The powerful, yet dysfunctional, Brewers lineup

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In trading last year’s leadoff man, Norichika Aoki, and failing to add the quality left-handed-hitting first baseman they wanted, the Brewers have left themselves with the most unbalanced lineup in baseball.

Here are the likely starters, along with my projection for each:

C: Jonathan Lucroy (R) – .283/.337/.443
1B: Mark Reynolds (R) – .231/.328/.455
2B: Scooter Gennett (L) – .270/.311/.382
3B: Aramis Ramirez (R) – .277/.350/.470
SS: Jean Segura (R) – .283/.336/.379
LF: Khris Davis (R) – .231/.315/.428
CF: Carlos Gomez (R) – .250/.306/.444
RF: Ryan Braun (R) – .297/.376/.525

From a production standpoint, that’s not bad at all. A Braun-Ramirez-Lucroy middle-of-the-order should work out fine. Figuring out what to do with the rest of the group is the tough call. It’s clear that Segura is going to get a look as a leadoff man. There’s only the one lefty in Gennett, and he projects as the worst hitter in the group. In fact, Rickie Weeks may still be a better player than Gennett, though if he starts, that leaves the Brewers without any lefties at all, unless maybe Reynolds misses out on the first base job.

Ignoring handedness, Gennett would probably hit eighth, with Segura and Gomez occupying the top two spots in the lineup. But seven righties in a row would be tough. My thought would be to hit Gennett eighth anyway, simply because I don’t think either Davis or Reynolds would do well there. Those two would see oodles of breaking balls out of the zone while hitting ahead of the pitcher.

If Davis and Reynolds both produce well enough to get 450-500 at-bats, the Brewers have a great shot of leading the league in homers. I’m not sure that would put them into the top five in runs scored, though. That will hinge more on Segura, who tapered off badly as last year went along, and Gomez, who had a lifetime .294 OBP and .673 OPS before busting out with a .338 OBP and an .843 OPS last year.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.