Twitter Mailbag: Trade Deadline, Weeks, Ramirez | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

“Putting on your GM cap, which players, for one reason or another, do you think are untradeable and why?”  —  @KyleAshauer

I don’t believe any player on the Brewers roster is currently untradeable based upon money. If Vernon Wells and his albatross contract can be traded twice, almost anyone can be traded under the right circumstances.

However, while the Brewers do have many players I believe they won’t consider trading, the organization only has two players who are truly untradeable: Ryan Braun and Jean Segura. Both players are untradeable because of their significance to the franchise. Braun is a homegrown star whose career is on a Hall of Fame trajectory, and the Brewers committed to keeping him a Brewer for life via a massive contract extension. That’s not a commitment worth breaking — in terms of production or fan reaction — in his prime. Down the road, perhaps that becomes something to revisit (like Ichiro). Right now, though, Ryan Braun is a Brewer and isn’t going anywhere.

Segura, on the other hand, is a young star who has blossomed in Milwaukee. He’s compiling special numbers, and in a way, he also represents the future of baseball for the Brewers. The Brewers simply cannot trade a burgeoning star with so many control years remaining. That would indicate the organization doesn’t feel they can contend in the next five or six years, and that’s simply not a statement this front office will make — nor should they.

“What’s the deal with Weeks going from being a platoon player to batting leadoff? Are our other options just bad?”  —  @pyrocyz

Lots of negativity has been directed at Weeks this year. Fans are understandably frustrated that he began the 2013 campaign in a massive slump for the second-consecutive season. At the same time — and this isn’t meant to single out Anthony, but to serve a larger point — the continued criticism of Weeks has grown a bit tired. He’s hitting .313/.371/.516 with three home runs since the middle of May. His .416 wOBA over the last 30 calendar days ranks 18th in all of baseball among players who have seen at least 50 plate appearances.

Rickie Weeks batted leadoff on Wednesday evening against the Houston Astros because Norichika Aoki was on paternity leave and Weeks has been one of the best options at the plate in recent weeks. People can focus on his full-season numbers and argue the 30-year-old hasn’t made up for his horrendous start to the season, but that ultimately doesn’t mean much. Weeks cannot “make up for” his poor production in April and half of May — not because his numbers were that bad, but because nobody can compensate for performance in the past. It’s done. It happened. Weeks cannot change it.

All Weeks can do is produce throughout the remainder of the season, and he’s done that over the last month. It has been frustrating to watch the fanbase continually criticize him for his first month and a half, rather than judge him based on his current performance level.

“If you had to choose one player you’re sure will get traded, who would it be?”  —  @TPanasewicz 

The organization is handling right-hander Francisco Rodriguez like they’re showcasing him for a deadline trade. K-Rod had no claim to the closer’s role — especially after Henderson’s return from the disabled list — yet the Brewers have remained committed to him. It appears the Brewers are trying to create a closer in Rodriguez. That would allow the organization to market him as such to interested teams, which should hypothetically raise his trade value.

K-Rod isn’t a part of the Brewers’ future plans. He was an afterthought this spring and was only signed to a minor-league deal after Axford imploded in the first week. Since then, the Brewers have continuously featured him in high-leverage innings, and he has sustained success. It seems like the organization has purposefully inflated his value, so I cannot believe they won’t take advantage of it prior to the deadline.

“How concerned should we be that Aramis Ramirez has hit .211/.317/.282 over the last four weeks?”  —  @BadgerNoonan 

Normally, when an established player experiences a significant slump, one can simply shrug it off for two reasons: (1) slumps happen, and (2) too much track record exists to think the severely-decreased performance will continue long-term.

These are not normal circumstances surrounding Ramirez, though. He’s trying to play through a nagging knee injury — one that he’s said may linger the whole season. The Brewers also continue to limit his innings in the field, so it’s reasonable to conclude the team must still be concerned about his knee. While I’m not in a position to know whether his knee sprain has hampered him at the plate over the last month, it’s certainly something of which we should remain cognizant.

More optimistically, Ramirez has traditionally been a second-half player. He stumbles out of the gates and eventually catches his stride over the summer. With injuries keeping him out of the lineup in April, perhaps his early-season struggles have been pushed back an extra month, and he’ll catch fire in the coming weeks.

But yes, Brewers fans should be concerned about Aramis Ramirez — not necessarily about his core skills, but about his health and how it could be affecting his production.

“When should the Brewers call up Johnny Hellweg? Would he be up now if it wasn’t for his walks?”  —  @ZWHicks

In my opinion, Johnny Hellweg is exactly where he should be. He’s arguably the Brewers’ top prospect and he’s performed well in Triple-A, but he remains a work-in-progress on the mound. And it’s not just about his walks. It’s about the consistency in his mechanics, his approach, and his ability to handle adversity on the mound. He has improved in this regard as of late, but he has been prone to blow-up innings in which he completely loses it.

Unpolished guys like Hellweg should be given ample time to develop in the minors before being exposed to elite hitters. His level of polish is similar to that of Wily Peralta, in some ways, and Brewers fans have seen Peralta be exposed at the major-league level this year. How young players are handled is extremely important. And when the Brewers are 12-games under .500 in mid-June, now’s not the time to rush development because we want to feel better about the product on the field.

If he continues to perform well throughout the summer, the organization will likely promote Hellweg in September for a late-season look. There’s no reason to see him in Milwaukee before that point. He has a lofty ceiling, but he needs time and patience to have any chance to reach it. He’s exactly where he should be.

“The Brewers seem to be over-budget on 2013 draft picks. How much will they get taxed?”  —  @jordandein

Once second-rounder Devin Williams signed well-overslot at $1.35M, the Brewers appeared on pace to overspend their bonus pool budget. Baseball America has recently updated their Draft Database, however, and the Brewers are actually $89,300 under their draft budget. They saved tons of money on collegiate seniors Garrett Cooper (6th-round) and Michael Ratterree (10th-round), which helped them compensate for the extra money allocated to Williams.

The Brewers now have some excess money to potentially offer to later-round picks. They may spend $386,530 without sacrificing a draft pick next year, though they would be taxed on their overage. The leftover cash could allow Milwaukee to sign 1B David Denson (15th-round) or SS Luis Aviles (30th-round) to the equivalent of a 4th-round pick — though I haven’t seen if the two players would even consider foregoing college.

With the top-11 draft picks signed and a little wiggle room in the overall bonus pool, the organization could surprise us over the upcoming month.

[UPDATE @ 4:01pm]

According to this tweet by the fantastic Jim Goulart, the Brewers have already signed prep first baseman David Denson to an undisclosed bonus. That would be great news for the organization. Denson is incredibly raw and has holes in his swing, but his power potential is enormous.

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