Happy Friday, everyone! Time for the first mailbag post of the 2018 baseball season:
Who do you think has a better season, our beloved Brew Crew or the baby eating redbirds from St Louis?
Both the Brewers and Cardinals made some fairly notable moves this past offseason, and they are projected to finish pretty close to each other. The folks USA Today pegged STL for 85 wins (and Milwaukee 86) while PECOTA currently has the Cards projected for 84 wins (and our Brewers at 83). I think these two teams will be jockeying for position in the playoff race all season long, but because of my inherent bias I will choose Milwaukee to ultimately have the better season.
Josh Hader ..........
Has there been any indication how they plan to use him this season ? Will he be considered a bullpen arm or is there the chance they think about stretching him out as a starter in spring training, evaluate and decide from there ?
The team confirmed during On Deck that Hader would begin the year in the bullpen. He seems likely to reprise his role as fireman from last season. If the team is competitive and he’s a major part of the bullpen, I wouldn’t expect him to get moved to the rotation in 2018. However if the Brewers unexpectedly stumble out of the gates and are out of contention in the summer, I could see him getting a low-pressure audition in the rotation.
Favorite Baseball Movie?
What is your favorite Baseball Movie or sports Movie?
Personally I am a fan of Major league (being filmed in County stadium and featuring Uecker sure helps), but have a soft spot for The Rookie. As for sports movies not specific to baseball I have always been a huge fan of Tin cup (It is amazing how many sports movies Kevin Costner has been in).
For whatever reason I’m really partial to the Costner baseball movie For the Love of the Game. I also really enjoyed Bull Durham, as well as Tin Cup (I’m a pretty big golfer) that he’s acted in. Major League was good, Eight Men Out, 42, and Moneyball are other good ones too.
Who do you see as the player that will take the biggest jump in production?
I’m thinking Orlando Arcia with Woodruff a possibility
Personally, I’m not sure how much more offensive potential Arcia has. If he can repeat his production from 2017 for the next several seasons going forward, I would be quite pleased. I’m not sold on Jonathan Villar for this season but it’s not tough to imagine him performing quite a bit better than he did last season. I think Jacob Barnes could take a significant step forward in the bullpen this year, and I like Adrian Houser and Taylor Williams as potential impact relievers later on in the summer.
Who is your #4/#5 starter right now?
As of right now, I’ll give the nods to Junior Guerra and Brent Suter. Guerra pitched quite well in Winter Ball and found some of his lost velocity, is a David Stearns “guy” and is out of minor league options. I don’t think Stearns will want to cut bait on Guerra before giving him a chance to perform during the regular season, especially after last year was derailed by an injury on Opening Day.
To be honest, I think Stearns will do all he can to keep as many out-of-options players on the pitching staff as he can, at least to start the season. That’s part of why I think Suter will make the rotation. Counsell said yesterday that Suter has a leg up on making the team based on his track record, and with Josh Hader, Boone Logan, and Oliver Drake (out of options) all in the mix, there are plenty of guys in the ‘pen to get lefties out. So for now I’ll slot Suter into one of those open slots in starting five, with Gallardo heading to the bullpen as a long man and Aaron Wilkerson and Brandon Woodruff opening the season in the minor leagues. It won’t stay that way all season, though, of course.
What is the goal of the Wade Miley signing?
There’s no such thing as a bad minor league signing. Miley is a no-risk proposition who is at least experienced at the MLB level, although his track record is pretty mixed in recent seasons. Stearns and the Brewers have some ideas about adjustments that could help, so why not take a shot to see if any of them work? He’s pretty low on the starting pitcher depth chart right now, and I guess I don’t anticipate him getting any significant MLB playing time unless he’s either pitching very well or there are a few injuries to guys ahead of him.
How do I become a Brewers insider?
Create a user account on a popular Brewers forum under a different anonymous name and claim to have an inside source in the front office. Then post a bunch of vague rumors based on things other people are reporting, carefully wording them so that no matter what happens, you can claim that you’re right. Then get mad at the people on the forum when they call you out, create an account on Twitter, and begin to attack an obvious parody account that also posts “rumors," at least when he's not worrying about sketchy WiFi connections at the Red Roof Inn.
Assuming the Brewers are contenders by midsummer, what would you predict to be trade targets? So basically predicting regression and/or injury in the early part of the season. (In other words, catcher, right?)
If the Brewers don’t add a starting pitcher before the season begins, I imagine they’ll be looking for one come the trade deadline assuming that they have a shot at the postseason. Second base could also be a position of need, provided they don’t re-sign Neil Walker at some point before Opening Day. And I suppose catcher could be a spot to explore, too, as you suggested. Manny Pina has been guaranteed a spot on the team (so long as he’s healthy) and will probably receive a good chunk of the playing time, but will have to prove that last year’s breakout wasn’t an aberration.
Which is the better avenue to add rotation upgrades, free agency, or trade?
Also who is your personal preference from the names connected to the Brewers?
For the Brewers right now, I would say that the best route would be to continue exploring trade possibilities. Many don’t seem to believe that the Brewers will be willing to pony up for Arrieta, and both Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb have enough warts to make doling out $15+ mil annually to either a dicey proposition. Really, the best starter that is truly available right now is Chris Archer of Tampa Bay, if you’re comfortable ponying up a significant prospect package for him (which I am). He’s the guy I most want to see in a Brewers’ uni before Opening Day. Beyond him, I wouldn’t mind Michael Fulmer, though he would also take quite a haul. Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar of the Indians are a couple of intriguing names, too, although the belief is now that Salazar won’t be ready for Opening Day.
For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman wrote yesterday that “The Brewers are still working on their rotation, and it would be a surprise for them to do nothing more” and pushed back on reports downplaying Milwaukee’s interest in Yu Darvish, saying they “were definitely in the mix” and may simply prefer Arrieta to Yu.
Noah Jarosh asks:
Who’s your favorite super under the radar Brewers prospect?
I’m talking guys who aren’t top-50 in the system or might not even be top-100.
Once you get outside the top 20ish or so players it really becomes sort of a jumble, so I’ll list some cats I like that didn’t make our top-33 voting:
Thomas Jankins, Gabriel Garcia, Zack Clark, Michele Vassalotti, Joaquin de la Cruz, Justin Bullock, Luke Barker, Dylan File, Jayson Rose, Jon Olczak, Austin Rubick, Max McDowell, and Weston Wilson.
(I like following pitchers.)
Thanks for the great questions this time around, friends! Let’s chat again real soon.