Greinke Fallout: Center Field

Carlos Gomez.

I felt pretty good about center field coming into this offseason. Lorenzo Cain looked excellent at the end of last year, hitting over .300, making some outstanding plays in the field and generally providing a spark. It was extremely refreshing to see after having to suffer through watching Carlos Gomez swing out of his shoes all season. Now, I don’t feel as good about center field, but I’m willing to deal as long as Zack Greinke is pitching every fifth day.

But, is Carlos Gomez the only option? What about Chris Dickerson? Is there another option outside of the system? First, let’s take a look at Gomez and Dickerson.

Carlos Gomez was, at one time, a good enough prospect to be the centerpiece of the New York Mets’ trade for Johan Santana – perhaps this served as a reminder to Doug Melvin last week that prospects are prospects, and aces are aces. In the seasons since that trade Gomez has shown his plus-plus speed and flashed a good glove, but has been an utter disappointment at the plate. In four seasons, he sports a career batting average of .246 and has never cracked a .300 on base percentage. He has stolen a decent number of bases, but given his speed, you would expect his success rate to be a little higher. In 2008, his best season as a major leaguer, Gomez stole 33 bases but was caught 11 times. In 2009, he stole only 14 bases and was caught 7 times. Last year he showed some improvement, stealing 18 bases and being caught only 3 times. People often forget that Gomez sports a big, muscular body (6’4, 215), and could perhaps one day become a 20 home run guy, but I’m sure coaches would prefer that he would stop trying to hit homers and just try to get his on base percentage above .300. Continue reading


Greinke Fallout: Shortstop

Yuniesky Betancourt, popping up a bunt.

As the dust settles on the Zack Greinke trade and everyone in Brewers Nation tries to wrap their heads around the prospect of having a competitive rotation, there are a couple things that need to be addressed: what happens to the spots formerly occupied by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain?  Escobar was really the only option in the Brewer system to play shortstop at the major league level, and Cain, after having a very impressive stint in the majors at the end of last season, was expected to come in and be the opening day centerfielder.  Now that they are gone, who do we turn to?

First, shortstop.  Along with Greinke, the Brewers picked one up, Yuniesky Betancourt.  In 2010, as a 28 year old, Betancourt had a line of .259/.288/.405 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs.  For comparison, Carlos Gomez had an on base percentage 10 points higher.  Betancourt has a little pop, evidenced by the 16 homers, and at least some knack for knocking in runs, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up – prior to 2010 he had never hit more than 9 home runs in a season and his previous season high RBI numbers were 67, 51, and 49.  Betancourt has never gotten on at better than .310, and that was in 2006.  His on-base percentage has been declining ever since, bottoming out in 2009 when he hit .245 with a .275 OBP in a season split between Seattle and Kansas City.  Not exactly the kind of guy that you want in your lineup.  And that doesn’t even touch on the other side of the ball.  Betancourt’s defense is an ugly sight – defensive metrics peg him as one of the worst defenders at shortstop in all of baseball.

At this point, it looks like Doug Melvin is planning to go with Betancourt on opening day.  The re-signing of Craig Counsell Thursday morning gives some insurance, but Counsell is 40 years old and certainly won’t be able to start too many games.  Are there any other alternatives?  Here is a look at a few of the shortstops still on the market:

  • Orlando Cabrera, who will be 36 in 2011, had a .263/.303/.354 slash line for Cincinnati last year, and didn’t produce many runs.  He isn’t a defensive whiz, but he would be an upgrade over Betancourt.  He could be had on a fairly cheap one year deal.
  • Felipe Lopez, who played with the Brewers in 2009, saw his batting average drop to just .233 last year, but his career numbers suggest he is a much better offensive player than Cabrera or Betancourt.  He hit .310 in 2009, including .320/.407/.448 in 66 games with Milwaukee.  He played second base with the Brewers, as the replacement for the injured Rickie Weeks, and he is more comfortable there, but he is capable of playing shortstop (though the metrics suggest he is a far better second baseman).  However, there are many questions about his attitude.  He’s only 30 years old, so he could turn it around, but it could be a risk.
  • Edgar Renteria is slightly younger than Cabrera, and is coming off a season that saw him named World Series MVP.  He was a pretty productive player when he wasn’t injured (.276/.332/.374), but he only played 72 games, and hasn’t played 140 since 2006.  He is a reasonably good fielder, but after he supposedly felt insulted by the Giants one year, one million dollar offer, he may not come as cheap as others on this list.
  • Nick Punto, the last shortstop on our list, sports a .233/.313/.302 line and has never hit 5 home runs or driven in 50 RBIs in a season.  His value would come from his defense, where he is very solid.  However, the Twins may have an interest in resigning him. Continue reading

Zack Greinke is a Milwaukee Brewer

Who saw this one coming?

Zack Greinke, 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.

The Milwaukee Brewers’ rotation makeover was completed today after they traded SS Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain, top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, and former first round draft pick Jeremy Jeffress to the Royals for Zack Greinke, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, and cash.

You all know the story on Greinke.  Had a solid rookie year in 2004, finishing fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.  Struggled in ’05.  Left camp in ’06 due to an anxiety disorder.  Returned, first to the Kansas City bullpen, then to the rotation.  In 2009, he turned in one of the most dominant pitching performances of the last decade, winning the Cy Young award and going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA, 3 shutouts, 181 K, 55 BB, and a 1.073 WHIP.  He regressed a little in 2010, but reports came out of him being unmotivated and frustrated with the Royals constant rebuilding process.

Now, he is a Milwaukee Brewer, and joins a staff that will likely look like this on opening day:

  • Zack Greinke (2010 Kansas City opening day starter)
  • Yovani Gallardo (2010 Milwaukee opening day starter)
  • Shaun Marcum (2010 Toronto opening day starter)
  • Randy Wolf
  • Chris Narveson Continue reading

Breaking: Brewers acquire Zack Greinke

Bernie’s Crew originally reported, and it has since been confirmed by ESPN’s Buster Olney, that the Brewers have traded Jake Odorizzi, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Jeremy Jeffress to the Royals for Zack Greinke and  SS Yuniesky Betancourt.  More coming later.

Update – Instead of Jeremy Jeffress, Peter Gammons reports that it will be a player to be named later.  Official announcement to come later today.

The case for extending Rickie Weeks

Rickie Weeks has had a pretty tough road so far in the big leagues.  Drafted second overall in 2003, there were big expectations for Rickie.  In his first four seasons in the majors, Rickie showed flashes of the potential greatness that got him such a high draft pick, but for the most part couldn’t stay healthy and, despite keeping a relatively high on base percentage, just couldn’t seem to get any hits.

In his fifth season in 2009, Weeks looked to have finally broken out.  He started off doing all the things we envisioned him doing when he was drafted.  He stole bases, he had a .272/.340/.517 line, he was scoring runs, and he was providing a non-quantifiable spark to the offense.  He just really seemed to get that entire offense going.  Then he tore a sheath in his wrist, whatever that is.  He missed the rest of 2009.  But you all know that.  In 2010, he finally stayed healthy for a full year, and gave us just about everything we could have dreamed of: a .269/.366/.464 line, 29 home runs and 83 RBIs from the leadoff spot, a second place finish in the NL with 112 runs scored, reasonably serviceable defense, and 4.9 WAR, leading all Brewers hitters.

Now Rickie is one year away from being a free agent, just like his buddy Prince Fielder.  Fielder seems to be three quarters of the way out the door already.  But what about Weeks?  There has been talk this offseason (and during last season, too) that Brewers GM Doug Melvin was working on an extension with Weeks and his agent. Continue reading

Carl Pavano: Worth It?

Carl Pavano's Moustache, in all it's glory.

So.  Carl Pavano is on Doug Melvin’s radar.  Pavano had an excellent season in 2010 for the Minnesota Twins, going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA (111 ERA+), 7 complete games, 2 shutouts and a 1.195 WHIP.  Pretty good, right?  Right.  Now that Philadelphia has landed Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano is the top starting pitcher on the free agent market.  Should the Brewers fork up the cash to sign him?

Also, on a side note, why should we even try this season?  Can you imagine a Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels starting rotation?  That’s like a freaking all-star team.  Seriously.  Good Luck, rest of the NL.

Anyway, that isn’t the point here.  Carl Pavano, right.  Here is the red flag.  He will be 35 years old at the start of his next contract.  It seems extremely likely that he will be offered a 3 year contract by somebody this offseason, be it the Twins, Nationals, or someone else.  If someone offers him a Ted Lilly-esque contract of 3 years and 33 million dollars or so, it would make him a higher paid pitcher than Randy Wolf, who got 3 years and just under 30 million last season.  Seems like a lot of money to give to a 35 year old, doesn’t it? Continue reading

Get to know your Blogger: Paul

Hey dudes and dudettes.  I’m Paul.  I’m from Ripon, Wisconsin.  I’m a graduate student at DePaul University for Jazz Trumpet.  What do you do with a graduate degree in jazz trumpet?  Good question.  You play as much as you can, but mostly, you have way less money than your friends who aren’t getting graduate degrees in jazz trumpet.  I’ve been a fan of baseball ever since I was a little kid.  My dad grew up a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates – his favorite player was Roberto Clemente – and then became a Brewers fan after moving to Wisconsin.  Ever since he and my older brother gave me a stack of baseball cards (Topps ’93, as you can see to your left, is my all-time favorite set) as a 3-year-old, I have been fascinated with the game – the history, the numbers, the smells, the ballparks. Continue reading