2017-01-21T12:00:01-06:00Neftali Feliz is the newest member of the Brewers. We discuss that and more in today’s What We Learned. Brewers News and Notes Links from BCB Milwaukee Brewers’ signing of Neftali Feliz becomes official | Jaymes L, BCB After a few days of speculation, the Brewers signing of Neftali Feliz was finally made official with an announcement yesterday. Milwaukee Brewers reportedly expressed interest in Michael Saunders | Jaymes L, BCB While Michael Saunders has signed with the Phillies, rumor is that the Brewers were interested in signing the outfielder. Lewis Brinson tops Brewers prospect list from Minor League Ball | Jaymes L, BCB Minor League Ball came out with their top 20 prospect list earlier this week, and Lewis Brinson leads the list from John Sickels. Josh Hader is Ranked as Baseball’s #1 Left-Handed Pitching Prospect by MLB Pipeline | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB MLB Pipeline has been breaking down the prospects position-by-position, and Josh Hader comes in at #1 among left-handed pitchers. Brew Crew Ball Community Top Prospects List #1-10 | Kyle Lesniewski, BCBBrew Crew Ball Community Top Prospects Vote #11 | Kyle Lesniewski, BCBBrew Crew Ball Community Top Prospects Vote #12 | Kyle Lesniewski, BCBBrew Crew Ball Community Top Prospects Vote #13 | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB The top prospect list continues to build, as the top 10 is now complete and we move on to the next 10. Currently, voting is open for #13. Milwaukee Brewers Announce “On Deck” Attendees | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB The full roster of players attending the upcoming On Deck event has been announced, The Thursday Thinker: The young generation | -JP-, BCB It’s a new generation taking over the roster, with 22 of 39 players born in or after 1990. How many of them can you name? Meme of the Year Nominations | Yar Nivek, BCB FanPost Over in the FanPosts, Yar Nivek is taking nominations for the top meme from 2016. One More Closer Candidate | Jack Stern, BCB FanPost While Neftali Feliz may be the lead candidate for the closer role now, there’s another internal candidate that should be considered. Links from Other Sites Neftali Feliz's new one-year deal with the Brewers is a win-win | Mark Townsend, Big League Stew The signing of Neftali Feliz is a good move for both sides, as Feliz can get the chance to close again, and the Brewers get some value for their bullpen on a low-risk deal. Brewers Announce Complete 2017 Regular Season Schedule | Caitlin Moyer, Cait Covers the Bases The full schedule for the Brewers has been announced, with game times for home and road games added to the schedule. Youth Movement on Hold | Dylan Svoboda, BP Milwaukee While Matt Garza is taking a space up in the rotation for now, he still could have value to the team if he can put together a good 2017. Fun With Platoons | Nicholas Zettel, BP Milwaukee With the Brewers positional flexibility, there are many different lineups that the Brewers could put out based on the starting position, location, resting players, and more. Eric Thames and Defensive Value | Sean Roberts, BP Milwaukee There’s not much we can get from Eric Thames’ time in Korea, but there are some comparisons that can be made. A chance to take a break from baseball...or not | Kyle Lobner, TimberRattlers.com While some players choose to use the offseason to rest, others are active year-round, playing in fall and winter leagues. Opening Day Ticket Opportunity Begins at Noon | Caitlin Moyer, Cait Covers the Bases The yearly opportunity to buy Opening Day tickets is now open, and details are available for how to register for this opportunity. Coop, 3 it is! Bagwell, Raines, Pudge elected to HOF | Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com Three players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Rainers, and Ivan Rodriguez. Meanwhile, former Brewer Trevor Hoffman barely missed making the Hall of Fame. Improving Front Office Diversity | Seth Victor, BP Milwaukee While diversity in the front office is important, it’s not as simple as hiring more minorities. The issue goes much deeper than that. Even more M[...]
The Brewers’ new closer may not have been their first choice.
The Milwaukee Brewers checked the last major item off of their offseason To-Do list earlier this week when they announced the signing of Neftali Feliz. He will presumably slide into the closer’s role that was vacated when Tyler Thornburg was dealt to the Red Sox during December’s Winter Meetings and help fortify a young bullpen. According to a couple of recent reports, however, it appears that Feliz may not have been Slingin’ David Stearns’ first choice to pitch the 9th inning in 2017.
The Oakland Athletics officially announced the signing of Santiago Casilla to a two-year deal yesterday, and during a conference call with reporters Casilla indicated that the Brewers also made him a contract offer. Casilla also told reporters that he chose the A’s in large part because of his familiarity with the organization, who signed him as an international free agent back in 2000 and with whom he played the first 10 years of his professional career, including parts of six seasons in the big leagues.
Casilla’s deal with the A’s was first reported back on January 11th, three days before the initial dispatches of Feliz coming to Milwaukee, so it’s likely that the Brewers pivoted from negotiating with Casilla once it became clear he was heading to the Golden State. David Stearns told reporters that all talks with Feliz were for a one-year deal, so it’s plausible that they were employing the same strategy while trying to broker an agreement with Casilla. Ultimately, Oakland’s willingness to go to two years may have been what swayed Santiago to sign there rather than come to the Cream City.
Casilla was my personal favorite free agent closer candidate for the Brewers this winter, so it’s a bit disappointing to see that the club was interested but couldn’t hash out deal. As things stand now in the Brewers’ bullpen, Feliz is the presumptive closer with Corey Knebel, Jacob Barnes, and Carlos Torres standing out as candidates to handle the rest of the high-leverage innings. That leaves just a few spots left for guys like Tyler Cravy, Mike Blazek, Jhan Marinez, Tommy Milone, Rob Scahill, Jorge Lopez, and Brent Suter as well as non-roster invitees like Yhonathan Barrios, Forrest Snow, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Oliver, and Ryan Webb to compete for this spring.
2017-01-21T08:08:57-06:00Answering the burning questions from you, the reader. Another week in the books, and another week closer to baseball season. Let’s get to your questions: great198 asks: Who will win a world championship for Milwaukee first - the Brewers or the Bucks? And how many will the Packers win before either of them do? As much as I love the Brewers and am excited about how their rebuild has been going, I’ll give the nod to the Bucks here. They’re a couple years ahead of where the Brewers are now. Let’s say that Giannis and Jabari are sort of akin to Josh Hader and Lewis Brinson for the Brewers - the guys that everyone is hoping will be stars and carry their team to a championship. Giannis is now blossoming into a superstar, and Jabari is taking steps towards becoming a star in his own right - but those guys have already been playing against the best in their sport for two or three years. The Brewers’ young guns will likely still have to go through those “growing pains” years before the team is a legitimate contender, and this could be the last “growing pain” year for the Bucks before they really take off. I’ll refrain from discussing the Packers at this time to avoid jinxing their chances this weekend. ajt131 asks: What will be the Brewers 2017 starting pitching rotation to begin the year? Bonus question: Who will be the opening day starter? Well, if you’ve read my work (if you can call it that) for any length of time, you should know I’m rather partial to Junior Guerra. After his season last year, if he’s healthy I don’t know how you don’t give him the Opening Day nod. Zach Davies will slot in behind him, of course, and Chase Anderson should have a spot safe in the starting rotation. It’s a toss-up for those last two spots, though, with Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza, and Tommy Milone all having pretty significant question marks. I’ll side with youth and possible upside here, though, and say that Nelson and Peralta slide into those final two openings. Milone is the lefty in the bullpen to start the year and maybe Garza starts on the DL again. drezdn asks: Who do you see winning the starter catcher spot? I’ve got to imagine that right now, Andrew Susac is the favorite to be the starting backstop. He’s got the prospect pedigree and has already shown flashes of the ability to be a capable starting catcher at the big league level, with a career .239/.309/.412 slash (104 wRC+) and 7 homers in 262 plate appearances in the majors. He was a big part of the return for one the Brewers’ most valuable trade assets in Will Smith, and according to Brewerfan.net he is out of minor league options and can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers first. Speaking of minor league options, it appears that Manny Pina is out of them as well. That could give him a leg up on the backup catching job over Jett Bandy, who has one minor league option remaining. I’m not certain why the club would choose to carry someone like Pina on the 40 man all winter just to DFA him during/after spring training, but then again David Stearns has made some head-scratching 40 man decisions this winter. Aaron128 asks: What Brewers pitching prospect has the highest ceiling and what is his ceiling? For me, this is a toss-up between Josh Hader and Luis Ortiz. They’re two very different types of pitchers. Hader’s a lefty, of course, and is more of the “outstanding stuff” kind of guy with two potentially dominant offerings in his fastball and slider, but still has questions to answer about his changeup, his delivery, and his control. Ortiz has four average-or-better offerings - fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup - in his arsenal to go along with advanced control and command of the strike zone. His stuff doesn’t blow scouts away like Hader’s does, and his conditioning may be a question down the road. I’d say that Ortiz is probably a safer bet to stick as a starting pitcher, but Hader probably has a bit higher of a ceiling. If everyth[...]
He’ll likely be a minor-league signing with a major-league camp invite.
The Brewers continued push for minor-league deals took an interesting turn tonight. Jon Heyman is reporting that the Brewers have agreed to a deal with free-agent pitcher Joba Chamberlain. While no details of the deal were immediately available, it is believed that it is a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.
Chamberlain hasn’t been much of a factor in the major leagues over the last few seasons. He pitched with Cleveland to start the 2016 season, and put up some decent numbers, recording a 2.25 ERA in 20 games, but also had a 8.1 K/9 and 4.95 BB/9. The Indians designated him for assignment at the beginning of July, and he did not pitch in the major or minor leagues again that season. Before that, he split time between the Tigers and Royals in 2015 while recording a 4.88 ERA, and had a 3.57 ERA with the Tigers in 2014.
Originally a top prospect with the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain was a major name when he made his debut in 2007. His strong rookie year in 2008 earned him 8th place in the AL Rookie of the Year vote, but he fell off quickly after that, and eventually transitioned from a starting pitcher to a reliever. His fastball has dipped from around 95 MPH to 93 MPH, and his results have not been as good since then. He also has a slider and a curveball that he adds into the mix.
With the Brewers looking for diamonds in the rough that they can profit from this offseason, this is likely just a deal to see what Chamberlain has left, if anything. If he puts together a strong spring, he could make the team and potentially be a trade candidate. If not, then the Brewers part ways with him before the start of the year. It’s a low risk play, though definitely one of the higher profile ones the Brewers have done.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.
2017-01-20T16:58:46-06:00Just more reinforcement that the Brewers have a bright future. Prospect talk is all the rage lately, as it is every year around this time. ESPN got in on the action earlier this week when Keith Law began releasing his farm system rankings in groups of ten, culminating with his top 10 overall earlier today. The Milwaukee Brewers were included on that list, coming in at #6. Here’s what Law had to say: The Brewers’ rebuild has been overshadowed by the presence of three contenders in the division, but they’ve done a good job restocking the system in the last 18 months with two strong draft classes and huge returns on trades of veterans. The trades of Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez all yielded prospects on this year’s top 100. The system is still stacked in favor of hitters, with their top two pitching prospects both carrying significant reliever risk (Josh Hader’s delivery, Luis Ortiz’s conditioning), while Jorge Lopez, who broke out as a top prospect in 2015, had a disastrous follow-up season this year. They need to see more return on the July 2 market, as their one big signing there, Gilbert Lara, is off to a rough start to his pro career, and they have no one else from that avenue in their top 20. Their 2014 draft class has been similarly unproductive to date. But what the new regime has accomplished in a short period of time gives the Brewers a chance to keep pace with their better-heeled competitors in the NL Central. Sixth overall is a bit lower than other outlets have been on the Brewers (and one spot worse than where he ranked them last year), but there are certainly arguments that can be made that the five teams in front of Milwaukee - the Braves, Yankees, Padres, Pirates and Dodgers - have more compelling groups of prospects than the Brewers may possess. According to ESPN’s organizational ranking primer, being listed within the top 10 means that a franchise can boast 20+ players in their farm system who project to be “more than replacement-level big leaguers.” So even though there are other teams ranked ahead of them, Law still feels that the Brewers have a tremendous amount of talent in their system. I’ve got a couple of bones to pick from Law’s last paragraph, though. Regarding international free agents, the Brewers recently-graduated top prospect, Orlando Arcia, was signed on the J2 market (and for less than $100,000). While he doesn’t qualify as a “prospect” anymore, he’s still evidence that the club can hit on an international amateur. Sure, Gilbert Lara has struggled to begin his pro career, but he only recently turned 19 and it’s far too soon to call him a bust. The Brewers have also added several players who were ranked among the top international free agents in each of the last two summers, including Jean Carlos Carmona and Pablo Abreu this past July as well as Jesus Lujano and Jose Sibrian in July of 2015. I’m also curious as to how Law concluded that the Brewers have had an unproductive 2014 draft class. Only 15 players from the first 10 rounds of that draft have made it to the major leagues, so who can really say definitively that their 2014 draft class was a success three years later? Monte Harrison has shown flashes of his tantalizing tools, but has struggled to stay on the field. Though Kodi Medeiros and Jake Gatewood may not exactly be thriving as professionals, Brandon Woodruff’s breakout last year helps soften that. Other draftees like Dustin DeMuth, Troy Stokes, David Burkhalter, have gotten off to nice starts to their professional careers, if we’re judging “productivity” by minor league success. Oh, and third-rounder Cy Sneed was flipped to Houston last winter for Jonathan Villar. I’d argue that was a “productive” use of resources. [...]
2017-01-20T10:00:03-06:00This is your chance to choose who the most exciting future Brewers are! The calendar has finally turned over to 2017, meaning that the Major League Baseball offseason is now roughly halfway complete. Less than a month now until pitchers and catchers report! Our local nine has been only modestly active this winter, especially in comparison to last, though it can be argued that Slingin’ David Stearns has already completed most of the heavy lifting regarding the great Milwaukee Brewers Rebuild. While cutting swaths through the major league roster, Stearns (and his predecessor Doug Melvin) has left in his wake one of the top minor league systems in the game as rated by just about any outlet there is. Now it’s your turn to parse through Milwaukee’s top prospects and vote for where you think they stack up in the rejuvenated farm system. You’ll be given guidance from the top prospect lists that have already been released, and once outlets like Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, and Minor League Ball update their lists for 2017, those will be included, too. Yesterday, Jorge Lopez was narrowly elected as Milwaukee’s #12 prospect. Today, he has been removed from the list and Ryan Cordell has been added as we’ll vote for top prospect #13 through the weekend: OF Ryan Cordell (24) Acquired from Texas as PTBNL (9/2016) 2016 Stats (AA): 445 PA || .264/.319/.484 || 19 HR || 12 SB || 97 K || 32 BB MLB Pipeline: 18Baseball Prospectus: n/aBaseball America: n/aFanrag Sports: n/aMinor League Ball: 15 RHP Cody Ponce (22) Drafted 2nd round in 2015 2016 Stats (A+): 72.0 IP || 5.25 ERA || 69 K || 17 BB || 6 HR || 1.403 WHIP MLB Pipeline: 11Baseball Prospectus: 10 Baseball America: n/aFanrag Sports: n/aMinor League Ball: 18 SS Gilbert Lara (19) Signed as international free agent (7/2014) 2016 Stats (R): 246 PA || .250/.293/.320 || 2 HR || 2 SB || 59 K || 12 BB MLB Pipeline: 10Baseball Prospectus: n/aBaseball America: n/aFanrag Sports: 11Minor League Ball: 17 RHP Marcos Diplan (20) Acquired from Texas (1/2015) 2016 stats (A-A+): 113.1 IP || 3.02 ERA || 129 K || 50 BB || 7 HR || 1.288 WHIP MLB Pipeline: 12Baseball Prospectus: n/aBaseball America: 10Fanrag Sports: 9Minor League Ball: 9 C Jacob Nottingham (21) Acquired from Oakland (2/2016) 2016 Stats (AA): 456 PA || .234/.295/347 || 11 HR || 9 SB || 138 K || 29 BB MLB Pipeline: 15Baseball Prospectus: n/aBaseball America: n/aFanrag Sports: n/aMinor League Ball: 14 Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference Poll Who is Milwaukee's #13 prospect? Marcos Diplan Cody Ponce Ryan Cordell Gilbert Lara Jacob Nottingham 285 votes | Results [...]
2017-01-20T09:00:04-06:00That probably says more about the sad state of minor league catching than Nottingham’s ability, though. We’ve gotten to that point deep in baseball’s offseason where just about everyone (including us) is talking about prospects. This week, MLB Pipeline has begun the run-up to their updated organizational rankings and overall top 100 by starting to unveil their top 10 prospects by position. Pipeline revealed their top 10 catching prospects yesterday, and sliding in at #10 is Milwaukee Brewers farmhand Jacob Nottingham. Nottingham came to Milwaukee as a part of the return for outfielder Khris Davis last February, though his first year in the organization was a bit of a forgettable one. In his first exposure to the AA level with Biloxi, Jacob managed only a .234/.295/.347 slash with 11 home runs in 456 plate appearances. He graded out above-average in framing by Baseball Prospectus, but caught only a middling 29% of attempted base stealers and allowed a whopping 21 passes balls in 98 games behind the plate. Jim Callis described Nottingham as “a slugger who's still figuring out the nuances of making consistent contact and cleaning up his defense.” Those that rank ahead of Nottingham in the top 10 are: Carson Kelly (Cardinals), Francisco Mejia (Indians), Jorge Alfaro (Phillies), Zack Collins (White Sox), Chance Sisco (Orioles), Reese McGuire (Blue Jays), Tom Murphy (Rockies), Austin Barnes (Dodgers), and Jose Trevino (Rangers). In his scouting report, Nottingham receives grades of 50 for his power and arm, but all his other tools are scored as below-average. He was given a 45 hit, 45 field, and a 30 run. Here’s part of the write up on Jacob: Power is Nottingham's best tool, and he shows it to all fields thanks to a combination of strength, bat speed and a leveraged swing. Southern League hurlers exploited his aggressive approach and his strikeout rate spiked as a result, leading some scouts to question the future utility of his bat. They're also divided on whether Nottingham can stick behind the plate, where he shows an average arm as well as solid catch-and-throw skills but lacks consistency in his blocking and receiving. With Jonathan Lucroy no longer in the picture, the door is open for Nottingham to become Milwaukee's catcher of the future. Provided he can get back on track this season in the Minors, Notthingham could be ready for his first big league audition in 2018. While placing the “catcher of the future” tag on Nottingham sounds nice, in reality he’s got a lot of work to do to become a big league regular. With an overall grade of 45, Nottingham projects as a fringe-average regular/platoon bat, and he’ll be lucky to slot within the top 20 prospects in Milwaukee’s system once that list is unveiled. The fact that Nottingham is in the top 10 catching prospects probably says more about the degraded state of catching as a whole in the minor leagues than it does about Nottingham’s future utility behind the dish. The Brewers’ front office has repeatedly expressed confidence in Nottingham’s ability to remain at catcher in spite of his current defensive issues, but if he does eventually have to move to first base it would severely limit his potential usefulness at the major league level. A .240ish hitter with ~15 home runs could work for a regular at catcher, but that level of production won’t cut it as a starting first baseman. Nottingham figures to begin 2017 back at the AA level, where his bat will hopefully bounce back during a repeat season through the league. Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus [...]
2017-01-20T08:00:01-06:00Will Feliz fill the closer roll in Milwaukee? This won’t be an exceptionally positive piece. I have serious doubts about how successful Neftali Feliz will be as the Brewer’s closer. I have serious doubts as to whether Feliz will even be the full time closer. The odds that the Brewers will be able to flip him at the deadline for anything substantial appear small. And I doubt that the Brewers will be good enough at the same time Feliz is good enough to make his presence past the trade deadline a good thing. But don’t get me wrong. The signing IS a good thing. All of those things I doubt could happen, and the chances are bigger with Feliz than (almost) any other option still available, and the Brewers can certainly afford the $5.35 mil gamble on having those things happen. If any or all of them happen, it will be a tremendous investment. If not, Feliz will be gone next year and the Brewers can move on. Even if Neftali doesn’t cut the mustard, perhaps the Brewers will discover that internal option for closing next year, and be able to use whatever money is available to address other issues, like catcher (perhaps) or starting pitching, if 2018 is deemed a possible contending season. So what can we expect from Feliz next year? He was the Texas closer in 2010 and 2011, saving 40 and 32 games, but arm trouble and poor performance have limited him to 15 saves since (with 13 in 2014 for the Rangers). He posted an ERA of 6.38 in 2015 after a 4.90 FIP in 2014. Last season for the Pirates Feliz had a solid year: 3.52 ERA, 3.72 xFIP, a 1.14 WHIP, 10.3 K’s per 9 and 3.5 BB/9. Unfortunately, he allowed 10 homers in the 53.2 innings. He has allowed 26 in his other 7 seasons, so hopefully that would be an aberration. But a little deeper digging isn’t reassuring. Feliz’s hard hit percent was at 37%; his career rate is 28.5%. His home run per fly ball percent was an astonishing 19.2% against a career 8.8%. Feliz actually increased his ground ball percent last year, reducing his flyball percent...but they were hit harder and farther than ever before. Pitching in pitcher-friendly PNC Park would logically have helped lower those numbers, but his homer percent was higher there (22.7% vs 16.7%). And his fly ball percent was actually higher on the road. Is there any cause for optimism? A mid-nineties fastball has the potential to be effective, and Feliz’s 96.0 MPH average fastball last year was his hardest since 2011. A healthy arm (Feliz missed the end of last season with a biceps issue, but the club has indicated he’s fully recovered) can help with location. His strikeout rate was the best since his debut season of 2009, and his swinging strike rate of 14.2% was a career-best. As BP Milwaukee explored and David Stearns reiterated when the signing was announced, maybe the home run issue last year was simply an anomaly rather than an indication of declining stuff. We can hope - relievers are notoriously inconsistent year to year. It is, of course, possible that all of these numbers will revert to his career averages or better. Brewer fans certainly hope so. But if Feliz proves unsuccessful as a high leverage reliever in Milwaukee, he won’t remain in that position for long. The contract will expire, and the Brewers will move on. Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs [...]