The Wei-Chung Wang Dilemma | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

Monday night was the latest installment in the Brewers’ ongoing Wei-Chung Wang story. It also may–and should–have been the final straw.

The 22-year-old Taiwanese left hander gave up five runs and recorded only two outs in the eighth inning. Making only his sixth appearance of the season in the team’s 45th game, Wang gave up two home runs and consecutive RBI singles with two outs before enough was enough and he was relieved by first baseman Lyle Overbay.

Unlike Wang’s previous outings, this one came in the midst of a close game. The Brewers trailed 4-3 after a Ryan Braun homer in the top half of the eighth, most likely set up to get Kimbrel’d in the ninth. The timing is something to note, as it comes two days after Tom Haudricourt of the Journal-Sentinel reported this quote by Doug Melvin. 

“Our games are so close, we haven’t been able to get him in there,” he said. “I don’t think you should be afraid to pitch him in some close games. I talked to (manager) Ron (Roenicke) about it. I told him we’re going to do everything we can to keep him.”

The move by Roenicke was understandable given the quote from his boss from just this past weekend. Melvin, seeing him as a regular roster asset, wanted to use Wang in a close game. Trailing by one and facing Craig Kimbrel in the next half-inning, it was a chance for Roenicke to fulfill Melvin’s request and pitch Wang. Had he pitched a scoreless inning, it wasn’t all too likely the Brewers would have scratched a run across. If he got roughed up, it was unlikely that those runs would have mattered post-Kimbrel.

Ron Roenicke’s approach to the “WCW” situation? But it may have signified the end of the Wei-Chung Wang experiment for the Brewers.

A Rule Five draft pick this off-season, the Brewers have to keep Wang on their 25-man roster all season, otherwise his rights will be returned to Pittsburgh, the team that originally drafted him. At 22, the Brewers saw enough potential this spring that they felt he was worth the risk this season.

Last season, that wouldn’t have been an issue. Milwaukee was effectively out of postseason contention midway through May. This season? Different story. It’s much harder to use a roster spot on a rarely-used pitcher that should be developing in A-ball.

The thing is, reading Melvin’s quote to Haudricourt, that isn’t how the Brewers GM is viewing Wang.

 ”We look at him as a player who would be a high draft pick (if in the draft last year or this year) and they aren’t easy to find,” said Melvin. “We’re doing everything we can to keep him.
“I don’t see where he’s hurting the ballclub. He’s no different than any 12th or 13th pitcher on a team.”

Wang may very well have been, theoretically, a high pick in this year’s draft. Even if that was the case, though, he would still be a a pitcher with A-ball command and a lot of development to do. Using a roster spot on a player who is effectively worth half a loss through 7.2 innings on a first-place team is not the best way to formulate 25 players that will make the playoffs.

If Melvin doesn’t see where Wang is hurting the ballclub, I’ll be willing to offer some insight.

Possibly three years from now, Wei-Chung Wang would be a valuable piece in the bullpen (or even as a starter). To get there, however, it would take plenty of development. It would be great if the Brewers could stash him in the farm system and treat him as a high draft pick–but they can’t. At this point, their options are to use a roster spot on him as he continues to negatively affect them when in the game and not in the game (by shortening the bullpen by an entire player) or designate him for assignment and effectively return him to the Pirates.

The former will only continue to hurt them going forward.

With Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers dominating at AAA and Tom Gorzelanny set to return from the disabled list soon, the Brewers have three more-than-viable options for relievers that would provide positive value compared to the replacement-level player, much less to a pitcher who throws once every 10 days or so and gets roughed up when he actually does pitch.

Roenicke’s move to take Wang out and bring in a position player to pitch may have even been a move to prove the liability of Wang on the roster. I’d say that giving up five runs in .2 innings in a one-run game is hurting the ballclub.

Wang is currently placed in a tough situation. He needs the time to develop, but the Brewers want to keep him, and he can’t simply just be stashed away in the bullpen, never pitching, all season long. Pitching sparsely and getting hit hard by batters much more developed than you must not be too fun, either.

After Monday’s performance, however, the Brewers may have to reevaluate their strategy with Wang.

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. JR says: May 20, 2014

    Didn’t it look like his shoulder was bothering him? Looked like maybe some tendinitis, put him on the DL, schedule an mri and we have some time to figure it out….

    • Jeremy says: May 20, 2014

      He has to be on the active 25 man roster for 90 days so putting him on the DL will still result in having to return him to Pittsburgh by seasons end

      • Tom says: May 20, 2014

        He’d have to serve his 40 remaining days on the active roster next season. If we wait until the end of May to “DL” him we could bring him back to serve the last 28 days of his stint in September to hit the magic 90 number.

      • Ross B says: May 20, 2014

        This is not true. If the 90 days are not met this season, so long as he was on the active roster or DL the entire year the Brewers get to keep him and whatever is left on the 90 days is rolled over into 2015.

        • L says: May 20, 2014

          Is this really true? I couldn’t find anything on that. Also, when the active rosters expand on Sept. 1st shouldn’t that count as 28 days or so (depending on the amount of days remaining in the season) where it’s incredibly easy to hide him on the roster and if this is so, we only need to have him on the active 25-man roster for 62 or so days before DLing him till Sept. How many active days has he accumulated thus far? 50 through Monday, right? So if this logic is correct then he’d only need to be maintained on the active 25-man roster for another 12 days or so before the team can DL him till Sept. 1st.

          • dbug says: May 20, 2014

            He would also have to have an injury. There may be a hazard in blatantly lying to get around the draft restrictions.

          • Ross B says: May 20, 2014


            This explains the 90 days rule. I don’t think September counts as the entire 40 man roster is considered the active roster, whereas rule V guys have to be on the 25 man roster which sort of doesn’t exist during September. I couldn’t find anything to verify this for sure though.

          • L says: May 20, 2014

            I couldn’t find any good clarity on it either. Only thing I’ve seen is that he has to be on the active roster for 90 days and the active roster expands to include the full 40 players come Sept. 1st so I was led to believe that he could potentially be stashed away during that time period without affecting the team’s roster much. If this is not so then the Brewers need to maintain him on the 25-man roster until June 29th I believe.

        • Jeremy says: May 20, 2014

          MLB.Com’s Rule V draft rules say nothing about being able to roll days over to the next season..your source on this is????

          What happens when a player is selected in the Rule 5 Draft?

          A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.

        • Jeremy says: May 20, 2014

          Fangraphs has some info on this…but it doesn’t say anything about being able to split the days between seasons, it speaks only about the player missing the WHOLE season.

          Rule 5 Draft draftees must stay on the MLB roster all season. If they go to the DL, they must be active for at least 90 days — so if the draftee misses a whole season, they must be on the active roster for 90 days the following season to satisfy the Rule 5 Draft requirements.

        • Jeremy says: May 20, 2014

          Annnnnd I just scrolled down and saw your link Ross…guess it pays to read ALL the comments before replying

          • Ross B says: May 20, 2014

            Don’t worry about it Jeremy. I’ve done this exact same thing before. The one complaint I have about DoU is the comment threads are tough to follow after more than a reply or two.

  2. Mike says: May 20, 2014

    Was it really a close game? The game was over after the 8th inning when we didn’t tie or go ahead. With Kimbrel coming in, I’m guessing the win probability for the Brewers was about 1%. It was essentially a mop up role.

  3. Eric says: May 20, 2014

    He only needs to stay a few more weeks. Then he can be DL’d and brought back Sept 1st when rosters expand

  4. Josh says: May 20, 2014

    He needs 90 days of big league service to fulfill his rule 5 commitment. I think with Luc playing more first, we can send down Herrera when Henderson is back and have an extra bullpen arm with all our close games. Then 60 DL Wang when Gorzelanny is ready to come back.

  5. Jason says: May 20, 2014

    The problem has been that the Brewers intended him to be a low leverage innings eater who would probably have an ERA reminiscent of Wes Obermueller. Unfortunately, there have been two, maybe three, games like that this year. I didn’t like having to go to him like that, but what are you going to do?

    Odds are they won’t make any move WRT WCW until Gorzelanny is ready to come off the DL.

  6. dbug says: May 20, 2014

    Here is a question? Is it too late for the Brewers to trade another to the Pirates in exchange for the unrestricted rights to Wang? This is from the Baseball Reference article mentioned above/below:

    “Occasionally drafting teams will return another player in lieu of the waiver fee if they wish to keep the drafted player in their organization, but send him to the minor leagues during that first year’s obligation. This effectively negates the Rule 5 draft by converting the acquisition of the Rule 5 eligible player into a trade, rather than continuing with the Rule 5 obligations of the drafting team.”

    Whether the Pirates would be amenable to such a trade is another question, I suppose.


Websites mentioned my entry.

  1. Are the Brewers Hurting Wang More Than He’s Hurting Them? | Brewers Bar

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