Folks, Brewers On Deck weekend has arrived! All your favorite Brewers will be there, except for Jonathan Lucroy, which makes us all very upset, dangit. Who’s this joker think he is answering questions honestly? Matt Garza will be there, so if you’re still furious at him about the way last season ended, you can yell mean things at him (side note: definitely do not do that). A host of the Brewers’ top prospects will be there as well, including Orlando Arcia, Brett Phillips Jorge Lopez and Trent Clark — all of whom appear in the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects list (which was released TODAY and is FREE).
Let’s roll it and pick up some talking points to share with the folks around you while you wait in line for your Ryan Braun autograph:
FanGraphs || Tanking: Does MLB Really Have a Problem? (Jan. 25, 2016)
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the past week or so over the concept of “tanking” in baseball, particularly in the National League, which is projected to have the six worst teams in the majors, including the Milwaukee Brewers. David Cameron (@DCameronFG) dispels the notion, mostly based on the fact that the practice isn’t likely to provide much payoff. While teams like Milwaukee, Colorado and San Diego have underwhelming rosters, they’re certainly not actively trying to lose, as each has signed free agents to bolster their 2016 rosters in addition to their rebuilding efforts. Tanking in the NBA works because an elite rookie can come in and make an impact right away, and a single player can alter the fortunes of a franchise. Neither of those is true in Major League Baseball.
The Hardball Times || The Art of the Tank (Jan. 26, 2016)
But dadgumit, if you’re going to tank, you may as well do it right. The Astros pulled off what was likely the first and only truly successful “tank” in Major League Baseball. They’re coming out of a period in which they sold off every conceivable asset — aside from a few players, such as Jose Altuve — in order to stockpile assets and gain higher draft picks to make the postseason in 2015. Chris Gigley (@cgigley) takes us through the steps to a proper Astros-style rebuild, which starts with really going for it wholesale and being honest, both with yourself and with your fans.
Beyond the Box Score || The rise and fall of catcher framing (Jan 27, 2016)
Henry Druschel (@henrydruschel) digs into some of the numbers regarding pitch framing, which have received a significant upgrade very recently from the folks at the Baseball Prospectus main site. Druschel notes that after a spike in the relative importance of framing in the early part of the decade, the gap between the best and worst framers has shrunk, and the rate at which it’s shrinking is growing. Michael Bradburn covered the steady decline of Jonathan Lucroy’s pitch framing in recent years, which has plummeted from otherworldly to just league average. As teams begin to understand the true impact pitch framing has — and as our ability to understand and quantify it grows — it may serve to nullify its effects for the elite framers as the rest of the league catches up.
FanGraphs || Projecting the DFA’d Rymer Liriano (Jan. 25, 2016)
Unbeknownst to them, FanGraphs was devoting a big chunk their coverage to the Brewers on Monday. Three days before the Brewers swung a trade for outfielder Rymer Liriano, the recently-DFA’d-former-Top-100 prospect from San Diego, Chris Mitchell (@_chris_mitchell) took a crack at projecting him out with his KATOH system. While it projects just 1.9 fWAR over the next six years, Mitchell leans on Dan Farnsworth to get another perspective, and he provided a glowing report. While Liriano’s contact issues are a red flag, it appears that the Brewers have acquired, at worst, a solid fourth outfielder with a chance to become something more.
The Brewers took us on a trip down memory lane this week, bringing back former fan-favorite Chris Capuano, now 37 years old, on a minor-league deal. Shaun Ranft (@Shaun_TSP) followed and found himself back in the early part of the century and in the middle of the last major rebuilding phase Milwaukee undertook. Cappy is back and while he may be a long shot for the major-league rotation, he represents a bit of nostalgia and, therefore, looks like an astute pickup for struggling team who will need to give its fans something to cheer about.