All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.


Comparing the mega-teams from LA

December 17, 2012

> Following the 2011 season, Los Angeles was not in a good state as far as the sport of baseball goes. The Angels and Dodgers hadn’t reached the postseason in 2010 or 2011, posting some of their worst seasons in decades (by their standards). The Angels were struggling to find any offensive consistency to back their decent starting pitching. The Dodgers were having similar issues, but their problems extended off the field as well, as Frank McCourt left them bankrupt.

I don’t think the Dodgers were expecting to contend in 2012 (at least early on) because of where they were financially, but their one huge move was giving Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million deal following his MVP-caliber campaign in 2011. The Angels, however, made themselves early favorites for the World Series by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal, and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Fast-forward to the 2012 offseason- following yet another season in which neither of these teams made the postseason- and a lot has changed. The Dodgers are nowhere near bankrupt; in fact, they’re the polar opposite, thanks to Magic Johnson and Co. The Angels are in the same position they were last year, but if they don’t make the postseason this time around, there’s something very wrong.

Anyway, let’s take a look at each of these teams from every angle- the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen, and so on. Both of them are considered near locks for the playoffs, but one has to be better than the other, right?

THE LINEUPS

Angels: 

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Erick Aybar, SS
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, LF
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Dodgers: 

1. Mark Ellis, 2B
2. Luis Cruz, 3B
3. Matt Kemp, CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Pitcher

OK, first off, Hairston isn’t going to start the entire season. Once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, he’ll take Hairston’s spot, and that’ll change the whole culture of the lineup (many project Crawford to hit second). But, until Crawford comes back- which will probably sometime in late May- that’s what I’m guessing the Dodgers’ lineup will look like.

Anyway, those are both powerhouse lineups. The each feature possibly the best 3-4-5-6 combos in their respective league in Pujols-Hamilton-Trumbo-Morales and Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier. It’s hard to say which is really better than the other; both are going to be very exciting to watch. While I think the Angels’ lineup might be the more exciting with three perennial MVP candidates in Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, I think the Dodgers have the overall better lineup. The reason I say this is because there are more experienced hitters in the Dodgers lineup, and by experienced, I mean hitters that you know what you’re going to get from them. Kemp, A-Gon, Ramirez, and Ethier aren’t necessarily “veterans” yet, but they’ve certainly been around the block a few times and have shown they can produce consistently at the big league level from year to year. The Angels definitely have that experience in Pujols and Hamilton, but they have a lot of younger, inexperienced hitters who I think we need to see more from. There’s no denying that Trout had the best offensive rookie season in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be susceptible to a sophomore slump. Trumbo hit over .300 for the most of the season last year, but then flamed out for the last two months and fell to a .268 average.

I think if everyone in the Angels’ lineup performs to their ability (and that includes Kendrick, who everyone thought was going to be a batting champion one day), then they’ll have the better lineup. But until that happens, I’d put my money on the Dodgers’ lineup, especially once Crawford gets back.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp

THE ROTATIONS

Angels: 

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Garrett Richards

Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Zack Greinke
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. Josh Beckett

Coming into this offseason, both teams wanted to improve their starting rotations, and I think each did. However, I think the Angels losing Greinke really hurt them. I also wasn’t in complete agreement with them just giving up on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana; I really wonder if they’re going to get what they could have gotten from those two from Hanson and Blanton. And Richards is going to be good somewhere down the road, but I’m not so sure he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot. There are even some question marks surrounding Wilson, who had a terrible second half for the Angels in 2012. Weaver is no doubt the ace, but health is a bit of a concern with him; same goes for Hanson.

To me, the Dodgers obviously have the better rotation, even though there are a few enigmas in theirs as well. Kershaw/Greinke is one- if not the best- 1-2 punches in baseball, and they get to throw half of their games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. After Kershaw and Greinke, however, there are a few questions. Billingsley can be an All-Star caliber pitcher when he’s on, but that isn’t always the case. Perhaps not having the pressure of being a #2 starter will help him. Anyway, the 4-5 spots in the Dodgers’ rotation should go to Ryu and Beckett, in my opinion. The Dodgers also have veterans Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, all of whom are capable of starting, but I think Ryu and Beckett will give them better results than any of the other two.

Clayton Kershaw

It’s evident that both of these teams will have to back up their rotations with those huge lineups, but I think the Dodgers are better off starter-wise.

THE ‘PENS 

(NOTE: I only put the six guys who I thought were guaranteed spots. There are probably going to be a few other long relievers in each bullpen>)

Angels: 

Ryan Madson
Ernesto Frieri
Scott Downs
Sean Burnett
Kevin Jepsen
Jerome Williams

Dodgers: 

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert
Matt Guerrier
Javy Guerra

This is actually the one category in which I think the Angels are better off. There’s only one guy that I think the Dodgers can count on to be consistent, and that’s Jansen. The rest of the guys- including League, who they named their closer and threw $22 million at- have had up-and-down careers.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a nice mix of young flamethrowers and veteran guys who know how to pitch. I loved the Madson pick-up; I expect him to have a good year even though he missed all of 2012. Frieri can also close if need be. Then they have a great tandem of lefties in Downs and Burnett. This has the makings of a great bullpen for the Angels.

Frieri

These are both going to be very exciting teams to watch, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw an LA vs. LA World Series (though it never seems to work out that way). I think the Dodgers have the slight edge, but that’s not to put a damper on the team the Angels are going to field.

> The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal (plus a vesting option for a third year), so that puts to bed any rumors that spoke of his possible return to Milwaukee. But Doug Melvin probably wouldn’t have been willing to give him $6 million a year anyway.

> The Mets are being the Mets once again, as they have a deal in place to send the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner- R.A. Dickey- to the Blue Jays in a seven-player deal. The deal also includes Josh Thole and another prospect going to the Jays along with Dickey, while the Mets are getting back Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a prospect.

I’m starting to wonder why the Mets gave an extension to David Wright if this is what they intended to do all along, but that’s their screwed-up organization for you. But I like the deal for the Blue Jays. They may have hurt themselves in the long run, but they’re making themselves favorites for the AL East next year. They’ve assembled a pretty nice rotation in Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, all of whom have been considered aces at some point in their careers.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Signed John Lannan to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Jonathan Albaladejo and Ed Lucas to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Javier Herrera to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year deal.


Royals kill themselves in the long run

December 10, 2012

> About a half an hour ago, I saw a headline that read: “Shields AND Davis to Royals for Myers. Other names involved.”

At the time, I thought that wasn’t a bad deal for the Royals, who appeared to have acquired James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays in exchange for prospect Wil Myers, who is arguably the top offensive prospect in the game. I thought “other names involved” meant some not-so-significant Double-A players whom the Royals wouldn’t be seeing anytime soon.

Nope. The other three prospects involved were left-hander Mike Montgomery, third baseman Patrick Leonard, and righty Jake Odorizzi (whom the Brewers dealt to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal back in 2010).

In other words, the Royals are still stupid.

In my eyes, just Myers for Shields and Davis would have been fair. Shields is already 30 and has a year (plus an option) remaining on his contract. Davis was great as a reliever last year, but was mediocre at best as a starter for the Rays in 2010 and 2011. With the package they sent the Rays, the Royals should have been able to net David Price at the very least.

Anyway, the Royals should at least contend in 2013, which perhaps was the goal all along. The Royals haven’t made the playoffs since 1985, and it’s been questioned over the past few years whether their ownership is even trying  to win.

The Royals did improve their rotation: it’ll now look something like Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Davis, and Bruce Chen (though I’d replace Chen with a prospect like Danny Duffy). Not the greatest rotation, but it’ll win games with the lineup that hits behind it.

This will help the Royals in 2013, but I think they’re going to regret this in the long run. Needless to say the Rays scammed them in this one.

> A day after signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal, the Dodgers dished out another huge contract, locking up Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu with a six-year, $36 million deal.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Mark Reynolds to a one-year deal.
Phillies: Signed Zach Miner to a minor league deal.


Greinke latches on with Dodgers

December 9, 2012

> Not like no one saw this coming. The Dodgers, who have infinite pockets of cash, finally wooed Zack Greinke into joining them. Greinke’s deal is for six years and $147 million, which is the richest contract for a right-hander in history, surpassing Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal signed back in March. Greinke also slightly passes lefty Cole Hamels, who received six years and $144 million from the Phillies around the Trade Deadline. CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract remains the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. 

Greinke will slide into the rotation of what should be a powerhouse Dodgers team. That rotation already features the incumbents, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, followed by a few veterans that LA will have to choose from, including Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. The Dodgers could have one more starter competing for a spot- Hyun-Jin Ryu- if they sign him by tomorrow’s deadline.

Anyway, I see two possible scenarios for Greinke’s LA tenure. The first- and more likely- is that he’ll take advantage of pitching in the NL West, where the ballparks are significantly larger, and have a ton of success on a Dodgers team that should contend for years to come. The other, however, is that his anxiety issue comes back to haunt him in the huge market of LA, and he can’t handle the stress and publicity of pitching there.

The latter is very unlikely. He did fine in Anaheim, a suburb of LA (but basically the same market), posting a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA during his time there. Plus, Greinke doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff; Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the NL, has taken that role.

I wish the best of luck to Greinke in LA; he’s a guy who’s easy to root for. I don’t want the Dodgers to do well as a team because of how they’ve set up themselves up financially, but that doesn’t mean Greinke himself can’t have a good season.

Greinke2

> Now that Greinke is off the market, the Brewers’ chances of signing Ryan Dempster have increased. Had Greinke signed with the Rangers, the Dodgers would have probably overpaid a second-tier pitcher like Dempster. But, now that Greinke has gone to LA, it’s unlikely the Rangers are going to bring Dempster back after what he did for them last year.

> I keep forgetting to mention this, but I saw a headline the other day that read: “Yount shoots Sveum.” My immediate first thought was that Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount took some sort of shot- figuratively- at current Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Nope. Yount literally shot Sveum with a gun while they were on a hunting trip. It wasn’t fatal or anything- one of the pellets from Yount’s rifle grazed Sveum’s ear while he was shooting at a quail.

But this made my day: Sveum started calling Yount “Dick Cheney” after the incident.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Acquired Michael Young from the Rangers.
Rangers: Acquired Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla from the Phillies.
Mariners: Designated Mauricio Robles for assignment.


Brewers acquire Badenhop from Rays

December 2, 2012

> The Brewers weren’t expected to make many impact trades this offseason, primarily because their farm system is still depleted from acquiring Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke back in 2010. But, it often goes unsaid that the Brewers have a ton of outfield depth, and today they used that to their advantage to start fixing one of their other needs. 

The Brewers managed to acquire an established reliever in Burke Badenhop, who has been solid for the Rays and Marlins over the past few years. In return, the Brewers only needed to give up minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr., which doesn’t quite break my heart if you consider the numbers he’d been putting up.

Badenhop, who is still just 29, had a career year last year in his first and only season with the Rays, going 2-3 with a 3.03 ERA. He had been a bit inconsistent in his first four years in the league with the Marlins, but, now that he’s put up a few solid seasons in a row, it’s safe to assume he’ll continue his success from last year. Another perk regarding Badenhop is that he’s a groundball pitcher, which will definitely play well at Miller Park. He doesn’t strike out many guys (career 6.7 K/9), but he doesn’t give out many free passes either (career 2.9 K/9).

Anyway, I see Badenhop filling the role that Jose Veras was supposed to take on in 2012 (but failed), which is getting through the seventh inning to pass it on to the setup man and closer. In a perfect world, Badenhop would have the seventh, a young flamethrower like Jim Henderson (or even Michael Olmsted) would throw the eighth, and a rejuvenated John Axford would close it out. It’s unlikely things would go that smoothly early on, however, so don’t be surprised to see Badenhop pitching the eighth (unless the Brewers sign/trade for another setup man).

I saw some people on Twitter complaining about losing Mondesi. But honestly, who cares? The Brewers might have the most outfield depth in the Majors, including four established outfielders at the big league level with another one ready to burst onto the scene. Not to mention Mondesi wasn’t looking much like his father offensively during his three years in rookie ball for the Brewers- he hit just .243 with 12 homers and 76 RBIs in those three seasons.

But perhaps this trade will work for the both teams. While the Brewers filled one of many huge holes in their bullpen, the Rays may have taken a step in replacing B.J. Upton, who just signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Braves. Either way, I’m happy with what the Brewers got out of it.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays

> Another thing worth noting about this trade: with the acquisition of Badenhop, the Brewers now have three guys with guaranteed spots in the 2013 bullpen (yes, I’ve been keeping track of guys who I think have roles already locked up). The other two are Axford and Henderson. Doug Melvin seems confident that Axford will rebound in 2013, and has mentioned Henderson as another guy he hopes to build the bullpen around.

There are a few guys in the minors who I think have very good shots at making the bullpen and thriving, Olmsted being the one I have the most confidence in. It’s true he’s never thrown a pitch above Double-A, but the numbers he put up with Boston’s Double-A affiliate tell me he’ll be throwing a lot of pitches above Double-A in 2013. Then there are Jairo Asencio and Zach Kroenke, both of whom were also signed to minor league deals this offseason, but they don’t have quite as good of track records as Olmsted. The homegrown guys, such as Brandon Kintzler, will also get opportunities. But I think the Brewers need to add at least two more established relievers at the big league level in order for me to feel good about the ‘pen going into 2013.

> The Cubs signed Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, surprisingly. I was convinced the Dodgers or Angels were going to nab him.

This signing is probably going to prompt the Cubs to trade Carlos Marmol. But let’s not give the Brewers any ideas to get involved with that…

> Minor moves: 

Giants: Non-tendered Brian Wilson.
Mariners: Re-signed Josh Kinney and Robert Andino to one-year deals.
Pirates: Re-signed Charlie Morton to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Non-tendered ex-Brewer Wil Nieves.
Rays: Non-tendered Ben Francisco.
Reds: Re-signed Denis Phipps and Kris Negron to minor league deals.
Twins: Re-signed Lester Oliveros to a minor league deal.


Brewers have arby decisions to make

November 26, 2012

> It came upon us rather quickly, but the arbitration deadline is already this Friday. Coming into the offseason, the Brewers had nine players to whom they would have to decide whether or not to tender them contracts, but that list has since been cut to five. Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, Travis Ishikawa, and Kameron Loe were all arbitration-eligible, but were cut loose earlier this month, so they’re no longer the Brewers’ problems to deal with. All of those names would have probably been non-tendered anyway.

But, there are still five arbitration-eligible players on the Brewers’ roster: John Axford, Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, and Carlos Gomez. Back in October, MLB Trade Rumors projected the possible salaries each will earn in 2013: they had Axford at $5.1 million, Narveson $800,000, Estrada $1.6 million, Parra $1.6 million, and Gomez $3.4 million. Most of them- save for Axford- should come relatively cheap.

The only immediate non-tender candidate that comes to mind is Parra, who I have to guess the Brewers are sick of at this point. He has great stuff, he’s a lefty, he once threw a perfect game in the minors- so why hasn’t he been able to find it during his first few years in the Majors? I thought shifting him to the bullpen permanently would benefit Parra mentally, and help the Brewers as a team, seeing as they went most of 2011 without a left-hander in the ‘pen. But, in 2012, Parra was unable to maintain consistency, and Ron Roenicke was hesitant to use him in tight situations (for good reason). $1.6 million isn’t much (though I get the feeling Parra will attempt to demand more), but he should follow Veras and Loe out the door.

I’m sorry, but Axford isn’t going to get $5.1 million. The case for him is that he saved 35 games in 2012, but then you have to remember he blew a Major League-leading nine saves. Axford is going to get the closer’s role back in 2013, but not at that price.

Gomez is going to be the Brewers’ starting center fielder in 2013 (unless they somehow pick up Josh Hamilton) following his breakout season at the plate, at least power-wise (he slugged a career-high 19 home runs). I’d take that and his dangerous abilities for $3.4 million, no doubt.

Lastly, there’s Narveson, who will certainly be back in 2013 (although it’s uncertain whether he’ll be in the bullpen or rotation). MLBTR is predicting that his season-ending rotator cuff surgery will keep him below a salary of $1 million once again, so the Brewers should be able to bring him back easily.

All of these guys will probably avoid arbitration. The Brewers’ last arby hearing came last spring with Veras, but the Brewers won it easily.

> According to Jim Bowden, Zack Greinke’s “camp” expects him to become the richest right-handed pitcher in history, while even possibly passing Cole Hamels’ six-year, $153 million deal with the Phillies.

OK, I love Greinke, but let’s step back and look at this from another perspective. Greinke’s career ERA is 3.77. That’s a good ERA, no doubt. But is it honestly worth giving him the richest contract in history for a pitcher? Matt Cain, who currently has the biggest contract out of any righty in history, has a career 3.27 ERA. Hamels’ career ERA is 3.34.

Another thing to keep in mind about Greinke: that career ERA is with his AL Cy Young year in 2009, during which he put up a 2.16 ERA. Take that away, and he his career ERA is borderline of 4.00. Not to mention Greinke’s lowest single-season ERA other than the CYA year is 3.47.

Again, not trying to hate on Greinke or anything; I’d love for the Brewers to bring him back (though now I know it’s not going to happen). But does he deserve to be the richest right-handed pitcher in the history of the game? No way.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Outrighted Brent Lillibridge, who elected free agency.


Brewers should target Dempster or Lohse

November 24, 2012

> Over the past few days, the first crop of starting pitchers have been plucked off the free agent market: Jeremy Guthrie signed a three-year pact to stay with the Royals, while Hiroki Kuroda returned to the Yankees on a one-year deal. Personally, I was gunning for the Brewers to somehow nab Kuroda, but it was unlikely the whole time.

With Kuroda gone, the top veteran starters on the market are Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, Ryan Dempster, and Kyle Lohse, and there are two names on that list whom I think the Brewers have a good chance at signing. Greinke and Sanchez are too expensive (Sanchez is asking for six years and $90 million). McCarthy is a great pitcher, but his injury history is going to hurt the type of deal he gets. Haren and Jackson are both veterans I wouldn’t mind having, but there are safer options.

And those safer options- safest for the Brewers, at least- are Dempster and Lohse.

While he was in the National League with the Cubs last year, Dempster was one of the best pitchers in the game. His 5-5 record with the Chicago doesn’t tell how good he was, but his 2.25 ERA does. He also had a streak of over 30 consecutive scoreless innings going for a while. He did spend a bit of time on the disabled list, but has a history of being a relatively healthy pitcher. Things fell apart for Dempster after he was traded to Texas at the Trade Deadline, as he posted a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts with them (despite putting up a 7-3 record). That was Dempster’s first time pitching full-time in the American League, however; it’s safe to say he’d return to form once he returned to the NL.

Lohse, meanwhile, was the surprise ace of the Cardinals’ staff in 2012. The 34-year old started his career with the Twins in 2001, but didn’t really have an overall solid year until 2008 (15-6, 3.78 ERA), his first year with the Cards. Lohse had off-years in 2009 and 2010 due to injuries, but showed signs that he was getting his stuff back in 2011, when he went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA. He finally put it all together in 2012, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and placing seventh in the NL Cy Young balloting. Though Lohse had a somewhat inconsistent career early on, the trends of the last few years tell us that he probably isn’t going to regress anytime soon.

The reason I picked these two guys as the best potential targets for the Brewers is because they are both groundball pitchers. Seeing as Miller Park is a hitter’s paradise, a groundball pitcher would be a nice addition, as long as the Brewers are interested in picking up a starter. And, the recent performance of flyball pitchers at Miller Park hasn’t been great. Jeff Suppan is my prime example, but it’s worth noting that there was a reason that Shaun Marcum was significantly better on the road.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with Dempster. Most would probably pick Lohse because his basic numbers over the past few seasons have been better, but there are a few reasons I’m taking Dempster. The main reason is that Dempster, though he’s considered a groundball pitcher, picks up his fair share of strikeouts as well, which is always something I look for in a pitcher. Some say strikeouts are insignificant and are overrated. But, the more a pitcher is striking batters out, the less the ball is being put in play, and the opposition won’t score as many runs. That’s my take on strikeouts, at least, even if they drive up pitch count in some cases. Anyway, Dempster had a K/9 of 8.0 in 2012 (career 7.8), while Lohse’s was 6.1 (career 5.6). I think Dempster’s numbers would play better at Miller Park than Lohse’s.

Not to mention the huge success that Dempster has had at Miller Park in his career. He has a 2.66 ERA there, so he seems immune to the fact that Miller Park is considered a hitter’s park (probably because he’s a groundball pitcher). Meanwhile, Lohse has a terrible 6.95 ERA at the Brewers’ home. Yet another reason Dempster is the safer play.

So far this offseason, the only free agent starter the Brewers have expressed interest in is Dempster (obviously they want Greinke, but know they aren’t going to get him). Perhaps they’re going through the same thought process, seeing as Dempster appears to be an affordable, yet effective option for the Brewers.

> The Padres are reportedly interested in Shaun Marcum. To be honest, I would have been okay with the Brewers bringing him back on a two-year deal or something along those lines. But, ever since last offseason, I’ve been getting the impression that Marcum and the Brewers’ front office don’t get along very well. Otherwise I’d think Marcum would want to stay.

> Minor moves: 

Dodgers: Signed Osvaldo Martinez to a minor league deal.
Phillies: Signed Josh Fields to a minor league deal.

> Remember the “Occupy Marlins Park” poster I showed yesterday? Well, this was the result, apparently. (Picture via @elmaquino)

Hopefully the riot was at least a few more fans than that. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s the entire Marlins fanbase right there.

> That awkward moment when you’re typing “Dempster,” and your computer wants to change it to “Dumpster.”


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