Tag: Milwaukee Brewers

A Fork In The Road: Should the Milwaukee Brewers Buy at the Trade Deadline?

Is the brewers rebuild coming to an end? or should david stearns stay the course?

The Milwaukee Brewers trade deadline activity might be heating up, especially after they have defied the odds all season and have a 5.5 game lead in the division. Even the most optimistic fans did not see the division as winnable after expectations were low to start the season. Many others, myself included, figured there were too many unknowns with this club for it to come together this early. Yet here we are at the All-Star break and the Brewers are 50-41 and leading a surprisingly mediocre NL Central.

Many fans are thinking playoffs and are right to think so. The Brewers offense has shown an incredible amount of power despite Ryan Braun appearing in less than half of the 91 games played. Pitching has held up thanks to big first half performances by Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, and Corey Knebel.

The trade deadline is merely weeks away and some big names are available. Both the Oakland A’s Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox Jose Quintana had been named as potential targets of the Brewers. Quintana is now off the board after the Chicago Cubs traded their top two prospects plus others for his services. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is also rumored to be on the trade block. The Brewers may be tempted to make a splash with a rare opportunity to make the playoffs looming. Should they though? We’ll take a look at the arguments for and against buying at the deadline.

Milwaukee Brewers trade deadline and buying in

The Brewers have a 5.5 game lead in the division with 71 games to play. If they hold a similar lead by the end of July, the division will be theirs for the taking. One big reason to buy at the deadline is that playoff appearances are unfortunately rare in Milwaukee. Aside from 2008 and 2011, one must go back to the 1982 squad to find a playoff team. The Brewers have one of the highest rated farms in baseball, but there is no guarantee that the prospects will pan out as expected. Why wait around for something that may not happen?

General Manger David Stearns does not care about history though, his focus is on the future. Sonny Gray could be a smart pickup as he is under 30 and has two seasons of affordable team control remaining. This would not be a half season rental like C.C. Sabathia back in 2008. Gray would immediately be, at worst, the number 2 starter in the rotation.

The Brewers farm system is loaded with talent with a surplus in the outfield. Stearns could flip a couple prospects and not damage the overall health of the franchise. While they would still be underdogs in the NLDS, a playoff rotation of Gray, Nelson, and Anderson could at least keep the Crew competitive. If Stearns feels like the roster is built to compete within the next several seasons then adding a starting pitcher could be the final piece needed.

The Case For Standing Pat

David Stearns has repeatedly said that his goal is to build a long term winner in Milwaukee. Selling off prospects for a pitcher now could help this year, but could also hurt the Brewers down the road. The Brewers have done a remarkable job over the last two years flipping veterans for prospects. The team could very well sell off some prospects, getting burned in the process when a player they acquire does not live up to expectations.

In fact the Brewers are already benefiting from the trades they’ve made as Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Corey Knebel are big contributors now. The sheer amount of talent in the Brewers farm could have them set up to be a playoff caliber squad for a decade. Given Milwaukee’s rather non-competitive history I think most fans would welcome a sustained period of success.

In the end it’s about trying to bring a championship to Milwaukee and two seasons of Gray is unlikely to push the Brewers over the likes of the Dodgers, Astros, or Nationals. The Brewers have shown that they will go all in to acquire a front line starter; Sabathia in 2008 and Zack Greinke in 2011. Stearns may not feel that 2017 is the time for the big push, especially if either the Cubs or Cardinals close the divisional gap by the deadline.

My Opinion

The idea of acquiring Gray is tantalizing for sure. Winning the division title over the heavily favored Cubs would be sweet considering the meager expectations heading into the season. However I would not expect the Brewers to pull the trigger on a large scale deal this season. They might make another low risk trade similar to the one made for reliever Tyler Webb, but not much else.

The reality is that the Cubs gave up two of their top prospects to get Quintana. The A’s will want a similar deal for Gray which might require the Brewers to trade two of Lewis Brinson, Josh Hader, or Isan Diaz. Given the potential of those players I expect Stearns will pull out of any trade talks. There will come a time when the Brewers add a top line starter for a World Series push but it is unlikely to be this season.

 

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.

2016 Milwaukee Brewers: The Tanker’s Paradise

By Sam Marks

While this summer has not been particularly kind to Milwaukee’s local nine, Brewers GM David Stearns seems to be pressing all the right buttons in this long rebuilding process. From the deadline deals of franchise cornerstone Jonathan Lucroy and talented relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith, not much top end talent seems to remain on the major league club. Now wait, before you decide that this article is another one of those depressing “Give ‘em time, with our #1 ranked farm system, we could be really good in 4-5 years” pieces, let me give you a guide as to why this big league club still has some salvageable, enjoyable parts to bridge the gap till then. Unlike in basketball, where the concept of tanking seems to have taken a negative connotation, baseball doesn’t seem to be facing the same kind of blowback.

Jonathan Villar: In the near future the Houston Astros should really steer clear of doing business with former employee David Stearns, because the Harvard man has seemingly gotten the better hand on several deals involving that franchise. While the Carlos Gomez Blockbuster of 2015 has seemingly turned into one of the most lopsided swaps of this decade, the Villar deal is my sneaky-good steal of the year. Some in the state of Wisconsin will miss Cy Sneed’s handlebar mustache in reminiscence of former ace Pete Vuckovich, but they won’t miss Sneed’s decent at best numbers. Villar has provided the Brewers this season with one of the most feared threats at the top of the order and it only cost them a prospect not currently ranked in their top 30!

Through 120 games played, the Dominican Dynamo has batted an excellent .298 with .381 OBP while being 2nd in the majors with 50 bases swiped. Not every player is perfect though, besides getting caught a ML-leading 16 times, Villar’s committed an NL-leading 17 errors at SS before moving to 3B to make way for top prospect Orlando Arcia. Although he will not project to hit for much power, the switch hitter has been able to parlay his speed into stretching those infield singles into terrorizing experiences on the basepaths for opposing catchers and spectators alike! Combined with his relative youth (25), team control (won’t be granted free agency until 2021), and connection to Stearns, Villar will hopefully continue to provide excitement in a Brewer uniform.

Orlando Arcia: Now I’m definitely not old enough to have been around at the time, but legend has it that the Brewers once called up a young phenom shortstop in 1974 who became the undisputed face of the franchise for two decades. No way should we put that kind of pressure on Brewers top prospect Orlando Arcia, but it’s the maturation process of a youngster that we should look at for comparisons to the great Robin Yount. Yount was called up at the incredibly young age of 18, while Arcia has recently made his debut before his 22nd birthday. With similar wiry frames and defensive abilities, let’s hope younger fans that didn’t get to witness The Kid play are able to see something similar in Arcia. The growing pains will be rough, but with no real expectations for the next couple years, enjoy the growing process. Like watching your kid in little league, you just root for him to develop and make memories. It will be all the more fun to see Arcia grow into the special player that many baseball eggheads think he can be. Hopefully he plays more like Yount and less like some lesser revered shortstop prospects…

Watch for Major League references: The 1989 film is a classic in the sports genre. Although it’s based on the Cleveland Indians franchise, that film shares a special connection with Milwaukee residents. What does the fictional movie have to do with the current iteration of Brewers? Nothing really, but trying to find archetypes for the movie characters can be pretty darn fun. You’ve got an overpaid, prima donna vet in Ryan Braun who can still rake (Roger Dorn), a fastball-mashing, curveball-missing OF-1B in Chris Carter (Pedro Cerrano), and a top of the order base-stealing showboat in Villar (Willie “Mays” Hayes). (Full disclosure, Carlos Gomez was the closest example we had to Hayes, but since he signed a minor league deal with Texas, that dream is gone). In the movie, at the beginning of the season, there is a montage of fan reactions after reading the opening day roster, unless you follow the team closely, you probably had the same reaction with this team. The next time you tune into hearing legend Bob Uecker talking about the latest Brewers mishap on the field, just imagine what Harry Doyle would do. It should put a smile on your face and get you through the rest of the season.

September call ups: While the expansion of rosters usually bears more emphasis for teams in contention, once September 1st hits, Milwaukee fans could be treated to a glimpse of the future if they call up some of their top prospects to dip their feet into the majors. Teams remain pretty protective about the service times of their prospects, but with the recent call up of Arcia, fans might get a couple more surprises. If anything more than ownership to sell some more tickets and put butts in the seats of Miller Park during the last month, the beginning of September can serve as a consolation for those who Brewers fandom don’t follow bandwagon lengths. We might not see top hitters like Lewis Brinson (injured) or Maverick Phillips, but with the Colorado environment having turned almost all of our AAA pitchers into 2014 Marco Estrada at a Home Run Derby, a call up to major leagues might not be the worst idea for some of the staff. Zach Davies got to make 6 encouraging starts in 2015, maybe the success he showed will convince Brewer brass to let hurler Josh Hader get a couple starts? With a current record of 53-70 and in the middle of a dogfight with a glut of teams for the 3rd worst record in the ML, don’t expect a lot of wins for the Brew Crew this final month and change. Nevertheless, there are still some positives that can be taken from this team.

An ode to Milwaukee's Iron Prince

 

Should the Milwaukee Brewers honor Prince Fielder by retiring his number?

By: Billy Tewes

Last week’s announcement that Prince Fielder will be retiring from baseball due to his second neck surgery brought back a lot of memories from the days I grew up as a sports junkie in high school. Nearly ten years ago was the first time I attended Brewers’ games as a young adult, and it was also around that time that the trio of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun were maturing into three key pieces to a potential playoff run for the Milwaukee Brewers and put them on the map as unlikely contender after 25 years of missing the playoffs.

It was Fielder that made a massive impact and sent this fan base into a frenzy every time he was at bat. It was conceivable to think he could crush the ball right out of Miller Park at any given at bat or at the very least drive in some runs in exciting fashion. His best years were 2007 and 2009 respectively. In 07, he launched 50 homers and put his name out as a dynamic player who could be MVP material (finished 3rd in MVP voting that year). Just two years later, Fielder batted .300 and drove in 141 runs. While Fielder never won an MVP, he consistently batted over .275 and was a dynamic power threat in the lineup every night.

His best years definitely came in Milwaukee and the team got their money’s worth with Fielder playing damn near every game from 2006-2011. Fielder missed a total of 13 games over a span of those six years (per Baseball-Reference), which seems extremely unlikely for a player of his caliber and size to achieve in Major League baseball these days. Perhaps that was part of his untimely demise, as all of the years of violent swinging and playing so many games finally took its toll.

Prince Fielder personified much of what many Wisconsin sports fans value in professional athletes. Fielder’s sound work ethic and dedication to his craft made him likable to many of Wisconsin’s blue collar citizens. While former teammate Ryan Braun sullied the Milwaukee Brewers franchise with his antics and PED usage, it was Fielder who consistently gave Brewers fans something to be proud of for the time that he was with the team.

I cannot hide the fact that as a fan, I was upset when Fielder left Milwaukee. The selfish side of me wanted Prince to stay here at a hometown discount and keep our team relevant in playoff talks. When he left, I selfishly wished he would do poorly with the Detroit Tigers, but that frustration was obviously misplaced. Fielder went on to have a couple of great years with the Tigers and Rangers and will hopefully be welcomed home with open arms.

While the Brewers franchise could not get to the World Series and as a small market, could not afford to keep both Braun and Fielder, it is safe to say the city of Milwaukee was extremely lucky to have great player like Prince Fielder to cheer for in the prime of his career. From the no-doubt-about-it homers, to the unlikely in the park home runs, all the way to his orchestrated big splash walk off celebration against the San Francisco Giants, it’s safe to say Prince Fielder has, at the very least, cemented his legacy as one of Milwaukee’s all-time greats and is most definitely deserving of having his number retired by the organization.

all statistics are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

Lucroy expresses no trade clause and kills deal to Cleveland, where will he end up?

By: Bill Tewes

UPDATE: According to MLBTraderumors.com, the Rangers are back in the mix for Jonathan Lucroy. The talks are “productive” and we may see Lucroy dealt today after all. Texas is not one of the eight teams that Lucroy can veto a trade to, so we’ll see if Stearns and company get a deal done!

Deadline day is upon us and it was only a matter of when we see Jonathan Lucroy in a jersey other than Milwaukee Brewer blue. Brewer fans were expected to wake up this morning and read the headline: “Jonathan Lucroy traded to Cleveland Indians for package of prospects.” Not so fast Brewer fans! As it usually is, MLB Trade Deadline day has many twists and turns. Lucroy has nixed a deal sending him to the Cleveland Indians due to the fact that Cleveland is one of the eight teams listed on his limited no-trade-clause. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted suggesting that the Brewers are working feverishly to convince Lucroy to waive his no-trade-clause and accept a deal to Cleveland. 

Additionally, it appears that the major stumbling block in this trade as reported by Jeff Passan, is that Lucroy was expecting the Indians to do away with the 2017 Club option as part of his contract. The Indians would have been foolish for doing so as they would surely lose Lucroy to free agency after this season. Brewer fans should be rightfully upset with Lucroy if he seriously expected the Indians to do that (after he complained about not being on a contender), but it is also the ugly side for the organization of the no-trade-clause.

The 30-year-old catcher fetched a substantial offer from the Cleveland Indians, which was expected to yield four prospects with catcher Francisco Mejia (#6 prospect in Indian’s organization) being the top prospect of the trade. The Brewers and Indians had a deal in principle and now that deal is for naught.

In a tweet from MLB.com writer Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers were expected to get Indians’ prospects Yu-Cheng Chang (#12) and outfielder Greg Allen (#22) plus a fourth player yet to be named. The Brewers were allegedly heavily interested in Justus Sheffield, but the Indians just traded him to the Yankees as part of a deal to get reliever Andrew Miller. It would have been an incredible trade for the Brewers if they could have received Sheffield as part of the Lucroy package.

Jonathan Lucroy was very vocal about wanting to play for a contender in the offseason and Cleveland has been making moves to solidify them as a top flight contender this year. For everything Lucroy has said, it is hard to believe that he would outright deny a trade to a team that looks like a serious threat in the AL.

The Brewers had multiple trade partners for Lucroy and it seemed as if the cost would rise for his services. Now the Brewers have to go back to the drawing board and hope that they can get as good of a deal or possibly slightly better now that the Indians are out. The Mets offered what I think is a lowball offer for Lucroy. They offered catcher Travis D-Arnaud and outfielder Brandon Nimmo (#5 prospect in their system) plus a player yet to be named. The other substantial trade partner was the Texas Rangers, but they fell out of the running early yesterday as it appears they do not want to part with a top prospect like Jurickson Profar or Joey Gallo.

It would behoove the Brewers to take their time today and wait this trade deadline out as long as possible. Brewers GM David Stearns is not going to sell low on Lucroy just because a deal fell through with Cleveland. Lucroy would still have one year left on his contract and can easily be traded in the offseason, so that a team can get a full year of his services behind the plate. In that aspect, it might be better for them to keep Lucroy in Milwaukee for the rest of this season.

The Brewers still have their relievers they could move and it is encouraging to see the haul that the New York Yankees received for reliever Andrew Miller. Milwaukee should be able to move Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith to contenders or teams on the verge of contending. It also would not surprise me to see Chris Carter moved for a team in serious need of a power bat, but so far there have been no rumors regarding Carter. By the end of the day, the Brewers should net some nice prospects, adding to their continued pursuit of a better future.

Brewers Jeremy Jeffress Trade Should Net Big Haul

By: Mark Prott

Recent Aroldis Chapman trade to Cubs should be model for asking price

Amid all the speculation, rumors and trade ideas surrounding Milwaukee Brewers Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, it has been a bit surprising to not see more trade talk surrounding the Brewers other big fish in the pond on the trade market, relief pitcher and suddenly dominant closer Jeremy Jeffress. Of course, with the trade deadline less than a week away and the recent New York Yankees trade of closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, talk surrounding the Brewers hurler seems to be ramping up. MLB Network’s Jim Duquette says that Brewers General Manager David Stearns has a high asking price on a return for a Jeffress deal.

So in other words, the Brewers are asking for the same type of deal the Yankees received after they landed # 1 Cubs prospect shortstop Gleyber Torres in the Chapman deal. On the surface, one might think no way is Jeffress going to have the same value as Chapman. But when we dig a little deeper it couldn’t be more true that Jeffress should be worth at least the same type of top prospect on the level of Torres, rated by Baseball America as the #27th overall prospect in Major League Baseball.

Sure Aroldis Chapman comes with more flash and pizzazz, sporting his 105 mph fastballs and cranking out eye popping strikeout rates. But bottom line is the closer’s job is to get 3 outs in the 9th while protecting your team’s lead. No matter how you get the outs or how hard you throw, saves all count the same. And in that regard Jeremy Jeffress has been every bit as good as Aroldis Chapman this year. Compare the numbers so far, Jeffress is 25 out of 26 converting saves with a 2.11 ERA, while Chapman is 21 out of 22 with 1.87 ERA entering play Saturday. Both players also happen to be 28 years old.

If you still are not convinced Jeffress should command a similar return to Chapman, it is also important to take into account free agency status and team control. While we know the Cubs possess the resources to lock him up long term if they want, as of right now Chapman is simply a rental player. On the other hand, Jeffress does not become a free agent until the 2020 season. Then there’s the off field issues that need to be addressed in trade value. Jeremy Jeffress had a well publicized problem with marijuana, causing early career suspensions, but all indications are that problem is well in Jeffress’ past. Chapman on the other hand has a much more recent and alarming off field issue having been involved in an alleged domestic violence incident last October, which caused him to be suspended 30 games to start the 2016 season.

I’ll admit if it comes down to one game and I get to pick, I would choose Chapman over Jeffress. But there’s more factors involved than sheer talent when it comes to teams trading away building blocks of their future. Bottom line is the Brewers have a very valuable piece in Jeremy Jeffress. He’s one of the top closers in the game. And it also does not hurt that he’s been pitching great, when no doubt many scouts and executives’ eyes are on him, watching every pitch.

 

 

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.

Rocky Mountain Way: Brewers Triple A Pitching Woes Explained

Is Colorado Springs bad for the Brewers?

By: Jim Boyce

The location of a team’s minor league affiliates is often an afterthought to fans of a baseball team. Throughout the years Brewers minor league teams have played ball in Wisconsin, Nashville, and Biloxi just to name a few and frankly few have cared as long as the prospects were putting up numbers and keeping themselves on track to play in Miller Park. Currently the Brewers Triple A affiliate is the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Now as many of you know, the thin air in Colorado adds a different element and unique challenges in most outdoor sports in that state. When it comes to baseball the thin air tends to allow the ball to carry farther, which is great for hitters but a real nightmare for pitchers.

This is where we take a look at the Brewers pitching prospects. Here are the 2016 pitching statistics in Colorado Springs thus far.

statfile

If you just spit your drink all over your computer, I do apologize. Let’s run down some of the high, or low, lights of this chart. Jorge Lopez, one of the crown jewels of the Brewers farm system, is 1-6 with an ERA of 6.33. This is a pitcher who was 12-5 with a 2.26 ERA in Double A in 2015, and was rated the #59th prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2016 season. Another similar, yet startling example is Josh Hader. Called up to Colorado Springs after dominating everyone he faced in Biloxi to start this season and I don’t use that term lightly, a 0.95 ERA! And also representing the Brewers in the MLB futures game just this past week in which he struck out the only batter he faced. He has begun his stint with the Sky Sox with a 6.38 ERA over five games.

While some of Lopez and Hader’s numbers can be expected to suffer simply because they need to adjust to a higher level of competition, it seems ridiculous to say that either guy lost the stuff they had in double A. If you need an example to prove that I am not crazy, Junior Guerra started the year in Colorado Springs and had a mediocre stat line of 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA over 4 games. He is currently the best pitcher on the Milwaukee Brewers staff, going 6-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 13 games in the bigs. It seems crazy doesn’t it? That Guerra can do so well against Major League competition, but struggle against Triple A guys, many of whom will never see the big stage. This is the effect the thin air in Colorado Springs might have.

Wily Peralta and Taylor Jungmann both have had success in the majors before, they both currently sport you-have-to-look-twice-to-believe-it ERA’s over 9.00. In fact, Jungmann’s stint in Triple A has been so unproductive he is now back in Double A trying to work on his game. While there is no real data to quantify this, one has to wonder what struggling like these pitchers have does to their confidence levels. Especially for guys like Peralta and Jungmann who struggled in the majors and were sent down. Does getting shelled in the thin air of Colorado ruin their chances of ever getting back to being successful in the majors?

So what options do the Brewers have for moving out of Colorado Springs and into an environment better suited for developing pitchers? Unfortunately, not many, unless an alternate home opens up before next season the Brewers will have no choice but to stay at Colorado Springs another 2 seasons. David Stearns seems to understand the challenges of developing pitching at the current triple A affiliate as a recent piece by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out.

“We know Colorado Springs is a very challenging environment to pitch in,” Stearns said. “The entire industry knows that; it’s no secret. It’s challenging, No. 1 because the ball flies there a lot. It has the same issues defensively that Coors Field presents in terms of outfielders playing differently.

“Also, breaking balls don’t break as much as pitchers try to manipulate spin on the ball. It’s a difficult pitcher’s environment but it’s not the only difficult pitcher’s environment in that league or minor-league baseball. Most clubs, somewhere in their system, have an environment that is a little more challenging for pitchers. We have an environment in the Florida State League (at Brevard County) that is a little more challenging for hitters.”

Stearns definitely does not give Colorado Springs a ringing endorsement in the piece when discussing the Brewers options for the future. The thin air in Colorado is a very real problem, it’s the reason the major league Rockies have trouble attracting top pitchers in free agency. The Brewers are a franchise that has struggled immensely in producing their own homegrown pitching talent.  Jimmy Nelson may be the first starting worthy option drafted by Milwaukee since Yovani Gallardo, and the team has no realistic shot at being able to afford an ace via free agency. For these reasons I think it is important that they find a way out of Colorado Springs in the near future. In the meantime, do not be surprised if Jorge Lopez and Josh Hader are called up late in the season to get some major league experience. Also do not be surprised if like Junior Guerra, they actually post better numbers against the best hitters in the world than in the gauntlet known as Colorado Springs.

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.

 

           

 

           

Brewers Young Trade Acquisitions Playing Well in Minors

Young trio of prospects on the rise

By: Mark Prott

Look no further than the current roster of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Milwaukee Brewers Class A Minor League affiliate, to notice there has been a recent infusion of talent in the lower levels of the Brewers farm system. In fact, a whopping 8 Timber Rattlers were selected to play in the recent 2016 Midwest League All-Star Game.

3 of those 8 all-stars, including starting pitchers Marcos Diplan, Freddy Peralta, and shortstop Isan Diaz, all share a unique bond. They were all acquired by the Brewers via trades to rebuild the farm system within the past 2 years. And they all have one other important quality on their side: youth, as Diaz and Peralta just turned 20 years old, while Diplan is still only a teenager at 19.

Let’s start with the pitchers first. Seems like a long time ago now, but Marcos Diplan was acquired by the Brewers as one of the main pieces in the Yovanni Gallardo trade to the Texas Rangers. Originally signed by the Rangers as a top international pitching talent out of the Dominican Republic, Diplan received 1.3 million to sign in 2013. Headlined by a great fastball that reaches 94 mph and a plus slider, it is strange to see Diplan rated so low at #19 on the Brewers top prospects list coming into the season.

It’s not like he hasn’t produced on the mound either. Coming off a solid year for the rookie Helena Brewers, Diplan has taken his pitching game to new heights this year with a spectacular start to the season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. His numbers this year: 70 IP  1.80 ERA 89K 1.16 WHIP and hitters are batting only .191 off him. Maybe his size 6-0 160 scares some scouts but to me, the kid is only 19 and will likely fill out and maybe in the process even add a tick or two on the radar gun to his already impressive arsenal.

The next recent trade acquisition to examine is pitcher Freddy Peralta, one of 3 young pitchers obtained in the Adam Lind deal with the Seattle Mariners in December 2015. In many ways the Dominican Republic native seems eerily similar to Diplan, due in part to a fastball that reaches low 90s, a smaller frame 5-11 175 and his propensity for missing bats while on the mound as he already has 77Ks in only 60 IP to go along with a 2.85 ERA. Although he’s rated slightly lower than Diplan on MLB prospect lists and in performance, he is an exciting piece to keep an eye on in the future as he develops.

Now for the shortstop, Isan Diaz, acquired in the Jean Segura deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this year. Wait, but top prospect Orlando Arcia and current breakout Brewer Jonathan Villar are already playing that position. Doesn’t matter. This kid has shown he can rake and the Brewers will find a spot for him down the line if he stays on track. A 2nd round pick in 2014, the Puerto Rico native busted onto the prospect scene in 2015 winning MVP honors in the Rookie Pioneer league by batting .360 to go along with 13 HR 51RBI and a whopping 1.076 OPS. Known for his quick bat speed and easy pure swing, the left handed hitter has shown great power to all fields in the minors despite his lack of size at 5-10 185. After a slow start, Diaz has been on a complete tear as of late and is currently tied for the Class A Midwest League lead with 11 homeruns. Check out that sweet easy power on this beautiful swing.

As I take a closer look at all 3 of these young talented prospects, it makes me all the more convinced that the Milwaukee Brewers rebuild is currently on the right track. It’s impossible to predict if all 3 will become contributors to the major league club but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. In all 3 of these trades the Brewers top decision makers, Doug Melvin with Diplan and current GM David Stearns with Peralta and Diaz, were not afraid to trade for the player they viewed as the highest upside piece on the table.

It’s not easy to pull a trigger on a player who could be at least 3 years away while feeling pressure to win now and stay competitive. So, I give them credit for doing the right thing and trying to accumulate as much talent as possible in all levels of the farm system. That folks is how you build a sustained winner. So hold on Brewer fans, it may be painful to watch the big league club at times, but keep an eye on the future, even right in our backyard because we are in store for a fun rebuild to follow

Update: Freddy Peralta and Marcos Diplan have been promoted to the Brevard County Manatees, the Brewers High-A class affiliate. Congratulations and good luck to Freddy and Marcos!