Brewers begin rebuilding bullpen with Badenhop | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

The teardown of the Brewers’ bullpen is complete. Now comes the rebuilding.

A day after non-tendering Manny Parra, the Brewers have added a bullpen piece, acquiring right-hander Burke Badenhop from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor leaguer Raul Mondesi, Jr.

Badenhop appeared in 66 games for the Rays last season, putting up a 3.03 ERA (3.62 FIP) in 62.1 innings. He didn’t strike out many batters (just 6.06 K/9 in 2012), but he didn’t add many baserunners, either (1.73 BB/9). With all the frustration about high walk rates out of the bullpen last year, adding a high-contact, low-walk guy or two makes a bit of sense.

Badenhop made his MLB debut in 2008 for Florida after being a part of the Miguel Cabrera blockbuster trade with Detroit. He’ll be 30 in 2013 and is listed as a Super 2 by Baseball-Reference and Cot’s Contracts. That makes him eligible for arbitration for a third time this winter, and the Brewers will have his rights through the 2014 season.

He doesn’t throw very hard — his fastball has averaged 88.9 mph for his career — but at 6’5″, he throws a very effective sinker and has induced ground balls on 55.3% of balls put in play against him for his career. If you’re thinking he sounds a lot like Kameron Loe, you aren’t alone.

Like Loe, Badenhop has struggled a bit when facing left-handed batters: lefties have hit .268/.361/.411 against him for his career, while righties have only been able to muster a .259/.294/.361 line. For the save of comparison, lefties have hit Loe for a .305/.365/.473 line, while righties have hit just .253/.308/.377.

So, yeah, there are some similarities, but you could also say that Badenhop is more effective against RHBs than Loe was, and isn’t as much of a liability against LHBs. The downside is that Badenhop isn’t as likely to work himself out of jams with a strikeout as Loe was. On the other hand, he isn’t as likely as Loe to accidentally walk someone while gunning for a K.

In giving up Mondesi, the Brewers are trading away a familiar name, but one that hasn’t lived up to the hype quite yet. Mondesi will still only be 20 in 2013, but is only hitting .243/.305/.371 for his career. This year was his first season stateside, and he struggled mightily in Helena, hitting .231/.282/.374 and striking out in 87 of his 298 plate appearances, walking just 14 times. The most noteworthy thing he did was forget to touch home on what would have been a walkoff home run.

Mondesi’s approach is one that will make it difficult for him to rise to the majors, but if the power develops like some people think it will, maybe he will make it down the line. The Rays are an organization that loves taking gambles like that. Barring a breakout, though, he isn’t someone the Brewers are likely to miss too much. In a lot of ways, this is reminiscent of the Cutter Dykstra-for-Nyjer Morgan trade: dealing a legacy kid with no real future in the organization for a solid role player. That deal worked out extremely well for the Brewers.

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