Checking in on the hot stove

Posted by Steve

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and the Brewers are back making moves. Thankfully, this year, those moves won’t include signing an aging number 4 pitcher to an expensive four-year contract.

Instead, the Brewers are sellers. This may be frustrating or unexciting to some fans, but to me, its a welcome sight. The rebuild is underway, and I’m ready to watch David Stearns acquire the players of their next playoff team.

The Brewers’ first move of the Winter Meetings was to deal Adam Lind, who was sent to Seattle earlier today in a package for three minor league pitchers: Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera, and Freddy Peralta.

I’m not going to pretend to know a ton about any of these pitchers. None of them check in on any top 20 Mariners prospect list I’ve been able to find. On the surface, that’s discouraging. Looking closer, there’s really no clear opinion to form yet.

One thing about top prospect lists: very young minor league players are not going to be on them unless they were drafted in the first few rounds. They simply haven’t had the time yet to crack the list based on performance alone. What we can say about these players is that they are essentially lottery tickets: they’re very young, and they’ve had encouraging results in their very limited time as pro baseball players.

Missaki has 111 strikeouts, 26 walks, and 3 home runs allowed in 106 innings over the last two seasons.

Herrera has 73 strikeouts, 13 walks, and 4 home runs allowed in 80 pro innings.

Peralta had 67 strikeouts, 8 walks, 1 home run allowed in 57 innings this season.

Now, it’s important to not draw too much of a conclusion from these stats. None of the pitchers have been above low A ball, so statistics don’t mean nearly as much as scouting reports at this point. However, you can see a trend emerging: it seems the Brewers are targeting players who excel in command and limiting home runs.

I called them lottery tickets because they’re pretty long shots to hit. But for one year of a good, not great first baseman, all they need is for one to hit. And because they’re young, they all still theoretically have potential to be impact pitchers.

This could end up being a bad trade. There might not be one player who makes it past AA. But in theory, I’m okay with it. I much prefer this to targeting an older player with a more limited ceiling. The more lottery tickets you buy, the better your chance of striking it rich.

The other thing this tells me is something we already had an idea about: Stearns is looking long-term with the rebuild. That’s encouraging, as it increases their chances for long-term success down the road. That may mean the rebuild takes 4-5 years instead of 2-3, but it’s more likely to be successful and more sustainable that way anyway.


An Open Letter to Mark Attanasio

Posted by Steve

Dear Mr. Attanasio,

Hello! It’s me, Steve. Good to talk to you again! I say “again,” because we actually met ten years ago. You had just purchased the Brewers a few months prior, and I was a wide-eyed intern in the Marketing Dept. at Miller Park. We almost walked into each other as I was coming out of the bathroom. You said excuse me and smiled. I also recall you requesting that you be formally referred to as “Principal Owner” instead of “Owner” so as not to diminish the minority owners. I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, since we go way back, I am going to assume that you care to hear my 1600-word diatribe about how you should run your team. Sound good? Great!

First of all, and this should almost go without saying: Thank you! You bought the team I love, made a renewed commitment to the city of Milwaukee and winning baseball, increased payroll, and enabled the team to make two incredible playoff runs–something I wasn’t sure I’d ever even see. A $100 million payroll for a market like Milwaukee is as much as any Brewers fan could reasonably ask for.

Unfortunately, the quality of the team has diminished over the last few years. That stinks. We’d both love for the Brewers to be good; they just aren’t. It’s not because you haven’t tried–you’ve continued to spend in hopes of a winning product. It hasn’t worked out the last few seasons, and it really hasn’t worked out this season.

That brings me to purpose of this letter. A couple days ago during an FS Wisconsin broadcast of the Brewers-Mets game, you gave an in-game interview. While in the booth, you told Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder that fans shouldn’t expect that Francisco Rodriguez is a sure thing to be traded, because (paraphrasing) he really helps the other pitchers in the bullpen, and because fans need to see that the team is trying. With all due respect, this is a terrible reason to not trade Rodriguez or any other player this season.

The Brewers are going nowhere this season. Everyone has already accepted that fact. In fact, if nobody is traded, fans will get more frustrated that it seems like nothing is being done about the losing.

More importantly, this season is crucial to the long-term state of the franchise. The Brewers not only have the worst team in the NL Central, but they have the worst farm system. Oh, and the payroll is maxed out, Ryan Braun’s second extension hasn’t even kicked in yet, Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse are sunk costs, and Carlos Gomez is only under contract for one more season. Things are rough. But. You have the ability to help the Brewers greatly in the long term. Doing this is actually quite simple, as far as your role is concerned. All you need to do is leave the baseball decisions to your baseball ops department, specifically Doug Melvin.

That means don’t sign anyone, veto any trades, block players from being dealt, etc. Everyone should be on the table, so simply trust the people you’ve hired to do their job.

The Brewers have a number of players around for the short-term They are either not contributing positively (Lohse, Garza, Aramis Ramirez) or they won’t be under contract by the time the team has a chance to be good again (Lucroy, Gomez, K-Rod, Fiers, Lind, and many others). These players have diminished value to the Brewers, as they are doing little for a team that is 20+ games out of the division lead. They should be traded for young players or prospects that have a better chance of impacting the team long-term.

I have heard/read many of the following reasons to not deal particular players:

But K-Rod is good for our young pitchers!

I suppose this could be true. On the other hand, he is a veteran closer who some contending teams will covet and pay for. He’s also a dirtbag abuser, but that’s admittedly beside the point of this letter.

But Carlos Gomez is our best, most exciting player!

He is! He’s great! He’s also going to command well over $100 million dollars after next season. Do you want to have a combined $200+ million owed to two outfielders on the wrong side of 30?

But Jonathan Lucroy is a great player, a fan favorite, and is very affordable the next few seasons!

All true! Also, these are all reasons teams will covet him more, especially the cheap contract one. Teams will pay more in terms of prospects to get an inexpensive player rather than an expensive one. Also, the Brewers won’t be any good before Lucroy’s contract is up. Also, I know you remember how much people loved Lyle Overbay the first time around. Mr. Double! OOOOOOOOOO! Remember how people were angry when he was traded to make way for Prince Fielder? Point is, fans are fickle. They get over these things, and they choose new favorites. Maybe the fans will choose Orlando Arcia as their new favorite. Or Clint Coulter. Or some new stud prospect the Brewers acquire, maybe even in a Lucroy deal.

But Jean Segura is still young and under control for three years!

Yes! And this is a tougher one, because he seemed like a cornerstone for a while. However, shortstop is the strength of your organization. If you’re to believe scouts and publications, Orlando Arcia will be even better. He’ll probably be MLB ready within a year or so. Segura could be used to fill a different hole on the roster, like third base or first base or second base or catcher when Lucroy leaves or starting pitcher. See, you have a lot of needs!

But every team needs a bullpen! How can I trade guys like Jeremy Jeffress, Michael Blazek, Jonathan Broxton or Will Smith?

So, so easily. Like, video game easy. It does not matter who fills out the bullpen for the rest of the season. It does not matter. You could throw one of your sons out their to eat a few innings if Pan Am isn’t touring (btw, are they still a thing? Any day gigs at Summerfest again this year?). Bullpen guys will resurface. You might even find some guys from AAA or AA who are just as good as these other guys. Or not. But, for this year, it doesn’t matter. Going forward, relievers can be signed on the cheap. If they bring value now, trade ’em!

Mr. Attanasio, I know you’ve meddled in baseball affairs. Most people know that. Forfeiting a first round pick for Lohse? The Garza signing? Resisting selling in the past when it made almost as much sense as it does now? That was you. In fact, I have been re-thinking my previous post about moving on from Doug Melvin, because it’s impossible to tell which decisions the last few years have been his as opposed to yours. It truly doesn’t matter who the GM is if you are nixing deals or signing players on your own. However, all that will be forgiven if you just allow the team to rebuild.

Have you noticed all the incredible young players who have broken into the big leagues this year? Have you noticed half of them play for the Cubs? Wouldn’t it be swell if the Brewers had young players like that? Let’s make it happen! It might be easy to forget now since their future looks so bright, but the Cubs were atrocious for a few years! How many of their fans are complaining about that right now?

I understand your reluctance to formally rebuild, because many casual fans will stop attending games. But you know what? Screw ’em! If attendance is going to dip, there’s a real simple solution to ensure you still make a profit: slash the hell out of the payroll. There’s no need for a $100 million payroll when you aren’t trying to contend, or even for a $70 million payroll. That should more than offset the loss of revenue due to decreased attendance. If fans are smart (and many are), they will see that you have a plan in place. And people like me will enjoy the shorter lines for beer and the bathroom. In two or three years, when the next round of young guys are breaking through, those fair weather fans will come back. If they did in the mid-2000s after 15 years of terrible baseball, they will after just a few years this time around.

One last thing to ponder: Did you catch any of the Bucks this season? Fun team, huh? Sure, they’re a work in progress, but they had their best attendance in years, and they had a solid showing in the playoffs. Fans are more excited entering a season than they have been since 2002. And how did they get to this point? By enduring a horrific season that landed them the number 2 pick and Jabari Parker. Before that, the Bucks’ mantra under Herb Kohl was to never be terrible. Play hard, compete, and finish close enough to .500. Of course, that meant never properly rebuilding and having zero chance of competing for a championship. Does that sound familiar? Because right now, you’re dangerously close to the Bucks of the ’00s–and that’s not a good place to be.

The goal is to win the World Series, yes? If so, your only feasible option is to blow up this dumpster fire of a season and build for the future. And to do that, all you need to do is sit back, throw on a Pan Am album, enjoy an adult beverage, and let your front office do its job.

Respectfully Yours,


Let’s talk about Doug Melvin

Posted by Steve

Doug Melvin. The Man, The Myth, The Mustache. I even have that on a t-shirt. Unfortunately, that t-shirt is several years old. If that t-shirt was for sale today, I would not purchase it. I’d probably ask if they had one that said, “Rock n roll is a young man’s game,” or “Dust in the Wind,” or a less subtle, “You get to hire four non-interim managers, but no more.”

Melvin has done good things for the Brewers franchise. He took over a team that was a laughingstock, rebuilt their farm system, created an exciting product, and oversaw a couple nice playoff runs. He wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big move (the CC Sabathia trade was downright ballsy), and he has had some success when selling off players who weren’t going to re-sign. He was measured, level-headed and didn’t allow emotions to get in the way of his job.

Now, the Brewers require a full, long-term rebuild–one that will likely take 3-4 years before they have a chance to contend again. Melvin is about to turn 63 (only Walt Jocketty, Sandy Alderson and Jack Zduriencik are older among MLB GMs).  GMs are not only younger, but they’re of a very different mold than Melvin. He was a minor league pitcher who entered scouting after his playing career. GMs hired today are younger, more intelligent, and more analytical than GMs who were getting hired around the time that Melvin got his first GM gig in Texas.  Certainly if the Brewers were hiring a new general manager, I’d want it to be someone who is statistically inclined and forward thinking. Additionally, someone who is a first-time GM looking to prove himself (or herself–someone’s got to finally hire Kim Ng, right?) would be a better bet to oversee a long-term rebuild.

Melvin’s age/pedigree is maybe a small reason why it’s time to move on, but it certainly isn’t the main reason. The main reason is he’s done a fairly poor job as of late.

Many of his bad moves were at least influenced by Mark Attanasio, who is slowly becoming the dreaded meddling owner. Things may have gone differently if he was given 100% autonomy to do his job. But he wasn’t, and they didn’t. He still needs to answer for the failures of the last four seasons.

Melvin’s already has his run. He took over a team that had fewer trade pieces than this version of the Brewers, and he eventually turned them into a winner. It would be fair to claim that the Braun-Fielder-Hart-Weeks era Brewers actually underachieved with only two playoff appearances, but they did still get there. There aren’t many GMs who get to oversee two rebuilds in their tenure (probably even fewer who get to hire four different managers).

None of this will matter, unfortunately, if Attanasio does not sign off on a rebuild and give full trust to the next GM who is trying to rebuild the Brewers’ farm system. I have some hope, though, that Mark A. is finally coming around on the need to blow this thing up. Assuming he does, a leadership change couldn’t hurt anything, and it would probably help.

If Melvin doesn’t want to retire, move him to a cushy Team President job for a couple years. Bring in some new blood, and let’s move on to the next version of Braun-Fielder-Weeks-Hart.

It’s good to be bad

Posted by Steve


Hey, so I haven’t made a post in months. Haven’t really been following the Brewers, but wanted to check in now that it’s June and see how things are going roughly 1/3 into the season. I miss anything?

Yikes. Well, this has gone about as poorly as it could’ve. Even more poorly than I (anyone?) expected. You’ve got the key injuries, the underperformance of crucial veterans, the complete flop of Scooter Gennett and the hilariously timed firing of Ron Roenicke (why was he allowed back after last season, again?). Quite the checklist of awfulness.

But. Is this really such a bad thing? Let’s quickly peruse all the feasible outcomes for the Brewers this season:

  1. Wallow in mediocrity, finish anywhere from 75-80 wins
  2. Everything goes right with luck and injuries (like most of last season), Brewers contend for the wildcard, and possibly get it
  3. Another collapse after a promising start
  4. Complete and utter disaster

On the surface, number 2 is the best case scenario, but only if they actually make the playoffs. The odds of that actually happening were quite low. Number 2 also allows for the increased likelihood of number 3 occurring, and I’m pretty sure nobody had interest in enduring that yet again.

No, I’d actually posit that number 4, our reality, is the best case feasible scenario for the Brewers.

Why, you ask? Because the Brewers need a rebuild in the worst way, and this type of season was the only way Mark Attanasio was going to sign off on one.

Every time I hear a fan or sports radio host or message board poster argue that “The Brewers could sell some pieces, NOT A COMPLETE REBUILD OF COURSE, but you know, sell off some vets,” it makes me want to set myself on fire. Selling off just “veterans,” which would mean Aramis Ramirez, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, and a couple relievers, would accomplish absolutely nothing for the long-term success of the team. In fact, a lot of people have been bemoaning the fact that Garza and Lohse sucking this year has screwed the Brewers by killing their trade value. To that, I say:

Trading overpaid pitchers who were already on the downside of their careers before this season was not going to net an overwhelming return. Certainly not enough to turn around their farm system, which is what they desperately need.

Fact: The Brewers are the worst team in the NL Central. Additional fact: The Brewers have the worst farm system in the NL Central. That is what you call the worst case scenario.

I should acknowledge that their system made solid strides last year and moved up most rankings; they’re now longer in the bottom six or seven. Orlando Arcia’s start has propelled him to an elite level prospect, Luis Sardiñas looks promising so far, and we get to see Tyler Wagner’s fast-tracked MLB debut today. However, they have a long way to go, and this season presents the Brewers with a real possibility to end the year with a top 8 farm system.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a long post arguing why the Brewers need to trade Jonathan Lucroy. Then over half of it got deleted, and I said screw it, I’ll finish it tomorrow. The next day, Dave Cameron’s post titled “The Case for Trading Jonathan Lucroy” hit Fangraphs and made almost all the points I did, so I scrapped it.

A few weeks later, and the main point remains the same. Carlos Gomez has a year and a half left on his contract. Jonathan Lucroy has two and a half years left on his. Both are bargain contracts, especially Lucroy. People who don’t want to trade them cite their contracts as reasons why the Brewers don’t need to trade them. Actually, that’s exactly why they do.

The Brewers will not be true contenders before those players hit free agency. They simply don’t have a core in place to challenge St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago in the next few years. They probably won’t even contend in the next three and a half years, which is when Jean Segura is a free agent. So if they aren’t going to contend, why hold on to those players?

The Brewers under Doug Melvin almost never trade anyone at his highest value. Someone comment if you think of another one, but I am going all the way back to what I think was his first trade ever, dealing Richie Sexson for half of a team, to find one. Instead, he holds on to a player until he’s in his last contract year, limiting his return, or he waits until the player has declined, also diminishing the return.

The Brewers have a chance to cash in on three excellent trade chips in Lucroy, Gomez and Segura. Gomez is still playing well, Lucroy’s goofy toe injury won’t hurt his value, and Segura has regained much of his with a revitalized season. Each would bring back a very nice return, and the Brewers would load up their system with Top 100 prospects.

It’s a long shot, but they should also at least try to see if Ryan Braun’s hot streak could get someone to take him. Even with his performance, they probably wouldn’t get a team to take more than 80% of a contract that was bad the moment it was signed. That would still be in the Brewers’ best interest, because an expensive, declining Braun will hamstring them going forward.

As uninteresting as the Brewers’ season on the field has been, this is set up to be the most interesting season in several years. This is a rare chance to convince Mark Attanasio, a.k.a. Baseball’s Herb Kohl (.500 or bust!!!@!) to actually tear down and rebuild. The Brewers need to take advantage of it and set themselves up for success a few years from now.

Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers’ game of poker

Posted by Steve

While most of Wisconsin was taking a collective gut punch yesterday afternoon, I was (along with receiving said gut punch) refreshing Twitter to see what the Brewers were getting from the Rangers for Yovani Gallardo.

You know by now: The Brewers are “on the verge of” trading Gallardo, “appear set to” trade Gallardo, or “have an agreement in principle” to trade Gallardo to Texas. Weirdly, over 24 hours later, we still don’t know what the Brewers are getting in return.

That hasn’t stopped a number of blogs to somehow evaluate the deal. One headline I saw called it a “brilliant” move for the Brewers. How someone can say that without knowing the return is beyond me. What if it was for a mediocre reliever and middling prospect? Or Kevin Mench again? Or for Ron Washington to take over as manager (I know he’s not there anymore, but still)?

Anyway, I’m not going to write about any potential return, or even this move in general. Instead, this is about the direction the Brewers should go from here.

Let’s take a look at the players the Brewers have under contract for only 2015, thanks to this Cot’s page. It’s a good bit of talent, but more than that, it’s quite a bit of salary commitment. It includes:

Aramis Ramirez $14 m
Yovani Gallardo $13 m
Kyle Lohse $11 m
Jonathan Broxton $9 m (option for 2016)
Adam Lind $7 m (option for 2016)
Gerardo Parra $6.2 m

The way I see, there are two options.

1. Keep all these guys for one last year to go for broke and a playoff push.

2. Get rid of all of them.

I’m fine with either. What I don’t want is something somewhere in between. It’s why I wanted them to trade Jimmy Nelson last year for an impact player to put them over the top. Something like trading Gallardo for a couple okay prospects (don’t expect much on his return–he’s a league average starter with a one-year contract) to either lower the payroll or sign a reliever or two isn’t a smart move. It lowers the chance of winning this year without making a big move toward the future.

Even worse would be trading Gallardo to then either trade for Jordan Zimmermann or sign James Shields, both of which I’ve seen speculated on Twitter and Shields is past his prime, would be expensive, and would require the Brewers to forfeit the #15 draft pick. Bad idea. Zimmermann is great, but would cost a lot in terms of prospects and is only under contract for one more year. Why not just wait and sign him next off-season?

Option two: If they dealt all those guys, and even Gomez (only two years left) if they could get a great return, they could put themselves in great position for the future.

I actually prefer this option. The Brewers need a cost-controlled core to have long-term success. Right now, they don’t have much of that at all. Jimmy Nelson, Segura, Khris Davis (who isn’t even that young), and Wily Peralta is about it. They need more to depend on beyond 2016.

Target a number of young players (a third baseman of the future is a must) that are close to MLB ready (like Segura was), and then sign one or two of the free agent starting pitchers available next year. It’s a nice crop, with Zimmermann, Rick Porcello, Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, Jeff Samardzija, Ian Kennedy and Matt Latos all on the market next off-season.

I’d make those moves next year with an eye toward the future, then make Zimmermann a priority next year. A rotation with Zimmermann, Peralta and Nelson is a solid foundation, and you’d presumably pick up more pitching in other deals.

Either way, they need to be all in or all out. One of the worst moves in poker is repeatedly calling bets, hoping you hit something. It’s a great way to lose chunks of money at a time; you should either be folding or raising. What the Brewers did at last year’s deadline (very little) was the equivalent of calling all the way to the river. The Brewers need to choose one path and stick with it. If I were Doug Melvin, I’d fold this hand with an eye on the future.

The Brewers should trade Jimmy Nelson

Posted by Steve

If you chose to be critical of the Brewers’ approach over the last 8 years or so, I don’t know if I could disagree with you. They have made big win-now trades that have propelled them to two playoff appearances, but they have also traded away a lot of future talent. It is not the recipe for sustained success in the mold of the Rays, A’s or Cardinals.

However, the Brewers’ bed is made. They don’t have a continual stream of prospects reaching the big leagues like they did 8 years ago. They had an unexpected hot streak at the beginning of the year and somewhat unexpectedly found themselves in contention. For the reasons I’ll lay out, the Brewers need to make a big trade to reach the playoffs this year.

The Brewers have been in first place most of this season, but that does not mean they are the best team in the division. Their pythagorean record indicates the Brewers have been lucky to have their current record of 59-49. Worse yet is their upcoming schedule in August. The Brewers will play the Cardinals, the Giants twice and the Dodgers twice over the next month–a brutal stretch. Without a boost to the team, I fully expect the Brewers to fall out of the division lead.

PECOTA has 7 teams in the NL with a greater than 50% chance of reaching the playoffs. Obvious, two of those teams won’t make it, and I think it’s pretty likely the Brewers will miss, given their remaining schedule and regression to their true talent level.

Dodgers: 96.1%
Nationals: 85.8 %

Those two teams should be off the Brewers’ radar, as they will likely have playoff spots locked up and won’t be competing with them for a spot. Here’s where it gets more interesting.

Cardinals: 60.8%
Giants: 60.5%
Brewers: 59.3%
Braves: 58.7%
Pirates: 53.5%

Three of those five teams will make the playoffs, barring some other team getting very hot and coming out of nowhere. The Brewers, Pirates, and Cardinals have the most to gain, as one of them will win a division and not have to play a stupid play-in game.

Basically, the Brewers are in a position in which an addition can really impact their chances. It would mean more for the Brewers to go add a big piece than the Dodgers, because the Dodgers are just about a lock for the postseason. Conversely, it could be a back breaker for the Brewers if the Pirates or Cardinals add a pitcher like Jon Lester while the Brewers stand pat. The NL Central race is that close.

Another reason it makes sense for the Brewers to make a big move is because of the “window” that Doug Melvin likes to talk about. The Brewers have all of their starting rotation under contract for next season, but after that, Lohse and Gallardo are free agents. Not that this makes it impossible for the Brewers to be good after 2015, but it’s seems somewhat likely that the Brewers will be due for a drop-off. So, why not go for broke in 2014 and 2015?

Finally, another factor to consider is that prospects very rarely reach their ceilings. In trades for CC Sabathia, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Greinke, the Brewers traded many prospects. At this point, only two look like true difference makers (Michael Brantley and Jake Odorizzi). Think of all the other highly rated guys who didn’t amount to more than average-ish players: Matt LaPorta, Jeremy Jeffress, Alcides Escobar, Brett Lawrie (Still young, but nothing impressive so far). Plus, they got three young players back for Greinke the following season.

So what is my more specific point? It’s that the Brewers should trade Jimmy Nelson.

Nelson is the highest rated prospect they’ve had in years, so why would they trade him? Looking deeper, it makes sense. The Brewers do have some intriguing prospects, potential difference-makers in their system, but none are close the the big leagues. You ideally want a wave of young guys reaching the big leagues around the same time. Nelson is not part of any wave.

I also think it’s entirely possible that Nelson’s trade value is higher now than it will ever be at any point in his career. He’s number 38 on Baseball America’s mid-season prospect list. He’s dominated in AAA all year, and he’s now broken into the big leagues, where he hasn’t yet proved he’ll fail. He projects to be a good pitcher, but not an ace-type–more like a 2-3. And he likely won’t be a good MLB pitcher this year yet.

If the Brewers could use him to acquire a substantial upgrade, either in the form of a better starting pitcher or a left-handed slugger (preferably first base), then it greatly improves the Brewers’ chances of winning the division. Someone like Jon Lester would be a great fit, or even John Lackey. Cole Hamels would be great, but he’d likely require more than the Brewers have (under contract for multiple years) and so would David Price (Rays back in the race), but neither are very likely. Other players may or may not be available (Justin Morneau would look pretty good in a Brewers uniform), but I won’t speculate much when I don’t know who.

The reason I mention Lackey and Lester is they are both clearly on the block, and they both could likely be had for Nelson. Lackey because he isn’t quite as good of a pitcher (still having a nice season), and Lester because he’s a free agent after that season. Both of those factors make their price lower than Price or Hamels, and it’s possible that if Nelson is included, the Brewers could expand the deal and add another piece from Boston (perhaps Mike Carp or Koji Uehara).

All I know is that a number of factors support that the Brewers should be aggressive in their goal of winning this season. Nelson is the biggest trade piece they have, and it makes sense to use him.

Draft Review: Day 1

Posted by Steve

Some brief thoughts on the Brewers’ draft yesterday:

I was not happy when the Brewers made their first choice. Touki Toussaint, Casey Gillaspie and Grant Holmes were all available, so I was not happy with the pick of Kodi Medeiros, someone who was projected as a late first or even second round pick.

I should mention that I feel better about the Medeiros pick after researching it a bit more. This video makes it look like he could be a LOOGY right now, but of course, the Brewers hope he can stick as a starter. Goodness, that slider 52 seconds in. P.S., that guffaw belongs to none other than Eric Byrnes, he of the famous Throwfall.

But, last night, I was not happy–at first. My opinion changed once they made the next two picks, as it became clear what the Brewers were attempting to do: rather than take one expensive player, they drafted three high-ceiling players who will all be similar in price.

With the new CBA, teams are allowed a draft budget that is dictated by the amount and value of their picks. Each pick is assigned a slot value, which is MLB’s “suggestion” for that pick. Teams and players are free to negotiate that price, but the total amount spent on draft picks must come under a certain overall price. If a team spends more than just a small bit above that budget (small amounts over come with a tax), they end up forfeiting future first round draft picks. Not something teams are going to want to do, unless maybe you’re dealing with a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper-type talent.

So. By taking Medeiros with pick 12, the Brewers likely knew ahead of time that he would be willing to sign for less than slot, which is $2.8 million at pick 12. Let’s say it’s more like $2 million, though that’s obviously just a guess. They probably told him, “You can take our offer of 2 mil at pick 12, or you can roll the dice and hope to get drafted in the top 21 (the last slot value of over 2 mil). Your choice.”

He may have been drafted in the top 20, but who knows? He also may have fallen to the second round. And maybe he can even negotiate up to 2.2 or 2.3 mil. Either way, this should leave the Brewers with an extra $500-800k to work with in their later picks.

This strategy became apparent, because the players they drafted at 41 and 50 are both serious talents who will surely require the Brewers to go over slot to sign.

I almost listed Jacob Gatewood as another option for the Brewers in the first round yesterday (I wish I would have). He’s a tall high school shortstop who has plus, plus power and is definitely a boom or bust type. It’s fair to say that I’m at least as excited about Gatewood as I am about Medeiros, and probably even more.

Monte Harrison is another high-ceiling high schooler. Profiling as a CF or RF, Harrison is a potential 5-tool player. He is committed to Nebraska both as a baseball player and wide receiver on the football team, which could obviously make it difficult to sign him.

Baseball America rated all three players in their top 32 overall. Medeiros was 32, Gatewood was 21, and Harrison was 20. So if you’re basing it on that, in a vacuum, you wouldn’t be happy about getting #32 with pick 12. But getting three in the top 32 with picks 12, 41, and 50? That’s a haul.

You can see why the Brewers will need to get creative with their money in order to sign all three. They are allotted $6.3 million for their first five picks. Slot value for 41 is $1.38 mil; slot for 50 is $1.1 mil. I think the Brewers will probably need to go 400-500k over slot for both Gatewood and Harrison in order to sign them. That means that not only will they take money away from Medeiros, but I would expect the Brewers to make some reach picks in the next few rounds who will sign below slot.

And I would be completely okay with that. If the Brewers managed to sign all three of these players, that would be extremely exciting. The Brewers have enough guys in their system who can be 4/5 starters, 6/7 hitters. The reason their farm system is rated so low is because they have guys who can make the majors, but they don’t have many who will excel in the Majors. These three players would all enter the Brewers’ top 10 prospects list immediately, and they all have a chance to be impact big leaguers. These are the anti-Jungmann/Bradley picks, which is exactly what I was looking for.