Twitter Mailbag: Aoki, Offseason Moves, Starting Rotation | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

Happy Thursday, fellows Disciples!

As I’m sure you’ve all noted by now, there have been some changes undergone here at Disciples of Uecker over the past couple days. One thing that I wanted to keep up was the Twitter mailbag that JP ran regularly during the season. Every Tuesday and Wednesday on my Twitter, I’ll be asking for your questions to be included in the mailbag, so keep an eye out for that.

If the Brewers were to trade Aoki this off-season, what would be a reasonable return? Middle relief? Utility IF/OF type? -@acmccabe

It’s always difficult to play into the minds of baseball general managers, but it’s always an entertaining proposition to think about what exactly the Brewers could get in return for the players that we as the public see as “tradeable”. The baseball offseason has been hyped up on steroids or coffee or whatever those weird drugs those rowdy college kids take nowadays, but, despite that, I don’t think the Brewers trading Norichika Aoki this winter. Which is a shame, in my opinion. What the team has is a league-average to slightly above league-average outfielder who finds ways to get on base at a good clip, plays slightly below-average defensively, and has a great finger mustache. The don’t control him after 2014 and with Khris Davis lurking, it’s a pretty safe bet to say Aoki won’t be with Milwaukee past this season.

But your question wasn’t about whether or not to trade him. If they were to trade him, it would be reasonable for the Brewers to expect some sort of help either in the back end of their bullpen or in the rotation. With Lohse, Gallardo, Estrada, and Peralta making up the head of the Brewers rotation while the bullpen still remains in question, I could see Melvin looking to acquire some veteran help (possibly a lefty?) to go along with Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson. The A’s just got Luke Gregorson, he of 2.70 FIP and 3.30 xFIP in 73 games, for Seth Smith (1.1 WAR). It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Milwaukee to get the same type of return plus a low-to-middle of the line prospect for Aoki.

“Best bet to be the Brewers starting first baseman on Opening Day?” –@IgnitorKid

Even though he’s not a Brewer at the moment, I’d still be willing to go out and say Corey Hart has the best chance of starting at first base when April 1 comes around. News came out earlier this week that, after missing all of 2013 due to injury after injury, Hart was medically cleared for baseball activities, which I’m going to assume means taking actual batting practice and throwing actual baseballs…because those are your prototypical baseball activities.

Anyway, there are bound to be a handful of teams looking at Hart for 2014 as their first baseman–considering his outfield playing days are probably over at this point–but the injuries in a contract year may have cost Hart in terms of his free agency value. Paul Konerko gave the White Sox somewhat of a hometown discount Wednesday and Hart has said in the past he would be willing to do the same. The Brewers, unlike with their other options in Sean Halton and Juan Francisco, would know what they are getting in terms of production from Hart, who has been a mainstay driving in runs for the team for nearly a decade. Both sides seem to be interested in joining forces for 2014.

“Which youngster steps up to be the #5 starter? -@IgnitorKid

“How do you see the 5th rotation spot playing out?” –@mph343

As much as I rooted for Milwaukee to not sign Kyle Lohse to a deal last winter when seemingly nobody else was interested, I am even more so an advocate of the Brewers finding out which young pitcher can top off the rotation rather than signing a guy like Ervin Santana via free agency. Let’s start off by establishing that Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and Wily Peralta are virtual locks for the first four slots. From the 40-man roster, it seems the most likely candidates for the fifth starting job are Alfredo Figaro, Mike Fiers, Hiram Burgos, Tom Gorzellany, Donovan Hand, Johnny Hellweg, Jimmy Nelson, and Tyler Thornburg. 

Figaro and Hand are most likely suited for the bullpen (I feel that there’s going to be one job up for grabs between the two of them), and it’s most likely the team uses Gorzellany out of relief, as well. Hellweg, Nelson, and Burgos could still use some fine-tuning in AAA, though they each spent time in the majors last season. That leaves us with Fiers and Thornburg. I see Fiers as somewhat of the “forgotten guy” in the Brewers pitching picture going forth after a rough stretch last season and it may come down to Spring Training as to who gets the job.

If I had to guess, though, I’m going with who left the best taste in my mouth: Tyler Thornburg.

“You’re Doug Melvin. What’s the 1 thing above all else you do this winter?” –@2ndHS

Oh man. This would be fun. The first thing I’m doing is I’m looking at what Billy Beane is doing out west in Oakland. He’s not afraid to trade away chips that he feels aren’t completely integral to competing this season and going forth for players that make them a better, playoff-contending team.

I wouldn’t be looking at signing any back-of-the-rotation starters, but, in the free agent market, I would be looking for backup infield help, particularly up the middle. Jean Segura‘s job isn’t in jeopardy or anything, but we saw him burn out in the second half last year, so it would be nice to have a cost-friendly, proven backup middle infielder not named Yuniesky Betancourt.

Above all, though, the one thing I would be looking to do would be shop three players in particular: Norichika Aoki, Kyle Lohse, and Yovani Gallardo. Why? It’s hard to see any of them fitting in with the Brewers future, the current roster is deep at both positions, and the returns could help the Brewers fill in at positions where they may not be quite as deep. It wouldn’t hurt to give Davis more playing time than a platoon with Aoki would, and guys like Thornburg, Fiers, Nelson, and Hellweg are waiting in the wings, as well.

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