Wezen-Ball master Larry Granillo reflects on Milwaukee's postseason and more.
Larry Granillo: Should I be upset that the Brewers are down two games to one in the NLCS, or just happy that they're there? Oh, the perils of being a fan in October...
Let's get started!
Capt_Science (Philadelphia): What is the appropriate level of fury to be directed at Ron-Ron for last night? I am at a 10 (on a 10 scale). Kotsay can't play center well and why would you handicap your best pitcher with your worst defender? Hasn't the problem been with run prevention?
Larry Granillo: There's a lot of discussion about that among Brewers fans today, including a few people I know who honestly believe that the Kotsay decision could cost Roenicke his job. I highly doubt that - Attanassio has always been a pretty fair guy - but I completely understand the anger.
The centerfield situation for the Brewers has been about tradeoffs all year. Gomez and Morgan platooon nicely as oppostie-handed hitters with strong splits, but there's also the balancing of Gomez's better-glove/weaker-bat to Morgan's stronger-bat/weaker glove. The Kotsay decision was just a more pronounced tradeoff, trying to get his bat in there at the expense of his defense. The reasoning was poor - it was based off of one game this year between Kotsay and Carpenter, and some at-bats from years ago - but the outcome wasn't too bad offensively. The defense was terrible, though, and likely cost them the game. In a game between two aces, Roenicke should've valued preventing runs over creating them (like you said). Gomez should have gotten the start.
WisconsinRob (Madison): The intent to shake the lineup around was a noble one, if executed poorly (CarGo made more sense to add the superior defense to the OF w/Yo's FB trends). So why not move Morgan to 1, JHJr to 2, Hart to 6?
Also, for going "All in" this year, did Attanasio/Melvin short change their hand w/the wrong manager choice?
Larry Granillo: Two things make your suggestion hard, I think. The shake-up was, in part, designed to get Morgan out of the lineup. He's pressing hard lately and doesn't even seem to be playing CF as well as he should; bringing in Kotsay was a way to deal with that issue, if even as the tertiary reason. The bigger reason we'd never see something like that in these playoffs is that Roenicke, like most managers, really doesn't want to "make his players uncomfortable" by moving them around the lineup. Hart was already moved to the top of the lineup this year at the expense of a better player in that lineup because he doesn't like hitting low. I just can't imagine him ever being bumped down again as a "shake up" method.
Of course, that doesn't mean the suggestion isn't a good one. Hart needs to start playing better or get out of that #1 spot.
brukru (toledo): Top 2 places Fielder may land, Milwaukee for sure done. Is AL and DH his destiny?
Larry Granillo: I wish I fully understood the market this winter, it'd make questions like this so much easier to think through. Prince has certainly shown he can handle the NL and playing 1B everyday, even if that 1B defense is poor. His body type is "sub-optimal", but it's not hurting him on a day-to-day basis. That has to be a plus when looking for teams. I suspect, however, that he'll get the most years and probably the most money from a team in the AL, who can see moving him to DH whenever his bodytype catches up to him. The biggest issue is still money; I'm convinced Prince takes the biggest contract he can find, and that can sometimes lead to weird deals (like Werth). Does that mean the Orioles or Blue Jays might swoop in?
dianagramr (NYC): Favorite tater time tracking moment of 2011?
Larry Granillo: Hmm, good question. There weren't as many jaw-dropping moments in 2011 as there were in 2010, but the two I remember the most are: Derek Jeter's 3000th hit, when I had to run out of the session at SABR 41 to get better wifi in the hall to track his tater trot, and Peter Bourjos' "four-base single". Technically, Bourjos didn't hit a home run, but his "single" was just as much of an inside-the-parker as anyone else's. The fact that it allowed us to see his speed was just fantastic. I never would have thought I would see a 14.0 second trot (14.02 to be exact).
Capt_Science (Philadelphia): The outcome wasn't too bad offensively, but should be asterisked for killing a first inning threat with a face plant. If you're a gritty veteran and you aren't sure how far to go off the bag, look at the 3B coach. That's his job.
Larry Granillo: Absolutely. The entire first inning was a disaster for Kotsay and did a lot of damage to the Brewers. Weeks and everyone hit Carpenter well in the 2nd, so there's a good chance they could have kept it going in the 1st. And the extra pitches and stress his defense cost Yo can't be forgotten.
Capt_Science (Philadelphia): What is the rule on releasing players with guaranteed contracts? In suffering through the Teddy Higuera years, I thought you only owed the full amount for the next season. I ask because with Ryan Howard's contract, are the Phillies better off releasing him and going after Prince/ Pujols?
Larry Granillo: You confused me for a second, thinking Higuera was on the Phillies at some point.
As for the question, as far as I know the "guaranteed" part of the contract means just that - no matter what happens, Ryan Howard will receive $125 million for the Phillies. I think I remember some cases of players working out a deal with a team to change that guaranteed amount or restructure it, but that's not the same.
If a team could just drop a player and pay him only one year's salary, the Alfonso Soriano's and Vernon Wells' and Carlos Zambrano's and Carlos Lee's of the world would have been cut long ago.
musial7190 (New York): Can Capt_Science become the next GM of the Red Sox?
Larry Granillo: I don't know... he kind of seems like a guy who enjoys a good beer and some fried chicken...
yeamon (Champaign, IL): With Prince likely moving on after the season, and the system being somewhat gutted to acquire Grienke and Marcum, what are your thoughts on the Brewers maintaining long term success in the coming seasons?
Larry Granillo: Prince is gone in my mind. No "likely" about it. Others seem to be slightly more optimistic than me, but I can't understand why.
The 2012 Brewers should still be a good team. Greinke and Marcum are still under contract through next year, and the team also has Braun, Weeks, Hart, and Gallardo signed long term (plus Axford, I suppose). Those 7 players will keep the 2012 Brewers quite competitive. After that, it's a bit hard to see, but signing Greinke isn't out of the picture.
The 2011 season is still the best chance the Brewers will have at the World Series, but Milwaukeeans shouldn't jump on the sword if they lose to the Cards. They still have a pretty good team - and a good GM/owner combination for future years.
ryans (Milwaukee): Shouldn't RR just have played Kotsay in RF for the struggling Corey Hart if he really wanted Kotsay's bat in the line-up. If RR is content making decisions on small sample sizes, wouldn't that have been the better play where his defense could have been hidden better? Especially with Hart's D and speed not what it once was.
Larry Granillo: You're questioning the logic of a man who has been in love with Mark Kotsay all season. That's not easy.
I agree with you and think that would have been a perfectly valid way to go. I'm not sure who would have slid into the leadoff spot there - Weeks should be the answer, but it would probably have been Gomez or Morgan. My guess, like I said before, is that Roenicke wanted to minimize the waves he caused in the lineup. He can take Gomez and Morgan out of a game any time he wants since they've been platooned all year. Removing Hart from the lineup would be a big deal in the clubhouse, and that's not something he's willing to do right now (though he has started Hairston over McGehee all October, so at least he's done that).
WisconsinRob (Madison): We all assume Prince will be out of Milwaukee next season, so what would you like to see Melvin do with 1B & also with the money not spent on Fielder (approx $15-$18M)?
Larry Granillo: I'd like to see Melvin find an adequate hitter at first (ie, someone who won't embarrass the lineup) and shore up the left side of the infield somehow. If that means an offensive 3B and a whiz at short or vice versa, I don't care. You just can't have the entire leftside of the infield underperform so badly in both offense and defense.
I know there are a lot of people who would like Jose Reyes. If they can afford him at a non-ridiculous rate, I'd love it, but I don't think that's possible. And, please no Jimmy Rollins.
SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Favorite Uecker moment?
Larry Granillo: Tough one. I've only lived in Milwaukee for five years, so my pre-2006 memories of Uecker involve Miller Lite commercials, Mr. Belvedere, and Major League.
My personal favorite memory, though, is probably from the day the Brewers clinched the playoffs in 2008. I was on the road when that happened, so we were able to experience the moment from Uecker's voice. We then stopped at a bar and had a few drinks.
George (Charlotte): As a Tigers' fan, is it ok that I really want Leyland to retire this offseason?
Larry Granillo: Hmm... I've never watched Leyland on a day-to-day basis, so I don't recall ever noticing any annoying tendencies (sending runners, bad bullpen management, etc), but I know most managers can grate on their fanbase after a while.
I don't know your particular issues with Leyland, but I can certainly see myself getting a bit tired of an aged, old-school guy at times. I suspect, though, that most outside observers would think you're crazy for wanting to get rid of a man who took your 119-loss team so deep in October multiple times.
Spencer Steel (Detroit): This slid by, but both Benoit and Valverde were used TUESDAY in a game the Tigers won 5-1. Seeing as there were going to be four consecutive games and that the Tigers' pen past those guys is so weak, can someone explain to me why they were taxed in a game that was not in jeopardy? Are managers that frightened of the spectre of things never to come?
Larry Granillo: And this may be one of those things that Leyland does routinely that I just never noticed. That Texas lineup is powerful and the Tigers were trying to keep themselves from falling into a 3-0 hole, so I appreciate the decisions a manager needs to make there. But you're right - 4 days in a row is not something to ignore and a 5-2 lead is fairly safe.
musial7190 (New York): Any thoughts on Gamel's future?
Larry Granillo: Gamel will be 26 in 2012 and he has already had three full years in AAA. He did hit the snot out of the ball this year, but, then again, he was 25 - that's what he should do.
Gamel has been hurt his whole career by being a corner guy in the Brewers system. Milwaukee's corner guys play something like 97% of the innings in the season (maybe a little less for Hart and McGehee), meaning Gamel never had a chance to play regularly against big league pitching. There's a good chance the Brewers give him that shot this spring, so it'll be up to him to show he can play in the majors. I hope he can do it because I hate to see someone lose their shot at baseball just from being in a bad situation, but I'm not holding my breath. It's hard to come up to the majors so late, and he's never seen to be a quick starter...
Spencer Steel (Detroit, MI): Leyland is awfully grizzled, but it isn't as if the Tigers would go out and get a guy who manages like a Sabermetrician. He's indistinguishable from 25 other managers, and does have a record of keeping the players' respect, which to me is 90 percent of that job anyway. When they've had the horses they'e been there, and when they haven't they haven't. Really, that's about the best compliment you can pay most of these managers.
Larry Granillo: Managers do tend to trip on their own feet more than they help their team, so it is good to find one who can command the respect of his clubhouse while not making any big boneheaded mistakes. That seems to have been Leyland's MO for 25 years now. If I knew the players on my team would respond to his kind of leadership, I'd be happy to have Leyland manage my team. You can do a lot worse.
ttt (Work): Would you rather have Marcum as your #3 pitcher or Brett Lawrie as your 3B? Now and in five years (yeah, I know I should ask Kevin Goldstein this...)?
Larry Granillo: If I'm Doug Melvin or Mark Attanassio, I'd rather have Marcum this year. Lawrie is fantastic and, from his hot start at least, may be even better than I realized. But he wasn't going to have the same kind of impact on the 2011 Brewers as Marcum did. Mark A and Melvin made a conscious effort to make the most of Prince's walk year, and Marcum was a big piece of that. Plus, I have little doubt that Marcum's presence helped Greinke decide to waive his no-trade clause.
As a Brewers fan, I think it was the right move too. Sometimes you have to take advantage of your opportunities, and Melvin and Attanassio did a good job of that.
Almost time to go, so I probably only have time for one or two more questions...
SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): What should the Brewers do to compensate for the loss of Fielder's production next year? Plug in Gamel and Green or do something else?
Larry Granillo: Gamel's definitely an option and will probably move to the top of the board whenever Prince tells the Brewers he isn't coming back.
Melvin will almost certainly check around for a better option during the Winter Meetings, but I don't know who will be available. I'd personally be happy if he can find a player of the decent bat/decent glove variety, who, while a drop in offense, would be able to offset that a bit with an improved defense. That'd free Melvin up to better upgrade that horrendous leftside of the infield...
Spencer Steel (Detroit): It's easy to speculate that something is physically wrong given his injury history and ineffectiveness of late, but do you SEE anything that would lead you to believe there's something wrong with Shaun Marcum, or is he just getting his brains beaten in as pitchers are occasionally wont to do?
Larry Granillo: Last question...
I don't see anything in Marcum's mechanics or his everyday mannerisms, but then again I'm no scout. What I can say is that Marcum has both stopped throwing his change-up as often this past month or so and has been throwing it worse when he does throw it. As someone who makes his living with that change, it's disheartening to see that. His fastballs aren't fooling hitters as well either.
Some Brewers fans seem to think it's caused by fatigue, since Marcum has never had a 200 IP season before, but he did throw 195 pitches in 2010. I wish I knew the answer, but, with each poor start, it's beginning to look less and less like a "bad luck" issue.
Larry Granillo: Thanks for the questions everyone. Now I have to go live through the rest of the Brewers series.
One of the best Peanuts strips ever has Linus running in to Charlie Brown to breathlessly describe the greatest comeback victory he'd ever seen and how the winning team celebrated it. Charlie Brown looked at him for a moment when he was finished and said "But how did the other team feel?"
I really don't want to be the "other team" again.