A Simple Kind of Fan
Welcome to the first edition of A Simple Kind of Fan. Thank you to Wally and the gang for giving me a start on here and allowing me the opportunity. The purpose of this blog is to explore everything Brewer related from a fan’s perspective. There are plenty of websites out there that delve deep into the numbers and provide statistical analysis. There are not, however, many sites that are out there that analyze all things Milwaukee Brewers from a fan’s perspective. Sadly, many of these websites try to distance themselves from a fan perspective and I think that is a mistake at times. Almost all Brewer analysis you may read is certainly from very smart people and I understand a fan’s perspective is not appropriate for all formats. I can certainly appreciate those getting paid being professional. I embrace being a fan and hope to prove that I am a knowledgeable one as well. I will attempt to do this in many ways with a weekly column. If anyone besides my wife actually reads this and enjoys it, maybe we will expand the frequency once the season starts. Last year, I was right many times and I think I can provide some analysis. Let’s dive right in and you will learn the format as we go.
The Greinke Deal
The recent acquisition of Zach Greinke has caused many raised eyebrows throughout baseball. It has even caused the Cubs to ridiculously overspend in an ill conceived trade. The deal to upgrade the starting rotation have been analyzed from every perspective possible. Did we give up too much to upgrade our pitching staff? Was it worth committing first degree intentional homicide to our farm system? In a nutshell: 100% YES! I feel from a fan’s perspective, this deal makes sense for several reasons.
First, I have been attending Brewer games my whole life. I am going to go to Brewer games whether they win 90 games or lose 90 games. As a fan that sees the major league product every night, I am excited that we have a potential division winning team assembled for the start of 2011. The Brewers have been building up their farm system for 10 years and they have won just 1 playoff game. They have not won a playoff series since 1982. At last, the fans have been given an above average scoring offense, a dynamic top heavy starting rotation, and a deep bullpen. We have waited nearly 30 years for what might be our best shot at another World Series appearance. It is time to go for it in the last year that Prince in all likelihood- (#27 Scott Boras) will play in front of us and we have earned the right to make Miller Park electric night in and night out.
Secondly, most Negative Nancys will point out that now the farm system is decimated and that we have no top ranked prospects left. Let’s talk about prospects for a second. They are just prospects. When the Brewers traded for CC Sabathia, they traded Matt LaPorta, the future greatest 1B of all time, and three other minor leaguers. One of those minor leaguers was Michael Brantley, who, as Anthony Castrovince writes, hit .292 in the last 2 months of 2010 for the Indians. My point is that LaPorta has been a big disappointment so far and Brantley might have a higher ceiling. You never know what you are going to get with prospects. I have a pretty good idea what I am going to get with proven major league talent like Greinke and Marcum. I always advocate building through the draft and developing prospects. It is the smart way for Milwaukee to win. However, Zach Greinke only comes around once every generation. Maybe once in a lifetime via a trade to the Brewers.
Finally, let’s take a look at these prospects. There were no “for sure” prospects in the bunch. The Brewers gave up Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jacob Odorizzi. In 2009, Escobar played the majority of September as the Brewers played out the string. He hit .304 in 125 AB. He was everybody’s sweetheart prospect, then he came out and hit .235 in 2010. Ouch. Similarly, Cain played a lot in September and hit .306 in 147 AB. Those numbers are very similar, and they are no bet to be impact players on the major league level. Remember, Cain hit .218 in 232 at bats in an injury riddled 2009 season in which he didn’t play above AA. That is hardly ‘For Sure’. Jeffress has been suspended twice for marijuana use and I question whether he will ever have the focus and discipline to be anything more than a 6th inning guy. Finally, they also gave up Jacob Odorizzi. Many people have pointed to him as the steal of the deal. Trading pitching prospects is always tough. Odorizzi has been impressive so far, but he does not even have 200 innings of minor league experience. He has ace stuff, but much can go wrong on the way from Low A ball, as we as Brewer fans know all too well. Truthfully, Baseball America rated him as the #8 prospect in the Midwest League. This is noteworthy for a 20 year old, but his potential is not worth calling off a deal for Zach Grienke. When trading for superstars, you have to spend talent to get talent.
The “What the f*&# does that stat mean” stat of the week.
I think one of the reasons many common fans do not embrace the statistical analysis of the game is because it can seem overly complicated and resemble a foreign language. This could not be further from the truth. Each week, I am going to explain a basic statistic that is used to provide deeper analysis into the game. We are going to talk about more than wins, losses, and batting averages here. We are going to start out simple on the first day with a simple term and then a statistic. I understand this is remedial for some, but I can’t explain VORP, WAR, FIP, or any of the other good stats without starting at the beginning and making sure everyone knows what we are talking about all year long as the Brewers make a magical run at a World Series.
A Slash Line is a term used to describe a players batting average, on base percentage, and Slugging percentage. AVG/OBP/SLG. For example, earlier I said Alcides Escobar hit .235. His slash line would be .235/.288/.326. Pathetic. I will use this stat a lot to give more insight into a what type of a hitter the player is.
OPS is defined as on base percentage + slugging percentage. Continuing, Escobar’s OPS was .614. Even more pathetic. For some perspective, Prince Fielder led the Brewers with a 1.014 OPS in 2009.
Throwback of the week. As we all know, nothing is more stylish than a 36 yr old man in a throwback jersey. Each week I am going to recommend a jersey YOU MUST HAVE if you want to keep up that awesome sense of style everyone has noticed about you. I must start with my favorite Brewer from ‘back in the day’. When I was a young lad enjoying a game with my family at County Stadium, no Brewer was cooler than Cecil Cooooooper. Cooper was Cooooooper long before there was a John Kuuuuuuhn or even a George Koooooonce. Yes, Cooper had the coolest name to say, to hear over the loudspeaker, and the coolest batting stance. The way he leaned way back to hit was perplexing and fun to watch. Here is a reasonable Cooper Jersey in the modern style. Here is a throwback that Cooper has signed that I really like. I wouldn’t wear this to Sunday Spaghetti and Meatballs, but regardless, I am sure “The Doorman” already has this jersey. Yes, you do know the doorman, he is at the game every night hogging all of the TV time with his awesome collection of throwbacks while they cut to a close up of a right handed hitter.
Well, it’s been fun. Only a little more than a month before the pitchers and catchers report. Next week, I am going to make the case that you are not giving Dean Taylor nearly enough credit for the Brewer success you are enjoying today.
In honor of my favorite walk up music, and the inspiration of this blog’s name, how about some music?