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Crunching the Numbers on Arby Offers

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=corey+hart&iid=5007345″ src=”0/2/f/5/Milwaukee_Brewers_at_fd5a.JPG?adImageId=9308851&imageId=5007345″ width=”234″ height=”337″ /]Here is what we know right now: Jody Gerut, Rickie Weeks, and Carlos Gomez have all avoided arbitration thanks to one-year deals totaling $5.85 million. As far as the four remaining arbitration-eligible players are concerned, Todd Coffey seems to be the furthest away from striking a deal, while Carlos Villanueva appears to be the closest.

Thanks to Tom Haudricourt, we know that Coffey is asking for $2.45 million, while the team offered him $1.7 million. The midpoint between these two figures is $2.075 million. A one-year, $2 million deal seems reasonable for a guy who was probably the second most valuable arm out of the bullpen behind Trevor Hoffman.

Corey Hart asked for $4.8 million while the club submitted a figure of $4.15 million. The midpoint there would be $4.475 million. To me, this seems to be the toughest case — Hart wants a raise of $1.55 million. In other words, he wants to be paid like his numbers didn’t decrease for a second consecutive season.

Dave Bush is asking for $4.45 million, while the club offered $4.125 million. The midpoint with Bush would be $4.2875 million, which seems like a reasonable enough number. While Bush fell out of favor with a lot of people last year, I still think he can be a very productive #4 pitcher — even a passable #3 — if he can stay healthy for a full season. While he struggled after being hit with a line drive last season, let’s not forget how dominating he can be when everything is clicking.

Finally, Villanueva wants to be labeled a millionaire for the first time, submitting a figure of $1.075 million. Given his struggles last year, the club is offering $800,000, placing the midpoint at $937,500. When all is said and done, I think Villa makes less than a million in 2010, but then again I couldn’t imagine Carlos Gomez’s salary making such a spike.

When you factor in what the Brewers have already committed to the three players who’ve signed, if the Brewers were to go to arbitration with each of the remaining four and lose, they’d pay a combined $18.625 million to the seven arby-eligibles. If they went to arbitration and won every case, they’d only be on the hook for $16.625 million. Considering Doug Melvin has said he’s anticipating arby cases to cost between $17 and $18 million, that could mean some extra money that could be spent luring Jarrod Washburn or Doug Davis to Milwaukee.

If the Brewers can agree to contracts with the remaining four at the midpoint amounts, they would pay a total of $17.625 million — pretty much right in the middle of Melvin’s estimation, which would mean he had a pretty good idea what each player would be asking for. Given Melvin’s history of avoiding arbitration hearings, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about more signings in the next few days. It seems like only a matter of time before Villanueva and possibly Bush sign, but it could take longer to lock up Hart and Coffey, considering the large gaps between the figures presented.

It’s also important to remember that these contracts are not completely guaranteed — the Brewers could release any of these players in Spring Training and only be on the hook for a fraction of the salary — you may remember this happening to Claudio Vargas a couple springs ago, when it was clear that he wasn’t going to make the rotation out of camp and was due to make a starter’s salary. Why do I bring this up? Because something similar may happen to Bush if the Brewers find enough money in their budget to add another free agent pitcher, as the rumors seem to indicate they will. In that scenario, another option might be to option Manny Parra to Triple A, but the Brewers would free up a good amount of money by just letting Bush walk and keeping the much cheaper Parra in the majors.

Guessing the Brewers’ Arby Outcomes

January 16, 2010 2 comments

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=dave+bush+brewers&iid=6300132″ src=”6/3/1/d/Milwaukee_Brewers_vs_ea17.JPG?adImageId=9098488&imageId=6300132″ width=”234″ height=”288″ /]The Brewers’ seven arbitration-eligible players filed with the player’s union Friday — Adam McCalvy has the story at brewers.com. The players that will be looking for raises are Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva, Rickie Weeks, Jody Gerut, Corey Hart, and Carlos Gomez. As McCalvy notes, this is the first year of arby eligibility for Villanueva and Gomez (Gomez qualifies for arby due to his Super Two status). The players will swap figures on Tuesday, according to McCalvy, and from there will have until the date of the hearing to iron out a contract.

Doug Melvin has never had to go to an arbitration meeting in his tenure as General Manager, and hopefully that trend continues this year. He won’t have to worry about working out a deal with Scott Boras for Prince Fielder this offseason, thanks to the two-year deal he got Fielder to sign last winter that locked in his 2010 salary. He will, however, have to deal with a couple of players that underachieved last season but will still be looking for raises anyway — here’s looking at you, Dave Bush and Corey Hart. Below is a table listing this year’s arby-eligible players and what they made last season, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
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Brewers Season Grades: Solid Contributors

Yesterday we handed out grades for the bottom of the Class of 2009 — those players who earned D’s and F’s.  Today, we recap a group of players that were more productive, and generally good to have around.  Guys who earned C’s were serviceable but most likely replaceable without much cost, while those with B’s were good but had something holding them back.  With that much said, here are the grades…be sure to check back tomorrow when I hand out A’s to the cream of the crop.  Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree below.

B’s
Yovani Gallardo (B): He performed well considering the fact that he was forced into the ace role a year after missing most of the season with a torn ACL.  The high walk totals led to too many short outings, however — how much of it was nibbling, and how much was it just him hitting a wall late in the season?

Mitch Stetter (B): One of my concerns heading into the season would be how well the Brewers would replace Brian Shouse’s old LOOGY role.  Stetter filled in very nicely, and even showed a bit of effectiveness against right-handed batters, increasing his value.  It’s always nice to develop your own relievers — the Brewers got a lot of of value out of him considering his low salary.

Claudio Vargas (B-):
It was easy to scoff at the deadline deal that brought Vargas back to Milwaukee — most were frustrated that Doug Melvin didn’t bring in a starter to help the rotation — but the Human Rain Delay performed admirably as a long reliever, sucking up a lot of innings following short outings from the starters and keeping the team in games.  All in all, Claudio may have found his niche.

Craig Counsell (B+):
After the way Counsell fared at the plate the past couple seasons, it was hard to get excited about him coming back, even at the extremely cheap price of $1 million as a utility player.  A new batting stance seems to have done wonders for Craig, as he put up one of the best batting lines of his career without the ridiculous Lightning Rod stance.  He was especially valuable during the time between the Weeks injury and the Lopez trade, and he’s performed so well that you have to imagine the club wouldn’t mind him coming back next year on a similar 1-year, $1 million deal.

Casey McGehee (B+): Another year, another scrap heap pick up by Doug Melvin that paid huge dividends.  Very few people thought much of the waiver wire pick up late last season — some Cubs fans even mocked the Brewers for making the move — but McGehee put together an incredibly unexpected season.  Heading into spring training, how many people thought McGehee would make the 25-man roster, let alone have his name mentioned as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate?  As I’ve noted before, it’s no guarantee that Casey will be back with the club next season, but at the very least he’s been another Melvin gamble that’s paid off in a big way.

Mike Cameron (B): It’s easy to get frustrated with the high number of strikeouts and the low batting average, but Cameron’s defense and home run pop has again made him worth the money he’s making.  His range isn’t what it used to be in center, but there’s no doubt he’s made Ryan Braun look like a better left fielder, and most fans likely won’t realize what they had until he’s gone.  Here’s to hoping Cameron makes good on his word that he’d be willin to make some sacrifices in salary to stay on with the club — or, at the very least, he doesn’t sign with the Cubs in the offseason.

C’s
Seth McClung (C-): Big Red was a valuable part of the bullpen early in the year, essentially filling the role Vargas filled in August and September.  A move to the rotation flamed out badly, though, and one could point to his horrendous start against the Cubs in Wrigley Field as the beginning of the end of the Brewers’ season.  I still think he has value as a long reliever, but I doubt many people would mind if he was replaced.

Chris Narveson (C): Narveson’s season was nearly a complete mirror image of McClung’s — he flamed out as a long reliever in his first big league stint, but filled in admirably in the rotation when Manny Parra went down with neck spasms.  Narveson hasn’t pitched deep into games in his starts, but he’s shown enough promise there that he at least has to be considered for a bottom-of-the-rotation spot during spring training next year.  I hesitate to raise his grade too high, due to the fact that you can never fully trust outings in the first and last months of the season. 

Chris Smith (C+):
Perfectly acceptable in mop-up duty, and saved quite a few innings from the rest of the bullpen by going two or three innings at a time in a number of appearances.  Also perfectly replaceable, which is why I can’t bear to give him a much higher grade than this.

Mark DiFelice (C+):
His cutter was unhittable early in the year, even drawing the attention of national writers.  Unfortunately, he was never the same following injury, and finished the year on the 60-day DL.  He’s a great story — here’s to hoping that he can recover and again be a big part of the bullpen in 2010.

Frank Catalanotto (C): An afterthought signing, and it could be argued that the Brewers had no intention of playing him in the majors until they ran into injury problems at the big league level.  Far from spectacular, but far from useless in the absence of Corey Hart in August.

Jody Gerut (C-): Gerut was the subject of a lot of criticism early in his tenure as he struggled to get into a groove at the plate as a pinch hitter.  Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, a lot of Gerut’s biggest detractors were also big supporters of Tony Gwynn, Jr. and the bad feelings about Gwynn never getting a real shot in Milwaukee may have rubbed off on him.  Gerut came into his own with a hot stretch late in the season, and with a projected salary in the low $1 million range, he wouldn’t be a bad option for a cheap stopgap centerfielder if Cameron isn’t brought back.

Corey Hart (C-):
For whatever reason, Corey’s seemed like a completely different player following his All-Star game appearance last year, and has struggled to find many hot streaks at the plate.  He lost about a month with an emergency appendectomy, which you can’t blame him for, but even before the injury he wasn’t living up to expectations.  It’s crazy that about 18 months ago, many thought of him as being untouchable in trade talks, and now we’re trying to figure out ways to pry pitching from the Braves by using him in mock trade offers.

Hart and Gamel Return

September 8, 2009 1 comment

As expected, Corey Hart and Mat Gamel will return to Milwaukee for tonight’s game against John Smoltz and the Cardinals. 

While the games don’t mean much anymore (Elimination Number: 10; Projected draft pick: 12), it’s safe to say there’s still a lot riding on how these two will be utilized now that they’re back.  Hart’s return hopefully means no repeats of yesterday afternoon’s JV squad outfield of Frank Catalanotto, Corey Patterson, and Jody Gerut.  I’m not sure Ken Macha could’ve fielded a worse lineup if he tried, so it’s really no wonder Chris Carpenter carved up the Brewers for a 99-pitch, 29-batter, 1-hit shutout. 

Even if Mike Cameron is going to miss a few more games — we’re being told not to expect him back before Friday — an outfield of Braun-Gerut-Hart doesn’t look too bad on paper (and it may be an outfield we’ll get used to seeing next year, if Cameron isn’t brought back).  The next few weeks will be crucial in getting Hart’s confidence in the plate back up, and his return to the lineup could simultaneously improve the Brewers’ offensive output and his trade value.

Gamel’s playing time situation is less clear.  In a lot of ways, he’s stuck in the same boat as Alcides Escobar — with the team out of playoff contention, both players should be playing every day, getting as many big league ABs as possible this season before ultimately taking over next season.  For whatever reason, Macha will likely elect to play veterans over them most of the time — perhaps he has orders from the higher ups to give the likes of J.J. Hardy and Casey McGehee as many starts as possible in order to generate the highest possible return for offseason trades; perhaps he’s just scared for his job and thinks playing veterans will win him more games.

At this point in the season, starting Hardy doesn’t make much sense at all, and a little piece of me gets pretty ticked off every time I see he’s slated to start.  Even if you want to hide behind the guise of trying to win more games, Hardy doesn’t make much sense — he didn’t hit well in Nashville, he hasn’t hit well since coming back from the minors, and while Escobar isn’t going to hit .300 himself, he at least has the speed to beat out a few infield grounders. 

The McGehee/Gamel situation is a bit trickier.  Unlike Hardy, McGehee is still hitting above expectations despite playing with a knee injury that will likely require offseason surgery.  Gamel has struggled in both Nashville and Milwaukee in the second half this year, but stands a better chance of being an Opening Day starter next season than Escobar does.  If you have eyes on the future, you have to start Gamel.  If you’re still trying to win games and finish over .500, you probably need to give McGehee a few starts a week.

The Brewers have an overcrowded infield, and there’s a good chance that two or three players playing there now won’t be in Milwaukee in 2010, so what do you do?  How do you get the most out of Gamel and Escobar’s stay in September while also making sure there are enough ABs for McGehee, Felipe Lopez, and Craig Counsell?

Hart to Return Tuesday; Second Wave of Call Ups Near?

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Adam McCalvy reports that Corey Hart was 0-1 with a walk in his first rehab start last night.  Hart is working his way back from an appendectomy in early August, and as McCalvy notes, if all goes well this weekend, Hart should return to the big league club on Tuesday.

Hart will return to a team in a drastically different situation than the one he left.  After losing two of three to the Cardinals and losing the series opener to San Francisco last night, the Brewers’ elimination number is down to 14, effectively putting them out of the race. 

That’s not to say this month won’t be important for Hart.  It would provide plenty of optimism for next season (as well as increase the numbers on his paycheck this offseason), or perhaps raise his possible trade value.  It’s a shame that the Giants will be out of town by then, because like David Hannes noted earlier, Hart may be a player they’d be interested in. 

Hart may not be alone in returning to the club on Tuesday.  Nashville’s season will end Monday afternoon if the club doesn’t make the PCL playoffs (they’re currently 1.5 games behind division leading Memphis), meaning the likes of Mat Gamel, Hernan Iribarren, Angel Salome, Tim Dillard, and Mike Burns could be flying into Milwaukee with Hart.

Hart Has Appendix Removed; Out Until September

MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy is reporting that Corey Hart was scheduled for an appendectomy Sunday night in San Diego after playing last night’s game with stomach pains.  Hart was not in the lineup for Sunday afternoon’s 6-1 win over the Padres, and is expected to miss the rest of the month as he recovers from the procedure.

While Hart had his struggles to start the season, he was finally starting to come around at the plate and showing glimpses of what made him in All-Star after a hot first half in 2008.  As McCalvy notes, Hart was hitting .329 in his last 22 games, meaning the Brewers’ offense will take yet another hit with him out of the lineup.  He was especially hot in his past 10 games, raising his OPS by 21 points.
With Hart moving to the DL, the Brewers are already recalling Bill Hall from Triple-A Nashville. Hall reportedly played in right field for the Sounds on Sunday night in preparation for possibly seeing playing time there in Milwaukee. McCalvy guesses that Frank Catalanotto — who started this afternoon — will see a bulk of the playing time the rest of this month, but Hall is likely to get a chance against left-handed starters.  Considering the Dodgers throw Clayton Kershaw tomorrow, it’s a good bet he’ll be in the lineup to start the LA series.
Hall was probably the easy (and right) decision to make when it came to calling someone up to replace Hart, but part of me is wondering what Brendan Katin could do in right field if given the chance.  Granted, his Major League equivalent stats are pretty ugly (think Russell Branyan without the ability to walk), but perhaps he’d provide more pop than Hall.  Calling up Katin would probably involve some shifting on the 40-man roster, though, so for the time being Hall was the easier choice.  
Of course, Hart’s situation creates some interesting questions when it comes to possible waiver trades.  Does Doug Melvin go out and find a short-term solution, like he did with the Felipe Lopez and Claudio Vargas trades?  While the team has played like crap for two straight months, they’re still only 4.5 games out of first place in a very winnable division.