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

Updated: 2017-04-28T18:15:40-05:00


BCB Mailbag 22: Mostly Eric Thames


Answering the burning questions from you, the reader. Ugh, today was a crappy day at work. But my co-worker’s husband is a salesman for Palermo’s and she gave me a ton of free pizzas to bring home, so that was pretty stellar. Now, to the questions: Jack Stern asks: With Thames experiencing hamstring tightness, does the team become more reluctant to use him in the outfield? Would they consider it better for his health to not have him chasing down fly balls? Would they limit him to just first base instead? I guess it wouldn’t be stunned to see him out there a little less. When I looked it up I was actually a bit surprised by how much Thames has been on the grass: five games, three starts, and an even 30.0 innings. Jesus Aguilar hasn’t really given Craig Counsell a reason to try and put him in the lineup lately, and his season-long batting line is down to .242/.306/.303 with 13 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. Hernan Perez’s bat is heating up, however, so it’s more likely he start seeing an increase in time in the outfield while Thames continues to play regularly at the cold corner. NVBrewerFan asks: If the Brewers are out of contention at the deadline and Thames continues to hit great, does Stearns sling him? Or is he a player for the next contending squad? Unless some team is willing to give up the farm, there’s very little motivation to deal Thames right now. Including his club option, the Brewers can control Thames through 2020 for a total of $22.5 mil (he can also earn $500K per year in incentives). If Thames is an .850 OPS-or-better hitter with solid defense at first base, then he’s a huge bargain at that price and would become a very significant asset for the Brewers. Honestly, I don’t know why the Brewers would have signed to him a 3-year guaranteed deal if they were going to deal him after a half-season. The Brewers have a group of talented, controllable, affordable players either at the big league level or in the upper minors, and Thames puts the club one piece closer to finalizing the core of their next winning team sometime before 2020. Add some pitching and this team could be pretty dangerous. If things don’t end up coming together in the next few years, he can still be dealt later on down the road before his contract expires. That being said, Stearns has shown he’ll deal anyone if the right offer comes along. At this point though, it would have to be an overwhelming package. drezdn asks: What do you think realistic/tempered expectations would be for Thames for the rest of the year? I’m becoming really convinced that he’s made legitimate improvements and he looks to be a well above-average player. He just doesn’t chase bad pitches out of the zone, and it’s hard to fake the extreme plate discipline that he’s displayed since returning from the KBO and joining the Brewers. I have to imagine he’ll come back down to Earth somewhat, at least. I’ll put the over/under at an .850 OPS and 32 home runs. nullacct asks: If you could choose a Brewer lineup That consisted of players who had the best days of their career at each position, what would you pick? Since the Brewers played in the America League longer than they have in the National League, I’m going to include a DH. How’s this roster look: Lineup:C - Jonathan Lucroy1B - Cecil Cooper2B - Rickie Weeks3B - Paul MolitorSS - Robin YountLF - Ryan BraunCF - Carlos GomezRF - Geoff JenkinsDH - Prince Fielder Bench:INF Don MoneyINF Jeff CirilloOF Ben OglivieC Dave Nilsson Rotation:RHP Ben SheetsLHP Teddy HigueraRHP Moose HaasRHP Yovani GallardoLHP Mike Caldwell Bullpen:RHP Francisco RodriguezRHP John AxfordRHP Ken SandersLHP Will SmithLHP Dan PlesacRHP Doug JonesRHP Rollie Fingers BMG78 asks: You wake up in the morning and head out to work. As you're ready to get in your car ... … you notice some movement out of the corner of your eye. Suddenly, Hank the dog comes walking up to you, with a chew toy in his mouth, and then runs around to the back of your garage. You follow him, only to find a strange contraption si[...]

Series Preview: Atlanta Braves @ Milwaukee Brewers


Can the Brewers win the Battle of the Rebuilding Teams and finish April above .500? Coming off a sweep against Eric Thames' Punching Bag the Cincinnati Reds, the Brewers look to finish the month of April above .500 with a weekend series against the Atlanta Braves, who come to town at 8-12. The Braves are in the middle of a rebuilding project of their own, but with the opening of a new ballpark, they've balanced a full rebuild with bringing in some recognizable veterans who may be past their prime to help sell some tickets. Say hello, Nick Markakis, Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips, R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. That's not to say the rebuild has been bad. They've used the veterans to hold spots for a pretty exciting list of prospects that was ranked the best farm system in baseball by MLB Pipeline this spring. Like the Brewers, most of that work on the farm has been done through trades -- 12 of their Top 30 prospects were acquired from elsewhere, including top prospect and former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, who the Braves stole from the Dave Stewart era Diamondbacks. Swanson started the year with the big league club, and despite being a trendy preseason pick for NL Rookie of the Year, is off to a rough start to the year (.138/.169/.188 with 22 strikeouts in 80 AB). Luckily for Atlanta, Freddie Freeman has picked up the slack, hitting a Thames-ian .380/.494/.775 with 7 HR and 5 doubles in 71 AB. Unfortunately for Atlanta, he's only had the chance to drive in 10 runs because most of the rest of the lineup -- outside a couple of exceptions -- has struggled. Phillips (.352/.387/.507 in 71 AB) and Markakis (.297/.384/.419 in 74 AB) have also performed well this month. Probable Pitchers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Bartolo Colon vs. Chase Anderson BARTOLO COLON WILL BE WIELDING A BAT AT MILLER PARK. I don't know how that's not the Brewers' sales pitch for tonight's game. He'll also be pitching, too. Considering he's now 43 (44 in a month), he's pitched pretty well this season, putting up a 4.50 ERA in 4 starts so far -- and FIP says he's been better than than (3.72). Again, the man is about to be 44 years old and is consistently putting up 0s. He doesn't really strike anyone out, but he hasn't ever really done that during his career. He generally just forces a bunch of non-threatening fly balls. We'll see if that continues against a Brewers team that has hit a ton of home runs so far and in a park that is particularily homer-friendly. Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Jaime Garcia vs. Jimmy Nelson If it feels like the Brewers have never been able to hit Jaime Garcia, that's pretty much right. In 21 career appearances -- 20 starts -- against the Brewers, he's allowed a 2.88 ERA in 131.1 innings, including 2 complete game shutouts. Of course, most of those Brewers that struggled against him aren't around anymore, and like we saw with another historic Brewer Killer -- Bronson Arroyo -- earlier this year, this year's Brewers don't care much for history. This year, Garcia is striking out drastically fewer batters than he has in the past, mostly because guys are not missing when they swing at pitches in the zone. Batters are swinging at more pitches Garcia throws in the zone (69% compared to 63.5% last year) and making contact more often (91.7% this year, 89.2% last year). Despite Garcia's past success against the Brewers, he's not the same guy this year. Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Mike Foltynewicz vs. Matt Garza A former Top 100 prospect, Foltynewicz is coming off of a pair of solid 7 inning starts against Washington and Philadelphia in which he allowed just 3 total runs. Folty has been the Braves' best pitcher by WAR so far this year and carries the highest K/9 among Atlanta starters. On a staff filled out by 40-year-olds and reconstructed shoulders, he and Julio Teheran represent a glimpse into the future for the rebuilding team. He's capable of throwing mid-90s heat and has had great success with his slider so far th[...]

Milwaukee Brewers Daily Prospect Report: Thursday, April 27


Scores and notes from the Brewers’ minor league affiliates. Iowa Cubs 9 vs. Colorado Springs Sky Sox 7 Player of the Day: Garrett Cooper: 3-4, 2B, HR (3), 3 RBI, R Lewis Brinson (#1): 1-5, 2 RBI, RBrett Phillips (#10): 1-3, RBIRyan Cordell (#16): 2-5, 2B, RBI, 2 R Josh Hader (#3): 4.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Colorado Springs Sky Sox record: 12-6Next Game: tonight at Iowa Cubs, 7:08 p.m.Probables: Hiram Burgos, CS (0-1, 4.35 ERA) vs. Aaron Brooks, Iowa (2-1, 5.57 ERA) Biloxi Shuckers 4 at Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3 Mauricio Dubon (#9): 1-4Jacob Nottingham (#14): 0-3Michael Reed (#28): 1-3, BB Taylor Jungmann: 4 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K Biloxi Shuckers record: 8-13Next game: tonight at Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 6:35 p.m.Probables: Jorge Lopez, Bil (#13) (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo, Pen (1-0, 2.22 ERA) Carolina Mudcats 9 vs. Down East Wood Ducks 7 Corey Ray (#2): 1-5, 2B, RBI, RIsan Diaz (#5): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SBLucas Erceg (#7): 1-5, RJake Gatewood (#25): 1-4, R, BB Freddy Peralta (#19): 5 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 6 KMarcos Diplan (#11): 2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, K Carolina Mudcats record: 9-10Next Game: this morning at Frederick Keys, 6:00 p.m.Probable: Conor Harber, Car (0-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. Ofelky Peralta, Fre (0-0, 4.38 ERA) Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 6 at Burlington Bees 1 Gilbert Lara (#17): 1-4, 2 RBIMonte Harrison (#22): 1-3, HR (6), RBI, 2 R, BBMario Feliciano (#23): 1-5Demi Orimoloye (#24): 1-5, 2B, RTucker Neuhaus: 1-4, HR (6), 2 RBI, R Jordan Desguin: 5 IP, H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K Timber Rattlers record: 10-11Next Game: today at Burlington Bees, 11:30 a.mProbable: Victor Diaz, Wis (0-1, 8.31 ERA) vs. Andrew Vinson, Bur (1-2, 8.31 ERA) Prospect rankings courtesy of MLB Pipeline [...]

Framing the argument for Manny Pina to get more playing time


The catcher has made a surprising improvement on defense. After dealing away both Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado in the past year, the Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2017 campaign starting from scratch at the catching position. When the unheralded duo of Manny Pina and Jett Bandy emerged as Milwaukee’s catching corps coming out of spring training, most were hoping for even just a replacement-level performance from the position. After all, neither were ever very highly touted prospects and this was the first time either had made an Opening Day roster. The 27 year old Bandy entered the year having taken only 233 plate appearances in the big leagues, while the 29 year old Pina had even less experience than that, racking up just 98 MLB plate appearances during his 11 professional seasons. It therefore qualifies as a pretty major surprise that Milwaukee’s catching duo has been, by far, the most productive pairing of backstops in the MLB. The plate appearances have been split about as evenly as possible (Pina taking 47 turns at the plate while Bandy has gone to bat 46 times) and the two hitters have united to bat a robust .384/.430/.663. Their combined 187 wRC+ ranks first among all the catching combinations around the big leagues, and the five home runs between Bandy and Pina ranks t-3rd among all catching crews. Early season WAR is far from the most reliable barometer, but for what it’s worth, the combined 1.6 fWAR that Pina and Bandy have produced is a half-win better than any other catching combination in the big leagues to this point in the season. While Bandy has provided a bit more home run thump, batting .349/.391/.698 with four round-trippers on the season, it has been Pina that has shone as the better all-around backstop. If you’ll recall, I pegged Pina as a potential breakout candidate back in February based on the mechanical adjustments he’d made at the plate in recent seasons. He’s making my prediction look rather sage thus far, putting together a dazzling .419/.468/.628 batting line with a homer through the season’s first month while at one point putting together a 10-game hitting streak. He’s also taken the opportunity to showcase his strong throwing arm on several occasions behind the plate, nailing 38% of attempted base thieves so far this year. The most surprising development, however, has been Pina’s vastly improved framing ability. My chief complaint about Manny had been how poorly his pitch framing had graded out in recent years, with Baseball Prospectus valuing his work at in the minors at -15.5 framing runs since 2014 and -0.6 runs during his brief MLB stint last season. In 2017, however, Pina has so far produced +1.7 framing runs by BP’s metric, tying him for 4th-best among all MLB catchers (with the players ahead of him having anywhere between 99-332 more framing opportunities than Pina). StatCorner generally agrees with BP’s assessment of Pina’s ability to steal strikes this season, grading him out at +1.1 framing runs so far. Bandy, meanwhile, has been much less impressive on defense than his catching counterpart. He’s nabbed only 2 of 11 potential base stealers thus far and has been charged with three passed balls behind the plate. His pitch framing grades out among the worst catchers in baseball, with StatCorner valuing him at -1.3 framing runs and BP at -1.1, ranking 61st among the 69 (nice) recorded catchers this season. Bandy’s total defensive contributions by DRS (-4) and FRAA (-1.0) aren’t even in the same ballpark as his catching cohort (+4 DRS, +2.1 FRAA). As the season wears on, it will be important to keep an eye on how these numbers continue to develop. Each catcher has a sample size of only a shade more than 100 innings behind the dish, and defensive statistics are notoriously noisy in small samples. Should the trends continue, however, look for Manny Pina to start garnering a bit more playing time behind the plate than his counterpart Jett Bandy. It’s doesn[...]

Submit Your Questions for BCB Mailbag #22



Send in your questions and every Friday we'll answer them.

Today is Thursday, and you all know what that means:

Tomorrow is Friday.

And you know what Friday means:

Another edition of the BCB Mailbag!

We’re nearly a month into the season now and the Brewers have a record over .500. We’ve found out that ‘god’ apparently plays in Milwaukee and that Ryan Braun is still elite and generating trade rumors. We’re seeing that the pitching might actually be okay, and that some players we had big hopes for might not live up to them. So fire away with whatever questions you’ve got!

Looking forward to seeing what ya’ll come up with this week!

Milwaukee Brewers Daily Prospect Report: Wednesday, April 26


Scores and notes from the Brewers’ minor league affiliates. Colorado Springs Sky Sox - No Game Colorado Springs Sky Sox record: 12-5Next Game: tonight at Iowa Cubs, 6:38 p.m.Probables: Josh Hader, CS (#3) (2-2, 3.15 ERA) vs. TBD, Iowa Jackson Generals 6 at Biloxi Shuckers 5 Player of the Day: Dustin Houle: 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI, R Mauricio Dubon (#9): 2-2, R, SBJacob Nottingham (#14): 0-1, RMichael Reed (#28): 1-3, RBI Angel Ventura (L, 0-2): 4.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 KBowdien Derby: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Biloxi Shuckers record: 7-13Next game: tonight at Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 6:35 p.m.Probables: Taylor Jungmann, Bil (0-2, 5.14 ERA) vs. Tyler Mahle, Pen (4-0, 0.68 ERA) Down East Wood Ducks 6 at Carolina Mudcats 4 Corey Ray (#2): 1-5, 2 RIsan Diaz (#5): 1-4, RBI, RTrent Clark (#6): 0-3, BBLucas Erceg (#7): 1-4Jake Gatewood (#25): 1-3, 2B, R, BBTroy Stokes Jr.: 2-3, BB Cody Ponce (#15): 7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 K Carolina Mudcats record: 8-10Next Game: this morning vs. Down East Wood Ducks, 10:00 a.m.Probable: Freddy Peralta, Car (#19) (0-1, 3.46 ERA) vs. Jeffrey Springs, DE (0-2, 7.15 ERA) Kane County Cougars 13 at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 0 Gilbert Lara (#17): 0-3Monte Harrison (#22): 0-4, 3 KMario Feliciano (#23): 0-4Demi Orimoloye (#24): 0-4, 3 KTucker Neuhaus: 1-4, 2B (Only Timber Rattlers hit) Braden Webb (L, 1-2): 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 4 K Timber Rattlers record: 9-11Next Game: tonight at Burlington Bees, 6:30 p.mProbable: Jordan Desguin, Wis (1-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Nate Bertness, Bur (0-1, 5.23 ERA) Prospect rankings courtesy of MLB Pipeline [...]

Milwaukee Brewers have had Ryan Braun discussions with San Francisco Giants, per report


The Giants need offense in the worst way. The San Francisco Giants have had a rough go of it so far in 2017. The club is mired in last place in the NL West at 8-14 and currently have six players on the disabled list, including ace Madison Bumgarner, who hurt his throwing shoulder while riding dirt bikes. Their offense has been anemic; the club has scored just 72 runs thus far to rank t-25th in the MLB while their collective 80 wRC+ ranks 27th. Specifically, San Francisco’s throng of left fielders have managed a meager .131/.207/.205 slash for a 17 wRC+. Only the Rangers have gotten worse production from their left field contingent. As it so happens, the Milwaukee Brewers currently have a very useful left fielder on their roster who has been the subject of trade rumors going back the last couple of years now. Though he’s been a bit overshadowed by Eric Thames’ home run barrage, Ryan Braun is now hitting a stellar .289/.379/.592 (154 wRC+) with 6 home runs and 4 steals through his first 87 plate appearances this season. He’s scalding the ball almost every time he makes contact and is currently carrying a 48.1% hard contact rate, which would be far-and-away the best total of his career. Both FRAA and UZR approve of his work thus far in left field, too, valuing him at 0.8 and 0.7 runs better than average through his first 21 games of the season. According to Andrew Baggarly, who covers the Giants for the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants and Brewers have indeed had discussions regarding a deal for Milwaukee’s franchise left fielder. According to Baggarly, the Brewers are seeking both “salary relief” and “some pretty good players” in exchange for Braun’s services. He also added that given Milwaukee’s solid start to the season (they are currently sitting at 12-11), he expects that the Brewers will likely hold on to Braun for now and see how the season goes: I will say that several scouts told me the Brewers were their surprise team of the spring. Several remarked how they looked much better than anticipated. And Bellarmine Prep’s Eric Thames is the talk of the league right now. Braun is still under contract through at least 2020 and is owed roughly $76 mil, including his $19 mil salary for this season. San Francisco is not one of the teams that he can veto a deal to with his partial no-trade clause, but he does earn his full 10-5 no-trade rights on May 14th. Braun has indicated that if he is dealt, he would prefer it to be a team in his native California so it’s unlikely the no-trade provision would prove to be a significant impediment towards a deal with the Giants. What is holding a deal back from happening, however, appears to be what Milwaukee is seeking in return. The Brewers are apparently looking to move most of, if not all, of Braun’s remaining salary if they are going to deal him. Not only that, but given San Francisco’s weaker farm system, the Brewers may very well be asking for their top two prospects - Tyler Beede and Christian Arroyo - to even get a package started. If the two speculative proposals made by Chris Crawford of Hero Sports are a good barometer for Braun’s value (to HOU for David Paulino, Derek Fischer, and Garrett Stubbs or to TEX for Joey Gallo, Yohander Mendez, and Jose Trevino) then it would be tough for San Francisco to put together the requisite package without including both Beede and Arroyo, along with another highly-rated prospect. Baggarly says that the fact that Braun is still in Milwaukee means that Slingin’ David Stearns hasn’t backed down one iota from what his initial asking price. Ryan Braun is still an elite offensive player in the MLB and the Brewers are valuing him as such, even given his age (33), contract status, and injury history. Given the lack of apparent urgency to get a deal done, it would seem that the Brewers are comfortable with retaining Braun moving forward if t[...]

Milwaukee Brewers rout Reds 9-4 to complete three-game sweep


Eric Thames left with an injury, but it’s reportedly nothing to worry about. Box Score Break out the brooms, folks, because the Milwaukee Brewers have completed their first sweep of the year. Wily Peralta took the hill for the Brewers today, and promptly served up a solo shot to Joey Votto in the first inning to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. That didn’t last long, though, as Milwaukee would storm back with a 5-spot against Reds’ starter Rookie Davis in the bottom of the inning. Jonathan Villar and Eric Thames lead off with singles and then were driven home on a 2-run double by Ryan Braun. A Travis Shaw single would put runners on the corners, followed by a Hernan Perez sac fly to make it 3-1. Jett Bandy then hit a single to score Shaw, and Nick Franklin hit a single of his own to put runners on first and second. Orlando Arcia then hit an RBI double to give the Brewers a 5-1 lead after one inning. The Brewers kept their collective foot on the gas over the next few innings, scoring a run in the second on a fielder’s choice by Shaw, 2 runs in the third on homer by Arcia, and another run in the fourth thanks to an RBI double by Bandy. With another 9 runs on the board today, the Brewers have now outscored their opponents by a margin of 120-104 on the season. Wily Peralta picked up his fourth win of the young season, but he was far from sharp during today’s game. Big Wily lasted 5+ innings while tossing 100 pitches, allowing four solo home runs: the one mentioned by Votto, one to Adam Duvall in the 4th, and two to Scott Schebler, one in the fourth inning and one in the sixth. He allowed eight hits and those four earned runs overall, striking out 7 opposing batters while walking two. His ERA now stands at 5.19 on the season, and his FIP is sitting even worse at 5.79. The Brewers received some quality outings from several members of their bullpen today, including a scoreless inning apiece from Carlos Torres, Jacob Barnes, Corey Knebel, and Neftali Feliz to close out the 9-4 victory. The win moves Milwaukee’s record back over .500 at 12-11, just 1.5 games back of the Cubs for the division lead in the NL Central. So far Milwaukee has played the league’s 9th-hardest strength of schedule (.523 opponent winning percentage), so it hasn’t simply been a case of them beating up on bad teams (h/t Travis Sarandos, who has locked his Twitter account). Even though it was a blowout, today’s game didn’t come without a scare, however. After flying out to end the bottom of the 7th, Eric Thames was pulled from the game in the top of the 8th and replaced by Jesus Aguilar at first base. Thames walked gingerly off the field, but after the game Craig Counsell told reporters that it was a simple case of hamstring tightness for the Brewers’ breakout star and that it wasn’t anything that should be considered serious going forward. Thames attributed tight hamstring to “wear and tear” of playing the game. Said he should be OK and in lineup on Friday. Team day off Thurs.— Tom (@Haudricourt) April 26, 2017 The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow before beginning a three-game weekend series against the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park to close out the month of April. Cripes, can you believe the regular season is more than 14% of way over already? [...]