Archive for Brewers

Yovani Gallardo: Buy Low or Run Away?

With the lack of high quality pitchers on the trade block, the Brewers have made it known that Yovani Gallardo could be available for the right offer. Since Gallardo is only 27-years-old and under team control through 2015, he has the potential to bring back a more significant piece to help the Brewers rebuild than the rent-a-veteran types that other clubs are shopping. However, there’s one small problem; Gallardo is doing his best to scare off any clubs who might have seen him as an answer to their rotation problems.

In his last two starts, Gallardo has allowed 13 runs while pitching only seven innings, and those clunkers came against the Cubs and Nationals, neither of whom are known for their ferocious offensive attacks. It’s not wise to decide that a player is not useful based on a couple of recent poor performances, but Gallardo has been trending the wrong way for a while now.

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The Brewers and the Impossibly Black Hole

Not a whole lot of people have been paying attention to the Marlins. Now, this is typically the case, but the Marlins have been off the radar for months. People suspected they’d be bad, then they came out and were bad, and that was it, that was confirmation of beliefs. So maybe you didn’t notice, but since May 31, the Marlins have posted the National League’s second-best record. It’s good to have a healthy Giancarlo Stanton. By overall record, the Marlins have managed to catch up to the Astros. And they’ve narrowed the gap between themselves and the Brewers to a slim three games.

Considering how those teams were viewed before the year, this is a bit of a surprise, and it’s mostly because the Brewers have been a disaster. In every case of significant over- and under-performance, there will be a variety of contributing factors, as no one player can make that much of a difference. Baseball is a game of little things adding up, and lots has added up to lead the Brewers to 32-48. But one problem in particular has been bigger than the others. One problem has really allowed the Brewers to sink to the depths.

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Footspeed and Forcing Errors: A Case Study

Defensive errors have been a part of baseball history forever, but we seldom ever talk about them now. We’ve come to better understand the importance of range, and so we look beyond errors for our defensive evaluations. A guy might make an extra error or two simply because he’s covering a lot more ground than a peer. There’s also the matter of errors being subjective, some being obvious calls and some being coin flips. As for hitters, errors are mistakes by the other team. When a hitter smacks a ball in play and the defense makes an error, we tend to think of the hitter as lucky, because that shouldn’t have happened. So hitters don’t get a lot of credit.

But errors do happen, and they’re factored into some wOBA formulas, and there’s a line of thinking that faster runners can force more defensive errors, giving them a mostly unseen advantage. There’s the idea, then, that there’s indirectly some skill involved, which might mean a few extra runs. I, personally, have seen Ichiro reach a bunch of times on misplays, which might’ve had to do with his speed. The more a defender has to hurry, the more prone he might be to screwing up, which could be a thing worth talking about. We’re about to focus on Norichika Aoki.

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Hitter Volatility Through Mid-June


When Stars And Scrubs Doesn’t Work

The Milwaukee Brewers have two of the top ten players in WAR, and neither of them is named Ryan Braun. Carlos Gomez (+3.2 WAR, #1) and Jean Segura (+2.5 WAR, #9) have been revelations for the Brewers, while Braun has been his usual dominant self, putting up +1.9 WAR with his usual brand of excellence. Toss in a strong performance from the underrated Norichika Aoki and 78 terrific plate appearances from the occasionally healthy Aramis Ramirez, and the top end of the Brewers line-up has been as good as any in baseball. For context, here is the total combined line for Gomes, Segura, Braun, Aoki, and Ramirez:

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Yuniesky Betancourt Hasn’t Changed a Bit

I know it’s not like me to use such a provocative, declarative headline. Truth be told, I’d be more comfortable with “Yuniesky Betancourt Hasn’t Changed a Bit, Probably”, just so I can cover all my bases. But here we are, and I think it needs to be said, on the heels of Betancourt slamming his eighth dinger of the still very young regular season. This is a time for sanity, in the midst of something very much insane.

The Blue Jays are 13-21, and John Buck has ten home runs. The Dodgers are 13-19, and Dexter Fowler has eight home runs. The Angels are 11-21, and Yuniesky Betancourt also has eight home runs. When something early in the season takes you by complete surprise, it’s worth re-evaluating your expectations, rather than sticking to your guns. But just because you re-evaluate doesn’t mean you have to change your position, and if Betancourt’s changed at 31 years old, it’s showing up in only one place.

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Amazing Feats in 0-2 Home Runs

There are few reversal of fortune so dramatic as the 0-2 home run. When pitchers corner a batsman into an 0-2 count, said batsman has hit .154/.160/.216 through the 2013 season. The following sample of at bats combine for an immaculate 1.000/1.000/4.000 slash.

Let’s take a look at them.
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Jimmy Nelson’s Rising Stock

Does Jimmy Nelson have the best pure stuff in the Brewers organization? The answer is yes, or at least that’s what a source who has closely followed the right-handed pitcher’s career told me. And after hearing that, my curiosity was piqued — especially after Nelson faltered in the second half of 2012 and posted a 7.24 BB/9 in his first taste of Double-A.

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Just How Broken is John Axford, Really?

Monday afternoon, the Brewers were leading the Cubs 7-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Brandon Kintzler took the mound, but after three straight batters reached base, he was replaced by Jim Henderson. Henderson allowed a little bit of damage, but he successfully slammed the door, picking up a save. Henderson pitched in part because John Axford threw 18 pitches on Sunday. Henderson pitched more because Axford allowed two more runs Sunday, bringing him to a season total of six in 2.2 innings. Fueling those six runs allowed have been four dingers, as Axford’s problems from 2012 appear to have carried over into the new campaign.

The talk now is that Henderson will replace Axford as the Brewers’ closer. Axford has been getting booed at home, on account of the sucking, and if the Brewers want to contend and make the playoffs, they can’t afford to have an unreliable closer who’s demonstrated his unreliability. Many feel that Axford has earned a demotion. Many reached that point ages ago. It’s no longer a question of whether Axford should be demoted. It’s a question of: what’s the matter with John Axford?

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Framing the Way You Think About Framing

I nearly began this post with a story of how I arrived at the topic, involving Dave Cameron and email and Lucas Duda. Instead, I’ve chosen to begin this post by simply alluding to the story and moving on to the meat, because the story is irrelevant and uninteresting.

On Monday, the Brewers opened at home against the Rockies. Some familiar problems popped up — John Axford blew a save in the top of the ninth — but the Brewers ultimately emerged victorious, with Jonathan Lucroy making headlines by driving in the winning run. A walk-off sac fly doesn’t feel the same as a walk-off single or a walk-off dinger, but no one would ever accuse Lucroy of being the most electrifying player in baseball. He’s just a pretty good player on a pretty good team, and on Monday they happened to win together.

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Brewers Find Starter, Lohse Finds Work

Monday morning, Dave Cameron posted his bottom half of the 2013 starting pitcher positional power rankings. Just going to go ahead and paste a few select excerpts:

There’s a reason the team keeps getting tied to Kyle Lohse – he would be a pretty big upgrade over the internal candidates for the Brewers rotation.

And:

If they had another quality starter, having two interesting upside guys with big variance at the back of the rotation would be more palatable. As it is, the Brewers look like they’re at least one good pitcher short of being a contender this year.

Funny story!

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A Snapshot of Team Finances: Bottom Tier

Here on the site, we’re currently doing a series called the Positional Power Rankings, going through each team’s strengths and weaknesses at each spot on the field. Well, this is also a positional power ranking of sorts. The position is each team’s financial health. The ranking? More like placing the teams in tiers: the teams most constrained by their finances; the teams in the middle; and the most financially-successful teams.

We can’t get to the same level of precision on team finances because we have to rely on publicly-available information that we haven’t generated, and that publicly-available information lacks the kind of details we’d need to really flesh out the small differences between franchises in the same tiers. However, we do have enough information to paint with broad strokes, so as part of our attempt to give an overview of where each team stands as 2013 begins, we’ll look at their access to monetary resources for the upcoming season.

Today we begin our look at the financial health of all thirty major-league teams, starting with the bottom ten. Tomorrow we will look at the middle ten and on Friday the top ten. We will focus on ticket-generated revenue (attendance), local TV revenue, and player payroll. That leaves some holes, to be sure, particularly where team owners are carrying significant debt. Some of that information is publicly-available, but not all, and even the publicly-available information may not accurate or verifiable. This isn’t precise, but hopefully, it’s still informative.

With those caveats, let’s begin.

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2013 Positional Power Rankings: Third Base

Due to an unfortunate data error, the numbers in this story did not include park factors upon publication. We have updated the data to include the park factors, and the data you see below is now correct. We apologize for the mistake.

What’s all this, then? For an explanation of this series, please read the introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position.

Third base is a little deeper than it used to be, and only a handful of teams have little to no hope of being productive at the position. The devil is in the details at the hot corner, as there has been very little turnover among the top 20 teams here. Teams that have quality reserves or prospects coming up the pipeline see a bump here, as we’re looking holistically at the position and not just at the nominal starter. This is an important consideration across the diamond, but particularly so at third given how physically demanding the position is. Only six third basemen suited up in 150 or more games last year. Compare that to 13 at second base and 11 at first base and shortstop, and it becomes clear that depth is important at third base. Unfortunately, most teams don’t have adequate depth, hence the bump for the teams that do.

Let’s get on to the rankings!

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Carlos Gomez Extended — Will The Power Come With?

Carlos Gomez will be a Brewer for another four years, it looks like.

There aren’t many players that fit his contract situation perfectly — Gomez is being extended for three years with one year of arbitration left, and not at a superstar rate — but we can talk about him as a player and whether or not the Brewers will remember this deal fondly anyway.

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Injuries Equal Opportunity For Hunter Morris

In Milwaukee, Hunter Morris will battle former shortstop Alex Gonzalez and fringe big leaguer Taylor Green for the opening day nod at first base. On paper, it seems like the odds are in his favor. However, Morris’ arbitration clock and Corey Hart‘s timetable for returning to the lineup will weigh heavily in the Brewers decision. For a three-to-four week stopgap, it might not be worth it to the organization — Especially when the Brewers are projected to finish with a .500 record.

Recently, Marc Hulet ranked Morris as the 11th best prospect in the Brewers system. He was the third best first baseman I scouted in person in 2012, but this was more indicative of a weak group at the position than Morris being a top prospect. Oliver projections have the left-handed hitter posting a .256/.302/.476 triple slash line and 1.7 WAR if given everyday reps, but this strikes me as generous. While Morris’ power is not in question, the rest of his skill set is.

Video after the jump

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Vetoed Trades, Part One

For at least three franchises, this offseason could have taken a very different path. When Justin Upton vetoed a trade to the Mariners, he altered the direction of Seattle, Arizona and Atlanta, at the very least. Such negated transactions make for fascinating what-if’s, and now that we are edging into the time of year when all we will read is “best shape of my career” posts, I thought we could step back and take a look at some of these.

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Will There Be Another Ryan Braun?

I have a theory about front offices, and about baseball organizations in general. It seems to me that everybody’s trending in the direction of getting smarter about the game. There are fewer things within the game to exploit, because everyone’s got better awareness and understandings. I believe that, over time, front offices will come to closely resemble one another, strengthening the correlation between team success and team payroll. The front-office extremes will be closer together, and teams will depend more on money and luck. It’s just a theory and we’re not there yet, but it seems to be a sensible conclusion.

About those extremes, and about better understandings — today, we’re still trying to nail down evaluations of defensive performance. When people complain about WAR, they almost always begin by complaining about UZR, because UZR isn’t perfect or even anywhere close to it. But while we’ve still got a ways to go with regard to defensive quantification, over the last several years tremendous progress has been made. I probably don’t need to explain it to you, because you are smart. We’re getting numbers, the numbers usually aren’t dreadfully inaccurate, and people better understand that defense is important and can make a whale of a difference. Finding good defenders is no longer something to be exploited; defense isn’t nearly as underrated as it used to be.

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Mat Gamel’s Last Last Chance

Brewers first baseman Corey Hart will miss the next three to four months — or about six weeks of the regular season — as the former outfielder requires surgery to repair a meniscal tear on his right knee. Hart thrived through a transition from right field to first base after Mat Gamel suffered a torn ACL attempting to run down a foul ball last year. Now, presumably, Gamel will get to take a turn as the injury replacement at first base in Milwaukee.

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Tim Lincecum Needs to Learn How to Pitch, Not Throw

Tim Lincecum‘s resume contains the following items: 2 time Cy Young award winner, 4 time All-Star and twice World Series Champion. With all the achievements over the last 5 seasons, he was relegated to a long relief once the Giants made the playoffs because he was no longer effective as a starter. Lincecum’s problem is he can no longer just throw the ball across the plate and hope a batter just swings and misses. If he wants any hope of returning to be the starter he once was, he now needs to learn how to pitch.

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Daily Notes: Let’s Project Basically the Entire Brewers Rotation

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. FAN Projection Targets: Basically Every Brewers Starter
2. Action GIF: Mark Rogers’ Slider
3. SCOUT Leaderboards: Australian Baseball League

FAN Projection Targets: Basically Every Brewers Starter
As is made apparent by the very recently released 2013 ZiPS projections for the Milwaukee Brewers, the starting rotation for said team contains a considerable amount of uncertainty — due either to a change of roles in the not-very-distant past (Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers) or injury (Chris Narveson, Mark Rogers).

In situations like this, where information not included in the ZiPS algorithm might be of some import regarding a specific player, it’s possible that the Wisdom of the Crowds might have some advantage in producing an able projection for said player.

To that end, the author encourages the readership to complete FAN Projection ballots for the following five pitchers — all candidates for Milwaukee’s rotation in 2013.

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