Luc and Maldo: possible trade bait

November 15, 2012

> The Brewers signed catcher Blake Lalli to a minor league deal earlier today. The deal includes an invite to big league Spring Training,

At first, I just presumed this was a move to give the Brewers catching depth in case something were to happen to Jonathan Lucroy or Martin Maldonado. But it got me thinking about a topic that I’ve been pondering ever since Maldonado established himself at the big league level while filling in for Lucroy.

The Brewers have two catchers who are capable of starting in the Majors in Lucroy and Maldonado. That’s a luxury not many teams have. But, while it’s great to have, you have to wonder if the Brewers are dangling either of them on the trade market.

It’s sort of the same situation the Packers had at the end of last season. They had two quarterbacks who could have starting jobs in the NFL- Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Rodgers was- and still is- clearly the incumbent. Flynn was a great back-up, but, when free agency called his name, he decided to walk. The point is, if a guy knows he’s good enough to start at the big league level- whether it be baseball or football- he’s going to want that opportunity.

The difference with the Brewers’ catching situations is that both Lucroy and Maldonado are still controllable for a good amount of time. Lucroy just signed a five-year extension last year, while this will be just Maldonado’s second year in the big leagues, so he’s got a long ways to go before free agency.

But I wouldn’t at all count out the Brewers trying to use one of the catchers as trade bait in exchange for, say, bullpen help. The Brewers signed Lucroy to a very financially friendly deal. At first glance, that could be Lucroy giving the Brewers a discount because he wants to stay in Milwaukee, but you have to wonder if the Brewers have other ideas. Luc’s contract is certainly one another team wouldn’t mind picking up. Maldonado, meanwhile, still has years of team control, and won’t hit arbitration for a few years either.

So, the Brewers have two very talented catchers- both offensively and defensively- who have extremely friendly financial situations. There isn’t a doubt in my mind other teams have at least inquired on one of them.

Amazing the discussion some random minor league signing can draw out.

> Norichika Aoki has decided to sit out the World Baseball Classic coming up this spring. A few other Japanese players around baseball, such as Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma, have decided to do the same.

> David Price and R.A. Dickey won the American and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively.

Despite the fact Dickey won the award practically unanimously, there’s some controversy that Clayton Kershaw should have won the award again. Kershaw certainly had the stats to back it up- he led the league in ERA for the second straight year, had just six fewer innings than Dickey, and one less strikeout than Dickey. However, Kershaw got just 14 wins (obviously not his fault, he played for a disappointing team). And Dickey had a ton of hype around him all year because of his “feel-good story” and the fact that he’s a knuckleballer.

Personally, I chose Dickey to win the award, but not because of his story or the fact that he’s a knuckleballer; neither of those things impact that his raw stats were amazing. Not to mention Dickey played for a worse team than Kershaw and still managed to rack up 20 wins.

I also chose Price to win his award; his 20-5 record and 2.56 ERA were captivating enough for me. Justin Verlander had another great year- 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA. But a lot of Price’s raw numbers (ERA, wins, etc.) were simply better than Verlander’s, which impacts voters’ decisions. And, Price pitches in a much tougher division.

> The MVP awards are going to be handed out tomorrow, but Ryan Braun isn’t going to win.

> Minor moves: 

Tigers: Signed Torii Hunter to a two-year deal.
Marlins: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Blue Jays. (In exchange, the Jays received the rest of the Marlins’ roster.)


The Gold Glove continues to be a screwy award

November 4, 2012

> If there’s going to be an award called a “Gold Glove” handed out to a player at each position every year, it should go to the best defensive player at that position for that given year, no?

Apparently not. Before I get into my point, here are the 2012 GG winners for each position:

American League:

C: Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B: Mark Teixera, Yankees
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
SS: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF: Alex Gordon, Royals
CF: Adam Jones, Orioles
RF: Josh Reddick, Athletics
P: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays/Jake Peavy, White Sox

National League:

C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
2B: Darwin Barney, Cubs
SS: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
3B: Chase Headley, Padres
LF:
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
CF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
RF: Jason Heyward, Braves
P: Mark Buehrle, Marlins

Plenty of guys were considered “snubbed” at their respective positions because of their reputation for making spectacular defensive plays. Take Mike Trout, for instance. He robbed home runs (literally going up the wall and bringing the ball back into the park) on three occasions this year as the center fielder for the Angels. But why did Jones win?

Statistically, Jones actually had a better defensive season than Trout; Jones had the better defensive WAR. Denard Span of the Twins also had a better defensive WAR than Trout.

In my opinion, that’s the way it should be- the guy who is statistically the best defender at each position should win. That happened in a few cases this year: Rollins had the best fielding percentage among NL shortstops, Barney committed just two errors at second base (which led NL second baseman, obviously), Teixera had just one error all year, Cano was tied for first in fielding percentage at second base, and so on.

But, of course, when it came to the possibility of a Brewer getting a Gold Glove, he got screwed. Aramis Ramirez led the NL in fielding percentage and had the fewest errors among qualifying third basemen. So who obviously wins the award at third base? Headley, duh.

But why? If one player has better defensive statistics than another player at a certain position, that player should win the Gold Glove. This is the one award I think should be strongly influenced by statistics, because there’s always going to be one player who is definitively better than another (statistically) at each position. Most of the defensive statistics go hand-in-hand, so it’s unlikely there’s going to be two players who each have one better defensive statistic than the other. This is a far different award than something like the MVP or Cy Young Award, in which there are a series of different statistics that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with each other. That makes for more of an argument for who should win those award, which is why it’s okay for there to be voters.

But there shouldn’t be a vote for the Gold Glove. There’s a best defensive player at each position, and that’s that.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers signed free agent righty Michael Olmsted to a minor league contract.

> Travis Ishikawa officially elected free agency.

> Two Brewers were selected to play in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game- Hunter Morris and Johnny Hellweg. Morris hit clean-up and went 1-for-1 with an infield single and a sacrifice fly.

> The Cubs nearly sent Carlos Marmol to the Angels in exchange for Dan Haren last night, but the deal wound up not going through. The Angels were looking for anything they could get before they had to decline Haren’s option for 2013, but, since the trade didn’t come to fruition, they were forced to decline the option. Haren is now a free agent and could be a possible fit for the Brewers.

> 10 teams are reportedly interested in lefty free agent Mike Gonzalez. I’d take him, seeing as the Brewers will be very thin on lefty relievers once again next year (if they have any). Manny Parra, the only lefty in the Brewers’ bullpen in 2012, is probably going to be one of the next guys to go.

> Minor moves:

Rockies: Outrighted Carlos Torres to Triple-A; reinstated Josh Sullivan, Todd Helton, Juan Nicasio, and Christian Friedrich from the 60-day DL.
Orioles: Outrighted Lew Ford, Zach Phillips, and Steven Tolleson to Triple-A.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas to Triple-A.
Twins: Outrighted Sam Deduno to Triple-A.
Royals: Outrighted Manny Pina to Triple-A; reinstated Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino from the 60-day DL.
Mariners: Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a two-year extension; re-signed Oliver Perez.
Blue Jays: Acquired Esmil Rogers from the Indians.
Indians: Acquired Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes from the Jays.
Cardinals: Outrighted Steven Hill, Bryan Anderson, and Adam Reifer to Triple-A.
Pirates: Outrighted Ali Solis to Triple-A.
Astros: Outrighted Chuckie Fick to Triple-A; outrighted Brian Bogusevic, Jorge De Leon, and J.B. Shuck, all of whom elected free agency.
Athletics: Re-signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jordan Smith to minor league deals.


Brewers win bidding for Japanese outfielder Aoki

December 18, 2011

> This came out of nowhere, but it may save the Brewers’ offense, if it gets done.

> According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers have won the bid for a chance to sign Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. I didn’t even know this guy was posted; he must have been sucked up in all the Yu Darvish and Tsuyoshi Wada talk. Anyway, the Brewers won the bid with just $2.5 million, which is an unusually low bid to win rights to sign a Japanese player.

Aoki has won three batting titles in Japan, and has a .336 batting average over seven professional seasons in Japan. But, he hit just .292 this year, which could explain the low posting fee (not saying that .292 is bad or anything, but it’s considerably lower than .336). Anyway, Aoki is said to be the “most pure hitter” out of Japan since Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, who has been one of the few successful Japanese players in the Majors.

As I said earlier, Aoki is an outfielder, and, from what I’ve heard, can play an outfield position. He has good defensive range, but a weak arm, which probably makes him fit for left field. Obviously, that spot is already vacated by Ryan Braun (unless he does receive that 50-game suspension, but I doubt he will). And, the Brewers are set in the rest of the outfield positions with the Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez platoon in center, and Corey Hart in right. People are saying that the signing of Aoki would be to use him off the bench, or give the Brewers an opportunity to trade an outfielder, but I have another idea, although it’s very unlikely to happen. (I also made up this idea assuming Braun doesn’t get suspended, so bear with me here.)

Since Aoki would fit best in left field, the Brewers could put him there for the best defensive production. Then, they could move Braun to right field, since he already has a good arm, and right field is the outfield position that requires a good arm. That would push Hart out of right field, but, since he actually came up as a first baseman, the could slot him there, with the departure of Prince Fielder. That would probably keep Mat Gamel and Taylor Green in the Minors, but at least the Brewers would know they have proven players at every position, if they used this plan.

Odds are, though, that isn’t going to happen. I can’t see the Brewers having Braun switch position again; that was kind of wishful thinking. But, if they want the best defensive production from Aoki, then they would kind of be forced to do that. Or, they could leave Braun alone, and push the Morgan/Gomez platoon over to right field, since both are capable of playing right (despite Morgan’s noodle arm). With Aoki’s supposed good range, they could put him in center, which is the outfield position that needs the best range. But, again- it probably won’t happen.

Anyway, Aoki hits more for average than power, but the Brewers already took care of replacing some of the power of Fielder with Aramis Ramirez last week.

After winning the posting fee, teams usually have 30 days to sign Japanese players, meaning the Brewers have until around mid-January to sign Aoki. Japanese players usually sign with the teams that win the bid. The only player that comes to recent memory who didn’t sign with the team who won signing rights for him was pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, whom the Athletics couldn’t come to terms with prior to the 2011 season.

Anyway, I just hope Aoki doesn’t turn out like Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had similar numbers to Aoki before coming to the Majors. But, Nishioka came to the Majors and had an injury-plagued year with the Twins, and also hit below .200. I doubt that’s going to happen, though.

> The Reds struck a five-player trade with the Padres today. The main part of the deal was pitcher Mat Latos going to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Edinson Volquez.

The Reds finally might have a legitimate ace in Latos, which is something they’ve been looking for over the past two years.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, I have absolutely no idea what the Padres were thinking in giving up their best pitcher for a sad excuse for a pitcher- if he even is a pitcher- in Volquez. Maybe they haven’t seen him pitch before, but they’re in for quite a ride- and I mean that in a bad way.

Anyway, the reason I’m even talking about this trade on here is because now the Brewers will be seeing a lot of Latos next year, and maybe years after, with the Reds being division rivals. I can only remember one occasion when the Brewers faced Latos- it was Zack Greinke‘s Miller Park debut, and he beat Latos. I think Latos only gave up two or three runs, though.

> And that’s about all the news for today. So, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. (Seriously, please leave your thoughts- I feel like I don’t get comments anymore.)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.