Monthly Archives: December 2015

Appreciating Adam Lind

When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Marco Estrada (a trade I still believe Milwaukee won), the Brewers were hoping for two things:

1. That Lind’s power would come back after a poor showing in 2014

2. That he would provide at the very least average defense at first base

Lind matched those expectations and even soared above them, like Michael Scott’s heart with the eagle’s nest. (If you don’t get this reference, then turn on Netflix and watch The Office.) Lind whopped 20 home runs and posted 5 Defensive Runs Saved, the latter was surprising as most consider Lind a below-average defensive first baseman. The Brewers got exactly what they wanted and more out of the 32 year old, and now, because of his success, Lind is donning a Seattle Mariners uniform.

If nothing else, Lind brought stability to the dire first base situation in Milwaukee. Ever since Prince Fielder jettisoned his talents to Detroit, a revolving door of terrible players have manned first base for the Brewers. These players included Alex Gonzalez, Yuniesky Betancourt and Juan Francisco. Fielder left a void the Brewers were incapable of filling, so instead, they shoved replacement player after replacement player out there hoping for a miracle. And ds a toddler could have predicted, no miracle came. From 2012, the first year in the Post Fielder Era, to 2014, Brewers’ first basemen have been worth -2.4 WAR, the third-lowest mark in Major League Baseball.

So after three years of incompetence, Doug Melvin went out and traded for Lind. In 2015, there was no platoon situation at first base, there was eye rolling because of a colossal failure to make a play (I’m looking at you, Juan Francisco). Finally, the Brewers had their man at first.

Thank you for that, Adam.

Unfortunately, the Brewers are back at square one, and are again without a first baseman. Signing a filler and drafting a high-profile one should definitely be on the to-do list soon.

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Brewers find their center fielder, trade Jason Rogers

David Stearns is staying busy this winter as he continues to reconstruct the Milwaukee Brewers roster. Late Thursday night, the Brewers sent 1B/3B Jason Rogers (0.7 WAR in ’15) to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for CF Keon Broxton and RHP Trey Supak.

To some, this move may come as somewhat of a shocker. The Brewers, now without Adam Lind, are in need of a first baseman, and Rogers was one of the few in-house options to take over that position. That is now no longer an option, which makes me think that another move could be in the works.

Milwaukee has also coveted a center fielder this offseason. Domingo Santana is more suited for a corner outfield position, and neither Ryan Braun or Khris Davis have the defensive skills to play there. Hence trading for Keon Broxton, a player who could make an impact in 2016.

Broxton, an above-average defender who can play all three outfield spots, has the speed to perform well in center while also not being a chum at the plate. In 367 Triple-A plate appearances last season, the 25 year old boasted a .352 on-base percentage and a 126 wRC+. He has some raw power which could translate into him being a doubles machine in the big leagues. He’ll need to work on his pitch selection and plate discipline, however. He struck nearly 30% of the time. Broxton is also a beast on the base paths, snagging 28 stolen bases on 37 attempts.

He’ll most likely provide more value on the defensive side, but nonetheless, Stearns said Broxton has a shot at making the Opening Day roster.

As for Trey Supak, he’s another unknown teenage arm that Stearns seems to be so fond of. Supak is the fourth teenage pitcher the Brewers have acquired this offseason. Supak, 19, has spent two seasons in Rookie Ball and hasn’t exactly impressed so far. He hasn’t shown much strikeout potential, but his command did drastically improve from 2014. Supak has an above-average curveball with a fastball that can reach 94 mph. Former FanGraphs prospect writer Kiley McDaniel ranked Supak as Pittsburgh’s 15th-best prospect entering the 2015 season.

Unlike Broxton, it’ll be years before Supak makes an impact on the major-league team, if ever. But Stearns continues to stockpile young pitching, and like I’ve said before, a team can never have enough pitching depth.

Jason Rogers will have a chance to start at first for the Pirates, who were also in need of a first baseman after non-tendering Pedro Alvarez. Rogers was very good for the Brewers in 2015. His wOBA (.354) and wRC+ (121) were superb for his first real shot at big-league action. But before Pirates’ fans get too excited, he was very much helped by a .360 BABIP, including a .328 BABIP on ground balls. I’ll be very surprised if Rogers can repeat what he accomplished with Milwaukee.

Getting two young players in return for Rogers is an excellent move from a Brewers standpoint. They may have found their 2016 center fielder, and it cost them very little.

 

Brewers trade Adam Lind, get three young, high-ceiling arms

A team can never have enough pitching depth, a thought-process Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns is clearly well-aware of. On Wednesday, Stearns shipped veteran first baseman Adam Lind to the Seattle Mariners in return for three right-handed starting pitchers who are still in their teenage years.

I guess Stearns wasn’t kidding about making the club younger.

The three new Brewers’ pitchers, Daniel Missaki (19), Carlos Herrera (18) and Freddy Peralta (19) have all shown the ability to rack up high-strikeout rates during their limited time in the minors, meaning their ceilings should be considered relatively high. The only thing better than a young hurler who can strike batters out is three young hurlers who can strike batters out.

Stearns had plenty of nice things to say about the newest members of his squad.

“We are excited to add three young starting pitchers, all under 20 years old, to our minor-league system. All three possess quality arms with an advanced feel for the strike zone.”

Stearns also said the opportunity to acquire three teenage pitchers was “unique” while also admitting there is risk.

Missaki, considered the best arm of the three, has made 24 appearances (20 starts), split between Rookie Ball and Single A, as a professional ballplayer. Over 11 starts in Rookie Ball in 2014, he boasted a 2.76 ERA and an equally impressive 3.14 FIP.  But more importantly, he struck out over 26% of hitters faced while only walking 6.8%. His walk rate even improved when he was promoted to Single-A ball this past season.

At 6’0″, Missaki is a bit undersized for a pitcher. He’s also not a blow-it-by-you type of pitcher by any means as his fastball sits 89-91 mph, but he has a solid changeup and curve that he’s able to work in. Does he remind anyone else of Mike Fiers?

Missaki underwent Tommy John surgery this past May, so it might be awhile before we see his arm in action down in the minors next season.

Like Missaki, Carlos Herrera has a fantastic knack for throwing strikes. In his only season as a minor leaguer, Herrera struck out 8.21 batter per nine innings while walking just 1.46 per nine. That turned into a remarkable professional debut season (3.26 ERA and 3.00 FIP). Herrera will enter and finish the 2016 season as an 18 year old, so there’s still plenty of time to grow as a player and improve his pitches.

After an excellent rookie season in the minors in 2013 and a disappointing season in 2014, Freddy Peralta was absolutely dominant this past season. He made 11 appearances (9 starts) and posted a 10.58 K/9 and 1.26 BB/9, equaling a 25.3% K-BB%, which is a great tool to use when projecting a player’s future.

Peralta can get up to 94 MPH, and as former FanGraphs’ prospect writer Kiley McDaniel wrote, has “a clean arm action and delivery with a chance to start.”

To sum up, the Brewers are now in possession of three young and talented arms, and the price for them was relatively low in Adam Lind. At 32 years and expensive, Lind was never going to be a part of Stearns’ vision for the team. Almost everyone in baseball, including Lind, knew he was going to be traded sometime this offseason. The Brewers will, however, miss his ability to get on base and play above-average defense at first.

While I like the talent the Brewers acquired, I was expecting them to land a third baseman, which is still a glaring hole on Milwaukee’s roster. Mariners’ third base prospect D.J. Peterson‘s name was thrown around for a few days leading up to the trade, but Seattle may not have wanted to pay such a high price for a one-year rental.

The Brewers acquired three pitchers who could have bright futures, but we must be aware of the fact that there’s a ton of risk involved. These are, for the most part, unknown and unproven prospects with small sample sizes. But nonetheless, this was a good trade for Milwaukee.