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Old 07-21-2011, 03:27 AM   #1
MadBum
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An OOTP 11 Dynasty: The Brew Crew

I was looking for a challenge. I took the worst team in the majors. It turned out to be the Milwaukee Brewers, who despite nearly perfect health finished 67-95. There were many culprits; the above average offense was not one of them. The pitching was the worst in all of baseball by a relatively large margin, despite having good gloves behind them. That's where I'll have my hands full.

A little background- I’ve only played the free version of OOTP, until recently purchasing OOTP 11. The Brewers aren’t too bad a team- the rebuilding shouldn’t take too long. There are pieces in place. My only prior experience managing was with the 2007 Giants; it took (count them) 4 100 loss seasons, a losing season, a heartbreaking September choke, and a wild card berth turned World Series win to finally get San Francisco on top. I’m persistent; that’s about the only thing you can count on. I’m sure you’ll hear plenty more on those Giant teams later on.

I’m sure you’ve heard enough of me rambling (get used to it!) already about god knows what, but only 3 words remain: Go Brew Crew!

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Old 07-21-2011, 08:13 AM   #2
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Go Brew Crew
I absolutely agree Go Crew !!!

Let's find out what you can do with our Brewers !
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Old 07-21-2011, 03:29 PM   #3
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The Carnage of the Central

Thanks Germaniac for the comment. We only have room to go up, as you'll see in a couple seconds. Hopefully I can make the Crew faithful proud!

Just a Heads-Up: We’re entering the year 2011, recapping the year 2010

If I knew how to do it, I’d have a nifty little screen that shows the standings from the NL Central and around the league. I have no clue how to do that though, so you’ll just have to listen to me talk (or, in this case type) a little longer. Maybe I should ask Mike Lowe how to do this; he sure seems to have the hang of this. Oh well.

Due to the unbalanced schedule, we finished last place in 6th, instead of the normal 5th. Shame, that is. Making that worse is that our division was the Gigli (you guys have heard of that movie, right?) of NL divisions- terrible, uninspiring, despite having some big stars (Albert Pujols?). In the end, the Redlegs took home the honor, if you can call it that, of division champs- this all despite a -27 run differential, and a 87-75 record. Their lack of skill was shown in the postseason, as the Rockies showed them the door 3-0 in the playoffs. They may go down as the worst playoff team in recent memory, playing like a 78-84 club according to some Greek mathmetician.

The Cardinals wasted a great season from Pujols, who hit 30 home runs with a 1.002 OPS. His contact expires at the end of the 2011 season, meaning the team's window is closing, and 83-79 doesn’t cut it...unless you’re the 2006 Cardinals. But this team didn’t have the grit of Eckstein, and missed the playoffs. (Eckstein, meanwhile, spent his days in San Diego, grinding out a .256 average) Sure, they were the best team in the division, but sometimes baseball does some funny things. If you can't win 86 games, you don't deserve to make the playoffs, and such is life.

The Cubs and Pirates tied for third at 78-84. For the Bucs, it’s a step forward from 60 win territory. It's tough to call a team with 17 losing seasons in a row a team on the rise, but I think the Pirates are just that. A lot can happen though, especially when you're a team relying on the fabled youth movement. For the Lovable Losers, it’s a far cry from the team so close to a World Series until...Bartman. This is a Cubbie team going downhill fast. Looks like it will be 120 years, Aunt Margie. I'm sorry. Prior and Wood ain’t walking through the door, folks, and neither is a winning ballclub.

Houston’s window of competing closed 5 years ago, in 2005. They’re still coping with that closure, and can’t decide if they’re rebuilding or not. With Ed Wade at the helm, don't expect this team to make an actual effort at rebuilding. Then as the Moneyball trailer says, “There’s the good teams, the bad teams, 50 layers of crap...then there’s us.” Not an exact quote, but it works. The Stros were 72-90; we were 5 games behind, at 67-95. This, all despite 42 homers from Prince Fielder. This Crew wasn't 100 loss bad, but that's only by the grace of a higher power. It is worth noting we were unlucky, playing like a 75-87 club. It'd be useful if that luck evens out while I'm at the helm. By nature, we’re the best and worst sixth place team in the entire league, something the entire organization surely can be proud of.

Next time around, we take a look at the men who got us here. I would make some wisecrack about them playing like females, but softball players everywhere would take offense. First up: the starting pitchers. The guys who got us into this mess in the first place.

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Old 07-22-2011, 03:43 AM   #4
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Dreaming of Braden Looper...

“Now, humble writer, you’re being too harsh on your pitching. Surely they’re better than you say!”

Stop calling me Bob Shirley, first of all. Second of all, there is a reason we were last in the NL in ERA. Here they are:

We’ll make your eyes bleed first:

2010 MIL: 4-11, 6.56 ERA, 33 G/15 GS, 105.2 IP, 137 H, 30 HR, 6.45 FIP

You’re passed out on the ground. You have no clue how you got there. You remember something about a brewery, or something. Then you get up, see your computer screen, and do it again.

Finally, you compose yourself. It took some throwing up, but you got the job done. No beating around the Bush; David sucks. I guess I’m being harsh on David “Beating” Bush, who really got screwed by the BABIP fairies, the HR/FB ratio fairies, and every other kind of fairy. But this is the second year in a row he’s had an ERA in the 6s, and he wasn’t that good at the peak of his limited abilities. His K rate (6.47) is just fine, he doesn’t walk many (2.73), and for a pitcher with a 52% ground ball rate that many homers is all kinds of ridiculous. Still, an impending free agent, and not one I’m eager to re-sign.

Doug Davis only use these days is the alliteration. His line:

2010 MIL: 5-16, 4.88 ERA, 31/31 G/GS, 182.2 IP, 28 HR, 5.27 FIP

Please fire me right away if I bring him back. He’s a 35 year old left handed soft tosser who’s not good. Or, in other words, “Randy Wolf”. This is what a rebuilding team needs to stay away from: giving starts to proven, old quantities when there’s some freely available, cheap AAA pitcher who can pitch just as bad for less money and with a little upside. Also eligible for free agency, where I’m sure he’ll find work. One thing’s for sure: Not here.

I know have to acknowledge the existence of Randy Wolf, or should we say, “The Contract”. 4 years, 38.25 million. This is what we got for the FIRST YEAR from a 34 YEAR OLD pitcher:

2010 MIL: 10-7, 4.83 ERA, 23/23, 147.1 IP, 20 HR, 4.75 FIP

That sucks. If I wanted to give free agent money to a crap pitcher, I’d give to someone I liked (like Braden Looper!), not a generic soft tossing lefty. 34 good starts in pitcher friendly Los Angeles doesn’t justify that length or that cash (which is just as good as money), and I now have to pay the price. He does have a nifty change-up, can hit for a pitcher, and is left handed. Those all have uses at the minimum or slightly above, but not this $$$. I’m afraid that this is going to be his last usable year, and that might be stretching it. Eating the contract would require a stomach of Prince Fielder proportions, and I'm a skinny guy with a cheap owner.

I don’t believe in Manny Parra, despite him going to a college in my area and...WOW! SHINY!

2010 MIL: 11-9, 3.63 ERA, 32/32, 208 IP, 19 HR, 3.67 FIP

My scout hates him, no one wants him in a trade, and the season before he had a 6.36 ERA (!!). There’s something missing here...I can see he was home run lucky, his K rates upped, and his BB rate downed (is that a word? I digress). Then I see it: 14 unearned runs. Stack those up, and suddenly his ERA is 4.24; still shiny, but not as good. I don’t want to say I’m not comfortable having this man pitching for me, but I don’t trust him. Sick curve, though, and everyone loves left handed pitchers. Or that's what I've been told, because judging by the ones we have I sure don't.

Light at the End of the Tunnel”, Yovani Gallardo, closes out the regular rotation. You can take any of our other pitchers, but Gallardo is ours and you can’t have him.

2010 MIL: 9-10, 4.17 ERA, 31/31, 181.1 IP, 27 HR, 3.52 FIP

Strikes out 10.4 per 9. He’ll never be quite at the level of “Timmay!” because of his control (or lack thereof) and not super movement, but he’s damn good. Not Rick Ankiel bad control either. On a great team, he’s probably not an ace, but do we look like a great team? The curve and change are nasty, the fastball touches 93, and he’s under team control...let me pull out the abacus...3 more years, I think. We suffer through 4 days of grueling pitching, but the fifth day is a day of rest...or just good pitching, I guess. Terrible Biblical metaphor there. The guys this good this young for this price are rare, and we’re overjoyed to have him. How refreshing...competence! And home grown too!

Now it’s time for the guys who weren’t good enough to beat out David Bush. I’m excited!

Josh Butler (2-4, 4.61 ERA, 52.2 IP) is 25, throws hard, and is 6-5. Scouts love him, but my doesn’t. He had decent minor league results and has a heavy sinker. When it’s on, the ball’s on the ground. When he’s off, it’s in the seats. He’s good minor league depth, and he might make the opening day rotation if I can't find anybody else. I'd rather have Kyle Davies, who at least according to some MLB Network host is the "Worst pitcher ever"

Jeff Suppan (3-1, 5.60 ERA, 54.2 IP) is overpaid at 12 million dollars a season, but 2011 is (thankfully) the last year. I like him more than Davis or Wolf, but I’m definitely not a big fan. I don’t trust him as a starter, but long relief could suit him fine. Every staff needs a sponge who can bail out a 2 inning start, and that fits the high stamina, high runs approach of Suppan quite well.

The final one on the list is Marco Estrada (0-5, 7.41 ERA, 34 IP), who’s not very good. He wasn’t terribly unlucky, meaning he’s just plain terrible. I don’t see him ever starting, but he’s got a 40 man spot so he’ll be in competition for a bullpen slot. Flyball tendencies don’t fit in our hitters park, and neither does a batting practice fastball. Could have a future...in the broadcaster's booth! Zing! Aren't scouts so funny?

I do have a dream. Maybe one day, I'll have a rotation of Gallardo, two guys currently in the system, the #1 pick this year, and a guy I picked up in free agency. Not a great rotation, but one far better than the steaming turd we have in front of us. That's at least 2 to 3 years down the line, so for now I'll have to quit day dreaming and plunge the toilet.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:00 PM   #5
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Thanks Germaniac for the comment. We only have room to go up, as you'll see in a couple seconds.
That's what we Brewers fan have been thinking for a long time ... however, more often than not, that wasn't the case

While you often can't go any lower, the Crew often stayed right where they've been
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:13 PM   #6
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That's what we Brewers fan have been thinking for a long time ... however, more often than not, that wasn't the case

While you often can't go any lower, the Crew often stayed right where they've been
Thanks again for stopping by. Your name reminds me of a guy I saw play in AAA, JJ Furmaniak. He never was very good, and only had like 30 ABs career in the bigs. His walk-up song was "She's a Maniac", so now I think of that whenever I see your name. Sorry

Only three playoff appearances and no championships will do that to a fan. Something tells me that if the Desastros and the Lovable Last Placers beat us out, something has gone terribly wrong. I'm thinking third or fourth is a reasonable expectation, but who knows? Maybe history will repeat itself for the poor fanbase.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:42 PM   #7
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Farming for prospects

And you thought our big league rotation was bad! Finding a good pitching prospect in here is like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack, if there was mud all over the stack. I did my best, but now my hands all are dirty and this is all I got. I’ll wash up while you read. And all this hard work could be thrown away by the common Baseball Prospectus line: There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.

Zach Braddock is the only real intriguing pitcher pitching in Nashville, going 5-3 with a 4.30 ERA in a tough league for pitchers. His AA numbers weren’t pretty, and he’s a flyball pitcher. Dialing it up to 95 can cure many things, as can a wipeout slider, but I don’t see the control coming, and his stuff ain’t that good. Best starter in the upper minors; that shows what a mess our player development is. He has the requisite three pitches to be a starter, but perhaps a conversion to reliever or LOOGY will give him some success. The first of many "If he gets control, and if he keeps it in the park he'll be great!"

Kameron Loe has spent plenty of time in the bigs, but the 29 year old had an ERA over 5 in AAA. Of course, he was never that good in Texas, and he’s gone downhill since. At some point, you have to say “It’s over” and let him fly, fly, fly away. But I need depth, and Loe has the pedigree of a man who's started in the big leagues. Better than Robinson Tejeda, at the very least.

Cody Scarpetta blew out his elbow, but not before posting a 10.04 ERA in 8 AAA starts. Yep, he's terrible. Yep, he has a 40 man spot. Nope, I have no clue what the old guard was thinking. He throws decently hard, and is young, but that's all he has going for him. In the words of Bill James, “Pass.”

Mike McClendon throws strikes, lots of them. That can get you dominating 22 years old in AA when you’re 25, but it don’t work when you take on someone your own size and age. Few righty slow throwers survive, and when your dream is to have the career of Jeff Suppan or Brian Sanches you hardly have a dream at all.

Chuck Lofgren used to be a top prospect for the Tribe. That was a long, long, long, time ago.

Wily Peralta, R.J. Seidel, Nick A. Green, Jeremy Jeffress, and Mike Ramlow were the top 5 in GS for one of our A ball clubs, and all had ERAs above 4.65. And these aren't some fresh-faced 19 year olds, either. Jeffress throws hard, but starting isn’t his gig. Not to be blunt”, but relief is his only potential path to the bigs.

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Jeffress has already been suspended once for testing positive for "a drug of abuse," which he later admitted was weed, and it looks like he just can't give the ganja up.
Tyler Chatwood and Bryan Morris throw hard, but their ERAs make them hard to love, even if you are their mother or some scout who only looks at velocity. For whatever the heck it's worth, I like Chatwood more than Morris, for no reason but his youth.

The 20 year old “Porteriqueno” (My Spanish has gone unused for far too long) Efrain Nieves ain’t your typical youthful prospect, with subpar stuff. He even reached AA at that youthful age, but let’s not get too excited; a big league future is not in the cards. He is left handed; I may be able to talk myself into believing in his ability to be a 5th starter/long reliever. Still, that's not a player to be excited about.

We got 23 year old Wes Roemer for Carlos Villanueva and cash, which is just as good as money, in July. The California native was solid in AA for the Snakes, but pitched far worse upon coming over. If he has success in AA for us, a big league callup may be in 2012 for him. Good fastball; the less said for offspeed, the better. If he can get a quality secondary offering could be a #4 starter. Again, nothing to be excited about.

18 year old Dylan Covey was our first rounder, signed away from a San Diego commitment for 2.84 million. Young righties who throw 96-98 consistently are rare, and ones with a killer hammer are rarer still. He’s so young, but early returns from rookie ball are good- 39 strikeouts in 33 innings. It is rookie ball, and he's so far away that it's more likely he flames out than makes it to the bigs, but it's hard not to get excited when a kid has stuff like this. The stuff will always be there; the question is if the movement and control will come along with it. The hope of all of our pitching prospects, the jewel, the pride and joy.

Many years ago, Eric Arnett was Dylan Covey. Hard throwing righty first rounder, who did get some encouraging results in Helena. But it's been downhill ever since for Arnett. Doesn’t have much potential other than the stuff, but 94 mph on the gun will get you plenty of chances. Slider/change=no bueno (more Spanish!)

Jake Odorizzi is another one of our precious first round picks, a 21 year old who throws 95. His slider has good potential, but his A ball results (albeit in 2 starts) were poor. Good in rookie ball, so we won’t give up on him yet. His A ball trial this year will tell us everything we want to know about the right hander.

Kyle Heckathorn fits with the previous 3 prospects, other than the 1st round pedigree. That rhymed, and it was all unintentional. It's official; I'm a wordsmith. Anyway, "Hella"thorn throws 97-99 with a potentially good slider, but the change-up is never going to be a plus pitch. Bullpen is likely in his future, but we’d love to see him start and dominate. All depends on the development of the change. Groundball guy too, so there’s a lot to like. Projected role in the MLB: Bullpen. Dangit!

Most of our guys fit in the same mold; hard throwers with little idea where the ball is going, and dinger prone. Those are typically the guys that flame out the most, which leaves me concerned. I figure we'll get at least one quality big leaguer of the bunch, but TINSTAPP provides a warning to not get my hopes up.

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Old 07-23-2011, 06:29 PM   #8
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What a Relief!

They’re called relief pitchers, but what these guys provided can hardly be called “relief”. I guess it’s a relief that few of them will be back! On a side note, I find myself looking for quality pitchers that just aren't here. No, John Axford is no longer part of the organization. Good try though.

Trevor Hoffman, Proven Closer (TM), is a 43 year old man. He has the all time saves record by 58 saves over Mariano. Mariano’s 41, so I think Trevor can retire in peace. He hasn’t announced it yet but after a 5.21 ERA (albeit with 34 saves), I’d assume he’ll go home to his family and enjoy himself. He’s earned it; 18 years of major league service is a long, long time. The change-up is still great, but not what it used to be, and the fastball/slider just aren't a good enough complement. I should note I want him back; he was unlucky, and still is a decent hurler.

LaTroy Hawkins (8-7, 4.46 ERA, 78.2 IP) is on the second year of a 2 year, 7.5 million dollar deal. Smoke and mirrors are his game now, as his fastball has lost his zip and his breaking pitches have lost their tilt. But remember when he used to be a hard-throwing starter for the Twins? Those were the days; I'm sure he tell his kids about them. Anyway, I know Spring Training doesn’t mean much, but it’s deciding his fate. On a contending team, he’s a good 11th man, but I’m looking to get younger and cheaper, and Hawkins does neither. I’ll probably cut him, but that’s no fault of his own. He'll hook on somewhere, probably for a team desperate for relievers such as the Diamondbacks (speaking of which Bob Howry had a 6 ERA for them, and still got 62 appearances. The best part? The Snakes are on the hook for another year of him. Their bullpen is pathetic! And...I just looked in the mirror)

I’d love to bring the Dominican Claudio Vargas back (1-2, 2.50 ERA, 50.1 IP), but he’s a Type A free agent, and isn’t too keen on coming back. We’ll offer him arbitration, and either way we win; draft pick or our relief ace. He’ll regress from the 2.50 ERA; he’s not that good, or that impressive of a pitcher. Plus, he's getting older at 33 years of age, and pitchers don't age quite as well as fine wine. I think it’s telling our three leaders in Games Pitched will not be back next year, in all likelihood. I have much work ahead of me; namely, adding 6 pitchers for my bullpen.

David Riske (3.22 ERA, 36.1 IP) is “Risky” to rely on in a close game, but he wasn’t too bad a year ago. Our “Old Man Bullpen” of Riske, Hoffman, and Hawkins all throw in the 80s- Riske looks like Aroldis Chapman comparatively at 86-88. If his control is true, as it was last year, he’ll get enough Ks to be effective. If he’s walking people, though, we have some problems for “Risky”. No injuries for him, and no minor league time either, so I have no clue why he only pitched 36.1 innings. Maybe our manager just didn't like the way his face looked, or he said something about his mother. Whatever. Could be my Proven Closer (TM), if we can't find any other options.

I’ll lump Chase Wright (2.76 ERA, 16.1 IP) and Clay Zavada (6.46 ERA, 15.1 IP) together as sporadically used lefties, although both their current results and future ones are drastically different. Wright was far better in 2010, but looking ahead Zavada has better ratings and a better minor league pedigree. Wright can start in a pinch, but that's only if we're desperate and facing a heavily left handed club, such as the Phightin Phils. Zavada induces a ton of flyballs, which is going to lead to some dingers, but other than that he should be a fine relief option. That is, unless my scout's lying about him. I never should have trusted that guy. Mustachio (that is Zavada, look it up) was a waiver claim, so he ain’t much; the only thing anybody remembers about Wright is him getting bombed on Sunday Night Baseball for the Empire, and that’s less.

Quote:
But D-backs relief pitcher Clay Zavada took home an award this weekend that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and closer Mariano Rivera weren’t even up for: He was named the 2009 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year, winning a national vote.
Amaury Rivas (8.1 IP, 5.40 ERA), Casey Fien (12.2 IP, 7.82 ERA), Mark Rogers (2 IP, 22.50 ERA), and Alex Periard (1 IP) are all nondescript righties who didn’t see much of the “show”. They all suck too. Rogers is the only interesting one; that happens when you’re a former 5th overall pick, and throw 97. Arm troubles have derailed his career as a starter, and he's just holding out hope he can find what he's lost. At some point in the offseason, I think you'll see everyone of these guys but Rogers removed from the 40 man and go into the great unknown, wherever that might be for the poor guys. Probably Cleveland.

TINSTAARPP (There is no such thing as a relief pitching prospect) and all, but I think we may have a few. Haha, not really. The upper minors have your typical guys- little stuff, but decent results. Our versions are Dave Johnson and Chris Smith- in case of emergency, I’ll break the glass on these two. Smith is a terrific win vulture in the mold of Tyler Clippard, while Johnson does bring some heat from the right side but has a mixed bag of minor league success.

Digging deeper, I find Del Howell and Maverick “McCain” Lasker hiding in the lower minors. Sure, they’re in rookie ball, but they give hope for bullpens of the future. And yeah, Howell's probably going to be a lefty specialist like Javier Lopez, and Lasker's ceiling is probably Kyle Farnsworth, but those guys have uses, especially if you get them at the minimum. Relief can decide pennants, even if it is in their own special small ways. Getting excited for MiL relievers is dumb anyway, so I’ll ignore these two for a period until they’re in the upper minors.

Kevin Towers is well known for his ability to build a bullpen from scratch, and I'm still not sure how he does it. Where the heck did Heath Bell come from? Luke Gregerson? Mike Adams? Well, Adams came from the Brew Crew, but that's not the point. The point is that there's a reason I'm running a team on a computer screen, and Towers and others are doing it in the real world. I may be pretty baseball savvy, but it pales in comparison to the guys that actually are in major league organizations. I'll fake my way through it the best I can, but I'm no Towers, that's for sure. When my bullpen has a 6.50 ERA midway through May, remind me of that.

Last edited by MadBum; 07-23-2011 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:53 PM   #9
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A few Observations

Before I type anything about our position players, I figured I take the time to jot down a few observations that have been bouncing in my head. Regularly scheduled programming will return in a bit.

-Our big league club is filled with geezers whose fastball sits below 90 mph. Riske, Hoffman, Hawkins, Wolf, Davis, and Suppan...that's just off the top of my head! I can appreciate a pitcher who can succeed with less than stellar stuff, but relying on them for half your pitching staff is not a good idea. Especially when they're all old and past their prime, and your team's the worst in the bigs...

-Our minor league staff is the complete opposite. Sure, we have guys like Efrain Nieves and McClendon who don't throw hard, but everybody else does...Chatwood, Morris, Odorizzi, Arnett, Heckathorn, Covey, Braddock, and Jeffress all bring serious heat, and a lot of these guys aren't even good prospects except for their velocity.

-I seriously have 6 bullpen slots to fill. That's a tough task to fill just through free agency, even if I am Kevin Towers.

-I really like the upside of our minor league arms. Plenty will flame out because they suck or have an arm injury, but it's hard not to get fired up when you see guys who throw in the 90s with good breaking balls. In a couple of years, you will quote this after our whole system goes down to collective Tommy John Surgery.

Alright. Now onto the Tools of Ignorance...
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Old 07-24-2011, 03:49 AM   #10
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Tools of Intelligence

As is the case with the majority of our offense, we got a solid performance out of our catching. It doesn’t dismiss the need for an upgrade-far from it- but we could happily let our current catchers ride it out. Probably our third or fouth weakest position, which says more about how good the offense is than how bad this group is.

Left handed hitting catcher George Kottaras (418 AB, .242/.332/.455) finally got extended playing time at the major league level last year, and performed admirably. He’ll never be a big average guy, but a lefty with some sock (23 HR) can be a starter on my team any day. He’s only average with the glove, and that’s pushing it. I’d love to have him backing up a good right handed hitting catcher, and platoon a bit. If we can find that dream right handed catcher, we'll have one of the best groups in the majors. The mere thought of it...swoon!

Gregg Zaun (160 AB, .269/.348/.412) is a switch-hitter who hits pretty well, is a good guy in the clubhouse, and is a quality fielder. He’s 38, meaning that he is probably going to ride off in the sunset and retire. For a man who suited up for 10 major league teams, it’s been a long journey to this point, and the rest of retirement will serve him well. After all, getting down in the squat ain't easy, and back in his day they didn't even have the facemask. Okay, maybe he's not Buck Ewing, but it is fun making Jack McKeon old jokes. I’d take him back as a back-up again, but I doubt I will be given that chance due to him retiring. He also needs some Playboy magazines, if Major League is to be believed.

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It was a laugher for the Brewers last night, but early on Gregg Zaun suffered through a catcher’s nightmare: an inability to throw the ball back to the mound after a pitch.
Jonathan Lucroy lost a bit of his prospect shine last year, with injures and poor play doing the deed. Hitting .220 and .205 in AAA and AA is no way to shoot up the prospect lists, folks. Intriguing eye and other abilities, but not enough to make a solid regular. if I was constructing a “team of the future” like Baseball America does, he’d probably be the back-up to Kottaras. Good defense makes him an ideal candidate to be a card-carrier in the "Backup Catchers Union".

Angel Salome is the closest thing to Fangraphs favorite market inefficiency of little people (being politically correct never hurt anyone) at 5-6. The Dominican sparkplug tore his ACL last year while hitting .375 in AAA. Poor chap; he could have easily added upon 3 career MLB at-bats. Still, he'll be in the back of our minds if we ever need to call up another catcher, or if a trade is potentially in the works. Not a bad life, is it?

Shawn Zarraga hit just fine as a 21 year old in A Wisconsin, but I don’t see much in his future. Same goes for pretty much any other catcher in the system, who will not be seeing the major leagues unless they buy a ticket.

With Zaun likely gone, either by free agency or retirement, I’ll look for a righty to have fun with Kottaras in platoon. I’d love to see Salome or Lucroy do it, but I don’t know if I trust them quite yet, as injuries and bad hitting have curtailed their development. Sign a guy at the minimum, replace from within. Sounds like the prototypical organizational plan to me.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:02 AM   #11
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The one position I could not have a worry in the world about. Prince Fielder is one of the best out there, and he’s no one year wonder either. Fielder is the face of the franchise, and with good reason. I see no reason that his production will stop, so I have one position where I won’t be shopping for free agents. Big comfort there.

“King” Fielder (.264/.424/.551, 42 HR) is not “Fat Albert”, but he’s still in the top 5 of first basemen in the game. Hits home runs, slugs in other ways, and is a walking machine. The only way he could be better is if he hit .300, but we're not asking him to be Lou Gehrig here. Although that would be nice. I know it fits more in a rebuilding mode to trade him, but I don’t see us being too far away from the “next winning Brewer team”, and we're going to need production of the first base slot to make any sort of a run at it. Sure, Travis Ishikawa can produce too, but we'd like to try to keep one of the best in the majors. I’m more than willing to talk extension with him, and early feelers say he’s reasonable with his demands. Prince is the cornerstone that all the pieces we put together go around.

Joe Koshansky rakes wherever he goes, but he’s 29 right now. A 1.091 OPS is very good in AAA, but whose job he going to take? “King”s? No positional versatility really kills him, and if I was a team with no 1B I’d at least give this guy a chance. He is probably a AAAA player though, but he deserves at least 100 ABs. It's a tough life, being blocked by the best in the game. When beating Todd Helton has been your easiest road to the big leagues, you never really had a chance in the first place. Life’s not fair, so Joe will have to be content to “sing the blues” in Nashville.

Chris Errecart has a stellar eye, but all of his other talents are lacking. If he was playing shortstop, his offensive talents would be intriguing. Left handed, so we can't even give him a shot there either. It'd be unconvential, to say the least. Maybe in September, when we don't have a chance in the world to make the playoffs. MadBum: bringing the left handed shortstops to the big leagues since 2011. As a 1B, he’s pretty much useless. Did pretty well in AA, but not well enough to turn heads. Will platoon with Koshansky in AAA to find out who gets to be Fielder insurance.

Adam Heether was decent in AAA a year ago, but other then that the system’s pretty bare in the minors. Not a single prospect worth mentioning in the lower minors. We’re set for life here with Fielder, and it’s the one position I have no worries. Knock on wood, because an injury would be potentially crippling. But let's not think about that right now, before even a single bat has been swung! Moving past the doom and gloom of injuries, we do have intriguing options in the minors and a great big leaguer. Other organizations, such as I dunno, the Lovable Last Placers, would be proud to have our first basemen. I really have no clue how to wrap this up, but uh...Prince Fielder is really, really good! Woo hoo
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:21 AM   #12
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Well at least you got Prince Fielder.....
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:06 PM   #13
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Well at least you got Prince Fielder.....
Having Ryan Braun doesn't hurt either. The problem is guys like Randy Wolf, and I guess the rest of the pitching too. If I can scrounge up 3 quality starters and a couple of solid relievers from hidden crevices, we'll have a club in contention. Doing that, however, is much harder than it seems. Can I borrow a pitcher or two of yours?

Speaking of which, what team do you root for Big T? You write about the Redlegs, but I don't think you're a fan of them. One of life's great questions for now
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:52 PM   #14
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And the Weeks shall inherit the earth

When your club has a pretty solid regular, decent insurance, and your top prospect coming up, you feel pretty comfortable at the position. Of course, there is still uncertainity, in the form of some arm problems for the starter and some question marks about the minor league depth. Isn't in perfect shape, but in the upper half of the majors, and we're just fine with that.

Rickie Weeks (.248/.354/.423, 463 AB) is the brother of a pretty solid prospect I want in Jemile, but we got a pretty good player here anyway. He doesn’t swipe that many bags anymore, hits for low average, and he’s a butcher in the field, but what second basemen doesn’t have warts? Maybe Ben Zobrist, but Rickie isn't as bad as Emmanuel Burriss either. As a Giants fan, I can tell you that Burriss is one of my least favorite players on the team. Weeks, ironically, is one of my favorites in the bigs, despite playing for a team (at least in real life) that isn't one of my favorites. Ours is good for 20 home runs if healthy, and can add in some walks. Ain’t perfect, but it's above league average and a starter on a contending team easy. Arbitration eligible, and a free agent after 2011. A very injure prone player, especially with his throwing right arm, so I don't really want to give him a deal long-term. His future will depend on the performance of a guy a couple paragraphs down.

I did use ironically properly back there right? Like it's the opposite of how things are supposed to be? I really hope I did that right, or some Grammar Nazi will be all over me.

Joe Inglett is our Super Joe McEwing, capable of playing 6 spots on the field. Hits left handed, solid fielder, and a good baserunner. A slap hitter, he hits for less power than most neighborhood little leaguers. To be fair, that kid is 10 years old but has a full mustache and more muscle than most college kids. Sign him up! His (Inglett's, not the little leaguer) pulling the ball down the line antics are cute when they're turning into doubles, but when they're snared by the first basemen he's a AAA player at best. He’ll probably end up the 26th man on the roster, called up in case of an emergency on the infield or outfield. Such is the life of a 32 year old with a career of 954 at bats at the major league level with little sustained success. He did go to high school around my area though11!!!!

Our top prospect, drumroll please...Brett Lawrie! What, you’re not excited about this 20 year old who was in AA and AAA at that age and hit at about league average? In the end, Lawrie isn’t going to be a superstar, but he’s going to be a solid regular for 6 years who maybe makes an All-Star team or three. Whether he ends up being a slightly above average regular or an All-Star depends on the development of his home run power and eye. If those come along, then we got ourselves quite the ballplayer. He’s no Prince Fielder, but he ain’t present day JJ Hardy either. He should be major league ready in the middle of this season or at the beginning of 2012. Already has a cup of joe under his Brandon Belt. Lawrie's progress this year will determine if we bring Rickie Weeks back after 2011; whenever he's ready, the starting job is his.

Matt Cline, Connor Lind, John Raburn, and many others have talents- most of them with the glove- but none have enough to be under major consideration as prospect, or major leaguer in Raburn’s case (he’s 32). Having one exceptional skill can be enough to get you in a minor league system, but you need more than one to make it up to the big club. These guys are finding that out the hard way. As long as they have a Yuni, they have a chance, but you can only say that for so long until you realize it's a hopeless case.

In the end, the Brew Crew feel pretty comfortable when you have three options who can play at the big league level. Sure, there are question marks about Weeks' shoulder and overall game, and about how high Lawrie's ceiling is really, and if Inglett is really a major league player, but at least one of those questions have to be answered in our favor. If none of them are, well...it's best to be optimistic! Hopes springs eternal, and all that stuff! Whatever the concerns, I'm fine with what what we have and won't be looking to make an upgrade.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:53 PM   #15
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Having Ryan Braun doesn't hurt either. The problem is guys like Randy Wolf, and I guess the rest of the pitching too. If I can scrounge up 3 quality starters and a couple of solid relievers from hidden crevices, we'll have a club in contention. Doing that, however, is much harder than it seems. Can I borrow a pitcher or two of yours?

Speaking of which, what team do you root for Big T? You write about the Redlegs, but I don't think you're a fan of them. One of life's great questions for now
Actually I took the Redlegs for a couple of reasons
1) I am Canadian and a huge fan of Joey Votto's
2) I know nothing about the Reds and I find this is a good way to learn.

I am mostly a Mariner fan and a backup fan of the Jays.

I would borrow you a pitcher, but I am not all that deep in that department.... Bronson Arroyo ???
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:55 AM   #16
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Actually I took the Redlegs for a couple of reasons
1) I am Canadian and a huge fan of Joey Votto's
2) I know nothing about the Reds and I find this is a good way to learn.

I am mostly a Mariner fan and a backup fan of the Jays.

I would borrow you a pitcher, but I am not all that deep in that department.... Bronson Arroyo ???
I'll have to pass on Arroyo although he did have a 4.22 ERA last year, although he was lucky on the BABIP. He's also making a ton of money, so I'll have to pass. How about Cueto?

I also like the Mariners; they're probably my favorite AL team, and Dustin Ackley is one of my favorite players. Now if they could only get Ichiro! and Franklin Gut back on track we can snap this 15 game losing streak! Sadly, Ichiro! fell off a cliff last year in terms of production(in this universe), although Gutierrez didn't fare too poorly. I don't hate the Blue Jays either, although Jose Bautista isn't hitting very many dingers in this universe. Cool to see your reasons for picking the Oranges (I had to make a color joke there!)

A look at shortstops to follow.
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Old 07-26-2011, 02:24 AM   #17
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The position that Robin Yount built

Ah, the one position where I’m not perfectly comfortable with. We have options, and they ain’t terrible, but none of them evokes memories of Yount.

Alcides Escobar (.248/.281/.330) was worth 1.2 wins a year ago, but that’s because of his contribution of 17 runs to the cause on defense. That's not a very sustainable performance, and perhaps neither is his .611 OPS contribution with the bat. He could be our Hacktastic Julio Lugo, but I'd rather not lean on him as my everyday shortstop this year. He’s cheap, a good base runner, and a maestro with the glove, but that all does is make him a below average regular instead of Yuniesky Betancourt. He still has value as a trade chip, and the Crew will be looking to make a deal while he's still coveted. His potential with the bat has gone down the tubes in the last year, making a .700 OPS his upside. Trust me, I like a good glove, but putting an Out Sucking Machine out there makes me rip my hair out. I prefer a short stop, who can, you know, do something with that thing they call a "bat". His whole career could be summed up by this article:

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Alcides Escobar is playing the dog out of shortstop. We can all probably agree on that...He’s also been — even with three hits in his last two games — a dog at the plate. We can all probably agree on that, too.
Read more: Alcides Escobar is (by far) the AL's worst hitting shortstop, but he's closer to being average than you might think | Don't Kill the Mellinger
If Alcides Escobar is a dog at the plate, then what is Luis Cruz? A cat? A koala? My team’s way of saying “LA LA LA NO HITTING SHORTSTOP FOR YOU” is presenting Luis Cruz. The 26 year old Mexican can field with the best of em’, but his bat makes me dream of the days that Escobar stepped in the box. He plays a good second base too, but a .691 OPS in AAA doesn’t make me feel optimistic about my Escobar insurance. I guess he's a good reserve infielder for a team with 4 established regular infielders where he can be a defensive replacement, but we're not that team. Maybe he'll find a career somewhere, but I'm thinking his days in this organization will be spent in Nashville. Better than Johnnie LeMaster!

How the heck did I forget to mention Craig Counsell with the second basemen? I'm an idiot, so the former Snake will get lumped in with guys he used to play the same position as. He still can pick it, but not quite like he used to. Maybe I would have remembered him if he had his old batting stance, which was perhaps the most awesome yet awkward stance I have ever seen. The new one means I can't put up with his declining glove or bat (even if he did put up a fluky .773 OPS last year), so we'll probably have to eat his 2 million dollar salary this season. Similar situation to LaTroy; if he produces in Spring Training, a spot will open itself open for him. Random thought: What's the first thing mentioned on his Wikipedia page?

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Counsell is particularly known for his unusual batting stance, where he points the bat straight up into the air as high as he can and moves it back and forth in an erratic fashion, somewhat like Jason Varitek. While batting, almost his entire back is pointed towards the pitcher, though his feet remain perpendicular with the pitcher's mound.

As of the 2009 season, Counsell has changed to a more traditional batting stance in order to bring his bat around more quickly and has started to wear batting gloves.
That's right; according to Wikipedia, the most interesting thing about this guy is not his NLCS MVP award, nor his two World Series rings, not even being on base for a pair of World Series winning base hits, and not even the fact he walks up to Jimi Hendrix! Nope, it's his batting stance, those bastards who give us information for free.

Erick Almonte isn’t related to the "16 year old 12 year old" Danny, and Ray Olmedo is a poor man’s Luis Cruz. Pass.

Other then that, it’s guys who if you squint really hard you could see them having Luis Cruz’s career, like Josh Prince and Sergio Miranda. Apparently, the old guys in charge had one prototype for a shortstop, and they followed it up and down the system with glove men all over the place. Look above if you want to see my thoughts on all-glove, no-hit shortstops. Prince is really fast too, which means he may have the ability to reach AA. Exciting. Great; we have poor play at the major league level and in the minors!

Our weakest position at this point, other than pitcher. Escobar is still incredibly young and an absolute maestro with the glove, but I get the feeling if he sticks around I'll be saying "The bat's going to develop!" for the next 10 years. I'd rather not have to go through that. Reading this makes me squint and almost say, “Miguel Tejada is a viable option”. Please help me...anybody? Anybody? Anybody? Gah!
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:17 AM   #18
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I'm really enjoying this so far, and love your writing style.
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:56 PM   #19
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I'm really enjoying this so far, and love your writing style.
Appreciate the kind words; I'm really enjoying writing this so far, and I think this style of writing fits my style and personality best. I'm really having fun writing these. Who knew that taking your time and pacing yourself could be so much fun! I'll be sure to check out your dynasty in a bit. Again, thanks for the nice words.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #20
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I should be perfectly content with this position. Decent prospect in the system, a solid regular in place. But...the prospect wasn’t great, and our regular’s getting a bit old. Better than our shortstop spot, or the Pale Hose with Mark Teahen.

Casey McGehee (.257/.312/.400) is a cute story, coming off of waivers to hit very well in 2009. But his bat failed him in 2010, and his glove doesn’t bring up memories of Oriole Brooks Robinson, or even Nat Ryan Zimmerman. He won’t be a .712 OPS player again, but if he doesn’t raise it enough he’ll have little use. I guess the difference for him is if he hits .240 or .300; if it sits near the lower end, then we have problems; if it goes above, then we throw a fiesta. His ISO dropped 60 points too, so maybe we're dealing with a good player just getting old early. Or worse, a guy who produced for one season and lost it soon after. Those guys are sprinkled around baseball history, like the Bird, and they're often treated as novelties. Hopefully that's not the path for Casey.Not even arbitration eligible yet, despite having lived 28 full years.

AAA third sackers Anderson Machado and Chase Austin aren’t great, but if we need a fill-in for a week or three they could do the trick. Austin was acquired for Mal Gamel, a terrible swap by the old GM. He’s an okay little prospect, doing good work with the glove and on the bases. He could be a starter someday, if you're a small market team needing a fill-in to tide over for a top prospect.

Santo Aybar was 17 and made it all the way to AA. He held his own in Brevard County, and was above league average in Wisconsin. The old guard was aggressive with him, and I’ll follow their lead with a AA assignment. His shine has waned a bit since the beginning of last year, but we still like his odds of making it to the bigs. As far as teenager Latinos go, he's more Miguel Cabrera than Angel Villalona, but Aybar is probably more similar to a family member, Willy. Willy wasn't a bad player, but he just didn't end up the player we thought he would be. Santo will end up the same, in all likelihood.

Jose Rivera and Kyle Dhanani both are A ball prospects who do their best work when their team is out on the field. They fit in more with our group of shortstops, where a .700 OPS makes you like Babe Ruth.

Ronald van der Rooj is Dutch. Nothing else is interesting about him, except for his curious name.

I won't be active in looking for another third basemen, but we certainly won't be opposed to the idea of one. If someone wants to give me a stud third basemen for David Riske, I'm not going to say "NO I HAVE CASEY MCGEHEE!" But I'm not going to give up a serious asset to improve either. Our future is a little shaky, with our regular getting up there and Aybar's future still up in the air a bit, but for now I have no worries.
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