Another long week is in the books, and it’s time for another edition of the BCB Mailbag. Let’s jump into your questions:
Just how much walking does the Culvers employee that takes drive thru orders out to the car do in a day?
In my experience, not as much as you’d think. The position of “run” is generally reserved for either new/young (under 16) employees who haven’t learned other positions around the store yet, or for low-ceiling employees who just aren’t any good at the more skilled positions around the restaurant. The runner is responsible for bringing orders to the customers, whether it is in the dining room or the drive thru line. During the peak times of the day, 11-2 and 4-7, there are typically two runners scheduled at the same time. These runners often times work short shifts (whether they are bound by age restrictions or just aren’t valuable enough to have working longer periods of time), so it’s usually just 3-5 hours or so of running before that person goes home. Between 2-4 PM and after after 9 PM, it’s rare to see a runner still on the schedule.
Do the Cardinals really eat babies?
Yes. Quick story: I have three kids - my stepson Noah, age 6, my older daughter Layla, who is almost 4, and my youngest daughter Roisin, who is almost 6 months. We’ve got a couple of bird feeders outside our house, and one day Layla was looking out the window and saw a Cardinal land on one of the bird feeders. I was sitting in the living room holding Roisin, and all of a sudden Layla ran outside and started yelling at the bird and waving her arms to shoo it away. When she came back in the house, she said proudly “Daddy, I just chased a Cardinal away so that it wouldn’t come in the house and eat baby Rosie!”
Can we just take a moment and bask in the glory that is the Tyler Thornburg trade? Ahhhh… Now onto an actual question. Which is the bigger disappointment, trading Segura too soon, or trading Khris Davis for Jacob Nott-thefuturebehindtheplate-ingham?
I’ll say the Davis deal. After his first full season with the Brewers in 2013, Jean Segura spent the next two years one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. In 1,141 plate appearances across the 2014-15 seasons, Segura hit only .252/.285/.331 for a 65 wRC+. That’s only slightly better than the woeful offense that Jonathan Villar has provided this season (61 wRC+), spread across two full years with nearly 600 PA per season! I thought Slingin’ Stearns did pretty well to find the deal that he did for Segura, netting a top prospect in Isan Diaz, a useful MLB pitcher in Chase Anderson (who might be breaking out this season), and a vet in Aaron Hill who was later flipped for two more prospects (Aaron Wilkerson and Wendell Rijo) from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Jean and prospect Tyler Wagner (who the DBacks have since waived). The deal has worked out pretty well for Milwaukee and the change of scenery helped Segura unlock his full potential as a player. He signed a $70 mil contract extension earlier this week with his current team, the Mariners, who picked him up in a trade with Arizona last winter.
Davis, on the other hand, appeared to be a player on the rise when Milwaukee traded him after he hit 21 second half home runs in 2015. Stearns wanted to clear some space in his outfield, and Davis’ lack of positional versatility hurt his value to the club in the eyes of the front office. Nottingham was a divisive prospect when he became the centerpiece of the trade that sent Davis to the Athletics, ranked in the top-100 by only one outlet (Baseball Prospectus) and dogged by questions about his ability to stay at catcher. From what I’ve read, it sounds like the defense is improving, but the bat that was supposed to carry him to the big leagues has fallen off a cliff in AA, where he’s hit .230/.301/.346 with 12 home runs in 157 games over the last two seasons. At this point, the reports suggest we should be hopeful that Nottingham can serve even as an MLB backup someday. Bowdien Derby, the other piece of that deal, struggled as a starter in high-A last season but has been better in a swingman role for the AA Shuckers this year and could have a future as an MLB reliever. For a guy who has hit 59 home runs with a 122 wRC+ since the start of 2016, a maybe backup catcher and maybe big league reliever feels pretty dang disappointing.
Stearns has been a terrific executive since taking over in Milwaukee and has hit on most of his deals, but it’s hard to argue that the Khrush trade was one of his few failures. There’s still time for Nottingham and Derby to change that narrative, though.
Uncle Father Oscar asks:
We have seen some weird minor league team name changes recently. What odd name would you change the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to?
Well Harry Houdini called Appleton, WI home for a part of his life and there is a museum in town commemorating his career, so it should probably have something to do with that right? Maybe the Appleton Escape Artists, or the Fox Valley Magicians?
Is "Wisconsin Herd" a bad name for the new NBA D-League team?
Or the worst name, especially considering all the cool local things they could have come up with?
Yeah, I though that name sucked too.
Johnny Jumpshot asks:
Converting young starters to relievers
The 4 non-Garzas are all under team control for 3 or 4 years. Woodruff, Ortiz, Burnes, and Supak all look like they have a future in the Brewer rotation. Wilkerson, Lopez, Jungmann are still around for depth. I would like to see Hader in the bullpen immediately, and I think they should groom Taylor Williams, Kodi Medeiros, and Freddy Peralta to follow suit when ready. I think adding these power arms to holdovers Knebel and Barnes really improves the bullpen. Which, if any, of these 4 would you be OK with converting?
I agree with you about Hader, as I have been banging the drum for him to come up to Milwaukee’s bullpen for a little while now. He’s already got about a full year of AAA experience under his belt and the Brewers need immediate bullpen help. Hader’s fastball/slider profile has shown it can play up in a relief role, and putting him in the bullpen for now helps mitigate the issues with his changeup and command as he eases into MLB competition. Putting him in the big league ‘pen now doesn’t mean he can’t transition back to starting later, either, as we have seen guys like Chris Sale and Adam Wainwright do in the past. Ultimately though, I think the bullpen will be the role that Hader will find the most success in at the major league level.
As for the other guys you suggested, I think it’s too early to consider moving them to the bullpen full-time. Williams is a bit of a different case - the Brewers are being extremely cautious with him during his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He was on a 45 pitch limit for the first 6 weeks or so of the season, and only in his last two starts has he been allowed to go to 60 pitches. He’ll need the addition innings to help make up for the lost development from two years missed with injury. There have been good reports about the stuff, but the command is usually the last thing to come back after surgery and Williams (9.5% BB rate) still needs to work through some of that. Given his already advanced age, though (he’ll turn 26 next month) I would think that at some point after his rehab is complete the Brewers will put him in the bullpen so that they can get him on a faster path to the big leagues.
Medeiros and Peralta are both just 21 years old and are still in the early stages of their development as prospects, so making them strictly relievers right now would be detrimental to their growth. Both have issues that may ultimately ticket them for the bullpen (Medeiros’ command, Peralta’s diminutive stature) but for the time being they should both continue to build up arm strength and pitch counts while work on refining their arsenals. More innings in the minors means more opportunities to work on off-speed stuff, face different in-game situations, etc, that are all important aspects of developing young pitchers at the minor league levels.
Thanks for all the great questions this week, everyone! Here’s hoping that the Brewers are still in first place the next time we meet up to answer your questions.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs