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Thread: Spring Training

  1. #1
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    Spring Training

    Pitchers and Catchers reported today. Figured we could start a thread for anything ST related.

    On a crappy, snowy day in WI, its nice to think that baseball isn't too far away.

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    Here's a couple things I'll be watching for in ST.

    1. Ryan Braun's health: I think the key to this season hinges on Braun's thumb. If he can get back to hitting like he was during his MVP caliber seasons, we should be right in the middle of the NL Central hunt. If his thumb isn't healed and he hits like he did last year again, its going to be a long rest of his contract, and we could be in trouble this year.

    2. Bullpen: Who's going to step up. Hopefully our guys perform well enough that we don't feel compelled to trade for Pap. I don't hate resigning KRod, just hopefully its not multi-year and hopefully its not for too much. Would be nice if Thorny and Henderson can prove to be completely heathly. Couple the two of them with Broxton, Jeffress, Smith, Cotts, and Kintzler, and we have the makings of a solid bullpen, especially if Jeffress throws like he did last year.

    3. Fiers and Nelson: We've basically gone all in on both of them, so it'll be interesting to see what each of them does. I don't put much stock in ST numbers for pitchers, but I'm interested in hearing the reports around these guys. I'd like to see if Nelson has developed his changeup more. I think he can be at least an effective major league pitcher without a change, but if he develops even a decent change, he could be a future #2 type guy. I'd like to see Fiers continue to throw well. He's such a strange case. Doesn't have great pure stuff, but his numbers look good. He's been effective 2 out of the last 3 years, so hopefully the bad year was the fluke, not the good years.

    Other than that, I think there's plenty of other story lines, but those are the big 3 I'm interested in. Obviously seeing Lind play more first is big. How Scooter his lefties will be big. Seeing if Khris Davis has jumped at all, or if he's moving more towards a true platoon with Parra. The battle for our bench will be interesting as well. There's a decent number of guys that will compete, but none really jump off the page right now. Maybe that will change and someone will have a big spring. There's probably more I'm forgetting but feel free to discuss.

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    I think we're understaffed on the pitching side...we need another arm. 2 question marks entering their first full season starting & no proven closer/alot of meh in the bullpen...one side is likely going to fail. Other than that, I'm happy with where we stand.

    Cotts is a ROOGY, Kintzler is perhaps the most hated guy on the team (by myself), Smith has shown if you overwork him he will break down, and Jeffress is a journeyman at this point. Risky risky risky.

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    I agree that I really think somewhere in our starting line up or out of the bullpen something is going to go wrong and fail miserably.
    I just don't know what we can really do to fix it right now besides look at free agents that might not be anything better than we have

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    Quote Originally Posted by Superfly View Post
    I think we're understaffed on the pitching side...we need another arm. 2 question marks entering their first full season starting & no proven closer/alot of meh in the bullpen...one side is likely going to fail. Other than that, I'm happy with where we stand.

    Cotts is a ROOGY, Kintzler is perhaps the most hated guy on the team (by myself), Smith has shown if you overwork him he will break down, and Jeffress is a journeyman at this point. Risky risky risky.
    I guess I dont' agree. Cotts is a full inning guy. He didn't have a great year last year, but he was incredibly the year before. If you look at his underlying stats in both season, it suggests he definitely closer to the middle somewhere, but still makes for a pretty good reliever. His BABIP and Strand Rate are due to fall and rise some respectively, which should get Cotts closer to the mid to low 3 ERA range like his FIP suggests. He's more than a ROOGY. His splits do indicate that he's better against righties than lefties, but for his career the splits aren't that wide. He gives up more HR rate against lefties is worse against righties, but after accounting for that, the splits are pretty similar. He's definitely not a LOOGY like being a lefty suggests, but he's more than a ROOGY too. He's a full inning guy, and theorectically, if he can be that mid 3 ERA guy, that's not bad as a guy who mixes in in the 7th at times.

    Jeffress has had a wild career, but a don't think journeyman (as its seems to indicate) is neccesarily fair though either. He was really good to end last year, and has the perfect profile for a late inning reliever. He has a big time fastball and a nasty breaker. He has decreased his walk rate basically his whole career, cumulating with his career best walk rate with us last year. His peripherials don't seem to indicate that anything crazy happened last year. While his strand rate, BABIP, and HR rate were a little better than expected, none were that crazy. While he's due for some regression back to the norm, he too profiles as another mid 3 ERA type of guy with plenty of upside. He is still only 26 and he has nasty stuff. If he can continue to keep the walks in check, there's no reason to assume he can't be a future closer even.

    I think we have more depth this year and learned a little about Smith last year so we should be smarter about him. With Jeffress and Cotts in the mix along with Broxton, we shouldn't have to throw Smith out there every 8th inning like we seemed to early last year.

    I know people don't like Kintzler because he's not a stud. He's not an 8th inning option, but he's a guy who can get you out of pinches, and he's actually been better against lefties. And unlike Cotts, he actually has fairly significant split variance in righties vs lefties. While most Cotts splits like BA and OBP hover within 20 or so points of each other, Kintzler's are quite a bit different. Its more like 40 points of BA and OBP, and his slugging and w/OBA are hugely different. If we use Kintzler correctly and dont' expect him to be the 7th inning guy, just more a situational guy who can get ground balls, then he's a useful bullpen piece. You don't want him to be the main piece, but in high leverage situations, expecially after the 7th inning, he shouldn't get the call unless its against a lefty.

    If Henderson is healthy, which all signs are pointing positive, we have another experienced arm. He's a big time heat guy with late inning experience. He's not an elite reliver, but he can be a useful piece. Same can be said of Broxton. I don't love Broxton, but he's a live arm with plenty of experience, most of which is 8th or 9th inning experience. Thorny should be back healthy, and I think people forget how high we were on him. There's a chance he's a long reliever who's stretched out to go if we need him, but also a guy you can throw in higher leverage situations. He was great in the beginning of last year too.

    I actually like the mix in the bullpen. You don't hear the names and think of perennial all stars, but they have guys who can fill roles and be good.

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    I'm also not as low on the starting pitching as others. I really like Nelson. He has a history of taking a little time to adjust to the next level. But on top of that, for as bad as Nelson was last year, he ran into a pretty bad bout of luck too. His strand rate was incredibly low, and well lower than league average (and his typical rates). Basically, he got a little unlucky that teams tended to cluster hits against him. He also got unlucky with the BABIP. Even if you don't think Nelson will improve his talent this year, just based on luck alone his numbers should be better. He has good stuff too. I know being a top 100 prospect doesn't automatically make you a great player, but the fact that he was hovering around the top 50 mark prior to his callup seems to indicate that other scouts saw the talent was their too. I expect his "luck" numbers to normalize some, and I also expect him to get more comfortable and just improve in general. I don't think he's an All-Star or anything, but I think he'll be a more than adequate number 5 starter. Replacing Yo's numbers might not be completely doable, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got somewhat close.

    Additionally, Mike Fiers is actually really good. I was really hesitant at first too, and thought no way can he keep up what he did, but everything points to that he can. Now he isn't going to be quite as good as last year. He had some luck and some high levels that lead to his 2.13 ERA, but his underlying stats indicate that he was a sub 3 ERA talent last year. Not only that, but his stats from the 2 years prior indicate that he was a sub3.1 ERA guy too. He did have that abysmal season the year in between (season before last), but I think its relatively safe to say that was the abnormal year. First off, his mother was ill and ultimately passed away. I think that would take a toll on a guy. And when you look at his numbers, he was a bit unlucky, but his underlying numbers stunk too. But those numbers were crazy out of the norm. He gave up 3.22 HR/9. He's never given up a HR/9 at any level (assuming he pitched more than 2 starts at that level) that was over 1.03. His K/9 rate was 6, and he's never been under 9 at any level. He gave up homers on 25% of the fastball he threw, when league averages (and his rates in other seasons) indicate that it should be more like 8%. Basically what I'm saying is that his numbers were so far off of the norm that it doesn't even make sense why he would be that bad. If you ignore that season, then the other two seasons at the big league level were actually ace or near ace quality seasons. I know those are really high expectations for him, but the numbers, both the production and the underlying stats, indicate that its not unreasonable for him to be a 3.00 or less ERA guy. Believe it or not, from the last 3 years, Mike Fiers has the highest cumulative WAR of any current Brewers starter, and he threw a combined 220 or so innings in those seasons.

    And I think Garza, Lohse and Peralta are all good pitchers too. None of them are really aces, but they are all pretty decent number 2 type pitchers. They could all be in that 3.5 range for ERAs for starters as well. Its not the best staff in baseball by any means. Its weak at the top, but isn't horrible for depth. I expect them to be a middle of the pack staff. We aren't super deep, so injuries could hurt, but a healthy Thornburg could be an excellent addition to the staff if need be, and we have time to see what Jungmann can become. He profiles fairly decently as a good fill in guy. He's not going to set the world on fire, but he's going to work and get grounders, which is pretty decent for a swing 6th starter. Plus, we did free up money in the Yo trade, that if we don't sign a reliever or take on Pap, we can take on a little salary for a starter if need be.

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    I want KRod back I guess is what i'm trying to say. Not at an obscene 10m per, but if he wants 4-6m sign the deal and get him in here. IMO. I have no faith at all in Henderson, a career minor leaguer to close, and Brox is 8th inning.

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    Career minor league isn't always a fair assessment though either. Some guys take a long time to develop. Sometimes its just a mechanical tweak that the right pitching coach makes that improves control or adds movement to a pitch that really elevates a guy's level of play. Henderson could have easily been that guy. If you look at his early numbers in other systems, he was walking guys more and striking guys out less. Its pretty reasonable to say that over the last few years he figured out what he needed to do to pitch, and its drastically increased his strikeout rate while lowering his walk rates a little.

    In Henderson's previous almost 100 innings of work (and by previous, I mean before last year), he was a roughly 3.00 FIP guy with underlying stats to support that he was about that good of a pitcher. Last year, he threw only 11 innings while allegedly injured in spring. His K rate plummeted, and all of his underlying stats were miserable. His BABIP was .423, when major league averages should be in the .300-.320 range. He was giving up homers on 27% of his fastballs, when 12% was his previous high (12% is also a fairly high number for average pitchers). He was horrible at stranding guys who got on base. So as long as his injuries are healed and his luck turns around, I have no real reason to believe he can't be that roughly 3.00-3.25 ERA type of guy again.


    And I'm not sold on KRod. He continues to get older and he got somewhat lucky last year. He was unlucky in the sense of giving up homers. He posted a career high in HR/FB, so that could come back down to earth (which would mean he'll improve), but everything else indicates he'll get worse. His strand rate was crazy high and his BABIP was unsustainably low by quite a bit. Basically, KRod got himself into a ton of jams in the last two seasons, but he's been able to get himself out of those at an almost miraculous rate. There is some skill involved with getting out of jams and not panicking, but there's plenty of data to suggest that there's a large amount of luck associated with that too. That .216 BABIP is what lead to his ridiculous strand rate, and if that moves up anywhere close to what you'd expect out of major league pitchers, he'll be in trouble. For reference, even the best pitchers who pitch to contact should expect, on average, to have their BABIP be in the .280-.300 range. Most pitchers would tend to be more like .300-.320 so that really illustrates how lucky KRod was getting. I'm not entirely opposed to bringing him back, but the underlying stats for KRod don't really say he's much better than any of Broxton, Henderson, Cotts, and Smith, most of who have plenty of major league experience as well. And Jeffress and Thorny have the potential to be just as good, if not better than KRod as well. They are lighter on the major league experience, but they both have better stuff. I'm not saying don't sign KRod, and if, like you said, he can be had for 1 year, $4-6 million, then do it, but I don't know if that's in the cards. I bet Boras is pushing for two years, and probably at least that much money.

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    K-Rod returning, 2 years 9 million with what appears to be a 4 million buyout option on the 3rd year.

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    Not a huge fan of the K-Rod deal but he has been good for us the past 2 years so I'm ok with it. Never a big fan of paying a bunch of money long term in the bullpen.

    I'm pretty excited to go to a Spring training game this year. Living in Arizona the past year hasn't been great but baseball will make it better.

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    Another reliable option out of the pen will be nice

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    I'm fine with bringing back KRod, but don't neccesarily love it. His underlying stats have been holding on by a thread the last few years, and he could easily come ot the point where he finally blows up. His fastball isn't where it used to be, but he still has a very good changeup. The problem comes when people guess fastball and get it. Then he gets crushed.

    It doesn't hurt to have him though, unless he does blow up, but we should have enough decent pen spots to cover him if he does struggle for a while. I mean, basically I would think the pen is set as of now, unless someone gets hurt or pitches crazy good or crazy bad. I would think KRod is your closer, Broxton and Smith are your 8th inning guys. Jeffress and Cotts will probably get a good chunk of work in the 7th. Henderson is a nice option with late inning experience that can fill any of those roles of someone struggles. Then the rest of the pen is filled out most likely with Kintzler (possibly your LOOGY) and Thornburg as your long relief guy.

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    KRod provides excellent depth for us. Now we have the luxury of throwing Henderson in anywhere so Smith/Broxton/Jeffress don't have to pitch every single day.

    I'm happy with where we're at outside maybe a trade for Wilin Rosario to be Lind's platoon mate (won't happen). Let's start the season!

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    Interesting you were talking about platoon mates as well. I see a lot of the Brewers blogs, especially the very stats oriented blogs were talking about platoon mates for Lind and Gennett. I really got to thinking about that, and much less concerned than I once was. All cards on the table, I was very concerned about Lind not having an experienced platoon mate. But I'm over it for a few reasons.

    1. We likely won't face a ton of lefties. We obviously don't know exactly how the rotations we'll face will line up, but we can look at our division, where we play a lot of our games. The only likely lefty in Cincy's lineup is Cingrani, who has an injury history and is still somewhat unproven. Chicago has Lester (one of the better lefties in baseball) and possibly Wada as a 5th starter who I believe is lefty. St. Louis isn't projected to have any lefties and Pitt is projected to have Lirano. That's basically 4/5s of the division mathcups being right handed.

    2. The entire rest of the lineup mashes left handed pitching. Braun and Davis in particular have fairly drastic platoon splits against lefties. Rami isn't as severe, but hits lefties noticeably better. And the other 3 righties, Segura. Lucroy and Gomez have realatively even splits (they all hit righties slightly better last year, but hit lefties better the year before.) Its somewhat likely that Maldonado gets starts against lefties with Lucroy getting time at first. While his splits are better against righties, he's more there for defense anyhow as he's just not really a good offensive player anyways.

    So all in all, our lineup is pretty good against general. So even if Lind and Gennet are as bad as advertised against lefties, there replacements (Rogers, Jimenez, Gomez, Sardinas ect.) don't really even need to be that good to have a good offense against lefties. And its unlikely that we face a ton of lefties either. Now its still possible that our luck lines up 3 lefties in an interleague game, but that's just luck.
    Last edited by crewfan13; 03-02-2015 at 08:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crewfan13 View Post
    Interesting you were talking about platoon mates as well. I see a lot of the Brewers blogs, especially the very stats oriented blogs were talking about platoon mates for Lind and Gennett. I really got to thinking about that, and much less concerned than I once was. All cards on the table, I was very concerned about Lind not having an experienced platoon mate. But I'm over it for a few reasons.

    1. We likely won't face a ton of lefties. We obviously don't know exactly how the rotations we'll face will line up, but we can look at our division, where we play a lot of our games. The only likely lefty in Cincy's lineup is Cingrani, who has an injury history and is still somewhat unproven. Chicago has Lester (one of the better lefties in baseball) and possibly Wada as a 5th starter who I believe is lefty. St. Louis isn't projected to have any lefties and Pitt is projected to have Lirano. That's basically 4/5s of the division mathcups being right handed.

    2. The entire rest of the lineup mashes left handed pitching. Braun and Davis in particular have fairly drastic platoon splits against lefties. Rami isn't as severe, but hits lefties noticeably better. And the other 3 righties, Segura. Lucroy and Gomez have realatively even splits (they all hit righties slightly better last year, but hit lefties better the year before.) Its somewhat likely that Maldonado gets starts against lefties with Lucroy getting time at first. While his splits are better against righties, he's more there for defense anyhow as he's just not really a good offensive player anyways.

    So all in all, our lineup is pretty good against general. So even if Lind and Gennet are as bad as advertised against lefties, there replacements (Rogers, Jimenez, Gomez, Sardinas ect.) don't really even need to be that good to have a good offense against lefties. And its unlikely that we face a ton of lefties either. Now its still possible that our luck lines up 3 lefties in an interleague game, but that's just luck.
    I'd like to have a platoon mate for Lind because of his injury history, JUST IN CASE he gets hurt. Rosario would provide some more pop against lefties, as well as backup catcher availability even though his defense is bad. Scooter I don't really care about, he can hit 8th vs LHP and be fine.

    Banking on Lind & an aging Ramirez is risky though, it'd be nice to have another body there to cover one/both the spots. Rogers who? He's a scrub, couldn't even get an at bat/in the field when the season was on the line & Reynolds was having trouble figuring out how many outs were in an inning.
    Last edited by Superfly; 03-04-2015 at 10:08 PM.

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