Tagged: Jake Odorizzi

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

Day One: Summary

By: Big Rygg

As you’ve seen, the first three picks were posted in the blog here within a matter of moments after they were selected.

Here now is the entire list of first day selections by the Milwaukee Brewers along with some comments about some of the selections from yours truly and some MLB.com linkage for your perusal.

Pick #16 – Brett Lawrie, C, 5’11”, 200lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Brookswood SS
Comments: Catcher is one of the thinnest positions in the Brewers’ Minor League system. This was a pick that the team was very excited to make once Lawrie fell to them. With the reports all saying that this kid should definitely hit, you can rest assured that the Brewers will give him EVERY opportunity to remain as a catcher.
Enhanced Scouting Report

Pick #32 – Jake Odorizzi, RHP, 6’2″, 175lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Highland HS (IL)
Comments: This high school pitcher has committed to playing college baseball with Louisville already, so it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll want to forgo that committment to begin his professional career. Having said that, the scouting reports say that this kid has four pitches that he can throw for strikes right now. If that’s the case, in my mind he projects (once his body fills out and he spends enough time mastering his controls) as a top-end of the rotation guy at some point. As we all know, there are SO many things that can happen between now and whenever that might be, but here’s hoping he signs with the organization and gets to finding out when and if that will happen for him.
Enhanced Scouting Report

Pick #35: Evan Frederickson, LHP, 6’6″, 238lbs, Bats/Throws: L/L | U San Francisco
Comments: A tall left-hander, Frederickson has the frame to really be a dominating presence on the mound. Whether or not he can harness his physical gifts will be up to his coaches, his drive and his determination to achieve success.

Pick #53: Seth Lintz, RHP, 6’1″, 170lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Marshall County HS (TN)
Comments: Another prep pitcher, which the Brewers have not had any real reservations about taking risks on. Lintz had committed to pitch at Kentucky next year, so we’ll have to see which path he ultimately decides on for his career. He graduated HS as his class Salutatorian after going 12-1 in his senior year while compiling 1.33 ERA. His fastballs registers in the low 90s and he apparently touts a power slider as well. He’ll need to develop at least a third pitch (if he doesn’t already have one) to project as a starter in the big leagues.

Pick #54: Cutter Dykstra, CF, 5’11”, 180lbs B/T: R/R | Westlake HS (CA)
Comments: The “family ties” episode that has spanned the last several years for the Brewers continues with another MLB legacy in the system. He hit .473 in 29 games during this year, and (like his father) had an even better on-base percentage of nearly 60 percent!! His OPS was a stellar 1.320. His defense, like a few other recent Brewer draft picks (see: Braun, Ryan & Gamel, Mat), is not nearly at the same level as his bat, but that’s definitely something he’ll have plenty of time to work on in the minor leagues. Cutter has a scholarship offer waiting for him at UCLA if he decides to go the college route for a few years, but to hear his dad (former Phillie and Met Lenny “Nails” Dykstra) talk, it sounds like he’ll sign with the club and begin what could hopefully be a rapid rise through the system.

Pick #62: Thomas Adams, RHP, 6’2″, 180lbs, B/T: R/R | Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) 

Pick #94: Logan Schafer, CF, 6’1″, 170lbs, B/T: L/L | Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Pick #128: Joshua Romanski, LHP, 5’11”, 180lbs, B/T: L/L | University of San Diego
Comments: You just don’t see many pitchers of this stature. Tim Lincecum is the anamoly, not the norm. That being said, the scouting report says that Romanski’s future might be in the outfield, but other scouts say that they just don’t think he could play there everyday and that his ceiling might be as a 4th outfielder in the bigs…which is still pretty damn good if you ask me.

Pick #158: Maverick Lasker, RHP, 6’2″, 190lbs, B/T: R/R | Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ)
Comments: This is my pick in the draft that I will be paying attention to for the duration of his stay with Milwaukee’s system, regardless of how high he ultimately rises. My dream would be to be the team’s new PA announcer and get to rattle off the Opening Day roster and be able to call someone Maverick. Yeah, if he an Cutter Dykstra are on the roster together, that’ll just be a bonus.

Pick #188: Jose Duran, SS, 5’11”, 190lbs, B/T: R/R | Texas A&M

Final Thoughts: As always, you can never have too much pitching and the Jack Zduriencik’s crew appears to have picked several potential contributors for the bump. I especially love the Brett Lawrie pick as the thinnest position in our system is catcher. I read a report that said his bat is big league ready right now. That remains to be seen, of course, but it could be very fun to watch him over the next few seasons.

I’ve been following our farm system closer and closer each of the past several years now, and like to keep tabs on our prospects. Except at the very least one Minor League report per month going forward.

Summing it up, though, I haven’t heard of all of these picks before today, but I know that Jack Z’s crew has and quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.

Compensation Round, Overall Pick #32 & #35

odorizzi.jpgJake Odorizzi – RHP – Highland (IL) HS

6’2″, 175 lbs, Born: 3/27/1990

Compensation Round, Overall Pick #32

Fastball: Odorizzi throws both a four- and two-seamer. The four-seamer was thrown at 90-94 mph. The two-seamer came in at 88-92 mph
Fastball movement: He had late explosion on the four-seamer. His two-seamer has more movement and it rides to either side of the plate.
Curve: He threw it at 72-74 mph, it’s a plus hammer at times.
Slider: It’s a rapidly improving pitch which he throws in the upper 70s with late break.
Changeup: He has one, but it’s inconsistent.
Control: His overall command is good, though he doesn’t always command the four-seamer.
Poise: There have been some questions about his competitiveness on the mound.
Physical Description: Odorizzi is tall and wiry with room to grow.
Medical Update: Healthy.
Strengths: Four average or above pitches and the overall ability to command them. He’s got a quick, easy arm action and room to grow on his frame.
Weaknesses: He doesn’t always command the four-seamer consistently, his changeup is behind the other pitches and he surprisingly doesn’t make hitters swing and miss as much as you’d think.
Summary: A high school pitcher with “helium,” Odorizzi is moving up charts thanks to an excellent repertoire, good command and smooth delivery. He’s got four offerings that grade out as average or better, a projectable frame that has room for growth. The only things that could hold him back are some questions about his competitiveness on the mound and a commitment to Louisville.


photoEvan Frederickson – LHP – Virgina Tech

6’6″, 238 lbs, Born: 9/23/1986

Compensation Round, Overall Pick #35