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BCB Mailbag 52: To the Nines

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Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It was a busy weekend in the Cream City, as I’m sure you’re all aware, so you can understand why this got pushed to the back burner while we covered the three trades from Friday. But now it’s Labor Day, and being off work gives me some time to get to your questions:

icelandreliant asks:

Do you know when AFL rosters are released?

Fall League rosters actually came out over the weekend, and the Brewers will be sending eight representatives this year - position players Keston Hiura, Trent Grisham, Mario Feliciano, and Weston Wilson along with pitchers Jon Olczak, Bowdien Derby, Miguel Sanchez, and Daniel Brown. You can read more about those players and the Arizona Fall League right here.

brew_crew_22 asks:

What are the chances Christian Yelich wins NL MVP?

Christian Yelich has been scorching hot in the second half and certainly deserves to have his name in the MVP conversation (as does teammate his Lorenzo Cain). Here are some of his rankings among National League leaders:

Batting Average: .316 (2)
OBP: .381 (9)
Slugging: .559 (4)
Runs: 96 (2)
Hits: 155 (4)
Total Bases: 274 (4)
Home Runs: 27 (t-9)
Adjusted OPS+: 148 (3)
Win Probability Added: 4.4 (2)
Offensive WAR (via B-Ref): 5.1 (1)
bWAR: 5.2 (8)

Unfortunately, the fact that Yelich doesn’t play a premium defensive position (he’s graded out fine-to-good in the outfield corners this year) hurts him a little bit when it comes to the WAR numbers. There are also several pitchers that are having outstanding seasons that will factor into the conversation, as well. In terms of bWAR, Yelich is 3+ wins behind Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom in 2018, and he also ranks behind position players like LoCain and Javy Baez. It doesn’t seem likely that Yelich will be able to bring home the MVP award, but a finish somewhere in the top-5 or -10 of voting seems like a distinct possibility.

Lerch&Brouhard asks:

If there was one player on a current losing team that you would acquire, who would it be?

Boy, it would sure be nice to plug Mike Trout on to this roster from the 66-71 Angels, eh? Or to rescue Max Scherzer from the 68-69 Nationals and slot him in at the top of the rotation? Speaking of Washington, it would be a really nice day for them today if they can win their game against the Cubs by two runs:

TonyC920 asks:

What are the chances ............

Mark Attanasio gives Stearns a large bump in his salary budget to go out and get some better pitching and maybe keep Moustakas ?

And who is prime trade bait for offseason deals ? I don’t think there’s but a few who are untouchable.

Moustakas is a nice player, but honestly I don’t think that he is someone that Stearns will be especially motivated to retain for one season at $15 mil in 2019. And if I’m Moose, I would definitely be looking to give free agency and finding a multiyear deal a shot again after yet another solid season (25 HR, 107 wRC+, +5 DRS) and without a Qualifying Offer this time around. So I’ll start by saying that I don’t think a reunion is especially likely there.

I do expect, however, that the Brewers will be active in pursuing upgrades this winter and will probably be willing to increase payroll past the $87 mil or so that they opened the 2018 season with. Finally finding that someone to lead to starting rotation figures to be a priority, and a quick glance at the projected free agent list reveals quite a few names who could interest the Brewers this winter. Whether or not anything gets done will obviously come down to price, but some hurlers that would be logical to check in on include Trevor Cahill, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, JA Happ, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Garrett Richards, among others. As far as non-pitchers go, I think the free agent I would have the most interest in is switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Given the shape of Milwaukee’s farm system at this time, a significant trade feels a lot less likely than a free agent signing unless the club is willing to include players from the major league roster. Stearns has shown he is willing to explore just about any possibility, though, and I think Yelich and Cain are probably the two closest players to “untouchable.” It wouldn’t come as a surprise to me to hear about the club gauging interest in any player on the roster beyond those two. Honestly, I think it might be interesting to explore what sort of value the team could get for Josh Hader; he’s an electric arm, to be sure, but his need for constant rest and the extreme caution the club treats him with sort of caps his value in the bullpen. I’m not saying the club should be shopping him, obviously, but if the Mets called up and said they’d do a deGrom deal with Hader as the headliner, that is something worth listening to.

bigb2084 asks:

Woodruff

Has Brandon Woodruff fallen out of favor with the Brewers? Is there an injury that I missed? His numbers in Colorado aren’t great, but that hasn’t stopped others from having success once getting called up. There was one time last month I thought we were lining him up perfectly to make a start, then when asked Stearns said something about him not being a fit because they were scaling his innings back so he could pitch longer this season. His numbers in 2016 were crazy good, and he threw 158 innings that year, so even though he was limited last year, I would still think he has quite a bit left in him this year. With the pitching staff struggling the last month or two, he’s a guy I thought would have had more of a shot by now.

I have been confused by the way that Brandon Woodruff has been used this year, as well. He was still a top-100 prospect entering 2018 and was given the fifth spot in the rotation out of camp because according to management, it was time for him to be pitching in the big leagues. He’s gone on to make four starts, pitch in 13 games, and rack up only 34.0 innings at the highest level. He has tantalized us with his abilities at times (see his most recent appearance in relief of Junior Guerra) and the skill set appears to be there for a him to turn into a pretty good mid-rotation starter.

I’m hoping that Woodruff comes to camp in 2019 with a legitimate shot to make the big league rotation. Given that he’s not someone who was drafted or acquired by the Stearns regime, though, maybe the front office just isn’t as high on him as we are. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get shopped around this winter if that is indeed the case.

drezdn asks:

Can the Milwaukee Nine pull this off?

I think so! The offense finally got their stuff together in August while ranking third in the National League with a collective 120 wRC+ from their non-pitchers, and the club has won nine of their last 13 games as well as four straight series. The external and internal additions to the pitching staff should help to bolster that group for the pennant chase, and I think that nine of the 15 pitchers who made multiple appearances in August posting ERAs north of 4.50 was probably a fluke. Whether it’s a run at the division title or hanging on to a Wild Card spot, I feel pretty good about the Menomonee Valley Nine securing their first postseason berth since 2011.


Thanks for the great questions this time around, everyone! Not it’s time to fasten your seatbelts and keep your hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the car as we ride this roller coaster towards the playoffs!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference