“Does Jean Segura’s recent streak at the plate give you more/less confidence for 2013, and why?” — @KyleAshauer
Over his last 16 games, Segura is hitting a robust .365/.441/.481 with a pair of doubles and triples. That’s certainly a marked improvement from his performance throughout the month of August, when he struggled to break the Mendoza Line, and the uptick in production has heightened expectations going into the 2013 season amongst the general fanbase.
My personal expectations are not going to change based upon a handful of games, though. It’s far too small of a sample size to make any definitive statements about his overall abilities at the big league level. Segura still is what he was two months ago. He lacks discipline at the plate, will not walk much, has above-average hand-eye coordination which will help him hit for a high average someday, and is built to hit for surprising power given his frame. This recent hot stretch has not disproven any of those things.
With that said, I really like Jean Segura. He has physical gifts that are not often found in a shortstop. Brewers fans simply may have to wait a couple of years before those gifts can manifest themselves into useable baseball skills. It’s important to realize that he’s only 22 years old and has played a mere 37 games above Double-A.
Current catcher Jonathan Lucroy made a similar jump from Double-A to the big leagues, and his offense took a couple of years to adjust to the speed and talent at the highest level. Granted, being a catcher caused him to focus more on defense and game-calling than most young players, but the overall adjustment period needs to be expected for Segura, too.
“What is Mike Fiers, going forward?” — @jheldred
After his promotion to Milwaukee, the 27-year-old starter turned heads across the league when he mowed down opposing lineups with ease. Numerous articles were written in an attempt to ascertain the secret behind his success — a success that came with below-average velocity and an under-the-radar collegiate pedigree.
Conservatively, Mike Fiers is a future #4 starter in the Brewers’ starting rotation. He can find success when he commands his fastball on the corners and his cutter on the outer portion of the plate against righties, but Brewers fans have recently seen that his margin for error is razor thin. When his command is not sharp, mediocre results follow.
It is conceivable that his command has faltered down the stretch due to fatigue — as he has thrown the most innings of his career (172.1 IP) this season — but he continues to insist that his arm feels strong. He has certainly pitched his way into the Brewers’ starting rotation plans for 2013, though, so fans will get to see whether his introductory 2.90 FIP over 117.1 big league innings is a fluke.
I believe regression will assuredly happen next season. However, he has proven this year that his stuff (particularly his fastball/curveball combination) can play on the biggest stage. As with most young big leaguers, he will need to learn consistency.
“Who do you expect to be our starting CF next year?” — @mcogs7
Carlos Gomez. The young man was a three-win player this year and posted an above-average .332 wOBA over 426 plate appearances. He remains a plus defender. And he’s still only 26 years old. That’s a solid, though not spectacular, starting center fielder at the big league level.
Plenty of concerns surround Gomez, to be sure. He does not handle right-handed pitching extremely well, but he has shown significant improvements in that department. In fact, this season, he actually has a high batting average against right-handed pitchers (.255) than he does left-handed pitchers (.252). That continued development should net him the everyday center field role on Opening Day next year.
With that said, I would not be surprised to see Logan Schafer begin to push for playing time at some point, but his platoon splits throughout his minor league career will likely keep him from vying for an everyday role. He owns a career .259/.320/.402 slash line against lefties and a .311/.374/.456 slash line against righties. Expect Ron Roenicke to play to Schafer’s strengths, especially as a rookie.
“You think the Brewers should move Clint Coulter to 3b or OF to get him to majors sooner, or can he be a C?” — @RossBukouricz7
This is an extremely divisive question. When Coulter was first drafted, many said the young man no chance to stick behind the plate. He then struggled to block pitches and could not throw any potential base stealers out. After all, Coulter had 21 passed balls in 26 games as a catcher and only posted a 16% caught stealing rate. All bad news for his long-term prospects.
Yet, scouting reports have been trickling out of Arizona this month that are lauding his improvement over the course of the year. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus said he talked to multiple scouts who believe in Coulter as a catcher. Even better, scouts absolutely love Coulter’s make-up as a player and say that very few across the league work harder than him.
Despite the defensive numbers, it seems that Coulter has actually improved his stock with the glove this season, which is fascinating.
“Do you see the Brewers signing a FA starting pitcher or sticking with what they have? What relievers would you like to go after?” — @608SportsFan
Milwaukee will almost certainly target a starting pitcher this offseason. Whether that comes via the free agent market or a trade is another question entirely, but the organization seemingly desires an arm to partner with Yovani Gallardo atop the rotation, especially since multiple mid-to-back rotation arms have proven themselves capable at the big league level this season.
No thoughts who the Brewers may target, though.
In terms of the bullpen, I fully expect the organization to target a set-up man to replace Francisco Rodriguez. That would allow Ron Roenicke to utilize Jim Henderson as he sees fit, much like he has done this past month. Much of this depends on the relief market this winter, but at quick glance, someone like Brandon League or Grant Balfour could make a lot of sense in Milwaukee — closers who did not quite perform as expected this season, but still have big arms. That’s just a quick glance over available arms, however.
“Where do you think payroll will be closer to? 80 or 115 million next year?” — @dontmakemebored
With the new television contracts — especially the new agreements with ESPN, FOX, and TBS — payrolls do not project to go anywhere, but up. Of those two choices, I would have to say $115M. Granted, I think it ultimately lands between those two numbers, but it would not be surprising whatsoever to see the organization raise their payroll above the $100M mark in 2013.