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In retrospect, how much has losing Prince hurt?


adambr2

I'm going to say what might be an unpopular opinion and say -- not very much at all.

 

This offense is arguably better than last year, and without looking up the numbers, I would say that they are. Yes, Braun/Fielder was still better than Braun/Ramirez, but Braun/Ramirez/Hart is better than Braun/Prince/McGehee. I think that concerns of how Braun would perform without Prince protecting him in the lineup were obviously very much overblown.

 

The offensive emergence of guys like Lucroy and Gomez has certainly been huge. Not saying anything bad about Prince -- he is having a nice year and would still be welcome in our lineup. But I'm glad we didn't pay him - certainly not at the level that he got. The offense is not the issue with this team, and with every starter from this team under club control for next, it won't be the problem going forward.

 

1 through 7 this has to be one of the best overall lineups in the NL. (tied for 1st in runs scored, so yeah). Pretty sure Narron's job is safe.

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That is all true and the offense is basically the same or better than last year--and the infield defense has notably improved as well.

 

But putting money (and defensive alignment) aside for a minute, imagine a lineup with Braun, Ramirez, and Fielder. Combined with the rest of the role players, that would be the best offense in baseball.

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All I know is we scored more runs than anyone else in the NL so far and I feel way more comfortable every time a ball is thrown slightly off target to first this season. Prince was a great dude who played well when he was here. But he was effectively replaced for a fraction of the cost. He got his and we didn't miss a beat. Win win as far as I'm concerned. My guess is he's happy it turned out this way as well.
There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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What the offense has done this season is nothing short of miraculous. The Brewers have scored 665 runs, and only one MLB team has scored more than 667. Even the most wildly optimistic Brewer fan expected a moderate to substantial drop in team offensive production with the loss of Prince. The offense actually got a lot better!

 

Kudos to Melvin for bringing in Aoki and Ramirez and to Roenicke for putting Gomez in his proper spot in the order and letting him swing for the fences.

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I also don't see why this would be an unpopular opinion, as the offense is better than last year. I'm relieved they aren't paying Prince >$100 million.

 

I'm relieved they didn't give him a $200 million+ contract, which is what Detroit did.

 

There really hasn't been any point in the season where I've felt, "Gee, we'd be winning right now if only we had Prince." The offense has been better and the defense has even gotten better with Corey Hart at first base.

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I think the defense got better more with Ramirez replacing McGehee, and Bianchi/Ransom/Segura replacing Bethecant at SS than Hart/Gamel replacing Fielder at 1B

Posted: July 10, 2014, 12:30 AM

PrinceFielderx1 Said:

If the Brewers don't win the division I should be banned. However, they will.

 

Last visited: September 03, 2014, 7:10 PM

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I think the defense got better more with Ramirez replacing McGehee, and Bianchi/Ransom/Segura replacing Bethecant at SS than Hart/Gamel replacing Fielder at 1B

 

That may be. Hard to judge Gamel's defense since he didn't get to play too long into the season. I do like having a first baseman now where we don't have to wince if the ball is thrown more than a foot off the bat.

The Paul Molitor Statue at Miller Park: http://www.facebook.com/paulmolitorstatue
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I don't think losing him hurt the Crew at all. In fact, it may have helped. Ramirez alone is almost matching Prince's numbers.
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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What the offense has done this season is nothing short of miraculous. The Brewers have scored 665 runs, and only one MLB team has scored more than 667. Even the most wildly optimistic Brewer fan expected a moderate to substantial drop in team offensive production with the loss of Prince. The offense actually got a lot better!

There were at least a few posters on this board who thought our offense would be about equal to last year. We got so little out of 3B and SS last year that our offense improving this year isn't much of a surprise.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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I don't know why it's unpopular. I think the majority of posters on this board expected the offense to be around the same--or ever better. There was simply no justifying the Brewers giving a first baseman that much money when we expected we could adequately fill 1b for about 1/50th the price.
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There really hasn't been any point in the season where I've felt, "Gee, we'd be winning right now if only we had Prince."

During the early season woes - like in the immediate aftermath of the first round of injuries and before Ramirez's bat woke up - I'll admit to wondering if Prince's clubhouse presence might have improved overall morale/confidence. (That's not to say he could necessarily have saved the bullpen.)

But only early on did I miss his offense - which was more like wishing for 2011 or 2009 Prince offense; and I have lost count of the number of times I've seen a play work out at 1B and thought to myself (or said aloud), "Yeah...Prince wouldn't have had that."

Remember: the Brewers never panic like you do.
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Prince certainly appears physically like he's settled in with the new contract.

 

I bear no ill will toward the guy. I'd love for him to be a Brewer, but certainly not with that contract, and frankly, probably not even with the offer the Brewers gave him.

 

Hard to say with all the corresponding moves that would have been made/not made in the event of Prince re-signing, but I think the net change given what actually occurred is negligible.

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So, let's see:

 

* The offense is scoring more runs per game this year (4.78) than last year (4.45)

* The defense has improved (subjectively and objectively - 0.60 errors/game this year vs 0.68 errors/game last year)

* The starting pitching is about the same (Wolf was significantly worse, however Fiers/Rogers/Estrada has been better than Narveson/Wolf and Greinke was a little better this year than last year)

 

Yet they have a worse record. Does this mean that relief pitching, particularly in high-leverage situations, is a lot more important than people think?

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This season hasn't made me believe relief pitching, in general, is more important than I thought it was before. What we've seen is a swing from outstanding relief pitching to world-historically bad relief pitching. Obviously no part of a team commonly goes from the top of the charts to the bottom, and when that happens, you feel it. I don't think corner infield defense is very important relative to other parts of the team, but if you went from, I don't know, prime Keith Hernandez and Brooks Robinson at the corners to, say, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, you'd see that in the loss column.

 

Actually, one of my big concerns going into this offseason is that the FO will overreact to this year's bullpen meltdown and spend a bunch of money on "proven relievers." Off the top of my head, I'd say relief pitching is about twelve percent of the game. (Run prevention is half total; pitching is maybe seventy percent of run prevention, or 35% total; relief pitching is maybe just over a third of pitching.) We can argue about that -- maybe it's 15%; I have a hard time imagining it's 20%. But I'm more confident in saying that relief pitching is the hardest part of a team to manage or to project. The Brewers made seemingly reasonable bullpen decisions over the last offseason. Every decision went horribly wrong. I haven't heard any credible ideas about how you avoid a repeat of that, except to make similarly reasonable decisions (which isn't to say the same particular decisions) and pray for better luck, which shouldn't be hard to come by.

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So, let's see:

 

* The offense is scoring more runs per game this year (4.78) than last year (4.45)

* The defense has improved (subjectively and objectively - 0.60 errors/game this year vs 0.68 errors/game last year)

* The starting pitching is about the same (Wolf was significantly worse, however Fiers/Rogers/Estrada has been better than Narveson/Wolf and Greinke was a little better this year than last year)

 

Yet they have a worse record. Does this mean that relief pitching, particularly in high-leverage situations, is a lot more important than people think?

I don't see people saying high leverage situations are not important. Usually the talk about relievers in general is

1) the 9th may not be the highest leverage situation so it is suboptimal to save your best guy for the 9th or

2) relievers in general are so up and down year to year it is tough to predict what they will do and therefore paying a lot of money to relievers probably isn't the best use of money.

 

Our bullpen last year was fantastic, especially after we picked up K-Rod so we probably won more games than our talent dictated. What we are seeing this year is the complete opposite where our bullpen has underperformed and we are playing below our talent. Practically the same bullpen,especially at the back end, vastly different results. I think if Axford and K-Rod perform like they did last year, we have a much better record.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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I apologize in advance, this got extremely long as I ended up covering the bullpen from every angle that came to mind.

 

Louis I think you might be rolling a bunch of different concepts into one idea, I just don’t think it’s that simple.

 

For example, from an organization building standpoint the bullpen is irrelevant if your starting pitching isn’t good enough. I cringe every single time someone on the forum suggests converting a young starting pitcher to reliever simply to bolster the bullpen when good, young starting pitching is so hard to come by. Let the young men fail as starters before converting them to relief, at the very least they get more development time as starters than they do as relievers. I’ve said it many times but I think in terms of championship baseball value goes starting pitching > position players > bullpen.

 

Yes the Cards have won 2 championships with suspect pitching, the first time they shortened the rotation and Suppan had the best stretch of his career, last year they had a multitude of hot relievers that they could run out to cover more than half the innings if necessary. A strategy like that only works in the postseason because there are so many off days, over the course of a season that kind of workload is going to wear a bullpen out. It was a very unique and creative strategy, but how many multiple inning relievers do the Brewers actually have? Which leads me to bullpen construction…

 

I’ve been arguing against LOOGY and especially ROOGY concepts forever. If you have a bullpen constructed entirely of 1 inning and specialist type relievers, you have no flexibility. In addition the more rigid structure you have in innings 7-9 the less flexibility you have. There’s been a quite a bit of talk about high leverage situations over the years, but how does a situation become high leverage in the first place? I would say its most easily predicted when the meat of the order is coming through late in the game, but generally speaking any situation that produces runs against obviously becomes high leverage.

 

In this case of this year’s Brewers, when every reliever stinks, where can you go if you need to get an out? K-Rod’s WHIP has spiked significantly the last 2 years, he’s been putting more runners on base than in the past, and while his ultimate result last year was pretty darn good, watching the games his methodology didn’t inspire much confidence. He’s nothing more than a name at this point with a climbing BB rate and as such his LOB% has dropped to career low 67.7%. Will he get better in the future? Possibly, I think he could pitch to a mid 3 ERA again, but if he were prospect I would shoot holes in his mechanics and his averagish velocity for a RHP wouldn’t inspire much confidence in me.

 

Axford, I think his problems are mostly arm slot and pitch selection related. His curve just isn’t a swing and miss type of curve, it’s a “I was caught looking for something else” type of pitch. I have no idea why he’s gotten away from his slider, I’m generally not a big slider guy as I perferred the change to the slider in terms of arm health, but I liked Axford’s. Dropping the slider percentage worked for him in 2011 but hasn’t been as effective in 2012.

 

The rest of the guys, does it really matter? I like Loe if he’s used properly, but again he’s a ROOGY with limited effectiveness, Veras throws hard but can’t locate, Parra is Parra, and so on.

 

In terms of the bullpen’s value to the team, obviously any player who is not performing will hurt the team, but again I think the bullpen’s role largely hinges on the starting pitching. The fewer innings your starters will give you, the greater the roll the bullpen has to play. As such, all of our young pitchers are like Yo, high pitch count guys who get through 5-6 innings and get pulled because they are up against their pitch limit. As such I would like to see more relievers that can go multiple innings, no team is going to move away from closers until 1 team does it and has success, so I’m not even going to discuss that position, but I think the Brewers are in desperate need of more flexibility out there given what our starting pitchers are.

 

It’s not that those relief innings are less valuable, every single inning in a game matters, and the stronger the organization is from a depth standpoint, the more options the team has to replace underperforming players regardless of position. However individually it’s difficult to justify paying a guy like starting pitcher to pitch 55-85 innings a season given the volatile nature of relievers in general. Again it’s not that those innings aren’t important, it’s just that all relievers by the nature of their position carry limited value. So while it’s important that any player on the roster be an effective and reliable contributor I still think that if you have a GM who’s going to overvalue a reliever like Axford who explodes in his late 20s and will give a player of greater relative value in a SP or position player, that’s a deal our GM should jump on every single time. It’s not so much about replacing those innings as it is about building a stronger organization. If a player is overvalued by a particular GM and offers a good enough package, I’d have a hard saying so no to trading any reliever or aging player. I’m always looking to get younger and cycle talent back around.

 

The Brewers backed themselves into a place with very little wiggle room because they had no options… a maxed out payroll and no depth behind the major league talent means there isn’t much Melvin or RR can do in season. Last year every move Melvin made was golden, the team was healthy most of the year, and Melvin took advantage of some rare situations in which quality MLB players were basically being given away. Last year the lack of depth turned out not to be an issue because Hawkins and Saito came back to plug the holes and K-Rod was effective after he was acquired. This year due to payroll constraints, no gift trades out there, and a lack of depth there just weren’t any options. For the most part developing bullpen arms is directly tied to developing starting pitching… if you don’t have legitimate starting pitching in the minors then you aren’t going to have many legitimate relief options either because most relievers are failed starting pitchers who’s stuff plays up in shorter stints.

 

In short and to summarize I would say that bullpen’s importance is directly relative to the starting pitching and while every inning in every game counts, the bullpen should be the last piece of the team to come together. It’s much more difficult to field a top notch starting rotation and quality run producing line-up than it is to build a bullpen. As the Brewers have been woeful at developing pitching for most of my lifetime and the relative cost of pitching in FA, the state of the Brewer’s bullpen shouldn’t be a surprise because we’ve constantly been prodding the scrap heap for relievers since Melvin has arrived. He’s just better at it than any other GM we’ve had, it’s certainly not a situation unique to Melvin’s tenure, he just hasn’t been able to remedy any pitching situation long-term to this point. The next few years should be interesting as we might be able to get away from FA and field a mostly homegrown and consistent pitching staff from the rotation to the bullpen for the first time. If not then I think things will continue largely as have with hit or miss pitching performances in any given season.

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

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"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

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