They have nothing acceptable now, and nothing in the works in their minor league system, which is why the trade makes a huge amount of sense.

Gausman after signing his contract last season.
Much like the trade above, this trade would have to produce a top prospect from the Orioles farm system. Kevin Gausman is the obvious choice. Taken 4th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft, Gausman is quickly climbing the levels of the Orioles farm system. Currently pitching in Triple-A along side with Dylan Bundy, he has been rather impressive. Ignoring the wins and losses, Kevin has a 3.11 ERA with 46 strikeouts and only 5 walks. He's got ace potential, number 2 guy at worst. He's going to be a front line starter in the near future.

If we are sending Weeks too, then I expect more names to be involved in such a trade like this. Christian Walker would be a great get for the Brewers in case the Hunter Morris project doesn't work out. Walker hits for average (currently batting .317 in the minors). He has 81 hits with 21 of them going for extra bases (14 doubles, 7 home runs). Currently plays in High-A ball and projected to make MLB debut somewhere in 2015-2016.

Finally, a little bit of a gamble but high ceiling player is Michael Ohlman. He's a catcher. He had a really bad year in 2011. Since then, he's been turning it up and showing vast improvements. Some scouts don't trust it, but you can't ignore the stats. In 2011 he hit .224. Two years later, he's batting .283. Still not "blown away" numbers, but they are definitely noteworthy. 

All of this comes together with sending away Rickie Weeks. The Orioles have a serious issue in their farm system with a lack of developing a second baseman. Weeks would bide them a few years time to address that issue. As much as don't want to see Weeks go, his salary bumps up to 11 million dollars next year and that may weigh the Brewers down if they truly focus on rebuilding.

3. Milwaukee Brewers trade LHP Michael/Mike Gonzalez and RHP Francisco Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers for OF Tyler Collins, LHP Matt Hoffman, and RHP Melvin Mercedes.

This one is a no-brainer. The Tigers need bullpen help. Bad. Jose Valverde is showing the Tigers why they didn't bring him back in the offseason. They have no real reliable source in the pen to take over the closer duties besides Phil Coke. Bruce Rondon was a big tug of war as far as will he be or won't he be our closer. Bottom-line, the Tigers need bullpen arms.

The Brewers could send a proven closer in K-Rod and a decent situational pitcher in Gonzalez in exchange for a few prospects. Both are veterans which is something that (kind of) young bullpen staff needs. 

The most important thing to remember is that this is what the Tigers need right now. They may be willing to part ways with some guys in the lower parts of their minor system to win now, which is why I chose Matt Hoffman and Melvin Mercedes. They both are promising relief pitchers that are just tearing up the minor leagues right now. Hoffman is 24 years old left handed pitcher in Triple-A for the Tigers. Hoffman is not on the Tigers 40 man roster, which is odd. He currently has an ERA of 1.13.

Melvin Mercedes might be a bit tough to get from Detroit. He's on their 40 man and he's having a better season than Hoffman. Granted the right handed pitcher is only 22 years of age pitching in High-A, his numbers are still really good. As a closer, Mercedes is sporting a line of 0.66 ERA/0.91 WHIP/.202 AVG, 11 saves, and 17 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched.

Finally, Tyler Collins is a corner outfielder with some good pop in his bat. Though only batting .223 so far this year, he is still putting up pretty decent stats. 22 extra base hits on 45 total hits, including 9 home runs.

4. Milwaukee Brewers trade RHP Kyle Lohse to the San Francisco Giants for LHP Michael Kickham and LHP Ty Blach.

The Giants will be looking for a helluva lot more than just starting pitching come the trade deadline. They need help all around the baseball diamond. The starting rotation, bullpen, second base, and outfield all need to be addressed for them. I think the Brewers will help them with a starting pitcher as Kyle Lohse makes a lot of sense here. They have some payroll freeing up after this season as the Barry Zito contract is on it's tail end. So picking up Lohse's contract wouldn't be all that bad for them.

Kickham pitching for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate.
Unlike the teams listed above, the Giants farm system isn't anything to write home about. There are a few guys that stand out that I think would have to be a part of the deal. The first being Michael Kickman. He's a lefty. He's got a good strike out pitch. And, he's likely only a year or so away from being 100% Big League ready. He made one start for the Giants this year and showed he isn't exactly ready yet. He only lasted 2 1/3 innings and is sporting a 15.43 ERA. He'll be a great middle of the rotation guy once he's truly ready.

Ty Blach is an interesting one. He's not anywhere near Baseball America's Top 30 (per team) for the Giants. Yet, he's tossing really good numbers so far this year for High-A. He's 7-2 over 12 starts, 2.41 ERA/1.09 WHIP/.255 AVG, while striking out 63 batters and only surrendering 8 walks. I like his upside and can be a good middle of the order lefty arm.

(A side note here: I'm not sure how serious we should be taking the San Diego Padres right now, but they are sure playing some great baseball and could be buyers at the deadline if they seriously have a Wild Card slot in sight. They would need pitching, and a lot of it.)

I'm not saying every single trade idea will happen, but these are some options the Brewers will have. They will be heavily shopping players for the next month and a half. It's going to be a pretty wild time. Change can be hard to deal with, especially as a fan because of the connection you develop with your favorite players. But, a change of landscape is needed for this team and it should be something everyone should be looking forward to if they want to Brewers to succeed in the near future.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live, in-game commentary, breaking news, previews and post game discussions. Follow the entire Wisconsin Sports Blog writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @SMahon2Go, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, @Mik3_Schu, and @10iskristin.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Look Ahead – Where the Brewers Offense Could be in 2014

If you’re like me, this Brewers seasons has frustrated you to no end and you’re probably having a difficult time coming up with positive things to say about the team. At this point, the only non-negative things you can think of to say are laced with sarcasm. Or perhaps now you’re just content that no other players have been injured within the last week. That’s a good start…I think? Segura has been fun to watch, and Gomez has been a nice surprise, but other than that, this season has pretty much been a nightmare. Sure, the Brewers just won a series in Miami and are coming off a 6-0 win against the division rival Reds yesterday, but for the most part, there haven’t been a whole lot of positives this season. For me, I’d much rather think about the future of this franchise than dwell on their ho-hum play from 2013.

Corey Hart trips on blade of grass, placed on 365 Day DL.
Let’s look forward to 2014 and see how next season could possibly start out. The players that the Brewers could and should end up moving this year are third baseman Aramis Ramirez, right fielder Nori Aoki, bullpen pitchers Francisco Rodriguez, Michael Gonzalez and possibly John Axford and Jim Henderson. The Brewers should also look to see what they could get in return for starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and possibly Yovani Gallardo. Rickie Weeks could be a player that the Brewers would be willing to part ways with, but with his performance so far this season I doubt that any team would be interested in trading for him unless he really starts hitting. Corey Hart is a common name that keeps coming up, but at this point, nobody really knows if he will even be on his rehab assignment before the trade deadline. His injury has kept him out longer than expected, and the Brewers don’t think that he will be ready to play before the All Star Break. This will drastically diminish his trade value and probably discourage teams from wanting to trade for him. I also think there’s a big possibility that the Brewers try and bring him back on a one year deal for 2014. 

So, if the Brewers end up trading some or all of these players, that means that they are going to be going into rebuild mode, and there could be a handful of rookie debuts next year. Here is how I think the 2014 roster will shape up. 

Left Field – Ryan Braun. There is zero chance that the Brewers trade him and barring any sudden developments in a situation that I won’t mention, he will be the Brewers starting left fielder on opening day 2014.

Center Field – Carlos Gomez. Another player who isn’t going anywhere. Gomez just received an extension before the season started and has performed better than anyone could have possibly imagined this year – it’s almost like he resurrected his career right before our eyes. (Hey, so this is what it feels like to be a Cardinals fan). It’s a treat to watch him play defense, and his speed on the bags makes him one of the best base runners in the game.

Right Field – Logan Schafer. He’s shown the Brewers what he is capable of doing on the field this year – offensive and defensively. He has one of the Brewers’ best defensive plays of the year this year, gunning down Miguel Montero at home plate from left field in early April. His throwing arm is a thing of beauty, and he has been on fire at the plate lately. If Nori Aoki gets traded, I think Schafer will become the everyday right fielder.


Honestly, this is a better option at third base than Yuni B.
Third Base – This one is more of a question mark, but the Brewers have a couple of possibilities should they trade Aramis Ramirez. They have Taylor Green, who is currently out for this season with a hip injury. Jeff Bianchi, who is being used as a utility man for the Brewers right now, has the ability to play third base. The Brewers also have Juan Francisco, who is currently sharing time at first base with Yuniesky Betancourt, but is a natural third baseman. They could also allow Josh Prince some playing time. He was with the team earlier this year and is currently batting .255 with an OBP of .349 in Nashville. I don’t think any of these guys are long term solutions, but for a team who is attempting to rebuild, any of them would be an okay fit for a year. As long as I don’t have to watch Yuniesky Betancourt ever play third base again, I’ll be happy.

Shortstop – Jean Segura. If you could give someone a negative chance of being traded, I would give that to him. Acquired in the Zack Greinke deal last year, Segura has become a hitting machine. He also has incredible range at shortstop and a very strong throwing arm. He’ll be here for awhile, folks.

Second base – I believe that Rickie Weeks will eventually get himself out of his hitting slump and start playing every day for the Brewers. He has started hitting lately, but is still in a platoon with Scooter Gennett. Weeks will be owed $12MM in 2014. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a player who is earning $12MM (the second highest 2014 salary behind Aramis’ $16MM) to be sitting on the bench half of the time. The Brewers aren’t going anywhere this year, so I’m not sure why they aren’t giving Weeks more opportunities now that he is finally starting to turn it around.

First base – Many people are saying that Hunter Morris will be called up to start at first base in 2014, but I have a feeling that Corey Hart will be back. Since his injury will have kept him out for at least half of the season, teams will probably be hesitant to give him a big deal. The Brewers could bring him back for one year and help him build up some value. If things go well for him and the Brewers aren’t in the race again next year, they could always trade him before the deadline (assuming his stays healthy).

Catcher – Either Jonathan Lucroy or Martin Maldonado will be the Brewers’ primary catcher in 2014. I seriously doubt that Lucroy gets traded, but if he does, we will probably see Maldy pick up most of the catching duties. 

So, as you can see, the Brewers offense will still be in pretty good shape next year. This “rebuild” will probably only take two or three years and the Brewers will be able to start contending for a postseason spot around 2015. And hopefully, by this time, the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates won’t be the three best teams in the National League. But, for now, we’re just going to have to try and survive the rest of the 2013 season by making clever jokes about how bad the team is in order to make ourselves laugh so we don’t cry.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin)

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live, in-game commentary, breaking news, previews and post game discussions. Follow the entire Wisconsin Sports Blog writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @SMahon2Go, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, @Mik3_Schu, and @10iskristin.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Milwaukee Brewers Mini Mock

This is just a little 4 Round mock draft I did for the Brewers. I only did four rounds because, frankly, I didn't feel like doing a forty round mock draft. This is just to give you an idea of how the Brewers could/should draft. This will shed some light on the fact that if we draft well, not having that first round pick won't sting as much. Don't get me wrong, it's still unfortunate that we don't have it, but it's not the end of the world. I'll be the first to tell you that the Brewers need to value their draft picks a lot better then they do. So, anyways, here are a few prospects to look out for during the first couple of rounds.

Round 2 Pick 54 - Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B, St. Thomas HS, Houston TX



Last year I feel the Brewers missed the boat on passing up on 3B Joey Gallo, who was eventually drafted by the Texas Rangers about ten or so picks after the Brewers drafted. Gallo is not hitting for average in Low A for Texas, but he is tearing the cover off the baseball and his fielding% has been in the 90's.

This year, I don't want the Brewers to miss "the boat". So, meet the SS Biggio. Actually, 2B/3B Biggio. Yes, the product of future Hall of Famer Craig, Cavan Biggio would be a glorious pick for the Brewers.

It's evident that the Brewers need to address their infield woes as the recent decline of Rickie Weeks and lack of any hope of having a future third baseman have become obvious in recent years. Current second base prospect Scooter Gennett was called up to platoon with Weeks. Taylor Green was called up last year and was supposed to be the next big thing for the Brewers as he was coming off a Minor League Player of the Year campaign with the Brewers. I can't speak for Gennett but we all know how the Green project worked out.

Cavan Biggio is a great pure talent. Hits the ball well, and still has room to build muscle to really hit for power. He throws right, bats left. He can play both second and third base. He's shown he is very patient at the plate. The only thing that worries me is that he won't be on the board when it comes time to make our pick at #54.

Round 2 Pick 72 (Competitive Balance) - A.J. Puk, LHP, Washington HS, Cedar Rapids Iowa



Starting pitching is yet again an issue for the Brewers. You can never have enough pitchers in your minor league system, especially if they are quality guys. Puk is a great lefty who has a low to mid-90s fastball which will gain a couple tics on the radar as he matures. He has a great change up with good arm speed. His curve ball is a bit of a side arm throw, which will tip pitchers once they pick up on the difference in release points. He does a great job at hiding the ball.

The kid is not only listed as a left handed pitcher, but also a first baseman. He prefers to be drafted as a pitcher, but he also loves to swing the bat. He possesses phenomenal bat speed. He's a very aggressive left handed swinger with lift.

Puk has way more upside on the mound, but he should attract a few National League teams with the bat he possesses as well. Puk should be a solid middle of the rotation pitcher someday.

Round 3 Pick 90 - Jan Hernandez, 3B/SS/2B, Beltran Academy, Florida, P.R.



If the Brewers are able to draft Hernandez in the 3rd Round, it will be the biggest steal on the 2013 MLB Draft.

Jan Hernandez is former teammates with last year's number one overall pick Carlos Correa and is often compared to Carlos. He is considered one of the best pure hitters in the draft this year. Much like Cavan Biggio, Hernandez would help the Brewers rebuild some depth in their minor league system after the trades and busts they've had over the last few seasons.

Hernandez has the potential to be a hit for average player, maybe break 20 home runs every year, and play above average defense at third base. He has much more upside at third base vs. short stop or second base.

One scout said "I wouldn't be surprised if you told me ten years from now that Jan Hernandez is the best hitter in the game." So, there's that.

Round 4 Pick 122 - Pat Young, RHP, Villanova



Pat Young is going to be a huge sleeper pick in the 4th Round. Young stays in the 92-94 MPH range and can hit 95 from time to time. His fastball has a lot of life to it as well. At times it shows a decent amount of sink to it. His slider is developing right now, but showed signs of a major league breaking ball. He also throws a change up every so often.

Pat Young is a tall fellow. He's a staggering 6-7, 205 pounds. 

I think the ceiling for Young is a solid number two in a pitching rotation. He's got some good stuff that will develop well in the minors. Worse comes to worse, he's a great power righty out of the bullpen. 

Note: I previously had the Brewers drafting RHP Buck Farmer out of Georgia Tech. The Brewers drafted Farmer last year in the 15 Round of the 2012 Draft, but Buck decided not to sign and return to Georgia Tech for his senior season. I had to be brushed up on the MLB Draft rules and found out that a player can't be drafted by a player they drafted in a previous year unless they have the player's consent.

The Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m. CT, with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 11:30 a.m. CT, and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 12 p.m. CT.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)

Follow us on Twitter (@WISportsBlog) for up to date news on the Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks, and Golden Eagles. We feature live, in-game commentary, breaking news, previews and post game discussions. Follow the entire Wisconsin Sports Blog writing team on Twitter: @AndrewVrchota, @jheldred, @JoeP_Norton, @SMahon2Go, @olewr7, @Stevie2Westside, and @Mik3_Schu.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bunt to Lose Podcast: Episode 1 Recap

First of all, thank you all for following the @BuntToLose account on Twitter this past week. Most appreciated! If you don't, I recommend you do so now for all updates on the show!

In Episode 1, Curt, Alec, and I discussed the controversy among fans and baseball enthusiasts regarding Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett. We compare stats, what each player offers the Brewers, as well as what we think how the fans should be reacting to this recent slump of Rickie Weeks.

In the second half of the show we go into depth on the Brewers' pitching. Starters, relievers, and a few guys in the minors. We debate on the current state of the bullpen. What should the Brewers do with the bullpen if KRod raises eyebrows in the minor leagues? Who do we designate for assignment? What to do with Mark Rogers and Mike Fiers, both who had awful springs and are trying to come back to the right form. Who is there in the minor leagues that is ready for the next level? All of those questions and more are answered in this inaugural episode.

Here is a link to the show that will direct you right to our page on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bunt-to-lose/id645840811

Here's the link that will take you right to our page on TheSportsStuff.com: http://thesportsstuff.com/bunt-to-lose-ep1controversy-who-our-second-baseman-should-be/

We are set to record another episode this Sunday, which would be ready on iTunes on Tuesday I would assume. Once school lets out for Mr. Hogg and Mr. Dopp, we will be able to have a more consistent schedule of shows for our listeners.

Follow us on Twitter:
@AlecDopp
@YouAStupidHogg
@AndrewVrchota

Read our blogs here:
Alec Dopp - http://brewcrewball.com/
Curt Hogg - http://reviewingthebrew.com/
Andrew Vrchota - http://wisportsblog.blogspot.com/


Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-
Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)

Follow us on Twitter for up to date news on Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks and more. Live in game commentary, breaking news, previews, and post game discussion. @WISportsBlog @AndrewVrchota, @JoeP_Norton, @SMahon2Go, @Mik3_Schu, @jheldred, @olewr7, and @Stevie2Westside. Finally, find us on Instagram! (wisportsblog)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mailbag: Brewers, NFL Draft, Brandon Jennings, and More

Q1: If Ryan Braun is found "guilty", who ends up in LF? - @NotFakeBenWeege

I don't think there is enough evidence against Ryan to even make a case to suspend him. His name on two pieces of paper surely isn't valid. I don't think anyone should be at all worried at the moment unless MLB releases something on a decision. Cause all of the reports saying Braun will be suspended are all false, and they were proven false by a few reliable sources. To answer your question, I think Khris Davis or Caleb Gindl would get the call to play left field for 50 games just based on how they are playing this spring.

Q2: Do you think there's a chance the Packers sign Micheal Turner and pair him with DuJuan Harris? - @davidjames2004

Five years ago, Michael Turner would have been a great free agent pick up. I don't think Ted Thompson has any interest in signing a free agent running back, especially Michael Turner. Now, if he was looking to sign Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush, or Ahmad Bradshaw, then I'd be interested. I see Ted using one of the nine draft picks on a running back. Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, and Christine Michael have been linked to the Packers for a few months now. I am in favor of having Harris paired with a veteran. I like that idea a lot. Good question.

Q3: Who do you think could be a surprise contributor for the Brewers next season? - @zdugan3

I'll answer this from both sides of the ball. First, pitching. I think Marco Estrada has himself set up for a fantastic season as the Brewers' number two pitcher. He has tremendous upside and is a big sleeper for 2013. In 2012, Estrada put up ace-esque numbers with 5.32 K/BB ratio, a 9.3 K/9 ratio, and a 2.0 BB/9 ratio. If Estrada can pitch a full season, which would be a first in his career, I think he could really turn some heads. As for offense, I think the obvious choice is Rickie Weeks. There is no way he can be as bad as he was last year, and I feel he will bounce back nicely in 2013. After the All-Star break, Weeks batted .261 with 13 home runs and 10 stolen bases.

Q4: If the Bucks let Brandon Jennings walk, who do you use cap space on? - @patrickbucky

I can assure you that the directive of the Bucks is that they will match any offer Jennings receives. The idea is to Let Ellis walk, resign Jennings and Redick and pair them with Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. With the cap space that becomes available, the Bucks will obviously target Josh Smith, much like they did before the trade deadline. Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, Josh Howard, and Kyle Korver all appeal to me as well. Since the Bucks are the least valuable team in the NBA, establishing a legit "Big 3" would go along way to draw a crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Drawing interest in your team is how you start to make money as a franchise. It doesn't matter how many wins you have at the end of the year, it's about who you put on the court. 

Q5: Do you think Sam Dekker will make it in the NBA? All-Star? - @L_Myers12

Too early to tell right now. He certainly has the potential. He'll be entering his second season with the Badgers next year. Let's see how that plays out before we start predicting NBA futures. He has a legit shot at Big 10 6th Man of the Year, though.  

Q6: What is the condition of Aramis Ramirez? - @packbrewfan1

The Brewers released yesterday that Aramis Ramirez will be sidelined for 7-10 days with a sprained knee. The club was trying to give Aramis more at bats in spring to quicken his slow start process so he would be hot by Opening Day. That idea backfired when Aramis jammed his knee sliding into second base. Ramirez will rest up and will test his knee out in about a week. With Ramirez aging, the signing of Alex Gonzalez looks even better now as he can provide depth at third base. 

Q7: Jenkins or Canty or neither? Position for first round pick? - @NeisesTom

I wouldn't mind either. Jenkins said he would love a Packers reunion, but I don't think Ted Thompson feels the same. Canty is scheduled to come into Green Bay to meet with the staff and have a physical. A lot of people view Canty as a high profile player that would be a perfect fit for the Packers, and the organization is well aware of that. I think the Packers understand the importance of filling the holes that developed over last season. As far as drafting in the first round, I would like to see a running back, wide receiver, or offensive line.  

Q8: Thoughts on Hiram Burgos in the Bigs this year? - @AlexTJohnson

He'll be in Triple-A for the duration of the 2013 season with a few spot starts for the Brewers throughout the year. He'll be a September call up for sure. Looking further, Burgos will make a strong case to be in the Brewers starting rotation heading into the 2014 season.

Q9: Are the Brewers improving this year? - @EthanWotruba

Improving is tough to say. I think what the Brewers are doing right now is feeling out the farm system and seeing what works and doesn't work. They are looking to have a contending team again by 2014/2015 and they are putting themselves in the perfect position to do so. They cut the salary by almost 25% and still have a viable offense with a decent bullpen and an inexperienced starting rotation. They are sitting well with player development. Pitchers and position players in the minor have strides before they are at a major league level and considered legitimate by baseball writers.

Q10: How do you feel about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being the next coach of the Milwaukee Bucks? There's talk and he said he'd do it. - @HarrisonFtw

I would love Kareem as the head coach for the Bucks. It relates to what I talked about before about drawing a crowd. Milwaukee would love to see Kareem on the Bucks again, only this time as a coach. Granted, Jabbar has said some things about Milwaukee that were rather not nice. But, in a recent interview he expressed interest in coaching the Bucks. Therefore, I am absolutely an advocate for it. Other names that have been brought up for the coaching vacancy are Jerry Sloan, Stan Van Gundy, and Brian Shaw.

Thank you all who have participated! See you all again in April for the next Mailbag Blog!

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)


Follow us on Twitter for up to date news on Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks and more. Live in game commentary, breaking news, previews, and post game discussion. @WISportsBlog @AndrewVrchota, @JoeP_Norton, @Brandon_BFP, @SMahon2Go @ryan_937, @Mik3_Schu. Finally, find us on Instagram! (wisportsblog)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Brewers Projected Starting Line-up

In the final piece of the puzzle, it is time to take a look at arguably the easiest element to predict out of the three sectors of the team. I have already covered the bullpen, as well as the starting rotation. You can find those blogs here and here. Today, we will be looking at what our "Go-To" line-up will look like as well as our depth on the bench plus I'll be doing some 2013 statistical projections for the Brewers. Let's first take a look at what our line-up will likely look like on opening day.

Andrew's projected 2013 Brewers Opening Day Line-up

1. RF - Norichika Aoki
2. 2B - Rickie Weeks
3. LF - Ryan Braun
4. 3B - Aramis Ramirez
5. C - Jonathan Lucroy
6. 1B - Mat Gamel
7. CF - Carlos Gomez
8. SS - Jean Segura
9. SP - Yovani Gallardo

It's going to be interesting to see what the Brewers do as far as their strategy is concerned for how they set their line-up. From what worked the best last year, Aoki leading off was extremely effective last year. He's got speed. He's a smart base runner. He hits for average to get on base. He's exactly what you want in a lead-off hitter. I can't see Gomez in the spot unless he changes his hitting style. Weeks was given the opportunity last season to lead off and that didn't work out too well as it led Weeks on a downward spiral for the first half of the season. Segura may get a couple looks as the lead-off guy, but not to start the season unless he starts out hot. If Segura can become our lead-off hitter later in the year, our line-up could look something like this...(assuming Corey Hart is back by the time of this potential move)

Andrew's Alternate Starting Line-up

1. SS - Jean Segura
2. RF - Norichika Aoki
3. LF - Ryan Braun
4. 3B - Aramis Ramirez
5. 1B - Corey Hart
6. 2B - Rickie Weeks
7. C - Jonathan Lucroy
8. CF - Carlos Gomez
9. SP - (Starting pitcher)

With Segura and Aoki hitting one and two, it eliminated the worry of getting the lead off man on and having the two hitter grounding into a double play, as we see Weeks do quite often. Yes, Aoki would do it too, but I'm confident that it would happen a lot less.

After Aoki and Weeks in the one and two spots, the core is very easy to place. Braun will continue to bat third and Ramirez will follow as the clean-up hitter, just as we seen last year. After Ramirez, it gets really up in the air as far as who falls where. It's going to depend on who has the hot bat during spring I would assume and how they're hitting the ball. I envision Lucroy gets the five hole for starting the season, but if Gamel can smoke the ball in spring he might get that look as well. However, once Corey Hart returns, the line-up will look totally different. It it might not be long until we see Corey Hart after the season starts as he is reportedly ahead of schedule.



After Lucroy and Gamel/Hart, you have the seven and eight spots which would be filled by Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Coin flip? Maybe. Both are very fast base runners who are very nice weapons to have at the bottom of the order, especially if they are leading off an inning. Knowing that Ron Roenicke will continue to bunt in any situation that calls for it, Having either of them on base with a pitcher coming up means their wheels will be spinning. Those two at the bottom of the order could easily combine for seventy stolen bases this season, not to mention Aoki, Weeks, and Braun could combine for another seventy or eighty. No matter how it is mixed up, the Brewers have a very strong line-up heading into this season. And, it doesn't stop there. Our bench will provide great depth for days a regular needs a day off. Our bench will likely look something like this...

Andrew's projected 2013 Brewers Opening Day Bench

1. SS - Alex Gonzalez
2. C - Martin Maldonado
3. OF - Logan Schafer
4. IF/OF - Taylor Green
5. IF - Jeff Bianchi

Post Hart Return Bench

1. SS - Alex Gonzalez
2. C - Martin Maldonado
3. OF - Logan Schafer
4. IF/OF - Taylor Green
5. 1B/OF - Mat Gamel

Much like our starting rotation, setting our bench is going to involve a lot of sacrificing as many players are out of options. Donnie Murphy and Jeff Bianchi will fight it out in spring for a spot of the bench. The other could likely be cut, as neither have any minor league options left. Logan Schafer is a lock in my eyes as our fourth outfielder for the Brewers. Gonzalez and Maldonado are also locked as well. Throw is Taylor Green as a lefty with some pop and there you have our bench. Green can play infield and outfield. Gonzalez, Green and Maldy all might see time at first base while Hart is out. Jeff can play any infield position but first. When Corey Hart comes back, my guess would be that Bianchi would be designated for assignment.

Andrew's projected 2013 Brewers Opening Day 25 Man Roster

C - Jonathon Lucroy, Martin Maldonado
1B - Mat Gamel
2B - Rickie Weeks, Jeff Bianchi
3B - Aramis Ramirez, Taylor Green
SS - Jean Segura, Alex Gonzalez
OF - Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Norichika Aoki, Logan Schafer
SP - Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Mark Rogers
RP - John Axford, Jim Henderson, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Burke Badenhop, Brandon Kintzler, Michael Olmsted
15 Day DL - Corey Hart

Andrew's projected 2013 Brewers Individual Player Stats

Jonathan Lucroy - .281, 57 R, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 7 SB

Martin Maldonado - .241, 23 R, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 1 SB

Mat Gamel - .269, 30 R, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 4 SB

Corey Hart - .274, 79 R, 24 HR, 82 RBI, 6 SB

Rickie Weeks - .258, 99 R, 22 HR, 64 RBI, 16 SB

Jeff Bianchi - .223, 10 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 4 SB

Jean Segura - .275, 67 R, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 23 SB

Alex Gonzalez - .235, 32 R, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 10 SB

Aramis Ramirez - .294, 91 R, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 5 SB

Taylor Green - .232, 23 R, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB

Ryan Braun - .319, 107 R, 39 HR, 114 RBI, 31 SB

Carlos Gomez - .265, 82 R, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 37 SB

Norichika Aoki - .291, 74 R, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 22 SB

Logan Schafer - .248, 16 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB

Yovani Gallardo - 14-9, 3.56 ERA, 213 SO

Mike Fiers - 12-10, 3.20 ERA, 160 SO

Marco Estrada - 11-12, 3.41 ERA, 174 SO

Chris Narveson - 7-10, 3.90 ERA, 89 SO

Mark Rogers - 8-7, 4.10 ERA, 106 SO

Wily Peralta - 10-9, 3.84 ERA, 136 SO

John Axford - 3-4, 2.89 ERA, 87 SO, 43 SV

Jim Henderson - 3-2, 3.56 ERA, 49 SO

Brandon Kintzler - 2-3, 3.91 ERA, 33 SO

Michael Gonzalez - 2-2, 3.29 ERA, 47 SO

Tom Gorzelanny - 5-5, 3.76 ERA, 89 SO

Burke Badenhop - 3-3, 3.62 ERA, 46 SO

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota (@AndrewVrchota)

Follow us on Twitter for up to date news on Brewers, Packers, Badgers, Bucks and more. Live in game commentary, breaking news, previews, and post game discussion. @WISportsBlog @AndrewVrchota, @JoeP_Norton, @Brandon_BFP, @SMahon2Go @ryan_937, @Mik3_Schu. Finally, find us on Instagram! (wisportsblog)