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BCB Mailbag 21: Trading Ryan Braun for Caillou

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Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Milwaukee Brewers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a busy week for me fixing floor machines, so I’ll be happy when it’s quitting time this afternoon. Until then, let’s get to your questions:

SANDYTOLAN asks:

It looks now like the Dodgers-Braun trade talks are still on

…and that the Giants may be interested too.

Morosi’s article included some remarkably candid comments from Braun, who it seems to me is trying to rehab his image and convince would-be suitors that he can be a great teammate. http://m.brewers.mlb.com/news/article/224009890/two-trade-deadlines-approaching-for-ryan-braun/

Given these developments, Kyle, what chance do you see that Braun will no longer be a Brewer – either on May 25 or August 1?

I guess it doesn’t really sound like the “talks” ever really stopped, eh? Really, it seems like there’s only one possible destination for Braun: the Dodgers. I’ve seen Giants and Angels thrown around as other possible destinations (more so the Giants, at least per the report you linked) but while those places are within Braun’s geographic preference, neither of those clubs really has the pieces in the farm that it should take to get a Braun deal done.

The Brewers and Dodgers have been talking since last summer about Braun, and they still haven’t completed a deal. There was the “near miss” last August, but there were no indications that the talks got real serious over this past winter and nothing really in Morosi’s report saying that there is a deal that’s anywhere close to being completed at this time. I guess I just don’t see the motivation from the Dodgers’ standpoint, with the Brewers negotiating with them perhaps exclusively, to pay a large sum of player capital for Ryan Braun. I don’t see any reason why David Stearns would back off his asking price, either. He sticks to his guns regarding what he thinks his players are worth (whether we agree with him or not). It’s just hard for me to believe that if a deal wasn’t already completed by now that one will get done either next month or by the deadline in July. I think Braun stays a Brewer through 2017.

icelandreliant asks:

Crazy you put R2 up there today

Just last night, with my daughter on spring break, I watched The Empire Strikes Back with her for the first time. She watched Star Wars last summer. It was fun to see "I am your father" through new eyes, and it was cool to see her pick up the connection with "No, there is another" on her own.

If I have question, I wonder how soon I should show her Return of the Jedi. Will she be disappointed by the first turn into cartoon silliness? And beyond that, should I get into the whole messy prequel goofiness? Or is it better to just leave the original movie experience untouched for a while.

‘Return of the Jedi’ was my favorite of the original trilogy as a kid. That’s changed as I’ve grown up, but depending on your daughter’s age the Ewoks might actually be a selling point to her. My kids love cartoons, man. And even if she’s a bit older or if she’s not into “cartoon silliness,” it’s not a bad thing for a child to learn what disappointment and failed expectations are like, in my opinion. I believe kids need to start learning early on how to deal with not getting everything they want, not always winning every race or game, and that not everything is going to be what they hoped for. Otherwise it sets them, and their parents, up for a big wake-up call later in life when the kid is not at that fun age anymore and the cruel reality of the world begins to set in as they enter middle school and high school.

drezdn asks:

What's your biggest concern with the team right now?

Who has been the biggest positive surprise?

I’m pretty concerned about Orlando Arcia’s start on offense. He’s starting to make those stellar plays at shortstop that we’ve long been expecting to see, but he looks lost up at the plate. Three hits yesterday can’t hide the fact that he’s got an 8:1 K/BB ratio in 27 PA, that he’s swinging at 42.6% of pitches outside of the strike zone (league average o-swing 29%), and that he’s swinging-and-missing a whopping 18.1% of the time (league average 10.4%). Even when he does make contact, his hard hit rate is just 16.7% (league average 31.4%). At least Jonathan Villar, for all his early strikeout troubles, is boasting a 42.5% hard hit rate when he does make contact. Orlando Arcia’s bat still has a long ways to go if he’s going to be a useful regular at shortstop. Oh, you can add Hernan Perez’s awful start (48% o-swing rate, 18% swinging strike rate) to the list of concerns as well.

As for positives, it’s hard not to be encouraged by the pair of starts made by each Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, and Chase Anderson. Peralta (curveball) and Nelson (split-change) have both begun to incorporate new pitches into their arsenals with early success, have shown good velocity early on, and aren’t walking as many guys as we see from them typically. Anderson, meanwhile, is mixing and commanding all his pitches very well early on while continuing his success from the second half last season. Wouldn’t it be something if they can keep their strong starts up? What would that mean for the outlook in 2017?

Baseball Punditz asks:

Why isn't Shaw a better hitter?

When you see him at the plate, he has a sweet swing, seems to cover the plate, tends to swing at strikes and he is really cute. What gives? Why isn’t he a better hitter?

Don’t give up on Shaw yet! He got off to a really hot start this season, clubbing four doubles and a home run during the opening series against Colorado, but has cooled off a little bit since. Looking at his numbers provide a bit better context, though. Shaw is walking at an above-average rate of 9.5% (league average 9%) and is striking out at a below-average rate of 19% (league average 21.8%). The real issue is his .241 BABIP. Shaw’s sitting at a 30% rate of hard contact, which while a hair below average, shouldn’t by itself have such a negative impact on his batting average on balls in play. There seems to be an element of bad luck in play here. Shaw’s career BABIP is .297, so I would expect his current mark to trend upward a bit as the season goes forward. Even if he’s not providing the batting average you’d like to see, his ability to take walks and hit for power should help him stay around the level of a league-average hitter (he’s currently sporting a 97 wRC+).

For what it’s worth, my wife also happens to think Shaw is rather cute, and he has taken over as her favorite player now that Scooter is no longer a Brewer.

stigmo asks:

I have two burning questions.

1 - Could anybody tell me where I might ascertain whether my suspicion that radar guns are running .6 mph hotter this year is accurate and, if so, why?

2 - Is it just me, or does there seem to be an increase in strikeouts this year?

Your suspicion about the radar guns being a bit hotter this year is correct. Fangraphs recently covered this topic, saying that with the switch from Pitch F/X to Statcast/Trackman in all ballparks, velocity is being measured at a different point this year than in years past:

This year, however, with Statcast officially replacing PITCHF/x in the big leagues, the data being pulled publicly is now from the Trackman radar. While PITCHF/x velocity numbers were reported at a defined point along each pitch’s trajectory — usually at the 55 foot mark — so that velocity didn’t have to be calculated at every x/y point along the pitches path, Statcast outputs the highest velocity that Trackman records along the flight of the pitch, which due to physics, is going to be immediately after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.

As a result, the velocity for nearly every pitcher is “up” by 1-2 MPH this season.

As for your second question, yes, strikeouts are on the rise once again in the MLB this season. Last year, the league average K-rate was 21.1%. So far in the early going this season, it’s 21.8%.

tdgbp asks:

Given how quickly the above thread descended into Star Wars geek-dom, I propose the following unanswerable question:

If you could expunge one – and only one – of the following pop culture characters from existence, but thereby leave the other to remain as prominently displayed in our collective psyches as that Bartolo Colon/horse image, which one would it be?

1. Jar-Jar Binks

or

2. Calliou

Easy question. I mean, have you ever watched Caillou? Oh my God, I would happily wipe away that little brat’s existence, even if it means having Jar-Jar at the bottom of every BCB post. Man, what a terrible example Caillou is for children. He’s so whiny and self-involved. Really, ‘f’ that kid, man.

Bonus!
Here’s an article from Fangraphs talking about Miguel Diaz.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs