Twitter Mailbag: Starting Pitching, Coulter, Marcum | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

“In your opinion, what is our starting rotation 1-5 going to look like next year?” — @tdepp34

Too many moving parts exist at this point to make any definitive predictions. Prior to the 2011, Brewers fans witnessed that when Doug Melvin pulled off back-to-back blockbuster trades that sent Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke to Milwaukee — which dramatically overhauled the starting rotation in a way that even the most optimistic fan could have foreseen.

With that said, the starting rotation picture is slowly becoming more clear. Here’s my far-too-early prediction for next year’s rotation:

1) Yovani Gallardo
2) Free Agent SP
3) Mike Fiers
4) Mark Rogers
5) Marco Estrada

This would leave top prospect Wily Peralta in Nashville to sort out his severe command issues that have resurfaced this year, and right-hander Tyler Thornburg would likely begin the season in the big league bullpen. Chris Narveson will certainly remain in the picture, but far too many question marks surround a guy coming off season-ending shoulder surgery to project him in the starting rotation. Perhaps Narveson is better off as a situational lefty out of the bullpen.

“Updates on Coulter and Jungman, if you got info.” — @TStads20

Milwaukee drafted Clint Coulter with their first pick of the 2012 Draft for his bat, not his defensive chops behind the plate, and that has played out in his professional debut in the Arizona League. Scouts like his bat. It also seems to be a consensus amongst scouts that Coulter has almost no chance to remain behind the plate — which is evidenced by his 22 passed balls in 25 games and a paltry 16% caught stealing percentage. Whether he ends up at third base or a corner outfield position, however, remains to be seen.

Taylor Jungmann hasn’t wowed anyone with a 3.65 ERA and 5.66 K/9 strikeout rate in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. His pedestrian numbers can partially be ascribed to a new curveball grip he has switched to midseason, which naturally takes some time to develop comfort. His changeup has also progressed more slowly than most scouts thought when Milwaukee drafted him out of the University of Texas. Few doubt he will be a starting pitcher in the big leagues in some capacity. It simply seems it may only be as a #3 or #4 starter.

“If Marcum could be had for a year with an option, how much would you pay?” — @bachlaw

On a one-year deal, I wouldn’t be afraid to offer $8-10M with a club option for 2014. The health concerns stop the offer from being anything more, which is also to say that I would not feel comfortable giving Marcum a qualifying offer this winter. Even if that sacrifices the potential for compensation picks in the 2013 Draft.

Shaun Marcum provides significant value when healthy, but he has thrown more than 200 innings just once in his career. Offering north of $10M — even on a one year deal — on a pitcher with such significant red flags would not be a prudent move for the organization, in my eyes.

“Is there any thought o having Lucroy learn a new position? Maldonado should be the starting catcher.” — @biasauth

In my mind, that’s not even an option. Jonathan Lucroy provides significant value to the Brewers at the catcher position, and he doesn’t have a natural home elsewhere. Some talk has floated around the Brewers’ blogosphere that he could learn second or third base — though I haven’t witnessed anything that would suggest (A) that he could even be average defensively at either position, or (B) that the organization has even considered anything remotely close to that. Not to mention Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks are firmly entrenched in their respective positions.

The main issue, however, is that Martin Maldonado doesn’t profile well as an everyday catcher. He has been a pleasant surprise, no doubt, but his lofty .336 wOBA has been bolstered by a .341 BABIP. Maldonado is exactly what a team wants in a backup catcher. He possesses a very strong arm, above-average receiving skills, and some pop in his bat. His approach at the plate would likely prevent him from sustaining success over 400 or 500 plate appearances over the course of an entire season, though.

I’m also expecting a decline at the plate for Maldonado next season. Baseball is a game of adjustments. Opposing pitchers will undoubtedly adjust to his overly-aggressive approach. It will be interesting to see if he can adjust as well.

“How come bases per plate appearance isn’t a stat that’s ever used? It’s easy to figure and seems somewhat relevant.” — @DarthZilcho

The main problem, in my mind, stems from the fact that bases per plate appearance would attempt to be an encompassing offensive statistic, and much better ones (wOBA, wRC+, etc.) exist and tell us significantly more about a player and his production.

“Who would be the first Brewers position player to pitch an inning if absolutely necessary?” — @NearfallKing

This is a great question.

In terms of pure arm strength, one would like to see Carlos Gomez or Martin Maldonado step on the mound and let it loose. That’s obviously unlikely, though. Teams need to protect their assets, which is why the position player most likely to see the mound is generally a fungible bench player (i.e. Joe Inglett or Trent Durrington).

If I had to guess, the first Brewers position player to see the mound would be Cody Ransom — though the idea of Travis Ishikawa on the mound is rather entertaining.

“Which pitching prospects should Brewers fans expect to see on the major league roster in September or next season?” — @mmm9731

Expect to see Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers (if healthy) on the Brewers’ roster through Opening Day next season. It becomes rather difficult to project the remainder of the pitching staff, however, as the Brewers have a plethora of arms in their upper levels of the minors who could potentially see some time at the big league level.

Here is a brief rundown of some arms who could threaten to break into the big leagues in some capacity over the next year:

Wily Peralta
Tyler Thornburg
Hiram Burgos
Jimmy Nelson
Johnny Hellweg
Cody Scarpetta
Ariel Pena
Jesus Sanchez
Fautino De Los Santos

And those are just some of the names. Obviously, pitchers such as Nelson and Pena would have to put together hot starts to the 2013 season to have a chance to reaching the big leagues, but all of those arms have some shot to pitch in Milwaukee over the next year.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Nicholas Zettel says: August 27, 2012

    Your position on Lucroy/Maldonado is dead on! Brewers fans seem so quick to move Lucroy off catcher that they forget that surprisingly few catchers make it through an everyday schedule. You can pretty much count the number of catchers that consistently work more than 100 games in a season on one hand.

    There should be no problem with having Lucroy and Maldonado at catcher, together. If Lucroy makes it through 110-120 starts, GREAT! If Lucroy and Maldonado split something like 100/60, also great. Having depth at catcher is never a bad thing.

    • Cecil Cooper's Love Child says: August 27, 2012

      I agree 100% on the catching situation. If we can keep both at the position, we have a positioinal advantage over most clubs on a cost for performance basis. Leave that spot alone for the next few years and work on improving others.

    • Matt says: August 27, 2012

      To further bloster the argument that Lucroy belongs behind the plate: 1) any time you can get offense from a catcher means you have an open spot at the traditional “bat-first” positions (3B, 1B and LF) and 2) as has been mentioned on this very blog, Lucroy is on of the best battery mates in the game, “framing” pitches with skill only rivaled by a Yadi Molina.

      Bottom line: take Lucroy from behind the plate and you push runs off the field offensively as well as taking called strike-outs away too.

  2. Andy says: August 27, 2012

    Good mailbag and thanks for answering these questions for us. That said, more in-depth answers would be great, though obviously I have no idea what your time/space constraints are. For instance, you write “Obviously, pitchers such as Nelson and Pena would have to put together hot starts to the 2013 season to have a chance to reaching the big leagues.” Maybe I’m alone here, but I’d like to have been told why this is so instead of just being told it’s obvious! I’m left to assume it’s because they are young, or maybe they’ve underperformed, but I don’t know. Also, I’ve also wondered about a bases/PA stat. Instead of just saying those other stats are “better”, can you tell those of us who aren’t fluent in sabermetrics why? Thanks!

  3. Jared Kennedy says: August 27, 2012

    I would add stinson to the list of potentially seeing big league time. I know that hes not home grown and not overwhelming, but he sure has put together a great season at double A.

  4. Lucus says: August 27, 2012

    Here is my idea of the starting rotation next year. Of course this is only relevant if they spend their money on the bullpen (which they should) and not the Free Agent SP like Jim suggests.
    1) Yovani Gallardo
    2) Mike Fiers
    3) Mark Rogers
    4) Wily Peralta
    5) Tyler Thornburg

    Marco Estrada needs to solidify that long relief guy if Rogers, Fiers, Peralta or Thorny dont go 6 innings. Then of course they have him if someone gets injured to fill in.

  5. Luke says: August 27, 2012

    To me, the idea of having Fiers, Rogers and Estrada in the rotation is scary. Having less than 3 proven starters in the rotation seems like a risk that will ruin any chances of the Brewers competing if it doesn’t work out. Bring on McCarthy, and then fill out the 3rd or 4th spot with bounce back candidates like Liriano or Santana.

    • Kris says: August 27, 2012

      Mccarthy is a decent option but in a less spacious park I doubt he puts up a similar ERA/FIP. Those numbers would go up a bit though hard to say how much.

      For the love of god don’t get Liriano.

      • Luke says: August 27, 2012

        McCarthy at least generates ground balls at an above average rate. I’ve seen enough fly ball pitchers in Brewers uniforms in recent years. Sure he probably won’t post the same numbers but his xFIP is still solid and he could fit in well behind Gallardo. As for Liriano (or Santana) I believe they’re both good buy low options that have been very effective in the past. If the price is low enough, why not take a flier on one of them?

        • Kris says: August 27, 2012

          I’d rather try and make present day Jon Axford into a starter than go after Liriano. You’d get the same results.

          I suppose Liriano isn’t that expensive but it’s not like this is the first year he’s been having these control issues. The guy is just so maddening to watch and I highly doubt he returns to his 2010 performance or even his 2008 performance. Santana is just as shakey (assuming you’re talking about Ervin).

          Brandon Mccarthy is probably the best of the free agents not named Greinke. Which means some team will probably overpay him and it won’t be us, but I’d be ok with getting him. Only problem is our infield defense still sucks unless Segura pans out (that still leaves Weeks though) and isn’t exactly conducive to GB pitchers.

          • chris33 says: August 28, 2012

            Marcum is the guy we need to have at No.2, any other option is going to carry the same or even greater risk. Estrada 5…the Fiers gets his place at 3 or 4. Which leaves one place…Rogers and Thornburg will contest that, and I feel Thornburg will get in there if not out of spring training, then by mid season.

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