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BCB Mailbag 19: Eating Pizza on the Bench

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Oakland Athletics Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been awhile! Let’s get back right back into the questions:

icelandreliant asks:

Have you heard any buzz about Luis Ortiz during spring training?

I haven’t heard a thing about any intrasquad games or anything. I’m wondering at what point to be really concerned that the guy seems to have never pitched longer than like 4 1/3 innings.

Ortiz is in minor league camp and has been on the mound and working in games as normal. We haven’t heard a ton about him because he hasn’t appeared in any big league games, but that’s not really a big deal. He pitched just the other day for the AAA team against Salt Lake, working three scoreless, hitless innings with a strikeout.

Ortiz was rated highly by nearly every outlet this winter, including making several top 100 prospects lists. Baseball Prospectus, for example, ranks him 5th in the Brewers’ system and 68th overall with an OFP of 60. There’s plenty of risk involved, like there is with just about any prospect, but there’s no reason to think his stock has fallen in spring or anything. You can listen to Ortiz appearing as a guest on the “Brewers On Tap” podcast from a couple of weeks ago by clicking here.

nullacct asks:

Who is the team barber?

This is one of those flavor things that I’ve enjoyed reading about over the years, and Tom isn’t responding to my tweets. He usually knows the answer, can we use our enhanced BCB presence to get the vital info from him?

That’s a good question, considering that Martin Maldonado is no longer a part of the team after being jettisoned to the Angels this past winter. I asked Adam McCalvy about it on Twitter, and he says he’s not yet certain. For the time being, though, it sounds as though Hiram Burgos may be filling that role during the spring.

KegelExercise asks:

Jonathan Villar

Recently was listed in FanGraphs 2B power rankings as being projected to put up a 0.8 WAR in 2B playing time this year.

Obviously, this figure isn’t taking into account value he will produce while occasionally registering plate appearances as a 3B or SS, and is probably somewhat driven by his .373 BABIP last season, but what’s the BCB writers expectation? Are the projections onto something, and we should lower our expectations for JV in 2017, or do y’all think that the projection systems are undervaluing him, and if so, why?

I think a lot of the regression that is being projected for Villar is BABIP driven, definitely. While I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up a .373 mark, Villar does have the tool set to be a high-BABIP type of hitter. During the 2nd half of last season Villar had only a .328 BABIP, a much more reasonable figure, while hitting .270/.357/.493. Almost every projection system is buying into his power and spitting out 14-15 home runs for a full season, which is definitely encouraging. He’s a good bet to steal 40+ bases once again and hopefully we can expect something around a league-average bat as his floor.

A lot of his perceived value will come down to his defense at 2nd base. UZR (which Fangraphs bases their WAR calculation off of) hated Villar’s defense at shortstop last year. But Defensive Runs Saved (Baseball-Reference WAR) and Fielding Runs Above Average (Baseball Prospectus WARP) both saw Villar as an above-average defender. We’ll have to see how that translates to the keystone, but Craig Counsell has said this spring that he thinks 2nd base should be Villar’s best position.

ajt131 asks:

Who is your bet to represent the Brewers in the All-Star game this year?

It’s hard to go wrong saying Ryan Braun here, but really there are several breakout type guys on the roster who I could be convinced might have All-Star worthy lines at mid-season. If you told me that any of Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, Jonathan Villar, Junior Guerra, or Zach Davies could make make the squad, I’d buy that. I don’t think it’s necessarily likely that any of them are voted into the game, but I would bet at least one of those names makes the team.

drezdn asks:

Who has the best pizza, in and near the home of the Brewers next AAA franchise, West Allis?

If you ask me, it’s Pizzeria Scotty! on 98th and Oklahoma in my neck of the woods near Morgan Heights. I love deep dish pizza and they’ve got the best in town, but we’ve also had the thin crust from there (my wife doesn’t eat Chicago Style) and they do that incredibly well, too. They usually have some pretty solid coupons that they send out, as well; for example, I can usually get a free pan of lasagna with my deep dish order.

kruejoe also suggested Balistreri's in his reply, which I’ll go ahead an co-sign 100%. My grandparents lived on 68th and Auburn while I was growing up and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve enjoyed their excellent thin crust pizza. And of course, anytime we ordered their pizza we always had to get their phenomenal fried eggplant, as well. It’s to die for, really.

GoGregGo asks:

O/U 2.5 pitchers on the 2017 Opening Day 25-man roster are also on the next Brewers' post season roster

I’ll take the over on 2.5 pitchers from the Opening Day roster still being with Milwaukee when the team plays in the 2017 Wild Card game ;-)


What's the chance Gennett is dealt

before opening day?

At this point, I don’t think there’s a huge chance that he’s dealt. He’s playing well enough to make the team with a .938 OPS in 35 at-bats and he’s acclimating to his role as a utility player. I don’t ever expect him to be a great defender at any of those new positions, but if he’s not killing them on defense then there’s plenty of value in a left-handed hitter with a career 97 wRC+ coming off the bench (for reference, Latin Babe Ruth had an 89 wRC+ last year). I’d bet that Scooter makes the team along with Jesus Aguilar, with seven relievers in the bullpen. If the two pitchers that don’t make the Opening Day rotation are placed in the bullpen, two guys built up for multiple innings like that should help the team cover for short starts that may occur during the first few weeks of the season.

Doug Weed asks on Facebook:

I would love to see article/discussion on Jesus Aguilar and how he is simply killing it this spring. How can the Brewers NOT include him on the team when camp breaks. And if he is on the team, how does that impact the rest of the infield roster considering the signing of Eric Thames?

For me, it’s also difficult to see a scenario where Aguilar doesn’t at least break camp with the team. He’s batting .500/.566/.891 (!!!) in 46 at-bats with five home runs and a 9:7 K/BB ratio; if he had the requisite 50 at-bats to qualify, his 1.457 OPS would rank 2nd in the Cactus League behind Nolan Arenado. Unfortunately for Aguilar, Eric Thames is going to see most of the action at 1st base and should have a pretty long leash, considering the contract that the team handed him this offseason. Though Aguilar bats righty and Thames bats lefty, BP Milwaukee did an excellent job exploring how Aguilar’s reverse splits makes a platoon situation a less than ideal scenario. It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that Aguilar carries this success over into the regular season, either; he’s a career .172/.234/.190 hitter with a 32.8% strikeout rate in 64 MLB plate appearances. He may simply be this year’s version of Brad Nelson.

I personally don’t foresee that negative of an outcome for Aguilar, and the projection systems think he should be a slightly below league-average bat (with ZiPS the highest at a 96 wRC+ and 26 home runs in a full season’s worth of plate appearances). It will be incumbent on Aguilar to force his way from the bench into more regular time by succeeding in pinch-hitting opportunities in the early portion of the season. The Brewers are at least exploring possible ways to get Aguilar more at-bats, including trying Eric Thames in the outfield, so there should be at least an opportunity for Aguilar to find his way into the lineup with some semi-regularity if he proves to be the real deal. All if this is probably moot though if Eric Thames’ bat translates back to the big leagues like the team is hoping.

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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Baseball Prospectus