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BCB Mailbag 11: Villar, Arcia, and Escobar

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Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Good morning! Coffee is brewed so let’s dive into questions.

AKBrewerfan asks:

I woke up at four this morning.


Because that’s the best time to wake up at. I’m up at about four every morning during the week. That’s when I accomplish most of my writing, early in the morning before I go to my real-life job. Of course, I’m typically in bed by 9-9:30.

Though that’s all be thrown a bit out of whack lately with a four-week old baby!

Lance123 asks:

Gatewood and Coulter

With the prospect depth the Brewers have at SS, 3rd base and in the OF, I think it’s a real long shot for Gatewood or Coulter to beat out the prospects ranked ahead of them and make it to the bigs as an everyday SS, 3rd basemen or an OF’er. However, both have power bats, are tall and athletic. Considering the Brewers don’t have any legit 1st base prospects in the system currently, why not move both of them to 1st base. Moving them now would give them a chance to learn the position and have a less blocked path, while giving the Brewers some possible options at the position down the road? (At 6’5", with a SS’s glove and arm, Gatewood could develop into a really good defensive 1st basemen) It seems like it would be better to move them now so they would have time to learn the position in the minors, as opposed to trying to teach them (or someone else) after they get to the big leagues.

First base is as low as it gets on the defensive spectrum, so moving either of them there full-time at this point would lower their overall value. Coulter’s got a plus arm in the outfield that I’ve seen firsthand, though teaching him some first base could add some versatility and help him earn a role on an MLB bench one day. He’s got other holes in his game though, and needs to make some adjustments before he’ll be ready for a shot in the majors.

Gatewood, on the other hand, is already beginning to rove around the diamond. After starting his career at shortstop, he spent most of 2016 at 3rd base for Wisconsin but moved to first after the promotion of Lucas Erceg and played 26 games there. He also made some brief appearances in the outfield corners. Gatewood’s approach needs some work, but he started to display his raw power in games last year (14 HR). A “true corner” utility profile could have some MLB value, but he’ll need to improve at the a lot at the plate and is still several years away from being MLB ready.

It’s worth remembering too that either of these cats could become eventually trade fodder, and they’d be more valuable at other positions than as full-time first baseman.

Aaron128 asks:

How do Orlando Arcia and Alcides Escobar compare?

And also, are the (offensive) numbers that Escobar has put up over his career good for a shortstop or just average/ok?

Alcides Escobar debuted in 2008, so let’s take a look at his annual wRC+ versus the MLB average for that season:

Escobar vs. MLB Average SS

Year Alcides Escobar MLB Average SS
Year Alcides Escobar MLB Average SS
2008 176 88
2009 87 87
2010 62 83
2011 70 88
2012 97 86
2013 49 86
2014 93 87
2015 65 85
2016 68 92

We can throw out the four plate appearances in 2008, and conclude that Escobar’s only been able to manage league average production for his position in three of the eight seasons where he’s accrued 100+ MLB plate appearances, and owns and overall line of .262/.297/.345 in 4,542 plate appearances for a 73 wRC+. That’s actually pretty poor, but his defense and base running have helped greatly to give him positive value overall for his career.

I’d hope that Escobar’s offensive production is more of a floor of what we can expect from Orlando Arcia, though I wouldn’t get my hopes up for much more than a ~.700 OPS annually. He’s capable of a bit more power production, maybe 8-12 home runs a year, and could get on base a smidge more. Like our old friend Alcides, however, a good chunk of Arcia’s future value will likely come through his contributions in the field and on the base paths.

Uncle Father Oscar asks:

Someone seems to ask if/when Scooter should be traded every week, but could trading Villar make more sense?

It seems like fans keep pushing trading the less valuable of the two players, but I think the Brewers could land a better prospect this time than Cy Sneed with a Villar trade. Should they "sell high" on him?

I’m by no means motivated to move Jonathan Villar. He won’t turn 26 until next May, he’s under club control for four seasons, and he’s a player with a top prospect pedigree coming off a ~4 WAR season where he hit .285/.369/.457 with 19 home runs and 62 stolen bases. The club already deposed an entrenched starter in Scooter Gennett to move Villar to second base on an everyday basis, and if Orlando Arcia’s bat proves unable to handle big league pitching, then Villar can move back to starting at shortstop. If you don’t buy his .373 BABIP being sustainable, consider the fact that he still managed to hit .270/.357/.493 in the 2nd half last year with a much more reasonable .328 BABIP.

That being said, if the Dodgers wanted to start a package with two of their top 10 prospects and go from there, I guess I’d have to listen. Hard to imagine they’d be willing to part with that much minor league talent though, considering their haggling with the Twins for Brian Dozier. Seems like their being stingy with their top prospects this winter.

drezdn asks:

What was your first memory as a Brewers fan?

I vaguely remember going to a game at County Stadium when I was pretty young and seeing Mark McGwire hit a home run, and my grandma sitting in the stands with her earphones in listening to Uecker call the game.

I didn’t really get into baseball and the Brewers until about 2005, though. I vividly recall going to this game on August 14th against the Reds. Doug Davis hit a triple, and young Corey Hart had his first major league hit, home run, RBI, and run scored when he homered in the eighth inning. Ken Griffey, Jr. also hit a home run, but the Brewers won 8-3, with Kane Davis picking up the win after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings of relief to close out the game.

Great questions this week, friends! Here’s hoping we have some transactions to talk about in the coming days.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference