Twitter Mailbag: Estrada, Davis, Weeks | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

“Lohse and Estrada, to me, seem to have a similar repertoire. Do you think Estrada’s ceiling could be a 2012-2013 Lohse?”  –  @AMtotheCruz

The two right-handers have comparable fastball velocity (roughly 89 mph), walk rates and fly ball rates. I’m not sure they’re similar pitchers, though. Estrada doesn’t pound the strike zone as much as Lohse. He wants to get to his plus-changeup and generate whiffs, while Lohse relies on a fastball-slider combination and is much more likely to throw strikes and induce contact. The long ball is also more of an issue for Estrada, who possesses a significant track record there.

Ultimately, I think both guys are mid-3.00 ERA starters, but for different reasons. Estrada has the opportunity to take a step forward next season and solidify the middle of the Brewers’ starting rotation. He posted a 3.67 FIP in 2011, 3.35 FIP in 2012 and 4.18 FIP in 2013. His FIP in the second half of this season, though, is 3.12. He’s clearly displayed the ability to have success on the mound. It’s now time for him to progress to the next level and throw 200+ innings in 2014.

To answer your question more directly: I could see Estrada’s consistent ceiling as the 2013 version of Kyle Lohse (3.46 ERA), but I’m hard-pressed to see Estrada drop his earned run average under 3.00 for an entire season, as Lohse accomplished last year (2.86 ERA) with St. Louis. He serves up too many home runs for that to happen.

“Do you think getting Khris Davis’ bat in the regular line-up would be worth the hit OF defense would take w/ him in LF and Braun in RF?”  –  @2ndHS

If the organization wants to commit to Khris Davis in the everyday lineup, it does seem left field would be the most appropriate place. I’ve consistently opined that Braun isn’t moving anywhere on the diamond, but with his recent suspension and PR tour in Milwaukee, now could be the time to approach the Brewers’ superstar about switching positions. He’s become an asset defensively over the last couple seasons. The organization could opt to take the chance that his developed skills could translate to right field.

As you mentioned, Davis’ poor defense creates an issue. Do you move an average to above-average fielder in Braun to accommodate a defensive liability with a bat that still carries question marks?

I would be in favor of giving Davis everyday at-bats (whether in left field or in right field) for two distinct reasons: (1) even if Davis’ approach is exploited with regular playing time, some combination of Davis, Gindl and Schafer has a good chance to be passable at the league minimum, and (2) it opens the door to trade Norichika Aoki for an asset (or assets) that can help in future seasons. Although he’s a fan-favorite, Aoki will be 32 years old next year in the final year of his contract. He’s expendable. He’s a league-average player who has possible replacements behind him, and the Brewers need an influx of talent — both at the major-league and minor-league levels. Doug Melvin and his team should look to move a player like him this winter.

“Given Segura’s success, what’s a reasonable measure to hold Pena and Hellweg to when evaluating the Greinke trade?”  –  @MundaneBowler

The Brewers already won the Greinke trade, regardless of what Ariel Pena or Johnny Hellweg provide the next few years. Segura has been a three-to-four win player for the organization this year, and he’s done so at the major-league minimum. That’s crazy valuable, and it’s comparatively more valuable when one considers the Brewers acquired him for only two months of Zack Greinke. At this point, two months of Greinke for merely Jean Segura seems crazy.

Now, Segura is only hitting .251/.276/.325 in the second half, and his power has decreased dramatically since he’s become a ground-ball machine in June. He has essentially transformed into a guy whose value is solely derived from his batting average and stolen bases. Or, in other words, he’s much like the 2012 version of Alcides Escobar — who was a two-win player last year despite UZR hating his defense. That’s still valuable, even if it’s not as exciting as what Segura was in the first half.

I think Segura bounces back at the plate next year, though, and shows double-digit power once again. The power is there. He needs to make the adjustment to get the ball in the air more often and make that power usable, which should hopefully come after an offseason of rest and training.

“Does Scooter start everyday next year, or is a platoon with Weeks more likely?”  –  @wesomerest

Almost anything could happen, but I believe the organization seeks to move Weeks this winter and Gennett gets the reins at second base. Weeks doesn’t have much trade value and won’t be cheap in 2014, but teams like the Kansas City Royals were sniffing around him at the trade deadline. Second base has been an offensive black hole across the league. Teams like the Rockies, Royals, White Sox, Dodgers and Athletics could be looking for upgrades, and Weeks still shows flashes.

I don’t believe the Brewers will get anything significant for Weeks. Perhaps a potential AAAA player or a similarly-undesirable contract. At this point, though, signs seem to be pointing toward Weeks’ departure this winter.

“ESPN had Brewers last in their “future rankings,” partially due to market size. Last Friday, there were 40k in attendance to watch a last place team. Is the fan base being under appreciated by analysts?”  –  @vbarot87

The Brewers’ fan base has regularly been lauded as one of the best in major-league baseball right now. Many analysts have marveled over the fact that Milwaukee continues to attract fans, despite having one of the worst records in the league.

Ultimately, though, attendance doesn’t matter much when looking at the overall valuation of a team’s finances. For example, the Tampa Bay Rays saw their attendance nosedive in 2012, yet Forbes estimated their overall worth dipped only two percent. Of course, two percent of $300M+ is significant, but it’s a drop in the bucket when talking about the spending power of an organization — and that’s what the future rankings ultimately seek to take into consideration.

It’s about television revenue, the merchandise sales, the marketability of the franchise nationwide. The Brewers cannot compete with most other markets in those areas. The lofty attendance numbers are nice, but that’s not what analysts are generally referencing when talking about the market size, so it would make all the sense in the world to downgrade the Brewers for their market size. It’s unfortunate and frustrating for Brewers fans. It is what it is, though. It just places more importance on player development and sound personnel decisions because the organization doesn’t have much room to make mistakes.

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