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Wednesday, April 24th 2019
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CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

Wisconsin Weekly 7/14-7/19

Bucks

Thon Maker
The recently drafted Center was named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team. Maker averaged 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds a game, with his transition into summer league play looked relatively smooth, especially his mobility for someone his size.

Miles Plumlee The Center who was a restricted free agent is returning to the Bucks after signing a four-year deal worth $52 million. Plumlee averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 61 games played last season, which was his first full year in Milwaukee. The Bucks have three big men in their rotation including Greg Monroe and John Henson. If all three players are kept, their expected payroll for just their centers for the upcoming season will exceed $40 million dollars.

Brewing Something Special: Brewers Top Prospects #11-15

This week’s group of five prospects all share a common theme: they have sky-high potential. With all of these prospects being from the Doug Melvin era, where he focused on acquiring players with raw talent that could be transformed into major league skills, it makes sense that some have struggled in developing while others have thrived. It is very logical to think that all five of these prospects could be above-average major leaguers, but it is also a likely possibility that they could falter (or in certain cases, keep faltering) in the minor leagues and never make it to Milwaukee. Only time will tell, but I believe that we will soon see at least a couple of these players in Brewers uniforms for years to come. Here are top prospects #11-15:

15. Monte Harrison OF

Monte Harrison was one of three high-risk, high-reward high school prospects (along with unranked prospects Jake Gatewood and Kodi Medeiros) that the Brewers gambled on in the first two rounds of the 2014 MLB draft, as the Crew selected him with the 50th overall pick. Following the Brewers’ disappointing 2013 season in which the big league club struggled, Ryan Braun’s Biogenisis scandal came to fruition, and the minor league system lacked any meaningful talent, general manager Doug Melvin looked to these three high school prospects to kick-start a rejuvenation of youth in the organization. The Brewers signed Harrison for $1.8 million, a hefty over-slot bonus that was necessary to lure Harrison away from his commitment to play both football and baseball at the University of Nebraska. This investment has not been substantiated thus far, as he has struggled to stay healthy and perform to the level expected of him.

Harrison certainly possesses all the peripherals of a major league player. He is a physical specimen, standing at 6’3” and 220 lbs. with an extremely muscular and athletic build, making his teammates look miniature in comparison. He has elite speed and a cannon for an arm, allowing him to be utilized as a defensive weapon. His strength gives him above-average raw power. While he certainly has the look of a big leaguer, his performance has lagged. After a mediocre professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League in 2014, the Brewers aggressively assigned Harrison to the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, where he significantly struggled on his way to a .148/.246/.247 batting line while striking out in nearly 42% of his plate appearances in 46 games. After being reassigned to the Helena Brewers of the more appropriate rookie-level Pioneer League, Harrison thrived, hitting .299/.410/.474 with 14 stolen bases in 28 games. However, his breakout was halted by an ankle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

Back at Class-A Wisconsin in 2016, Harrison’s struggles resurfaced, as nagging injuries held him to playing in only 80 games, in which he hit .220/.300/.339. Given his performance, Harrison holds his ranking of #15 solely due to his untapped potential and top-notch tools. If he can put in all together, Harrison has the ceiling of being a capable middle of the order threat, and at this point it is reasonable to expect that the 21-year-old will either be a boom or bust prospect.

14. Cody Ponce P

After being drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft out of California Polytechnic State University, Ponce had an excellent professional debut, pitching his way to a 2.29 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 14 games for the Helena Brewers and Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Ponce is a menace on the mound, as he stands 6’6” and weighs 240 lbs. Given this size, scouts predict that Ponce will have no trouble remaining a starting pitcher. He boasts four pitches that are all at least average, with his fastball and cutter being his go-to offerings. His fastball generally sits from 92-96 MPH, and it looks even faster to hitters given his size. Ponce still has a way to go in his development, especially with his control, but this should not be a problem given that he is only 22 years of age.

Ponce’s 2016 season was divided between success and struggle. He started off dominantly with Class-A Advanced Brevard County, as over his first nine starts he logged a 2.50 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP to go along with a nearly 5-to-1 K/BB rate. In his most commanding start of the year on July 9th, he struck out 12 hitters in 6 innings while giving up only 3 hits, which was made even more impressive due to the fact that he only threw 73 pitches. However, over his final eight starts, Ponce faltered and finished the season with an inflated 5.25 ERA and .285 batting average against. As we have seen, when Ponce is effective, he can be an elite asset on the mound. He could have simply just worn down as the season progressed, but I think it is more likely that he developed a mechanical issue that needs to be fixed. There really is no other explanation for how his season toppled so quickly. Ponce will likely start 2017 back in Class-A Advanced Brevard County, but I assume he will probably move up to Double-A Biloxi rather quickly given that he can iron out the kinks.

13. Jorge Lopez P

Going into the 2016 season, Jorge Lopez looked like a potential star in the making. He had just come off a dominant 2015 campaign, in which he won the Milwaukee Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award after dazzling the Double-A Southern League with a 12-5 record, to go along with a 2.26 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He was ranked as the #57 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com following this performance, which was good enough for #3 in the Brewers system at the time behind Orlando Arcia and Brett Phillips. Lopez was considered to be the future ace of the big league rotation. However, his journey to the majors has been derailed momentarily by a disastrous 2016 season in which we saw Lopez need to be demoted from Triple-A back down to Double-A.

In Triple-A this season, the 23 year-old got obliterated by the opposition, pitching to a 6.81 ERA over 17 games. He averaged 4.2 innings per start, and hitters teed off on him, leading to a .312 batting average against and a gaudy 1.97 WHIP. His control was the one area in which Lopez took the most significant step backwards, as he walked over three hitters per appearance. Some tried to attribute his collapse to the thin air in Colorado Springs, where the ball seemingly catapults off the bat as the stadium sits over a mile above sea level. The fact of the matter is, Lopez actually pitched better in Colorado Springs (though still not close to being an accomplishment in any regard), as his 6.16 ERA at home trumped his 7.40 ERA on the road. After his demotion to Double-A, Lopez seemed to somewhat right the ship, as he achieved a 2.67 ERA over his last five starts while striking out 27 batters. Hopefully he carries this finish into 2017.

Lopez certainly has the stuff to be a capable big league starter, as he features a mid 90s fastball that he complements with a well shaped 12-6 curveball, as you can see in the video below. The key to future success will be refining his control, as one can assert that his disconcerting walk rate and batting average against are the main causes for his demise in 2016.

12. Brett Phillips OF

When the Brewers acquired Brett Phillips as part of a four-prospect package from Houston in exchange for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers, he was touted as the centerpiece of the Brewers substantial return, being noted as a potential 5-tool center fielder that could bolster a big league lineup. Up until the trade, Phillips had enjoyed enormous success in the Astros’ minor league system. Drafted out of high school in the 6th round of the 2012 draft, Phillips experienced a breakout year in 2014, hitting a combined .310/.375/.529 between Class-A and Class-A Advanced. Even more impressive was the distribution of extra base hits he accumulated, as he hit 29 doubles, 14 triples, and 17 home runs. He complemented this display of all around power with 23 stolen bases and exceptional defense, recording 17 outfield assists.

In 2015, Phillips picked up right where he left off, hitting .320/.379/.588 at Class-A Advanced before being promoted by the Astros to their Double-A affiliate. He displayed less power at Double-A, hitting only one home run in 31 games, but he still hit an excellent line of .321/.372/.463. Phillips was then traded to the Brewers, and he seemingly lost his groove over the rest of 2015, hitting only .250 for Double-A Biloxi. His downturn in production was written off as being connected to a nagging thumb injury, and coming into 2016 he was ranked as the #32 prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Phillips enjoyed a surge in popularity during spring training in 2016, when his pterodactyl-esque laugh took over the internet (you can see it in this video).

While he enjoyed this initial “success” off the field in early 2016, Phillips performance on the field was significantly less than expected. Phillips hit for a subpar line of .229/.332/.397, and his strikeout rate rose dramatically, as he whiffed in nearly 30% of his plate appearances. Although many are discouraged about Phillips’ future after his rough 2016 showing, he still has all the tools necessary to turn himself into a starting major league outfielder. If he fulfills his potential, we could see him atop the Brewers batting order as soon as 2018. However, in order to achieve this, he needs to rediscover the level of ability that made him such a threat in 2014 and 2015.

11. Brandon Woodruff P

Brandon Woodruff has come out of nowhere to take the Brewers’ minor league system by storm in 2016. Drafted by the Brewers in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB draft, the Mississippi State product has been the hallmark of consistency since his initial arrival to Rookie-Level Helena in 2014. Woodruff pitched to a 3.28 ERA with Helena, and then finished with a 3.45 ERA in a year-long stint with Class-A Advanced Brevard County in 2015. In 2016, Woodruff elevated his game to a whole new level.

Woodruff started out the season in Class-A Advanced Brevard County. Back for a second time in the Florida State League, the 23-year-old was lights out, pitching to a 4-1 record with a 1.83 ERA in eight starts. This earned Woodruff a promotion to Double-A Biloxi. After initially struggling in his first eight starts, Woodruff turned the corner and excelled, finishing with a 1.67 ERA over his final 12 starts. Even with the hiccup at the start of his stint in Double-A, Woodruff ended the season with a combined 14-9 record and 1.02 WHIP over the two minor league levels at which he pitched. Even more impressively, he led all of minor league baseball with 173 strikeouts.

Woodruff looks to have everything necessary to succeed as a starting pitcher in the future. He has a well-built frame, standing 6’4” and weighing 215 lbs. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s, and he locates it well. He also offers a slider with good bite and a changeup that moves away from lefties, giving him a solid three pitch mix. Both of his off-speed pitches are about average at this point, but I expect for him to refine at least one of them to an above average level going forward. Woodruff’s greatest strength may be his command. He achieved a 4.33-to-1 K/BB rate, and only walked 2.3 batters per nine innings. His walk rate would place second amongst the Brewers current major league pitching staff, as he would trail only Zach Davies’ 2.2 mark. Woodruff’s excellent command can be seen further in the video below, as he precisely locates his fastball. Woodruff will likely start 2017 in Triple-A, and if he succeeds, it could force the Brewers to insert him into the rotation as soon as July of next year if the opportunity presents itself.

King of the Diamond- Week of 5/22

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers had a rough beginning this past week, losing five games in a row that began last Sunday. They saw their division lead evaporate, and needed to stop the bleeding in order to remain atop the NL Central.

King of the Diamond- Chase Anderson

Image result for chase anderson brewersChase Anderson picks up his first King of the Diamond award after a stellar performance that snapped Milwaukee’s five game losing streak. So far this season, Anderson has been rather average, earning a decision in just four out of ten starts this year. Saturday appeared to erase all of this, as Anderson failed to allow a hit through seven strong before a lead-off single in the eighth ended his hopes for a no-hitter. Despite Anderson coming up just short of what would have been the MLB’s first no-no this season, he picked up the much needed win with seven strong innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eleven. Milwaukee picked up another win Sunday afternoon to end the week on a high note.

King of the Diamond- Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

Image result for zack cozart

The NL Central continues to be the most competitive division in all of baseball, with all five teams separated by a mere four games. The Reds are fourth in the division but are just two-and-a-half games behind the Brewers for the division lead. Reds shortstop Zack Cozart earns our divisional King of the Diamond award this week. He has been a pleasant surprise for Cincinnati this season and currently holds an eleven-game hit streak and has recorded a hit in 19 of his last 20 games played. Cozart has been on an offensive onslaught all season long and could be a valuable trade asset should the Cincinnati become active in the trade market.

The Crew: In Need of Relief

Last night during the first inning of the Brewers-Nationals game, news broke that the Milwaukee Brewers had acquired a relief pitcher. A few minutes went by and it was announced that they had traded for the tall right handed veteran Anthony Swarzak of the Chicago White Sox. Swarzak has landed with the Brewers at the age of 31 with a 4-3 record and 2.23 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched over the span of 41 games during the 2017 season.

Swarzak joins the Brewers in a time of need having dropped seven of eight games coming into the series against the Nationals. This includes a span of 3 blown games in Pittsburgh and another game in Philadelphia in which the bullpen gave up all eight runs that night and allowed the 34-64 Phillies to come back from an 8-0 deficit to tie the game in the bottom of the 8th. For many Brewers fans that was the last straw when it came to settling for this below average bullpen. You could see just about every single Brewers fan or blogger take to Twitter to voice their frustrations. From Neftali Feliz to Carlos Torres, the Brewers bullpen has been frustrating at best.

With the acquisition of Swarzak, General Manager David Sterns aims to fix that frustration. Swarzak is a control pitcher who promotes a low 90’s fastball that has a bit of a tail to it and follows it with a bending slider that isn’t sharp, but effective in changing pace and keeping a batter on his toes. Swarzak is a nice pick up for the Brewers because of his 1.034 WHIP and his ability to retire batters via the strikeout, already having 52 in 48.1 innings pitched. One factor that Brewers fans will love the most about Swarzak is that he throws strikes, and good strikes at that. Overall of his appearances he has only given up 13 walks along with only 2 home runs.

The Brewers gave up prospect Ryan Cordell. Cordell is a 26-year-old utility player, who for the most part plays in the outfield and dabbles at third base. Cordell was hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs along with a .349 OBP and .855 OPS. Cordell will most likely have a shot at the big leagues in Chicago as soon as this September. The White Sox outfield really only has one solidified player  in the outfield at best (Melky Cabrera). So the idea that Cordell could be up in the majors soon isn’t too far off. Cordell was listed as the Brewers 17th ranked prospect and was stuck behind players like Brinson, Broxton, Santana, and a slew of other talented young players. The odds of Cordell getting a shot in the big leagues with the Brewers in the near future were slim to none without a lot of trades or injuries.

I appreciate what Sterns did here because of the fact that he realized a surplus of outfielders and traded one of the lower guys on the spectrum and got a guy in a place of need. The one catch about Cordell is that the Brewers minor league affiliate is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which has the same effect as Coors Field in Colorado. The ball flies well out in Colorado so you have to take any players hitting numbers out there with a grain of salt. That being said if you look at Cordell’s home/away splits he is hitting .344/.411/.648/1.059/6 HR/29 RBIs at home. On the road he hits .230/.291/..381/.673/4 HR/16 RBIs. The difference between these two slash lines can not be overlooked. His home line is probably blown up a bit and like most hitters he struggles a little more on the road to no surprise. In my opinion Cordell is probably a MLB team’s third or fourth outfielder when he reaches his prime and won’t do too much.

The Brewers made the trade that every fan wanted to see. They got a reliever who is having the best year in his career, on a good contract, and for a cheap return in Ryan Cordell. Swarzak is the type of player that will boost the moral of the team in midst of the slump, as well as a guy the Brewers will be able to count on down the stretch. The work for David Sterns is not over yet though. The Brewers could still add a starting pitcher and maybe even another reliever to maintain pace with the Cubs and the NL wildcard. If they are able to make another move or two, don’t be surprised if the Crew is playing fall baseball.

Chasing October: Brewers Top Prospects #1-5

We have made it to the end. The Brewers’ #1-5 prospects all boast extremely high ceilings, and should become household names in Milwaukee very soon. With the Brewers looking to upgrade their MLB roster over the offseason, it would not be a surprise to see one or two of these names dealt as the headliner of a big trade, as they all come with very high value. In any case, these five prospects have Milwaukee’s future looking very bright.

  1. Luis Ortiz, P

Ortiz, a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers, was acquired along with Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell in the Brewers’ blockbuster deal at the 2016 trade deadline. Ortiz came over as a highly-regarded prospect, ranked in the top-60 in all of baseball at the time. While he has dealt with some nagging injuries since becoming a member of the Brewers’ organization (and over his entire career in general), he has impressed nonetheless. With three separate minor league teams in 2016, Ortiz pitched his way to a 3.08 ERA in 90 innings of work, including a 1.93 ERA with Double-A Biloxi. Back in Biloxi for 2017, Ortiz had a 4.01 ERA in 94 innings of work, holding opponents to a .225 batting average and achieving a 1.23 WHIP.

The largest concern with Ortiz at this point is his durability. He has the necessary “stuff” to be a middle of the rotation guy as he possesses two plus pitches with his fastball and slider in addition to an average change-up, with some saying he could even slot in as a #2 starter. However, the fact that 94 innings are the most he has thrown in a single season is alarming. A second concern is that Ortiz has struggled to strike hitters out, a weakness that will only become larger at the next level. Part of the issue may just be that Ortiz needs more experience, and thus more innings. At age-22, he still has plenty of time to figure things out. The ceiling is high for Ortiz, he just needs to work on staying healthy so he can reach it.

  1. Brandon Woodruff, P

Woodruff was the Brewers’ breakout prospect of 2016, as he went from being virtually unknown to regarded as a top-100 talent. He was among the leaders in the minor leagues in strikeouts with 173 over 158 innings, and worked his way to an impressive 2.68 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Perhaps even more impressive was his excellent command, as he only walked 2.28 batters per nine innings. Woodruff was promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the 2017 season, and performed well considering the extremely challenging pitching environment. Over 16 starts he pitched to a 6-5 record and a 4.30 ERA. He spent most of the second half of the season in the Brewers’ rotation, where he performed well before falling off a bit at the end of the season. Altogether, Woodruff likely showed enough to guarantee himself a spot in the Brewers’ rotation going forward into 2018.

Woodruff relies primarily on his fastball that sits around 96 mph, complementing it with two above average secondary offerings in his change-up and slider. He has displayed extreme durability, pitching well over 100 innings in each season as a professional. As he transitions to the big-league level, it will be exciting to see to what extent Woodruff’s minor league success translates. 

  1. Corbin Burnes, P

Corbin Burnes thus far has cemented himself as the steal of the 2016 MLB Draft. Selected in the fourth round out of St. Mary’s College, Burnes started his professional career by throwing 35 and 2/3 innings between the Arizona League Brewers and Class A Wisconsin, achieving a 2.02 ERA and holding opponents to a .185 average. He followed up on this by dominating with Class A-Advanced Carolina to begin 2017, pitching to a 5-0 record with a 1.05 ERA. This led to a promotion to Double A Biloxi, where he continued his successful ways en route to a 2.10 ERA.

Burnes command is what really helps his average to above average pure “stuff” play up to an elite level. He has consistently kept his BB/9 in the 2.0-2.5 range, and does an excellent job at limiting home runs. His best pitches are his fastball that reaches 97 mph and a sharp slider. His change-up shows plus potential, and his curveball offers a serviceable fourth pitch to complete his mix. Burnes has been a quick mover, and I would say it is likely we see him in Milwaukee at some point during 2018.

  1. Keston Hiura, 2B

Hiura inherited the status of “best hitter” in the Brewers’ organization the moment he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Hiura boasts an extremely developed offensive game that was on full display in his professional debut. Between the Arizona League Brewers and Class A Wisconsin, he hit .371/.422/.611. He is perhaps the only prospect in the Brewers’ system that could challenge for a batting title one day. His strikeout rate is extremely manageable by today’s standards at around 20%, and I expect that to drop as he becomes more acclimated to professional pitching. While many of the Brewers’ top prospects struggle with high strikeout totals, Hiura provides an advanced approach that is unparalleled. I would compare his offensive ceiling to that of Dustin Pedroia in his prime with perhaps a little more power.

The one area that caused Hiura to drop to the ninth pick is his questionable defensive home. Due to lingering elbow problems, he didn’t play one inning in the field during his 2017 collegiate season. He is thought to be a fit at second base, and that is where the Brewers have deployed him thus far. Some have said that he could play left field, but I do not see a reason to currently put him there due to the surplis of high-tier outfield prospects the Brewers have. Either way, Hiura’s offensive game is enough to make him an elite prospect, and he should be a treat to watch for years to come. 

  1. Lewis Brinson, OF

The hype surrounding Lewis Brinson is unreal. Brinson was the headlining return for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress from the Texas Rangers at the 2016 trade deadline and has been as impressive as advertised ever since. He was immediately promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs upon his acquisition, and he endeared himself to the Brewers’ faithful by hitting .382/.387/.618 in 23 games. 2017 was more of the same, as he hit .331/.400/.562 with 13 home runs in 76 games at the Triple-A level. Brinson spent some time with the Brewers during the summer without much overall success, as he hit .106/.236/.277 in 55 at bats. However, he consistently flashed the tools that make him such an elite talent, most notably his power and speed.

Brinson has the potential to be above-average in all five tools, and currently rates best for his defensive prowess in centerfield, his speed, and his power. Brinson’s arm will play at any outfield position, but fits best in centerfield or left field given the other assets present on the Brewers’ roster. He could potentially be an MVP candidate at his peak, and be someone that anchors a lineup by hitting .300 while achieving a 30 HR/30 SB season. It will likely take some time for him to adjust to the MLB level, but Brinson has all of the tools for superstardom.

Prospects 6-20:

#6-10: http://www.creamcitycentral.com/brewers/chasing-october-brewers-top-prospects-6-10/

#11-15: http://www.creamcitycentral.com/brewers/chasing-october-brewers-top-prospects-11-15/

#16-20: http://www.creamcitycentral.com/brewers/chasing-october-brewers-top-prospects-16-20/

 

What will the Brewers do at the 2018 trade deadline? CCC Roundtable

As we approach the 2018 MLB trade deadline on July 31st there have been a lot of big names thrown out as available for teams looking to buy. Manny Machado has been the biggest name all season long, and recently landed with the Dodgers, which kicked off the craziness that is the trade deadline.

A couple of us writers here at Cream City Central put together our opinions of what we think the Brewers will do here at the deadline, what are yours?

Jessy Stagliano @stagosaurusss

The Brewers limped into the all-star break this season, and it all but finished the discussions on if the Brewers will acquire someone at the 2018 deadline, it is now a matter of whom. There are two glaring holes in this team, the middle infield, and the starting rotation-especially with the Brent Suter news, but both are almost equally important. It will be interesting to see if Stearns will diverge from his controllability plan to get a rental, or try to sign an additional guy long term.

I think the best fit for the Brewers for a pitching would be Chris Archer from Tampa Bay. The 29-year-old two-time all-star is having a down year, but is a career 3.7ish ERA guy. He also has team controllability until 2021; he totally fits the David Stearns controllability mindset.

As far as middle infield, my ideal scenario would be acquiring Mike Moustakas from Kansas City. The 29-year-old third baseman has a mutual option for 2019 the Brewers might consider, but he would be more of a rental type player. This of course would require Travis Shaw to move to second, which would solve the middle infield problem, all while beefing up that lineup for this season.

Sam Monnat @sam_monnat02

The Brewers can most benefit from an improvement up the middle at second base and shortstop. The offense has been a black hole past the 5 spot, and much of that is due to the total lack of production from those two positions. Tyler Saladino has been a nice small addition, but it’s tough to expect him to continue to sustain adequate production over the remainder of the season. One intriguing upgrade I could see the Brewers making is trading for either one of or both of the Twins’ starting middle infielders; Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. Both are above average bats that could kick-start the second half of the line up.

As far as pitching, I would expect a starter to be added before a reliever following the Brent Suter injury. I think it’s tough to get a good feel for what exactly the Brewers are thinking as for as arms go simply because the need isn’t as apparent as on offence. They could take a flyer on a rental, or go bigger and look at a controllable starter like Chris Archer. If the Brewers go after any reliever I would expect it to be after the July 31st trade deadline, via waivers.

Ryan Timmerman @TheDudeMan3

The 2018 Brewers don’t necessarily fall neatly into either the “buyer” or “seller” category. Sure, they’re good enough to contend this season. But they’re young enough to contend perennially. So how much of the future are you willing to sacrifice for the now? It’s entirely possible – even likely – that fans will be surprised by the number of moves Milwaukee makes, but slightly disappointed by the lack of big names coming back.

The biggest fish, Manny Machado, is already off the market. Milwaukee’s situation is pretty obvious: they might look into bringing in bullpen help (make a team strength even stronger), help up the middle infield, and help in the starting rotation. If they were busy scouting Machado recently they probably got a good look at Orioles starter Dylan Bundy and reliever Zach Britton, both available. As for the infield, a guy like Whit Merrifield from Kansas City could prove very usable and affordable from a prospects-sacrificed standpoint. Incremental changes could do the Brewers a world of good, and the front office might not think a “we’re one move away” home run swing at the deadline is the right approach.

Al Juneau @junesfoshiz

Stearns has always been shrewd in trades, as a fan base we sort of knew Machado would only be the move if Stearns got him at the price he thought efficient. I believe Stearns will prioritize getting one infield bat and one reliever. A pair of a low cost consolidation moves instead of a huge roster-altering move. I would expect Stearns to keep Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Corey Ray, and Keston Hiura. This organization has an excellent AA team that will provide solid depth next year. They do have to trade some prospects though as there will be an intense 40 man roster crunch this summer. If I had to predict names the Brewers will acquire, I’d go with: Brian Dozier and Zach Britton.

It will be a tough decision on what to do for the 2018 Brewers, but here’s to an enjoyable ride.

The Two Greatest Words in Sports

After 172 games, it all comes down to one for the Milwaukee Brewers. Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The game is at 7:09 (Central Time) tonight. You’re not going to want to miss what is sure to be an instant classic.

The Brewers offense exploded last night in game 6 and won, 7-2. The series is tied 3-3. Big market versus small market. This win forced a game 7, a game in which the Brewer players and fans can’t wait for.

Tonight’s starters are Jhoulys Chacin for the Brew Crew and Walker Buehler for the Dodgers. In 2 postseason starts for Chacin, he has pitched 10.1 innings, given up 0 runs, and struck out 9. Buehler has also pitched in 2 postseason games. He has pitched 12 innings, given up 9 runs, and struck out 15.

Tonight’s game will be Milwaukee’s first game 7 since 1958 when they were the Milwaukee Braves and they played at County Stadium. The 1958 team included all-time greats like Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, and Hank Aaron. They lost this game 7 to the Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle lead Yankees.

Hank Aaron’s number, 44, is one of the few retired Milwaukee numbers. (Photo via baseballhall.org)

I have been waiting my whole life for a Brewers World Series, my parents have been waiting since 1982. The day where the World Series is just one win away, seemed out of reach. However, it is here. For a full preview of tonight’s game read, “The Brewers Lineup For Success in Game 7,” by Olivia Pelishek here on creamcitycentral.com.

Win or lose tonight, there is no denying the Brewers had a remarkable season. They were incredibly fun to watch and gave us a year to remember. Thank you Brewers. Now, in the words of Christian Yelich, “LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO!” Today is the day to beat the Dodgers and earn a trip to the World Series!

(Photo via Dylan Buell, Getty Images)

The Intangibles Orlando Arcia Brings to Milwaukee

It is no question that this Brewers season has been an interesting one. From beginning the season projected to be basement dwellers, to leading by 5.5 games at the all-star break, to now a couple games back at the beginning of September, its safe to say this season has been a roller coaster.

There have been players like Domingo Santana, and Jimmy Nelson who have pleasantly surprised the ball club. Additionally, new acquisitions like Travis Shaw and Eric Thames who have made the front office look like they have a magic 8 ball hidden somewhere. That aside, there has been one player that has stood out and has brought life to the organization, Orlando Arcia.

Just off of his 23rd birthday, the young Venezuelan has flashed the leather all over the field since his debut. However, it is not just his defensive skills that have made their mark on Milwaukee. His average has risen to the .270-290 range for the last few months, and he is beginning to find power he rarely had down in the minors.

There is still more to Arcia’s game that makes him special, it’s the intangibles, or as they say,

“The things you can’t coach” –every coach ever.

Initially the first thing you notice, the energy he brings inside the clubhouse is incredible. The Brewers are a young team trying to exceed expectations, and it is beginning to seem like the leader of the pack is the young shortstop.

Another thing that stands out about El Niño’s defense is that he often calls off teammates on fly balls, even if the pop up isn’t close to him. At first glance it seems like that’s because he’s a gold glove caliber player, but it goes deeper than that. It shows that he not only is acknowledged as a great player by his teammates, but they trust him to make that play. Bottom line, they trust him as a leader, and that is something you can’t put a price on.

He is also the life at the end of “the gauntlet” for every homerun hit by the team, as he screams at the batters and/or splashes water in their face as they make their return to the dugout. If you have been asleep all season and haven’t seen this, it looks somewhat like this,

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Orlando is so into this, even if he is on the base paths when one of Counsell’s Crushers smacks one, he will run to the end of the gauntlet to celebrate accordingly. Can’t coach that.

Finally, he interacts with fans; he is a 23-year-old kid who is just having fun out there.Exhibit A, the ice cream incident:

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It may seem dumb, but it shows the fans of Milwaukee that this guy has a personality behind that smile, and it is only a matter of time before he could be the face that this franchise as been desperately waiting for.

A Farewell to Chris Carter

“So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.”

Those are the iconic words sung by the child actors in the cinematic classic “The Sound of Music.”

King of the Diamond- Week of 6/19-6/25

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Crew put together a sub-par 3-4 week with a split series with the Pirates and a 1-2 series loss to the Braves. Milwaukee remains with the division lead, but the defending champion Chicago Cubs now sit just three games back in the win column. Thankfully, the remainder of the underachieving division is still too inconsistent to have any contenders outside of Milwaukee and Chicago.

King of the Diamond- Orlando Arcia

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Arcia picks up his first ever King of the Diamond award after having a consistent week at the plate. Arcia also showed off his defensive skills to seal a win against Pittsburgh earlier in the week (Video link). Over the past week, Arcia has hit safely in six of seven games, including five doubles, and has seen his average increase from .255 to .268 in that short period of time. The young Brewer continues to improve his game both offensively and defensively and will hopefully be Milwaukee’s shortstop for a long time.

King of the Diamond- Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

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Ian Happ picks up our divisional King of the Diamond award this time around. Happ has been on an offensive onslaught all week long, which came out of nowhere. Prior to this week, Happ was sitting with a .215 BA for the season. After his destruction of opposing pitchers, Happ now sits with a .262 BA. The Cubs are going to need Happ to continue his inclined production if they hope to keep pace with the Brewers for the division lead.