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BCB Mailbag 22: Mostly Eric Thames

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Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Ugh, today was a crappy day at work. But my co-worker’s husband is a salesman for Palermo’s and she gave me a ton of free pizzas to bring home, so that was pretty stellar. Now, to the questions:

Jack Stern asks:

With Thames experiencing hamstring tightness, does the team become more reluctant to use him in the outfield?

Would they consider it better for his health to not have him chasing down fly balls? Would they limit him to just first base instead?

I guess it wouldn’t be stunned to see him out there a little less. When I looked it up I was actually a bit surprised by how much Thames has been on the grass: five games, three starts, and an even 30.0 innings. Jesus Aguilar hasn’t really given Craig Counsell a reason to try and put him in the lineup lately, and his season-long batting line is down to .242/.306/.303 with 13 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. Hernan Perez’s bat is heating up, however, so it’s more likely he start seeing an increase in time in the outfield while Thames continues to play regularly at the cold corner.

NVBrewerFan asks:

If the Brewers are out of contention at the deadline and Thames continues to hit great,

does Stearns sling him? Or is he a player for the next contending squad?

Unless some team is willing to give up the farm, there’s very little motivation to deal Thames right now. Including his club option, the Brewers can control Thames through 2020 for a total of $22.5 mil (he can also earn $500K per year in incentives). If Thames is an .850 OPS-or-better hitter with solid defense at first base, then he’s a huge bargain at that price and would become a very significant asset for the Brewers.

Honestly, I don’t know why the Brewers would have signed to him a 3-year guaranteed deal if they were going to deal him after a half-season. The Brewers have a group of talented, controllable, affordable players either at the big league level or in the upper minors, and Thames puts the club one piece closer to finalizing the core of their next winning team sometime before 2020. Add some pitching and this team could be pretty dangerous. If things don’t end up coming together in the next few years, he can still be dealt later on down the road before his contract expires.

That being said, Stearns has shown he’ll deal anyone if the right offer comes along. At this point though, it would have to be an overwhelming package.

drezdn asks:

What do you think realistic/tempered expectations would be for Thames for the rest of the year?

I’m becoming really convinced that he’s made legitimate improvements and he looks to be a well above-average player. He just doesn’t chase bad pitches out of the zone, and it’s hard to fake the extreme plate discipline that he’s displayed since returning from the KBO and joining the Brewers. I have to imagine he’ll come back down to Earth somewhat, at least. I’ll put the over/under at an .850 OPS and 32 home runs.

nullacct asks:

If you could choose a Brewer lineup

That consisted of players who had the best days of their career at each position, what would you pick?

Since the Brewers played in the America League longer than they have in the National League, I’m going to include a DH. How’s this roster look:

C - Jonathan Lucroy
1B - Cecil Cooper
2B - Rickie Weeks
3B - Paul Molitor
SS - Robin Yount
LF - Ryan Braun
CF - Carlos Gomez
RF - Geoff Jenkins
DH - Prince Fielder

INF Don Money
INF Jeff Cirillo
OF Ben Oglivie
C Dave Nilsson

RHP Ben Sheets
LHP Teddy Higuera
RHP Moose Haas
RHP Yovani Gallardo
LHP Mike Caldwell

RHP Francisco Rodriguez
RHP John Axford
RHP Ken Sanders
LHP Will Smith
LHP Dan Plesac
RHP Doug Jones
RHP Rollie Fingers

BMG78 asks:

You wake up in the morning and head out to work. As you're ready to get in your car ...

… you notice some movement out of the corner of your eye. Suddenly, Hank the dog comes walking up to you, with a chew toy in his mouth, and then runs around to the back of your garage. You follow him, only to find a strange contraption sitting behind your garage. Hank drops the chew toy from his mouth (which, on closer inspection, is actually a Travis voodoo doll), and then says to you, "Check out my time machine."

You stand there stunned, because (a) Hank can talk, (b) he has a time machine, and ( c ) he’s alive. Meanwhile, Hank continues, "It can only run on puppy chow, and I’m running low." You pause to think about getting him some more puppy chow, while Hank chomps down hard on the "between the legs" region of his toy. He then releases his death grip and says, "Oh, it can only be used for one thing, and that’s to take back moves made by the Brewers front office."

1) You find enough puppy chow to go back 5 years. Which front office move do you take back and why?

2) You only have enough puppy chow to go back to the start of David Stearns’ tenure as GM. Which move do you take back?

3) Do you tell Travis the reason why he’s having all those strange, sharp pains, or do you just laugh at him?

  1. A move I’d take back from awhile ago would be the release of Nicky Delmonico. I know there was some off the field stuff going on when the Brewers cut him loose prior to the 2015 season, but I wish the organization and player could have found a way to work through it. Delmonico has since caught on with the White Sox, and he’s currently batting .320/.386/.483 as a 24 year old in AAA and seems likely to get a shot at the big leagues with the rebuilding White Sox this season. The Brewers have little in the way of third base depth in the upper minors if fir some reason Travis Shaw falls flat this season.
  2. A move I’d take back from the Stearns regime is the trade of Khris Davis. The Brewers dealt Khrush with 4 years of control left, in part to open up a spot for Domingo Santana to play everyday. Santana wound up getting hurt last year anyway and though he’s shown the potential for an above-average bat, he’s been worse defensively than Khris ever was, even with the weak arm. Not only that, but neither Jacob Nottingham nor Bowdien Derby have been overly impressive since joining Milwaukee’s farm system. Davis, meanwhile, launched 42 home runs with a 123 wRC+ for Oakland last season and is currently batting .264/.368/.583 with 7 home runs through 21 games this year. Could you imagine a Thames-Braun-Davis-Shaw middle of the order for the Brewers right now? Holy crap. Hindsight being 20/20, I would’ve waited to trade Khrush.

3. To be honest, I’d most likely just laugh at his tweets complaining about it.

Thanks for the great questions this week, everyone! Here’s hoping the Brewers can close out the month with a winning record by beating up on the Braves this weekend.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs