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BCB Mailbag 42: The Ballad of Yo and Domingo

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Milwaukee Brewers Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends! The Mayvale Nine sit atop the Cactus League standings, and the roster is coming into clearer focus. And it’s supposed to be nice over the next couple of days in Milwaukee, so I’m hoping to get out and hit some golf balls for the first time this year. But before that happens, let’s get to some of those questions:

icelandreliant asks:

What is the team really hoping to get out of Yovani Gallardo?

The Brewers are probably hoping to get some useful innings out of Gallardo, whether they come in a starting or relief capacity. Gallardo is simply a low-risk analytical gamble by the front office. The down on his luck former franchise stalwart saw his velocity tick up last season even as he struggled in Seattle, but Milwaukee’s contingent of scouts and analysts saw some adjustments identified some possible adjustments that could be made with the help of Derek Johnson to get Gallardo closer to his past self. Yo’s assignment to focus more on pitching up in the zone with his fastball and utilize more frequently has been oft-discussed during camp, though the results haven’t exactly been positive to this point. Gallardo is on a non-guaranteed, $2 mil contract so the Brewers can cut him for a fraction of that price before the start of the regular season. But given that the front office saw enough to make an investment in him this winter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a little bit longer of a chance to show he can be a positive contributor at a bargain price.

Jack Stern asks:

Who makes more starts at first base this year?

Ryan Braun or Eric Thames?

And if it’s Thames, how many games do you expect Braun to play at first?

Eric Thames should still see the majority of starts at the cold corner. He crushed right-handed pitching last season (.265/.382/.551) and he figures to once again form the strong-side of a platoon. Jon Heyman’s recent MLB notes column indicated that Milwaukee is looking for about 50 games or so out of Braun at first base, assuming he can stay healthy and get comfortable enough at the position. He’d most often spell Thames against southpaw hurlers.

AKBrewerfan asks:

Sunday for Samardzija:

No thanks, right?

The ERA’s may not exactly indicate it, but Samardzija has very quietly been a highly effective starter the last two seasons. He still throws had at age-33, averaging 94.6 MPH with his four-seamer last season, and he also missed bats with a 10% swinging strike rate and was in the top-five of all the MLB with a 6.41 K/BB ratio. DRA- rated his overall performance as 16% more effective than league average in 2016, and 23% better than the league last season. He’s also been a workhorse in his career, throwing 200+ innings in each of the last five seasons. He’s under contact through 2020 - at which time he’ll be 35 - and is still owed another $54 mil under the deal. Given the, er, “financial restraint” that David Stearns has shown in his pitching acquisitions, I would imagine he’d only be interested if San Francisco was willing to eat a large portion of what Samardzija is owed.

Spaul149 asks:

Which pitcher(s) on the 40 man team now

do you expect not to be there in July?

I don’t want to make any sweeping proclamations, but a few guys I think could be on the bubble are Oliver Drake, Jorge Lopez, and Yovani Gallardo.

drezdn asks:

How much could limited at bats hurt Santana’s development and trade value?

I don’t think Santana’s at-bats will be “limited” this year. He may not get to the plate 607 times like he did last season, but as Craig Counsell and Slingin’ Stearns have alluded to, there should be plenty enough PT to go around. With Braun playing part-time at first, management believes there should be enough room to give each of Yelich, Cain, Braun, Santana, and Thames roughly 500-550 plate appearances throughout the course of the season, assuming everyone stays healthy and productive. It’s worth keeping in mind that only 14 National League outfielders took more than 550 trips to the dish last season, and according to the research done by my BP Milwaukee colleague Nick Zettel, only six teams in baseball had three outfielders start 100+ games last season. There’ll be enough at-bats to go around.

Brew Crew Buster asks:

Which Brewer do expect to have the greatest regression in 2018?

I say again:

Which Brewer do expect to have the greatest regression in 2018?

Eric Sogard feels like a pretty prime regression candidate this coming season, based on his second-half OPS from last season as well as his .609 OPS in five years with Oakland. Fortunately he’s probably not being counted as more than bench piece for this club. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see some steps back - although perhaps not major ones - from guys like Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Jesus Aguilar (if he even makes the team). On the pitching side, it will be hard for Chase Anderson to duplicate his 2.74 ERA last season, so if going back to something like a 3.50 mark counts as major regression, that’s sort of what I am expecting him to do this year. I also think it will be hard for Corey Knebel to match his exact level dominance from last season, though he should still be a highly-effective reliever.

stigmo asks:

What would your entrance music be if you were a closer?

Or walk-up music at the plate.

Personally, I’ve long dreamed of someone coming in in the ninth to the drum entry of “Hot for Teacher.”

I’m a big Metallica fan and always got really jacked up when Derrick Turnbow would enter games to ‘Fuel’ so I might steal that idea. I’m an even bigger fan of Billy Joel, but I’m not sure what song of his I would use; perhaps part of ‘You May Be Right’, ‘Miami 2017’ or ‘The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie’ part of ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’.

Thanks for the great questions this time around everyone! The next time we do this, the 2018 Championship Season will have begun!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus