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BCB Mailbag 23: A farm team in Zootopia

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Boston Red Sox v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone! Boy, am I ready for the weekend. I’m going golfing tomorrow morning with an old pal from high school, and my wife and I are also hosting a Mother’s Day cookout for the extended family. I think it should be a nice time. Anyways, on to your questions...

Jack Stern asks:

Who gets bumped from the rotation when Guerra returns?

It’d probably be Wily or Nelson, right? Davies was solid last season so he likely has a longer leash, plus he’s starting to get back on track a little. Garza has pitched surprisingly well and may actually be building trade value. Anderson started off hot but has struggled his last two outings, but I think he’s got more of a leash as well. That leaves Nelson or Peralta.

Or do they go to a six-man rotation? That’s a pretty stupid idea, especially when moving one of Nelson or Peralta to the bullpen would probably boost the relief unit a little.

To me, it would seem like a pretty easy call to move Wily Peralta to the bullpen at this point (assuming there are no other injuries between now and when the ace returns). As I wrote earlier this week, Peralta hasn’t been good this year and has been pretty consistently bad overall for the past three seasons. He only really throws his fastball and slider with any sort of regularity, he struggles with left-handed hitters, and he’s been noticeably worse this season when attempting to go through the opposing batting order for a second or third time. The profile screams “relief pitcher!” to me, so I’d like to see Peralta get moved into a middle relief role and prove he can get big league hitters out consistently. Maybe he picks up a couple ticks on his fastball, gets a few more punchouts, and could work his into a higher-leverage role. I know there’s a contingent that wants Wily to be closer, but he would first need to prove that he can adapt to a relief role in lower leverage situations.

I hope they don’t go to a 6-man rotation, personally.

Spaul149 asks:


What is a target date for his return and what exactly is wrong with him?

According to this report, Josh Pennington (part of the trade that sent Thornburg to Boston) had surgery during the offseason to remove some bone chips from his elbow. The Brewers are being cautious with him (he’s had Tommy John in the past) and there’s not currently a timetable available for his return. He’s down in extended spring training right now, but once he’s ready for regular action he’s likely to be assigned to either Wisconsin or Carolina and continue developing as a starting pitcher.

drezdn asks:

Better film

Moana or Zootopia?

Moana is very popular in my house right now, we recently acquired the DVD and my kids have seemed determined to wear it out by watching it as often as possible. I liked it and a lot of the music in it (you’re welcome!) although from what I’ve read, it’s not very true to the Samoan legends that it draws its plot from.

I did really enjoy Zootopia, personally. The Nick Wilde character was very funny, and I thought the film did a terrific job of covering themes like stereotypes and discrimination in a way that my kids could understand. I’d definitely recommend watching it.

Dreman50 asks:

With Santana and Broxton finally heating up at the plate

when can we start freaking out about Villar? Is he the second coming of Bill Hall (one great season then nothing) except that the Brewers managed to avoid a bad contract extension?

I’m a bit worried about Villar. He’s swinging more a lot more often this season at pitches both in and out of the zone, and missing more often at both locations. His swinging strike rate has spiked by 3 points, he’s not hitting lefties at all, the walks have evaporated, and he’s become extremely pull happy at the plate. He’s still making enough hard contact that his .278 BABIP should be due for some positive regression, but that’ll only help so much. When he’s not hitting, the gaffes on defense and running the bases become that much more glaring. I’ve still got hope that he can figure things out given the tremendous season he had last year, but he’s got work to do to get back to even a league-average bat in 2017.

icelandreliant asks:

Are any of the sports bars/restaurants just north of Miller Park good places to eat?

Up on Blue Mound? I live south of Miller Park so I don’t normally go there when I go to games, but I thought about trying to take my Dad sometime. I’m not that interested in drinking, mostly just in food that’s really bad for me.

I’m not very familiar with any of the bars in that area, but if it’s really more the food that you’re interested in then I would recommend Balistreri’s. My grandparents lived on the corner of 68th and Auburn when I was growing up and anytime there was a family gathering over at their house, there would be pizza and fried eggplant from Bali’s for all to enjoy. The original location is on 68th and Wells and specializes in pizza and other Italian fare, but there’s also “Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn” on 65th and Bluemound. There they serve the same pizza, but also offer food like steak and fresh fish for the more refined palate.

dele asks:

Do Ryan Braun's ongoing injury problems make it more likely or less likely that the Brewers will trade him?

His trade value can’t be much, since he can’t seem to go three days without getting hurt, but his value to the Brewers also must be on the decline, since his relatively affordable salary becomes an unnecessary expense if he can’t stay healthy.

I’ve never thought it was especially likely that he gets traded, but I don’t know that the recent injuries have affected things all that much. It means he won’t get traded before he earns his 10-5 rights this weekend, certainly. But Braun deals with nagging injuries like this on a yearly basis, and an interested team would by now that if they trade for Braun, they’re going to be getting closer to 130 games out of him than 150. Braun remains an elite talent regardless of the relatively minor injuries he’s endured and currently owns a 143 wRC+ on the season, so I don’t really see a reason for the Brewers to lower their asking price at all at this point.

The Dane asks:

With the excitement and renewed focus on the Brewers farm system

Outside of the 4 teams we track in the Daily Prospect Report (thanks again for that), what levels of the minor leagues do the Brewers not have a presence (or that we don’t really focus on)? For instance, I know there’s rookie ball and a bunch of winterball leagues. If the Brewers don’t have an affiliate, why not? Also, how do teams like the Lakeshore Chinooks or teams from the Wisconsin State League fit into the picture?

Currently the Brewers have four active minor league teams, as you mentioned, but once the draft is completed they will also have three short-season teams begin play. There’s the Helena Brewers who play in the Pioneer League, which is generally considered the more advanced rookie league that is often where collegiate draftees begin their careers. Then there’s the Maryvale Brewers who play in the Arizona League, which is the “lower” rookie-ball level. Most high school draftees begin their careers in the AZL, where the Brewers and the other teams in the league use their spring training complexes as their home fields. Finally, the Brewers field a team in the Dominican Summer League, which is filled almost entirely by young international free agents.

The only level that the Brewers don’t really have a presence at is short-season A ball, which is considered to be a between rookie ball and full-season A ball. There are two leagues, the New York-Penn League and the Northwest League, but there are only 22 affiliates between the two leagues so not every organization fields a short-season A team. Acquiring one of those affiliates would be beneficial to the Brewers, however, who are stuffed with players at the lower levels and could very easily field another full minor league team.

The Chinooks and teams like the Madison Mallards, LaCrosse Loggers, or Kenosha Kingfish are actually filled with college players from around the country. Amateur summer leagues like this usually have the players using wood bats (as opposed to the metal ones used by the NCAA) and can offer fans and scouts a glimpse of some of the country’s top collegiate players. The players don’t get paid and typically live with a host family.

Thanks for all the great questions this week, everyone! I tried to answer a lot of them, but there were several more that I wish I had time to get to before heading to work this morning. Let’s do this again soon, okay?

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs