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BCB Mailbag 41: An outfielder’s last meal

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday everyone, and happy #JuniorGuerraDay! Our hero put it a solid day’s work on the mound (3 IP | 4 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 3 K) in today’s Cactus League matchup, so now I’ll put in some work to answer your question:

Prince Fielder’s Belly asks:

If you could attend only one game on the 2018 schedule, what would it be and why?

September 16th, which is a Sunday afternoon 1:10p start against the Pirates. I will surely be at that game unless there’s some kind of emergency. There is a crew neck sweatshirt giveaway scheduled, and as an avid collector of crew neck sweatshirts (I have between 60-70 of them) this is definitely one that I want to add to my assortment. In fact, I think I’ll pause a second to secure my tickets.

Infield Fly Rule asks:

Where is Corey Ray?

Seems somewhat conspicuous in his absence from early spring training games considering some of the other names getting some playing time. Not expecting him to start, but seems odd haven’t heard from him. Is he healthy?

Ray was not given a non-roster invitation to MLB Spring Training this year like he was last year, and was not made a part of the club’s Minor League Early Camp that reported on February 19th, either. Ray had a busy offseason, however, as he discussed in an interview the Chicago Tribune last week. He and his girlfriend now have a house in Surprise and welcomed their first child in November, a daughter named Lena. He did some work with the Little League program in his native Chicago. Ray took up yoga as a part of his training regimen this offseason and dropped five pounds while looking to improve his flexibility. He acknowledged that he was pressing last season while he struggled in Class A-Advanced, but is ready to move forward this upcoming season:

“You have to be humbled and learn. I’m thankful for last year. Now I know what I need to work on. I failed. But now I know how to deal with that failure.”

Ray will report to minor league camp this weekend.

dsid asks:

Available Options

Can someone point me to a site where I can find which players still have minor league options and which players don’t? Thanks.

As far as the finding that type of information for the Brewers goes, the most accurate listing you will find on the world wide web is over at Not much of the site is up to date anymore, except for the Fan Forum and the 40-man roster listing complete with minor league options. It’s an invaluable resource.

Roster Resource, which is owned by MLB Trade Rumors, also provides this type of information for every team throughout the league. In my experience with the site, though, I have come across a few instances where the information hasn’t been correct.

Brew Crew Buster asks:

At what point is depth a negative?

All of this outfield depth may be nice but at what point is it just bad team design and use of resources?

For me, having so many good players that you don’t know where you’re going to use them all is never really a bad thing. I know that entering the offseason, we all thought the outfield depth was pretty strong and the team was in good shape entering 2018. But in hindsight, perhaps we were hanging our hats on a few more ‘maybes’ than the front office was comfortable with. Maybe Ryan Braun will stay healthier and have better luck this season. Maybe Domingo Santana will be able to repeat his breakout performance. Maybe some combination Keon Broxton, Lewis Brinson, or Brett Phillips will be able to provide useful production in center.

On the whole last season, Milwaukee’s outfield group ranked only 16th in the MLB in fWAR (6.5), t-16th in wRC+ (97), and 18th in defensive runs saved (-6). So the front office identified two players in Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain who should make both immediate and long-term impact in the outfield and make the team better. Instead of banking on Braun staying healthy, now Yelich will be the main man in left so Ryan can shoulder a lighter load and split time at first base. Instead of making center field an open competition between three unproven commodities, they brought in a free agent who has accrued over 25 bWAR over the last six seasons and looks like he’s got a good shot to age gracefully. It’s been said that the team has been searching for suitors for one of Santana, Broxton, or Phillips, but with a tough trade market for outfielders, it’s more worthwhile to keep them around (with Phillips and Broxton likely starting in AAA as depth) than to simply give one or more away if the front office can’t get the value they are looking for.

David Stearns and Derek Johnson have certainly had plenty of success mining value from under-the-radar pitchers, so I can certainly understand if the front office decided it was more worthwhile to expend more resources on improving what was a below-average offense last season while betting on their own internal analytic and biomechanical analysis to identify inexpensive free agents (Gallardo, Miley, Chacin) and in-house options that their pitching coach can coax “well-above replacement value” from. To be clear, I still think the team could use someone like free agent Alex Cobb or trade target Chris Archer, but Stearns is clearly unwilling to overpay and make any deal he doesn’t perceive as fair value - regardless of the perceived level of team need.

jgeisler95 asks:

My roommates and I were having this discussion the other evening while watching Beat Bobby Flay:

1) What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

2) What would your death row last meal be?

At my high school - CMH in Waukesha - we had a dance called “TWIRP” (the woman is required to pay). I was dating a girl my junior year who took me to an upscale steakhouse in Brookfield called Mr. B’s. I didn’t (and still don’t) have much experience with fancy restaurants, so I felt a little out of element when our waitress approached us with a cart full of raw meats and began showing us and describing each cut, the flavor and the marbling. I ended up going with an appetizer of the shellfish bisque, and for my main course I got a 28-oz porterhouse (medium rare) with the potato puree as my side. Everything was incredible, down to the fresh baked bread that they served with the soup. My mouth is actually watering right now as I’m describing it. Unfortunately it was also incredibly expensive (luckily I didn’t have to pay that night), and I have only been back a couple of other times in the decade since I ate the best meal I’ve ever had.

I would definitely choose to repeat this meal if it were my last one on death row, although this time around I would probably ask for some grilled onions with my hunk of meat. For dessert, I’d have a sundae from Culver’s made with chocolate custard and peanut butter cups - which was my go-to during the six years I worked at Culver’s in high school and early adulthood and what I still get every time my family and I go there these days.

Thanks for the great questions this time around, everyone! Here’s hoping our beloved local nine can stay hot in their quest for the Cactus Cup!

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