Thursday, November 6, 2008

FA FA FA: Milwaukee Brewers


Significant FAs: C.C. Sabathia (SP), Ben Sheets (SP)

Significant Gaps: 3b, 2b, C, SP

Ben Sheets, Ben Sheets, Ben Sheets. The Brewers need to sign him in order to hang on to the dominant #1 starter for their rotation cannot be overstated. He is the face of their franchise. The only knock against him would be health issues but if they can get even 130 innings of sub 1.2 WHIP, 7.5 K/9 and 3.85 K/BB out of him (career averages) he will be worth it.

They have publicly made an offer for Sabathia, but seeing as how he is the most coveted FA pitcher in a shallow market it seems unlikely for him to sign unless he fell in love while he was in Milwaukee or something. That being said, their rotation looks relatively solid without him (provided they hang on to Sheets), with Gallardo (1.27 WHIP, 8.24 K/9, 2.73 K/BB in 2007) and Bush (1.14 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 2.27 K/BB in 2008). Suppan is nothing special but he stays healthy and can chew up innings as a fourth starter.

Offensively the Brewers need to change some things. They were 9th in the majors in slugging but 21st in OBP. Some things need to change and the positions I have identified are where to start. In the OF, they have Braun, Cameron, and Hart. Braun is a stud (.285/.335/.553, .294 EqA, although a few more walks would be great), Hart can be good and hopefully gets closer his 2007 line (.295/.353/.539) than 2008 (.268/.300/.459). Cameron is the weakest of the three (.243/.331/.477) but is more than servicable. A utility fielder to platoon with him might not be the worst idea but there are bigger needs to address.

At 3b, the Brewers are currently projected to start Bill Hall. While I think Bill Hall seems like a great guy, a .225/.293/.396 line is not going to cut it and it marks the second year of sharp decline from his .270/.345/.553 2006. I think it would be interesting to see them resign Russell Branyan (.230/.328/.484) or go after maybe Hank Blalock (.274/.337/.465) or Joe Crede (.257/.306/.447). I say this because the Brewers have a hot prospect in Mat Gamel (.329/.394/.537) at 3b and getting one of Blalock or Crede who have health issues (123 and 144 games played the past two seasons respectively), or Branyan who has never really been an every game major leaguer (139 games the past two seasons, 113 games with Cleveland in 2001), would still leave you with a viable option in Gamel should something not work out.

At 2b, Rickie Weeks has been the Brewers project player for four seasons and quite frankly I think it would be nice to upgrade. His career .245/.352/.456 and .270 EqA just aren't at the levels you want from a speedy infielder who is expected to leadoff. The Brewers picked up Ray Durham for half a season last year but a 36 year-old wasn't what I had in mind as a replacement, although he admittedly put up a respectable .280/.369/.477 in 41 games with the Brewers. He may not be a bad option to resign and keep the pressure on Weeks to improve. Admittedly, there aren't a lot of free agent options (as of this writing) that are any more attractive so unless they want to make a trade (Dan Uggla maybe? .260/.360/.514 last year and the Marlins are always selling.) Ray Durham is probably the best option.

At C, Jason Kendall is a veteran player that I'm sure brings a lot of intangibles to the team, because a line of .246/.327/.324 is not good enough to justify a starting role in this organization. He's still around which is actually fortunate for the Brewers who have three very solid catching prospects in Angel Salome (.360/.413/.539 in AA 2008), Jonathan Lucroy (.292/.367/.479 in A+ 2008), and Brett Lawrie (last year's first round draft pick). I'm sure Kendall can mentor one of these guys (probably Salome) and groom them for the majors.

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