Brewers' brass will meet to discuss season
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This morning, the Brewers' baseball people will gather in a Miller Park conference room to talk about what went wrong this season.
It could be a very long meeting.
Out of it will come evaluations and projections for next year, but it's pretty clear that no one will suggest to owner Mark Attanasio that a big roster-shaking move should be made.
Given reality, that move from the outside likely does not exist.
The big move, manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday, would probably be in how well the young pitchers develop over the off-season and into spring training.
Really, that is the only way that a franchise like the Brewers has a chance to improve. They've had smashing success with short-term rentals, but actually buying a veteran with middle-of-the-rotation stuff has typically been expensive, disappointing or both for the Brewers.
What they've also learned is that young in-house pitchers who succeed one year more than occasionally regress the next. Such was the case this season with Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada, neither of whom could repeat their 2012 successes this year. Estrada has managed to get some back lately, at least early Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Yet somehow, the Brewers have to keep Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson—at least a couple of them—from losing ground.
How might the Brewers project their potential for 2014? Roenicke said it's easier when comparing power pitchers with good natural stuff to those who rely on finesse.
“If you're talking about guys who don't have great stuff, you're really talking about command, maturing a lot upstairs where they figure things out,” Roenicke said. “Stuff guys, even if they don't figure it out upstairs, they have a chance to get by better than the guys with the marginal stuff.”
Roenicke said Estrada has good stuff, but not 95-mph good stuff. He depends on command, and earlier in the season he could not command the baseball. He does at times now.
Fiers, who was sent to the minors and never returned after having his arm broken by a line drive, relied on deception with a fastball that peaked at 90. “When you project him, he's always going to have to have that deception and command his off-speed pitches well,” Roenicke said.
While there are no guarantees, it is somewhat easier to project what a guy like Peralta might do next season. He's the type of pitcher able to get by at times because his natural stuff is so dynamic. Once he learns command and the mental part of the game—Peralta typically gets into trouble by walking hitters or losing his cool—it is reasonable to project that he could be a consistent top-half of the rotation big-league pitcher.
“Peralta is a little bit different because he's got stuff,” Roenicke said. “Hellweg is a little bit different because he's got stuff. Nelson is different because he's got stuff. Thornburg is different because he's got stuff.
“It's a good sign because they don't have to be perfect. They can get by on stuff.
“It's hard when you look at guys. It's not just numbers and how they're doing. It's what you project down the road. Are they going to lose stuff where their velocity is going to come down? Are they going to lose command? That's what we have to think about with all the young guys we have.”
In fact, it is the most important thing the Brewers have to think about this winter.