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

Updated: 2017-12-11T16:09:52-06:00


Report: Milwaukee Brewers among teams “intrigued” by possible Matt Harvey swap


He’s the definition of a buy-low candidate. Earlier today at baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, Milwaukee Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell held his press conference for the assembled media. Among the topics that were discussed included how he and GM David Stearns are searching for and discussing different avenues of putting together 27 outs next season. It’s no secret that the Brewers are looking to beef up their pitching staff for 2018, and a recent report has surfaced connecting them to Matt Harvey of the New York Mets. Yesterday Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily news reported that the Mets are on the lookout for “a second baseman, a difference-making reliever and insurance at first base and in the outfield” and are willing to move Harvey in order to address one of those needs. Matthew Cerrone of SportsNet New York followed up on that report today, saying that multiple teams would be willing to make a deal for the former ace, including the Orioles, Yankees, A's, and our own Milwaukee Brewers. Cerrone suggests that those teams listed would be interested in dealing a reliever for Harvey, but the Brewers may match up better by addressing one of New York’s other needs. Neither Corey Knebel nor Josh Hader would make sense in a swap like this, though perhaps Jacob Barnes’ upside could be sold as an “impact reliever.” The Brewers do have depth in the outfield and around the infield that could be of interest to New York, however. The Brewers have already received some trade interest in Keon Broxton, who they are believed to be willing to move. Jonathan Villar and Hernan Perez have the ability to play second base and are out of minor league options, while first baseman Jesus Aguilar is also out of options, though there’s been no specific indication that Milwaukee is looking to deal any of those players. Harvey, who turns 29 next spring, was once discussed among the premier pitchers in all of baseball. He finished 4th in Cy Young award voting in 2014 after turning in 178.1 innings of 2.27 ERA ball, striking out 191 batters against only 31 walks while posting a DRA- of 50. He missed the following season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned for an excellent 2015 campaign that saw him compile a 2.71 ERA and 66 DRA- across 189.1 innings while helping lead New York to an NL pennant. His effectiveness began to dwindle in 2016, however, as he lost a mile-per-hour off his average fastball and could muster only a 4.86 ERA and 106 DRA- across 92.2 innings before his season was cut short by surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The wheels fell off upon his return in 2017, as Harvey lost yet another MPH off his heater (down to 94.6 MPH) and coughed up an unsightly 6.70 ERA and 157 DRA- in 92.2 innings while allowing a ghastly 2.0 HR/9. He missed two and a half months in the middle of the season with a stress injury to the scapula in his right shoulder and posted an 11.28 ERA in 5 starts upon his return in September. Harvey will be a free agent after the 2018 season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $5.9 mil during his final year of arbitration eligibility. His value has probably never been lower after two subpar and injury-marred campaigns and the onus would fall on Milwaukee’s coaching staff, specifically pitching coach Derek Johnson, to help Harvey find some tweak and regain his prior form. But there are worse buy-low candidates than a guy who authored a 2.53 ERA through his first 65 big league starts and has topped 5 WARP twice during his four full seasons in the big leagues. Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus [...]

Craig Counsell: Different ways to piece together ‘puzzle’ of 27 outs a focus for Brewers


With Jimmy Nelson expected to miss a significant part of 2018, the team’s manager says they’re focused on finding innings anywhere they can Managers across baseball were made available to the media today during the Winter Meetings, and Craig Counsell had a few interesting things to say about the year ahead. As expected with Jimmy Nelson's shoulder injury, pitching was a big topic of conversation -- specifically how they plan to cover Nelson's innings while he's out, and piece together 27 outs every night. While there's still no timeline on when Nelson will be able to return, Counsell did say it's possible he'll be able to do some throwing in Spring Training, and that could help them get a better idea. In the meantime, the Brewers are keeping an open mind on all options to soak up innings in his absence: Q. Are there resources in the want to add a No. 1 pitcher out there via trade or free agency? CRAIG COUNSELL: “Yeah, there's the want to, yeah, yeah. I think what we have to do is we have to just -- to me it's a puzzle of the innings. It's putting together the innings and how we're going to cover all the innings. And I think the better the pitcher, you feel like the more innings the guy can pitch, which has a carryover effect, to me, to the rest of the team, to the bullpen specifically. So I think we're definitely in need of innings and how we get those innings, starters, relievers, is kind of still what we're trying to sift through.” Of course, getting someone like Jake Arrieta would conceivably make some of the decision making easier (although Arrieta has been no guarantee to work deep into games recently), but echoing comments from GM David Stearns a few days ago, Counsell says they don't necessarily have to go out and get an "ace" to replace Nelson: “I think that great starting pitching certainly it makes your job easier, for sure. The decisions don't happen as soon in the game; they tend to happen a little later in the game with really quality starting pitching. But I think we have to be open to figuring out different ways to piece together the 27 outs, and I think we were pretty successful at that last year in kind of deploying some guys in different ways. It certainly gave us another avenue to do that. So depending upon how our pitching kind of -- our look of how we look for pitching and how we find pitching this winter, I think that will kind of dictate our approach to it next year.” Regardless of who is added, that approach seems likely to include a heavy reliance on relief matchups again in 2018: Q. With all the starting-pitcher focus, when you get up there with Dave and those guys, how focused are they on the bullpen? CRAIG COUNSELL: “Well, as I say, putting innings together to put together a season is what our job is. That can be done in the bullpen. You can put innings together in the bullpen that maybe lessen the need for a guy that you can count on for the huge number of innings. So I think really it was a big piece of our success. We obviously lost a lot of games in the bullpen, but really it was a function of us playing so many close games. In the end, really, our bullpen was a place that we really leaned on heavily and they got lots of outs, the traditional reliever got lots of outs for us. And it was a successful formula.” Speaking of successful formulas, Josh Hader had an electric debut out of the bullpen in 2017. According to Counsell, though, his role for next season is still up in the air, and likely won't be decided for awhile: "Yeah, I think -- look, we have not added any pitchers to the mix as of yet. So I think part of that decision kind of is reflective on what we add and who we add. The other thing is that he had a lot of success in the role we used him last year. Are there ways to expand on that? Can you use him at the start of the game in a role like that? So we're considering everything right now with Josh and like I said on Dec. 10, you feel like you got some time still." It seems pretty clear that the [...]

Milwaukee Brewers Trade Assets: Domingo Santana


Milwaukee’s right fielder has already drawn widespread interest this winter. Now that Shohei Ohanti and Giancarlo Stanton have found their homes for 2018, the rest of Major League Baseball can get on with their business and the offseason can finally kick into gear. A few transactions have been completed over the last couple of days, but with the Winter Meetings taking place this week there is sure to be no shortage of activity around the league. One team who figures to be at the center of the hustle and bustle is the Milwaukee Brewers, who head to Orlando with a shopping list that starts with starting pitching. The Brewers have ample room in their payroll to make some significant additions, however GM Slingin’ David Stearns has made some comments recently that seem to indicate that he’s not too keen about doling out a $20+ mil annual salary for someone like Jake Arrieta. Some have speculated that it’s more likely that an impact acquisition comes via the trade market, and there have been reports recently that the Brewers are receiving interest in their stable of outfield depth. Among that group of players, the most valuable commodity is arguably starting right fielder Domingo Santana. Santana, who turned 25 in August, began his professional career back in 2009 when the Phillies inked him as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Santana didn’t spend long with Philadelphia, however, as he was accidentally traded to the Astros in 2011 as a part of the package that brought Hunter Pence to the City of Brotherly Love. It was with Houston that Santana started to really gain some notoriety as a prospect. Santana rated as one of Houston’s top prospects for the next several seasons as he tore up minor league pitching, and even though he suffered through a nightmarish MLB cup of coffee in 2014 (0-17, 14 K), Domingo entered the 2015 season ranked as a top-100 prospect by MLB Pipeline. With the Astros in the hunt for a playoff spot, however, their front office (lead by Jeff Luhnow and David Stearns) was compelled to make a splash at the trade deadline. They put together a deal that sent Santana along with Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez. Domingo debuted with Milwaukee a few weeks later and showed well in the 38 games he played down the stretch, sending one over the fence in his first game as a Brewer and batting .231/.345/.421 with 6 home runs in 145 plate appearances. That was enough to convince Milwaukee to deal Khris Davis the following offseason, making room for Santana to play everyday in right field in 2016. He struggled with a shoulder injury that season, though, and was only healthy enough to appear in 77 games. He did hit a promising .256/.345/.447 with 11 home runs in his 281 plate appearances, however, which was enough to secure him the gig in right field once again heading into 2017. Santana would stay healthy enough to get a full season’s worth of at-bats in 2017 and wound up becoming Milwaukee’s best offensive player. The 25 year old’s breakout season included a .278/.371/.505 batting line across 607 plate appearances with 30 home runs. He lead the club in plate appearances, runs scored (88), on-base percentage, weighted on-base average (.372), and wRC+ (126), was 2nd with 85 RBI, a .278 batting average, and a 12% walk rate, and finished third on the team in home runs and more surprisingly, stolen bases (15). His contributions helped the Milwaukee Nine capture 86 victories, which had them on the cusp of a playoff berth during what was supposed to be another “rebuilding season.” Santana is very obviously an offensive force, ranking in the top-15 among all qualified outfielders last season in wRC+. He does strike out quite a bit, including a 31.7% career K rate and a 29.3% rate last season, but when he does make contact he makes it count. Only 18 qualified hitters registered hard contact more often than Domi[...]

Milwaukee Brewers are still willing to deal Ryan Braun, per report


The Brewers are also looking to add pitching, both starters and relievers. Baseball’s Winter Meetings begin today as executives from across the league matriculate to the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where there figures to be plenty of wheeling and dealing over the course of the next several days. With that in mind, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe took the opportunity to preview what each of the league’s 30 teams may look to accomplish before the meetings end on Thursday and everyone heads home. Here’s what he had to say about our own Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers have the offense, now they need pitching. They need that No. 1 guy and they’re expected to be in the hunt for Arrieta and Darvish or seek a deal for someone such as Archer. They would have to be willing to move top prospect Lewis Brinson to make any major deal. They would love another reliever, and they would entertain dealing Ryan Braun. It’s well-known that the Brewers are on the hunt for pitching this winter, with both David Stearns and Craig Counsell emphasizing the need to add proven innings to the rotation for next season in the wake of Jimmy Nelson’s shoulder surgery. Though Stearns has publicly downplayed all of the various scenarios that have been reported, there has been speculation tying his club free agents Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn as well as trade possibility Chris Archer, among other players who are said to be available. Cafardo doubles down on those reports, saying that Milwaukee is “expected” to be involved in the bidding for Arrieta, Archer, as well as free agent stud Yu Darvish. In addition to starting pitching help, Cafardo suggests that adding to their relief corps is a priority. Reports have also surfaced in the past few days that the Brewers are receiving calls regarding their plethora of advanced outfield depth, though most of that speculation has revolved around Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana. Cafardo adds that the team is still willing to listen to offers for former MVP outfielder Ryan Braun, who recently celebrated his 34th birthday. Braun, the final pillar left standing from the before the rebuild began, was nearly dealt to the Dodgers in an August 2016 deal that wound up falling through. Interest waned in his services last season though, as the outfielder battled injuries while batting .268/.336/.487 with 17 home runs and 12 steals in 425 plate appearances. While his 110 wRC+ was still productive, it was the lowest total that Braun has ever put up in his career. Some of that can probably be attributed to bad luck, however, as Braun’s .292 BABIP was the the poorest mark of his career even though his 39% hard-contact rate was his 2nd-highest ever. There are several complicating factors to a potential Braun trade, of course. First is the fact that he earned full 10-5 no-trade rights last season after becoming a player with at least 10 years of MLB service and 5 consecutive years with the same team. He’s also still owed a sizable $57 mil guaranteed over the next three seasons, including the buyout of his 2021 contract option. Those obstacles haven’t stopped writers from speculating about a possible Braun deal, such as this Eno Sarris article from The Athletic that suggests that the Giants should pursue Braun as an alternative to Giancarlo Stanton. Braun has previously suggested that at this point, though, the only team he would be willing to approve a deal to is his hometown Dodgers. One last interesting note from Cafardo is the suggestion that if the Brewers are serious about landing Chris Archer or another front-line pitcher via trade, they will need to be willing to part with top prospect Lewis Brinson. Milwaukee was previously unwilling to include Brinson in deals for Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray this past summer, though Stearns recently indicated in an interview Tom Haudricourt that that doesn’t necessarily mean Brinson or other top prospects would be off-l[...]

San Francisco Giants reportedly interested in Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana


It’s not just Domingo Santana that the Giants are possibly eyeing during this week’s Winter Meetings After whiffing on both Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, the San Francisco Giants are reportedly still looking for help in the outfield. The Milwaukee Brewers happen to have too many outfielders. The match is logical, and as a result, some of the earliest rumors coming out of this year's winter meetings are mentioning the possibilities between the two teams. Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday afternoon that the Giants were interested in Domingo Santana. This morning, Tom Haudricourt reiterated the interest in Santana and says there's another possibility for the San Francisco -- center fielder Keon Broxton. Teams usually deal from positions of depth and #Brewers have great OF depth. That could be best means to acquire needed starting pitcher. Giants reportedly have interest in Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 10, 2017 Most of the interest here focuses around Domingo Santana, and for good reason. He would be under team control for four years, and his contract should be easily affordable for at least the next two. At 25 years old, he has the potential to be the kind of player that you can build a team around. In 2017, he recorded 30 HR, 15 SB, 85 RBI, a .278/.371/.505 batting line, and a 126 wRC+. It’s clear why any team would want him. Of course, those are also the reasons why the Brewers should keep him. There’s also the argument to be made that moving Santana now could be a smart move. While the hype around him is high and there’s a lot of hope that he will continue to improve, the same could have been said of Jonathan Villar last offseason. After putting up 19 HR, 62 SB, and a .285/.369/.457 batting line in 2016, his numbers dropped to 11 HR, 23 SB, and .241/.293/.372 in 2017. It was a big step backwards for Villar, so severe that there were some discussions about if he would even be tendered a contract this offseason (he did receive one). There is a big difference between the two cases, though. Villar had three subpar seasons in Houston before coming to Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Santana’s early struggles can be attributed more to injury than ability, and even in his limited time in 2015 & 2016, he’s shown promise. His wRC+ in all three years has been 111 or higher, and his career OBP so far is .353, not falling below .337 in a single season (excluding his few PA in 2014). Betting on Santana here is much better bet. The other problem with moving Santana would be the return. The Brewers will want a significant return if they gave up Santana in a trade. In addition, prospects likely won’t be enough of a return anymore. Major league players would have to be included in any deal involving Santana, or at least players who are major league ready. The Brewers aren’t rebuilding anymore, and if they are truly ready to compete, the only way a trade makes sense is if it makes the major league team better right now. All of this makes a trade of Santana unlikely, but there are other outfielders in the Brewers system that could make sense. Lewis Brinson remains a potential trading chip for the Brewers, especially if they are prepared to commit to an outfield of Ryan Braun, Brett Phillips, and Domingo Santana for the next few years. Trading Brinson could have a better chance of yielding a major-league return, especially with his high ranking in the Brewers system. While his numbers in limited action in 2017 weren’t good (.106/.236/.277 in 55 PA), there’s little that can be drawn from that so far, and his Triple-A numbers (.331/.400/.562) were better. The Brewers would also need to get a great return to move him, but he’s a more likely target right now. There’s also Brett Phillips that could draw some consideration, though the likelihood of him being traded falls between Brinson and Santana. It’s too early to know about Philli[...]