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BCB Mailbag #12: Don't Call It a Comeback

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We're back! After a lengthy hiatus the Brew Crew Ball Mailbag is back to answer all you burning questions.

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The Mailbag is back and I know you're as excited as I am. So without wasting any time, let's jump into your questions!

Vexthorne asks, "Are you excited to have a GM making moves?"

Most definitely. But we should give Doug Melvin credit for what he's done. He's really the one responsible for turning the farm system around. David Stearns has done a really nice job building on what Melvin's done. What I'm truly excited about, is owner Mark Attanasio allowing these two men to start the rebuild. I think a lot of people forget, or don't realize, a GM can only do as much as the owner allows. Mark A has always been very competitive--which is generally nice to see from an owner--but it got the Brewers in trouble for a bit there because they probably should have started the rebuild sooner. That's in the past though. Mark A has seemed to have learned a lesson. And the future looks great now.

BMG78 asks, "The MacGyver Question: Hypothetically, assume both Khris Davis and Jonathan Lucroy are traded away before the start of the season. Now, you are asked to construct the starting lineup for opening day. What would your batting order be, assuming you were required to "MacGyver" a lineup out of the largely household junk that would be left."

I'm not going to lie. I loved the shit out of MacGyver when I was a kid. The army ant episode really skeeved me out. And remember the one where the bad guys were pretending to be a sasquatch to scare people off from their hideout, and then at the end of the episode Mac and the fat bald boss dude hear a bigfoot call in the woods and think it's just the tape player--kids ask your parents--the bad guys were using but then they see the tape player is next to them so it was a real sasquatch!!! Yeah, that show was the best.

Okay, I'm going to approach this as though you're asking my preference and not what I necessarily think the Brewers would do--because I'm not sure what they would do.

2B-Gennett
3B-Cecchini
LF-Braun
1B-Carter
RF-Santana
CF-Liriano
SS-Villar
C-Maldonado
P-Nelson

AKBrewerfan asks, "What is the best acquisition Stearns has made (so far)? What is the most important move for Stearns to get done before opening day?"

My personal favorite is probably the Garin Cecchini acquisition. But the best is getting Isan Diaz and Chase Anderson. Diaz could become a pretty good second baseman. And I'm intrigued to see if Anderson can maintain his velocity gains and how that might improve his production.

The only thing Stearns needs to do before opening day is figure out who gets cut in the outfield since they have more players than spots. Moving Jonathan Lucroy would be the biggest move he could make, but I don't think he has to do it before opening day. However if he does, it will be exciting because I have faith in him now that he won't sell low. Which means if he does move Lucroy, it'll probably be for the best package he thinks he can get.

Zneitzel asks, "How do you feel about teams manipulating service time? Arcia will be up this year later rather than sooner to move his clock another year. He only played at AA but he's well regarded and a great defender. I don't imagine we would send him to AAA if there was not the service clock. So you think that it's a fair system or should it be revised?"

This is really two questions so I'll address them separately. I'm not a fan of manipulating service time, but I do understand why teams do it. It would be bad business to not try and get the most control over your best assets. It's not really fair to the player, but what can be done about it? It's completely subjective as to when a prospect is ready to come up. How could one ever truly prove the club held someone down a second longer than needed?

As for Arcia, let's slow down. He has never played at the AAA level. That's an important step. He did well in AA and defensively he's ready. But that doesn't mean he should be a major leaguer on opening day. Take a look at this:

Player A: 307/347/453
Player B: 304/358/413

Both are good slash lines from when that player was at AA. Player A is Orlando Arcia. Player B is Jean Segura. Production at AA does not guarantee production at the major league level. And jumping over AAA really severely hurt Segura's development.

We should also be cognizant of the fact that Arcia's walk rate has dipped as he's reached the higher levels, down to 5.4% in AA. So Arcia will be starting at AAA, and he absolutely should be.

Snowdarc asks, "Who do you like for the Crew at #5 in this year's draft? And who, if anyone, should they go all in on in the International? Or would you try and sign a few?"

Sorry, I'm going to give you the boring answer: It's way too soon to guess who the Brewers will be in on with their #5 pick. They don't even know yet. The high school and college seasons haven't started yet. A lot of players will build and lose value by the June draft.

I think the Brewers will probably be signing a few players during the upcoming int'l signing period which is encouraging news. I have no idea who though.

Ajt131 asks, "Could you make the argument to keep Lucroy? Or even extend him?"

I can't make an argument to keep Lucroy. I don't think there is anyway they compete before his contract ends after the 2017 season. And they can get way more by trading him than they would in the form of the potential draft pick they'd get from the qualifying offer.

I think extending him only works if they think they're going to compete right away in 2018 and that there isn't even an average 2 win catcher available. But even then, it likely won't happen because that would mean allocation something like $15M to an age 32+ catcher. That's not something likely to happen so early in a rebuild.

Icelandreliant asks, "What do you think about the new coaches?"

Hard to say because I don't know how they'll approach their jobs. But I do like that Pat Murphy was a college coach and minor league manager, and that pitching coach Derek Johnson was also a college coach. The Brewers figure to be running out a lot of young and inexperienced players. So it seems to make sense they'd also stock up on coaches with plenty of experience helping young and inexperienced players.

Whiffleball Tony asks if we've considered doing a podcast.

Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I need to get some better equipment before I do such a thing. But it is something I want to do. If/when it happens, it wouldn't simply be me reading the articles. I'm sure the articles we write would provide topics of discussion though.

Roguejim asks, "How are the Brewers going to sort through all their potential starting infielders and outfielders? Is it all based on options and who has the best spring training (the epitome of small sample size)?"

Good question. Options have more to do with it than spring training. Teams don't make their decisions--or at least smart teams don't make their decisions--based on spring training performance. Really the only thing you can learn in spring training is if a player is healthy. Maybe if you have two fringe guys vying for that 25th spot you go with one that presented the better tools in March. But I think that's rarer than fans believe. Most of the time, teams know what their 25-man plan is going into day one of spring training.

As for the Brewers infield, I think it entirely depends on what the Brewers expectations are for Aaron Hill. If he was only a way for them to acquire Isan Diaz then I think Garin Cecchini has a chance to be the starting third baseman. If however, the Brewers want to be able to trade Hill, then Cecchini goes to AAA and Hill gets the majority of starts at 3B out of the gate.

As for the Brewers outfield, it's too hard to say right now. I still think there's a strong chance someone gets traded (Khris Davis) and that changes the equation. Outside of Davis and Braun though, I believe Domingo Santana and Rymer Liriano are the ones the Brewers want starting.

Sandytolan asks, "Is Stearns keen to get out of Colorado Springs ASAP?"

I'm sure it's something he's considering. But he would never admit to that publicly. The Brewers still have to maintain a working relationship with CS for at least another season. There was an interesting bit of news out earlier this winter. There is a chance the Sky Sox move to Texas. But it's not a guarantee and there's no way of knowing when it might happen as the potential stadium hasn't been built yet.

Nickdro asks, "Any interest in Ian Desmond if you can get him on a 1 year deal as a bounce back candidate who you could trade midseason?"

He has draft pick compensation attached so no. The Brewers would only have to forfeit their second round pick, and it is possible they could get more in a trade of Desmond at the deadline. But it's just too risky. Although generally speaking, I am a fan of signing players with an eye towards trading them at the deadline. It's a great way for rebuilding teams to maintain MLB assets to trade for minor league assets. If teams don't do this, then once they've traded all their good players, they're stuck relying solely on the draft and int'l signing period to rebuild.

Airfigaro asks, "Do you think the Brewers can tank and still finish ahead of the Reds?"

I dislike the term "tank." I think it implies a team's motive is solely to get a top draft pick, and that ignores all the other moves (trades, waiver claims, etc) a team makes during a rebuild to make them better for the future. Nitpick, I know.

I definitely think the Brewers are going to end the season with a better record than the Reds. Cincy has Votto and a whole bunch of nothing. Brewers still have Davis, Braun, Lucroy, Nelson, and a few others that could be solid or better players. They aren't coming anywhere close to sniff that second wild card. But I do think mid-70's win totals are possible. And honestly, that might put them outside the top five picks in a draft. However, if they trade Lucroy and Davis before opening day, the math changes a lot.

Airfigaro also asks, "Going in to Spring training, who do you think has the edge on the closer's position?
Jeffress?
Knebel?
Smith?
Blazek?
Dark horse: Barrios?"

Will Smith is the best reliever in the Brewers pen right now. And the Brewers will likely be looking to trade him. I'm not convinced there are many--if any--teams that still care about the "prove closer" tag, but it can't hurt. If/when Smith is traded, I would think Jeffress gets first dibs--depending on how well he's pitching. I think Corey Knebel might be the "closer of the future" and keeping him out of that role now, keeps him cheaper in the years the Brewers are competing, because relievers still get paid for saves in arbitration.

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Okay, I'm calling it here. We got a ton of questions which is great! I know I didn't get to all of them. Sorry. But if I didn't get to a question you asked, please feel free to leave it here again and I"ll try to answer it next week. I hope--and I think it is--as fun for you all as it is for me. So the more questions the better!