Category Archives: Offseason

Offseason questions surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers

During the 2015-16 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors won 73 games, a number later matched by the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers, which is admittedly more than most people projected. Granted, Counsell’s Crew lost 89 games, but there’s very little credibility to the people who say that this was a lost season. It’s just not true.

Year one of the Milwaukee’s rebuilding plan has come to an end, and there’s probably at least three more seasons of inadequacy still to come. That means there are questions the Brewers need to address, particularly during this offseason.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Will Scooter Gennett be on the Opening Day roster in 2017?

Gennett followed his replacement-level season in 2015 with another forgettable campaign in 2016. His 0.1 WAR was the fifth-worst in Major League Baseball, and although he hit a career-high 14 home runs, he struck out 21% of the time and the worst defensive season of his major league life.

With Orlando Arcia now a mainstay at shortstop, the Brewers may move Jonathan Villar — who struggled at third base — to second, effectively ending Gennet’s time as a Brewer. On the other hand, the Brewers may choose to live with Villar’s incompetence in the hot corner for the time being, seeing as how they really have no other viable option.

 

Will Ryan Braun be traded this winter?

Rumor has it that the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers were extremely close to pulling off a trade that sent Braun to L.A. and Yasiel Puig to Milwaukee. Apparently time ran out and the trade deadline hit, so no agreement was ever reached. The popular thought is, though, that the two teams will engage in discussions again in the winter.

Braun’s contract is a problem for most teams, but for a club like the Dodgers, money is no issue. Braun is coming off a tremendous offensive season (133 wRC+) and proved he’s still one of the game’s top hitters. The Brewers may have no need for him anymore. They’re rebuilding and by the time they’re ready to compete, Braun will be way passed his prime.

Milwaukee absolutely needs to trade him, and they need to do it this winter. But will they?

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Garin Cecchini is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Brewers

When a team is in the midst of a rebuild, as the Milwaukee Brewers are, acquiring talent at a low price is a must, especially when said team is strapped for cash. I mean, let’s face it, the Brewers aren’t the Dodgers. They don’t have money to just give away. Instead, they are forced to find cheap talent and take fliers on thus far underachieving players. Rebuilding teams’ goal is to find that hidden gem, that player who teams have given up on, the player with hidden value.

A player just like Garin Cecchini.

Cecchini was once one of Boston’s most-prized prospects. Before the 2014 season, he was ranked the 74th prospect in all of baseball. With strong on-base skills and solid defense at third base, many in Boston were excited about this young kid. But after a 2015 season in Triple-A, a season in which Cecchini was absolutely atrocious, the Red Sox quickly threw in the towel and traded him the Brewers for cash considerations. That’s right. Cash considerations. A former top prospect being moved for cash. What a world we live in.

According to the depth chart on the Brewers’ website, Jonathan Villar is currently the club’s starter at third base. I highly doubt that will be the case come Opening Day. To me, only Cecchini and Will Middlebrooks — also a former Red Sox — have a real shot at the starter’s job. With Middlebrooks, however, we know what we’re going to get from him; marginal defense with a very low OBP. He’s more of a depth player than anything else at this point in his career. Cecchini can be more than that, though.

Cecchini will be 25 just a few weeks after the 2016 season starts, which means he’s still relatively young among baseball standards. And if you forget his year last season, he’s been a damn good minor-league baseball player. His biggest skill set is being able to get on base, something he’s done at a .340 mark or higher in every year of his minor-league career (excluding 2015). That includes a .420 OBP in 295 plate appearances in Double-A. The dude clearly knows how to get on base. Once he’s on base, he can steal a few bags, too, He stole 51 bases in Single-A in 2012.

He has almost no power, which is odd for a third baseman. Usually the hot corner requires somewhat of a home run threat. But the fact that he’s a left-handed hitter surely helps him as Milwaukee’s roster has a plethora of righties. Cechinni also won’t kill you defensively. He’s no gold glove, but he can get the job done. He’ll surely be better than Juan Francisco.

The main reason I’m not concerned about Cechinni’s lackluster performance in 2015 is because he actually decreased his K rate. Plus, while his BB% did drop, it wasn’t overly significant. Last year Cecchini was plagued by an abnormally low BABIP, and his stats suffered because of it. I don’t see that happening again.

By no means do I think Cechinni will be the next star in Milwaukee, but he has a chance to redeem himself and his career and become a good player. The Brewers have nothing at all to lose by acquiring him while they have everything to gain. There’s no risk involved here. Moves like this are exactly what GM David Stearns needs to continue doing. This is what rebuilding is.

To quote 50 Cent, Garin Cecchini could be “the diamond in the dirt that ain’t been found.”

K-Rod’s back, tell a friend

I’ve complimented the Milwaukee Brewers numerous times for what they’ve accomplished this offseason. I praised them when they acquired Adam Lind, and I gave them a standing ovation when they unloaded Yovani Gallardo. Despite what many “experts” have written, the Brewers have had a terrific winter…up until now.

After weeks of negotiating, Francisco Rodriguez and the Brewers agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract, a move that just doesn’t make much sense, fiscally or otherwise.

But before I get into why the Brewers didn’t use their best judgment in signing Rodriguez, let me say that inking him was a better alternative that acquiring Jonathan Papelbon. And for what it’s worth, most of you agree with that statement.

This will be Rodriguez’s fourth stint in Milwaukee, and he has continuously fallen off in terms of WAR. He posted a career-low WAR (-0.6) and FIP (4.50), and gave up 14 home runs in 2014. Yet and still, he’s slated to remove Jonathan Broxton from the closer’s role and take over, which is something I don’t understand. Rodriguez and Broxton are similar pitchers and have aged in the same way as well, even though Rodriguez is three years older. They’ve both lost velocity on their fastballs and have seen their strikeout rates take a dip over the last couple of seasons. Milwaukee now has two former lights-out closers who are past their primes. Yay.

The biggest issue I have with with this acquisition is the cost of it. Paying $13 million over two years for a barely above-average 33-year-old closer is like paying $50 for a leftover steak. You’re overpaying for mediocrity. And it’s especially bad when there’s already another perfectly fine steak on your plate.

Adding Rodriguez to the bullpen doesn’t make the Brewers any better in 2015, and certainly won’t make them better in ’16. If anything, it ties them up a little financially, which is sad, considering all the money that’ll be coming off the books.

Up until this point, the Brewers played the offseason perfectly. I didn’t have a problem with anything they did. But signing Rodriguez is a mistake and a move that doesn’t add any value to the team.

 

Brewers should try for Nick Punto

Nick Punto is entering his age-37 season and his coming off an abysmal season at the plate, so it was really no surprise the Oakland Athletics released him today.

But one team’s trash is another team’s treasure, and that’s what Punto could be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers greatly need to improve their bench, with the departures of Rickie Weeks and Lyle Overbay devastating it, and incumbents Elian Herrera and Logan Schafer providing little value.

Punto and Herrera are similar in that they both are utility men who can play any infield position (with the exception of first base). Punto, however, is the superior defender and has the better bat despite being on the brink of retirement. Steamer is projecting Punto to be worth 0.3 WAR in 2015, while Herrera is projected at -0.1. Even at 37, Punto has more upside than the soon-to-be 30 Herrera. That’s got to tell you something.

Furthermore, both of the players are switch hitters, but while Herrera is best from the left side of the plate, Punto’s advantage comes from the opposite side. And with Scooter Gennett in need of a platoon partner, Punto has the upper hand over Herrera.

Punto isn’t going to hit much, and we should all be aware of that by now. He’s only accumulated four seasons in which he posted a wOBA higher than .300, and has only been above league average in terms of runs created once. But Milwaukee doesn’t need him to be an offensive superstar. They need a sound defender who can start during the rare times the team faces a lefty and who can maybe draw a couple of walks (11.2 BB% in ’14). Punto would also serve as a reliable fill-in if Gennett or Jean Segura would go down with injury.

The most important thing to remember is that Punto will surely be better than Herrera next season. For that reason alone, the Brewers should have interest.