We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Brewers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Brew Crew Ball.
1) Alcides Escobar seems to me like a cheap shortstop that can provide steals (and obviously defense), which works for fantasy baseball (the steals part). What’s your most realistic prediction for him in 2010?
It’s hard not to get excited about Alcides Escobar, who has developed a reputation as an absolute wizard defensively and looked very good at the plate in a brief audition for the Brewers last fall, hitting .304/.333/.368 and becoming just the second Brewer ever to collect 40 hits in his first 138 major league plate appearances. With that said, Escobar’s bat likely isn’t quite that good in the long term. MinorLeagueSplits.com has his 2009 Major League Equivalent line at .259/.301/.345, and that’s probably a fair expectation for his 2010 line.
As for steals, that will likely depend on his position in the lineup. His low OBP and power would suggest he should hit toward the bottom of the order where he could run wild, but the Brewers’ lack of better options may force him into the second spot in the lineup, where he’d have to be much more careful running in front of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. He’s stolen 80 bases in 100 attempts over the last two seasons, so he’ll certainly have some success on the basepaths if given the opportunity.
2) If you look in the dictionary next to the idiom, “You can’t steal 1st,” you’ll find Carlos Gomez, assuming your dictionary has pictures and baseball idioms. Cheap steals can provide value in fantasy, so Gomez needs to be looked at (unfortunately). How many at-bats do you see getting with his .230 average, .232 OBP and a man named, Jody, behind him?
Carlos Gomez has two things going for him at this point: He has a reputation as a very good defender, and the Brewers traded away a well known and moderately well liked contributor (J.J. Hardy) to get him. Those two factors will give him every opportunity to prove he can carry the load in center field, even if his bat never comes to life.
There’s clearly still plenty of room for growth with Gomez, who only turned 24 in December, and there are some reasons for optimism: He hit .275/.373/.374 during the regular season in the Dominican Winter League. However, his numbers plummeted during the postseason and he was left off his team’s Caribbean World Series roster with flulike symptoms.
If Gomez proves he’s not the answer, Jody Gerut is the likely candidate to absorb some of his playing time. Gerut looked very good in consistent ABs down the stretch last season, and is a capable defensive center fielder. Jim Edmonds also seems to think he’s coming to camp to prove he can still handle center field: if he can do so in an acceptable fashion, it’s possible he could see some starts out there.
3) Corey Hart’s 2009 was obviously the part of the Behind of the Music where he’s washed up and sniffing glue in the back of the Arby’s parking lot. Can 2010 be the uplifting turnaround or will he hit rock bottom, turning tricks for glue money?
I’m not very optimistic about Corey Hart, who has done very little over the past season and a half to prove he’s the same player that hit .289/.327/.504 and earned a spot on the All Star Team in the first half of 2008. His .263 second half OBP was one of the factors that nearly cost the Brewers their 2008 playoff appearance. Before the 2009 season, he said all the right things about taking pitches and showing more patience and improved his OBP to .335, but lost over 40 points on his slugging percentage and still looked absolutely lost at the plate in key situations.
For a very gifted athlete, Hart’s defensive abilities are also below average, and he frequently relies on his good speed to cover the fact that his instincts aren’t good at all. As age slows him down, his defensive abilities will likely shift from “below average” to “intolerable.”
Finally, Hart has done himself no favors by saying negative things publicly about Brewer fans and taking the team to arbitration this season. His declining performance, negative attitude toward fans and escalating salary have combined to make him one of the team’s less popular players.
4) Casey McGehee screams to me “platoon player,” which is pretty annoying if you’re hungover. Can Gamel work his way into the lineup or is his glove just too ugly?
Casey McGehee was one of 2009’s great surprise stories and earned the opportunity to play every day in 2010. He’s certainly a candidate to regress, but he’ll be given every chance to prove his performance in 2009 was not a fluke. With third base occupied, Mat Gamel will likely open 2010 in AAA, and when he returns (and where he plays) will likely be determined by McGehee’s health and performance.
In limited major league opportunities in 2010, Gamel did not look as bad as advertised defensively. He may never win a Gold Glove out there, but I would argue against the common perception that he *needs* to be moved off third base. With that said, McGehee is under team control for five more seasons, so if he produces Gamel will have to be moved to another position or another team to spend significant time in the majors.
5) What would be the most fitting pun-nicknames: A) Prince “Not A Good” Fielder B) Rickie “On the DL 6 to 8″ Weeks C) Manny “My Control is Sub-” Parra
Fielder’s defense is actually much better than advertised. Like Gamel, he’ll likely never win a Gold Glove, but Fielder was close to league average defensively last season, and for a player of his build and offensive talent, league average defense is pretty impressive. He also seems to display good instincts and make the occasional great play.
As for Rickie Weeks, I’ve heard all the jokes (and made some of my own) about his durability, but the injuries he’s best known for (his wrists) have been season enders, not 6-8 week bumps in the road.
That leaves Manny Parra, and if I have to choose one of the three, I’ll go with him. 2010 could be a pivotal year in his career: At 27 years old, he could still bounce back, have a nice season under Rick Peterson, and become a pitcher a team depends on for another 5-10 years. If he posts another season like 2009, though, he could end up getting non-tendered and scouring the market for a minor league deal.
Parra is almost a lock to win a spot in the rotation in spring training, and his long term success or failure will go a long way towards determining the kind of season the Brewers have.