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BCB Mailbag 39: How to spend a slow offseason with Netflix

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations 'Mindhunter' With Jonathan Groff
He was great as Jesse St. James in Glee, too.
Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images

Another week in the books, and another week closer to the start of Spring Training! So let’s see what’s on everyone’s minds this time around:

BrewcrewBLI asks:

Who do you think will be the first player to contribute to the big league team from the farm this season?

Not including Philips, Brinson or Woodruff, players who already got a good amount of time up with the Brewers last season.

I’ll go with Mauricio Dubon. He already spent a pretty good amount of time in AAA last season and can play all over the diamond - exactly the kind of player that Craig Counsell loves. If the Brewers lose an infielder at some point this year, look for Dubon to get the call. And I know they’ve each already spent a short period of time in The Show, but Jorge Lopez and Taylor Williams could both have an opportunity to some extensive action out of the bullpen throughout the year.

Adamzero asks:

Next year’s FA class...

…if the Brewers don’t sling any additional (big) moves this offseason, are there any notable FA’s they’d be “in” on in the upcoming potentially huge 2019 hot stove? I know they’re publicly saying they’re not much into slinging tons of money into one asset, given our payroll/market size/etc etc… but … maybe?

After taking a cursory look at next year’s free agent class and accounting for options that are likely to get picked up (like Madison Bumgarner’s $12 mil option, for example), there don’t really seem to be many guys that would be obvious targets for the Brewers. They are unlikely to be able to get seriously involved in the bidding for position players like Bryce Harper or Josh Donaldson. Clayton Kershaw (if/when he opts out) ought to be the top arm available, but the starting pitching market looks relatively thin beyond that. I suppose one player who could interest Stearns is someone he’s already pretty familiar with: current Astro Marwin Gonzalez. He’ll be entering his age-30 season when he hits the open market next season, is capable of playing all over the diamond, and broke out offensively with a .303/.377/.530 slash and 23 home runs in 515 plate appearances for Houston last season.

drezdn asks:

What movies are you looking forward to this year?

Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Incredibles II.

Spaul149 asks:

What brewer is most likely to take a step forward in 2018 or which one is likely to take a step back?

I’ll go with pitchers for both in this category. I like Chase Anderson and the improvements that he made an awful lot, but it’s tough to post a sub-3.00 ERA in the big leagues. I’d be content with something in the 3.50ish range for the 2018 season. On the flip side, I think Jacob Barnes is a better reliever than his 4.00 ERA from last season suggests. He was dominant at times but may have suffered from some overuse. DRA liked him as an elite-level setup man (72 DRA-) in 2017, and he can overpower batters with his fastball/cutter combination. I think there’s a good chance the results takes a step forward next year.

joeybal56 asks:

Is the NL as weak as the sportswriters seem to imply? It seems that all the good teams are in the junior circuit.

This topic has been discussed a few times on these pages throughout the winter, and the short answer is it looks that way, yes. Several teams are mired in or only just beginning to emerge from rebuilds - the Marlins, Braves, Reds, Padres, Phillies, and Pirates - and the Mets and Giants are both coming off supremely disappointing seasons and who knows what to expect from them in 2018. There will could very well wind up being maybe seven or eight teams truly competing for the postseason in the NL next year, and the Brewers ought to be trying to take advantage of that fact.

TonyC920 asks:

Brewer fans were anticipating Stearns signing ..............

A quality starting pitcher via FA or a trade. We haven’t seen that so far. Does that mean he’s standing pat. There’s only 4 weeks to pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training. I really thought he would go after SP Chris Archer – TB Rays in a trade. What’s the deal ?

I don’t believe that the Brewers relative inactivity so far this winter means they are “standing pat,” no. For whatever reason, it’s been a slow offseason all around baseball. Just about every top free agent is still available, even though there is only about four weeks to go until Spring Training kicks off. For what it’s worth, David Stearns had this to say in an interview the other day:

“I will say that we are certainly talking about moves that we think would meaningfully impact our team. Some of them have been, maybe overly exaggerated in the press. And then there are some things that we are working on that haven’t been discussed publicly at all. So, we’ll keep you guys guessing for a little while longer, but we are certainly working on things and I will say this: it would not surprise me if we make a substantive move between now and Spring Training.”

jgeisler95 asks:

What’s your favorite Netflix show right now?

I just finished Mindhunter last night, and I thought it was great. Looking for a new one to start.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my sister-in-law was staying with us recently and put Mindhunter on as background noise while she was dicking around on her computer one evening. I wound up watching the first episode and then watched the rest of the season - without my wife, and it’s rare for me to watch TV without her - over the course of the next four days. I really enjoyed it. I also saw parts of American Vandal recently while my wife worked her way through it, and I though it had its moments. It’s not a Netflix series, but we are currently working our way through Gossip Girl. And let me tell you, do I hate that show and all those rich kids. We were at least able to figure out pretty early on who the Gossip Girl’s identity is, at least. Also, you can never go wrong with The Office, in my opinion.

Dow Jones asks:

Given that the Crew has been fairly inactive in the FA starting pitching market (so far), do you think this is an indication they at least plan to stretch out Josh Hader and give him a chance to win a rotation spot in March?

I don’t think it is, no. I fully expect Hader to start the year in the bullpen. As things stand now, Anderson, Davies, and Chacin ought to give the Brewers a capable, if unexciting trio at the front of their rotation. After that, there are plenty of guys - Junior Guerra, Aaron Wilkerson, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo, and Brandon Woodruff - to compete for the final two spots. The only way I see Hader getting into the rotation next season is if the team falls out of the playoff chase and he gets a low-pressure audition in the second half of the season. Keep in mind that regardless of the roles he winds up filling this season, Hader’s innings ceiling is probably only about 130 or so.

Uncle Father Oscar asks:

Would you support a pitch clock?

I’ve seen some people that are vehemently opposed to this idea, but I don’t really have a problem with the pitch clock proposal. It’s already been implemented in the minor leagues and hasn’t been that big of a deal, I don’t think it will have any kind of drastic or negative affect on big league games.


Why let go two of the best performers in a very tough AAA pitching environment?

Is it possible that Jungmann and Wang were seen by Stearns as Melvin guys, and that he’s sending a signal that this is now fully his regime? Doesn’t seem like Stearns would operate on such an ego-centric basis, but on the other hand letting these two go without even seeing them in spring training makes little sense to me.

The Jungmann was a little bit easier to understand for me; he was out of contract options entering this spring and would have probably been exposed to waivers before the regular season began. After he got passed over for a call-up last September while the team was desperate for starters, I think the writing was on the wall. The WCW move caught me a little more off-guard: he’ll only be 26 next year, was up to 96 MPH as a reliever, and has also shown a solid changeup and slider and good command. He still had a minor league option remaining, too. But as you suggested, I think in both cases being “Melvin guys” might have factored against the two arms. I don’t think it’s so much an ego-centric thing as it is a difference in scouting/analysis opinions between the two regimes. For whatever reason, both players had very clearly been passed over on the organizational depth charts and didn’t appear likely to play major roles in 2018. I do think that it’s interesting that the club worked out releases with both players so they could pursue more lucrative opportunities overseas, rather than simply DFA-ing Wang and Jungmann. Besides playing in the big leagues with the Brewers, this is probably the best-case scenario for both hurlers.

mueldaddy asks:

Whats going on with tickets for the Home opener on April 2nd?

Usually there is some kind of announcement for the ticket opportunity for opening day tickets. But from I can tell there has not been anything from the Brewers. Any ideas how we can get tickets for the home opener?

Single-game tickets, including those for Opening Day, usually go on sale on a Saturday morning sometime in late February. The occasion used to be marked by the “Arctic Tailgate” event at Miller Park (which I looked forward to every year) but there wasn’t a sanctioned event in 2017 and it doesn’t seem likely to return again in 2018. Look for an announcement from the Brewers in the next few weeks.

Enjoy your weekends everyone, thanks for the great questions this time around! Slingin’ Stearns is going to pull off something major soon, I just know it!

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs