Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why I'm Down on the Corey Hart Extension.

I realized that I made an overly-emphatic case against the Corey Hart extension at The Jack last night -- fueled, in part, by our barkeep's exaggerated yet inspiring rant against Kate Winslet. Anyway, now that I've had time to work through this a little more, here are my concerns.

Below are the league-average (NL) "slash" splits by position, as compared to the "slash" splits of the Brewer who plays that position:

.331.390.721Jon Lucroy
First baseman
.358.465.824Prince Fielder
Second baseman
.333.392.725Rickie Weeks
Third baseman
.268.337.427.765Casey McGehee
.325.375.700Alcides Escobar
Left fielder
.335.435.769Ryan Braun
Center fielder
.261.330.410.740Carlos Gomez
Right fielder
.335.449.784Corey Hart

Note a couple of things, if you would:

(1) Corey Hart's having a banner year, for sure, but the league-average SLG and OPS numbers for right field are the second-highest on this list behind first base. Point is: a slugging right fielder isn't exactly a rare commodity.

(2) Conversely, a slugging second baseman -- who's also outpacing the league-average OBP for his position by forty points -- is a rare commodity. Part of the reason I don't like the extension for Hart is that it makes it that much more difficult to sign Weeks to an extension, and second basemen with 25-homer, .370-OBP potential don't exactly grow on trees.

(3) The Big Point: At every position save for C, SS, and CF, the Brewers are outstripping the league-average OPS for the respective position -- and, in some cases (1B, even with Prince's depressed slugging numbers; 2B, with Rickie's brea ... nope, not going to say it; and RF, with Corey Hart's career year), they're far ahead of the league-average OPS.*

*As my boy KL pointed out, the better-than-league-average OPS numbers are due, in large part, to the higher slugging numbers for Brewers like Braun, Hart, and McGehee. The numbers don't look as good when you compare average OBP by position to the individual Brewers' OBPs (Braun and McGehee are right at league average, Gomez and Esky and Jon Lucroy are well below league average, and Hart's just a shade above league average), but that's not the point of the post.

And yet, and still, we're 10 games under .500 this year, a year after it took a great year from Braun, very good years from McGehee and Weeks/Counsell/Felipe Lopez, and a sublime campaign from Prince to finish two games under .500. This team, as currently constructed, will not contend.

We need pitching, and we need it desperately. It's not coming from the free agent market -- in part because that market is going to be shit after the 2010 season, and in part because Doug Melvin can't identify solid free agent pitchers -- and the farm system isn't producing anyone in the near future. And we just took our biggest in-season trade chit, who was at peak value and who could be easily replaced (either from in-house or by a veteran on a short-term deal) ... and signed him to a three-year extension.

This isn't how you build a winning baseball team.


You are a Baffoon said...

F the Brewers where's all the Packers coverage???

EMoney said...

Agreed! Great hitting teams rarely ride their bats to penants....just ask the Indians of the mid to late 90's. Melvin and Co. have built this team essentially all around bats. And since we will never be in contention to land a big time starting ace in free agency, we all but have to rely on our farm system. And as you stated, the cupboard is BARE! Even if we happen to get lucky enough to draft a good starting pitcher in the next year or so, it will be 3-5 years before he gets to the bigs....meaning....our solid core of young bats will be past their prime or no longer with the club. This was a big reason why I want Prince dealt sooner rather than later. We are up a creek without a paddle for MANY years to come IMO.

And I also agree with you Baffoon! A Packers post is coming shortly.

雅王任 said...


Mr. Sparkle said...

Ah, "slashies". Couldn't agree with you more Rubie. I was shocked at the Corey Hart extension... there is plenty of depth in the system and always servicable corner outfielders available at a fair price.

What's with the huge gap in your post?

EMoney said...

Mr. Sparkle....could you please translate your Japanese cohort's comments?

Mr. Sparkle said...

Oh, that's our brave corporate sponsor. Loosely translated it means "join me or die; can you do any less?".

You are a Baffoon said...


If you wish to read some Brett Favre hate mail.

Rubie Q said...

Shit, Baffoon, haven't you gotten permission to post here yet? My bad, dude.

Master Reid said...

I've been working on a rational response to this, but I don't have the time to go through all the numbers since the people I work for want to actually do some work before I leave for my latest baseball adventure road trip. I'm also still a little gun-shy after walking into a hail of bullets the last time I attempted to discuss this topic.

But I will say this, I don't hate this deal. It's not the greatest thing in the world, but I don't hate it. And because I'm glutton for punishment, I'm going to attempt to tell you why.

A) I'm not so sure that this means Weeks is gone.

B) The reports on Lawrie from the minors are almost Braun-like when it comes to swinging the bat, so even if Weeks is gone after 2011 there is a potential replacement. And though I've been one of the most outspoken defenders of Weeks, he does have an injury history, and could be a bigger risk to sign long term.

C) Here's the list of this year's crop of free agents


Peruse the outfielders on that list and tell me which ones you'd rather have over Hart. Note that they're all older, and all stand to make at least as much as Hart next year ($6.5MM). The guys you might really want, (Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth) are all getting set to be Oprah rich next year. If you look at the 162 game avgs of Hart against guys like Brad Hawpe or Jose Guillen, they're nearly the same. So, if you're going to pay someone, why not pay the 28 year old home grown guy, that's worked to improve himself tremendously in the past year, rather than some 30 something journeyman. If Hart is a 25-30 homer, 90 RBI guy in right field, then the Brewers will be paying him market rate.

C) People can jump up and down all they want about his trade value being its highest and how we could've traded him for pitching. No we could not. I think the front office learned that they're not going to get what they wanted for him: major league ready pitching. Sure they might be able to get some mid-level kid in Double A, but that does NOTHING for us. Even if he's a highly touted minor leaguer, that doesn't guarantee he'll ever help the big club (see: Capellan, Jose). The piece to be moved is Prince. That's the only guy for whom you're going to get anything close to equal value back in a trade. I still think a lineup built around Hart, Weeks, and Braun can win if the Fielder deal can legitimately upgrade the pitching.

You may commence lambasting me now.

EMoney said...

I agree with most of what you say....MOST. So here is my rebuttle:

1. I highly doubt that a Prince Fielder trade would be enough of an upgrade to make this team more competitive. If we could acquire a legitimate #2 or outstanding prospect, it would be a step in the right direction, but IMHO the core of Weeks, Hart, and Braun still isn't enough to be competitive.

2. You speak of Lawrie...apparently the organization has decided to teach him how to play both 1st and RF, so I suspect their plans/hopes are to extend Rickie asap. That being said, I could have seen Lawrie replacing Hart as early as next season if he were dealt.

3 (Actually a continuation of 2) Since my master plan is to build around pitching, that's where I start....not where I end. That being said, if I can acquire an AA pitching prospect for Hart as you say and my guys are confident that that this guy has the stuff, I pull the trigger. You can replace Hart with Lawrie or some other cheap vet to cover until Lawrie as ready. Couple this with a Prince for pitching deal and we're trending in the right direction. We would still have a pretty young core of Weeks, Braun, Escobar, McGhee, and eventually Lawrie in the field.

"God I love it when I do that"

You are a Baffoon said...

Sweet "Ski School" line at the end of your last rebuttal Money, Reid Janssen would have been proud. Here, have a carrot your interested!

Master Reid said...

If we're trading for minor leaguers now, then we're pretty much conceding that it's full rebuild mode. I'm not ready for that, and I KNOW that management isn't interested in that.

If we're going to start stock piling arms, then ALL bats are available, and that includes Ryan Braun. Ok, maybe not Braun. But if you're going to ship Hart and Fielder off for minor league arms, Braun and of the other parts of this team are going to be too happy to just play out the string for the next 2 years while these guys get ready.

Is that what we're saying here? Scrap the whole thing, fire Melvin, and start over? If so, that's fine. But those are the two real options I see: Try and cobble something together with this group of guys, or say hell with it, start over, build around Lawrie, Cain, Gamel(?) and whatever pitching you can acquire selling off the pieces of this team.

EMoney said...

Reid, "I think the caffeine and the crack is really hurting you". That's not even close to what I'm saying. Trading 2 of your 8 fielders isn't conceding and going into rebuilding mode. Corey Hart is an enigma. 1 year he's an all star, the next year he's hardly scraping the mendoza line. He simply can't be counted on to produce on a consistent basis. Due to this, I would say that he's our 4th or 5th best all around player behind Braun, Prince, Rickie, and maybe McGhee. Prince, while he can be a monster at the plate, is only hitting roughly .260 this season and is on pace to maybe break the 100 rbi mark for the season. He may have more power than Braun, but I think Braun is a better overall hitter and likely better overall player (hitting/fielding/base stealing) than Prince.

So if, theoretically, both Prince and Hart were traded, that would mean 2 out of the Brewers 5 best position players were traded....with a solid 3 still remaining. At the same time (again theoretically), we have upgraded our pitching staff.....which IMO is more has more value than 2 players that only have 3-5 plate appearances per game. Further, since power at the 1B and RF positions are the most common in the league, they can be replaced the easiest via free agency or the farm system (see Brett Lawrie).

Prince no doubt puts butts in the seats as his home run hitting ability is pure entertainment for the mouth breathing and uneducated baseball fans. But you know what else puts butts in the seats.....WINNING.....and you can't win when your team ERA is last in nearly all of baseball. This club is going nowhere until the starting staff is upgraded and all of these phat position player contracts are preventing our small market team from ever being a player for a GOOD SP. Not only would this upgrade our starting staff, it would deepen our entire pitching staff as we wouldn't need our middle relievers to come in in the 5th-6th inning (while losing) 3 out of every 5 nights.

"Did you see that?"