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Wednesday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while launching a third party.

Thanks to Mark for filling in yesterday while I laid on the couch and drifted in and out of consciousness. My apologies for the late Mug today - I had hoped to be off my pain meds by now, but no such luck, so I'm having a hard time writing coherently. Also, as I was gathering news this morning, a delivery truck showed up with a whole room full of furniture from IKEA.

Before we go any further, you may want to just give up and find a new team or a new sport. Dave Begel of OnMilwaukee.com wants to make sure you know the Brewers are never going to compete (h/t BBTF). So abandon all hope, ye who remain here.

Meanwhile, for those of us who haven't jumped off a bridge, it's the time of year where we spend lots of time discussing players who may or may not even consider becoming a Brewer. Take John Lackey, for example.
  • Jorge Says No! wonders if the Brewers should be interested in signing him.
  • In-Between Hops has a visual representation of reasons they shouldn't.
  • When Buster Olney said the Brewers may have interest in Lackey, he also mentioned the Mariners as a candidate, prompting Lookout Landing to rip apart the logic involved in that statement.
  • Ken Rosenthal says the Angels are still interested in Lackey, too.
  • If/When Doug Melvin gets outbid for Lackey, Fire Doug Melvin has a statement for him to read. Melvin is already using similar language to complain about the draft.
There's also a flurry of discussion on catchers: I'm planning on writing something more in-depth on Lucroy once my brain gets a little less fuzzy. In the meantime, here's a bunch of notes on Mike Cameron, too: A fair number of people are treating it as a foregone conclusion that Craig Counsell will either return to the Brewers next season or retire, but that may not be the case. Adam McCalvy thinks Counsell's surprising 2009 season should net him several offers, and may drive up the price for Whitefish Boy.

MLB Daily Dish has predictions for free agents #11-20 in their rankings, and thinks Rich Harden (ranked #12) may end up with the Brewers. They also have Felipe Lopez (ranked #14) signing with the Cubs.

Speaking of oft-injured pitchers who could get a phone call from Doug Melvin, FanHuddle thinks the Brewers could sign Brad Penny.

And, of course, as the Brewers look to spend their free agent dollars this offseason, one massive mistake overshadows all other deals: Jorge Says No! has a look at the logic and failure of the Jeff Suppan deal.

Finally, there's some continued reaction to the J.J. Hardy-Carlos Gomez deal:
  • Aaron Gleeman has a scouting report on Gomez from his former manager, Ron Gardenhire.
  • Real GM Baseball gave the Twins an A- for the deal, and the Brewers a C+.
On Monday, I mentioned having written a scouting report on Hardy for Nick Nelson of Nick's Twins Blog. In return, I asked for his scouting report on Gomez. Here it is:
"When it became clear that the Twins were working to move Johan Santana during the 2007-08 offseason, fans geared up for a marquis package in return. After all, Santana was arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball; a two-time Cy Young Award winner with devastating stuff and command from the left side who still hadn't yet turned 29. What the Twins got was a package from the Mets that included three promising pitchers but was headlined by Carlos Gomez, a raw 22-year-old center fielder who general manager Bill Smith envisioned as a future anchor in the lineup.

Because of the circumstances surrounding his acquisition, Gomez became saddled with massive expectations amongst the Minnesota fan base. This might have been his undoing. By the time the Twins sent him to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy last week, a sizable portion of local fans was more than ready to see Gomez go. His lack of progress at the plate and his repeated mental lapses on the field -- one of which was on display during the ALDS when he cost the Twins a crucial run by overrunning second base in New York -- became too much for a lot of folks to tolerate.

As a person who greatly values defense and appreciates players who display enthusiasm and emotion on the field, I was always a big fan of Gomez and I'm sorry to see him go. There's no doubt that he was failing to make meaningful strides on the cognitive end, but his physical tools are undeniable and he was at least making slight adjustments at the plate this past season, with a decreased strikeout rate and increased walk rate. Granted, he was still poor in both those areas and his overall hitting numbers dropped regardless, but it's something to keep in mind, especially considering that he's still only 24 years old.

As far as defense goes, get ready for a treat. I know Mike Cameron did some nice things for the Brewers, but Gomez is better. I watched the great Torii Hunter in center field regularly for about a decade, and can confidently say that Gomez gets to balls that Hunter in his prime never would have dreamed of reaching. Even though he occasionally makes bad reads, Gomez can very quickly make up for a missed first step and has closing speed on line drives and fly balls like I've never seen before. He's an exquisite defensive center fielder and will make any fly ball heavy pitchers on the Brewers staff very happy.

That tremendous defensive proficiency means that Gomez doesn't have to progress all that much offensively in order to transform into a highly valuable player. While he has failed to post even a .300 OBP during his three major-league seasons thus far, Gomez posted a .339 OBP in the minors despite being young for every level and he may benefit from a return to the National League. His dreadful lack of discipline at the plate may prevent him from ever taking the next step and becoming an adequate offensive contributor, but I could certainly see him turning a corner and becoming a Franklin Gutierrez type player. Even if he doesn't, his defense makes him a worthwhile starter in center field and at worst he'll settle in as a quality fourth outfielder and pinch-running option.

For all the negatives that have surrounded Gomez's tenure in Minnesota, my lasting memory of him will not be the baserunning muff against the Yankees or one of the hundreds of outside breaking balls whiffed on for strike three. It will be the 12th inning of this season's Game 163 against the Tigers, when Alexi Casilla sneaked a grounder between second and first to drive in Gomez with the winning run. Gomez came sprinting home, arms outstretched like the wings of an airplane, and dove across home plate despite the fact that the play was nowhere near close. After recording the game-winning, playoff-clinching run, Gomez lept into the air with the excitement of a kid in little league. He may not be the brightest guy in the world, but Gomez plays the game with a lot of heart and he absolutely has his strengths.

Appreciate Gomez for what he is, and you'll love having him on your team. Just try to be patient with the mental mistakes and often clueless offensive approach."
Meanwhile, NL Gold Glove winners are expected to be announced today, and Stan Musial's Stance is projecting J.J. Hardy as the winner at shortstop. It seems unlikely, but I suppose it's possible.

Over 1000 innings and nearly 1000 appearances into his career, we're still trying to figure out how exactly Trevor Hoffman has managed to be so successful. Dave Allen of FanGraphs has a look at one of Hoffman's strengths: pinpoint control that allows him to keep the ball out of power zones to left-handed hitters.

Hitting during day games at Miller Park might get a little easier next season: The team has removed the ivy in the center field batters' eye and replaced it with glare-reducing black paint. They're also adding some black mesh around the scoreboard.

In the minors:
  • Jonathan Lucroy, Zach Braddock and (to a lesser extent) Lorenzo Cain are having pretty nice seasons in the AFL, and the Peoria Javelinas are 16-8, the best record in the AFL. They lead their division by five games with eight to play. For more on their recent performances, check out today's Fall/Winter League Update.
  • FanGraphs has the Brewers' minor league season in review, with notes on one Brewer minor league graduate and four more prospects.
  • Project Prospect ranked Caleb Gindl as the 12th best corner outfield prospect in all of baseball.
  • Plunk Everyone noted that Adam Heether and Brendan Katin are still among the Venezuelan Winter League leaders in HBP. Heether hasn't appeared in a game since November 1, and I'm still not sure why.
Around baseball:

Blue Jays: Claimed utilityman Mike McCoy off waivers from the Rockies.
Orioles: Claimed pitcher Armando Gabino off waivers from the Twins.
Rays: Exercised Carl Crawford's option for 2010, declined options on catcher Gregg Zaun and Brian Shouse, and claimed pitcher Ramon Ramirez off waivers from the Reds.
Red Sox:Shortstop Nick Green and outfielder Joey Gathright both rejected outright assignments and will become free agents.
Reds: Outfielder Darnell McDonald rejected an outright assignment to the minors and will become a free agent.

If you're looking to sign Yorvit Torrealba to a deal this offseason (perhaps as a replacement for Jason Kendall), the baseline has been set: After the Rockies declined his $4 million option for next season, they reportedly offered him $4.5 million for two seasons, and he turned it down. I think the Brewers could easily beat that, and might welcome a 2 year$6-7 million deal for him. Brian McTaggart has a look at other available catchers.

Meanwhile, the Reds are reportedly looking to cut payroll into the $65-70 million range, which could be a challenge considering they owe $66 million to ten players for 2010. So, if you have a Red you're looking to acquire, you should get on the phone.

Looking for another buy-low pitching candidate? The Royals are reportedly monitoring the rehab of Runelvys Hernandez, who has pitched just four major league games since 2006.

We use WAR a lot to discuss the value of players, but are there cases where we're misusing it? Jeremy Greenhouse of The Hardball Times looks at misuses of the stat. We've definitely been guilty of some in the comments here.

I shuddered while reading this note: Garrett Broshuis, a teammate of Giants prospect and accused murderer Angel Villalona, has a look at the circumstances surrounding Villalona's release from prison, which included a roughly $50,000 payment to the victim's family and their decision to ask for charges to be dropped.

On a happier note, Brewerfan.net has an interview with former Brewer Junior Spivey, who remains a Brewer fan long after moving on from the organization.

A couple of cool notes from the SBN Network: I don't have any Brewer related birthdays today, so we'll have to settle for wishing a happy birthday to UW-Stevens Point alum Scott May, who appeared in five major league games and turns 48 today.

Oh, and I have a new career goal: Leveraging BCB's Twitter (@BrewCrewBall) to get a CBS TV deal.

Drink up.