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Leading the decline of Brewers blogs but with the best Junior Guerra content.

Updated: 2016-12-06T13:22:21-06:00


Trade Analysis: Brewers Receive Quality and Quantity for Thornburg


Some may argue the Brewers opted for quantity in trading Tyler Thornburg, but there’s also plenty of quality coming to Milwaukee. When we took a look at Tyler Thornburg as a possible trade asset a couple weeks ago, we talked about the increasingly insane trade market for quality relievers and tried to gauge what would've been an appropriate return for Thornburg. With the understanding Thornburg ranked below the likes of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman but was still coming off a very impressive season and had three years of team control left, I floated the idea of getting three players back for Thornburg, ideally with one of them being an above-average prospect. It turns out that's exactly what David Stearns was able to swing in Tuesday's deal with Boston. The Brewers are acquiring 3B/1B Travis Shaw, RHP Josh Pennington and infield prospect Mauricio Dubon (plus a player to be named later or cash). Dubon was recently ranked as Boston's 7th-best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, and was identified by John Sickels as a possible sleeper prospect with the potential to bloom before this past season. Pennington has some intrigue as a possible future bullpen piece in the Thornburg mold (undersized for a starter but with a good fastball/curveball combo). But it’s Shaw that will allow the Brewers to see some immediate returns from the deal. The 26-year-old Shaw still has five years of team control left, having only played in 210 games in two seasons for Boston. He's hit .251/.312/.442 in those games, but those numbers are dragged down by an inability (to this point) to hit left-handed pitching. Shaw struggled to a pre-2016 Scooter Gennett-like line of .187/.235/.364 against southpaws in 115 plate appearances this year, while also seeing his overall production crater in the second half of the season. After getting off to a .269/.332/.456 start in the first half, Shaw limped to the finish line with a .194/.259/.360 line against pitchers of all handedness in the second half, which probably contributed to Boston's willingness to deal him. Despite hitting the second half wall in 2016, the addition of Shaw will likely continue to have ripple effects across the rest of the Brewers' 25-man roster next year. You can probably pencil him in as the starting third baseman for Opening Day, and even if he needs to be platooned to protect him from lefties, the Brewers have Hernan Perez (.278/.301/.486 against LHP last year) and Jonathan Villar (.309/.385/.545 against LHP) available to slide in to the spot. With Villar enjoying a breakout year in 2016, though, it will be extremely hard for the Brewers to take him out of the everyday lineup. That means the addition of Shaw could also mean changes at second base, which Stearns has already indicated. Stearns confirmed Villar will mostly play at 2B. Said Gennett will battle for playing time.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 6, 2016 Gennett is due a significant raise this winter in his first year of arbitration, and unlike Villar or Perez, can't play anywhere else on the diamond. Stearns may be saying Gennett will fight for time right now, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Scooter also shipped out before the winter ends. With Stearns building a roster emphasizing versatility -- even when it comes to his corner infielders -- Gennett's presence on the roster sticks out like a sore thumb. The Brewers have already tried a couple former Boston Third Basemen of the Future in Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini, but even if Shaw flames out like the previous two did, they still did a good job on capitalizing on what may be Tyler Thornburg's peak performance level with the addition of another slick-fielding prospect with good bat skills and a pitcher with some serious heat. Pennington is a 21-year-old who's thrown less than 100 innings in the minors after undergoing Tommy John surgery as a high school senior. Rather than try to rebuild his draft stock by going to college, Pennington signed with the Red Sox as a 29th round pick in 2014 and made his debut in 2015, putting up a 0.82 ERA in 22[...]

Brewers Trade Tyler Thornburg to Red Sox for Josh Pennington, Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and PTBNL


Slingin’ Stearns is at it early this morning. Slingin’ David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly made their first major transaction of the winter, as this morning it’s being reported that the Brewers have agreed to send right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 1B/3B Travis Shaw and two prospects, SS Mauricio Dubon and RHP Josh Pennington. The clubs have yet to confirm. Thornburg, 28, was a 2nd-round pick by the Brewers back in 2010. He was a top prospect coming up through the minors, but injuries and constant role changes from starter to reliever stunted his development somewhat. Milwaukee finally committed to Tyler as a full-time reliever in 2016 and he became the big league club’s top bullpen arm and one of the more dominating pitchers in the MLB. In 67 appearances last season, Thornburg tossed 67.0 innings with a 2.15 ERA and 2.83 FIP, striking out 90 batters against just 25 walks. He took over as closer after the midseason trades of Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith and racked up 13 saves down the stretch. His average fastball of 94.1 MPH in 2016 was the best velocity of his career and he also features a curveball and changeup. He’s entering his first season of arbitration eligibility. Travis Shaw, 26, was a 9th round pick by the Red Sox in 2011. He made his big league debut in 2015 and has played in 210 games over the last two seasons, batting .251/.312/.442 with 29 home runs in 778 plate appearances (97 wRC+). He’s spent considerable time at both first base and third base for the Sox and has put up above-average marks defensively at both positions. Shaw is a left-handed hitter, something that Stearns has sought to acquire this winter, and he figures to immediately slot into the role of everyday third baseman for the Brewers starting in 2017. Shaw has only a little over a year of big league service time, so he’s not arbitration eligible for two more years and can’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season. Shaw’s addition should allow Jonathan Villar to slide over to his more natural position of second base, which would leave Scooter Gennett without much of a role on the 2017 Brewers. Dubon, 22, was a 26th-round pick by the Red Sox in 2013. He owns a career .765 OPS in four minor league seasons and split 2016 between A+ and AA, where he batted an outstanding .323/.379/.461 with 6 home runs and 30 steals in 124 combined games. The right-handed hitting shortstop was ranked as Boston’s 12th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who grade his power as 35 but give his hit, speed, glove, and arm tools all 55 grades. Pennington, 21, was a 29th-round pick by the Red Sox in 2014 after he needed Tommy John surgery prior to the draft. He’s operated mainly as a starter during his time in the minor leagues and posted a 2.86 ERA and 3.75 FIP in 56.2 innings in low-A ball in 2016. Pennington was ranked as the Red Sox #22 prospect by MLB Pipeline, praising him for a 70 grade fastball that sits in the 94-98 MPH range along with an above-average curveball. His changeup is well-below average and his control needs work, so ultimately it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pennington end up in a relief role where his big velocity and solid breaking pitch could play up. UPDATE: The Brewers have officially announced the trade. Milwaukee will also receive a player to be named later or cash in the deal. Speculatively, the Brewers could be looking at a player who is Rule 5 Draft eligible and are waiting until after the draft to finalize the deal, like they did last winter when Manny Pina was the PTBNL in the K-Rod trade with Detroit. Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs [...]

Brewers Free Agent Targets: Vance Worley



Does the Vanimal fit in the Brewers’ pen?

Vance Worley was non-tendered by the Baltimore Orioles last week, putting him on the open market as a Free Agent. Last season, Worley appeared in 35 games, 4 of them starts. He worked a respectable 86.2 innings, going 2-2 with a save and a 3.53 ERA.

Those numbers are fine for a long reliever/spot starter, and make it surprising that the Orioles would think that about $3.3 mil would be an overpay for a durable, effective arm. What would cause a contending team to turn their back on a relatively young (29), specific role player?

Several possible explanations are presented over on Camden Chat. They appear to have several much cheaper options available, and still appear to be active in trying to land several more important Free Agents - like every team in baseball, apparently, their fans find Tyson Ross intriguing, and non-tendered catcher Wellington Castillo might be an attractive option to replace Matt Wieters. Money is needed to sign those players, and the Orioles also have some players that are going to command significant long term deals in the near future. Three million can come in handy.

For Milwaukee, $3 mil might not be too much for a durable long man/spot starter. It can be helpful to not have to go to Colorado Springs every time an extra start is needed, and effective multiple innings from the pen are crucial in saving the “late inning” guys for when it matters.

But wait! There’s more! Let’s look at Worley’s career a bit more closely.

Since his debut with the Phillies in 2010, Worley’s K% has steadily declined. His BB% has steadily increased. In 2016, he was below his career K% (15.3% to 17.4%), over his career BB% (9.6% to 7.4%). His WHIP held steady (1.37 to career 1.39), but his HR/9 was at 1.14 with a career rate of 0.88. His 2016 FIP of 4.82 is considerably at odds with his 2016 ERA (3.53). And his second half FIP was at 5.81 with only a 1.2% K/BB ratio.

The Brewers have acquired Steve Geltz on waivers this season, then outrighted him to AAA (a fine spot for him; emergency depth would perhaps be his best position), and Blake Parker, also off of the waiver wire. Neither is exceptionally exciting, but perhaps will provide depth at AAA so that arms the Brewers are interested in can work in AA instead of at Colorado Springs. They have Brent Suter, Rob Scahill, Jhan Martinez, Corey Knebel, Tyler Cravy, Michael Blazek, and Jacob Barnes available (along with Carlos Torres and Tyler Thornburg) to build a viable bullpen. Then there is Josh Hader, who could land the exact spot that Worley would fill for the Brewers in 2017. Other young arms might force themselves into consideration as well.

That amount of depth says that the Brewers do not need to spend in excess of league minimum to round out any holes they see in their system. Vance will have to find employment elsewhere.

What We Learned: Winter Meetings begin in full today



The winter meetings kick off today, and plenty of action will take place in the next four days. We prepare you for that in today’s What We Learned.

Brewers News and Notes

Links from BCB

BCB Mailbag 6: Collective Bargaining Agreement and Hot Stove Season | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB

With the CBA done, winter meetings approaching, and the trade scene about to heat up, Kyle answers questions in advance of all of the action.

Milwaukee Brewers sign Kirk Nieuwenhuis to 1-year deal to avoid arbitration | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB

As the non-tender deadline approached Friday, Nieuwenhuis got a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

Milwaukee Brewers sign Scooter Gennett to 1-year deal; Chris Carter becomes free agent | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB

The deadline approached with the Brewers also signing Scooter Gennett to a one-year deal. They also tendered contracts to all of their other arbitration-eligible players, and officially non-tendered Chris Carter, making him a free agent.

Milwaukee Brewers Outright David Goforth, Steve Geltz to AAA; lose Adam Walker to Orioles | Kyle Lesniewski, BCB

To clear a little more roster space in advance of the winter meetings, the Brewers outrighted two pitchers to Triple-A, and officially lost Adam Walker to the Orioles.

Links from Other Sites

Rule 5 Brewers | Kyle Lesniewski, BP Milwaukee

What Brewers prospects could be lost in this week’s Rule 5 draft? There’s some talent out there that the Brewers left unprotected.

Brewers Spring Training Tickets Go On Sale Monday | Caitlin Moyer, Cait Covers the Bases

Spring Training tickets are officially on sale as of today.

Brewers Free Agent Targets: Tyson Ross


Can the Brewers afford a gamble on the oft-injured rightie? The San Diego Padres decision to non-tender Tyson Ross spiced up the tepid starting pitcher FA market last Friday. It doubled the “Intriguing Starters Coming Off Of Injury category from one to two (joining the Dodgers’ Brett Anderson). Is the Padres’ move related to money, lack of need, bad news on his injury, or something else? Probably a combination of the above. Ross was a very good starter in 2014 and 2015 for San Diego, but a shoulder injury caused him to miss all but one start in 2016 and he eventually underwent Thoracic Outlet surgery in October. Ross has previously missed time with other injuries while with Oakland and San Diego, most notably a left shoulder injury that happened while hitting with the A’s. (Ross isn’t a bad hitter, actually.) Ross made $9.6 mil last year with the Padres. His inclusion as a FA has every team still seeking starting pitching checking in. He will be 30 in April of 2017, by which time he should be fully recovered from October’s procedure; he is a groundball pitcher, his 6’5”, 240 lb frame fits the “power pitcher” model so many teams look for, and his ‘14 and ‘15 season totals both approached 200 innings. So the price might be higher than a player that basically missed last year would typically command, but it sure would seem appropriate for a team like the Brewers to see how much it would cost (and how many years it would take) to bring him to Miller Park. It makes sense to look at Ross’ ‘14 and ‘15 seasons as the relevant data in determining his worth. That’s certainly what his agent will concentrate on, anyways. Over those two seasons, Ross worked 391.2 innings, allowing 337 hits and 156 walks fora a WHIP of 1.26. He is known as a control pitcher, so the 3.6 walks per nine seems high. He also had 26 wild pitches over those two years, probably owing to his hard slider and cutter ending up in the dirt quite a bit. Ross had a 9.4 K’s/9 rate for the two years. The most important number is probably his 60% groundball rate in those two seasons. That would be a welcome number in Miller Park. He allowed only 22 homers over those seasons, although that low number is no doubt due in part to pitching in San Diego. His FIP was 3.24 in 2014 and 2.98 in 2015, and he accumulated a 5.1 WAR over those two seasons. All of this fine pitching resulted in a 23-26 won-loss record, which we all know is the most important stat there is... Teams like the Cubs, the Yankees, the Rangers...pretty much any contending team - could very well have interest in Ross. A solid top-to-middle rotation starter would go a long ways towards solidifying any top tier team’s chances for making the post season. But the uncertainty involved in Ross’ health would make such a move possibly detrimental to a team’s chances (compared to adding a more “safe” piece), and might make a team like the Brewers more palatable to a pitcher needing to prove his worth - they could pay a little more, go a year or so longer, and tolerate a rehab period better than a potentially contending team. (Not to say that the Brewers can’t contend next year, but their expectations are certainly less than the above mentioned teams.) So I expect that the absolute minimum that Ross could expect would be a one year, $10 m prove it deal. The Brewers could afford a little more than that (say a two year, $12 m per year, with a third year option/buy-out). Will that be enough? I’m stumped. It only takes one team to decide that Ross is healthy and will contribute to jump those amounts, and even though the Brewers have a very low payroll for 2017 they can’t afford to start piling up dead money for the near future - that would surely hamstring any attempt to compete in ‘18 and ‘19. Looking at the moves made so far this off season by Brewers’ GM David Stearns, it appears that the Brewers don’t consider ‘17 to be a viable contending[...]

Former Brewers Owner & MLB Commissioner Bud Selig elected to MLB Hall of Fame



Selig was elected by the Today’s Game Era Committee, receiving 15 of 16 votes.

Yesterday, the 16-person Today’s Game Era Committee voted on a ballot of ten baseball greats to make it into the Hall of Fame. Two people made it into the Hall of Fame on the vote: former MLB commissioner and Brewers owner Bud Selig, along with former Braves GM & current Braves president John Schuerholz.

Similar to the Hall of Fame vote each year, the vote from this committee requires 75% for election (which is 12 votes in this case). Selig received 15 of the 16 votes, more than enough for him to be elected. Schuerholz, meanwhile, was a unanimous selection. As baseball executives, this was the only way for both to make the Hall of Fame.

Bud Selig’s impact on the game of baseball has been profound, both as Brewers owner and as the commissioner of baseball. In 1970, he led a group to buy the Seattle Pilots and move them to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. After bringing baseball back to Milwaukee and insuring its future, he went on to become the commissioner of MLB and led a period of baseball through the 1994 strike leading into a prolonged period of labor peace, playoff expansion, the banning of steroids and other PEDs, and much more.

Also on the ballot were five players: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, and Mark McGwire. Managers Lou Piniella and Davey Johnson, along with late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, rounded out the ballot.

Selig and Schuerholz will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with the rest of the 2017 Hall of Fame class on July 30, 2017. The remainder of the Hall of Fame class will be announced on January 18.

Brewers Trade Assets: Ryan Braun


Trading the face of the franchise is a complicated and multi-faceted topic. The next several days figure to be among the busiest of the Major League Baseball offseason: the annual Winter Meetings, where all 30 General Managers get together along with players, agents, and media, runs through Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The Milwaukee Brewers and Slingin’ David Stearns completed a large volume of transactions at last year’s event, but this time around the team isn’t expected to be quite as active. While that may be true, the direction of the franchise could very easily change this week and the bulk of the headlines surrounding our local nine figure to revolve around one topic: whether or not the Brewers will trade one Ryan Joseph Braun. It’s been almost twelve years since the Brewers selected Braunie at 5th overall in the 2005 MLB Draft. He won Rookie of the Year in 2007, helped lead playoff runs in 2008 and 2011 (the year he won MVP), has been an All-Star six times, and has batted .304/.367/.544 (141 wRC+) in 1,354 games while setting the franchise record with 285 home runs. There was that whole PED debacle and the subsequent suspension in 2013, of course, but Braun has been nothing but apologetic and has said all the right things publicly since then. Even though there are still plenty of people who haven’t forgiven those transgressions, Braun is unarguably one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise. As the calendar turns to 2017, Braun will be entering his age-33 season and there is reason to wonder how much longer he’ll be able to keep up his level of production. Outside of his rookie year in 2007 and the suspension-shortened year in 2013, Ryan’s never taken less than 564 trips to the plate in a full season but he has fought through some injuries in the past few years. He seems to have moved past his once troublesome thumb issue after finding cryotherapy as an effective treatment, and he also had back surgery last offseason. Still, Braun has been able to stay on the field even in spite of all that and has still been an elite hitter the past two years, combining for a .295/.361/.518 (131 wRC+) slash line with 55 home runs and 40 stolen bases. The question now is whether or not the Brewers can bet on Braun maintaining that rate of effectiveness as the club continues to build. If Stearns doesn’t feel comfortable moving forward with Braun as a part of the core, then it may very well be that his trade value will never be higher. Ryan is clearly still one of the most dangerous outfield bats in the game and compared to the $110 mil contract the Mets just handed out to Yoenis Cespedes, the $80 mil ($58 mil through 2020, $4 mil buyout on 2021 option, $18 mil in deferred money to be paid 2022-2031 per Cot’s Contracts) that the Brewers still owe to Braun looks downright reasonable for a player of his caliber. A trade isn’t quite as easy as that, however. Ryan does have a limited no-trade clause that allows him to veto any deal to all but six teams. Last year that list included the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Diamondbacks, and Marlins, though Tom Haudricourt recently reported that Braun had changed out one of those teams but wouldn’t specify which. If he’s not going to be in Milwaukee, it seems clear that Braun would prefer to be near his hometown of Los Angeles or where he played collegiately at Miami. So if the Brewers wanted to trade Braun to say, the Dodgers, the team wouldn’t need to worry about getting his permission. There haven’t been any concrete rumors this winter, but Braun and the Dodgers have been speculatively linked since it was rumored that a waiver trade between the two teams fell through back in August. That deal was reportedly centered around a package including Yasiel Puig, but according to Jayson Stark of ESPN the Dodgers have b[...]

BCB Mailbag 6: Collective Bargaining Agreement and Hot Stove Season


Answering the burning questions from you, the reader. Yeah I know, it’s Saturday. But there was a bunch of other stuff that needed to be covered yesterday so cut me some slack, would ya?! Let’s dive into your questions: stigmo asks: CBA Does the new CBA help or harm small-market teams like the Brewers? Or does it maintain the status quo? The CBA does actually kind of help the small markets. Not losing a first round pick to sign a QO free agent will be nice when the team is in compete mode, and the hard spending caps on the international market will help the team be able to be competitive for those free agents. As Ullsperj points out later on down the line of questions, though, these “competitive balance” measures seem to come at a big cost to the players. It means more money going back to ownership instead of being spent on international talent. I’m not sure how that’s any better than the proposed international draft that the union fought so hard against. The new luxury tax rules act almost as a sort of soft cap which could limit player salaries, and the compensation rules regarding free agents who make over or under $50 mil could discourage spending in that area, too. Buster Olney wrote that an agent he spoke with believes the new agreement increases the likelihood of a work stoppage in five years, when this CBA expires. nullacct asks: Why do I need to log in on every article separately and when will the madness end It’s supposed to be some sort of extra security measure. We as authors have some different stuff that we have to do now, too. For me, I’ve noticed it logs me out every time I close out of a browser on any device, so I’ve been just leaving it minimized on my laptop. Hyatt asks: What's the first base backup plan? Thames could be hit by a bus on April 2nd. Will they finally move Braun and open up a space in the outfield for our plethora of OF prospects, or is there another thing I haven’t thought of yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if they signed someone who is capable of playing first base but could also play at other positions around the infield. Someone like Steve Pearce, who would be able to platoon with Thames at first and also provide depth at several other positions around the diamond, could make sense on a short-term deal. Otherwise Hernan Perez could see some at-bats over there, whoever ends up being the backup catcher, and then they’ve got some emergency depth in the upper minors like Garrett Cooper and Dustin DeMuth. I do not think that Braun will get moved to first base anytime soon. AKBrewerfan asks: Explain why the logjam of talent in the OF is a good thing. Please. You’ve got to remember not all these guys are going to work out to become starting-caliber outfielders. Plus, at least one or two are sure to be used as trade bait to address other positions of need as the buildup toward becoming competitive continues. Stearns has said that he’s been taking the best talent offered to him in trades, which at this point has happened to be a lot of outfielders. It’ll all work itself out. drezdn asks: What position do you think Slingin' will most actively try to fill this hot stove season? I don’t think that our regular third baseman for 2017 is currently on the roster. Whether it’s in a trade (Jeimar Candelario, Chase Headley) or via the free agent market (Valbuena, Hwang, Plouffe), I think Stearns ends up bringing someone in before the the winter ends. Even though they already signed him for next season, I’m guessing Scooter gets dealt and Villar takes over at second base on an everyday basis. Thanks for the questions, everyone! Let’s do it again soon! [...]