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BCB Mailbag 57: Jolting towards spring

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Japan v MLB All Stars - Game 4 Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Rejoice, for it is the last weekend of the baseball offseason! Pitchers and catchers for our Milwaukee Brewers officially report to Maryvale on Wednesday to begin preparing to defend their NL Central championship. So let’s celebrate by answering your questions!

icelandreliant asks:

Does Jolt cola still exist?

Yes! The company filed for bankruptcy in 2009, but it returned to shelves late in 2017. You can get all the sugar and twice the caffeine at Dollar General stores.

Rick Auerbach invites you to 1972 asks:

On what date can Brent Suter be moved back to the 60-day DL? Is it the day before the season starts?

I don’t understand why the rules don’t allow him to stay on the 60-day DL all winter, since he was recovering from a surgery that was going to keep him out of action for the bulk of the 2019 season. Now, the Crew will be forced to cut a player from the 40 when the next free agent is signed.

Brent Suter can be moved back to the 60 day injured list once the players have officially reported for Spring Training. There is no active roster designation in the offseason, so naturally there is no injured list designation either.

ScootsMaGoots asks:

What batting order do you project?

This might be two questions:

1. What batting order do you think makes the most sense?

2. What batting order do you think will actually be implemented?

Ideally, I’d build my batting order by The Book. So against right-handed pitchers, it’d be:


What do I think Counsell does? Probably something like:


Ben Reagan asks:

Hey Kyle…what do you see that the Brewers are currently doing (on the field, in the front office) that is most dangerous to the team contending for the next several years?

It’s hard to have any qualms about the job this front office and coaching staff have been doing, but being objective, the one glaring weakness that the org has show under the Stearns regime is an inability to develop offensive players within the minor league pipeline. The club has successfully taken guys already at the MLB level like Cain, Yelich, Aguilar, and Shaw to the next level as hitters, but the team hasn’t really graduated any impact - or even average - hitters from the minors leagues. A hot second half last year helped save Orlando Arcia from posting one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball’s modern era, leaving him instead as only one of the game’s least-productive batters in 2018. Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips were dealt before getting much chance to make an impact on the field for Milwaukee, and both look to have a long ways to go at the plate with their new teams. The highest draft pick in a decade - Corey Ray at #5 in 2016 - has been slow to develop relative to early projections out of college and now looks more like a swing-and-miss fourth outfield type than an All-Star centerfield despite a year of nice counting stats in AA. Hitters like Lucas Erceg, Trent Grisham, Jacob Nottingham, and Mario Feliciano haven’t developed as hoped to this point, either. There is plenty of justified optimism with Keston Hiura, of course, but he has yet to play a single game at AAA yet and isn’t a sure thing until he actually performs against big league pitching. So, this would be an area that I’d like to see improvement from the organization.

cjsever asks:

Dallas Keuchel

Three years $20MM. Do you pull the trigger? Does Slinger?

Yeah, I think I would do that deal. It almost feels like we are getting to the point where free agents are becoming undervalued by the market, presenting opportunities for aggressive teams like the Brewers to pounce when they see a possibility for surplus value. Maybe set it up as a front loaded 3-year, $60 mil deal - $27 mil in year one with an opt-out afterwards, then $16.5 mil for years two and three if he opts into the rest of the deal. I don’t really believe that Stearns would sign Keuchel at that price, though. If the southpaw ends up in Milwaukee, I think the most likely scenario is that he wound up taking a high-AAV, one-year deal like Grandal. I don’t anticipate that being the case, and I believe the front office when they say they are pleased with the pitching depth they have on-hand. I feel pretty good about it.

Adamzero asks:

Will there be a BCB Miller Park outing this year?

I know us Platinum Plus members have our suite (which is a very nice perk) to use, but another group outing for all members might be fun.

I’m trying to plan on one this year, yes! I actually just spoke with someone from the ticket office earlier this week and mentioned my interest in hosting just such an outing this summer. It was a busy year for me personally last year so some of that type of stuff fell through the cracks, but my goal is to get back on the horse with this and try to get everyone together to watch the Menomonee Valley Nine sometime this summer.

Check Swing asks:

Looks like Realmuto to the Phillies is happening

Based on the package they sent, do you think the Menomonee Valley Nine would be better off sending along a similar offer or going with Grandal?

On a short-term deal (Grandal for one year with the mutual option, Realmuto with two years of club control left) I definitely prefer Yasmani. I think his switch-hitting profile - specifically when he bats lefty - is going to fit tremendously at Miller Park, and he grades out far better on defense than Realmuto, especially when it comes to pitch framing. PECOTA likes Grandal better in 2019 (4.2 WARP versus 3.6 WARP), and all he cost was money, rather than an enticing package of young talent plus the cost of Realmuto’s $5.9 mil salary in 2019 and final arb salary in 2020. The Phillies gave up a 25 year old catcher with five more years of control who already has a 98 wRC+ and 2.4 WARP in 508 MLB plate appearances, a 60 OFP pitching prospect, and another interesting pitching prospect with a possible MLB future. That’d be akin to the Brewers giving up something like Corbin Burnes, Adam Hill...and maybe Keston Hiura? They don’t really have a similarly successful, young MLB player at a premium defensive position to offer so they’d probably have been forced to offer their only 60 OFP positional prospect. When comparing the two players, both on the field and in terms of what they cost, I’m quite pleased that they ended up with Grandal.

Beer City asks:

How do you feel about the PECOTA predictions?

Do you think they’re fairly accurate? The have the Crew taking the NLC by 3 games over the Cards

When it comes to evaluating what projection systems are spitting out, I think that it is important to focus less on specific win total than it is to see how the teams are grouped. The win totals spit out by those systems are merely the average outcome of thousands upon thousands of simulations of the same season, over and over. It’s like playing OOTP - you can simulate the 2019 Brewers twice and it will be a different outcome both times because of injuries, transactions, etc. And you need to keep in mind that the typical standard deviation when it comes to win totals for these systems is roughly plus/minus five wins. So, PECOTA isn’t necessarily saying that the Brewers will a certain amount of games and win the division by X, but the results do support that the Brewers are clearly one of the elite teams in what figures to be a competitive National League.

Thanks for the great round of questions this week, everyone! Now let’s get ready to get back to actual, on-the-field baseball!

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs