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BCB Mailbag 50: The spirit of Jim Olander

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Happy weekend, everyone! I’m writing this, my 50th BCB Mailbag, from my parent’s cabin about 200 or so miles north of Milwaukee. Appropriately enough, it was my dad’s 50th birthday earlier this week so we are celebrating up here. I drove up last night and timed the trip perfectly with the game, leaving right before first pitch and catching Eric Thames’ walk-off while unloading my truck. I had my old cassette player/radio tuned to the flagship the whole time and the signal was strong the whole way. I thought that was pretty incredible.

Anyways, on to your questions:

ajt131 asks:

Do you think inconsistent playing time with hurt Travis Shaw?

Similar to when he was platooned in Boston? He seems to do better when he knows he’s playing everyday and I am worried the swing-man role may ruin him.

I don’t think Shaw is going to be the one who gets inconsistent playing time out of this whole deal. He’s started five of the seven games played since the team picked up Mike Moustakas, with his only non-starts coming against lefties Rich Hill and Andrew Suarez. He still pinch-hit in both those contests, too. I read somewhere recently that Shaw had been begging Craig Counsell to let him start playing second base regularly for close to a month, and I think that’s where we are going to see him most nights. He’s been a key contributor for Milwaukee this year, bashing 20 homers with a 112 wRC+, and he’s looked playable at the keystone thus far. I think the player who is going to lose the most at-bats in this deal is Orlando Arcia, which is probably good. Since the start of the divisional era in 1969, only nine shortstops (out of a 1,832 season sample) have had a single campaign where they’ve gotten as much playing time as Orlando (240 plate appearances) while posting a worse wRC+ (27).

Cheeseandcorn asks:

Who’s your spirit player?

Us 33/34-year-old Brewer fans get … PAUL MOLITOR HELL YES

I’ve got a tie! Both Jim Olander and Tim McIntosh received 11 plate appearances with the Brewers in 1991 (Matias Carillo appeared in 3 games but didn’t ever go to bat).

Olander didn’t record a hit in nine official at-bats, but he did draw two walks for a .182 OBP. That would be his only stint in the big leagues. He was an accomplished minor leaguer though who played pro ball from 1981-1994, batting .286/.359/.429 with 84 home runs and 85 steals in 1,200 games and 4.527 plate appearances as a farmhand of the Phillies, Brewers, and Astros. He was named MVP of the American Association in 1991 after hitting .325/.405/.484 with for AAA Denver, but a broken leg in 1992 really soured his career. He’s now a scout in the Tigers’ organization.

1991 was McIntosh’s second year appearing in the majors after he received a grand total of five plate appearances the year before. McIntosh had four hits - including a homer - in his 11 PA in 1991. He wound up finding big league action in five different seasons, although his career-high in games played was just 35 in the 1992 season for Milwaukee. He even spent some time in Japan in 1995.

stigmo asks:

Is there an ideal mix on the 40 man roster of how many will play with the big league team (or will at least be considered) vs. how many are protected from the rule 5 draft?

Ideally, you’d like to have just about every one of those players able to contribute, right? Only one healthy player on Milwaukee’s 40 man roster has yet to appear in the big leagues this year: Biloxi starter Marcos Diplan. Because of their hoard of useful depth - and not to mention players with minor league options - the Brewers have been able to keep their pitching staff pretty well rested and have been able to weather injury storms while sustaining a high rate of success.

cjsever asks:

Give Us An Example of a Waiver-Trade Scenario

You could break down 2017’s biggest trade when the Astros pulled off Justin Verlander as an August waiver-deal. What has to happen for the Brewers to get someone in the rotation. I just don’t have much confidence in Anderson/Miley/Peralta/Davies giving quality starts consistently in September.

It doesn’t seem likely that there will be waiver trade of the magnitude of the Verlander deal this time around in 2018. Just about every player in baseball is exposed to trade waivers in August whether we hear about it or not, but August waivers are revocable and a team can pull a guy back if he gets claimed. Popular trade targets who didn’t move in July, like Zack Wheeler, would almost surely get claimed. But many players do make it through, and some names like Matt Harvey, James Shields, Mike Fiers, or Ervin Santana are among those who could get moved in August. I’m not sure any of those guys move the needle for Milwaukee, though. One name to watch could be Sonny Gray, who recently lost his rotation spot with the Yankees after posting a 5.56 ERA in 21 starts this season. It’s questionable whether Gray and his $6.5 mil salary would make it through the waiver process, but if he does a reunion with Derek Johnson and an adjustment to his pitch selection could be worth exploring for the Brewers.

evilone758 asks:

Favorite non cream puff food at State fair

Outside of the Cream puff, what food do you like at the state fair? (cheese curds is also not a vaild answer)

State Fair takes place every August in West Allis just a little north on 92nd street from where my house is. My wife and I are huge fans of the Deep Fried Oreos and we usually end up ordering more than one bag. When it comes to on-a-stick selections, my favorite has long been the Chocolate Covered Bacon purveyed by the Machine Shed. I usually make sure to get some Lion’s Club corn on the cob as well as a glass of the Herb Kohl milk, too.

drezdn asks:

Is there a non-Brewers team you think will shock everyone

And make the playoffs this year?

Oakland would qualify, right? They’ve been surging of late and now have hold of the second wild card slot in the American League (with a better record than the Brewers even!) at 65-46. Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie have both had phenomenal seasons while #OldFriend Khris Davis continues to be a force at the plate. Since the Brewers have decided to punt on defense and just try to hit as many dingers as possible, wouldn’t it be fun if Khrush and his .253/.327/.536 slash line and 29 homers were a part of this lineup? I know his already middling outfield play has really gone in the dumps since leaving and he’s now almost a full-time DH, but golly can that guy mash.

Thanks for the great questions this time around, friends, and for sticking with me and Brew Crew Ball for 50 of these lame mailbag posts. It brings me great joy to share my thoughts, opinions, and analysis with all of you, and I really appreciate you reading along with us! Here’s hoping they let me keep sticking around this joint.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference