Lesser Brewers: Rob Wooten

"Sometimes ERA is not the best indicator of performance," said Rob Wooten. (I assume, anyway)

Of all the different types of players in baseball, I really think a reliever's value may be the most difficult to understand. It's not a mystery why though. They get the least amount of playing time. Typically even the most worked reliever is still only going to throw 70-80 innings. Because of that, it's very easy for their performances to vary wildly from year to year. It's also very easy for their seasons to turn to crap because of 1 or 2 bad outings. For a prime example of that just look at Rob Wooten's 2014 season at the major league level.

Wooten made 40 appearances, pitching a total of 34.1 innings. He season ERA was a whopping 4.72! He must have sucked hard, right? Well, I'll grant that he wasn't excellent. However he only allowed runs in 11 of his outings. In those outings, only 3 times did he allow more than 1 run. In those 3 outings, twice did he allow more than 2 runs. It's those two outings that really tanked his season.

On April 17th he allowed 3 runs in 0.1 innings pitched. He faced 5 batters and gave up a 3 run home run.

On June 15th he allowed 5 runs without recording an out (0 innings pitched). He faced 6 batters and gave up 6 hits.

Wooten actually gets a pretty good grade by FIP, xFIP, and SIERA. In 2014 he had a 2.61 FIP, 3.27 xFIP, and a 2.98 SIERA. Fangraphs gives him a solid 0.5 WAR. Baseball Prospectus gives him a 0.3 WAR. Only Baseball Reference pegged him as a negative contributor with a -0.1 WAR.

I'm not sure which rating is more fitting. His 19.7 K% was close to the league average of 20.4%. His 5.3% was better than the league average of 7.6%. He had a very nice 53.3 GB% and an impressive 0.26 HR/9 (that 3-run home run was the only HR he allowed all season). However his .306 BAA was pretty atrocious and his 1.46 WHIP wasn't any better. League average is .247 and 128 respectively.

Rob Wooten's cardinal sin, to some, was his velocity. His fastball sat around 88-89 mph. There are a lot fans out there that will see velocity that low out of the bullpen and dismiss him without a second thought. To me it doesn't matter quite as much. He just can't make mistakes. When that happens he's shown the capacity to have meltdown innings. He does have 3 other pitches to throw (splitter, slider, curve) which I think helps him survive with his velocity.

Rob Wooten was definitely not a high leverage reliever. He wasn't even a solid middle reliever. I do think he was better than awful though. For most of 2014 he was actually pretty solid.

Best Game

Um, I actually like Rob Wooten but even I don't think he had a game that qualifies as "best game." Sorry, but he was a low leverage reliever that was used pretty situationally. Maybe his game on July 12th qualifies. He pitched 2 scoreless innings against the Cardinals who happened to destroy the Brewers 10-2.

Contract Status

Rob Wooten is still in his pre-arb years. The Brewers will have team control over him through the 2019 season.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs unless otherwise noted

Mike Guerrero promoted to Brewers first base coach

Guerrero has been a long-standing member of the Brewers organization, spending his first year as a coach in the majors with the team in 2014.

Among the first moves the Brewers made this off-season after a dreadful second-half collapse were the release of hitting coach Johnny Narron and first base coach Garth Iorg. The Brewers brought back Darnell Coles from the Tigers to be hitting coach, but we had been waiting to see who the team would bring in to replace Iorg.

As it turns out, the Brewers won't be needing to hire a new coach. Instead, they will promote Mike Guerrero to the position of first base coach, reports Adam McCalvy.

Guerrero had been promoted to Milwaukee's major league staff in 2014 after managing the Triple-A Nashville Sounds for two seasons. Though he was not given a specific coaching role -- instead serving as an extra -- part of his duties included helping Iorg with infield instruction.

In the year prior to his promotion to the Brewers' staff, Guerrero had won the Mike Coolbaugh Award, presented by Minor League Baseball to "an individual who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field."

Guerrero began his minor league managerial career in 1995 with the Toronto Blue Jays before being hired by the Brewers the next year as camp director and manager of the Dominican Summer League club. He has, thus far, spent 18 years in the Brewers organization since being hired. He also spent eight total seasons with Milwaukee in their minor league system as a player.

With the promotion of Guerrero, it appears the Brewers coaching staff is officially set for 2015.

What we learned: November 21, 2014

Today's lessons include 40-man roster additions, bullpen contracts, and how Mark Loretta is responsible for the acquisition of Jean Segura.

Cram Session

NL Central Update

Around Baseball

Counsell takes himself out of running for Rays job

Former big league infielder Craig Counsell said he has removed himself from the running to be the next Tampa Bay Rays manager, in part because he's enjoying his role as a special assistant to the general manager for the Brewers.

Brewers add four prospects to 40-man roster

Taylor Jungmann was one of four players, with relievers David Goforth and Michael Strong and shortstop Yadiel Rivera, who were added to Milwaukee's roster ahead of the deadline to protect eligible players from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Minor League pitcher David Goforth will be added to Brewers 40-man roster, per report

The power reliever will be protected in the Rule 5 draft along with three other minor leaguers added earlier Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, the Brewers added three minor leaguers to their 40-man roster in a measure meant to protect them from being taken in the December Rule 5 draft. Those three were pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Michael Strong and shortstop Yadiel Rivera. Noticeably absent from the list was reliever David Goforth.

As it turns out, the Brewers just needed a little time to consider. With one empty spot remaining on the 40-man roster, the Brewers have decided to add Goforth, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.

A seventh round pick in the 2011 draft, Goforth is a bit older for a prospect at 26 years of age. His first professional season was spent entirely in relief, but in 2012 and 2013 the Brewers tried him as a starter with limited success. In 2014, he repeated Double-A, this time as a full-time reliever, and posted a 3.76 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He struck out 46 batters and walked 29 over 64.2 innings.

Over his four-year minor league career, Goforth has a 3.99 ERA overall, along with a 6.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.

Though his numbers don't look terribly terrific in the minors, Goforth is the kind of guy scouts seem to love and it seemed there would be a strong possibility he would be taken in the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected. He can reach 99 miles per hour with his fastball, but appears to need work on his secondary pitches yet. John Sickels sees him as having a high ceiling, and some believe he could be a potential closer in the future, if everything works out.

With today's moves, the Brewers 40-man roster is now full. If they add any more major league talent through free agency or the draft, someone will need to be removed from said roster.

The Thursday Thinker: Highest paid relievers

Can you name the guys who out earn or out earned Zach Duke?

Earlier this week we learned that the White Sox have signed 2014 Brewers reliever Zach Duke to a three-year, $15 million contract. That's a fair amount of money to commit to a reliever, much less one who's been a full-time member of an MLB bullpen for just one full season.

Duke's contract is significant, but falls just short of qualifying for this quiz: There have been 47 contracts with an average annual value of $6 million or more given to relief pitchers in MLB history. How many of the pitchers can you name in ten minutes?

If the quiz isn't displaying correctly for you here or you'd simply prefer to take it over there, follow this link to play the quiz at Sporcle.com.

Please post your score in the comments below, but also remember that comments on this post may contain spoilers. If you get all 47 answers correct, post your time along with your score in the comments.

If you've finished this quiz and would like another challenge, then you may also enjoy:

You can also check out the Thinker archives from last winter.

Good luck, and don't forget to post your score in the comments!

Lesser Brewers: Elian Herrera

Even the best teams need back up players.

The Brewers claimed Elian Herrera off waivers in the early offseason before 2014. At the time it was a pretty low key under the radar move (much in the same way the Luis Jimenez and Juan Centeno moves are viewed right now). And to be fair, Herrera didn't have much impact on the Brewers season.

Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus rate his contribution at 0.2 WAR. Baseball Reference actually thinks he had negative value (-0.3 WAR). Basically, he was about replacement level. But there is something about him that I think offers some hidden value. That's his positional flexibility.

With the Brewers in 2014 he started games at each of the following positions: Second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, and right field. The only positions he provided negative defensive value at was shortstop and right field. His best position was third base and the rest he was average at.

Depending on team construction a utility player's positional flexibility either matters very little or it matters a ton. The Brewers had two platoons each of which had one player that only played that position. So in the case of the 2014 Brewers, Elian Herrera's positional flexibility was immensely useful and that I don't think is entirely reflected in his WAR. It doesn't suddenly turn him into a 2 or even 1 WAR contributor, but I think it's meaningful nonetheless.

His offense was pretty mediocre to bad. He slashed 274/288/341 good for a 69 wRC+. His batting average was solid but he didn't (and never will) hit for power. That would be okay though if he had drawn walks at a better rate than 2.1%. As laughably bad as that is, it's something that could be looked at as encouraging for the future. He's had much better walk rates in the minors (double digits even) so that should surely regress toward the mean. But now we're getting into a whole other conversation.

Best Game

Okay, so I could tell you about the game he went 5-for-5 be we all just want to watch that throw from right field again.

Contract Status

Elian Herrera is still a pre-arb player. If the Brewers bring him back next season he'll basically make league minimum. I say basically because sometimes these guys get raises of something like $10,000 which really isn't much when we're talking about hundred million dollar payrolls. The Brewers can maintain team control over him through the 2019 season.

Brewers add Taylor Jungmann, Michael Strong and Yadiel Rivera to 40-man roster

These three players will be protected in December's Rule 5 draft, though other Brewers' minor leaguers will be eligible to be selected.

Today is the deadline for MLB teams to add Rule-5 eligible prospects to their 40-man rosters to protect them from being taken in the draft. With that in mind, the Brewers have chosen to add starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann, left-handed reliever Michael Strong and shortstop Yadiel Rivera to their 40-man.

Jungmann, one of two Brewers' first round picks in 2011, had a nice bounce-back season in 2014 after struggling a bit in 2013. Splitting his time between Double- and Triple-A he made 28 appearances and posted a 3.57 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 8.6 batters per nine innings. Though he doesn't have the look of a future ace, Jungmann has developed into a player who could be a serviceable mid-rotation starter in the near future. He's also likely to see some time in the majors in 2014 as he appears to be seventh in line for a starting rotation spot.

Strong, a 10th round pick in 2011, isn't a household name when it comes to Brewers prospects, but he's looked excellent since a poor first professional season in '11. He's made just one appearance above A-ball in his career, but there's always a chance a team takes a lefty with good numbers in the Rule 5 draft. He made 31 appearances in 2014 with a 2.35 ERA and 9.5 K/9. In four minor league seasons, he's struck out 297 batters in 271 innings. Strong is already 26, so between his age and his placement on the 40-man, the Brewers may look at promoting him more aggressively this season.

Despite being just 22, Yadiel Rivera has been in the Brewers' farm system for five years already. He reached Double-A for the first time in 2014, hitting .262/.304/.410 in 58 games for Huntsville. Rivera is similar to former-Brewer Alcides Escobar in that his bat isn't particularly strong, but he is hailed as an excellent defensive player. Rivera doesn't have the speed on the basepaths that Escobar has, though. The Brewers may see Rivera as a potentially valuable bench player in the future and began giving him playing time at second base this past year in addition to shortstop.

Derek detailed a few other players who might have potentially been added to the 40-man in a post Wednesday, including Jed Bradley, Nick Ramirez and David Goforth. Of those, Goforth is perhaps the most surprising in not being added. Though he hasn't posted big strikeout numbers or particularly low ERAs, Goforth has recently been in the conversation as a possible bullpen piece in the near-future. Like Strong, he is already 26. Goforth, however, spent all of 2014 in Double-A and should be in Triple-A in 2015 if he remains with the organization.

Other notable players who will now be eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft include Tyler Cravy, Kyle Heckathorn, Manny Bareda, Kentrail Davis and perpetual 17th best prospect Cameron Garfield.

The Brewers had four 40-man roster spots open as of yesterday, so this leaves one roster spot open in case of any moves in the near-future this off season.

What we learned: November 20, 2014

Today's lessons include Rule 5 draft protection, another MVBrewers profile, and more.

Cram Session

NL Central Update

Around Baseball