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BCB Mailbag 32: Future Brewer Killers

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Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There’s two days left in the baseball regular season, and the Milwaukee Brewers are still fighting for a playoff spot. I’ll be disappointed if they don’t make it, but man what a compelling year we’ve been treated to. Anyways, on to your questions:

Baseball Punditz asks:

Why?

Why didn’t the Brewers win more games in 2017?

The Brewers didn’t win more games in 2017 because of Nick Franklin.

Really though, it took a few months for the bullpen order to get sorted out so that lead to some painful losses early on in the year. Things started to turn once Hader joined the ‘pen in June, and then the additions of Swarzak and Jeffress in July really helped fortify things down there.

It didn’t help, either, that Zach Davies was crap the first half, that Matt Garza was crap the second half, that Junior Guerra was either hurt or crap all year, or that Wily Peralta imploded, or that Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson both got hurt at key points in the season.

And it REALLY didn’t help that the offense sort of forgot how to score runs for about a four week stretch coming out of the All-Star break until about the middle of August, when they endured two separate 6-game losing streaks. For most of the year, Milwaukee struggled for consistent offensive production from second base and center field, two positions that will need to improve for this club to really make a push in 2018.

But overall, this club is actually playing above their Pythagorean W-L, according to Baseball-Reference. By RS/RA, the Brewers should only have 83 wins right now, and not one projection system or published prognostication that I saw thought they could win even 80 games this season. It’s sure been a lot of fun watching this team beat expectations.

GoGregGo asks:

What percent chance do you think the Brewers have to sign Ohtani should he be posted?

It’s a lot of fun to dream about the Brewers signing the two-way Japanese star, but in reality I’d say the chances are pretty close to zero. Otani is only 23 and therefore falls under the bonus pool rules governing international free agency. The Brewers began with a cap of $5.25 mil, but did increased that total by an unreported amount after making a deal with the Orioles over the summer. Still, the Brewers have already doled out more than $4.4 mil in signing bonuses to international free agents during the current signing period, so even if they are able to increase their pool to the max allowed the CBA (~$9.18 mil for Milwaukee) that still means they’d only be able to offer a shade under $5 mil to Otani as a signing bonus. I’ve got a feeling some other team will be able to beat that offer.

icelandreliant asks:

What Brewer (MLB or minor leaguer) will surprise us and end up being a Brewer killer on some other team next year?

Hmm...I’ll go with Tyler Cravy, Michael Blazek, Taylor Jungmann, and Andrew Susac as possibilities.

Dreman50 asks:

$5M for Garza

I sincerely hope that Matt Garza’s time in Milwaukee is over. He hasn’t been good on the field, outside of his first year, and he’s often been a distraction off of it. However, his $5 Million team option for 2018 is very cheap for a proven #4/5 veteran starter. Do the Brewers pick up that option with the hope of trading him to a team looking for cheap pitching, or to cover the void left by Jimmy Nelson’s injury? And if they do sign and trade him, what kind of a return could he net the Brew Crew?

I know a lot of fans don’t like Garza, but he is considered by the players to be a leader in the clubhouse and he has purportedly been a positive influence on a lot of the young pitchers on the roster. Don’t forget that since the players-only meeting that Garza and Ryan Braun held on August 10th, the Brewers are 27-17 and have vaulted back into contention. He hasn’t been a distraction since being pulled from the rotation at the beginning of this month, either.

Well, turns out Garza doesn’t actually have a 2018 team option on his contract. In that case, I don’t anticipate him coming back.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Garza was brought by over the winter. 1 year/$5 mil isn’t really much money these days, and now with Nelson’s status up in the air for next season the Brewers will really need to bolster their pitching depth. The team has money to spend, but I don’t know that chasing after Arrieta or Darvish on the free agent market is the direction that Slingin’ David Stearns will want to go. I’d be content if they exercised Garza’s option, signed Tyler Chatwood and someone else to a short-term deal, and then sorted out between those two and Anderson, Davies, Woodruff, Suter, Guerra, Wilkerson, etc to fill out the rotation.

If you’re hoping that the Brewers re-sign Garza in order to deal him, I wouldn’t expect much more than something like a relief prospect that’s too old to still be pitching in A-ball.

jasonmathes42 asks:

What are the Brewers going to do at 2B next year?

Personally, I’d like to see the Brewers just let Walker and So-Good walk in the offseason. I’d like to see Villar get another season to see if he can rebound and soft platoon him with either Orf or Dubon. Your thoughts?

I think the Brewers are going to look to shore up second base in the winter. I imagine they’ll have interest in re-signing Walker, and personally I hope that they do. Jon Heyman also recently suggested that Milwaukee could re-visit talks with the Tigers about Ian Kinsler. Eduardo Nunez is also set to be a free agent this winter and could be someone that might fit with Milwaukee.

I imagine they’ll want to give Villar another chance to prove he can have value, but I think it’ll probably start in a role off the bench with the chance to earn more playing time if he performs. If the team is serious about taking the next step as an organization, I don’t think they can afford to roll with a Villar and Orf or Dubon platoon. Orf will be 28 soon, hasn’t sniffed a chance to play in the big leagues, and was already passed over once by all 29 other teams in last winter’s Rule 5 Draft. Dubon seems like a nifty prospect, though his ultimate role looks more likely to be a utility player. He could be better than that, but the team won’t start him on the Opening Day roster for service time reasons and even when he does make his debut, there’s sure to be an adjustment period.

drezdn asks:

Which Brewer do you think would be the most fun to hang out with? And why is it Brett Phillips?

You know that Jeremy Jeffress is back on the team, right?


Thanks for all the great questions this week y’all! Go Brewers and go Dodgers!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs