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Thursday, July 18th 2019
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Brewers Call Up Jacob Nottingham

With the injury to Manny Piña, multiple reports have surfaced that the Milwaukee Brewers will be calling up top prospect and catcher Jacob Nottingham from AAA Colorado Springs. It will be the 23 year old’s first shot at the big league level with the Brewers as he looks to add depth to the catcher position for Craig Counsell’s crew. Nottingham has been playing with the AAA Sky Sox for 8 games this season hitting 8-for-27 at a .296 average, with one home run, four runs batted in, a .345 on base percentage, and .710 on base plus slugging percentage. Last year Nottingham played at the AA level with the Biloxi Shuckers and hit a less than impressive .209 average, adding on nine home runs and 48 RBIs in only 101 games played.

While the numbers last year were down for Nottingham this call up is an excitement for Brewers fans everywhere. Jacob Nottingham was the key trade piece initially when the Oakland Athletics sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. Nottingham was then traded to the Brewers as the main piece in the Khris Davis deal later that offseason. Since coming to the Brewers organization Nottingham has not found a groove on both sides of the ball, but still has shown glimpses of the raw power that scouts had raved about back in 2015. Nottingham is well known for his aggressive approach at the plate which has lead to pitchers being able to exploit him and a high strikeout rate. 2017 was a much improved season for Nottingham in terms of his approach even though the numbers might not show it. Nottingham also showed big strides behind the plate throwing out 40% of baserunners and showing much improved glove work and blocking in 2017 and spring training.

Nottingham is a talent that many scouts have said is potentially an everyday player at the big league level, but whether he reaches that potential is yet to be seen. With a crowded catcher position when healthy, it is more than likely that Nottingham’s stay will last as long as Piña is unavailable. With that being said, Brewers fans should be excited to get a look at the young catcher over the next series or two.

Brewers @ Twins Series Recap 5/18-5/20

The back end of the Milwaukee Brewers 10 game, 11-day, 3 city road trip brought them to Minneapolis to battle the Twins. The Twins took all four games from the Brewers last season, but the new look Brew Crew, came into the weekend after taking series victories in Colorado and Arizona. All three teams the Brewers faced on the road trip made the playoffs in 2017 and with the Brewers eyes set on this October, they also looked to accomplish something a Brewers team had not done since 1996, sweep the Twins in Minnesota.

Friday, May 18th- Brewers 8, Twins 3

The Brewers opened the three-game set at Target Field with the news that Ryan Braun would be placed on the 10-day disabled list with a back injury. The roster opening made way for Ji-Man Choi to be recalled up from AAA Colorado Springs for his first appearance with the Brewers since Opening Day in San Diego.  It did not take long for Choi to make his mark as in his first at-bat in the second inning he took Twins’ SP Kyle Gibson deep for a home run over the left-center field fence to put the Brewers on the board first.

The hits continued to come for the Brewers who racked up 15 total hits in the game which included two more home runs from Jesus Aguilar who has been on absolute tear and finished the night 3-4 from the plate with three RBI. Brent Suter started the game and got the win for the Brewers pitching an effective 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and only one run on five hits.

Saturday, May 19th- Brewers 5, Twins 4

The stage was set for Brewers young-in Freddy Peralta to make his second start and the follow up from his mesmerizing game on Mother’s Day which he struck out 13 and gave up only one hit in Colorado. While the control was off from the start and Peralta found himself in trouble early and often. Aguilar led the scoring with a sac fly that scored Lorenzo Cain in the first inning and follow it up with yet another home run to tie the game back up at 2-2 in the fourth. The lead would not last long however as Twins’ outfielder, Jake Cave, making his major league debut lined a two-run home run into the right field bleachers to give Minnesota a 4-2.

The Brewers answered quickly in the top of the fifth as Manny Pina doubled home Jonathan Villar and then scored with two outs on a wild pitch by Twins’ starting pitcher Fernando Romero. After two scoreless frames the final tally on the board for the night belonged to the Brewers in the form of a Christian Yelich 409-foot blast into the left field bleachers to put the Crew ahead for good.

Josh Hader finished it from there. After relieving Jeremy Jeffress to get Max Keppler to ground out to end the seventh inning Hader then worked his magic to finish the ballgame. Hader struck out the side in order in the eighth and then after giving up a leadoff walk to start the ninth then proceeded to strike out the side, leaving Byron Buxton stranded at first and giving the Brewers the series’ clinching victory.

Sunday, May 20th- Twins 3, Brewers 1

Former Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi, who was dealt to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke traded shut down the Brewers. Aguilar hit his 4th home run of the series, a solo shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning but that was all the Brewers offense could muster. Twins first baseman Logan Morrison hit a two-run double off the top of the right field wall to give the Twins the deciding 3-1 advantage. Boone Logan walked the three of the first four batters to start the inning, which never bodes well. While the Brewers bats succumbed to 17 strikeouts and didn’t’ give their pitching staff any help in the Sunday loss as the team looked forward to their upcoming 10 game home stand at the friendly confines of Miller Park.

Notes:

  • The 7-3 mark on the road trip was the best 10+ game road trip record was tied for the third best in team history behind an 11-1 trip in 1973 and an 8-2 mark in 1988.
  • Milwaukee will host the Twins for a three-game set July 2-4th.
  • Following the six-strikeout performance by Josh Hader on Saturday, he now has 56 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings.
  • Jesus Aguilar finished the series going 6-11 from the plate with 4 HR and 6 RBI to raise his season stat line to .333 BA, 7 HR and 20 RBI.

Brewers 5 Cardinals 4

With 45,304 in attendance for Opening Day at Miller Park, Jhoulys Chacín would take the hill for his first time as the Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day Starter. Chacín would come out of the gates hot, striking out the side in the first inning. However, after successfully starting off the second inning with two outs, Chacín would walk his first batter. Kolten Wong drew blood first with his two-run home run, followed by a Harrison Bader solo shot.

Facing a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the second, Mike Moustakas would hit the Brewers first home run of the season off of a 1-2 count. After a three up three down third inning for the Cardinals, Milwaukee looked to take the first lead of the 2019 season. After an Orlando Arcia groundout, Jhoulys Chacín would single to left field, followed by a Lorenzo Cain single to center field. The reigning National League MVP would step up to the plate and start right where he left off. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Yelich would hammer a 413-foot, three run homerun, to center field giving the Brewers a 4-3 lead.

Bats on both sides would stay quiet until the bottom of the fifth inning, where Pitcher, Jhoulys Chacín would smash a 405-foot home run to left-center field giving the Brewers a 5-3 lead. After beginning the top of the sixth with a Goldschmidt walk and a Dejong strikeout, Counsell made his first call to the bullpen for Junior Guerra. After giving up a single to Marcell Ozuna, Guerra would settle down and get the final two outs of the inning.

The Brewers would go three up, three down in the sixth. In the top of the seventh Kolton Wong would hit his second home run of the day to right field, tightening the lead to 5-4. The Brewers scored zero runs in the seventh inning, though Eric Thames would hit a single as a pinch hitter.

Josh Hader would come in for relief of Junior Guerra in the eighth inning and proved once again he is a force to be reckoned with. Hader struck out the side, while consistently hitting 97-98 mph. In the bottom of the eighth, Christian Yelich walked and Ryan Braun singled, however, a double play and flyout would end the inning.

With Knebel and Jeffress both out with injuries, Counsell called Hader’s number again to get the last three outs. Josh would get Yadier Molina to flyout center field, followed by striking out Marcell Ozuna. With two outs in the ninth inning, Josh Hader would face pinch hitter Josè Martínez. (Before the at-bat, Martínez was 2-3 with a home run vs Josh Hader in his career.) After ball one, Hader threw a 94-mph fastball right down the plate to what looked to be a certain home run. However, Lorenzo Cain made a leaping catch at the warning track, much like the one in Game 2 of the NLCS in 2018, to seal the victory for Milwaukee. The Brewers will face the Cardinals in Game two of the four game series tomorrow at 7:10 CT.

Notables:

C. Yelich. 1-2, HR, 3RBI, 2BB, R

M. Moustakas 1-3, HR, RBI, R

J. Chacin W, 5.1 IP, 3H, 3ER, 7K, 2BB

J. Hader SV, 2 IP, 0H, 0ER, 4K, 0BB

Regression Who? Christian Yelich is not familiar

All stats are as of 4/26 and provided by Fangraphs and Baseball Savant

It’s been about 6 months since Christian Yelich accepted his MVP Award. Almost immediately after, Twitter swarmed with one question, How bad will he regress? When you look at what Yelich was able to accomplish in the second half of last season, your mouth is left open. Super human, is a better way to describe it. Throughout the offseason Yelich made his MVP rounds and was constantly asked, how do you top last year? The answer always seems to be implied as you can’t. That’s saying that a player was so good there is no way he could get better, right? However so far this year, Yelich is proving that theory all wrong.

Everybody seems to only focus on the power aspect of Yelich, when in reality is such a minuscule part of his play. Sure the homeruns are fun and cute, but they are only the end result of a well rounded batter. What goes into it is, the pitches per at bat, hard hit%, and wOBA, to list a few. All of these numbers were incredible for Christian last year, and they seem to be identical or getting better so far this season.

Year Pitches per at-bat Hard Hit% wOBA
2018 3.89   50.8% .418
2019 3.85   55.4% .475

 

Just when you think you would see some sort of downfall, you don’t. It’s crazy to think that a player can be on a hot streak for so long. Or maybe he is just really that good, which seems more like it, at the rate this is going. The only stat that hasn’t gone up since the brink of this young season is the pitches per at-bat. However, it is a very small difference around .04, it is still a difference in the scheme of the season. For kicks, in a 650 PA season, it translates to around a 25 pitch difference, which isn’t much in the long run. The ability to kill pitchers from hitting out of your socks, is insanity itself. Then adding in the fact he can have quality at-bats, will drive them up a wall (get it homeruns go over the wall). It will also result in many more hits. The longer the hitter sits and fouls off pitches he can’t do much with, the better a chance he has to catch a mistake. The moral of the story here, is that he will continue to drive pitchers crazy.

Another stat to look at is Yelich’s hard hit%. Yeah making contact is great and all, however, being able to hit the ball hard is even more deadly. Also, to add on the fact that he is doing it over 50% of the time, thats stupid good. His percentage from last year landed him in the top 2% of the league. Then, to bring that number up just under 5% (top 3% of the league), is insane. Throughout his career he has always hit the ball very well, from the beginning of his career he has improved just over 10%. To add to that, it has never gotten worse in his career it has always gotten better. The kid doesn’t even have any history of regression.

The last thing to look at is wOBA (weighted on base average, aka my favorite stat). If you have read anything I have wrote before, you know that wOBA makes an appearance in almost every article. It is the perfect all around offensive stat. To sum it up, it takes everything into account, HBP, BB, extra base hits, and more. Throughout Christian’s career he has always held a pretty high wOBA number, however it jumped in 2018. His number was incredible last season, putting him above the excellent category according to Fangraphs. Just when you think it couldn’t get better, his number this year has skyrocketed to nearly .07 more than last year. That puts him exponentially over the excellent category, and the top 1% of the league.

Have I convinced you yet that there is no slowing down for Christian Yelich? The numbers really do speak for themselves. Yelich is a special player and one that will be very impactful for years to come. Even if he does slow down a bit to the player we saw in the first half of last season, he was still an All-Star. I think it is safe to say that regression isn’t even in Yelich’s vocabulary.

The Brewers trade Domingo Santana for Ben Gamel and Noah Zavolas

               The Milwaukee Brewers traded outfielder Domingo Santana to Seattle for outfielder Ben Gamel and pitching prospect Noah Zavolas. Santana only appeared in 85 games for the Brewers last season after his breakout 2017 campaign where he hit 30 homeruns. Santana was probably the biggest Brewer casualty from the acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. He was sent down to AAA in late June and did not return until he became a September call-up. Last off-season there were many rumblings about a potential trade last off-season, so this may not come as a surprise.

               Ben Gamel is a left-handed hitting outfielder. Ben is the younger brother of former Brewer Mat Gamel. He has spent his last 2 seasons with the Mariners. Gamel had a late start to last season while he was sidelined at the end of spring training and most of April with a sprained right oblique muscle. Gamel primarily plays in the corners making 48 appearances in left field and 40 in right. However, he did show some slight versatility making 4 appearances in center field and 1 at first base. He played in 101 games total for the Mariners last year slashing .272/.358/.370. He doesn’t offer much power only hitting 1 homerun last season. He had a 20.8% K rate last season which was a full 12.0% lower than Santana’s last season.

               Gamel offers more positional versatility than Santana. Another key factor in this trade is the fact that Gamel has a minor league option left. David Stearns has proven time and time again that he covets the flexibility that comes with having a minor league option brings. Gamel also has one more year of team control than Santana had.

               The mostly unknown piece in this deal is Noah Zavolas. He was an 18th round pick in 2018 out of Harvard University. He is a right-handed pitcher who pitched in relief for the Mariners Low-A and High-A teams last season. He made a total of 19 appearances spanning 38.2 innings. He had an ERA of 3.03 while striking out 41 hitters.

                This trade may not be popular amongst most fans as Santana was beloved, however this trade was further proof that the Brewers love versatility. Santana was a good player in 2017, but an odd power outage last year hurt his profile. Gamel adds not only positional flexibility, but also helps the rosters flexibility with his minor league option. While also adding a lower strikeout rate. Zavolas is a lottery ticket, but what’s life without a little risk. With this trade the Brewers wanted to add versatility and that’s what they did, this may not be popular but having major league talent with minor league options certainly helped last year.

NLCS Game 4 Recap

Final Score: MIL- 1 LAD- 2
WP: Julio Urias
LP: Junior Guerra

Top of the 1st:

Lorenzo Cain started game 4 out by striking out to Dodgers’ veteran starter, Rich Hill. MVP candidate, Christian Yelich, followed Cain’s at-bat by grounding out to first base. Ryan Braun made the 3rd out of the inning by flying out to center field. A quick 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom of the 1st:

Brewers’ starter, Gio Gonzalez, started his outing by walking Dodgers’ leadoff hitter, Chris Taylor. Everybody knows walking the leadoff man in any inning is never good. Justin Turner was next in the order and hit a dinky ground ball to Gonzalez where the only play was at 1st base. The next batter, David Freese, was hit by a pitch in the foot. Manny Machado batted in the cleanup spot and flew out to Jesus Aguilar in foul territory. With 2 outs, Brian Dozier roped a single to left field that scored Taylor. Kike Hernandez then flew out to right field leaving 2 runners on base.

Top of the 2nd:

Jesus Aguilar lead off the 2nd inning with a walk on 6 pitches. After the walk, Moustakas seemed impatient at the plate and flew out in foul territory. Jonathan Schoop, making his first NLCS start, was up to bat after “Moose.” He struck out on a nasty curveball thrown by Rich Hill. Manny Pina, who was 2-5 at the plate in the postseason prior to this at-bat, continued getting on base by generating a walk. The red-hot, Orlando Arcia, followed by flying out to Yasiel Puig in right field. Inning over.

Bottom of the 2nd:

Craig Counsell left Gonzalez in the game to pitch the 2nd even after a rocky 1st inning. Yasiel Puig was the first to bat and hit a “swinging bunt” that allowed him to reach first safely. Next, Austin Barnes was up to bat and Gio started him out with a ball. Gonzalez looked to be in pain, and in a shocking turn of events, exited the game with an ankle injury. Mid-season surprise, Freddy Peralta, came in to pitch. He inherited a 1-0 count on Austin Barnes, then proceeded to walk him. Two men on, nobody out. In an obvious sacrifice situation, pitcher, Rich Hill, bunted straight back to Peralta and he was able to get the lead out at 3rd. With one out, Chris Taylor came up to bat for the 2nd time, and Peralta struck him out. Following the strikeout, Dodgers’ game 2 hero, Justin Turner, walked to load the bases. Max Muncy, pinch-hitting for David Freese, came up to bat next and struck out looking on 4 pitches. Freddy Peralta and the Milwaukee Brewers were able to get out of the 2nd leaving three runners on base.

Top of the 3rd:

Freddy Peralta lead off the 3rd inning by grounding out to second base. After pitching good in the 2nd, Counsell wanted to send Peralta back on the mound. Leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, struck out a second time for another out. Up next, Christian Yelich, who seems to get on base every game, walked with 2 outs. The fourth batter of the inning, Ryan Braun, ended the inning by grounding out hard to Justin Turner, who made a great play on the ball.

Bottom of the 3rd:

All-Star, Manny Machado, grounded out to best friend, Jonathan Schoop, to start the Dodgers’ half of the 3rd. Batting second in this half inning, Brian Dozier, earned a walk off Freddy Peralta. Dozier then stole second base because of a bad throw by Manny Pina. With a runner in scoring position and 1 out, Kike Hernandez struck out looking on a curveball. Yasiel Puig, up to bat with 2 outs, fouled off a lot of pitches and then struck out on a perfectly located fastball on the outside corner.

Top of the 4th:

Jesus Aguilar batted first for the Brewers in the top of the 4th. He got Milwaukee’s first hit of the night by lining a single into right field. Mike Moustakas followed up Aguilar’s single by striking out. Schoop was up to bat next and grounded out into a double play. Through 4 innings, Rich Hill looked great as the Brewers could not generate enough baserunners to put any pressure on him.

Bottom of the 4th:

Craig Counsell stayed with Freddy Peralta and he struck out Austin Barnes on three pitches to start the inning. The second batter, Rich Hill, tried to throw everybody off guard by bunting but he was thrown out by Peralta who made the easy play. Chris Taylor, who so far scored the only run of the game, ended the inning when he struck out looking. This was the first inning Milwaukee had where nobody reached base safely.

Top of the 5th:

Rich Hill started the 5th by striking out Manny Pina on a questionable called third strike. After the strikeout, Arcia continued his hot streak by hitting a single up the middle. Hitting in the 9 spot, Domingo Santana entered the game to pinch hit for Freddy Peralta and hit a double into right center field that scored Arcia. Cain quickly made the second out of the inning when he went first pitch swinging and grounded out to shortstop. Christian Yelich stepped up to the plate with 2 outs and a runner on second but he struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th:

Corbin Burnes entered the game for the Brewers after Santana pinch-hit for pitcher, Freddy Peralta. Burnes started his outing by striking out Justin Turner on a 97 MPH fastball. Max Muncy walked up to the plate after the strikeout and grounded out into the Milwaukee shift. Corbin Burnes did not shy away from the third batter of the inning, Manny Machado, he went right after him. He struck out Machado looking to end the 5th. Machado did not like the call and argued with the home plate umpire until manager, Dave Roberts, had to intervene.

Top of the 6th:

Pedro Baez relieved Rich Hill in the 6th and his first batter was Ryan Braun. Braun was first pitch swinging and singled in between short and third. The next batter, Jesus Aguilar, struck out on a 3-2 split fingered fastball. “Moose” was the next batter and flew out to first baseman, Max Muncy. Schoop, who struck out and grounded into a double play earlier this game, made the final out of the inning by striking out for a second time.

Bottom of the 6th:

Corbin Burnes stayed in for a second inning and hit Brian Dozier to allow the leadoff man on. Cody Bellinger came in to pinch hit and immediately flew out to Ryan Braun in left field. Puig was the next batter up and struck out after falling down in the count, 0-2. To end the inning, Dozier tried to steal on the first pitch to Austin Barnes but Pina threw him out by a mile.

Top of the 7th:

Manny Pina lead off the 7th inning by hitting a double to the right center gap off Dodgers’ relief pitcher, Kenta Maeda. Arcia followed and was robbed of a hit by a sliding catch from Chris Taylor. Curtis Granderson pinch hit for Corbin Burnes and hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field that allowed Pina to advance to third base. With the lead runner on third base Lorenzo Cain faced new pitcher, Ryan Madson, and grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Bottom of the 7th:

Joakim Soria came into relief and quickly gave up a leadoff single to Austin Barnes. Soria got the next two batters out and had to face Justin Turner with a runner on first. Turner hit a liner to right field and Yelich made a spectacular catch falling over the barricade in foul territory to end the inning.

Top of the 8th:

Yelich lead off the 8th inning with an infield single off Ryan Madson. Braun struck out on three pitches in the next at-bat and failed to get the runner over. Next, Aguilar popped out to first base when he swung at the first pitch. A leadoff single proved to be nothing when Moustakas lined out to right field to end this Brew Crew half of the inning.

Bottom of the 8th:

Josh Hader pitched the 8th inning and gave up a leadoff single. He effortlessly got the next two guys out but gave up a hit to Cody Bellinger that put runners on the corners with 2 outs. Former MVP finalist, Matt Kemp, faced Hader but it isn’t 2011 and the lefty proved to be too much for the former All-Star and struck him out. Milwaukee escaped a minor scare and kept the game tied going into the 9th.

Top of the 9th:

Kenley Jansen started the 9th inning and instantly made his presence known by making a great play off the mound to get the leadoff man, Jonathan Schoop, out. Manny Pina got on base for the third time when he drew a walk in the next at-bat. Once Pina got on base, Counsell used Hernan Perez as a pinch runner. On a 0-2 pitch, Arcia was able to put the ball in play and move Perez to second base. Travis Shaw came up to the plate as a pinch hitter with 2 outs and a runner on second but struck out.

Bottom of the 9th:

Corey Knebel fell down in the count 3-1 to his first batter, Austin Barnes, but was able to get him to ground out to Arcia for the first out of the inning. Then, Knebel got Joc Pederson to strike out swinging but walked Chris Taylor on 8 pitches. 2 outs, runner on first, Justin Turner up to bat. Knebel threw one pitch to him and was able to get Turner to line out to center field.

Top of the 10th:

Around midnight (central time) Lorenzo Cain lead off with an out to right field against Kenley Jansen. The ball was hit shallow and Cody Bellinger made a ridiculous diving catch to take away a hit. Momentum stayed with the Dodgers because on the very next pitch, Yelich broke his bat and popped out to third base. A 2 out single by Ryan Braun kept the inning alive. He stole second base with Aguilar up to bat and got into scoring position. However, it did not matter because Jansen made quick work of the big first baseman and struck him out.

Bottom of the 10th:

The bottom of the 10th started with Junior Guerra striking out Max Muncy on 5 pitches. This is where things get controversial. Guerra got Machado to ground out to short and when he was running through the base, it looked like Machado purposely kicked through Aguilar’s leg/ankle. This caused Aguilar to get heated and benches to clear. Nothing more happened except I am now convinced Manny Machado is the dirtiest player in the MLB. After that, Brian Dozier struck out. Inning over.

Top of the 11th:

Moustakas started the 11th by grounding out against Alex Wood. Jonathan Schoop followed suit and grounded out as well. Erik Kratz did not put up a fight either as he struck out on a curveball in the dirt. Not much happening this inning for the Crew.

Bottom of the 11th:

Guerra came out in the bottom of the 11th and was able to get leadoff man, Cody Bellinger, to strike out. Yasmani Grandal was the second batter in the inning and Junior was able to strike him out too. Austin Barnes, flew out to Aguilar in foul territory to end the 11th.

Top of the 12th:

Dylan Floro came in to pitch the 12th inning for the Dodgers. The first batter he faced was Orlando Arcia and he grounded out to third on 1 pitch. Junior Guerra, the second batter of the inning, worked the count but ultimately struck out. Lorenzo Cain made the final out of the inning by striking out as well.

Bottom of the 12th:

After a dominant 11th inning, Guerra came out to pitch the bottom of the 12th. The first batter, Joc Pederson, grounded out to Arcia who made a nice play ranging towards the middle to make the out. Next, Chris Taylor hit a weak pop-up to Jesus Aguilar. Justin Turner made the final out of the inning by grounding out to Jonathan Schoop.

Top of the 13th:

Around 1:00 AM (central time), Christian Yelich lead off the 13th inning with a ground out to second against Julio Urias. Former MVP, Ryan Braun, was the next batter and hit a rocket of a single into left field. This was the first hard hit ball Milwaukee had in multiple innings. Jesus Aguilar followed Braun in the order and hit a deep fly ball to center but it was caught for an out. Moustakas made the final out in the top of the 13th inning when he struck out looking.

Bottom of the 13th:

Craig Counsell had full confidence sending Guerra out in the 13th inning considering nobody was warming up in the bullpen. Max Muncy made a loud out number one by lining out to Braun in left field. Manny Machado was swinging for the fences. He did not hit a homerun but he settled for a line drive single to left. The second out came when Dozier hit a foul ball that “Moose” caught close to the dodgers’ dugout. Bellinger was the next man up to bat and Guerra’s first pitch to him was a wild pitch that allowed Machado to advance to second base. The long night did not end in Milwaukee’s favor because on a 3-2 count, Bellinger hit a ball into right field that dropped in front of Yelich. Christian made a good play on the ball and made an even better throw but it wasn’t enough to get Machado out at the plate.

Brewers Secure their Bright Future

As the offseason is coming to a close, with pitchers and catchers reporting February 14, the Brewers have orchestrated a slower offseason than last year. However, with an announcement on Wednesday, they may have topped last year.

On Wednesday, they announced they promoted GM David Stearns to President of Operations and more importantly extended his contract. No details were released. However, the Brewers – with this move – secured their future for years to come.

Friday January 25th marks one year since one of the most exciting days in recent Brewer history. On that day, one year ago, they made the blockbuster trade to receive Christian Yelich, only to sign Lorenzo Cain about a half hour later. Although, that made a major impact on the burst to the NLCS run of 2018, extending Stearns seems more important.

Stearns was hired near the end of the 2015 season. He has built the team since, through drafts, trades, and acquisitions. To get a more in depth view on those specifically, you can read one of my past articles;

http://www.creamcitycentral.com/brewers/the-most-important-contract-extension-of-the-year/

Since arriving, Stearns had brought an analytical mindset that has resulted in fast success. While doing that, he has still kept young, controllable, and fairly inexpensive talent.

Take someone like Jesus Aguilar, somewhat undervalued in the Indians organization, he became extremely valuable in the Brewers organization. To many he might have seemed like the last player to make the roster. But yet he had an influential first half in 2018, and at 28 years old made the All- Star roster.

Piggy backing off of that, is the importance of young players. While obviously the Brewers want them to have an impact in the majors, they can be great for trades. Whether you look at the Yelich trade that finished off the roster or the Moustakas trade that gave them the last push for the postseason. Either way, young talent is crucial for the small market Brewers.

Another major point of Stearns’ tenure in Milwaukee, is how he handled the rebuild. I did touch on it in the article I linked before, but I would like to mention it again. Stearns never put a timetable on the rebuild and though analysts did, he refused. A normal rebuild blueprint shows that the Brewers should have expected at least two “terrible” seasons. However, Sterns and the Brewers wrote their own story.

Although the story has a few more chapters to be written, it has been an entertaining one for sure so far. With only one real “unbearable” season in 2016, when they went 73-89, it really could have been much worse. Then we all know the rest of the story, in 2017 they exceeded all expectations, then missed the playoffs by one game and then in 2018 missed the World Series by one game. That brings us to the present, and from the view right now, the future looks even brighter.

It is easy to see that Stearns has been undoubtedly a perfect match for Milwaukee. If you don’t believe that, you are either a Cubs fan who doesn’t want to admit the Brewers success or someone who lives under a rock. Anyways, giving him a contract extension as well as a promotion, not only solidifies the future, it makes sure no one tries to steal him away from our beloved Brewers.

Chasing October: Brewers Top Prospects #6-10

This 6-10 range is where things start to get really interesting in the Brewers’ prospect rankings. All of the players in the Brewers’ top-10 have the potential to be core pieces within the coming years, and it is exciting to see such a stockpile of high-end talent. Prospects 6-10 feature five position players who boast advanced tools. The possibility exists for all five to be in a Brewers’ lineup together in the next two to three years if all goes according to plan. Let’s start with #10, outfielder Monte Harrison:

  1. Monte Harrison, OF

Harrison, a former second-round pick, had struggled to stay healthy up until 2017, greatly limiting his exposure and development. He limped to a .220/.300/.339 batting line in 2016 with Class A Wisconsin, and the future seemed to be dimming. However, 2017 brought better fortunes, and he responded with a monster season split between Class A Wisconsin and Class A-Advanced Carolina. He slashed .265/.359/.475 with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases in just 63 games at Wisconsin. He didn’t slow down in the slightest with his promotion to Carolina, as he went on to hit .278/.341/.487 with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases. In the field, Harrison had 9 outfield assists between the two levels.

Harrison boasts a profile that is typical throughout the Brewers’ current big league roster, as he brings a lot of swing and miss in his game but also has electric power potential. In the field, he utilizes his speed to play all three outfield positions, and pairs a 70-grade arm to boot. His individual tools are rivaled only by those of Lewis Brinson’s in the Brewers’ system, and it is a toss-up regarding whose are better. His combination of power, speed, and overall athletic ability gives him a sky-high ceiling, one that if reached could make him an all-star. However, to get there he will need to solve the holes in his game, most notably his strikeout rate. There is considerable risk with Harrison; the reward, however, could be remarkable.

  1. Lucas Erceg, 3B

Erceg gained a large following last year with his impressive professional debut, as the 2016 2nd round pick hit .327/.376/.518 with 9 home runs and 51 RBI between rookie-level Helena and Class A Wisconsin. That led to an aggressive placement with Class A-Advanced Carolina, making it appear that the Brewers would try to fast track Erceg to the big leagues. After a rough start to the season (.239/.283/.368 prior to the All-Star break), Erceg caught fire in the 2nd half, hitting .273/.330/.466 with 9 home runs and 46 RBI. His season ended with a temporary promotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs to assist in their playoff push, where he thoroughly impressed despite a very small sample size (.357/.429/.500). Erceg is currently continuing his success in the Arizona Fall League, a post-season league made up of many of the game’s top prospects. He is hitting .320/.346/.640.

Erceg’s value mainly emanates from his complete hitting profile. He is one of the scarce hitters in the Brewers’ system that offers both above average contact and power potential. In addition, he has a relatively low strikeout rate compared to many of his peers, and owns a solid walk rate as well. When you add in his above average defense at the hot corner, it becomes easy to see how he is potentially the best homegrown third base product the Brewers have had since Ryan Braun. While no one expects Braun-level production from Erceg, third base has been a position at which the Brewers have struggled in developing big league players, so Erceg could and should break that trend.

  1. Brett Phillips, OF

Phillips arrived in Milwaukee at the 2015 trade deadline in part of the package for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. He was touted as a top-50 prospect at the time amidst a breakout season. However, a rough 2016 saw him plummet in the rankings as he hit .229/.332/.397. By wRC+ this was still an above-average season in the Double-A Southern League, but nonetheless it scared many prospect evaluators. Phillips re-emerged in 2017 in the thin air of Triple-A Colorado Springs, hitting .305/.377/.567 with 19 home runs in 105 games. He bounced between Triple-A and the majors for the majority of the 2nd half, and impressed in Milwaukee by slashing .276/.351/.448 in 98 plate appearances spanning 37 games. He made quite the case down the stretch to warrant consideration for the Brewers’ primary centerfield slot in 2018.

Unlike many of the Brewers’ heavy hitting prospects, Phillips garners extreme value in the field. Despite playing in just 37 games, he ranked as the 13th best centerfielder in the MLB according to FanGraphs’ defensive runs above average metric. His “plus” speed paired with an 80-grade arm (the highest ranking on the scouting scale) makes him a difference-maker and perennial gold-glove threat. At the plate, Phillips does possess swing and miss issues (30% strikeout rate since arriving in the Brewers’ organization), but he has the potential to make up for it with his above-average walk rate and his solid approach. He has sacrificed contact for power over the last two years, but with his defensive value Phillips needs to be merely serviceable at the plate to warrant him a starter-level player.

  1. Isan Diaz, 2B/SS

After a 2016 season that culminated in being named the Brewers’ Minor League Player of Year, Diaz struggled to carry over his success into 2017. In 2016, Diaz displayed his advanced offensive game en route to finishing with a .264/.358/.469 slash line paired with 20 home runs and an above-average 12% walk rate. This caused him to soar up prospect boards, as second basemen with that type of offensive output are a rare commodity. 2017 started out well for Diaz, as he hit .273 in April, but he saw his fair share of ups-and-downs over the course of the year, finishing with a line of .222/.334/.376 with 13 home runs.

At only 21 years of age, there is no need to panic over Diaz’s down year. Many of the Brewers’ top hitting prospects struggled to produce in Carolina, and it will be interesting to see if the club promotes those players to start 2018 regardless. Diaz is often noted as having extreme upside at the plate, and it is easy to see him at his peak being a 25+ home run threat while hitting in the .270-.290 range. In the field, Diaz has recently switched to second base to accommodate the Brewers’ future plans for him, and he should grade out as average for the position. If all goes according to plan, Diaz could be an integral part of the Brewers’ lineup in 2-3 years.

  1. Corey Ray, OF

Corey Ray has quickly established himself as one of the most polarizing prospects in the Brewers’ farm system. Lofty expectations were placed on Ray after being GM David Stearns’ first draft selection, and this has placed him under extreme scrutiny. Strong performance is expected from someone drafted as high as Ray (5th overall), especially with his excellent college pedigree. However, Ray has yet to live up to the hype through one-and-a-half minor-league seasons. In 2016, he hit a modest .247/.307/.385 with 5 home runs in 57 games. At the time, this average stat line was written off as simply being Ray adjusting to professional baseball and his aggressive placement to Class A-Advance playing in as a second factor. 2017 saw him struggle more, however, as he hit .238/.311/.367 with 7 home runs. Ray’s highly touted offensive game has yet to materialize, as he struggles have continued into the Arizona Fall League.

On paper, Ray possesses all the tools to be an all-star. His potential in every tool grades out above average, and he has the defensive ability to stick in center field long-term, maximizing his value. Upon being drafted, it seemed as though the Brewers would be able to fast track Ray through the minor leagues, with his ETA being late-2018. That plan has seemed to change with Ray’s difficulty in finding success, as some glaring and serious holes have emerged. Most concerning is his strikeout rate. In 2017, Ray struck out 31% of the time. This was an issue of his many saw in college, but figured that further development would solve it. Ray has the potential to be a star in the Brewers’ line-ups, and it would be a tough blow to David Stearns and Co. if their first prized pick fails to pan out. I am guessing that the Brewers will continue to be aggressive and assign Ray to Double-A Biloxi to start the 2018 season, but would not be surprised if they feel he has more to prove at Class A-Advanced Carolina before moving up.

Wisconsin Weekly 7/27-8/5

Milwaukee Brewers

Games

As of Wednesday night’s game, the Milwaukee Brewers are 5-3 since the 27th of July in games against the Diamondbacks and Pirates in Milwaukee and the Padres in San Diego.

A Nostalgic Look at the 2001 Brewers

The Bucks have been one of the NBA’s basement dwellers for a long time. It was not until last year where they had a legitimate chance to make the second round in the Eastern Conference. This year is a different story, with Giannis Antetokounmpo running the show, Milwaukee beat the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. This is the first time they have made the second round since 2001 when Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson were the big dogs. For nostalgia purposes and because it’s fun to see how far Milwaukee teams have come, I dove into what the Brewers looked like last time the Bucks were this good. Make sure you read the whole article, there are definitely some names that will bring back all the feels. Ladies and gentleman, your 2001 Milwaukee Brewers.

Record: 68-94, 4th in the NL Central behind the Astros (Led by Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt), Cardinals (Led by Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Placido Polanco, Matt Morris) and Cubs (Led by Sammy Sosa, Eric Young, Rondell White, Kerry Wood)

Run Differential: -66

Manager: Davey Lopes

Lopes coached the Brewers in 2000, 2001, and for 15 games (he was fired after Milwaukee started the season 3-12) in 2002. He finished his Brewer managerial career with a 144-195 record. The best his team ever finished was 3rd in the NL Central. This was his one and only managerial stint.

Led Team

Starting Rotation:

Jamey Wright: GS – 33 : W – 11 : L – 12 : ERA – 4.90 : IP – 194.2 : SO – 129 : WHIP – 1.536 : WAR – 0.4

Jimmy Haynes: GS – 29 : W – 8 : L – 17 : ERA – 4.85 : IP – 172.2 : SO – 112 : WHIP – 1.506 : WAR – 0.9

Ben Sheets: GS – 25 : W – 11 : L – 10 : ERA – 4.76 : IP – 151.1 : SO – 94 : WHIP – 1.414 : WAR – 0.6

Allen Levrault: GS – 20 : W – 6 : L – 10 : ERA – 6.06 : IP – 130.2 : SO – 80 : WHIP – 1.569 : WAR – -1.1

Paul Rigdon: GS – 15 : W – 3 : L – 5 : ERA – 5.79 : IP – 79.1 : SO – 49 : WHIP – 1.664 : WAR – -0.2

The 2001 Brewer starting rotation was one of the youngest in the league with an average age of 24 years old. This age showed because the Brewer starters finished with an abysmal average ERA of 5.27. If anybody was to blame for Milwaukee’s poor 68 win season, it was the starting pitching. The only good thing to come out of the starters was the rookie season of, Ben Sheets. Sheets ended up having a very nice career where he made 4 all star games with the Crew and is considered one of the most popular Brewer pitchers of all-time. The only other starter to have any sort of success in the league after 2001 was Jamey Wright who ended playing 13 more years in the bigs.

Relief Pitchers:

Mike DeJean: G – 75 : ERA – 2.77 : IP – 84.1 : SO – 68 : SV – 2 : WHIP – 1.352 : WAR – 1.4

Chad Fox: G – 65 : ERA – 1.89 : IP – 66.2 : SO – 80 : SV – 2 : WHIP – 1.200 : WAR – 2.3

Curt Leskanic: G – 70 : ERA – 3.63 : IP – 69.1 : SO – 64 : SV – 17 : WHIP – 1.356 : WAR – 0.9

David Weathers: G – 52 : ERA – 2.03 : IP – 57.2 : SO – 46 : SV- 4 : WHIP – 1.075 : WAR – 2.0

Ray King: G – 82 : ERA – 3.60 : IP – 55.0 : SO – 49 : SV – 1 : WHIP – 1.345 : WAR – 1.0

As bad as the starting pitching was, the Milwaukee bullpen was a nice change of pace in 2001. For the most part they were lights out combining for an ERA of 2.78. To put it in perspective last year’s 5 main bullpen guys on the Crew combined for an ERA of 2.95. Players like Mike DeJean, David Weathers, and Ray King all had solid careers after 2001.

Catcher: Henry Blanco

AB – 314 : BA – .210 : OPS – .634 : HR- 6 : RBI – 31 : R – 33

With Henry Blanco his offensive numbers were very underwhelming. However, he played in the MLB until he was 41 years old because of his consistency behind the dish. Even in 2001 he had a very good CS% of 42% which was a year off of his career high 58%. Albeit, Yadier Molina isn’t retired yet, but Blanco had more 40%+ CS% seasons than him. Blanco played 16 years for 11 different teams meaning he was an ultimate journeyman after 2 years with Milwaukee.

First Baseman: Richie Sexson

AB – 598 : BA – .271 : OPS – .889 : HR – 45 : RBI – 125 : R- 94

The 2001 Milwaukee Brewers MVP was none other than the 6’7” monster at first base, Richie Sexson. At the end of the season he was 9th in the MLB in home runs and 5th out of all first basemen. Also, he was 11th in RBIs which ranked 6th out of first baseman. In 3 and 1/3 seasons with Milwaukee Sexson hit a remarkable 133 home runs (over 1/3 of his career total), 398 RBIs and was selected to his only two career All-Star games. After his years with the Brewers he went on to play for the Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Yankees but never quite reached the success he did with the Brewers.

Second Baseman: Ronnie Belliard

AB – 364 : BA – .264 : OPS – .788 : HR – 11 : RBI – 36 : R – 69

The Brewers got a hold of Ronnie Belliard right before he hit his prime. Milwaukee had him as their second baseman from his age 23 season all the way through his age 27 season. However, it wasn’t until the next year when Belliard was with Colorado that he hit his stride in the league. After Milwaukee found a new second baseman, Belliard played 8 more years in the bigs averaging .278 at the plate with a .336 OBP. He also averaged 11 home runs, 53 RBIs, 28 doubles, and 55 runs. These averages compare to Belliard’s absolute best season (1999) with the Brewers. To add to his personal legacy even more, he won a World Series and made 1 All-Star game after the Brewers.

Shortstop: Jose Hernandez

AB – 542 : BA – .249 : OPS – .743 : HR – 25 : RBI : 78 : R – 67

When it comes to shortstops, Jose Hernandez had a very good season at the plate. He had more home runs and RBIs than Derek Jeter and a better OPS than 5x All-Star, Edgar Renteria. Hernandez started his career in 1991 when he was 21 years old but by the time the Brewers got him, it was looking like his best years were behind him. This proved to be incorrect because his three years in Milwaukee were his best. He even made his only All-Star appearance one year after 2001. The only knock on Hernandez in 2001 was his defense which was below average. He committed 18 errors which was 17th worst in the league. Great hitting (Besides the fact he led the league in strikeouts) and so-so defense was the case with the Brewers shortstop in 2001.

Third Baseman: Tyler Houston

AB – 235 : BA – .289 : OPS – .815 : HR – 12 : RBI – 38 : R – 36

Third base was a cluster for Milwaukee in 2001 until they found their guy in Tyler Houston. They tried guys like Luis Lopez and Mark Coolbaugh but none of them stuck until Houston made his mark at the plate. Houston was starting to fall out of the league until 2001 was able to buy him two more years. For his final years he played for the Brewers, Dodgers, and Phillies.

Utility Man: Mark Loretta

AB – 384 : BA – .289 : OPS – .698 : HR – 2 : RBI – 29 : R – 40

Before beloved utility players like Craig Counsell, Junior Spivey, and Bill Hall, there was a man before them. Mark Loretta did it all for the Brewers in 2001. He played second, third, shortstop, and he even pitched an inning (he struck out 2 and gave up 0 runs). Loretta had a very nice 15 year career where he hit for an average of .295. He made 2 All-Star games (one with San Diego and one with Boston) and won a silver slugger award. Loretta was the epitome of what a utility player should be. Perhaps, he was one of the most useful players on the 2001 Brewers despite having no solidified position.

Left Field: Geoff Jenkins

AB – 397 : BA – .264 : OPS – .808 : HR – 20 : RBI – 63 : R – 60

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Geoff Jenkins? He played in Milwaukee for 10 years and gave the city everything he had even if his teams weren’t the best. He was the Brewers first round pick in the 1995 draft and never failed to live up to expectations. Geoff Jenkins was awesome. He was a fan favorite who could hit the ball as well as anybody and throw someone out from the warning track with his canon of an arm. In the 10 years Jenkins played in Milwaukee he hit 212 home runs (average of 21 per year), 704 RBIs (average of 70), 287 doubles (average close to 29 per year) all while hitting an average of .277. For 10 years, I would say that’s very good. I could go on and on about how much I love Geoff Jenkins, but I have to move on to the next starter on the 2001 Brewers.

Center Field: Devon White

AB – 390 : BA – .277 : OPS – .802 : HR – 14 : RBI – 47 : R – 52

Devon White played for the Brewers in his last season of his 17 year career. Even though he was 38 he still provided a decent bat and speed on the base paths (He stole 18 bases on 21 attempts in 2001). Also, White had a very good glove out in center. During his career, he won 7 Gold Gloves while also winning 3 World Series and making 3 All-Star appearances. It’s a shame that Blue Jay fans got to see him in his prime and not Brewer fans.

Right Field: Jeromy Burnitz

AB – 562 : BA – .251 : OPS – .851 : HR – 34 : RBI – 100 : R – 104

The best thing about Jeromy Burnitz is that we got him in the prime of his career. For 5 1/8 years, Milwaukee got to see Burnitz juice 165 home runs. He was a power hitter through and through who also had surprising speed and very good plate discipline. Burnitz played for 5 teams after his stint in Milwaukee but could never find the same success. Burnitz was an excellent option to have bat right before Richie Sexson.

The 2001 Milwaukee Brewers had a lineup that could go up against anybody in the league, but the starting pitching situation proved to be the team’s downfall. Wait…maybe the 2019 Brewers have something in common with the 2001 Brewers…