Tag Archives: Jonathan Broxton

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.

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Why teams should be interested in trading for Jonathan Broxton

From 2006 to 2010, Jonathan Broxton was a helluva relief pitcher. During those five seasons, the big right-hander accumulated 9.2 Wins Above Replacement, leaving only Mariano Rivera (11.0) and Jonathan Papelbon (10.8) as more efficient relievers.

Broxton was considered one of the best relievers in baseball, but in the years that followed, his fastball velocity dropped along with his effectiveness. Since 2011, his last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Broxton’s WAR (1.1) is more reminiscent of a replacement player. His strikeouts dwindled, he allowed too many home runs and, as a result, his FIP was nowhere close to where it used be during his prime years. Oh, and his ERA suffered too.

The Milwaukee Brewers have no need for an aging closer, not when they’re about to start the rebuilding process. Therefore, the Brewers would love to get rid of him and his $9 million contract, but Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says there’s a good chance Milwaukee won’t be able to move him.

Broxton figured to be difficult to trade because of his $9 million salary and no-trade protection in his contract. Toss in an ugly season (7.16 ERA in 30 outings) and Melvin likely has heard mostly crickets when bringing up his name.

Yes, Broxton hasn’t been a half-way decent reliever in 2015, so much so that manager Craig Counsell removed him from the eighth-inning role (which is a ridiculous role, but I’ll save that rant for another time). If you look at Broxton’s old-school numbers since he joined the Brewers midway through the 2014 season, you could probably say he should be put in a long relief position instead of one that pitches in primarily high-leverage situations. He posted a 4.35 ERA in 11 appearances last year, and has been hit for a 6.91 ERA so far in 2015. In terms of WAR (-0.1), he’s actually been less valuable than a replacement player.

But we don’t care about old-school stats at this site, do we? Instead, we like looking at stats that paint a clearer picture of a player’s performance. So. Let’s do that.

The difference between Broxton’s ERA and FIP is enormous. In fact, the difference (6.91-4.20=2.71) is Major League Baseball’s fifth-largest contrast among relievers who have pitched at least 20 innings. In other words, he’s a lot better than what is Earned Run Average claims. Probably because he’s been a victim of some pretty horrible luck. For his career, Broxton has allowed a .306 batting average on balls in play, which is very close to the norm seeing as how about 30% of all balls put in play fall for hits. But this year, Broxton is allowing a grand .378 BABIP, the highest since his rookie campaign. There’s a good chance that high number won’t be sustainable for the entirety of the season, meaning it’s safe to say Broxton’s numbers will start to get better.

In fact, almost every peripheral stat that we have at our disposal say that Broxton will have a plethora of more success as the season goes on.

ERA FIP xFIP SIERA cFIP
6.91 4.20 3.10 2.96 92

Broxton’s FIP isn’t great, but not nearly as bad as his ERA. His xFIP is fantastic. His SIERA, which is a good predictor for future performance, is below 3.00. His cFIP, which I haven’t cited before on this website, is above average.

In case you are unfamiliar with the relatively new cFIP, I’ll let the creator of the metric, Jonathan Judge, explain it to you. Below is a brief synopsis of what the stat accomplishes, but if you want the full explanation, go here.

cFIP has multiple advantages: (1) it is more predictive than other pitcher estimators, especially in smaller samples; (2) it is calculated on a batter-faced basis, rather than innings pitched; (3) it is park-, league-, and opposition-adjusted; and (4) in a particularly important development, cFIP is equally accurate as a descriptive and predictive statistic.

The last characteristic makes cFIP something we have not seen before: a true pitcher quality estimator that actually approximates the pitcher’s current ability.

We are always looking for statistics that can accurately predict a pitcher’s future performance, and cFIP does it admirably. Any cFIP under 100 is considered above average, and Broxton has a 92 cFIP. According to this metric, Broxton should be an above-average reliever going forward in 2015. He’s striking out almost 24% of batters, his highest rate since 2010, and his walk percentage is the lowest of his career. There’s no way his ERA should be pushing 7.

The above is why teams in need of relief help should target Broxton. He’s better than how he’s pitched, and the concern over his declining fastball should be moot. His fastball velocity is averaging 94.3 mph, up from 93.4 in 2014. Broxton has, however, seemed more susceptible to giving up home runs, though. His 20.8 HR/FB% is definitely concerning, but a change of venue to a stadium more pitcher-friendly than Miller Park could be the answer. Either way, I don’t see that percentage rising anymore. If the season ended today, Broxton’s HR/FB% would be the 14th-highest mark in baseball since the stat began to be tracked.

The money situation is still an issue, but I’m sure the Brewers would be more than happy to pay their fair share of his remaining contract. Milwaukee needs to get as much money off the books as possible. The Brewers won’t get much in return for Broxton, that much is certain, but anything they can get should be viewed as a win.

Broxton is not the dominant reliever he once was, but he can still help a contending team in need of a solid reliever. Hopefully, Doug Melvin hears more than just crickets when he brings Broxton’s name up to teams.

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.