This is the first edition of what should be a regular feature on the website.
I asked my followers to tweet me questions (at @JP_Breen) regarding the Milwaukee Brewers. Though not all of the questions that were asked will be answered in the following article, the multitude of questions are very much appreciated. Keep them coming. There were some good ones that did not quite make the article due to space/time constraints.
Here they are:
Any possibility the Brewers could acquire Hairston at some point for backup in the infield like they’re seeking? (@ShaneRose2)
The Brewers are certainly weak up the middle in terms of organizational depth. After Cesar Izturis — who has not been impressive at all this spring — the leading options for backup shortstop appear to be Edwin Maysonet, Eric Farris, and Jeff Bianchi. None of those three players should see significant playing time at shortstop in the major leagues.
As far as acquiring Jerry Hairston Jr., however, the odds are overwhelmingly slim that Doug Melvin and the Brewers would make such a move. The organization had a chance to retain Hairston this winter. He reportedly enjoyed his time in Milwaukee and gave the Brewers every chance to offer a multi-year deal to match the Dodgers’ two-year offer, but the Brewers did not wish to go two years. So the likelihood that the Brewers would now willingly trade away prospects and still take on that two year deal is extremely low.
The desire to upgrade the reserve middle infield spot on the bench is completely understandable. Just do not look for the Brewers to pay in prospects to upgrade the position until near the trade deadline (if at all).
Though a victim of circumstance, how long is Bruce Seid’s leash? (@Enrico_Palazzo_)
This is an interesting question, especially given the fact that the Brewers’ system improved last season with a solid draft and breakout performances by the likes of Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg.
Seid has fielded undue criticism due to the unfortunate 2009 trio of Eric Arnett, Evan Frederickson, and Kentrail Davis, though both Arnett and Davis still have tools and promise. In fact, one scout told me this offseason that Eric Arnett is his sleeper prospect in the Brewers’ system this season.
Much of the work Seid has done, however, has been above-average in the draft. Tyler Thornburg was overlooked due to his size, and he has become one of the top prospects in the system. Mike Fiers fell to the 22nd-round in the 2009 Draft and is on the cusp of the major league roster. Jimmy Nelson was the talk of the fall instructional leagues last year, reportedly hitting 97 MPH on the gun. Scooter Gennett has received a ton of love over the past six months.
Bruce Seid is not in danger of losing his spot atop the scouting spectrum. His drafts need time to develop, which can take four or five years. We are nowhere close to fully evaluating his draft classes as of yet. That alone should give him a few more years atop the scouting department.
Do you think there’s a chance for a J.J. Hardy like revival for Casey McGehee in Pittsburgh? (@Brandon_Warne)
No. Mostly because Casey McGehee never possessed the same overall ability that J.J. Hardy possessed while in Milwaukee. Hardy has never had a single season with greater than 100 games played in which he produced less than +1.4 WAR, while McGehee just compiled a season in which he was worse than replacement level.
With that said, McGehee should improve from last season. He still has natural ability at the plate. His pitch recognition struggled as the season wore on — which appeared to simply be due to a lack of confidence — and that skill must improve for him to rebound with any significance. The switch from Miller Park to PNC Park should also depress his rebound year, as well. Those “just barely” home runs that he benefited from in 2009 and 2010 will certainly not clear the fences in the spacious PNC outfields.
Do you think Tyler Thornburg make an impact on the Brewers this year at any point? (@jheldred)
This completely depends on whether the organization keeps him in the starting rotation or transitions him to the bullpen. As a starting pitcher, he will likely remain in Double-A or Triple-A all season, building arm strength and honing the command of his offspeed pitches. As a reliever, however, he could absolutely pitch at the big league level and find legitimate success. ESPN’s Keith Law wrote that Thornburg could have pitched in the major league bullpen last year.
The real question becomes whether Thornburg can stick in the starting rotation.
The overwhelming opinion in 2011 amongst the scouting community was that Thornburg had very little chance to remain a starter. His body type will always work against him, but scouts saw a delivery with effort and velocity that dipped in the middle innings. Those are both warning signs that a future in the starting rotation is relatively unlikely.
This spring has yielded a different opinion, though. I spoke with one scout that believes Thornburg is extremely underrated and will absolutely be a mid-rotation arm at the big league level. The right-hander has also significantly smoothed out his delivery from last season, which should help him repeat his delivery and perhaps better sustain his velocity deep into outings.
At this point, the Brewers wish to keep him in the starting rotation until he provides them evidence that he should not be there. I would not expect the young man to see the big leagues outside of a September call up.
Who do you see as the front runner for the backup infielder position? (@KCoustineau09)
Cesar Izturis is the only option for backup shortstop, but the second bench infield position battle between Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad has created some division amongst the fan base. Green is a fan favorite and likely has a better overall career when all is said and done. Conrad, though, provides the right-handedness off the bench and the big league experience that Ron Roenicke needs.
Sheer ability would give the job to Green. Roster decisions are not made in a vacuum, however, and the Brewers will almost certainly choose Brooks Conrad to break camp with the big league squad.
Can you guys show some pictures of an “arm bar”? You’ve described it as a flaw in a few prospect’s swings but Idk what that means. (@FargoWroblewski)
This is a picture of an arm bar:
Extension of the leading arm in a baseball swing is not necessarily bad. It more depends on the timing of the complete extension. In the picture above, the batter has completely extended his arm and created an “arm bar” before releasing the bat. This will cause him to pull the bat forward with his straightened arm, instead of creating torque and lag by releasing the bat head later in the swing.
It is very similar in golf. The earlier a player casts out the club head and straightens the leading arm, the less power is generated in the swing. In baseball, the side effect is that hitters also have major troubles adjusting to pitches on the inside corner when they have already extended their leading arm.