After ending a disappointing 32 games outside of first place in 2015, the Brewers decided to part ways with former General Manager, Doug Melvin. Under Melvin’s reign, Milwaukee had made the playoffs twice, the NLDS in 2008, and the NLCS in 2011. However, while making the playoffs twice, Melvin missed out 11 times over 13 years.
Enter David Stearns. Three years later, for the first time since 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers have clinched a postseason spot. The Crew are currently in the Wild Card Game, however they’re only a half game out of the NL Central lead. Whether it was picking up All-Star Jesus Aguilar off waivers or trading for MVP candidate Christian Yelich, we take a look into how David Stearns has made the Brewers one of the best teams in the National League.
- Tyler Thornburg traded to Boston Red Sox for Travis Shaw and three prospects. (Offseason, 2016)
Ranking 25th in runs scored, and 15th in Homeruns, Stearns went on the hunt for a power hitter. After Tyler Thornburg finished the 2016 season with a 2.13 ERA, Stearns sold high, getting Travis Shaw and three prospects. Stearns would prove to be the winner, as Thornburg did not play in 2017 due to surgery on his right shoulder. Shaw however, was one of the teams MVPs, hitting .273, with 101 runs batted in and 31 home runs. In 2018, Shaw consistently bats fourth for Milwaukee and currently has 31 home runs and 85 runs batted in.
2. Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas Rangers for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell. (8/1/16)
As much as trading Lucroy hurt me as a Brewers fan, it ended up being one of the biggest moves in franchise history. Stearns, willing to rebuild, picked up two first round draft picks in Brinson and Ortiz. In addition the Rangers added their sixth overall prospect, Ryan Cordell, to finish the deal. Seen as a rebuild move at the time, trading for Lewis Brinson would play a big role in the acquisition of Christian Yelich. Milwaukee has since traded Texas back for Jeffress.
3. Jesus Aguilar claimed off waivers from Cleveland Indians. (2/2/17)
During the beginning of the Year in 2018, Jesus’ primary role was a pinch hitter. And man was he good. Walk off after walk off, Jesus worked his way into the Brewers lineup and has been making a major impact ever since. Aguilar has hit .275, tied second in the National League with 34 home runs, and is top ten for runs batted in, with 105. His consistent bat has helped propel Milwaukee from a middle of the road ball club, to leading the National League in wins.
4. Brewers sign Jhoulys Chacin from San Diego Padres for a Two Year Deal. (12/20/17)
Not knowing when Ace Jimmy Nelson would return, Stearns looked to add a great starting pitcher. In Chacin, the GM felt comfort, as the veteran put up steady numbers in San Diego. While taking over as the ace, Chacin has done wonders. Logging fifteen wins and only eight losses, Chacin finished the regular season with a 3.56 ERA and 1.182 WHIP. With 187 innings of work and 34 games started, Chacin will be the probable starter for the Wild Card Game.
5. Prospects Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto to Miami Marlins for Christian Yelich. (1/25/18)
One of the more shocking trades of the MLB this offseason was the Brewers acquisition of OF Christian Yelich. Throughout the season, trading for Yelich has paid dividends. The MVP candidate leads the National League in average, slugging, on base + slugging and runs created. He is second in runs and wins above replacement, while also being sixth for on base percentage. Christian Yelich has brought Milwaukee to the playoffs for the first time in seven years, and fifth time in franchise history. Oh, and did I mention we have him until 2022?
6. Free Agent Lorenzo Cain signed to a 5 year/$80 million deal from Kansas City. (1/25/18)
Within hours of trading for OF Christian Yelich, GM David Stearns wasn’t done filling his outfield. Originally drafted by the Brewers, Cain was traded away to Kansas City. After winning a World Series, the two time all-star has returned home and is putting up insane numbers. Cain leads the National league with a wins above replacement of 7.0. He is in second for on base percentage and fourth for batting average and stolen bases. Cain has been a wonderful leadoff hitter for the crew, and an even better outfielder ranking second in defensive wins above replacement.
7. Wendell Rijo to New York Yankees for Erik Kratz. (6/16/18)
When originally acquired from the Yankees, Kratz’s job was to backup Manny Pina at Catcher. Since being in Milwaukee, Kratz has played in 63 games, batting .251 and having a .297 on base percentage. The Catcher has been a breath of fresh air, adding depth to Milwaukee’s lineup.
8. Kodi Medeiros and Wilber Perez to Chicago White Sox for Joakim Soria and Cash. (7/26/18)
Needing a key SP heading into the trade deadline, David Stearns went a different direction. The 33 year old GM added a veteran reliever to increase depth in the bullpen. In 2018, Soria has posted a 3.22 ERA with a 1.176 WHIP.
9. Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez to Kansas City Royals for Mike Moustakas. (7/27/18)
Needing a bat in the lineup but still an excellent infielder, Stearns set out to get Moose. In 2018, Moose has hit .250, with 28 home runs and 93 runs batted in. Not only did the Brewers upgrade in hitting, but acquiring Moose meant the Brewers could move Shaw to second base and trade away Jonathan Villar.
10. Jonathan Villar and two Prospects to Baltimore Orioles for Jonathan Schoop. (8/1/18)
With Jonathan Villar struggling at the plate and Travis Shaw getting the nod to play second base, Schoop was a perfect pickup for Milwaukee. Before being traded, the former All-Star had won AL Player of the Week honors. Even though his year hasn’t been tremendous, Schoop can pay dividends for the Brewers in years to come, as he is signed until 2019.
11. KJ Harrison and Gilbert Lara to Washington Nationals for Gio Gonzalez and Cash. (9/1/18)
Looking for a consistent LHP, the Brewers acquired Gio Gonzalez. While he struggled in D.C. with a 4.57 ERA, he has been lights out with the Crew. In four appearances, Gonzalez has gone 2-0, with a 2.66 ERA and a .984 WHIP.
12. Demi Orimoloye to Toronto Blue Jays for Curtis Granderson (9/1/18).
In the same day as Gonzalez, Granderson was traded to the Brewers. The polished veteran has done wonders for the Brewers in the outfield as the health for Cain and Braun being a concern. With Ryan Braun’s age comes injuries, and Granderson has filled in nicely. When in the lineup, Granderson hits leadoff, as his on base percentage is .385 with the Crew. While he might not start in the Wild Card Game, Granderson would be a perfect fit for a pinch hit at-bat against a RHP in the Playoffs.
Brewers 2018 Postseason Projected Lineup:
- Cain CF
- Yelich RF
- Aguilar 1B
- Shaw 2B
- Braun LF
- Moose 3B
- Kratz C
- Arcia SS
- Chacin P
*Bolded names are players who weren’t apart of the organization before Stearns was GM*
It’s safe to say Stearns has had one busy year with the Brewers, and his hard work is paying off. Milwaukee is currently twenty five games over .500, and only half a game back of the Cubs. While popping champagne bottles after clinching a playoff spot, Counsell told ESPN, “We have the weapons to win the World Series…we’re deep enough where I think we can make a good run”. With that being said, you can’t help but think David Stearns has had a major role in the Brewers success thus far.