Milwaukee Brewers, Kyle Lohse, and Compensation Questions


According to word from Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio at the Brewers On Deck Fan Festival, the team isn’t completely out of the race for veteran pitcher Kyle Lohse.

Attansio said that the Brewers would consider picking up the 34 year-old Lohse if the price were right, despite the fact that any deal would give the St. Louis Cardinals a draft pick for compensation.

The Milwaukee Brewers, through most of the 2012 off-season, have seemed content to slide into a younger, slimmer, and cheaper versions of themselves. With plenty of young (though unproven) pitchers in the works and a desperate need to improve their farm system, the question is: is Kyle Lohse necessary for success?

Kyle Lohse showed good stuff in 2012, but unless the Brewers are sure he can repeat it, the team should pass in 2013 (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Were the Brewers to pick up Kyle Lohse, they would lose their first round pick, which currently sits at 17. The Brewers owner doesn’t see giving up that pick as a big deal, because the current core of star power on the team was drafted much higher.

We’ll put that aside for a moment, and simply discuss the merits of having Lohse on the Milwaukee Brewers. In short, of all the veteran pitchers on the free agent market, there are worse choices out there. Last year Kyle Lohse had a league-high winning percentage of .842, coming from a career-high 16 wins in 33 starts.

Most of Lohse’s numbers in 2012 were significantly better than 2010 and 2011, which obviously presents a problem for teams looking to score big on veteran pitching. Is Kyle Lohse having a career renaissance, or was 2012 a fluke? Bill James and the folks at FanGraphs seem to think his numbers will come back down to his pre-2012 levels, and anyone that knows anything about mid-thirties pitchers would have to agree. But according to the team’s owner, the Milwaukee Brewers would be willing to bet a draft pick on the repeat of what appears to be the exception of Lohse’s rule.

I really hope, for their sake, their bluffing on this one. Yes, another pitcher with Major League experience would be helpful to this staff. But if that’s the case why would they wait so long, and be so steadfast on not going for longer-term deals with any pitcher on the market? This seems more like settling than trying to effect positive change on this team.

Now while I would not consider this Brewers farm system to be abysmal, it is a far cry from the one that developed the likes of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks. There are serious issues of infield depth and development, and the pitching – while improving – still has room to grow. Every draft pick could count in terms of making valuable deals down the road and in developing your team in the short-term. Losing a first-round pick, even at 17, could have ramifications down the road if Kyle Lohse doesn’t pan out in Milwaukee.

I don’t think that Kyle Lohse is a bad pitcher, I just don’t think he’s a necessary pick for this team, this year. Not for a first round pick, and not at all when you consider that the Brewers have balked on every other starter on the market.