Good morning! Welcome to the pre-World Series edition of Rolling Out the Barrel. While we appreciate the Cubs swiftly bowing out after eliminating the Cardinals last week, it would have been nice if they’d hung around for an extra day or two, so as not to subject us to a short, early preview of what the long, baseball-less winter will feel like. But hey, at least no one’s talking about Back to the Future anymore! Let’s dive into this week’s stories:
Here’s a couple of takes on the Brewers potentially being suitors for the servicers of former top prospect Domonic Brown, whom the Phillies outrighted off their 40-man roster this week. One is from myself at Brew Crew Ball, and the other from Pete Schwichtenberg (@schwick26_pete) at Reviewing the Brew. The issue with Brown, of course, is that while the Brewers do need an outfielder, that outfielder needs to play center field. Brown cannot. The Brewers gave young Domingo Santana the reins in center over the final month or so of a lost season, but he’s not a viable long term solution and will eventually need a spot in one of the corners, where the Brewers already have entrenched starters in Khris Davis and Ryan Braun. Trying to find starts and at-bats for a fourth corner outfielder – barring a trade – would be difficult. If the costs are low (minor-league contract with an invite low), then the Brewers should take a look to see if they can help Brown find his power stroke again. However, he’s posted an identical .634 OPS in each of the last two seasons, and there’s not a lot of positive indicators to point toward a revival. Note: there have been absolutely no rumblings from the Brewers organization that they’re interested in Brown, and any discussion of them being matched with him is entirely speculation.
MLB.com || Callis examines Lopez, Houser and Weaver (Oct. 20, 2015)
Here’s a quick scouting report from Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) breaking down the early returns on a few of the Arizona Fall League’s pitching prospects, including the Brewers’ Adrian Houser. The 22-year-old has been stellar so far for the Surprise Saguaros, striking out three with just a pair of hits and a pair of walks through 6.1 innings (two starts). Houser has fallen as a prospect — he’s ranked No. 27 in the Brewers’ system — but he still has the raw tools that made him the second-round pick of the Astros in 2011.
Disciples of Uecker || Replacement by Design (Oct. 21, 2015)
Over at Disciples of Uecker, the Brewers arm of ESPN’s blog network, Nicholas Zettel (@SpectiveWax) takes an interesting, numbers-heave look at how the Brewers might want to model their pitching staff after the Cubs and Dodgers. Both of those teams got a lot of mileage out of what he terms “replacement starters,” those who had less than 100 innings pitched and/or pitched more than 50 percent of their innings as relievers. Of course, the Dodgers and Cubs had Zack Greinke/Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arietta/Jon Lester respectively to anchor their rotation, and there’s no one on the Brewers roster who is at the level now nor is there anyone at the major-league level who necessarily projects to get there. For 2016, Zettel advocates for a revolving door in the starting rotation, boldly stating that “if the Brewers don’t have 15 starting pitchers in 2016, and they don’t make the playoffs, one should question their rotational approach.”
MLB Daily Dish || Who will replace Don Mattingly? (Oct. 22, 2015)
Matt Goldman (@TheOriginalBull) speculates on who might take over the reins of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their $300 million payroll in the wake of Don Mattingly’s somewhat-but-not-really-all-that surprising departure that was announced on Thursday morning. One man Goldman mentions as a potential replacement is former Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke, who was fired by the Brewers in May and caught on with the Dodgers’ as their third base coach in August. Rumors circulated in the wake of his hiring that he was being brought in to inevitably replace Mattingly, who has gotten into some public blowups with his players recently and has obviously fallen out of favor with the Dodgers’ new front office regime, who did not hire him. I don’t necessarily think that’s likely – Gabe Kapler appears to be the front-runner at this time – but Roenicke probably took more heat than he deserved for being unable to compete with a thin, poorly constructed Brewers roster that didn’t have a first baseman or a legitimate ace pitcher (among other issues).