Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Spring Training in 9 more weeks!

Spring Training is only 9 weeks away...imagine that if you will. Over the course of the next couple of weeks it will be interesting to see how the Brewers craft their active roster and who they will bring in to compete for it down in Maryvale.

There are still some holes in the bullpen that will have to be filled. They did make an addition in yesterday's signing of Sean Green to a non-guaranteed contract worth 875k. The veteran reliever missed all but 11 games last season for the Mets; he was placed on the DL with an intercostal strain to his throwing side. He carries a 4.36 ERA for his career which started in 2000 when he was drafted by the Rockies.

Milwaukee also brought back Craig Counsell for yet another season. I have no problem with this since he's cheap, loves Milwaukee, and he has always contributed when needed.

-Since making the Greinke trade official on Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers saw a significant spike in ticket sales for season-packages. Prior to the trade Milwaukee had 400 new accounts open since the start of the off-season. In just under 5 days the Crew has added 1500. This is exactly what Antanasio wanted to do, fill Miller Park. It doesn't happen by hiring a washed up manager like Valentine. You give a bench coach the opportunity to manage....when a number of other teams passed him up over the past couple of years.

-Interesting take on the Greinke & Marcum deals: Milwaukee received 2 of the best players at their position (Pitcher).

" For one, both Greinke and Marcum very good at turning batted balls into outs. In Baseball Info Solutions plus-minus system, Greinke rated a +7 in 2010 and a +13 since 2008 (meaning he turned 13 more balls hit his way into outs than the average fielder would have), tied for second-best in baseball. Marcum was a +4 last season and a +8 in his last three seasons (he missed 2009 due to injury). "

Considering that Milwaukee's infield all ranked at or near the bottom at their respective positions over the past 4 SEASONS (!!!), these two defenders are a blessing.

-The stars are aligning in Milwaukee. Sure I'm biased, why can't I be? Milwaukee has been losing since 1982. They BARELY made the playoffs in 2008....and now they have all the ingredients to make a run. Mark my words, Philly will not stay healthy and they will certainly miss Jason Wryth in RF. Milwaukee still needs another closer, as I'm unsure that Axford can repeat his stellar performance from his 2010 campaign. He also hit some bumps at the end of the season. If it's one thing teams can learn from the's to have back-up plans for the closer-role (see Octavio Dotel). Baltimore & Texas also had a plan B entering the season and it worked out for them (not so much with Baltimore's overall record of course).

-Hardball Times ranks Milwaukee's prospects (as well as the Nationals). They list Mark Rogers at the top, Kyle Heckathorn at #3, Kentrail Davis at #6 and Cutter Dykstra at #8.
I don't have last year's rankings in front of me, but a number of those who were listed this year are new to the list....due to the past 2 trades. I'm okay with that, WE NEED TO WIN NOW.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brewers land big fish!

As you all know the Milwaukee Brewers traded a boatload of prospects over to the Kansas City Royals for bonified ACE, Zack Greinke late Saturday night/early Sunday morning (depending on the sources).

A number of people that I have talked to seem to think that this was risky deal; some even think of it as being stupid.

Well my friends, this was the best deal the Milwaukee Brewers made in franchise history. Yes, this also takes the cake from the CC Sabathia trade in July of 2008. Why? Here's why....

Milwaukee was able to sell high on both Escobar and Cain. The only REAL prospect that they parted with was Jake Odorizzi, who's still playing down in Single A and not going to make a big league splash for at least a couple of years. He won't even be effective for 3-4 years. That's far too long to wait. Jeremy Jeffress was also apart of the deal which made me giggle out loud. Are you serious? The Milwaukee Brewers were able to unload a First Round draft pick dud in order to seal the deal with KC? This kid smokes more pot than Ricky Williams of the Dolphins. In fact, the guy pisses hot one more time and he's banned for life. Did he show some flashes of what we were expecting last season? To some degree, he was decent in collecting 1 win and tossing 10 innings with a 2.70 ERA. Nice, but too little--too late in my book. This kid was supposed to be in the rotation back in 2009, but no, he was too busy serving a lengthy 2nd suspension. Is there some upside with this kid? Sure there is, but right now with where the Brewers are...they don't have time or the patience to wait for an upside.

Jake Odorizzi is the key ingredient to this deal. Again, he won't be of value to the Crew's play-offs for a number of years when Prince Fielder is long gone playing for the California Angels. Let's keep in mind that he tossed a joint no-hitter last summer for the Wisconsin Ratlers. When I heard about the deal, the only name included in the package that stung was Odorizzi.

Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain are two players that the Brewers sold high on. Let's face it, Escobar went from being a ROY candidate to batting .246 on the season. Yes, it's only his rookie year and he does show lots of promise...but we need results now. Milwaukee can't afford to have Cain (Rookie) and Escobar (2nd year) up the middle on the defense. They did this last year and it wasn't the best scenario. Cain doesn't provide much power and contributes a high number strike-outs. In fact, too many while down in the farm system. Both will be good, but again, we need to get this plan in motion now. Do or die, right?

Another note on this, I'm sick of always saying to my friends (the few that I have), "I can't wait until a couple of years pass and all of these young players are seasoned."
"Wait until next year, can't wait!"

I remember saying, "Wow, our farm system is stocked with Weeks, Fielder, Gwynn Jr., and Weeks"...."We're going to be unstoppable".

Well, Milwaukee forgot to stock up on pitching. Positional players, especially infielders are plentiful (aside from SS this season). It's time to go ALL IN.

I would also like to thank Ned Yost, the ex-Brewers skipper that was fired in August of 2008. He pushed for KC to make the move for Cain & Escobar. After the deal was announced Sunday, I tuned in to XM MLB radio to hear what they had to say. I was surprised to find out that the hosts all pretty much thought the Brewers came out ahead on this deal. Despite the fact that the hosts didn't know much about Cain, they did know the Escobar has no pop in his bat and he plays decent defense. They liked Odorizzi, but made the observation that he was going to Single A for KC, so he won't make an impact for some time.

Milwaukee pulled one over on KC...plain and simple, in my opinion. Deal prospects is easier to stomach because there's so much that can go wrong. Look at LaPorta and Brantley, both players who were traded to Cleveland for CC Sabathia. Both players have struggled and Milwaukee (at this point) came out ahead in the trade. They made it to the Playoffs and won their first post-season game since 1982....equally success. LaPorta has yet to find his swing and consistency, but there's still time for him to pay off.

Cain stings a little, in fact he will probably be a contender for NL ROY in 2011. But that's a big IF.

Thus bringing up the conversation of Zach Greinke! To tell you the truth, yes I'm excited about him becoming our ACE...but I'm even more excited about Yovanni Gallardo. This season he can relax and fall back in to his typical role of being the #2 or #3 hurler in the rotation. As the teams #1 in the rotation (2009 & 2010) he felt the pressure and he didn't react to it too well. This season will be different, he'll feel a level of comfort like he did when he was next-in-line to Ben Sheets/CC Sabathia. Shawn Marcum and Narveson/Rogers will also provide the anchor in that rotation.

1) Greinke
2) Gallardo
3) Wolf
4) Marcum
5) Rogers/Narveson

Compare this to the past two of difference.

I do realize that Greinke suffered/suffers from social anxiety and it flared up again last year when KC was hurting. Going 10-14 with a plus 4 ERA makes some wonder what we're getting. Winning does wonders for the soul and mind. Once Milwaukee start on their winning ways, Greinke will feel a lot more at ease and not have the weight of the world on shoulders because there are 4-5 other pitchers who can pick up the slack.

Will Greinke return to his 2009 form? Probably not right away, but if we get 15-16 wins from our ACE....well hell, that would be all that we need. I know wins aren't everything in baseball, but the people who say that don't win.
**Milwaukee still needs a lot of help in that bullpen. Yes, they have Loe and Jaxford, Hawkins (will be back, if healthy)...but there are plenty of gaps. No more Coffey and no more Hoffman.