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BCB Mailbag 47: Drafting a Trade Agreement

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

St Louis Cardinals  v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Happy weekend, everyone! Time to make some coffee and get to your questions:

icelandreliant asks:

I know this has been discussed ad nauseam

But seriously, what do you and fellow experts feel like David Stearns will do as we approach the tradeline? It still seems to me like we need to strengthen the rotation, but we could definitely use a bat too. Do we finally trade some combination of Santana/Phillips/Ray? Are they worth much?

The more I think about it, the more I get the feeling that we won’t see an earth-shattering move for a starting pitcher. The manager and front office seem committed to the reliance on the bullpen, which diminishes the value of a starter to this team. The Brewers rank 17th in rotation ERA at 4.20 and 22nd in innings with 328.0, but on a game-by-game basis this breaks down to an average start of about 5.1 innings pitched and 2.4 earned runs allowed. In general, the starters are keeping the team in games and getting 16 or so outs before turning things over to Milwaukee’s dominant bullpen. If the team is going to invest heavily in a trade, a controllable position player seems like the more likely route, but I believe that Stearns will be open to any kind of trade - rental or long-term - depending on the value coming and going. If he could get someone like Manny Machado for a package similar to what the D-Backs gave up for J.D. Martinez last year (three players who aren’t even in the Tigers’ top-10 MLB Pipeline prospects), I’m sure that he probably would be willing to do that. It all depends on what the market bears. Other players I would make an early note of are J.A. Happ, Tyson Ross, Wilson Ramos, J.T. Realmuto, Yangervis Solarte, Dan Straily, Starlin Castro, Whit Merrifield, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Brad Miller.

Spaul149 asks:

Who is your favorite draft pick (for value or ceiling or whatever) of the Brewers

Personally, I find it a lot more interesting to research and read about and dream on pitching prospects. So I liked this pitching-heavy draft, and so far in my cursory research on the newest Brewers pitching prospects, I am pretty interested in several of the arms that they picked up in the draft. The Brewers focused on a lot of prep and JUCO arms, with only a few hurlers coming from notable colleges. In no particular order, guys who have intrigued me are Aaron Ashby, Justin Jarvis, Drew Rasmussen, Luis Gonzalez, JT Hintzen, Davis Daniel, Reese Olson, Nick Trogrlic-Iverson, Alec Barger, Clayton Andrews, Joey Matulovich, Jared Platero, Wade Beasley, Pablo Garabitos, Brady Schanuel, Basilio Pachecho, Matt Dillard, Brandon Williamson, Franklin Hernandez, and Aiden Maldonado. The Brewers are clearly doing something different as far as developing pitchers goes than the previous regime, and I get the feeling the org could eventually turn into a pitching factory of sorts. All of the guys I listed have some tool that sticks out to me, and it will be interesting to see which arms get churned through the system and spit out as big leaguers.

rougejim asks:

Can our bullpen hold up for the rest of the year?

We have four or five holes in our lineup. (Imagine where we’d be without Cain and Yelich.) We can hope our offense will turn it around, but if not, can our bullpen get us to the playoffs?

As I wrote earlier this week, I am not especially concerned about bullpen usage. Craig Counsell has done an excellent job of divvying up the work and giving all his guys necessary regular rest. So while the team’s bullpen as a whole has soaked up a lot of innings, none of the individual parts are really being overworked compared to the rest of the league. An addition to the rotation could help ease some of the burden on the bullpen, but even without that, I think that the with the amount of quality depth that’s around right now the relief corps will be able to continue operating at a high level.

Brew Crew Buster asks:

When will Nick Ramirez get a chance?

He pitches really well.

I like Nick Ramirez, if for nothing other than his great story - power hitting first baseman and relatively high draft pick converts to left-handed pitcher after career stalls in AA. It’s true that his early results have been pretty outstanding, as he posted a 1.37 ERA across 79.2 innings during his first full season as a pitcher in 2017 with Biloxi. He did that, though, with underwhelming peripherals; he struck out only 18% of the batters he faced and issued a roughly average amount of free passes and was a 27 year old working in a pitcher-friendly environment. As a result, Ramirez has trouble finding work this past winter, becoming a minor league free agent and sitting on the market for a few months before re-signing with Milwaukee on a new minor league deal in January. His results so far in 2018 have been similarly effective - Ramirez has a 2.03 ERA so far in 26.2 innings for AA Biloxi. His strikeout rate has ticked up and he’s now whiffing better than a batter per inning, but his walk rate has also increased. His stuff doesn’t jump off the page (89-91 MPH fastball, change, curve), he fringey control, he’s 28 years old, and he’s only got 3.0 innings of experience at the highest level of the minors. I’d really like to see Ramirez get a shot, but at this point I think it’s probably going to take a lot of stars aligning, possibly with a different organization.

BeerCity asks:

What’s more probable?

Stearns trades Aguilar or Thames for pitching help?

Thames is a lefty, power guy and the Astros/NYY need a first basemen. Do you think they’d be possible trade partners?

I’ll be honest - I don’t think it’s especially likely that they trade either guy during the regular season. The Brewers’ offense has struggled to stay healthy and score runs consistently all season, and I just don’t see there being a strong enough offer for either player to outweigh removing their hefty bats from the equation. With Ryan Braun no longer playing on an everyday basis and Domingo Santana experiencing a power outage, I think there will be plenty of AB’s to go around for Aguilar and Thames between first base and outfield. If/when the Brewers make a trade this summer, I expect they’ll be looking to deal prospects. I think it would make more sense to wait to explore deals for MLB pieces like Aguilar or Thames in the offseason.

jgeisler95 asks:

Absolutely feel free to ignore this if it’s too personal Kyle.

In what capacity did you serve in the military, and what do you think of your experience?

I was enlisted soldier in the United States Army, and I was assigned to a vertical construction company within the 94th Engineer Battalion, 4th Manuever Enhancement Brigade (DAUNTLESS!) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. My schooling was in interior electrical work (12R), and my company was made up of other electricians, plumbers, and carpenters/masons. Almost all of the construction work I did during my time in service, though, involved carpentry/masonry; I think I only used my electrical training one time after graduating Advanced Individual Training. I poured an awful lot of concrete and built an awful lot of CHUTs. I also was among a few soldiers that my unit sent through 12T training to gain knowledge in construction survey and design. In general, I enjoyed my time in the Army; I think it affected my life for the better and helped mold me into the father, husband, and laborer that I’ve become today. I took some college classes while in service and still have my GI Bill to use if I decide to go to school full-time. Although none of my job schooling translated to anything official, I was able to leverage some of the skills I learned into a pretty decent career that supports my family. Most importantly, the Army exposed me to lots of different kinds of people and ideas that I didn’t see as a kid who grew up in Waukesha County and went to Catholic School for 12 years. It totally changed my perspective and broadened my horizons socially and politically, and I am still close with the friends I made during my time in service. If I had had better leadership, perhaps my Army career would’ve been longer and maybe even still going on. I don’t regret the time I spent in the armed forces and I sometimes even miss putting on the uniform, and I think it’s a great option for anyone who doesn’t know what the next step for their life is going to be.

One they call Yogi asks:

is it okay to wear/use apparel from other teams?

does the answer change on the sport, as well as the level of competition? i only have packer/brewer gear (do have a rockies shirt they gave away at a game i went to that i use for a rag) as far as profession teams. however i have shirts/hats from half a dozen different colleges. i’d also buy a tebow rumble ponies shirt if he ever got promoted to the 51’s here in vegas.

It is absolutely alright to wear apparel from other teams. I’ve got Packers, Brewers, Badgers, Bucks, UWM, Kentucky, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota, Penn State, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Nationals, St. Louis University, Denver Broncos, Missouri, Edgewood, and even University of Toronto apparel in my regular rotation, along with various high school and grade school paraphernalia. Anything vintage or old school looking (as long it isn’t like, Cubs or Cardinals) is okay in my book.

Thanks for the great questions this time around, everyone! Here’s hoping for more Brew Crew success in Philadelphia this weekend!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs