Twitter Mailbag: Hart, Gomez, Aoki, and Prospects | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

“If you could only re-sign Hart or Gomez, which one do you choose?” — @r_j_anderson

This was my favorite question I received for this segment because my immediate reaction was to argue that neither should be re-signed at this point. That’s not what the question asks, though. Would Corey Hart or Carlos Gomez be a better investment for the organization?

As of this moment, my vote would go to Gomez for several different reasons: (1) Hart’s going to be on the wrong side of 30 by the time the contract extension would begin, (2) data suggests taller sluggers don’t age particularly well, (3) I’m not fond of small-market teams tying up the majority of their payroll in corner bats, and (4) Gomez provides some value-certainty due to his plus-glove in center.

For example, Carlos Gomez was a two-win player with absolutely no bat in 2011. He posted a +2.0 WAR despite hitting .225/.276/.403 with only eight home runs and a .296 wOBA. That would provide some value-certainty, as his defense doesn’t project to decline in the coming years. He’s only 27 years old this season. Then, add the fact that he displayed legitimate improvement at the plate in the second half last year, and the Brewers have the chance to extend a four-win player in the prime of his career.

Though, keep in mind, if you believe Gomez’s second half was an aberration and he’s more the career .296 wOBA hitter, I would completely understand favoring Hart. I simply prefer the younger player who features plus-defense at a premium position with a potential league-average bat over the aging slugger who is seeing his strikeout rate rise and offers little-to-negative value with the glove.

“Who are three Brewers prospects who could breakout and inhabit Top 100s next season?” — @AlfredAugust

The easy answer to this question would be Scooter Gennett, but breaking into a Top 100 list wouldn’t really be a breakout for him as a prospect. It would simply be a manifestation of his development path and his proximity to the big leagues.

My three would be right-hander Johnny Hellweg, corner outfielder Victor Roache, and center fielder Tyrone Taylor. More in-depth scouting reports of the three prospects will be available next week when we unveil our Top 30 Prospects, but here’s a brief rundown of why each could breakout and land in the Top 100 by the end of the year.

Johnny Hellweg:  The big right-hander has the highest ceiling from the Brewers’ starters outside of Wily Peralta. He has legitimate number-two upside, and if he can develop his changeup and tighten his command this year — yes, that’s a lot to ask — he’ll shoot up prospect lists in a hurry.

Victor Roache:  He possessed perhaps the best raw power in the draft amongst the collegiate bats, but a serious wrist injury caused him to slide to the late first round. If he lights up the Midwest League and connects with 20-plus home runs this season, he could also be in the running for a Top 100 spot next year — of course, with the standard caveat that wrist injuries take a long time to fully heal.

Tyrone Taylor:  ESPN’s Keith Law wrote this winter that Taylor is the only potential impact player the Brewers drafted in 2012. He reportedly made some mechanical adjustments in his swing and really impressed before getting injured. He could be a fast riser this season, as well.

“You’ve stated you like Olmsted to open season with the Brewers. Do you see him over Kintzler or the Crew going with an eight-man pen?” — @SecondHandStore

Michael Olmsted and Brandon Kintzler would not have to be mutually exclusive relievers in a seven-man bullpen. My preferred bullpen currently looks like this:

John Axford
Michael Gonzalez
Jim Henderson
Tom Gorzelanny
Burke Badenhop
Brandon Kintzler
Michael Olmsted

It would give manager Ron Roenicke some length with Gorzelanny, Badenhop, and Kintzler able to go multiple innings should a starter get injured early in a game or simply be ineffective, but the bullpen outlined above would possess some hard-throwers and some upside.

“Do you expect Aoki to have a successful second season, or do you think he’ll take a step back now that most NL pitchers have seen him?” — @Ben_Oehler

Aoki surprised everyone in the organization last year. He finished the year with a .344 wOBA, which was higher than the wOBAs compiled by both Justin Upton and Nelson Cruz. While that’s not elite (it was 14th in Major League Baseball among qualified right fielders), it was what the Brewers needed atop the batting order, and he also added 30 stolen bases to the mix. Overall, he was a three-win player who was paid to be a fringe fourth outfielder.

The signing turned out better than anyone could have hoped.

Though Brewers fans shouldn’t expect double-digit home runs again from Aoki — half of his home runs were considered “just enough” home runs — I don’t believe his performance will fall off a cliff. He already showed an ability to adjust at the big league level last season. Early in the year, opposing teams pitched him outside, and he consistently took the baseball to the opposite field. A couple months into the season, though, teams shifted their outfield to play him toward left field. Aoki responded by starting to pull the baseball.

Here is a hit-chart from April and May. Notice the scarcity of hits to right field.

Now, check out what happened after June 1. He started to pull the baseball more. He continued to use center and left fields, but opposing teams could no longer play him to favor the opposite field.

It’s those types of adjustments that lead me to believe Aoki will continue to find success at the major-league level this year. The home runs may decline, but he should still be a useful hitter for the Brewers and roughly a two-win player in right field.

“For fantasy purposes, who do you like the most out of Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, and Mark Rogers?” — @Chris_Cwik

If you’re a fantasy owner who doesn’t mind taking risks, Wily Peralta should be on your shortlist of pitchers in the later rounds. In terms of overall fantasy value, however, I gravitate toward Marco Estrada because he’s more well-rounded. He has the potential to help in all major fantasy categories for a starting pitcher: ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and wins.

Take a look at this statistical comparison to mystery Pitcher A:

Marco Estrada 3.64 3.35 3.19 1.14 9.30 25.4% 1.89 5.2%
Player A 3.52 3.47 3.19 1.17 8.82 23.6% 2.29 6.1%

The numbers are eerily similar between the two pitchers. Their SIERAs are identical, and Marco Estrada actually outperformed Pitcher A in K% and BB%. One could easily argue that Estrada compiled better numbers than Pitcher A last season.

Pitcher A is James Shields.

FantasyPros has averaged the Average Draft Position (ADP) of most players from mock drafts on major websites, such as Yahoo! and ESPN. On average, James Shields is currently being drafted 84th in mock drafts, while Marco Estrada’s average ADP is 219th. That vast difference represents significant value for Estrada in the later rounds.

Some have expressed concern over Estrada’s mere five wins last season. With the Brewers’ returning an offense that scored the most runs in the National League in 2012, the right-hander should have ample opportunity to tally double-digit wins this year.

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