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BCB Mailbag 8: Baby Names and the 2017 Brewers

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Milwaukee Brewers v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

It’s almost Christmas! Let’s celebrate by answering your questions!

nullacct asks:

Which Brewer did you name your child after

And have they been scouted yet

I really tried for “Junior Guerra Lesniewski” but my wife didn’t think that was an appropriate name for a baby girl. We ended up choosing “Roisin Belle,” but only after “Roisin Junior Guerra” was rejected. Haven’t had a chance to get her on the mound yet since our local park is still covered in snow, but she’s certainly got a projectable frame.

cjsever asks:

Frustrated With Continued Rebuild Mode?

Are you frustrated with the Tyler Thornberg trade? I think it was a good trade from an organizational standpoint. However, it also tells me that we traded a good pitcher for more unproven talent. Therefore, we should not expect to win in the near future. I grow tired of thinking optimistically about 2017 – nope. Then 2018 – Not really. So we’re really thinking about 2019….

I also thought the Thornburg trade was a good deal for Milwaukee, but I wouldn’t say that it signals waving the white flag for 2017. In addition to the two prospects that the Brewers got back, we also got our presumptive starting third baseman for next season in Travis Shaw. He’s already shown the ability to be a league average regular at the hot corner and his left-handed bat should receive a boost from playing in Miller Park, which is one of the top parks for left-handed home run hitters, versus Fenway, which suppresses left-handed power. If Shaw can be a ~2 WAR player in a mostly everyday role, then it negates the loss of Thornburg and gives the club five years of control over a starting third baseman versus three of a late-inning reliever.

Robin’s Home Town asks:

Is this roster going to win 80 games this year?

I took the over last year and won. I am less optimistic about the win total this year.

I’m optimistic about the Brewers chances to be decent next year, personally. Their pitching was pretty strong in the second half and the rotation looks like it’ll be returning intact, though the club could use some help in the bullpen. They do have a lot of live arms to choose from, though - Jacob Barnes and Corey Knebel are two personal favorites, Damien Magnifico throws hard, Brent Suter looked good in his trial down the stretch last year and the org must see something in Rob Scahill. Andrew Susac, a former top prospect, should finally get his chance as an everyday catcher and could be an average regular. I’m optimistic Eric Thames can be just as valuable in terms of wins as Chris Carter was last year and that Travis Shaw can hold down the fort at third base. Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton were both terrific down the stretch last year and look like they’ll have starting roles heading into 2017. It appears Ryan Braun will be returning. The combination of Arcia and Villar in the middle infield could be one of the best defensive tandems in baseball. I’ll say next year’s club wins more games than the 2016 iteration did, maybe somewhere in the range of 76-81 games.

drezdn asks:

What are the biggest holes the Brewers need to fill at this point?

I’d say pretty clearly the bullpen. Most of the spots for position players, starting and bench, appear to be pretty well locked down, and there’s plenty of competition in the starting rotation. But the bullpen is wide open after Thornburg, Smith, and Jeffress have all been traded in the last few months. I expect the team will sign at least one pitcher with “closing experience” and will continue to stock the cupboard with minor league free agents and waiver claims.

Aaron128 asks:

Do you think Gennett gets traded before the start of the season?

I listened to an podcast and in that podcast they were, among other things, talking about the possibility of Brian Dozier being traded to the Dodgers. The Dodgers are the only team in serious need of a 2B, so it’s also the only natural fit for Gennett. So do the Brewers trade him or wait until the deadline or the end of the season when more teams might be in need of a second baseman? Obviously Dozier is probably higher on the Dodgers’ list.

I do think Gennett will get dealt, yes. The Dodgers are logical partners if they don’t end up swinging a deal for Dozier, and the Angels could still make sense, too. They did just trade for switch-hitting Danny Espinosa, but he owns only a career .216/.294/.367 slash and 29% strikeout rate in nearly 2000 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. As a bench player limited to only second base and pinch hitting duties, Gennett just doesn’t really fit with the way the Brewers’ roster is constructed.

Junbug11 asks:

Who is your pick for Brewers prospect most likely to break out this year?

Maybe one prospect from the top 20 who we might know and then one we might not be as familiar with?

I actually discussed this topic today in my weekly post for Milwaukee Baseball Prospectus. One guy I really like is Jon Perrin - he was outstanding in 2016 and one scouting report I’ve read grades his OFP as 50 with the caveat “He throws plenty of strikes and will be a durable innings eater at the highest level.” If that reports holds true, he should easily be ranked in the top 20 or 30 prospects in the system.

Beyond Perrin, if Monte Harrison seems like a guy who could use some good luck. Whenever his off-the-charts tools start to shine through in each of the last two seasons, he’s suffered a freak injury. If he can stay on the field in 2017, watch out.

Other guys I like:

Ronnie Gideon, Lucas Erceg, Gabriel Garcia, Weston Wilson, Troy Stokes, Dustin DeMuth, Zach Clark, Franly Mallen, Max McDowell, Joantgel Segovia, Chad McClanahan, Trever Morrison, Corbin Burnes, Nate Griep, Drake Owenby, Blake Lillis, Jon Olczak, Conor Harber, Thomas Jankins, Trey Supak, David Burkhalter, Jordan Yamamoto, Quintin Torres-Costa, Angel Ventura, Jake Drossner, Gentry Fortuno, and Karsen Lindell.

Just to name a few.

Oh yeah, for some additional reading, here’s a post from “The Baseball Draft Report” with pretty detailed scouting capsules on all the players that Milwaukee signed in the 2016 draft. I thoroughly enjoyed perusing it.

Thanks for the question gang, have a merry Christmas!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs