Tag Archives: Aramis Ramirez

Who are the Brewers getting in Yhonathan Barrios?

And the Milwaukee Brewers rebuild has begun.

On Thursday, the Brewers sent third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Yhonathan Barrios. The Pirates are also taking on $3 million of Ramirez’s remaining $5.74 million contract.

Trading Ramirez was basically a given for Milwaukee. They needed to shed some money off his large contract, and since he’s retiring at the end of the season, there was no reason to keep him in a Brewers’ uniform. The Pirates, who were in desperate need of a third baseman with injuries to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, was an ideal fit for both Pittsburgh and Ramirez. Ramirez gets to go back to the team he began his career with and has a legitimate chance of making the postseason. Good for him.

But who are the Brewers getting in Yhonathan Barrios?

Barrios is a 23-year-old reliever who stands at an undersized 5’11”. He originally started out as an infielder out of Colombia, but since his bat never found its groove, the Pirates shifted him to the bullpen. The results have been a little better, but nothing too noteworthy.

The (minimal) excitement that surrounds Barrios is his action fastball. It sits in the 94-98 mph range and can hit 100 mph. He also throws a changeup to offset his power pitch, with a slider mixed in there as well.

Barrios’ stats (1.46 ERA and 3.89 FIP) in Double-A were good enough to earn him a promotion to Triple-A this season, but he was helped tremendously by a low batting average on balls in play of only .211. His luck has changed since the promotion, and as a result, so has his numbers. In 15.2 innings out of the Triple-A bullpen, Barrios has a 4.50 ERA with 3.56 FIP. His ERA got worse but his FIP, which tells a better story than ERA, improved. That’s due to a small uptick in strikeouts and the fact he hasn’t given up a home run yet.

When Barrios started out in Pittsburgh’s minor league system, he threw like a strikeout pitcher. In 2013, he struck out 23.8% of batters in 11 innings in Rookie Ball before moving to A ball a season later. He was just as effective at getting the K there (20.7 K%). But once Barrios was promoted to High-A, the strikeouts suddenly dropped, and they have yet to re-emerge in Double-A or Triple-A. Combining his numbers from AA and AAA, Barrios has set down just 12.3% of batters via the strike out. Walks are also a huge problem for the young righty. His walk rate was over 11% in Triple-A before the Brewers made the trade.

Barrios is a guy who doesn’s strike out batters and walks too many of them. Why would the Brewers want someone like him? It’s simple, really. Barrios is the type of player a team gets in return when it ships off an old hitter with just two more months left of his career. He didn’t make any notable top prospect lists and barely squeezed in on FanGraphs’ top 31 Pirates’ prospect list. Not many think that highly of him.

If anything, Barrios is a lottery ticket. And because he’s a lottery ticket, Brewers’ fans should be excited. Buying lottery tickets is fun! With his fastball speed and movement, he has upside as a future reliever/closer. But if you’re expecting him to transform into a starter, well, that’s just not going to happen.

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Predicting who gets traded and who stays

We are now at the All-Star break, and for teams sitting at the bottom of the standings, like the Milwaukee Brewers are, it’s a welcome furlough. The four-days off is also usually the beginning of trade season, as teams are either getting ready to stack up for a postseason run or start shedding veterans in order to ignite the rebuilding process. In case you don’t know anything about anything, the Brewers will be doing the latter. At 38-52, they have the second-worst record in Major League Baseball. They are officially sellers.

Milwaukee is currently in possession of a handful of players who contending teams should be calling about. They have veterans with expiring contracts, but they also have players who are on the cusp of their primes, making them extremely coveted.

The Brewers won’t trade their entire roster (even though I’m not against the idea), but it’s safe to say they’ll be sending a few players out of the city known for its beer. So let’s make some predictions.

Players who will get traded

OF Gerardo Parra – Numerous teams are in need of outfield depth (see Kansas City), and with the way Parra has performed offensively, his name is one of the hottest on the block. Of outfielders with at least 300 plate appearances, he has the 13th-highest wRC+, not to mention his on-base percentage of .344 would be his best mark since 2011. Parra is as good as gone.

SP Kyle Lohse – I know his ERA and everything else you can possibly look at is downright terrible, but I still have this feeling that a team is going to take a flyer on him, for the right price, of course. The Brewers won’t get much back and they’ll probably to have pay some of his remaining salary, but with Lohse being a free agent after the season, why wouldn’t a team in need of a back-end starter go after him?

3B Aramis Ramirez – Every team needs hitting and Ramirez can still provide that at 37 years old. He’s a notorious slow starter and this season was definitely no exception. His numbers are finally beginning to improve, however. After producing a .272 wOBA in June, he crushed the ball in July and finished the month with a .366 wOBA. He, like Lohse, is in the last year of his contract (and career). He’s a rental who a team will trade for.

1B Adam Lind – He’s been the best player on the Brewers in 2015 and is probably the best hitter on the market. He’s already put up 2.1 WAR while creating an impressive 43% more runs than league average. Lind could bring back a fairly decent haul, especially compared to the other guys I listed above. If a team is looking for a high OBP player who hits home runs, Lind is the man for the job.

RP Francisco Rodriguez – I’ll admit I was wrong about Rodriguez. I thought he would be equally as bad as he was in 2014, but as it turns out, he’s been lights-out. His strikeout rate (30.8%) is back in line with his career norms and he’s no longer getting bit by home runs. He would be a very valuable add to a bullpen in need of a high-leverage reliever. The only thing stopping a team for making a play for him is his big contract. He’s owed $7.5 million in 2016 with a $6 million club option in ’17 ($2 million buyout). That’s a lot of money for a closer who’s been up and down in the past few seasons. Still, I think the Brewers will trade him yet again, but this time, there will be no reunion between the two.

Players who won’t get traded

OF Carlos Gomez – The Brewers should trade him, but I think they’ll wait another year. They need to be able to sell tickets in 2016, in spite of the talent-less roster they’re sure to put together, and people will pay to see Gomez. I feel like that is a terrible reason not to trade someone, especially since his value now is higher than it will be next year, but it’s what the Brewers will presumably do.

C Jonathan Lucroy – Lucroy’s going to stay in Milwaukee as well. The Brewers will have to be unbelievably blown away in order to trade a great catcher with a team-friendly contract like Lucroy. I think Lucroy will be involved in a mid-season trade next season, but not this one.

RP Jonathan Broxton – Making the playoffs and doing well once you’re there is nearly impossible without a quality bullpen. Basically everyone is looking for bullpen depth. By old-school numbers Broxton has been less than quality in 2015, which is why I don’t see him being moved. The Brewers would get next to nothing in return for him. so maybe their mindset is, why bother?

SS Jean Segura – I struggled with Segura. I can easily see him being traded, seeing as how Orlando Arcia is coming for his job. But which team is going to give up what the Brewers demand for him? That’s the big question here. Segura is a young and defensively talented shortstop who hasn’t hit much to date. What’s he really worth? Because that’s unknown, I think Segura stays put.

Grade the game (June 29, 2015)

This is the inaugural article of “Grade the Game.” After each (most, at least) game, I’ll write a short but of course exciting recap of said game. Then, you the reader, will have the opportunity to give the Brewers a grade based on their performance. Simple enough, right?

Jimmy Nelson (4.34 ERA/4.33 FIP/) took on the Phillies’ Sean O’Sullivan (5.34 ERA/6.28 FIP) in a battle of Major League Baseball’s worst teams. Nelson lasted just five innings (77 pitches), giving up four runs on six hits. He struck out three and walked two. O’Sullivan gave up a whopping 12 hits and six earned runs. The Brewers somehow racked up 16 hits on their way to a 7-4 victory. Adam Lind (133 wRC+) drove in two runs, Jonathan Lucroy had four hits and Cesar Hernandez (.325 wOBA) collected two hits for the Phillies. Oh, and Hernan Perez continued his hot streak at the plate. Some sloppy defense from Milwaukee led to two Phillies runs in the first inning.

The play that made the game worth watching: A first-pitch two-RBI double by pinch hitter Aramis Ramirez to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead. The Brewers never looked back.

My grade: B

The defense wasn’t stellar and neither was Nelson. But the offense did everything it could with closer to 30 hits than 0.

Who are the Brewers getting in Matt Dominguez?

The Milwaukee Brewers nabbed Aramis Ramirez‘s replacement Tuesday as they acquired former Houston Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez off waivers. Dominguez was outrighted to Triple-A, but odds are, he’ll be on Milwaukee’s 25-man roster before long.

But who is Matt Dominguez?

Dominguez, 25, was the 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Florida Marlins; however, he never lived up to his billing. Over 357 major-league games and 1357 plate appearances, Dominguez owns a .285 wOBA and a 78 wRC+. His on-base percentage also sits below the .300 mark. He’s suffered from an unusually low BABIP throughout his short career and doesn’t walk (2.1 BB% in AAA this season). The only positive offensive aspect of his game going for Dominguez is his power. He has 42 career home runs and an isolated power of .141, including a .162 ISO in 2013.

There was, at one point, a rumor of Dominguez signing a five-year extension with Houston, but obviously that never came to fruition. To get a better picture of how far he’s fallen, Dominguez has spent the entire season in the minors where he’s been — surprise — a below-average hitter.

Dominguez is actually OK at third base. In 2013, he saved eight defensive runs above average, which was almost worth one win. His defense wasn’t nearly as dominant the following season, but the evidence is there that he can be at least solid.

This signing was a no-brainer for the Brewers. Ramirez will most likely be gone at some point this season, but for certain in 2016 when he retires. There are signs that Dominguez could still turn his career around. If you look at his batted ball velocity, you can see that he hits the ball with a good deal of velocity more often than not. Dominguez has a career 53.3 Med% (percentage of balls in play that were classified as hit with medium speed). While that still isn’t considered great and his hard-hit rate isn’t anything special either, it’s better than hitting the ball softly.

Dominguez is a low-risk/high-reward player, and someone who will fill in while Milwaukee rebuilds their brand.

Constructing the best possible Brewers’ batting order

Not many baseball teams, if any, construct their lineup correctly.

Well, correctly as deemed by Tom Tango, Mitchel G. Litchman and Andrew Dolphin of the statistical bible “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball”. If you want to learn things like run expectancy, leveraging relievers, platoon splits and, wait for it, building a batting order, then this is the book for you. It is so insightful and eye-opening that it should be on every GM’s desk. Did you hear that, Doug? Read it.

But enough advocacy (I promise my endorsement was not compensated in any way). Based on “The Book”, I’m going to attempt to build the Milwaukee Brewers’ batting order that will produce the absolute most runs down to the smallest decimal point. Instead of essentially rewriting “The Book” to explain why my batting order looks the way it does, I’m going to provide you with a couple of snippets from it. That way, I won’t be sued for plagiarism, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Let’s begin.

The Book Says: Your best three hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality.

According to this, there’s no way in K-Rod’s leg kick Ryan Braun should be batting in the three-hole as he is clearly one of the Brewers’ top three hitters (best, probably). And this makes sense. Hitters in the one, two and four spots have higher run values over the three spot when it comes to singles, doubles and triples (home runs come out about even). For example, when you modify run values by plate appearances, if a two-hole hitter hits a double, it’s worth .799 runs versus .779 runs it’d be worth from a three-hole hitter. The difference is microscopic, but hey, I want the best possible lineup.

I now have to decide who the best three hitters on the Brewers are and put them in slots #1, #2 and #4 in order to utilize my lineup most effectively. I want my first two hitters to be capable of drawing walks. Therefore, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez will take the top two spots, with Braun coming in at the cleanup position. Lucroy (10.1 BB%) and Gomez (7.3 BB%) walked the most among the Brewers last year, and since home runs are worth the highest run total from the cleanup spot, Braun is the clear candidate there (his home run totals should rebound in ’15).

You may be wondering why I decided to bat Lucroy ahead of Gomez. It’s simple, really. Lucroy walks more and strikes out at a lesser rate.

But who are the Brewers fourth- and fifth-best hitters? I’m going with Aramis Ramirez and Adam Lind. Compared to the rest of Milwaukee’s lineup, they’re light years ahead in terms of offense. They can both hit for power and put up respectable averages. I’ll decide where to put them in my order after we talk more about what “The Book” has to say.

The Book Says: Worry about the strikeout only if you have the opportunity to use a pinch hitter or reliever. Don’t consider the strikeout, or the ability of the hitter to move runners over on outs, when constructing your starting lineup.

I shouldn’t care if Gomez strikes out a ton, so him hitting in the two slot is okay. At the very least, he’ll stay out of the double play. Speaking of which:

The Book Says: The propensity to ground into, or avoid, double plays is an important consideration for players at the extreme double play levels. It is also an important consideration for leadoff hitters in the NL.

The three-hole hitter comes to the plate a lot more with two outs than the five-hole hitter, meaning he has a smaller chance of grounding into two outs. Lind grounded into eight double plays in 2014, and 20 the year before that, but, luckily, 2013 was an extreme and that number should shrink. The last three years prior to that, he averaged 10.6 double plays. In comparison, Ramirez grounded into 18 double plays in 2014, and with his age climbing the staircase and concurrent leg problems, he should post a number similar to that. Since Ramirez has a knack for double plays, the three spot is best suited for him, with Lind following Braun in the five spot.

Since I’ve determined hitters one through five, that only leaves Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett and the pitcher, and “The Book” tells me to put them in descending order of quality. While doing that, I also want to split up the lefty (Gennett) and put Davis behind Ramirez to reinforce the power.

Now comes the Tony La Russa part.

The Book Says: The second leadoff hitter theory exists. You can put your pitcher in the eighth slot and gain a couple of extra runs a year.

Segura has an insurmountable ground ball rate (59.6%), and with a player like Gennett who hits a lot of singles, it would be foolish to place Segura behind him. A pitcher is more likely to strikeout, and one out is always better than two. Therefore, the pitcher should bat eighth and Segura will assume the role of the second leadoff hitter.

Here’s the finished product.

 

1. Jonathan Lucroy

2. Carlos Gomez

3. Aramis Ramirez

4. Ryan Braun

5. Adam Lind

6. Khris Davis

7. Scooter Gennett

8. Pitcher

9. Jean Segura

 

This will not be what the Brewers’ lineup looks like next season, probably at any point. I’m saying this without any prior knowledge, but it wouldn’t be a bombshell if Ron Roenicke has never heard of “The Book”. He’s more of an old-school guy and shies away from the analytics, except for when it comes to moving his infielders all over the place.

And although there’s not a butterfly’s wings chance of this batting order being written on the lineup card come the season, this lineup would most likely score more runs than any other combination.

Is Aramis Ramirez’s power gone?

Aramis Ramirez, who will turn 37 in June, will make $14 million in 2015. Aramis Ramirez, whose isolated power has dropped each of the last three years, will make $14 million in 2015. Aramis Ramirez, who has missed a combined 99 games since 2012, will make $14 million in 2015.

Think about those statements before you continue reading.

Now, this isn’t a post about how the Milwaukee Brewers are overpaying Ramirez. I already sang that song about Yovani Gallardo, and I don’t like repeating myself (just ask my girlfriend). I just wanted you, the reader, to know that Ramirez is making that much money at that age even though his power has disappeared.

Instead of the usual table I present to get my point across, here’s a bar graph.

isolated

Clearly, his ability to hit for extra base hits is dissipating with age. But what about his home runs? Here comes another table.

Year Games HR
2012 149 27
2013 92 12
2014 133 15

Even though Ramirez played 41 more games in 2014 than 2013, he only managed to hit three additional dingers. A reason for Ramirez’s lack of power in 2014 was his uncharacteristic poor patience at the plate. He whiffed at his highest rate since 2003 and swung at 39.5% of pitches outside of the strike zone (his career O-Swing% is 29.7%). By swinging at non-strikes, Ramirez put himself in a hole and therefore, struggled to produce. He only manufactured nine percent more runs (109 wRC+) than league average; not exactly what you expect from a cleanup hitter.

So, what can we expect from him next year? Steamer projection system is anticipating Ramirez will hit 17 home runs and have an ISO of .164 in 122 games. But I must say, if he’s only going to be playing in 122 games, there’s no way he’s going to hit north of 15 homers.

I’ll be running out my own projections when spring training comes around, but I’ll take a swing at Ramirez’s now. If he’s able to play 130+ games (which is doubtful at his age), I think he’ll hit 15 home runs and post a .330 wOBA, 110 wRC+ and .155 ISO. His days of hitting 20+ home runs are over, especially if he keeps chasing pitches.

This may be Ramirez’s last year as a professional baseball player and is surely his last year in Milwaukee. Here’s to hoping he exceeds expectations, but don’t put any money on it.