Notice the heading "Keepers, Sleepers and Leavers". And I'm talking here about the bullpen only. And this is based on my observation. No Sabermetrics, nothing which I know little about anyway. And no scouting reports.
Last I checked we we second last in the NL in relief pitching. We might have improved a notch, but horrible is still horrible. Like a nightmare, but most of that nightmare was concentrated in a 6 week period. Earlier, it was simply a bad dream, the type you forget quickly.
No dreams with happy endings.
So where are we right now? Specifically who is going and who is staying, and let me confine that to the bullpen. The 7 names on the current roster. And a few i will pick out from AAA and AA. This will be based on what I have seen with the naked eye, so if I haven't seen the guy pitch, I will mention that. And I'm putting 2 disclaimers on the material I am posting. No scouting reports used.
Disclaimer No.1. I asked on forum for a scouting report on Fiers. And someone (Mike or Brian?) did give me the report. That was because Fiers was doing so well, I just needed to know how come. Then I asked Wolf for a report on Hendo, and he gave me a link. But I never accessed it. However subsequently I did see him pitch, but only a few pitches.
Disclaimer No.2. I listen to the commentators say 2 seamer and 4 seamer. and I watch the action on the ball, velocity and movement. But I can't see the pitcher grip it. Even the commentator will sometimes say "I think it was the 4 seamer". But sometimes it's hard to tell, so if I mention that, it's based on assumption of what I saw. maybe I won't even mention it.
The order is how they appear on the roster.
1. Jonathan Axford (RH). Keeper. 3rd full year in the majors, arbitration eligible 2013 FA, 2017. He's been arguably the best closer in the game, currently on rocky road. Suffering mechanical problems and problems of confidence. Throws 98, and even when it's thrown down the middle it's hard to hit. Has a devastating curve, but no significant change or or variation of other pitches. He uses the curve to set up the fastball, but when he misses, he quickly loses the strike zone, very frequently getting into hitter's counts of 3-0, or 3-1, where he will either issue a walk, or have to come in with a strike at lower velocity, so he can be hit. He has some issues to overcome. But he's a definite keeper with no discussion attached.
2. Marco Estrada (RH). Keeper. 2nd full year in the majors, arbitration eligible 2013. FA, 2016. He's a spot starter, candidate to be a 5th starter, but he also belongs in the bullpen. He's a mid reliever, long reliever, not entrusted in game saving situations. He's sneaky fast at 93, throwing fastballs and sliders at the knees. he can be effective, but any ball sitting at belt high, really doesn't have much action on it. He can be hit hard and there is some risk attached to having him in the game. But he's a handy guy to have around. So he stays.
3. Jim Henderson RH). Sleeper. Rookie with 10 years in the minors. Has been a starter/reliever in the minors, with apparent control issues. But burst on the scene out of the blue with a dominant performance in AAA. I have only seen a few pitches, but he does throw hard, very hard. 97-98. Someone else might like to comment on that. Probably best in short relief, set up, RH specialist, closer. But I say sleeper, because he could still wind up back in AAA. Needs experience in pressure situations, with runners on base. So a sleeper.
4. Livian Hernandez.(RH) Leaver. Free Agent, It's just the nature of the game, he will get calls for next year from somewhere.
5. Kameron Loe (RH). Keeper. Arbitration Eligible 2013. Will get a raise. He's a RH specialist, can be a set up man or closer, but better in the specialist role. He's guy you love to love or love to hate sometimes. He throws fastballs for strikes at 94, but they have good action, tailing away from the RH batter, or moving in on the hands. Probably hard sliders and 4 seamers and that's a guess. Right now he's a Brewer mainstay, but eventually we might lose him to free agency. Keeper for now.
6. Manny Parra( LH). Leaver. Arbitration eligible 2013, FA, 2014. Missed a year with injury. Lefty specialist with a mixed history as a starter/ specialist reliever. This will get personal, but there were times when he entered the game, and I would lose it, figure we had already lost. He does not get the out he was assigned to get, and that make his performance unacceptable. Walking the bases loaded 2 nights in a row, then stating "I just didn't have my command" is really not accepted in the majors. He throws sliders and fastballs, but doesn't spot them in any particular location.And he gets worse the longer he stays in the game. For me he's a leaver, but I think there will be some discussion. On the rare occasions he's "on' he can be devastating.
7. Francisco Rodriguez.(RH) Leaver. Free Agent. That decision has apparently been made. So no analysis.
8. Jose Veras. Keeper. Arbitration eligible 2013. FA 2014.Although he's rumored to be a leaver. He's a bit similar to KRod in that he does have great stuff, an array of curveballs and offspeed pitches, backed up by a 94 mph fastball. But he fools around a lot, and by the time he has to come in with the fastball, it's a bit predictable and doesn't have much movement on it. The reason I say keeper is because I'm not sure we could find an adequate FA replacement who would be any better. salary might be a concern, but I still think we need him. So keeper.
9. Jesus Sanchez.(RH) Sleeper. Would be a rookie. Has closed and pitched in short relief AA, AAA. I have no idea where he fits in the Brewer plans.
10, Tyler Thornburg (RH). Sleeper. Still a rookie. Someone has mentioned recently he could be used as a righty specialist. For me that's messing up a potential starter, so sleeper. THIS HAS BEEN EDITED,
11, John Hellweg (RH). Complete Sleeper. Would be a rookie, but will be 24 yrs old in Oct. Has started and pitched in relief in AA. He's 6'9", which fits a profile of other successful major leaguers. Could begin next year in AAA and could progress quicker in relief than as a starter,