“Who do you see winning the 1st base job and can we see them adding another reliever with closing experience?” -@steelmann58
Considering how seemingly all my free agent predictions this winter have been just about wrong except the Aoki-for-a-lefty deal, take the exact opposite of what I say here. I’m only half kidding.
I fall into the group that still thinks the Brewers are invested in finding out what they can get out of Juan Francisco. He was a cheap purchase, struck out a lot and played poor defense, frustrated Tom Haudricourt, but showed his raw ability enough for the Brewers to ink him for 2014. Hunter Morris seems to have been waiting for his shot forever now, but after a rough AAA season, giving the starting first base job to a player based on a small spring training sample size would indicate mostly bad things to come. Granted, Francisco can’t hit lefties (.179/.208/.221 for his career), so that’s where Mark Reynolds beats out Sean Halton and Jason Rogers because chicks (and Doug Melvin) dig the long ball.
I think the Garza signing was the last big move the Brewers are going to make in free agency. Jim Henderson was solid in the role of relief ace last season and I believe Brandon Kintzler is going to continue to be awesome and the Brewers seem to be really high on him. Signing a big-name closer would, almost just because of money, demote Kintzler to the seventh inning when they could sign a lesser-name reliever for middle relief and keep their Henderson-Kintzler combo. So I’ll say that no, I don’t see them adding another reliever with significant closer experience.
That said, the projected payroll is around $95 million and if the team is still in win-now mode, taking a stab at a high risk/high reward guy like Ryan Madson wouldn’t be the most surprising thing ever.
“Does Doug Melvin dig the long ball?” -My Twitter-lacking roommate
“ If (When?) Brewers are out of it at the break this year, how bad should I flip out if they don’t try to move Ramirez/Weeks/Gallardo/1B?” -@BeerTheDeer
Even though the Brewers farm system isn’t as bad as every major list is making it out to be (it doesn’t lack “solid” big league players, but rather the flashy, can’t miss guys), it could use some help. That said, if the team isn’t competing by the All Star break, that should be the time the organization finally realizes this whole competing thing is actually a few years away. So this:
“Last season the Cards, Reds, and Brewers under-performed compared to their Pythagorean record. Cubs and Pirates over-performed. Who does what this year?” -@BadgerNoonan
For the Brewers, the Matt Garza addition added probably two-to-three wins, similar to the Kyle Lohse deal last year. It also reduces the total run expectancy, which is how Pythagorean record is determined. Last year, the Brewers, though they lost their fair share of blowouts, went 18-25 in one-run games. This has the feel of a team that just slightly overachieves their Pythagorean W/L record.
For the rest of the division? I’ll say St. Louis under-performs for 2 reasons: 1) Cardinals eat babies. 2) They won’t hit .330 with RISP again (the second-best team in 2013 was at .282). Fewer big hits, fewer close wins. Cubs over-achieve. I see the Reds being the biggest letdown in the division, so I’ll say they under-perform again. Pirates hit the mark spot-on because they’re #gritty. Analysis.