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King of the Diamond: Week of 5/8

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 fell just a game short of a perfect week, taking two from Boston and sweeping the Mets over the weekend. This impressive homestand puts Milwaukee four games above .500 and just two losses behind the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.

King of the Diamond- Hernan Perez

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ESPN

Hernan Perez picks up Cream City Central’s first ever King of the Diamond award. Perez was a big factor in the Brewers’ series sweep of the Mets, hitting .462 while adding three runs, three RBI’s, a pair of doubles and not striking out once all series. Perez continues to be a versatile slugger that Brewers manager Craig Counsell can place at multiple positions. Perez should continue to be a key member of Cream City’s lineup moving forward.

King of the Diamond- Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

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ESPN

Carlos Martinez wins the first divisional King of the Diamond award after earning a pair of wins this past week over the Marlins and Cubs. In a combined 12.2 innings pitched, Martinez gave up just three earned runs and five hits while striking out seven in each contest. After a shaky 0-3 start to begin the 2017 campaign, Martinez has won three straight starts and the Cardinals (21-15) are thriving atop the division, winning eight out of their last nine games.

Brewers Week in Review

5

/1-5/4: vs. St. Louis

Record: 2-1 (Game 3 PPD)

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

Star of the Series: Travis Shaw (6-for-13 (.462),  HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, BB)

The Brewers had a strong showing in St. Louis in a series of tight games. Neftali Feliz picked up saves number seven and eight in the two victories for the crew. Meanwhile Willy Peralta picked up his second loss of the season while only allowing two earned runs over 5.1 innings pitched in game two. The star of the series was none other than Travis Shaw. The Mayor carried the Brewers to the first win in the series with a clutch home run in the tenth inning of the series opener. He then added some of the little offense that the Brewers added in game two of the series by tallying one of only five hits for the crew in a tough offensive game. Shaw then capped off the series with a solid

5/5-5/7: vs. Pittsburgh

Record: 1-2

Results: 4-0 L, 2-1 L (10), 6-2 W

Stars of the Series: Eric Thames (4-12 (.333), HR, 2 RBIs, R); Matt Garza (7 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks)

The Crew made the flight from St. Louis to Pittsburgh to battle the Pirates. The bats for the Brewers were there in the first game, but they only managed to hit 1-for-7 with RISP. Milwaukee failed to improve in game two of the series. The Brewers only managed to scrape together a single run while only reaching base a total of five times and striking out in 13 of their 30 outs. The bright spot within the game was Garza’s 7 inning outing. Garza limited the Bucs to only one run and was able to do that while working out of the stretch for much of the game with runners on base. The real bright spot within the series was easily the final game. Milwaukee managed to get six runs across the board with the help of 3 home runs. Pittsburgh’s defensive errors allowed the brewers to capitalize for the other two runs and dominate the game from start to finish.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 5/8)

  1. Cincinnati Reds: 17-14 (.548)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals: 16-14 (.533)
  3. Chicago Cubs: 16-15 1 GB (.516)
  4. Milwaukee Brewers: 16-16 1.5 GB (.500)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 14-17 2 GB (.452)

Transactions

No transactions since last week.

Who is David Stearns – The Young Man Behind the Masterplan

In 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers under the leadership of owner Mark Attanasio hired David Stearns as the new General Manager. Stearns, a 31 year old from Manhattan is not your typical “career baseball guy.” He never played professional baseball, let alone at the collegiate level. The young GM went to Harvard University and graduated with a degree in Political Science in 2007. Despite what one would typically expect from a man with his suggested political career path, Stearns chose to intern with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization while at Harvard, and went on to the work at the MLB Central Office. Stearns, a huge baseball fan decided to pursue his passions through what he learned in his major, as well as by applying techniques that were not so commonly used in Major League Baseball with an increased emphasis on data analytics. In a move out of Moneyball, David Stearns has already orchestrated a number of controversial moves for one purpose, to increase the opportunity of winning.

When looking at the Milwaukee Brewers of 2015 and prior, many familiar faces remained from a team that went to the playoffs in 2011. Unfortunately, 2011 was 4 years ago at this point, and Stearns recognized the Brewers could no longer reload, but had to rebuild from the ground up. This was largely due to a farm system that was near dead last in the majors, and a team that while good, never had the potential to be great. With an aging lineup of ballplayers such as Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez, there was not enough room to improve. There was no major support coming from the farm system in the near future. This is why Stearns took it upon himself to overhaul the roster and replace more than half of the 40-man roster of 2015 by 2016. He also replaced 5 of the 7 assistant coaches for a complete rejuvenation of the roster and staff. With this replacement of players came a surge to the top of the power rankings in terms of minor league systems according to various reporting sites.

Stearns, who had already worked as an assistant manager of the Houston Astros from 2012 until his arrival in Milwaukee, had used similar methods of selling “average” players at their peaks for a bevy of prospects. During his time at Houston, he helped turned them into a contender that now has several of the brightest young names in baseball largely because of a very strong minor league system. His new approach in Milwaukee and decision for a complete rebuild has already been paying dividends. Despite fears over declining fan attendance due to a lack of name recognition among players, the Brewers are currently above .500 and competing in the NL Central even with a difficult opening schedule. As long as your team is winning and competitive, the name on the back of the jersey truly doesn’t matter when it comes down to it, and soon the names of these minor leaguers will become household names. Stearns’ approach is already paying dividends in this regard. Players recently acquired and called up from the minors such, as Jonathan Villar, Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia are already becoming fan favorites. The future of the Milwaukee Brewers looks bright, and with other additional signings such as Eric Thames from Korea, the Brewers are producing at a level much higher than expected.

While many fans were upset about losing a number of their favorite players for no-name teenagers, they will soon realize just how good the Brewers will be because of a loaded minor league system that only looks to improve under Stearns’ leadership. Stearns, an incredibly young manager is already looking like a Theo Epstein, another young genius who has already won the Red Sox and Cubs the World Series. Both from backgrounds not directly related to baseball, their passion and approach through statistics and analysis have helped them to revolutionize the way business is done in baseball.

Brewers’ Second Tier Prospects Show Breakout Potential

When many fans think of the Brewers’ prospects, they think of only the top names. Brinson. Hader. Ray. Diaz.

However, thus far in the season we have seen tremendous performances from many of the Brewers’ second tier prospects. Actually, to call them second tier really is a disservice. In any other system, they would probably be top-15 prospect caliber players. In a Brewers’ system that is just brimming with talent, they unfortunately get the short end of the stick. That’s not to say that they won’t find themselves shooting up the prospect rankings come the midseason updates, especially if they keep performing the way they are.

Two of these prospects are former priority draft picks that are finally coming into their own, and the other is a draft pick from last year showing that he should have gone much higher. We’ll start with possibly the most impressive of the bunch: Jake Gatewood.

Brewers Week in Review: Crew experience ups and downs

Brewers Week in Review: 4/24-4/30

4/24-4/26: vs. Cincinnati

Record: 3-0

Results: 11-7 W, 9-1 W, 9-4 W

Star of the Series: Hernan Perez (6-for-11 (.545), 2 HR, 8 RBI)

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.