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BCB Mailbag 59: Upgrading Obscurity

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Jose Capellan.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone! Today is my dad’s last day at the police department, he’s retiring after 29 total years in law enforcement. My mom and my sisters and I are going to surprise him and take him out to lunch, so wish him well and I’ll pass along all your messages. Anyways, on to baseball:

icelandreliant asks:

Any information on what happened to Troy Stokes?

Stokes went on the 7-day minor league Injured List with soreness in his left lat. It isn’t considered to be serious, but this early in the season, the front office decided it would be better to play it safe and allow him some rest to get back to 100%. Stokes has been one of my favorite outfield prospects in the org for awhile (and he went 2-for-3 against Clayton freakin’ Kershaw on Opening Day in San Antonio) and I think there’s a decent chance we see his power/speed combo play at the big league level sometime this year.

Spaul149 asks:

If Hiura keeps up his hitting ways

If/when do you think we see him in Milwaukee?

At first glance, Hiura appears to be off to a torrid start in San Antonio. .320/.346/.680 with a pair of homers through seven games? That’s a nifty little 152 wRC+. The thing to watch right now with Hiura, though, is how often he’s whiffing at the highest level of the minors. He’s struck out 13 times against just one walk in 26 plate appearances, which won’t play at the big league level. Obviously it’s still early, but I have seen some indication from scouts that we might see a little less batting average (and a few more whiffs) than initially expected with Hiura, in exchange for a bit more power than previously anticipated. He’ll need to clean up some of the swing-and-miss issues as well as continue working on his defense at second base. I wouldn’t expect him anytime before June because of service time madness, and at the same time, there isn’t really a spot for him to come up and play everyday right now. But if one of Shaw/Moustakas goes down after that point, that could be Hiura’s window of opportunity. If Shaw’s latest hand injury sends him to the IL, I think Cory Spangenberg will get first crack at coming up.

joeybal56 asks:

Should we send Burnes back to the bullpen

and sign a competent starter or do we stay pat and use that money for the July trade deadline?

The Brewers had every opportunity to augment their starting pitching depth during this past offseason. They let both Wade Miley ($4.5 mil) and Gio Gonzalez (MiLB deal) walk after strong performances last year and watched them sign for peanuts elsewhere. They declined the option on Jordan Lyles and now he’s throwing darts for a division rival (ahem). There were other small fish they could have targeted, along with the bigger fish like Keuchel. But they didn’t. The club clearly wants to see what they have in Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta as starting rotation options, and for better or for worse, that means the front office and us fans need to allot those three some time to try and adapt to their current roles. I’d love for them to grab a Dallas Keuchel, but I don’t think that it’s going to happen. So, we’ll continue to chug along and hope that Burnes and the others can make the adjustments needed to be successful. And if after awhile they don’t, then they’ll give internal options like Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson (once he’s deemed ready), and maybe even Junior Guerra a shot. And if that doesn’t work, then there’s the trade market. But that doesn’t typically start heating up until at least the start of July, so I wouldn’t expect any impactful outside pitching additions prior to then.

tommyr asks:

Do you foresee Mauricio Dubon taking Arcia’s job some day?

From what I understand, the front office thinks pretty highly of Dubon, especially as a defensive shortstop. It’s probably worth keeping in mind, too, that Dubon is a “Stearns guy” that the GM went out and traded for, while Arcia was simply the incumbent that was in place when Slingin’ Stearns arrived. Dubon probably doesn’t have quite the same level of amazing tools that Arcia has flashed at shortstop at times, but he’s still very good at the six and wouldn’t be much of a downgrade with the glove. In terms of offensive ability, Dubon’s ceiling is probably similar to Arcia’s best season. Mauricio is not a guy who is going to walk much or hit for a ton of power, but he does put the bat on the ball consistently and has the speed to beat out a lot of infield hits. Arcia has rebounded a bit lately after a slow start, but given his putrid performance last year (and in general, he’s been the fifth-worst hitter in baseball since the start of 2016), his leash is getting shorter as Dubon proves more and more ready for the big leagues. But if Arcia has an extended stretch where he’s once again flailing away at garbage at the plate, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see Dubon get the call and start making some starts at shortstop.

McCann’t Have Fun asks:

What’s the most obscure Brewers jersey you’ve seen recently?

I completely forgot Mark Kotsay played for the Brewers until I saw someone sporting his jersey at opening day. I also spotted a Caleb Gindl jersey last year at a T-Rats game.

Ha, that Kotsay jersey at Opening Day may have very well been my buddy who I went to the game with. He’s not from Milwaukee and didn’t grow up a Brewers fan (though he’s sort of adopted them as his NL team - he’s from the northeast and is a Yankees fan), so he loves wearing his Kotsay jersey to be a troll. I have a Juan Francisco jersey and picked up a Jose Capellan one at the clubhouse sale last winter. I’ve recently seen Gindl, too, as well as Gabe Gross and even a Joe Winkelsas. The Garbage Man!

Dreman50 asks:

Are there any advance metrics to make us feel better about the state of our pitching?

Unsustainable FB/HR ratios, crazy high BABIP percentages? Anything?

Uhh...I guess if you’re a believer in xFIP, maybe? That’s really the only stat that thinks the pitching staff have been average or better, although I think it’s a junk statistic which is why you’ll never see me cite it in any of my analysis. But this team right now is eighth-worst by ERA and 10th-worst by FIP. They are near the top in strikeout rate, ranking 7th at 10.03 K/9, but are 12th-worst in terms of walk rate at 3.79 BB/9. Home runs are up across the board (thanks in large part to the re-juiced ball) but the Brewers are still allowing more than almost everyone else, currently sitting at 5th-worst with 1.82 HR/9. Brewer pitchers are allowing hard contact at a rate that’s higher than 17 other teams in the league and yet have allowed only the fifth-lowest BABIP at .266, so there may be some unwelcome regression coming there. There’s no real way to dance around it right now — the pitching staff has been bad and all the statistics support that. All we can really do is hang our hats on the hope that the true talent of the staff is better than what the performances have been so far, and that guys will start to pick it up soon. But unfortunately, there aren’t any statistical indicators that say that’s coming.

Here’s hoping the Brewers can get back to winning ways during their upcoming series with the Dodgers that begins tonight in Los Angeles. By the way, can we start a petition to ban the West Coast? These 9:00 pm start times are killing me.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs