Maybe shopping a starter isn’t such a bad idea.

> A few weeks back, I read an article by Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy regarding the fact that the Brewers were one of the few teams in baseball with five starting pitchers in place. Assuming they’re all with the team by the beginning of Spring Training 2012, they’re pretty much guaranteed the spot in the starting rotation that they had last year.

But it isn’t guaranteed that all of them will be with the team at that point.

The Brewers have had five reliable starters in place since around May of 2011. Any team in baseball would want that luxury. But, the Brewers have the luxury, plus more- a few Major League ready Minor League starting pitchers waiting for their chance.

So my point is the Brewers could shop a starter on the trade market in order to fill a hole that they’re more in need of right now, such as shortstop or late-inning relief. Then, they could replace the starter they traded with one of those prospects (I’ll list a few later).

Here are the Brewers starters and their numbers from 2011:

Yovani Gallardo– 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts in 207 innings (7th place in NL CYA voting)

Zack Greinke– 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 201 strikeouts in 171 2/3 innings

Shaun Marcum– 13-7, 3.54 ERA, 158 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings

Randy Wolf– 13-10, 3.69 ERA, 134 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings

Chris Narveson– 11-8, 4.45 ERA, 126 strikeouts in 161 2/3 innings

Pretty solid numbers for all of them, for the most part. But I’m going to look a little deeper into them.

Despite Gallardo’s good numbers, he was rather inconsistent, especially at the beginning of the year. He settled in as the year went on, but had his occasional “hiccup.” And it happened more often to Gallardo than your typical ace pitcher, such as Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and so on. But, Gallardo’s ERA could probably be nearly half a run lower if it weren’t for a few starts against the Cardinals- the team he has definitely struggled against most in his career.

Greinke missed all of April because of a broken rib that he got while playing a game of pickup basketball (but that’s another story). When he returned from the DL, he obviously wasn’t right, as his ERA by the All-Star break was a whopping 5.66 (despite a 7-3 record, mostly due to good run support). But, Greinke obviously turned around his season, because bringing an ERA down from 5.66 to 3.83 in just 2-3 months is pretty remarkable. The one thing that struck me most about Greinke this year, though, was his inability to eat up innings. During his time with the Royals, he was consistent eight inning/complete game pitcher. But, in his first year with the Brewers, he never pitched beyond 7 2/3 innings. This is probably in part to Ron Roenicke, who appeared to hate complete games. But still, Greinke needs to pitch more innings next year. Hopefully he can do that while maintaining his stellar strikeouts per nine innings ratio and strikeout-to-walk ratio, both of which were among the top pitchers in the NL.

I know Marcum is still probably getting hate from his September/postseason meltdown, but I’m guessing this is the reason it happened. He was in uncharted waters, as he pitched over 200 innings for the first time in his career (although this was the same case that Gallardo had, and it didn’t seem to affect him very much). But, up until September, Marcum was probably the Brewers’ most consistent starter. He just needs to clear his mind over the offseason and come back next year with those two awful months behind him.

Wolf was pretty consistent all year, and led Brewers starters in innings pitched. And that’s his role- to be an innings-eater at the back-end of the rotation. He needs to do the exact same thing next year (assuming he’s still with the Brewers).

Narveson had the worst ERA of all of the Brewers’ starters, but that was mainly because of his injury-plagued late August and September. He was also moved in and out of the starting rotation and bullpen during that time, which obviously didn’t help, shown by his 5.48 ERA in September. But, ever since Narveson moved into the rotation in early 2010, I’ve done nothing but defend him as a starter. He’s already 29, but I think he still has time to evolve into a solid starter who can have an ERA around 3.90 or 3.80. In order to this, though, I think he needs a fourth pitch. Right now, he has a fastball (it appears to be a two-seamer), a change-up, and a big curveball (similar to Wolf’s, but not as slow). It’s also said that he has a cutter, but, if he does, he might as well drop it- it doesn’t look like it cuts very much. If Narveson adds a slider or slurve type pitch in place of that, I think that will make him a more complete pitcher.

That’s my opinion on all of the starters. I know that drove me a bit off topic, but it all leads me up to my main point- who, if I had to chose, would I want to be traded. And, I’d have to go with Wolf. I have nothing against him, and I think he serves a valuable role to the Brewers. But, he only has one year left on his contract (plus an option, but I don’t if the Brewers will pick it up). Gallardo is signed for a few more years, Greinke and Marcum will probably be extended, and Narveson can easily be brought back at a low price. So that’s my logic on why Wolf will is the most probable to be traded of them. (Plus, he could attract good players in return from other teams.)

I said earlier that I was going to list a few possible Minor League starters who I think could be Major League-ready, so here they are:

Wily PeraltaHe’s just 23, but has been putting up good numbers in the Minors for awhile now. I saw him pitch in Spring Training last year, and he appeared pretty erratic (as far as command goes) when facing Major League hitters, but I think he’s probably ready by now.

Amaury RivasA change-up specialist who has been Major League-ready for awhile now, but hasn’t gotten the chance yet. If Wolf (or another starter) would be traded, he would be a strong possibility to fill that last spot.

Mark RogersRogers’ situation is kind of complicated. He’s been injury-plagued ever since he was drafted, and injuries again prevented him from having a shot at playing for the Brewers in 2011. He was also suspended towards the end of this season for using performance-enhancing drugs, but he said it was to try and get around his injuries, and I have a feeling that won’t affect him in the long run. Anyway, if he’s finally healthy in 2012, he’d have a pretty good shot at making the team.

There are a few more pitchers I had in mind, such as Tyler Thornburg and Cody Scarpetta, but, after re-thinking it, I don’t know if they’re ready yet. But it won’t be long.

Anyway, odds are that Wolf (or another starter) won’t be traded, yet it remains a possibility. Just tossing around ideas as the slow offseason continues…

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