Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

30 Teams: Milwaukee Brewers

By Simon Stracher

After their magical 2008 playoff run, the Milwaukee Brewers had to suffer with the agony of two sub .500 seasons. In 2011, General Manager Doug Melvin knew that this would most likely be their last season with slugger Prince Fielder, so he went all out in trying to bring Milwaukee a championship. The additions and subtractions that he made are as follows:


RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Takashi Saito, SS Yunieksy Betancourt, C Wil Nieves, OF Brandon Boggs, OF Mark Kotsay, OF Jeremy Reed, RHP Sean Green, IF Edwin Maysonet, C Shawn Riggans, RHP Eulogio de la Cruz, RHP Zack Segovia, RHP Justin James, C Mike Rivera


RHP Trevor Hoffman (Ret.), RHP Doug Davis (FA), RHP Dave Bush, LHP Chris Capuano, C Gregg Zaun, SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Todd Coffey, 2B Brett Lawrie, OF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, UTIL Joe Inglett (FA), RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Adrian Rosario

The two biggest acquisitions are the trade of former Cy Young winner Zach Greinke, and the trade for former Blue Jays ace Shaun Marcum, who had a 3.64 ERA last season. The Brewers acquired Greinke for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and right-handed pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers in exchange for Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations. Cain and Escobar were the centerpieces of this deal, and both are former top prospects. Escobar is a career .250 hitter in 690 PAs in the majors, and batted .234 in 145 games last season. When he played Triple A in 2009, he stole 42 bases, but so far in the majors he has only stolen 14. He projects to be a .275 hitter with solid defense and 20-30 stolen bases. He has little to no power and has a career 5.8% walk rate.

However, the most important prospect in this deal is outfielder Lorenzo Cain. In his small cup of coffee in '10 he had a triple slash line of .306/.348/.415 in 147 ABs. On the surface that looks pretty solid, but underneath there are some real problems. Cain had a .370 BABIP, 70 points higher than the league average BABIP. He also had a 5.7% walk rate, which is subpar. All in all, the the Brewers got a great value in this trade. Cain and Escobar are two solid, but unspectacular prospects, and Greinke is a top-10 pitcher in the game today.

The Brewers also traded for former Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum. He had an excellent year in '10, a year after missing all of '09 due to Tommy John surgery. He is a player to watch in 2011, and has the chance to become a minor ace. In return, they traded Canadian second baseman Brett Lawrie, the 16th pick of the 2006 draft. He was also number 47 on Keith Law's top 100 prospect list in 2011. He projects to be a .290 hitter with decent power and good speed. Overall he is a good player, but the the Brewers do not need him, as they have the 29 year-old Rickie Weeks.

This brings me to my next paragraph. This offseason, the Brewers signed Rickie Weeks to a 4-year $38.5 million dollar contract, with an option for 2015 that could push it to $50 million. Prior to 2010, Weeks had never played more than 130 games in a season. But in 2010, Weeks played 160 games and had a 6.1 WAR and a wRC+ of 128, which are superb numbers. Weeks year was no fluke, as his, "average speed of the ball off his bat of his big flies was 106.1 MPH, compared to the 103.3 MPH major league average. The average distance on his dingers was 406.2 feet, while the MLB average was 393.5 feet" (David Golebiewski, Fangraphs). Simply put, Weeks was destroying the ball. If Weeks can stay relatively healthy, this can be a huge win for the Brew Crew. My prediction for 2011; 22 homeruns, a .265 average, a .370 OBP, and 5 WAR. Those are great numbers, and Weeks has the potential to do even greater. The Brewers got a steal in this extension.

But all is not good for these Brewers. Their star first baseman, Prince Fielder, is in his contract year and has made it clear that he will test the market. His agent, Scott Boras, is notorious for holding out for the best deal and it seems unlikely that the small market Brewers could afford the $200 million contract that Fielder seeks. GM Doug Melvin made all the right moves so that the Brewers can contend this year, and they have a real good shot of winning the world series. With a fearsome starting rotation of Greinke, Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo and a formidable lineup consisting of Fielder, Ryan Braun, Weeks, and Corey Hart, the Brewers will compete with the Phillies for the NL Pennant. Expect 92 wins and a season that ends in the NLCS.

I hope you enjoyed this post on the Brewers. My new 30 Teams post will be coming in in about 3-4 days, so make sure to read that one too.

(Statistics in courtesy of: www.fangraphs.com, www.mlbtraderumors.com, www.baseballreference.com, and www.espn.com).

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