Category: MLB

Milwaukee Brewers: Can they sustain a top five offense?

Milwaukee Brewer’s First Baseman Eric Thames, a pleasant surprise this season

The Milwaukee Brewers are off to a hot start offensively to the 2017 season. Can they sustain it?

The Milwaukee Brewers have been off to a torrid pace offensively to start the 2017 MLB season. It is the middle of May! There is no way in hell the Brewers should be second in overall offense! Putting them just one spot behind the Washington Nationals for best offense in all of Major League Baseball.

Much has been made about the sensational season that Eric Thames has been having so far. Thames has smashed a lead leading 13 home runs out of the park and scored 37 runs. According to Fox Sports Wisconsin, the runs scored total is a Milwaukee Brewers record pace. A pace that dates back to 1980 and attributed to the one and only Robin Yount. But Thames is not the only one who is stepping up and contributing big at the plate.

The Milwaukee Brewers received third baseman Travis Shaw in a trade with Boston. This trade has already paid huge dividends for the Brewers, as Shaw has been pretty exceptional as of late. Shaw is batting .283, with eight home runs and a whopping 31 RBI’s. The RBI total puts him 6th in all of Major League baseball. To have Thames and Shaw perform at this rate definitely makes up for right fielder Ryan Braun suffering from perpetual injuries as well as covering for Jonathan Villar’s woes at the plate, which are surprising to be quite honest.

Villar was exceptional last year and it was not just on the base paths. In 156 games last year, Villar finished up with a .285 average and gave Brewers GM David Stearns a lot to be happy about. After hovering around the Mendoza line to start the season, Villar has picked it up just a little bit to .222. Milwaukee will need him to step up if they want to keep bludgeoning teams in the run department.

Keon Broxton is another player who has been playing well recently. After a cold start, Broxton has made a compelling case for taking the lead off spot away from the struggling Villar. In a game against the Red Sox, Broxton led off and finished up 3/4 with four RBIs. I think Craig Counsell will wait it out and see if Villar gets hot. But do not be surprised if Broxton keeps playing well, and moves his way up to lead off permanently. He might not be as fast as Villar, but he definitely has speed. Another name that we cannot gloss over is Hernan Perez, who is batting .318 in the month of May and has been huge as Ryan Bruan’s replacement.

  Pitching will crush Milwaukee if something does not change

Watching Milwaukee’s starting pitching staff is enough to give anyone heartburn. This past Sunday’s game against the Mets saw the Brewers down six runs by the 5th inning and to most Brewers fans, this comes as no surprise. The Brewers are simply not getting enough from Wily Peralta to warrant keeping him in the rotation. Once Junior Guerra is healthy, Peralta might be on his way out with an over 6.00 ERA.

Chase Anderson has been somewhat of a bright spot in the rotation, with a team leading 2.97 ERA. He takes the mound tonight against San Diego and will hopefully build on a decent season so far. According to GasLampBall, the Padres rely heavily on the home run ball for run production and Anderson has been exception this year at not giving up home runs. The Padres are a league worst in run differential, so expect Anderson to have a great opportunity to lower his ERA tonight.

Milwaukee has converted 67% of their save opportunities. That should get better with the promotion of Corey Knebel now closing down games. Knebel takes over for a struggling Neftali Perez, who has had multiple blown save opportunities in recent series.

So will their offense stay hot?

I would be surprised if the Milwaukee Brewers offense came crashing down to earth. The team is expecting Villar to come out of his slump.  Even though he has been disappointing to start this season, there is no good reason to think he cannot be back up to around .270 by the All-Star break. I think they can finish top five in all of baseball. They have also been exceptional even with Braun’s .287 batting average in and out of the lineup. Struggling teams like the Cubs will eventually snap out of their sub par offensive performances, but I still have faith that Milwaukee will keep up a good offensive pace this year.

The encouraging news for the Milwaukee Brewers is that they still have to bring up some new faces later in the year. They have a slew of outfield prospects, some which will be available as early as next year as starters. Even if the Brewers slip down in the standings later in the year, it is certainly fun to watch them score runs and contend in games. Especially in a season where most expected them to be dead bottom of the cellar.

Brewers and Indians Trade Makes Sense

By: Mark Prott

Let the madness of the August 1st trade deadline begin! No doubt Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Davis Stearns will be fielding a lot of calls from now until the deadline but sounds like things could be heating up sooner rather than later. ESPN’s Buster Olney already reporting that the Indians and Brewers have begun discussing a possible trade that would send the All-Star Catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Cleveland Indians likely for multiple prospects.

The Brewers are known to have discussed Lucroy with the Texas Rangers and most likely multiple other teams have kicked the tires as well but to me, Cleveland seems to be the perfect match. Let’s first take a look at a possible deal from Cleveland’s side. Sitting in first place in the AL Central, things are looking up for the Indians right now but then again, it’s still only July with a lot of baseball to be played. Former Brewers prospect and current Indians outfielder Michael Brantley suffered another setback to his shoulder, so it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll come back or if this will linger all year. Which leads me to believe the Indians decision makers want to strengthen other areas of the team for their upcoming pennant race. And the one position that stands out like a sore thumb on that team is catcher. Steve Adams of mlbtraderumors.com notes that Cleveland has by far the worst production in all of baseball from their catchers, hitting well under .200 for the year.

Jonathan Lucroy on the other hand has been a hitting machine, ranking third among all catchers in baseball with a .305 batting average and second in OPS at .854 entering play Thursday. Don’t forget his defense, ability to throw runners out (currently leads MLB with 28), and his ability to pitch frame. He’s also a leader in the clubhouse.  Hurts to say being a Brewers fan but Lucroy would look darn good in the middle of the Indians lineup and I know the city of Cleveland would love him just like the fans do here in Milwaukee.

Add in the Cleveland Indians desire to add back end relief help and I feel a blockbuster deal could be on its way. The Brewers happen to have two of the most coveted relievers on the market in lefty Will Smith and right hander Jeremy Jeffress, who is 23 out of 24 in save opportunities. Not only are both having great seasons, but they also won’t become free agents until 2020.

Now on to the Brewers side of things. GM David Stearns has made it clear he wants top value for Lucroy as well as his coveted relief pitchers and he will walk if he doesn’t get that in a deal. Lucroy has 1.5 years of control so Stearns knows the offseason is another possibility to deal Lucroy but with his value probably at an all time high, it would be great if the Brewers could find a taker right now to advance the rebuild. The Cleveland Indians possess the ammunition in their farm system to get this deal done now. Coming into 2016, they were ranked the #16 best farm system by Baseball America. But with many of their top prospects having excellent seasons, unlike the case with the Brewers prospects, their ranking is likely on the rise.

The Indians have a nice balance of 6 pitchers and 4 hitters among their top 10 prospects ranking on mlb.com. Even if the Indians hold onto their top 3 prospects in outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, and pitcher Brady Aiken, a deal can still get done in my opinion. Among those 4 hitters is Bobby Bradley, a power hitting first baseman and catcher Francisco Mejia, who is having a huge season. Both spots are weak in the Brewers farm system and no doubt would be intriguing to Stearns and company. 3 high upside but young arms in lefties Justus Sheffield, Juan Hillman, and righty Triston Mckenzie also look like possible targets that would appeal to the Brewers brass.

Adding a Will Smith to a Lucroy deal would certainly drive the asking price up in a deal, enough so that Brewers could legitimately ask for 4-5 of the top 10 prospects on a team like the Indians. With just about every contending team wanting relief help, the Brewers could very well trade a Jeffress or a Smith on their own for a good return, but the thought here is the Indians would be wise to kill 2 birds with 1 stone in a blockbuster deal with the Brewers.

All-Star Break Yields Deadline Talk. Brewers Rangers Discussing Lucroy?

By: Bill Tewes

The trade deadline is fast approaching and there is no doubt that Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns is going to be a busy man. Coming off a rough series against the rival St. Louis Cardinals, the Brewers are going to be heavily focused on players they can unload at the deadline and hope to get a haul of prospects in return.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote an article today suggesting that there may be renewed trade talks between the Texas Rangers and the Milwaukee Brewers regarding Jonathan Lucroy. Rosenthal quoted a scout that was on hand at a Class A Rookie League game and noted that the Brewers had “multiple scouts” in attendance.

The Brewers and Rangers are no strangers to trade discussion regarding Jonathan Lucroy as these teams discussed a potential trade in the offseason. Rosenthal quoted a scout as suggesting: “He surmised that the home team, the Rangers, was involved in multiple trade discussions. And he noted that the Brewers had multiple scouts watching the Texas youngsters — an indication, perhaps, that the Rangers are plotting to acquire Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.”

While Rosenthal notes nothing is concrete, it is peculiar that the Brewers once again are heavily invested in scouting Texas Ranger players. Jonathan Lucroy is also fresh off his second All-Star nomination and that will definitely add value to any trade that the Milwaukee Brewers may entertain as Lucroy struggled last year which definitely hurt his trade value. We have recently touched on what the Brewers may do at the deadline and it is certainly not surprising that the Brewers are beefing up their scouting efforts with less than a month to deadline day.

If the Brewers do end up trading Lucroy, they could easily pair him with numerous other players on the roster. They could end up pairing Junior Guerra, the 31-year-old pitcher who the Brewers called up in May. Guerra has had somewhat of a sensational season since being called up in May and the Brewers could use him to make a similar trade to last years’ deadline deal; which sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston for a haul of prospects. There are also rumors that scouts are heavily interested in relief pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith. The Brewers would be wise to trade both of these players as they are not of any value to a team in the middle of a complete rebuild.

Rosenthal notes that the Brewers might demand a top prospect such as Joey Gallo or Jurickson Profar. But I highly doubt the Rangers are interested in shipping out players that can make an impact in the near future and would instead trade younger prospects who are not nearly as established. Adam J. Morrison of Lone Star Ball suggests that the Rangers would be unlikely to “pay a premium” in trading for a 30-year-old catcher. But Lucroy is not just any 30-year-old player, he is a significant upgrade over any catcher on the Rangers’ roster right now and is signed through next year. According to spotrac.com, Lucroy’s contract ranks 54th overall as far as value is concerned, which is tops for a catcher.

The Brewers have the luxury of waiting on a trade for Lucroy and getting the best possible value. I definitely trust in Stearns to get maximum value for Lucroy and it would be excellent to get him to a contender or a team that can utilize his services for a playoff push. There are multiple teams in desperate need of a catcher and I fully expect Lucroy to be moved by the deadline.