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BCB Mailbag 17: A troll in the best shape of my life

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Media Day Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

There was actual, real live, competitive baseball being played today by our Milwaukee Brewers. Sure, it was against a college team, but it’s baseball, darn it! We’ll now have a game to look forward to and talk about almost everyday for the next 7-8 months, and that rocks.

So, those questions:

icelandreliant asks:

Am I wrong for not being totally sold on Keon Broxton yet?

Based on his last couple months last season, a lot of people seem to be super excited about him as a centerpiece of our next contending team in two or three years or whatever. With his track record in the minors, his injury, and just with him being a swing and miss guy, I’m still not that confident he can get on base a ton and put up the consistent numbers. Am I wrong?

No, you’re not wrong for not being completely sold on Broxton. I’ll admit, I’m excited by his potential. He’s got power, speed, and is excellent with the glove out in center field. He doesn’t even need to be the guy who posted a .937 OPS in the second half to be really valuable; even if he can manage a league-average batting line with his defense in center field, that’s a legitimate MLB starter.

I don’t think the wrist is too big of a concern going forward, and he’s got a good track record for taking walks, but it’ll all come down to his hit tool. He’s got the skill set to be a high BABIP type of player (speed, consistent hard contact) but he’ll need to cut his strikeouts down closer to 28-30% in order to hit enough and keep, say, a .240 average on a consistent basis. I think as Keon will get at least until the Super 2 cutoff in June to prove he’s capable of holding down the fort, and if he struggles he’ll likely end up ceding the position to Lewis Brinson. Broxton’s certainly a volatile player and needs to cut some of the swing-and-miss out of his game, so no, you’re not wrong to be skeptical at this point.

drezdn asks:

How does it feel to have become an "Internet Troll?"

In case you missed it, apparently I’m a troll for joking about Mauricio Dubon’s stature while complimenting his hitting ability. As a guy who is 5’8” and 170 pounds, it’s always fun for me to see a pro athlete I’m larger than. And Dubon says we’re cool, anyway.

Uncle Father Oscar asks:

Which year would you say you were in the "Best Shape Of Your Life?"

I would definitely say that it was from the end of 2010 until about mid-2011. I was 19 and working out twice a day and then I went off to Basic Combat Training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. At my peak, my two-mile run was something like 13:10 and I was maxing out my pushups and situps during the PT test, around 80 of each during the respective two minute periods. That was during Basic, though, when we were either running, ruck marching, or doing some kind of training exercise on a daily basis. Once I finished Advanced Individual Training (I was a 12R and trained at Ft. Leonard Wood) and got to my regular unit (also at Ft. Leonard Wood, 94th EN BN, 4th MEB, DAUNTLESS!) we didn’t do quite as much physical activity and my fitness fell of a little bit. I could still max my pushups and situps, but my run time was closer to 14:00. Now that I’m a civilian and have kids, I’m happy to do a couple mile walk with the children and our dog a few times a week.

AKBrewerfan asks:

Alaska's only professional sports team is folding.

I am inconsolable. Can you console me?

Well, at least the Brewers employ Anchorage native Chad Nading in their farm system, right? You can feel better by rooting for him and the other independent league guys the Brewers have brought in recently, like Santos Salvidar, Luke Barker, and Art Charles.

Sinister Mister asks:

Las Vegas

Has Milwaukee at 79.5 wins and Cincinnati at 80.5 wins. Granting that I am a homer who foolishly expects an .820 slugging from Broxton and a 3.00 ERA from Guerra, is there any possible way that the Reds win more games than the Home team? Maybe I am missing the Cincy upside, but they look as bad as any team out there. This may not be a Brewers question, but how could they be any worse than our southern Ohio rivals?

Personally, I think the Reds are going to be bad. If you’re looking for a way to NOT rebuild, the Reds are a perfect example in my opinion. Fangraphs’ projected standings has them for 70 wins (slightly better than the Brewers at 69), PECOTA has them at 75 (one behind the Brewers), and USA Today pegs them at 66 (six behind the Brewers). I think this year’s iteration of the Brewers has a lot more potential upside than Cincinnati and I'm confident that a lot would have to go wrong for the Reds to beat out Milwaukee in 2017.

From Twitter:

Oof, that’s a bit of a tough one. I’ll have to go with Houser at this point, as he’s the only one of the trio that’s already made the big leagues. His ERA wasn’t great last year at AA Biloxi, but he was sporting a 3.68 FIP and 3.20 DRA through 70.1 innings before he went down. His pre-injury fastball/curveball combination should give him a floor as a reliever; if his command can continue to be sharp (1.54% CSAA last year) and he can master his changeup, there’s the possibility for a mid-to-back of the rotation starter in there.

I think Williams is intriguing based on his radar gun readings, but he’s almost 26, hasn’t pitched in a regular season game in two full seasons, and still hasn’t pitched above high-A ball. He has to prove he can get upper level hitters out, and I think now his future is in the bullpen. The Brewers obviously like him, so hopefully he shows well this season. I haven’t seen enough out of Kirby yet as a professional to really get excited about him, so he’s another one to keep an eye on this year.

The massive caveat here, though, is that coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t an exact science. We’ve seen worse-case scenarios with guys like Zack Wheeler (who still hasn’t come back from his 2015 TJ surgery) and Daniel Hudson, who had Tommy John in 2012 and then had to have it again less than a year later after tearing his replacement UCL while rehabbing. Even Neftali Feliz, who the Brewers signed to close this year, took some four or five years to find close to the level of success he experienced pre-surgery. Until we see these guys back in live action on the mound, it’s tough to forecast who will come out the best post-operation.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus