Amid Josh Hamilton rumors, Brewers owner says pitching is priority

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While CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the Brewers are “seriously considering a run” at free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said he’s more interested in addressing his team’s pitching problems.

“We’ve got the No. 1 offense in the league,” Attanasio told the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt. “We know that’s working. We have to fix the bullpen. We were last in the majors. That has to be fixed. We’ve done a lot of work to see what the options are there.”

The Brewers are looking at a big bullpen turnover with Francisco Rodriguez set to leave as a free agent and Kameron Loe, Manny Parra and Jose Veras all possibilities to be traded or non-tendered. They’re also likely to seek at least one starter and probably two if they don’t re-sign Shaun Marcum. It’s hard to see how they could fill those holes and still afford Hamilton’s $20 million-plus salary.

Attanasio, for what it’s worth, couldn’t address that rumor directly, since Hamilton is still Rangers property through the end of the World Series.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.