Tuesday, November 22, 2011

VFBC Podcast Episode 34 "Rollie Fingers Edition"

Breakdown of The Show:

Ryan Braun, NL MVP! :00-18:59
SS Search Update 19:54-37:19
Greinke & Marcum Extension Talk 38:11-56:13
News & Notes (40 Man Roster, Sveum, Melvin, Kotsay) 57:15-1:16:51

Monday, November 21, 2011

Listener/Reader Poll Results

"What uniform do you think Prince Fielder will be wearing in 2012?"

Brewers: 0%

Cubs: 10%

Rangers: 50%

Nationals: 0%

Orioles: 20%

Angels: 0%

Somewhere Else: 20%

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where The Brewers Real Focus Should Be

So we are to a point where the Milwaukee Brewers have done their usual nothing in free agency, much like many other teams, and as big offers go out to big free agents we have to wonder if the Crew will make a big move. If they do, fantastic, but it’s time to stop writing about the hopeful prospects of signing someone like Reyes and talk about what I believe the Brewers should focus on during this offseason.

For starters, the bullpen. One of the big reasons the Brewers were considered such a strong team in the playoffs was their shut down bullpen that ranked 5th in the MLB with a 3.32 ERA, that was much stronger in the second half. Right now the bullpen is a major factor, and can be fixed with a few pieces reassembled. Adding Saito or Hawkins will make for a strong 6th/7th swing man and then finding a power arm by trade, free agency or within the system will help. Still the bullpen could be even stronger with a few more pieces, and Melvin has always been very good at piecing these things together.

Plugging the holes is the next important thing. The obvious ones are there, SS, 1B but then the bench needs to be filled with some experienced starters. Melvin seems stuck on getting Hairston back into the lineup and I have no problem with that. I think 1B will be filled by Gamel and then sign an incentive contract for a 1B who is slightly past their prime, much to the history of Melvin. I think the outfield spot missing on the bench will be filled inside the system, and would love to see a cheap alternative come in at short for Yuni, most likely being Clint Barmes. As far as McGehee’s weak season goes, I think Green on the bench with a possibility of replacing or platooning with Casey would be a cheap resolution and there is your answer with the bench, filling all open spots.

Finally, and I consider this most important, resign at least ONE key starter. I think it is very important to extend this staff beyond the years it is together for. Marcum, Greinke and Wolf are free agents after the year. I think it is easy to let Wolf go, but Greinke and Marcum may leave in free agency. Yovani Gallardo will also leave the team in 2013, completely destroying the staff. I think the Brewers expect to lose two of the aforementioned pitchers internally. It appears they have a desire to get Fiers or Peralta into the rotation and condition them to be a successful part of the 2013 staff. The Brewers also have two first round college picks and Cody Scarpetta. The Brewers don’t have a great history in developing their own pitching talent, especially for the rotation. In fact the only strong success stories come from Gallardo and Sheets.

From my point of view, in order to remain competitive, the Brewers are obligated to resign one of Marcum, Gallardo and Greinke. I think the biggest deal comes in signing Gallardo. It seems like Yo only gets better and better, even though he doesn’t have much to improve. It looks like his value will only increase throughout the years. I would go into finer details, quoting WAR and ERA and wins, but any Brewer fan has noticed Gallardo’s increased dominance inside 4-6 shaky performances a year. If he can limit those big mistake games, Gallardo is going to be poised to make major money. Right now it appears he’s very under the radar and can probably be put on a 5 year contract for $80 MM or less, which is a deal for elite pitching.

Marcum and Greinke then would depart next year. I think Greinke’s comfort level will be increased if the team can compete again, but first the Brewers would need to have another good season, maybe even make the playoffs. Greinke appears ready to stay for comfort, but also wants money. Another playoff run could set the Brewers up for just that. In the coming years the only major piece outside of pitching the Crew will need to replace is Cory Hart, which appears to be easy with the depth of outfield depth in the system. The money can be placed into pitching without large concern in the future, and pitching provides ability to compete for years to come. Marcum will also be considered midmarket when he departs, so if Greinke were to depart, Marcum could probably still be locked in for a similar contract to Gallardo.

This is what I think the team should focus on over the next few months. Signing a few more players for the bullpen, filling the empty roles on the bench and finding a shortstop (everything else seems to be an inside job) and resigning at least one of the star pitchers on the team. Got any disagreements? Challenge me with a comment, and I will get back to you and tell you if you changed my mind or made me more passionate to my plan.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

VFBC Podcast Episode 33 "Bobby Hughes Edition"

Breakdown of The Show:

BBWAA and Blogger Awards Recap 00-17:06
Minor Moves (Options/Outrights) 18:08-26:51
Brad's Top 50 Free Agent Prediction List 28:19-48:08
News & Notes 49:10-1:07:58

Listener/Reader Poll Results

"Realistically, who is the best option at SS in 2012?"

Yuniesky Betancourt: 0%

Clint Barmes: 77%

Rafael Furcal: 0%

Jose Reyes: 11%

Jimmy Rollins: 0%

Jamey Carroll: 11%

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 50 Free Agent Predictions

Using the top 50 list from MLB Trade Rumors here is where I think the top 50 MLB Free Agents will land this offseason. Enjoy!

1.Albert Pujols-St. Louis Cardinals
I cannot imagine the Cardinals not shelling out the money to retain their franchise star. Pujols is the St. Louis Cardinals and much like Dan Marino or John Elway it’s hard to imagine him in any jersey but the one he started in. Along with that, I am not sure there is a need for him on any team that can spare the money.

2.Prince Fielder-Boston Red Sox
On the other hand, Fielder will need to go somewhere where his career will be long. Even though he wants to stay a defender as well, no general manager can place him there. The Red Sox can let long time DH, David Ortiz walk and sign a better one in Prince Fielder, who will give the Red Sox a new Big Papi and Manny when he combines with Adrian Gonzalez. It will be the best 3 and 4 combo the MLB has seen in nearly 50 years.

3.Jose Reyes-Milwaukee Brewers
To site the reason for this please see the 2012 wish list. Doug Melvin and Mark Antanasio are willing to spend money and will want to keep the offense competitive. There is nothing that would make a bigger impact out of resigning Fielder.

4.CJ Wilson-Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays want to compete and are doing so by having an amazing rotation. Wilson, although not a star, can back up the amazing talent coming from Toronto’s farm system. If he joins their staff they can make a mark on the east much like the Rays have the past few years.

5.Yu Darvish-Japan
Darvish doesn’t seem to want to come to America quite yet. I’m guessing this year will end the same as last, with Darvish in Japan, teasing MLB execs for one more year.

6.Edwin Jackson-Washington Nationals
Jackson is looking for somewhere that won’t trade him. He has had 6 teams in 8 years of his Major League career and I am sure wants to save some of his paycheck for himself rather than paying the movers. Washington is much like Toronto but not quite as competitive. They have proved they want to spend money on Free Agents and Jackson will love the guarantee to stay in one town.

7.Jimmy Rollins-Philadelphia Phillies
Rollins is frequently injured, aging, decreasing in ability and wants too much money. No one needs a shortstops that bad to take these risks, so I think Philly will get a discounted gift in retaining their long time shortstop.

8.Aramis Ramirez- Cincinnati Reds
Ramirez is still potentially an elite Third Baseman offensively. The Reds need offense at the hot corner. Collecting around 30 RBI’s off Rolen’s injury replacements last year and not able to rely on Rolen to be healthy year in and year out. Ramirez could be a big gain to the Reds and with a gain in the rotation could be a top competitor in the NL Central again.

9.Carlos Beltran- San Francisco Giants
The Giants need someone like Beltran, a leader and someone solid in the field and at the plate, Beltran can still play well in the corners in the outfield and well at the plate. He won’t be the MVP candidate again, but certainly can help the Giants get the few runs they need to win with their amazing staff.

10.Jonathon Papelbon- Boston Red Sox
Where else would Papelbon go? He is no longer one of the best closers, but is still good. The market isn’t that thick and Bell and Rodriguez might be the next best things, but cost more to bring into Boston. Heath Bell seems reluctant to leave San Diego and K-Rod will be looking to snag another record deal, but it won’t happen. Boston most likely need Pap to stay and close the door in the East.

11.Michael Cuddyer-Minnesota Twins
Cuddyer seems content to finish his career where he started it and the Twins should get a hometown discount at that. But Cuddyer could seek somewhere new with plenty of room in Right Field and at First Base, Cuddyer will have his pick after Pujols and Fielder sign.

12.Mark Buerhle-Florida Marlins
Buerhle the last few years has always spoken highly of comfort. He said he wanted to remain in Chicago, but Ozzie Guillen may draw him down south with him. This is a rough prediction since Buerhle seems to think that his family is best in the Midwest. I think he rather follow his manager and play with the always nagging Marlins.

13.David Ortiz-Seattle Mariners
The Mariners need to make a move, with the GM on the hot seat and the team sinking faster than the Titanic they might need to make a big move. I cannot see them grabbing a big name like Fielder, but Ortiz will be useful enough and cheaper so he can assist the Mariners in some way and probably finish his career in the West Coast.

14.Ryan Madson-Phillies
Again, the Phillies would be crazy to let this one go. Plus where else can Madson run off to? What other team will continually get him in the playoffs.

15.Hiroki Kuroda-Oakland Athletics
Kuroda will only survive in the DH role. The Athletics seem content to pay him decent money to sit there. He won’t go anywhere and I don’t think he wants to.

16.Carlos Pena-Chicago Cubs
Even with Theo in the front desk, I cannot see the Cubs snagging a top Free Agent. With Fielder and Pujols going somewhere else, Pena will stay in Chicago for a slightly cheaper fee than last year.

17.Francisco Rodriguez-Florida Marlins
The Marlins need a big name, and K-Rod will be that name. He wants to close, the Marlins have the opening and Guillen plans to make an impact.

18.Roy Oswalt-Texas Rangers
The Rangers lose one ace in CJ Wilson and sign an old Texas ace in Oswalt. Everything makes sense here.

19.Javier Vazquez-Retirement
Vazquez has clearly wanted to turn it in. Strong pushes show his cap will be hung up and he will no longer play anywhere.

20.Heath Bell-San Diego Padres
Bell wants to stay in San Diego. San Diego needs a closer, another thing that just makes sense.

21.Coco Crisp-Washington Nationals
The Nationals need speed and lots of it. Crisp can do that, and sometimes more.

22.Hisashi Iwakuma-Minnesota Twins
The Twins made an investment on Iwakuma and will want a return. For that they will need to bring back the middle infielder and hope he turns out to help them return to the playoffs.

23.Kelly Johnson-Detroit Tigers
Tigers need a little bit more power in their lineup. Johnson is a big time power middle infielder and may be what the Tigers were missing when the Rangers trounced them in the ALCS. I could see Johnson being what the Tigers think they are missing.

24.Josh Willingham-Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates almost had a winning season. In fact, for a while they even had a fan base. Willingham will help the offense, but the pitching still needs big time help. It doesn’t seem like the Pirates know that.

25.Paul Maholm-Seattle Mariners
As I said, most of the Mariners staff is feeling the heat. They will be drawn to Maholm’s big year, pay too much and get little reward. Maholm will fail in the AL, unless the Mariners strong defense can back up Maholm sinkerball performance.

26.Grady Sizemore-Tampa Bay Rays
I see the Rays making a big risk move here. I can see them sending Upton out of Centerfield over to another team and take in some strong prospect. Then they can sign a gold glove discounted centerfielder. It’s a high risk/high reward type of move, and the Rays could pay for it long term, but it could be the move of the year.

27.Bartolo Colon-Retirement
It always seems Colon will have a home somewhere, but I can’t see anyone biting on a small role pitcher like Colon. As useful as he can be filling in for an injured starter he is no longer full time, and will either get a minor league incentive contract or be done all together.

28.Erik Bedard-Boston Red Sox
Bedard is coming into the offseason uninjured which is amazing considering his history. I think the Red Sox loved what they got last year and want more of it. They will sign Bedard for a decent deal, and maybe for a few extra years.

29.David DeJesus-Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers will need some help in the corners. DeJesus can help and will keep the Dodgers offence at par with last year.

30.Jason Kuebel-Chicago Cubs
I can see the Cubs adding some proven outfield help after unsuccessful attempts with minor leaguers and bad contracts. Kuebel will add power in the hitter friendly ball park and could provide much more value than this.

31.Ramon Hernandez-Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have no more catching staff, they will need someone. Who better than Hernandez who proved to be a valuable fill in and can be a great starter. He will give the Pirates some much better veteran leadership that the young team needs.

32.Jeff Francis-Kansas City Royals
Francis found success in Kansas City, why not stay there and see where things go.

33.Chris Capuano-New York Mets
Same thing for Capuano. Sure the Mets are looking what they have in youth but with the comeback season Cappy had they might be foolish to not give him a second look at a bit more money this time.

34.Tsuyoshi Wada-Baltimore Orioles
It gets harder and harder every year to predict who is willing to take the huge risk of a Japanese prospect. The Orioles have nothing to lose by bringing in an unknown and maybe pulling away big in the process.

35.Clint Barmes-Houston Astros
The Astros may be starting over, but they will need something to make them a little secure somewhere. Barmes could be used a lot of places, but the Astors may need him more just for some security in their lineup.

36.Casey Kotchman-Milwaukee Brewers
With Milwaukee picking up Reyes, they will have enough offense, but Kotchman can provide decent power and a good average along with stellar first base defense. He will fill in for Fielder well if the Brewer do not go on with Mat Gamel at first.

37.Freddy Garcia-New York Yankees
Garcia proved very serviceable in New York. He is a solid starter and very valuable as a long reliever. The Yankees need one more person than Sabathia to be reliable. Garcia can do that, just not nearly as well.

38.Aaron Hill-Arizona Diamondbacks
If the Diamondbacks plan on repeating their success they will need Hill. A surprising contributor down the stretch he can play everywhere and the Diamondbacks still have question marks Hill can answer.

39.Johnny Damon-Tampa Bay Rays
Damon is almost done, but still has something left in the tank. He can still play a little left field and can be a solid DH for the Rays. They are very young, a little experience won’t do any wrong in their lineup.

40.Aaron Harang-Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have a good staff. Harang can make it great. He had a good year in San Diego, although a pitcher’s park Harang was once an ace, and we know he can be again. Having something to compete for in LA may give him the boost he needs to make the rotation the Angels have the edge they need to win the West again.

41.Jamey Carroll- Minnesota Twins
The Twins do need middle infield help. Carroll can give them one good year of service. Why not take him up on it?

42.Rafael Furcal-St. Louis Cardinals
I think the Cardinals consider Furcal to be the change they needed to move towards the World Series. If that is their belief that will make them stupid to not bring him back.

43.Juan Pierre- Oakland Athletics
What will the A’s do without something from the scrap heap. Pierre has some life in his speed and Oakland has always liked someone who can create runs. Pierre will do just that and help keep Oakland at nothing above average.

44.Frank Francisco-Milwaukee Brewers
Francisco has been known to give up a lot of home runs. He was also once a very valuable reliever. The Brewers need something that can replace K-Rod. Francisco is certainly no Rodriguez but he is a power pitcher and can help if he can limit the long ball.

45.Jason Marquis-San Diego Padres
San Diego may have an obsession with trying to return life to lost players. Marquis is just that. Maybe the playoff magic will return and the run the Padres made 2 years ago will be successful.

46.Joel Pineiro-Pittsburgh Pirates
He could compete in the Central in the ’09 but not in a system without Dave Duncan. The Pirates are looking for anything that will bring them a winning team.

47.Jonathon Broxton-Los Angeles Dodgers
Broxton had surgery, but before that was damn good. Why not let him stick around and be as big a contributor as he was in 2010.

48.Joe Nathan-New York Mets
The Mets love big names. Nathan would be the biggest name on the market two years ago in pitching this season. If he can bounce back from Tommy John surgery the Mets will be very happy with their non-aggressive but big return closer.

49.Kerry Wood-Retirement
The Cubs should bring him back, but I believe they are sick of the year in year out game. Wood was good, but I think it’s done.

50.Bruce Chen-Houston Astros
The Astros don’t have the prospects to fill a rotation without forcing someone into the bigs too soon. Chen is good, he won’t turn the Astros into winners, but maybe he will make them at least less bad.