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Brew Crew Ball Mailbag #15: Would a Willy Adames extension be worth it?

Answering this week’s questions for the weekly mailbag

New York Mets v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Brew Crew Ball Mailbag!

Let’s get right into this week’s questions.

kozlow22 asks:

Is the league wide AAA pitching quality low this season? Or did they possibly change the ball? Or is there some type of inflation in AAA offensive numbers?
It seems like everyone who is going from AA to AAA is seeing an increase production when they moved up mid season. Additionally, Turang seemingly found power mid season which has led to better offensive production. But there’s some other things like frelick, weimer and Mitchell all decreasing their k rates and improving their bb rate after moving up a level.
AAA can see some AAAA guys so it could be the talent but I am curious how inflated these numbers might be despite using league adjusted numbers.

For some reason, there is no easy way to see league averages for specific levels of the minor leagues. A peek at the individual leaderboard indicates lower strikeout rates, and walk rates appear to have remained the same. However, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that overall offense has increased. There are only half as many qualified Triple-A hitters with an OPS of at least .900 as there were last year. Furthermore, some have cited the lack of an impact on run-scoring as a success of the pitch clock in the upper minors.

Brew Crew Buster asks:

Keston Hiura’s future with the Brewers?

I would be surprised if he’s on next year’s roster. To Hiura’s credit, he has made a plethora of adjustments in an effort to improve his offensive outlook, but nothing has helped enough. Hiura hits the ball as hard as anyone when he makes contact, but he still has arguably the worst bat-to-ball skills of any big-league player who gets semi-regular playing time.

The Brewers won’t say it out loud, but their handling of Hiura’s playing time points toward a belief that he swings and misses too often to find sustained success. He’ll be out of options next season, which further muddies his standing in the organization.

The Brewers probably tried to shop Hiura at the trade deadline, and I’m sure they’ll try to shop him this winter. Perhaps they will use next year’s spring training as a showcase of sorts and trade him before Opening Day.

WiscoJoe asks:

If the Brewers miss the playoffs, who would you put most of the blame on: The Front Office, Craig Counsell, or the players?

Everyone deserves some level of blame, but the largest share falls on the players. David Stearns, Matt Arnold, Craig Counsell, and the coaching staff cannot perform for these guys.

gbp4ever asks:

Stearns walks after 2023 and new GM decides to fire CC and bring in his own guy?

Because a Matt Arnold promotion to new head executive is the most likely outcome when Stearns departs, I’m inclined to believe that most of the organizational structure will remain intact. That includes Counsell and his coaching staff.

At the end of the day, Counsell’s future after Stearns is ultimately a Mark Attanasio decision. He hired Stearns with the stipulation that Counsell would remain as manager. Unless Attanasio is looking to completely overhaul the leadership and baseball operations structure, that condition is likely to extend to Stearns’ eventual replacement.

Captain What’s His Name asks:

If the Brewers were to extend Adames in the off-season as has been discussed, will I have to read all the second guessing about it a la the Yelich deal if it doesn’t pan out?

There might be some second guessing, but an Adames extension has a much smaller chance of coming back to bite the Brewers than Yelich’s deal.

While Yelich was one of the best hitters in the game when he inked his deal, his defense in the corner outfield positions was already declining. It was likely from the moment he put pen to paper that he would spend a good deal of the extension as a designated hitter or first baseman. That would not be a problem had Yelich remained an elite hitter, but that hasn’t been the case.

Adames, on the other hand, is a fantastic defensive shortstop who plays a premium position. The Brewers wouldn’t need him to be an amazing hitter to make good on a significant financial investment. Case in point: Adames has a 4.8 fWAR with a 118 wRC+ this season. Yelich has a 2.2 fWAR with a 112 wRC+ in over 50 more plate appearances.

Yelich needed to be an elite hitter to make his extension worthwhile from Milwaukee’s perspective. Adames would merely need to be a good hitter.

Duhawk Steve asks:

What do we do now?
The Brewers have 13+ pitchers potentially under contract for 2023 that I will place into a few categories. Play Trade/Keep/Release with the whole crew (if I forgot anyone feel free to add)
2-Stud starters: Burnes/Woodruff
2-Good Contracts: Peralta/Ashby
2-Good starter depth: Lauer/Houser
1-Stud Reliever: Williams
5-Good Reliever depth: Gott/Bush/Cousins/Milner (a bunch of other pre-arb guys)
2-Maybe too expensive: Suter/Boxberger

I’ll preface this by saying that anyone is available in a trade for the right price, but the odds of any team meeting that price are low.

I would count on a Burnes trade after the 2023 season rather than this winter, but if they get an offer that blows them away, they have to consider it. Aside from that, I don’t think there are any realistic trade candidates here.

Suter and Boxberger are gone. Suter’s price tag in arbitration may exceed what the Brewers are willing to pay a middle reliever. Age and consecutive seasons of heavy usage appear to be catching up to Boxberger, who has lost a tick of velocity on his fastball and seen his whiff rates plummet.

David Stearns cited multiple years of control as a key factor in trading for Bush, so he’s not going anywhere. Cousins is a lock to remain as a pre-arb player. Peter Strzelecki isn’t in your list, but he falls into that group as well. Gott and Milner are both due for raises this winter. I’d like to keep both of them around, especially Gott.

Thanks for your questions this week! Hopefully the Brewers will be closing in on another postseason appearances by the time we talk next Friday.