Crew

Crew

CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

Brinsanity is Coming Soon

Brinsanity will happen in Milwaukee at some point in 2017, it’s just a matter of when. Lewis Brinson has taken the Pacific Coast League by storm since getting traded to the Brewers organization last August. Since the trade, all he has done is post a .384 average with 7 homers and 13 doubles in 138 at-bats. Those are phenomenal numbers for the 23-year-old outfielder. It seems as if every single night MLB Pipeline is tweeting about a crazy good night at the plate or a sensational grab he makes in the field. He possesses the potential to become a star and the fans are itching to see this guy roam the outfield at Miller Park.

 

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Sorry Brewer fans, but you won’t see Brinson in Milwaukee until late May at the earliest. It doesn’t make much sense to start his service clock early with the contract implications at this point of the rebuild. I think we will all get a glimpse of Brinsanity at the major league level in mid-June. There are a number of situations that could ensue in the next few months to push Brinson to the bigs. Braun may be traded. Keon Broxton & Domingo Santana may not turn it around. Injuries might happen. It’s only a matter of time until Brinson makes his way to the Brewers.

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Through 23 games the offensive production from the outfield minus Braun as been abysmal.  Broxton, who was tabbed as a breakout candidate, has not produced. He is hitting .169 and has struck out in 44% of his at-bats. It’s been tough for him to use his speed when he isn’t putting the ball in play or getting on base. The strikeout rate is concerning. The defense he brings is awesome, everyone is just hoping he can turn it around with the stick. Domingo Santana is also having some early season woes. He’s hitting .169 but has been walking at a decent clip to bring is OBP to .276. The walks have been promising; however, he hasn’t quite been the big bat in the middle of the order everyone was hoping for. Don’t expect them either of them to be taken out of the lineup anytime soon. Counsell has gone out and said he was going to let these guys play through their struggles because he believes they are potential impact players. Lets just hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Ryan Braun has been….well….Ryan Braun. He’s consistent. You know what you’re going to get. A player that hits around .300 with 25+ homers, 85+ RBI and solid defense. When he’s on the field you know what you’re going to get. The only things that could take Braun out of the lineup is an injury or trade. The trade rumors are already rolling. Once again the Dodgers seem to be a nice fit for Braun. I’m sure that as the season goes on there will be more contenders that will be in the market for him. There is an important deadline looming on May 24th that could speed up the process. Once that date hits Braun will acquire the 10-and-5 rights which will virtually give him the ability to deny any trade. A player gets this by having 10 years of MLB service time and spending the last 5 seasons with the same team. His contract and his past makes a potential trade more difficult but there is always a market for one of the premier corner outfielders in baseball. As someone who has watched and marveled at Braun’s greatness the past decade it would be tough to see him go. Just understand that it may have to happen for the good of the organization.

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By the end of the season the outfield could have an entirely different feel. Braun and Santana could be dealt. Keon’s struggles may continue. Stearns is dealing from a position of strength. Prospects such as Ryan Cordell, Brett Phillips, Trent Clark and Corey Ray are also rated very high in the system and play outfield. Not very often is a player sent up that could potentially be the next face of the franchise. Lewis Brinson is that kind of talent. Scouts have compared him to Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, and has the skill set to become a superstar. A young core that consists of Eric Thames, Orlando Arcia, Jonathan Villar, and Lewis Brinson is certainly something to get excited about. The future is looking bright in Milwaukee.

Brewers Come Down to Earth against Cubs, Cards

Brewers Week in Review: @ CHC, vs. St. Louis

Chicago Cubs: 4/17-4/19

Record: 1-2

Results: 6-3 W, 9-7 L, 7-4 L

Star of the Series: Jett Bandy (4-for-7, 2 HR, 2 RBI)

The Brewers arrived at Wrigley Field winning 5 of their last 6 games going into their last series of a 9-game road trip, and that trend continued in the first game of the series.

Brewers Week in Review: Crew Rake in the Wins

Brewers Week in Review: @ Toronto, @ Cincinnati

Toronto Blue Jays: 4/11-4/12

Record: 2-0

Results: 4-3 W, 2-0 W

Star of the Series: Chase Anderson (W, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB)

The Brewers played foil to Toronto’s home opener on Tuesday night, as home runs by series star runner-up Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana backed up a relatively strong start from Wily Peralta to propel them to a 4-3 win. Wednesday brought much of the same, as Chase Anderson (0.69 ERA) shut the Blue Jays down over seven strong innings. Jonathan Villar answered an 0-5 Tuesday with a home run on Wednesday, and Keon Broxton added an RBI double in the 2-0 win to complete the sweep. Closer Neftali Feliz lowered his ERA to 2.45 with two saves in the series.

Cincinnati Reds: 4/13-4/16

Record: 3-1

Results: 5-1 W, 10-4 W, 7-5 L, 4-2 W

Star of the Series: Eric Thames (.438 AVG, 7 H, 5 HR, 8 RBI)

This weekend, the Reds’ home truly turned into Great Am-Eric-an Ballpark as the KBO import had one of the best series by a Brewer in recent memory, as the slugger sent 5 balls out of the yard during the 4 game set, with at least one in each game (2 on Saturday) while driving in 8 runs. On the pitching side, no starter gave up more than 3 runs as Milwaukee made full use of the hitter’s park reputation in Cincinnati, outscoring the Reds 24-14 to take the 3-1 series win.

NL Central Update:

  1. Cincinnati 8-5
  2. Chicago 6-5
  3. Milwaukee 7-6
  4. Pittsburgh 5-6
  5. Louis 3-8

Transactions/Injuries

4/13: Sent RHP Matt Garza and C Andrew Susac to AAA Colorado Springs for rehab assignments http://www.brewcrewball.com/2017/4/15/15313026/milwaukee-brewers-activate-andrew-susac-from-disabled-list-option-him-to-aaa; http://www.brewcrewball.com/2017/4/12/15272842/brewers-matt-garza-rehab-assignment-groin-injury

What Could’ve Been: Ryan Braun’s Alternate Universe

Coming off a National League MVP award while leading Milwaukee to its first ever NLCS, Ryan Braun seemed to be the burgeoning face of the MLB following the 2011 season. A homegrown Milwaukee talent, Braun had just signed a contract extension in the spring that locked him up through 2020, essentially keeping him in the Cream City for the duration of his career.

Then, the unthinkable happened. News broke that Milwaukee’s baseball savior had been busted for PED use. I vividly remember sitting on the living room couch watching ESPN when suddenly the condemning “Breaking News” banner flashed across screen, and then subsequently reacting in disbelief. “There’s no way he did it. He’s one of the good guys,” I thought to myself. After numerous lies by Braun himself and a failed smear campaign against the testing sample collector, all my confidence in the to-be legend was obliterated. Braun officially joined the ranks of the “cheaters”, and no future accomplishments, no matter how great, could vindicate that from the baseball world’s collective memory.

Brewers Week In Review #1: Baseball Has Returned

Brewers Week in Review: Colorado, Chicago Cubs

Colorado Rockies: 4/3-4/6

Record: 1-3

Results: 7-5 L, 6-5 L, 6-1 W, 2-1 L

Star of the Series: 3B Travis Shaw (.357 AVG, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

The first series of the year for Milwaukee showed signs of potential promise, but also signs of potential concern for the season to come.

Brian Anderson: Best in the Business

As sports fans in Wisconsin, we are truly blessed with the talent we hear in the booth for every game. Play-by-play guys like Wayne Larrivee, Jim Paschke, and Bob Uecker make up a truly hall of fame list just in our state. Each of those guys deserve all of the recognition that they receive, but one guy who deserves the same recognition, and perhaps gets taken for granted due to not having similar longevity, is Brian Anderson.

On January 10th, 2007, Brian Anderson was named as the Brewers play-by-play announcer and immediately he was the voice of something special. In 2007, the Brewers finished 83-79, their first winning season in 15 years. Even though the Brewers missed the playoffs that year, everyone knew what was possible in 2008 and that was making the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. It wasn’t easy; from September 1st to September 20th of that season the Brewers would go 4-15 and were staring heartbreak in the face. They would miraculously end up finishing the last 7 games 6-1 which turned out to be one of the most entertaining weeks ever played by a baseball team. Brian Anderson was the voice of every single crucial moment for those watching on television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH5pTk6Vvr8

All of BA’s calls in those moments still give me chills. I was 15 years old, and had never experienced anything like this before in regards to the Brewers. BA is far too professional to show any kind of bias on his calls but, with circumstances like these, you could tell he knew that what was happening meant everything to the fans of Milwaukee. I don’t know if he’d ever admit it, but that voice crack during Braun’s two run shot in the bottom of the eighth against the Cubs makes me believe there was some genuine heartfelt emotion in that call.

As unbelievable as 2008 was for Milwaukee, it’s impossible to forget the whirlwind that was the 2011 season. It was a season where the Brewers were seemingly all in, and looked to make a deep run in October. With additions like Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, and yes T Plush, it was a year that will be in every Brewers fan’s heart for many years. And like 2008, every important at bat, pitch, or defensive play in that season had BA on call. Whether it be his “Oh my good… oh my goodness!” in reaction to Yuni B’s behind the back flip to Weeks for one of the best double plays I’ve ever seen or his emphatic “Ballgame!” after every walk off, BA made everything feel that much bigger.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUWP3gIM5J0)

As many of you may know, Brian Anderson is often tabbed as the national Sunday broadcaster for TBS and has a national deal with Turner. Not only that, he has done many nationally televised playoff series’ as well. On October 6th, 2010, BA was on the call for game one of the NLDS between the Phillies and the Reds, what would happen that night is one of the most historic moments in playoff history. Roy Halladay would go on to throw a no hitter, only the second in MLB postseason history. It almost feels like wherever Brian Anderson goes, drama is sure to follow. More evidence of that is the 2015 playoff series between the Bucks and the Bulls, you remember Jerryd Bayless’ buzzer beater right? Do you remember who was on the call for TNT? Yep, it was Brian Anderson. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YR_IPC43RY) As I said before, BA is too professional to show any bias in any of his calls, especially not on national TV, but I’m sure he was happy for us in Milwaukee.

With Brian Anderson being the talent that he is, it’s no surprise that he would be on call for March Madness. With his penchant for calling huge moments, was it any surprise he was there for the second round game between Wisconsin and Xavier in 2016? We all know how it ended; Koenig hits the buzzer beater in the corner to advance the Badgers to the Sweet 16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtLCqvqO1nk

At this point, it almost feels like destiny that we were given Brian Anderson. In 2007, the sports Gods said “Here is Brian Anderson, he will be the voice for walk offs, buzzer beaters, and any other clutch moments your teams have. You’re welcome” and I’m thankful.  I’m thankful because great commentary can make boring games entertaining. I’m thankful because not a lot of people are eager to come to small markets like Milwaukee, and even less stay. Brian Anderson signed an extension with Fox Sports Wisconsin in 2016 and he said he wants to make sure that they don’t regret their decision of signing him in 2007. Nobody would ever regret that decision. He’s given us 10 amazing seasons, and I hope 11 is the best one yet.

 

Want to Survive in Stearns’ Milwaukee? Be Versatile

In today’s fast-paced world of technology and social media, one thing that is always being preached in personal or professional life is versatility. Heck, as a hopeful future sports journalist, it’s expected that we as such be able to write, shoot and edit video, and several other tasks. The same desire and demand for versatility applies to the world of sports as well. In baseball especially, switch hitters are increasingly valuable, as are those who can play multiple positions, including both infield and outfield.

As offseason transactions and recent cuts for teams such as the Milwaukee Brewers have shown, versatility is going to be one of the defining traits of their clubs for the upcoming season. For this reason, in order to survive in the new Milwaukee under David Stearns, you as a ballplayer must be versatile.

On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Reds claimed 2B Scooter Gennett from the Milwaukee Brewers, ending his 4-year tenure with the big-league team. Gennett expressed disappointment in having to leave the team he was drafted by, but acknowledged that he may receive a friendly ovation upon his return. There may have been several factors as to why the Brewers put Gennett on waivers, from his relative inability to hit against left-handed pitchers to his fielding of the position (14 errors in 2016), but his potential downfall with the team was this fact: Scooter Gennett could only play one position.

Looking at the currently known position players the Brewers will suit up at the MLB level this season, a certain pattern can be seen:

Note: Postions listed are those played more than 25 innings in a player’s MLB career, listed from most to least innings played

C: Jett Bandy (C), Manny Pina (C)

1B: Eric Thames (1B, LF, RF), Jesus Aguilar (1B)

2B: Jonathan Villar (SS, 3B, 2B, LF)

SS: Orlando Arcia (SS)

3B: Travis Shaw (3B, 1B), Hernan Perez (3B, 2B, RF, CF, 1B, SS)

OF: Ryan Braun (LF, RF, 3B), Keon Broxton (CF), Domingo Santana (RF, CF, LF)

Out of those players listed above, five have played three or more positions, with Travis Shaw also having played two in the past. This, however, does not take into account positions that the player could potentially play, such as Arcia playing other infield position or Bandy and Pina playing first base.

This versatility really benefits the Brewers, as their roster allows for easy switching around due to factors like right vs left-handed pitchers or injuries. For example, the team’s lineups could change like so:

vs RHP                                                                                                                               C: Bandy/Pina (Both right-handed)

1B: Thames (L)

2B: Villar (S)

3B: Shaw (L)

SS: Arcia (R)

LF: Braun (R)

CF: Broxton (R)

RF: Santana (R)

vs LHP

C: Bandy/Pina

1B: Aguilar (R)

2B: Villar

3B: Perez (R)

SS: Arcia

LF: Braun

CF: Broxton

RF: Santana

This type of variation could help the Brewers in terms of changing how opposing teams are forced to pitch against them and gives them different lineup variations. The left handed lineup provides a little more speed, most notably at first base, while the right handed lineup provides more power with the addition of Aguilar at first.

Last season, the Brewers became one of the few teams in MLB history to have a 180 HR/180 SB season. This season, this Brewers lineup could be much better than many people seem to expect. Will Thames and Aguilar prove to be a solid platoon at first base? Will Jonathan Villar replicate his breakout 2016 stats, including his MLB leading 62 stolen bases? Can the outfield live up to its much-talked-about potential and become one of the better trios in MLB? All of these questions and more will be answered come Opening Day and beyond.

Baseball is here, folks, and just like the Brewers, there are plenty of ways it can go.

Brewers of the future: Corey Ray

Patience is a virtue. That’s especially true for Corey Ray, one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospects. In 2013, Ray was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 33rd round of the First-Year Player Draft. Instead of signing, Ray committed to the University of Louisville and three years later, he was taken 5th overall by the Brewers, and was considered to be the best all around hitter in the draft by most scouts. Since signing with the Brewers, Ray struggled to put up numbers and to stay healthy. He only played in 60 games in 2016, and hit just five home runs while slashing .239/.307/.370. It was an underwhelming debut into professional baseball, but Ray remained the organization’s second ranked prospect, and the 30th best minor leaguer according to mlb.com (as of March 2017). Ray has recently been cleared to return to play after recovering from meniscus surgery over the offseason. His health will undoubtedly be on the radar during the upcoming season.

Courtesy: milb.com

To find Ray’s impressive stats, all you would have to do is look up his numbers while playing for the Louisville Cardinals. Over three seasons, Ray played in 172 games, crushed 27 home runs, drove in 133 runs, stole 82 bases, and put up a spectacular slashline of .318/.392/.536. Those three grueling years in college are what turned Ray into a coveted talent from just another late round outfielder.

Fortunately for the team, but unfortunately for Ray, the Brewers are loaded with outfielders. Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, and Domingo Santana all have their starting spots more or less locked down. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Scooter Gennett, and Hernan Perez are all viable fourth outfielders. Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips appear to just be one or two steps away from getting to the bigs. Ray definitely has some work to do for himself, but there seems to be a plethora of players ahead of him in line. Despite his tangible and intangible gifts, don’t expect to see Ray in the majors this season.

What Ray can be: Consistently Productive

It’s probably still too early to make an accurate projection on Ray’s future, but based on what he’s done in the minors, he still holds all the potential in the world. Could he be the next Mike Trout? Maybe. Is he more likely to be an occasional All-Star who puts up consistent numbers? Absolutely. His professional career is still in the aether of infancy. He has been praised by scouts, but hasn’t quite performed to expectations yet. From what we have seen in his past, however, I would guess that Ray will have a long, successful career (barring injuries, of course).

Player comparison: Carlos Gonzalez

For years, Carlos Gonzalez has raked in Colorado, but has seemingly managed to stay out of the “best in the game” conversations. Gonzalez is a player that could bat third or fourth in any lineup, and any general manager would be crazy to pass on him. He doesn’t carry the star power that Trout, Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, or Yoenis Cespedes do, but he’s consistently among the league’s leaders in home runs and batting average. He’s also been great defensively, which is where Ray might be most underrated; he committed just three errors last year.

2017 stat projections (minors): 98 G, 14 HR, 53 RBI, .276/.327/.442

Jesus Aguilar: Waiver Wire Wonder

58 career at bats. A .178 career average. Twice as many career strikeouts as hits.

When you hear those numbers, they don’t sound very promising. However, those career stats belong to the biggest surprise in the Brewers’ spring camp, and he just might make the Opening Day roster.

Brewers of the future: Lewis Brinson

This is the first chapter of a series that will dissect players who will likely be contributors to the Milwaukee Brewers for the years to come. These pieces will discuss who the player is and who the player can be.

If you don’t closely follow the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, the name Lewis Brinson might not mean much to you. But if you paid attention during last year’s trade deadline, you would know that Brinson was the crown jewel of the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers. After shortstop Orlando Arcia debuted with the Brewers last season, Brinson immediately became the organization’s top prospect, and was named the 18th best minor leaguer for 2017 by MLB Pipeline.

Brinson has long been regarded as a five tool caliber player. The Rangers saw enough potential in him to draft him 29th overall in 2012. At 22 years old, Brinson is much more polished and Major League ready than other top prospects, and he is expected to be called up to the big league club at some point this season.

Credit: milb.com

Brinson didn’t truly breakout in professional baseball until 2015 when he slashed .332/.403/.601, hit 20 home runs, and stole 18 bases in 100 games in Advanced-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. Defensively, Brinson has been underrated but very efficient. In 428 professional games, he’s only committed 21 errors. If Brinson lives up to his potential, the Brewers could have another Ryan Braun in the outfield.

Speaking of Ryan Braun, he’s still on the team, which means there isn’t really a current open starting spot in the outfield. Keon Broxton will likely hold down the fort in centerfield after he broke out in 2016, and Domingo Santana will be given every chance to stay in right, so long as he’s able to stay healthy. If trade rumors surrounding Braun actually come to fruition (that’s a big if), Brinson will be the team’s full-time left fielder. A trade of Braun seemed imminent last year, but nothing happened. And nothing continued to happen throughout the offseason. If there was any time for Braun to be shipped, it was 2016.

What Brinson can be: Perennial All-Star

Hitting for power, hitting for average, speed, fielding, and arm strength. Those are the five tools in baseball. Brinson has exemplified each of those tools throughout his baseball career, including the early part of this year’s Spring Training. MLB Pipeline’s scouting report on Brinson states, “Few players in the Minors can match Brinson’s power and speed ceiling, the combination of which could make him a 30-homer/30-steal threat at maturity. After receiving a taste of Triple-A in late 2016, Brinson could be ready for his big league audition earlier than initially expected.”

Player comparison: Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen has epitomized consistency throughout his great career. McCutchen has been regarded among the best outfielders in baseball for nearly a decade, both on and off the field. While wearing the black and gold, McCutchen has hit for power and average, stolen bases, and even has a gold glove to his credit. In Pittsburgh’s community, McCutchen has embodied a charitable spirit, and has become one of the most charismatic representatives of the game. A combination of Brinson’s style, talent, and laid back attitude makes him a budding Andrew McCutchen (but perhaps with even more home run potential).
2017 stat projections: 51 G, 8 HR, 19 RBI, .266/.308/.409