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BCB Mailbag 45: Pizza versus Tacos

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Happy weekend, everyone! Let’s start things off right by answering some questions:

icelandreliant asks:

Any updates on Taylor Jungmann or Wei-Chung Wang’s pitching results in Asia?

I couldn’t find any stats while trying to search for Jungmann, I’m not sure if NPB has updated their English page for 2018 yet. But the KBO has, and Wei-Chung Wang is currently one of the top pitchers on the circuit. He’s logged 45.0 innings through seven starts, and currently ranks #3 in the league with a 2.40 ERA. Good for him for finding success as the first Taiwanese pitcher in the KBO!

phillyspur asks:

Should we consider trading for Jonathan Schoop?

Assuming the Orioles are tearing it all down, which every major outlet says they should do, shouldn’t we make an offer of Schoop? He plays second and would cost a lot less than Machado, who I’ve seen people talking about. He is in arbitration, so sorta controllable next year too, which give Hiura 1 more year in the minors if he needs that at all. I would rather not trade Burnes or Peralta, but we have a lot of depth in the minors, so maybe Ortiz, Erceg and Villar gets it done? And if not, what would? If the price in prospects isn’t too high, and I don’t think it would be considering his contractual situation, I think it would be a great move.

Schoop was an All-Star last year, hit 25 and 32 home runs in 2016-17, and posted a 111 OPS+ across three seasons from 2015-17, but he is off to a rough start this season (.241/.268/.354 in 83 PA) along with most of the rest of the Orioles. He has never been a guy that walks much (1.2% BB rate this season, 3.6% career), and is probably an average defender at best at the keystone. He’s making $8.5 mil this season and has one year of arbitration left before hitting free agency after the 2019 season. If Schoop can pick up the pace a little, he could be an intriguing deadline target for a Brewers’ squad that has struggled to get production from the second base position. The Orioles look like they’ll be obvious sellers, but they have the luxury of not having to rush to deal Schoop unless they get the deal they want this summer; they could always deal him next offseason, too. If Schoop can get back on track, I’m not sure that the Ortiz-Erceg-Villar package proposed would be enough. I know everyone talks about how they’d hate to give up Burnes/Peralta/Hiura in any hypothetical deal, but those are the players that teams will be asking for if Milwaukee is going to pursue some legitimate, impact MLB upgrades this summer.

BeerCity asks:

Bullpen evolution

The Brewers use Hader, Jeffress, and Barnes in multi-inning save/relief roles. The Indians use Andrew Miller like that, but nobody else really uses this kind of bullpen strategy. Do you think other teams are going to try to use this strategy going forward? Personally I think it’s only because these pitchers can handle it, I.E. Albers doesn’t get the multi-inning gigs like the others do because his skills are different. I see lots of bullpen misuse and could see teams using incorrect pitchers in this role.

We’ve seen more of an emphasis on the bullpen in recent years, and I don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon. The numbers regarding a starter facing a lineup for a third and fourth time are just too convincing. You mention Andrew Miller and that’s the idea most everyone has in their head after Cleveland’s playoff run a couple years ago, but these days Miller is being used as more of a traditional reliever; only two of his 12 appearances this season have last at least four outs, and no Indians reliever ranks in the top-30 of innings pitched. The Brewers aren’t the only team that’s deploying their relievers for multiple outs this season, though. The Mets, Reds, Rays, and Padres (among other teams) all have used multiple multi-inning relievers in the early going this season. The multi-inning fireman role is perfect for a good chunk of pitchers and pitching prospects out there: use your two best pitches to dominate a lineup one time through while working multiple innings, instead of trying to overcome a lacking third pitch, or poor control, or a high-effort delivery that affects stamina, while trying to shoehorn someone into a starting role.

Jack Stern asks:

How much longer will the offense have to struggle before the front office considers a new hitting coach?

The offense has been horrible this season, and the struggles date back to the second half of last season. We’re looking at an extended period of offensive production that ranks near the bottom of MLB. I think it might be time for a change.

I don’t think Darnell Coles is on the hot seat, personally. As I explored the other day, there may be some bad luck involved in Milwaukee’s lack of offensive production this season. Additionally, Adam McCalvy put things in perspective during a radio appearance the other day - these guys are Major League Baseball players. You don’t make it to this level if you don’t know how to hit. A hitting coach’s job isn’t to call the players into a room for a meeting on the fundamentals of batting. It is to be there to provide support when a player comes up to the coach and asks for a tip or some insight. The Brewers as a team are drawing walks and making hard contact at about the same rate they did last season, and they have collectively cut their strikeout rate by some two percent. Is it Darnell Coles’ fault they’ve experienced a 20+ point drop in batting average on balls in play?

Lerch&Brouhard asks:

If you had to choose between pizza or tacos every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

If neither, than what?

If I had to choose between those two options only, I would definitely pick pizza without a doubt. I never tire of the ‘za. Deep dish is my preferred style, but I’ll get down with New York Style, thin crust, whatever. If I could choose something else, though, I am pretty certain I could eat a medium-rare porterhouse steak everyday.


Would you be willing to trade Knebel for offense?

I had floated Knebel + for Realmuto and Starlin Castro, but not sure the Marlins would even want Corey. What kind of offense do you think Corey could bring in, should the Brewers put Knebel on the table?

I suppose I would be willing to consider anything if the value is fair both ways. And even though everyone entered the season with pitching as the main concern, it certainly looks like the strength of this year’s squad. I understand where you’re coming from with this idea - the bullpen was so outstanding and dominant in Knebel’s absence, he feels like an extra luxury not that he’s back healthy. But you just don’t see trades like the one you proposed - where two teams swap out outstanding MLB players - very often. To be honest, I’m not sure Knebel for Realmuto straight-up would be something that interests the Marlins, and I imagine that the other rebuilders out there that are going to be dealing away bats would rather get inexpensive prospects in return that bring hope for the future, rather than a $3.6 mil reliever with three more years of rising arbitration salaries left. And I’m guessing a competitive team would probably rather give up prospects than create a hole in their MLB lineup to address a need in the bullpen. The Twins could use some bullpen help, but I doubt they’d give up Brian Dozier for Corey Knebel.

Saltdog asks:

What do we think of Orlando Arcia this far into his (admittedly still early) career?

I am so impressed with his defense and so, so disappointed in his bat.

On August 2nd, 2016, the day that Orlando Arcia was called up to begin his big league career, I tweeted this:

So far in 882 MLB plate appearances, Arcia has hit .256/.305/.381, so he has been more or less what I expected on offense. He doesn’t walk, swings at more balls out of the strike zone than almost anyone in the league, swings-and-misses a lot, doesn’t make a ton of hard contact, and hits an inordinate amount of ground balls. Nothing in his profile has really changed or improved at the big league level, and his “solid” season last year (one with an 85 wRC+) was probably buoyed by a .317 BABIP that’s close to 50 points higher than his 2016 (.267) or 2018 (.271) totals. Without a major adjustment in his approach, this is who Orlando Arcia is going to be at the plate - a batter who may hit for a solid batting average some years, but is generally below-average offensively.

Defensively, Arcia’s mental mistakes can feel somewhat glaring. But the numbers say that the good far outweighs the bad. He’s got a cannon at short and a penchant for making highlight-reel plays, and so far has accrued +12 Defensive Runs Saved and +15.8 Fielding Runs Above Average in his career. The total package so far has been that of a serviceable starting shortstop, which when compared to the expectations of some fans and scouting lists, probably feels like a disappointment.

drezdn asks:

Who is your favorite saint?

St. Augie, of course. The patron saint of Brewers victories!

Thanks for the great questions this time around, everyone! Hopefully the team will keep stringing those Augie’s together!

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