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BCB Mailbag 56: Hiura comes Santa Claus

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Montreal Canadiens v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Happy holiday weekend, everyone! How about we chat about some baseball before diving into our presents and filling up on figgy pudding?

nullacct asks:

Are the Brewers a better or worse team in 2019?

In terms of their overall record, it would be a tough for me to make a bet saying that our Menomonee Valley Nine will win more than 96 games next season. That was the most games they’ve ever won in franchise history, a mark equaled in only one other season, and it took an awful lot to go right for it to happen. The division also stands to be tougher now that the Reds are trying to turn the page from their rebuild. The Brewers are going to be one of the contenders in the National League again next season, certainly, but that can still be true even if they win fewer than 96 games in 2019.

Brew Crew Buster asks:


Is Brew Crew Ball provided with the same press access to events, players and stories by the Brewers as traditional media. Do you feel slighted? Have things changed in the last few years?

Does Brewers staff ever comment on the analysis on this site? (examples: You should really weight this stat heavier. Your analysis of middle reliever was exactly what we saw in him.)

Are we provided the same access as main stream outlets? No, we aren’t. Some teams are more accommodating to sites like ours; Lookout Landing, for example, has a close relationship with the Mariners. Unfortunately the Brewers are considered to be one of the more conservative teams when it comes to who they issue credentials to during the regular season. We were able to get a press pass for Travis a few years ago when he was a staff writer on the site and he went down to Spring Training; no one from the site has gone down on a trip down there since then, but perhaps if someone does in the future we’ll be able to get a credential again.

icelandreliant asks:

What are the implications of the new policy from MLB regarding Cuban professionals?

How soon will we see these players? Will it be similar to how things operate with the Japanese pro league?

MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation recently agreed to a deal that effectively creates a posting system similar to the ones used by the KBO and NPB when players want to come over from Asia. There has been some speculation that the current White House administration could become involved, but assuming that that doesn’t happen, players from Cuba can immediately begin coming over via the posting system. You can read more about the agreement here on

moneydon asks:

Could Tulo play 3rd for the Brewers, with Shaw staying at 2nd until Hiura arrives?

I think Troy Tulowitzki could be a logical fit for the Brewers, but I think it would make a lot more sense to bring him in to play at second base. After all, Travis Shaw was a Gold Glove nominee at third base last year and grades out quite well at the hot corner; he’s accrued +23 Defensive Runs Saved in a hair under 3,000 innings at the position. Tulowitzki has played on the middle of the infield his whole career, so I think a transition over to the other side of the bag at second would be pretty natural. He doesn’t need to be anything close to peak Tulo to provide value, either. Whoever he plays for next year will pay him only the league minimum; at that price, it would be worthwhile if Tulo can stay simply healthy and hit something near the .244/.307/.405 slash line that the Marcel Projections via Baseball-Reference peg him for. If all Milwaukee is looking for is a one-year bridge to Hiura and Dubon, then a league-minimum Troy Tulowitzki is about as low-risk and high-reward an option as they come.

jgeisler95 asks:

Thoughts on revisiting the Brewers/Mets match for a Zack Wheeler trade?

Over lunch today I read on Twitter that Wheeler had a lower second-half 2018 ERA than Jacob deGrom. Thanks Cespedes Family BBQ!

Just wondering if he might be a less costly option than Kluber. Not as much upside, but still very good.

The Mets seem to have designs on competing in 2019 so I’m not sure that Wheeler would be available, but if he is, I think he’d be an excellent trade target. I loved him when the Brewers were connected to him last summer around the deadline. He’s a health risk (but so’s any pitcher, right? TINSTAAPP) and only has one year of control, but he was downright fantastic last season. 29 starts and 182.1 innings pitching with a 3.31 ERA and 179 strikeouts against only 55 walks. No qualified starter in baseball allowed hard contact at a rate lower than Wheeler’s 24.8% in 2018. A career-best swinging strike rate and 96.5 MPH average four-seam velocity. All that equated to an ace-like DRA- of 67, which rated Wheeler as the 12th-best starter in baseball last season. He wouldn’t cost as much as Kluber obviously given his shorter track record and limited club control, but if the Mets do decide to market, they’d still be able to ask for a rather high price in return. He’s pitched like a legitimate number one starter last season and because of how his previous injuries were timed, he’s projected to make only a mere $5.3 mil during his final year of arbitration.

disciple2009 asks:


ive read so much about him lately… the hype he will be in the majors in a year or so… i have read about the guy but never seen him actually play…

HOW CLOSE IS HE to coming up?

Do you think he gets traded like our top prospects last year?

I think that it’s a good bet that Hiura begins next season in AAA rather than returning back to the AA level, and he could feasibly be up anytime after June once the schedule has safely passed the usual Super Two cut-off. Some scouts believe that he already possesses an MLB-level hit tool that eventually projects as plus and that what he’ll bring to the plate on offense should more than make up for any shortcomings in his defense at second base due to his limited arm strength and lack of overall speed. His overall profile is one that is a little bit safer than the boom-or-bust type of approaches employed by the likes of Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, or Brett Phillips, so I don’t think there is the same level of urgency to “sell high” on him after a strong season like there was with those other guys. I’m not ready to pencil the guy in for star-level production in 2019, but assuming he doesn’t totally crater in AAA, I expect that we’ll see him get a shot at some point next summer.

Lerch&Brouhard asks:

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

Oh man, there are so many good ones. I do particularly enjoy Angels We Have Heard On High, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Christmas in Hollis, and Holly Jolly Christmas. Also, I once sang Mary Did You Know? as a duet when I was in the middle school choir.

Thank you to everyone for all of you wonderful questions this time around, and for another fantastic year of reading and engaging with us at Brew Crew Ball. I hope you all have wonderful holiday celebrations with your loved ones and are able to celebrate a joyous New Year!

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, Baseball Prospectus, and Fangraphs