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BCB Mailbag 18: Making the Team

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Workouts Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Well, someone had to pull recap duty last night, so here’s your Saturday mailbag:

icelandreliant asks:

Has anyone heard anything about Cody Decker?

We haven’t seen him in spring training games, but Dustin Houle has been playing quite a bit. Why?

Decker is playing for Team Israel in this year’s WBC, but the minor league deal he signed also did not include an invitation to big league spring training. He’s learning a new-ish position for him as a catcher, so I don’t know that I would expect to seem him in big league games even after the WBC.


Any significant trades before the Crew breaks camp?

Eh, I’m not sure I see unless there are more injuries around the game. The Cardinals are already down a starter, but appear to be content by filling the vacancy in-house. The Red Sox apparently dodged a bullet with David Price. Craig Counsell said yesterday that his plan is for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Hernan Perez to be the backup outfielders, which should make it easier for someone like Scooter Gennett to make the team. I don’t anticipate seeing anything before the season begins, but maybe Slingin’ Stearns will surprise us.

Brew Town Boozer asks:

Mythical 500 ABs

If Braun, Santana, Broxton and Brinson all got 500 ABs this year, would Brinson put up better numbers than either of the three entrenched starters?

Well he certainly wouldn’t put up better numbers than Braun at this point, but I’m not convinced that Brinson is yet better than Broxton or Santana, either. Domingo and Keon both have already shown the ability to be effective hitters against big league pitching, albeit in limited sample sizes. For as excellent as Brinson was last summer at Colorado Springs, let’s not forget that he hit only .237/.280/.431 in 326 plate appearances in AA before getting traded to Milwaukee. He’s not going to walk as much as either Broxton or Santana, and I don’t know that he’s got as much power potential as Santana has demonstrated, either. I’m excited to see him get a shot at the big league level, but I also believe that we have the potential for pretty strong outfield production with the three starters that are set to begin the season.

The Dane asks:


What would a player have to do during Spring Training to make enough of an impact to either make the Major League roster or move them up considerably in the minors? It seems like there is too small a sample size for an organization to make a decision based on those games. Is there enough evidence during practices to help sway management’s decisions? Or is it mainly the practice of consistently moving up the minors until you get a crack at MLB?

For someone like Joba Chamberlain, who is at Spring Training on a non-roster invite, can he do enough to make our (or any other) team?

Realistically, I don’t think there’s a lot that most minor leaguers can do to break camp with the big league club or significantly alter their minor league assignments to start the year. Fringe-type guys like Yadiel Rivera or Michael Reed could perhaps have a strong enough spring to make the big league club, but there’s really not much anyone like Josh Hader or Brett Phillips or Lewis Brinson could do break camp with the Brewers, like Orlando Arcia last season. The organization has a plan for those players based on their development and service time considerations, and big spring training results shouldn’t convince the club to deviate from that.

It’s a little different for someone like Joba Chamberlain or other veteran, non-roster invitees. It’s not simply how they perform in games, like you said, how they perform in BP or during bullpens also factors into the issue. The club should already have a decent idea of what they can expect from someone like Chamberlain or Ryan Webb or Eric Sogard or Ivan De Jesus, Jr. If they meet expectations in spring, there’s a good chance someone like Webb or Joba makes the bullpen over someone with a more limited sample like Damien Magnifico or Tyler Cravy for example, at least to begin the season. Injuries will also play a role of course, too, but (knock on wood) we haven’t ran into any of those issues yet this spring.

Ullsperj asks:

Early impressions of Gennett defensively at third and left?

I haven’t been able to watch much of him in left but I think he’s looked fairly good at third. Pleasantly surprised. If he continues to prove capable and grows more comfortable, it’s much easier to see him being valuable for the Brewers off the bench.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how Scooter has been acquitting himself at those positions, actually. He’s looked generally fine tracking down fly balls in left field, and as we’ve seen with our old friend Khrush, you don’t exactly need a cannon to be a decent defender out there. He’s been able to get to balls at third base, including climbing the ladder for a nice catch the other day, and even though he looks like he’s about to dislocate his arm anytime he makes a throw, they are at least getting to first base. With the club considering Perez as the “5th outfielder” rather than a true outfielder like Michael Reed, that should make it easier for Scooter to make the team and find some plate appearances. His offensive performance this spring (5-9, 2 2B, 2 BB) combined with his solid offensive track record and left-handed bat is certainly boosting his cause, as well.

Junbug11 asks:

Garza to Boston for a 55 gallon drum of baked beans and a 1/2 barrel of Sam Adams, who says no?

I do. I know that Garza’s not a popular player among the fans (which he has no one but himself to blame for) but he’s not actually a terrible pitcher. Two years ago he posted a 3.64 ERA, and after a very poor season in 2016, he bounced back decently last year and posted a 95 ERA+ in over 100 innings. That’s roughly league-average production. The Braves got warm bodies in return for the corpses of Jhoulys Chacin and Bud Norris last season. If Garza can post similar numbers during the first half as he did down the stretch last season, it’s not outrageous to think the Brewers could eat some cash and he could be traded come summertime. Depending on how well he performs, his $5 mil option for 2018 could turn into an asset, as well.

Thanks for all your questions this week, everyone! Let’s do it again soon.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference