Counsell in good position to win NL Manager of the Year

Craig Counsell is starting to gain national recognition for the job he’s done this season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Counsell has led the Brewers to a 65-60 record and only two games out of the National League Central Division race and two and a half games out the Wild Card hunt.

This was a Brewers team thought to be in the second year of a rebuild. The team was only projected to win 72 games this season, but are currently on pace to win 84-85 games. Milwaukee has overachieved in almost every aspect this season.

The starting pitching has been one of the better rotations ERA wise in the national league pretty much the whole season. The bullpen has gotten stronger since general manager David Stearns made a few deadline deals to add veteran arms to the back-end of the bullpen.

Young players such as Domingo Santana and Orlando Arcia have also had break-out seasons, which has helped fuel the Brewers offense. Travis Shaw, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox this winter, has also been having his best season as a pro.

Counsell’s biggest competition will be Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Roberts has led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball at 87-35. The team is currently on pace to win 116 games, which would be one of the best regular seasons in Major League Baseball history.

Roberts shot at winning the award could be hurt by the star-studded Dodgers roster and the fact that they have the highest payroll in baseball. Some voters will probably hesitate to vote for him since he won NL Manager of the Year last season.

As long as Counsell and the Brewers don’t have a monumental collapse in September, he should be the favorite to take home Manager of the Year honors.

 

Brewers Neil Walker making debut at 3rd base

One day after the Milwaukee Brewers traded for second baseman Neil Walker from the New York Mets, Walker gets the start for the Crew Sunday against the Reds. Walker will start at third base and bat cleanup in place of regular 3B Travis Shaw who is dealing with a right foot injury.

 

Walker is batting .264 this season, with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 73 games. He missed a large chunk of June and July with a hamstring injury, just returning to the lineup on July 28. This was the 31-year-old’s second year in New York, having spent his first seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Walker’s stats may not blow anyone away, the Brewers struggles at second base have been a story for several months. They waived Scooter Gennett during spring training, handing the job to Jonathan Villar. He’s batting just .222 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. Milwaukee overcame his struggles early on because of Eric Sogard’s surprise success. He batted .331 before the all-star break, but since returning from an injury in late July, he’s got five hits in 45 at-bats.

 

What this Brewers offense is missing

The Brewers have undoubtedly played better than anyone expected this season, and are still in the hunt for the National League Central title. This has lead to Brewers general manager David Stearns making some moves to sure up the Milwaukee bullpen, which emerged as the team’s weakest unit.

The team has struggled since the All-Star break going 9-14 in that time. The starting pitching has been relatively good all season, and the bullpen has made strides as of late. What is really plaguing the Brewers is the fact that the offense isn’t hitting home runs and not scoring runs in general.

David Stearns mentioned how he would continue to look at every option available to improve this ball club. I’m sure he’ll continue to scour the waiver wire and look to make deals during the waiver trade deadline.  He could also continue to bring up younger players from the minor league in hopes of a spark. Which might not really happen until September.

Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips are two highly touted prospects, but both have shown that the Brewers need to be patient with their progression as they’ve both struggled in their limited time at the big league level.

There has been a lot said lately about how the Brewers have struggled to score runs especially when they aren’t hitting home runs. That is true, but the team is struggling to even get on base at the same time. What I think this Brewers team is missing is a true lead-off hitter. Jonathan Villar was the Brewers lead-off man for most of last season, but he has been anything but productive so far this season.

Villar is hitting .216 this season with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs. He does have 20 stolen bases, but has shown a lack of concentration on the bases too many times in his career. He has also struck out 111 times this season, which is over 34% of his at-bats. His on-base percentage of .276 is terrible for a traditional lead-off hitter. He has also committed 11 errors this season, which doesn’t help his case.

Eric Sogard has also seen quite a bit of time in the lead-off spot since mid-May. He was fitting the role nicely up until he went on the disabled list just before the All-Star break. Since returning to the lineup a little more than two weeks ago, he has really struggled. Since July, Sogard is a combined 3-39 for a batting average of .077 during that time period. The Brewers have to monitor his playing time because he is coming off of knee reconstruction surgery.

The Brewers don’t really have many other options. Eric Thames and Domingo Santana have seen some time at the top of the order, but Craig Counsell and the Brewers would prefer them lower in the order. Keon Broxton has also gotten starts in the lead-off spot, but has struck out at too high of a clip to be a good candidate for the position. The Brewers could try Orlando Arcia at the top spot in the order, but Craig Counsell seems content with batting him in the seventh or eighth spot.

Without a consistent lead-off hitter, the Brewers offense will continue to struggle as long as they aren’t hitting the long ball. For my money, I’d pull the trigger on calling up top prospects Lewis Brinson and/or Mauricio Dubon and let them find their swings at the major league level.

 

 

 

 

Recap: Brewers July trades

Brewers  general manager David Stearns remained active all the way up to the deadline and ended up pulling off three trades in July. The Brewers made one trade today before the non-waiver trade deadline, which passed at 3 p.m. CST. Stearns acquired talent without mortgaging the organization’s farm system. He made trades with lower-rated prospects or from a position of depth within the minor leagues.

 

Trade Recaps

July 13th

The Brewers acquired left-handed relief pitcher Tyler Webb for Triple-A first basemen Garrett Cooper. Tyler Webb is currently in Triple-A Colorado Springs after posting a 0-0 record with a 9.00 ERA and a 3.15 WHIP in two appearances with the Brewers in Mid-July. He threw two innings and gave up two runs, including a grand slam to the first batter he faced as a Brewer.

July 26th

The Brewers acquired right-handed pitcher Anthony Swarzak for their 17th ranked outfield prospect Ryan Cordell. Cordell was playing at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but Stearns and the Brewers felt like he was expendable due to the crowded outfield in the Brewers farm system. Swarzak has pitched two innings so far for the Brewers and has allowed one hit, a home run versus the Chicago Cubs. He has also struck out two batters.

July 31st

The Brewers acquired right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffress for Double-A relief pitcher Tayler Scott. Jeffress played three seasons for the Brewers from 2014-16 and was a valuable set-up man and closer. He was ultimately traded in the Jonathan Lucroy deal in which the Brewers acquired Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell last summer. Jeffress has struggled with the Rangers, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.31 ERA. He has struggled with drug and alcohol issues in the past, and didn’t want to leave Milwaukee last season because of the good support-system he had there. The Brewers hope he can return to his old form.

David Stearns acquired the talent he could without hurting the organization’s future all the way up to the non-waiver trade deadline, but don’t expect the Brewers to be quiet in August. Stearns expects to be busy looking for quality deals in the month of August during the waiver trade deadline that expires at the end of the month.

Report: Brewers looking into Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson

In the last day, reports have come out saying the Milwaukee Brewers have shown interest in New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson. This may be a surprise to Brewers fans, as it’s well known the Brewers have lots of depth in the outfield, and center field in general.

David Stearns said earlier this week that he and his team were looking into “all” options to help the team win. It appears that Stearns and the Brewers think that a potential acquisition of Granderson would make the team better. Granderson would be expected to play center field, as the Brewers have had a lack of production from that position so far this season.

Granderson is a three time All-Star, but not since 2012. Granderson would be a rental player, as his contract expires at the end of the season. He would definitely add a power bat to the Brewers order, as he has averaged about 28 home runs a season for his career. Granderson is also a solid defender, as he has been named a Gold Glove finalist earlier in his career.  He is currently batting .225, with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 94 games this season.

The Brewers may not have to give up a lot to acquire Granderson, but it probably wouldn’t be worth the risk. The team recently recalled top prospect Lewis Brinson, who has looked much more comfortable during his second stint with the team. Brinson has homered in his last two games.

Lots of talk surrounding the early exit of Lewis Brinson from last night’s game

David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers pulled the trigger on another trade last night. The Brewers acquired Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak. The Brewers in return sent the number 17th ranked prospect in the organization, outfielder, Ryan Cordell to the White Sox. Swarzak will be a rental player, as his contract is up at the end of the year.

In the first inning of the Triple-A Colorado Springs game, Lewis Brinson was pulled from the game before his first at-bat. A report from Jon Heyman cited that Brinson was headed to the big leagues, and wasn’t part of a trade. This sent the social media world into a frenzy, and had lots of people theorizing what the Brewers corresponding move would be.

Some wondered if Braun could be part of potential trade talks or could have reaggravated one of his prior injuries from this season. Others thought maybe Brett Phillips could be in trade talks after he has become more comfortable with the bat at the Major League level in the past couple weeks. Could it also be Brinson’s Triple-A numbers forcing the issue? Brinson is slashing .345/.417/.569 in Colorado Springs. He also has 10 home runs and 43 RBIs in 68 games this season.

According to Brewers beat writer, Tom Haudricort, David Stearns wouldn’t confirm the Lewis Brinson call-up, but did say that Ryan Braun isn’t injured. He also mentioned how he would continue to explore trade options for every area of the team. He did confirm that there would be more news later today. Something is in the works here. Maybe another trade? Maybe a demotion? We’ll have to wait and see what The Milwaukee Brewers decide to do later today and for the rest of July.

Report: Brewers linked to Joe Smith

Another day goes by and the non-waiver trade deadline is quickly approaching. The Brewers have once again been linked to another relief pitcher. This time it’s Joe Smith of the Toronto Blue Jays. According to the report by Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers had previously shown interest in Smith last winter, but he ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays.

Smith just recently came off the disabled list a few days ago after having shoulder inflammation. His numbers haven’t been good since the All-Star break, but this could be because of the shoulder issues. Overall, Smith owns a 3-0 record, with a 3.58 ERA, and a 1.16 WHIP. In 32 2/3 innings this season. He has punched out 49 batters while only walking eight. Smith,33, is in his 11th season in the big leagues and has been a serviceable reliever. He has a distinct side-arm delivery, which can be tough for hitters to pick up.

He is yet another bullpen option David Stearns and the Brewers could pull the trigger on by the non-waiver trade deadline. The trade deadline is July 31st at 3 p.m. CST.

Report: Brewers linked to another bullpen arm

The Brewers once again are reported to have interest in another relief pitcher. This time it’s Mets closer Addison Reed according to Marc Carig, a Mets writer for Newsday. The Brewers have now been linked to half a dozen different pitchers, most being relief pitchers. Many of the reports are continuing to say that the Brewers are showing interest, but not aggressively pursuing. David Stearns and his team are keeping their options open and looking at every possible move.

Unlike many of the pitchers the Brewers have been linked to, Reed has an expiring contract at the end of the season. David Stearns has been adamant that the team is looking for players whose contracts that they can control in the future. Reed, 28, doesn’t fit this mold, but he could be a cheaper option when it comes to giving up prospects. The Brewers could potentially re-sign Reed, since they do have the lowest salary cap in baseball.

Reed is 1-2 this season with an ERA of 2.35 and a WHIP of 1.02 with 47 strikeouts in 46 innings. He has converted 16 of his 18 save opportunities.

Report: Brewers showing interest in former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander

According to Bleacher Report, the Brewers are now showing interest in another Detroit Tigers pitcher, Justin Verlander. Earlier this July, the Brewers were reported to have interest in Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray. This may have changed since the Houston Astros are now being named as the team aggressively trying to acquire Gray. Verlander is the second Tigers pitcher the Brewers have been reported to have an interest in. Tigers closer Justin Wilson was the other pitcher the Brewers were rumored to be interested in earlier today.

Verlander would be under contract until after the 2019 season, one thing the Brewers organization is looking for. He is due a substantial amount of money over the rest of his career, 67 million over the next two plus seasons. Verlander, 34, is struggling this season after posting a great season last year, where he arguably should have won the Cy Young Award. He is 5-7 with an ERA of 4.54 and a WHIP of 1.47. In 117 innings this season, he has struck out 111 and walked 55 batters.

The Detroit Tigers will be looking to acquire a haul of prospects for the  six -time All-Star. The Brewers may have to give up more than the want to to acquire an aging pitcher, who hasn’t had consistent success since 2013. Brewers fans will have to wait and see what moves David Stearns and the Brewers organization make by the non-waiver trade deadline.

Report: Brewers interested in Tigers closer

The Brewers are one of three teams that have been showing interest in Detroit Tigers closer Justin Wilson, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The Tigers are starting to move into a “rebuilding mode” after trading veteran J.D. Martinez earlier this week. Justin Verlander as well as Wilson are other veterans the team may be parting ways with before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Wilson, 29, is in his sixth season at the major league level. He has been a reliable reliever in his career, and has recently been named a closer for the first time this season. Wilson owns a 3-4 record with a 2.75 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In the his 36 innings of work, he has struck out 50 batters and converted 10 of 12 save opportunities.

David Stearns and the Brewers are looking to trade for valuable pitchers who would be under club control over the next few seasons. Wilson’s contract would seem to fit with what the Brewers are looking for. He would be under contract through next season if the Brewers decided to pull the trigger on a trade. Wilson is now one of three solid relief pitchers whose names have been linked to the Brewers in the last few days.