At last, the Yankees finally get their man

The New York Yankees are finally able to call Gerrit Cole one of their own. It only took 11 years of trying, a nine-year pact worth $324 million and an opt-out clause in 2024.

Continue reading “At last, the Yankees finally get their man”

Milwaukee Brewers: The all or nothing that could have been

The Milwaukee Brewers were maligned by fans and pundits alike after not grabbing a big arm in free agency this preseason, but the David Stearns methodology may be turning the talking heads on their heels.

Continue reading “Milwaukee Brewers: The all or nothing that could have been”

Lance Lynn to the Twins shouldn’t bother Brewers fans

Lance Lynn signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins Saturday. The innings-eater goes to the Twins, where an effective mid-rotation starter can have more impact in a presumably Cleveland, Minnesota and the morass AL Central.

Meanwhile, many fans and followers of the Milwaukee Brewers were apoplectic, as Lynn and the Brewers were connected all offseason as a potential match, and starting pitching has been a perceived need for the fashionably-early Brew Crew. Since the long-shot Brewers were rebuffed by Shohei Ohtani, then were never really in on Yu Darvish, the rumors floating around Chris Archer never found grounding in reality, one-time Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi ended up in Minnesota and Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta are still on the open market, those who have bought into the line of thinking that the Brewers are somehow unserious contenders without spending serious money have grown increasingly discontented with the current state of affairs.

First, let’s look at Lance Lynn, ‘innings-eater’. Yes, in the five full seasons in which Lynn has pitched, he has thrown at least 175 innings. Yes, his career ERA is under 4. No, he is not a “very fine” pitcher as Deadspin’s Chris Thompson editorialized Saturday.

An idealized Lynn is exactly what you want from a mid-rotation starter: dependable, effective, keeps teams in games. The statistical trends are harrowing, though: his WHIP has never been under 1.22, his home run totals spiked from 13 in both 2014 and 2015 to 27 in 2017 alone, his K/BB ratio has tumbled since entering the league (2.81 in 2012 to 1.96 last season) and FIP has followed suit, underperforming ERA every season since 2014 and jumping to an alarming 4.82 last season.

And let us not ignore the fact that Lance Lynn was a part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization, those pitcher-whispering Merlins who resurrected Chris Carpenter from baseball death, made Adam Wainwright into an ace, developed an actually effective version of Lynn in Michael Wacha and even managed to make Shelby Miller look good.

St. Louis wanted nothing to do with retaining Lynn’s services: why should the Brewers bring in a guy with a checkered injury history and whose repertoire their entire division knows? (This same rationale extends to a certain free agent formerly of the north side of Chicago whose name rhymes with Cake Barrieta.)

Going into the hot stove, Brewers fans wanted a stopper, an ace. With Jimmy Nelson sidelined for a chunk of 2018 and Chase Anderson unlikely to be more dominant than he was in ’17, they clamored for Darvish (who brings his own set of question marks to the aforementioned north side) and all of everything mentioned at the top of this post; now they’re wanting to settle for Lance Lynn? What? Don’t the Brewers already have enough innings-eating, mid-rotation types like Zach Davies or Jhoulys Chacin? Aren’t they taking a calculated gamble with Junior Guerra in the back-end? This isn’t Thirsty Thursday, and you go back to your dorm with whoever’s left at last call.

Lance Lynn is a bad fit for Milwaukee for all the reasons mentioned above. In going to the AL Central, he is home in Target Field (pitcher’s park) and regularly sees Comerica Park (pitcher’s park), Royals Kauffman Stadium (pitcher’s park), Jacobs Progressive Field (neutral, but with high fences) and New Comiskey US Cellular Guaranteed Rate Field (neutral). Lynn has a better chance to succeed in the AL Central than he ever would with the neutral-to-band-boxes that play host to the NL Central. (For the record, while PNC is a pitcher’s park, Lynn got hit hard there, too.)

And if he works out, good for him and good for Minnesota. That’s money well spent. If not, it’s only a one-year deal: Lynn gets a good payday and determines where to go from there.

By way of contrast, in football, a team addresses deficiencies straightaway and immediately in the offseason with free agency or through the draft. By not using salary cap space, teams don’t maximize investment in the on-field product and set themselves up to fail. In the free-spending baseball past, this was how the Yankees and Red Sox did their business, though without the burden of a hard cap.

The economic landscape changed, Moneyball first and then the current CBA allowed teams to place maximum value on controllable talent (and the players association leadership freely let them seize control this way, as Jeff Passan pointed out in his outstanding and provocative column from January.) It does not necessarily take the biggest payroll to play winning, competitive and/or championship-contending baseball, as the Brewers demonstrated last season and the Kansas City Royals proved only two autumns ago. The best baseball is played by the best teams, and the best teams are cultivated and then added on to, not wholly bought and paid for.

And, as we’ve mentioned on this site time and again in the hot stove, the Brewers don’t need to be spendy. If anything, they’ll add an arm when they know what they have in May or June, and they’ll do it from a position of strength. David Stearns knows exactly what he’s doing.

The Brewers aren’t any worse in any facet of the game right now than they were last season, when they were one game away from playing blessed, beautiful October Baseball. Lance Lynn wasn’t going to be a difference maker for your team, Brewers fans. He may or may not be a difference maker in Minnesota.

Regardless of outcome, Lynn isn’t going to be your problem, so why worry about it?

Brent Sirvio is co-founder of Bronx to Bushville. 

New York Mets fill a recurring gap with addition of Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier gives the Mets consistency at third base, the likes of which they haven’t seen in years. On a budget, New York is better and deeper—and not as far from the playoff conversation as you might think.

Continue reading “New York Mets fill a recurring gap with addition of Todd Frazier”

A case against the Milwaukee Brewers spending on rotation pitching

The Milwaukee Brewers, as we’ve been told time and time and time and time again, don’t have much obligation in the way of payroll. They can go get a big name starting pitcher. They’ve already been linked to Jake Arrieta by several national baseball pundits, but all indications closer to the organization seem to indicate that’s blowing smoke where there probably isn’t fire.

And, really, do the Brewers need to go get a big name starter? Jimmy Nelson is going to miss significant time in the next campaign recovering from shoulder surgery, Zach Davies is an enigma and there’s no guarantee Brent Suter can replicate his dark horse success in 2018. With Chase Anderson really in the only position to safely build upon 2017, it might make sense at 20,000 feet to open up Mark Attanasio’s checkbook and land a marquee free agent pitcher.

Closer to the organization and with more familiarity with the system, the view is different and rings as such: The Brewers don’t have to jump in to the free agent pool.

Nelson’s return to Milwaukee will be as good as a trade at midseason, or whenever he’s ready to get back to the bump. Davies is an enigma, streaky in both the best and worst sense, but he’s shown effectiveness enough to warrant another look (and serves as solid rich man’s Marco Estrada-esque tradebait. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is either the Brewers’ No. 2 or packaged in a deal at the Winter Meetings.) Suter’s unorthodox mechanics and approach and fast pace serve him well to keep hitters guessing. Let’s also bear in mind that Brandon Woodruff has yielded some dividends in a small sample size and has great movement on his pitches.

That leaves us with Anderson, Davies, Woodruff, Suter and an empty fifth spot. None of those four have been in a major league rotation together for a substantial period of time, but these four were in the trenches during the stretch run and were key in keeping the Brewers in the hunt. They could very well go to war with who they have without being obligated to substantial free agent money.

Then we ought to consider who else the Brewers have right now. Andrew Miller is a bit of a unicorn, and it’s not fair to hitch Josh Hader to that bandwagon. Hader was dominant in his relief role and could still profile into a strong lefty starter. He has earned the opportunity to get a look in Spring Training, as has Aaron Wilkerson who could also earn another extended look in March after posting his first 10 major league innings at the end of the regular season with some success. Jorge Lopez, Luis Ortiz or 2017 Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Corbin Burnes could all be possibilities as well.

David Stearns has built an organization that has an embarrassment of riches at every level. They could have guys in the farm ranks on their radar as easily as they could package some of them for a starter who isn’t in the conversation right now. They’re [very] dark horses for Shohei Otani.

Jake Arrieta is trending in the wrong direction and he’ll be 32 before Opening Day. Alex Cobb is intriguing, but he’s a year removed from injury and would be high-risk/high-reward. Yu Darvish is radioactive after his October meltdown (and he didn’t look healthy in October, either.) Lance Lynn isn’t going to follow the trail Kyle Lohse blazed from St. Louis to Milwaukee, and the Brewers need a guy who can get strikeouts at will: Lynn has a reputation as a Brewer-killer.

So did Jeff Suppan. That’s as much as I’m going to say on this matter.

Any deal the Brewers make with one of those guys is a move for the sake of making a move. Those kinds of decisions kept the Brewers irrelevant at best under previous administrations. Stearns isn’t that type, and it would be out of character for him to start making it rain now.

Yes, the window of contention is officially open for the Brewers but there’s no need to tear the wall out.

The more likely scenario is that Stearns keeps kicking tires, keeps an eye on the market and makes a trade either in the winter or May. Let others spend their money on free agent pitchers who may or may not help, in all likelihood, they’re paying for past performance with other clubs.

The Brewers have stayed the course until now; there’s no need to change that strategy.

This much, though, is true: it’s fun to talk about pieces that could put the Brewers over the top in 2018.

Brent Sirvio is a co-founder of Bronx to Bushville.