Multiple reports and confirmations (including one by the Brewers) have come out this early Sunday afternoon which have the Milwaukee Brewers trading RHP Marco Estrada away.
Estrada, 31, gave up a league high 29 home runs in 2014 splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen. He was much more effective as a relief pitcher in 2014, something that’s a bit of a disconnect from earlier in his career. Estrada was originally acquired by the Brewers off of waivers from the Washington Nationals after the 2009 season. Estrada made $3.325 million in 2014 and in his upcoming third time being arbitration eligible, he was set to receive a significant enough raise that he may have ended up as a non-tender candidate. That’s because the Brewers didn’t have a spot for him in the starting rotation where he’s a bargain. He’s quite pricey as a long-reliever.
He will finish his Brewers career with a 23-25 record in 139 games (70 starts). He’s amassed a 4.11 ERA in 521.0 innings pitched.
Doug Melvin struck a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, who he has dealt with in the past. In return, the Brewers have acquired 1B Adam Lind.
Lind, also 31, has had an up-and-down career in Toronto, the only organization he’s known as a professional since being drafted in the 3rd round of 2004. Lind debuted as a 22-year-old in 2006.
In 2014, Lind spent some time in the minor leagues to get his groove back, more or less. In his 96 games on Toronto’s roster, Lind slashed .321/.381/.479 in 318 plate appearances. That includes an incredibly hefty platoon split though. In 2014 he his .354/.409/.533 against right-handed pitching (which is the majority as we all know) but an incredibly different .061/.161/.061 in 37 plate appearances. That’s four walks, just two hits (both singles), and 11 strikeouts.
The Brewers are hardly strangers to platooning. They carried season-long platoon at both first and second base last season and due to some injury concerns, they basically played with one in left field down the stretch as well. They might be committing to Scooter Gennett full-time at the keystone in 2015 (though I think they’ll wind up in a soft platoon at best), so it would allow them room to have another first base platoon next season. Looking at the numbers, they almost have to. New hitting coach Darnell Coles can only do so much, after all.
Lind will makes $7.5 million in 2015. His contract carries a 2016 option as well valued at $8 million with a $500 thousand buyout.
GUESS WHO’S BACK — BACK AGAIN?
While I was eating supper with my parents who are in from out of town, the Milwaukee Brewers made official was has been danced around and toward for some time now.
Jimmy Nelson has been recalled from the minor leagues.
He’ll start on Saturday against St. Louis at Miller Park, his first home start of 2014. With the gap in the National League’s Central Division at 2.0 games (as of publishing on Thursday, July 10) the Brewers brass must have felt that rolling the dice with Marco Estrada against a Cardinal team he’s historically struggled against wasn’t what is best for the business of winning baseball games.
Nelson comes with plenty of acclaim and hope, and hopefully plenty of aplomb as he’ll be thrown right into the thick of a divisional race that is as tight as it’s been in roughly three months.
Around making one spot start — for Yovani Gallardo who sprained his ankle — Nelson has spent his season with the Class-AAA Nashville Sounds. In a nutshell, Nelson was the top vote-getter for the Triple-A All-Star Game and was going to start the same for his Pacific Coast League squad. To go a little deeper, here’s Nelson’s season line at Nashville:
10-2, 1.46 ERA, 111.0 IP, 70 H, 23 R (18 ER), 3 HR, 114:32 K:BB, 0.919 WHIP, .179/.247/.245 slash line against
Some ratios: 0.2 HR/9, 9.2 K/9, 3.56 K/BB
And some more advanced stats: 2.47 FIP, 2.84 SIERA, 57.3% GB%
In summary, Nelson has been a dominant force in Triple-A this season and is clearly ready to try the next level. But let’s be fair to him. He should not be seen as a savior or the next coming. He’s got the goods to compete, and will likely struggle from time to time as he adjusts to the best hitters in the world, but as he showed in that spot start against the Marlins, he has the chance to compete. That’s something that the team hasn’t always gotten out of Marco Estrada, whose spot in the rotation Nelson will be taking.
ESTRADA LEASES A SPOT IN THE BULLPEN
Speaking of Estrada, of the 4.96 ERA, 5.71 FIP, and MLB-worst 27 home runs allowed, he will be contributing to the team from the bullpen for the foreseeable future.
Estrada should be somewhat useful if he’s able to embrace the role and get all the way back to his strike-throwing, command-heavy ways. Working against him are his splits in the first inning of his appearances so far this season. In his first inning of work in 2014, Estrada sports a 6.00 ERA, having allowed 12 ER in 18.0 IP. Seven of his 27 home runs allowed have come within the first three outs of his appearances and opponents are slugging .653 in the same. And for the sake of full disclosure, Estrada hasn’t walked a batter yet this year in his first innings of work.
But those numbers are why I’ve been a little confused when so many people have touted Estrada for a bullpen job. It doesn’t seem nearly as cut and dried as many say that Estrada will be “so much better” as a reliever.
Time will tell.
WANG INJURED, TRULY AND HONESTLY
The other thing time will tell is just how long Wei-Chung Wang will be on the disabled list. That’s right, conspiracy theorists: The Brewers placed Wang on the 15-day Disabled List with left shoulder tightness.
In all seriousness, I don’t believe that the team has made up this injury. Rule V Draft choices are closely monitored so that teams cannot simply stash them on the DL with false injuries.
But that’s beside the point of this article. The point of this article requires me to tell you that they opened up the spot on the 25-man roster to recall Nelson by placing Wang on the DL.
So, there you have it, Brewer Nation.
- Nelson up and into the rotation
- Estrada moved into the bullpen
- Wang placed on the disabled list
Thoughts? Let’s hear ’em.
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We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.
Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.
I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?
With that, to the list!
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Kyle Lohse
- Marco Estrada
- Matt Garza
- Wily Peralta
I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.
The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.
Relief Pitchers (7)
(with one more starting on DL)
- Jim Henderson
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Will Smith*
- Brandon Kintzler
- Wei-Chung Wang*
- Rob Wooten
- Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
- Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)
Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.
For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.
Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.
As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.
- Mark Reynolds
- Rickie Weeks
- Jean Segura
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
- Scooter Gennett**
- Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)
Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.
Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.
The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.
For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Ryan Braun
- Logan Schafer**
Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed ---
So there you have it.
I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.
After an expected three day hiatus, “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” is back as we are 41 days away from Opening Day.
I call the hiatus expected because both 44 and 42 are retired by the Milwaukee Brewers and while 43 used to be worn by Randy Wolf, it was taken over by bullpen coach Lee Tunnell after he joined the coaching staff back during the 2012 season.
Anyway, on to bidness.
As mentioned, we’re 41 days away so let’s focus our collective attention on…
The 30-year-old Mexican native began his 2013 reporting to Brewers camp but quickly joined his Brewers teammate Yovani Gallardo by leaving camp to participate in the World Baseball Classic. He didn’t have the results he wanted in his one start for Team Mexico and reported back to Maryvale Baseball Park ready to improve on 2012’s solid if truncated campaign.
Unfortunately, more health issues were in the cards for Estrada in 2013.
After missing more than a month of 2012 due to a right quadriceps injury suffered while running the bases, Estrada pitched just 138.1 innings across 29 appearances (23 starts). In 2013, Estrada could only muster 128.0 IP over 21 starts. That was because of a strained left hamstring suffered in a start on June 3rd.
It was especially frustrating because I remember after that game that Estrada told the media that he didn’t think it was very serious at all and was optimistic about making his next start in five days. He wouldn’t pitch again for Milwaukee until August 7th — over two months later.
And that’s been the major problem with Estrada to this point. He puts up good numbers. Very solid rates, a strong set of peripherals to go along with his traditional stats and advanced metrics. For example, he posted a 3.87 ERA in 2013 nearly matching his FIP of 3.86. He was a little down on his strikeout rate last year, but improved on his WHIP in posting a career best 1.078.
So the thing is, when Estrada was on the mound, he was putting up solid performances more often than not. He had 12 “Quality Starts” and only five starts I would consider truly bad, and one of those was the game in which he hurt him hamstring.
Estrada also finished the season very strong. He had six quality starts in the nine he made after returning from the disabled list, including his last four of the year. Over his last six starts he struck out 44 in 41.2 innings pitched and walked only 10 total.
He’s a quality rotation option for the latter half of a rotation and the Brewers have been capitalizing on that when they can. Barring injury, Estrada should break camp firmly entrenched as a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. Whether they throw him fourth or fifth will probably have as much to do with who pitches third in Ron Roenicke’s rotation as it will anything else.
Wily Peralta has the higher ceiling and he also throws much harder, but he’s much more inconsistent and has had some trouble getting out of the gates the last two seasons. Some managers enjoy mixing up styles of pitching in their rotation. If Kyle Lohse pitches third, for example, that style of thinking would lead to Peralta fourth with Estrada going fifth.
Regardless of who he follows though, Estrada needs to be in the rotation. I’ve made no secret that I prefer Estrada to start but the numbers just flat out back it up. Here’s a direct link to his career splits by role (Starter vs Reliever) at the infinitely useful Baseball-Reference.com. The sample size as reliever is a little smaller, but it’s a clear distinction.
Let me bottom line it.
Estrada needs to start. He will start, barring injury. He’ll contribute solid numbers and help the Milwaukee Brewers win baseball games.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #45 Alfredo Figaro
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #47 Rob Wooten
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #50 José De La Torre
- #51 Wei-Chung Wang
- #52 Jimmy Nelson
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Michael Blazek
- #58 Ariel Peña
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez
BREWERS ON DECK, PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER CABLE, TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Free Admission to All Fans in 2014; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force
Nearly thirty Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
Admission to this year’s Brewers On Deck is free of charge. Tickets are not required for the event. Food donations will be accepted through the Hunger Task Force (peanut butter is requested by the Hunger Task Force, in particular). Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street. Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
- Jeff Bianchi
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Hiram Burgos
- Khris Davis
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Scooter Gennett
- Caleb Gindl
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Brooks Hall
- Sean Halton
- Donovan Hand
- Johnny Hellweg
- Jim Henderson
- Elian Herrera
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Hunter Morris
- Jimmy Nelson
- Mark Reynolds
- Jason Rogers
- Logan Schafer
- Jean Segura
- Kevin Shackelford
- Will Smith
- Tyler Thornburg
- Rob Wooten
- Craig Counsell
- Rollie Fingers
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Geoff Jenkins
- Gorman Thomas
- Robin Yount
- Ron Roenicke
- Joe Crawford
- Mike Guerrero
- Marcus Hanel
- Garth Iorg
- Rick Kranitz
- Johnny Narron
- Ed Sedar
- John Shelby
- Lee Tunnell
- Jerry Augustine
- Dave Nelson
- Bob Uecker
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center District. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted next week. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
Fans also have the opportunity to enter to win autographs from their favorite players via a #BrewersOnDeck Vine & Instagram contest, which runs through Monday, January 20. The details can be found here: http://brewers.mlblogs.com/2014/01/07/win-an-autograph-from-your-favorite-brewers-player-at-brewers-on-deck/
Arbitration season in Major League Baseball officially began this week with the eligible players filing for the same back on Tuesday. In all, 146 players filed for arbitration. With 30 MLB clubs, that works out to an average of nearly five players per team. Following a trade and some other transactions, the Brewers came in beneath the average with just two players: pitcher Marco Estrada and corner infielder Juan Francisco.
Following Tuesday’s filing deadline was a deadline of Friday at noon CT before official figures would need to be exchanged between Estrada, Francisco and the Brewers.
It was reported earlier this week that the Brewers were optimistic about avoiding the exchange of salary amounts. To do that meant agreeing on at least a one-year contract with both Estrada and Francisco before noon Friday.
That work got done and it was formally announced just after noon that both deals were signed.
Joel Sherman tweeted the following contract figures for both players.
#Brewers avoid arb with Marco Estrada ( $3,325M, $100,000 available in IP bonuses), Juan Francisco ($1.35M).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 17, 2014
Marco Estrada: $3.325 million base salary with $100 thousand in available bonuses based on innings pitched.
Juan Francisco: $1.35 million base.
Tom Haudricourt then added information about Francisco saying that he too had available incentives, but didn’t specify for what nor how lucrative they are.
Recorded on location last night, here is the latest Brewer Nation podcast.
Check the tags for some of the players mentioned during this hour-long clip.