First and foremost, I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m always open to answering questions directly on Twitter, Facebook, or via email. When someone takes the time to seek out my opinion, they deserve a response…even if I don’t know. But, in a way to give thanks to my followers and friends I put out a call for questions so I could answer them here on the blog. This not only will hopefully advertise that I’m always willing to chat Brewers, but it’s also a little tip of the cap to give members of the Brewer Nation some pub too along with giving longer-form responses than Twitter allows.
If I don’t answer your question here (or some similar variation of it), I will respond to you via the social media forum you posed it in.
— Packman (@Packman1265) November 29, 2013
Over the past few seasons, the Brewers have emphasized competing now over planning for the long-term future. Bringing in veteran free agents, trading top prospects for rental pitchers, eschewing development for experience in many cases. This past season was ultimately an exception but more due to circumstance than design. The Brewers were structured to compete in 2013 and it was a long run of unfortunate events that wound up costing them a shot at a wild card berth.
Now, all that said, to the question: The Brewers appear like they’re preparing to take one final shot with this core group of big leaguers. They may resign Corey Hart on a one-year deal. They may give Rickie Weeks one more chance to sink or swim in 2014. They’ll give it a go for April, and probably May. If they’re in it, this is their “near future” chance. They don’t have a ready replacement at third base when Aramis Ramirez likely departs after 2014. They are light in impact prospects to fill any position over the next couple of seasons. Should the Brewers fail in 2014 (and even if they play well, they need a lot of other teams to falter), they’re next likeliest window is at least a couple of years down the road.
@BrewerNation How should the Brewers pitch to Kottaras? 🙂
— Jαmie Krueger (@jamielkrueger) November 29, 2013
Four outside and take your base. (Editor’s note…which is also me: Kottaras was recently acquired by the Chicago Cubs.)
@BrewerNation Would Aoki have more value as a trade chip, or a 4th OF/Lefty bat off the bench?
— Aaron McCabe (@acmccabe) November 29, 2013
This would be assuming the Brewers would move Ryan Braun to right field and start Khris Davis on a regular basis in left. If that’s the case, Norichika Aoki would be very valuable as a pinch-hitter, especially when you simply need a ball put in play. He is capable of defending at all three defensive positions as well.
However, the Brewers already have a much better defender to back up all three spots in Logan Schafer and as a fifth outfielder, Caleb Gindl has shown a little bit of pop. Couple that he’s ultimately expendable with his extremely affordable 2014 contract, and Aoki could fetch the Brewers a decent return despite turning 32 before the season. In my opinion, the better value is in moving him.
@BrewerNation Is anyone on the management or coaching side of the organization on the hot seat this year? Melvin, Ash, Roeneke?
— Dylan Wendt (@BeerBratBrewers) November 29, 2013
If there was to be a change during or after the 2014 season (because they would have made changes by now if they were going to before it), it would likely be a second-tier change like a coach or some scouts. It can’t be ignored though that Mark Attanasio inherited Doug Melvin when his group bought the team and the principal owner went directly against the suggestion of his GM when he made the call to sign Kyle Lohse. It didn’t feel all season like it was the beginning of any dissension, but ultimately you never know.
@BrewerNation what do you see as a viable first base solution if Hart is not resigned?
— Earl Barker (@ebarker111) November 29, 2013
First of all, I don’t see them not resigning Hart. He wants to be here and I given the injury risk I can’t see someone else giving him a ton of guaranteed money instead of the kind of “modest base salary with a lot of incentives” contract I reported that the Brewers were preparing a couple of weeks ago.
If that somehow falls apart though and Hart plays elsewhere in 2014 I think the Brewers would be best served committing to someone capable of handling the position for the entire season. No converting shortstops or relying on the Yuniesky Betancourts of the league. I also think that Hunter Morris would benefit from a bit more time in Nashville before getting the full-time gig in Milwaukee. If the Brewers want to compete though, they can’t afford a offensive black hole like in 2013 or even to platoon the position.
@BrewerNation Even though he’s against it, would moving Braun back to 3B make sense to make room for Davis with Ramirez possibly gone?
— Jake Smith (@jksmth) November 29, 2013
No. If a player is against something like that, especially when those adverse feelings come from experience, it’s likely to be a bad situation. Ryan Braun was terrible defensively at third base, so much so that it almost cost him the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2015, when Ramirez is likely gone, hopefully someone will have stepped up to fill the void at third base, be that Taylor Green or maybe as a bridge to one of the low-level minor leaguers with a high ceiling, or otherwise.
@BrewerNation will scooter gennett be the opening day starting second baseman, if so where does rickie weeks end up.
— Matt (@mje_96) November 29, 2013
In his season-ending press conference, Doug Melvin mentioned specifically that Gennett probably had a leg up in the second baseman’s competition entering 2014. It will be a closely monitored situation all spring training long. So many variables are at work. Gennett played solid defense and hit right-handed pitchers very well, two shortcomings of Weeks’ game at this point. Gennett also couldn’t hit southpaws to save his life, or possibly his job as an everyday option. Then again, Weeks is coming off of a serious leg injury (and successful surgical repair) and his ability to play everyday will be scrutinized as well. A platoon feels like a viable option as we stand today on the last day of November, but Weeks is a veteran who gets out of slumps in the batter’s box. The team could also benefit from Weeks regaining some trade value if they do decide to go with Gennett, which could lead to early at-bats for Weeks.
Should Gennett win the outright starting job for one reason or another early enough in camp, expect Weeks to be featured often in Cactus League play in an effort to get him moved elsewhere. The Rays had interest a year ago around this time and the Royals at least were reportedly sniffing around before the trading deadline. There could be options, but it takes two to tango, as they say.
@BrewerNation if you were GM, would you deal Braun for lottery tickets? Or try to win now while he’s still in his prime?
— Will Hsu (@wphsu) November 29, 2013
There’s no way I’d try to trade Braun right now. I wouldn’t be able to get proper return on the value because he’s seen as somewhat of an unknown right now. Teams think he’ll perform when on the field but the question is how healthy he’ll be able to stay. Even if I were going to look to trade Braun at some point in his contract, it couldn’t be until he has a typical 2014 season and I’d be able to ask for and get a package of high-ceiling, can’t-miss, solid-gold prospects.
@BrewerNation I would like to see the crew get a lefty starter. Anyone available?
— Tom Neises (@NeisesTom) November 29, 2013
Several available, but how good do you want that starter to be? Free agent Chris Narveson is drawing some interest after pitching well in the Caribbean this off-season. He’s certainly familiar with the organization and they with him. But some of the other names available aren’t exactly exciting given their circumstances. You’d be looking at a fifth starter with most of the arms out there and is that worth denying the youth a chance?
And now from Facebook:
“Steven Linkins: Any idea how big a player the brewers plan to be in free agency? they don’t have many holes but it would sure be nice to have a contender again”
Doug Melvin is taking things slowly this off-season as he tends to do. Despite a flurry of activity elsewhere in the league, the Brewers are biding their time while they wait for Corey Hart to receive his medical clearance, expected to come on December 3rd. He is their primary target this winter. Should that fall through, the Brewers would have a need at first base and at least some money to spend.
“Carlo Marinello: Do you think the rumor of Aoki being traded and Braun playing RF is a high probability?”
I think the latter half of that is likely. The only reason it wouldn’t happen is if Braun is completely uncomfortable and they want to make sure he can focus on his offense in 2014. Whether Aoki gets traded or falls into a platoon of sorts in left field with Khris Davis will depend on how strong the offers are which Melvin will certainly field between now and March 31st.
“Ryan Hewitt: If Aoki isn’t traded, do you think he would be okay with being a 4th OF?”
Any competitive athlete wants to be on the field as much as possible but Aoki has proven to be a quality teammate in every respect. He didn’t join the Brewers in 2012 as a starter and if he fell into a platoon or fourth outfielder role to begin 2014, I’m sure he’d continue to play hard to earn his playing time back.
“John Suess: why not Braun at first; you have three other qualified outfielders ready now (plus others in the minors). Braun has played infield and he can also then sub in the outfield. I’d never get rid of Aoki – he does too many things right.”
Braun is an above average outfielder, one who gives you an advantage offensively as well. There’s no reason to force him to first base at this point of his career. He may well one day be better off there but for now he can run, defend, and still hit well above average as an outfielder. His bat doesn’t profile with as much premium at first base either.
“Scott Underwood: Are the Brewers better off resigning Corey Hart or moving on?”
Much better off resigning him. He’s the best bat available at first base on the market that doesn’t come with the loss of a draft pick, he’ll come much cheaper for 2014 than they will anyway, they don’t have a ready option in-house, and if he fails they can justifiably move on in 2015.
“Robert Boese: Any Chances Of The Brewers Changing Logo Or Uniforms For Next Year?”
Other Than What Seems To Be A Special “Japanese” Uniform Day Coming The Weekend Of The Aoki Bobblehead, They’re Sticking And Staying With What They’ve Currently Got.
“T.m. Ryan III: You may know the answer any reason why #17 hasnt been retired or ever used since Gumby had it. If memory serves me correctly hes the last to have it”
The Brewers have only retired five numbers in franchise history, and all of the players for whom they’ve done so are members of the Hall of Fame. They haven’t issued #17 since Jim Gantner last wore it in 1992, true, likely out of respect for what he meant to the franchise. It’s more of a “soft” retirement if anything.
“Adam Mrozek: Are the Brewers really shopping Ryan Braun? If so, my Brewer cap is getting burned.”
Your cap is safe. Braun is not being shopped.
“David Hannes: Could Rickie Weeks or Aramis Ramirez play first base this year?”
Ramirez would be well-served to move to first base if he wants to extend his career much longer, but this doesn’t seem to be the season for it. He’ll rightfully want to enter his what could be his final free agency as a third baseman.
Weeks has hard hands, is a small target, isn’t particularly flexible to stretch for balls, and wouldn’t make much of a first baseman…especially if his offensive woes continue.
“Terry Fraser: Are the Brewer looking at Garrett Jones? Perfect bench player for us- power off the bench, plays 1B, LF, RF, lefty bat vs closers.”
Jones is certainly versatile and would be a welcomed addition to the bench in Milwaukee, in my opinion, at the right price. However, other teams that could use his skills will be able to offer him much more than the Brewers would (or really should). Sean Halton can provide similar defensive coverage and some of the offensive ability for a fraction of Jones’ cost. Taylor Green covers you at even more spots than Halton does and also hits left-handed.
Robinson Cano. Short of that, would Hart and O’Flaherty work?
So that wraps it up for the first edition of Brewer Nation Q&A. I hope you enjoyed the format and will participate in the future if you didn’t this time.
As always, I’m available on social media for questions as I stated earlier. Find the links at the top.
Do you have a follow up question or something else you’d like to know? Disagree with my answers? There’s a wonderful comments section right here on the blog. Put it to work!
By: Big Rygg
Now that was a pitching duel.
I know that there are a lot of baseball fans out there that love a game like that which took place today in New York at Yankee Stadium. That game featured a 14-run inning and total combined scoring of 26 runs!
But there are also baseball fans, though probably to a lesser extent, that love a game like that which took place today in New York…but at Citi Field.
The new home of the New York Mets saw it’s first real pitcher’s duel today between former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and hopefully a future one, Yovani Gallardo.
Santana went 7.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K
Gallardo’s line was: 6.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 7 K
Great stuff from both pitchers. In fact, the first 5 out Gallardo recorded were strikeouts including getting both Carloses (Delgado and Beltran) to strikeout with runners on first and third in the 1st inning.
Frustratingly, though perhaps fittingly in a game which featured such good pitching, the only run of the game on either side came literally off of the glove of another Carlos (Brewer reliever Villanueva). A runner scored from third after a bullet of a line drive glanced off the side of Villanueva’s glove for an infield single. The frustrating part, though, was that the only reason the runner was at third base to begin with was because of a 2008 special, that of course being an error on a routine play from Rickie Weeks.
Yes, Weeks has been doing much better this year so far than in years past, but not being able to catch a 15 foot lob from Prince Fielder is unacceptable.
But, enough complaining. Tomorrow is another day. A day when Nelson Figueroa squares off against Jeff Suppan in the series finale.
Let’s get one tomorrow. How about that?
By: Big Rygg
As I write this, the first game in New York is tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 7th inning. Mitch “Irish” Stetter (my own nickname for him, but feel free to adopt it) has just been removed from the game after allowing Mike Rivera to show why so many professional athletes over the years have taken ballet. I’m not saying Rivera takes or has ever taken ballet, but the spin move he just pulled off was a thing of beauty.
Moving, this post is mostly about the entirety of the upcoming road trip as opposed to the current game (though Hallelujah that Braun got his first home run out of the way a couple of innings ago!!).
The Brewers began the 2009 regular season on the road out in California for three games before hosting two teams for three games each at Miller Park. Beginning tonight, however, the Brewers take their first (of three) 9-game, 10-day road trip.
We start where we are tonight, brand-new Citi Field in Flushing, New York where the marquee matchup of the weekend comes tomorrow when Yovani Gallardo squares off against one of the best pitchers in all of the majors in Johan Santana. Tonight’s matchup, as I mentioned, is all square as I write this but the Metropolitans are threatening. Sunday is looking like a Met win already (hey, until Jeff Suppan shows me a glimmer of hope, I have to go with recent history), so finding a way to win tonight would be a plus.
After the Brewers first series ever at Citi Field (Todd Coffey just got out of a Mitch Stetter jam!), the Brewers head to their personal 2008 House of Horrors: Citizen’s Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, PA. The Brewers were 0-6 in Philly last year, including those two lost games in the NLDS. Philadelphia’s resident ace left-hander Cole Hamels is pitching tonight, so we should see him in Game 3 of the series.
Then, in what on paper (and if you read this blog often enough, you should know how I feel about “on paper”) should be the easiest series of the trip, the Brewers travel to Houston, Texas to take on the Astros. The Crew avoids arguably the best pitcher in the NL Central Division in Roy Oswalt courtesy of the schedule makers. Even still, Houston is a tough place to play as a visitor and the Brewers have an all-time record well below .500 there.
(Todd Coffey just induced a David Wright ground out to escape his own bases-loaded jam in the 8th. Whew!)
Realistically, a team hopes to play at or near .500 ball on the road and over .500 ball at home. Therefore, the best you can fairly expect the team to do on this long road trip is 4-5. Hopefully the Brewers can pick up an extra one here and there and have a very successful trip.
Two notes before I let you all go here, Gary Sheffield hit his 500th career home run in the game this evening. Good for him, I guess, but a hard slap in the face that the team he broke into the Major Leagues with and dragged through the mud before leaving town (yes, he still gets booed mercilessly when he plays in Milwaukee) would give up the milestone.
Second, The Brewers finally have a second lefty in the bullpen due to the situation with David Riske’s elbow. R.J. Swindle was called up to the parent club in what really is fortunate timing. The Mets and Phillies have a lot of potent left-handed bats, and even a couple of switch-hitters that are much more dangerous when batting left-handed. For example, the Brewers used Mitch Stetter tonight in the 7th inning. Should a big situation come up in the 9th (or later should this go to extra innings), Ken Macha has the opportunity to bring in another left-hander. That allows Macha to manage the situation on its own, and not have to worry about a “what if” situation where your lefty might be more useful later in the ballgame. For example, Jerry Manuel used his only lefty in the 6th inning after Ryan Braun hit a 3-run home run with nobody out.
Anyway, it’s the bottom of the 9th, Seth McClung is on the bump and the heart of the Mets order is due up…ain’t baseball grand?
Come on boys! Let’s play some free baseball for the fans in NYC tonight!