Brewers announce contract extension, promotion for GM David Stearns

The Milwaukee Brewers have rewarded the architect of their rapid transformation to World Series contender.

The team announced Wednesday that David Stearns had been given a contract extension and a promotion. Along with his role as general manager, the 34-year-old is now president of baseball operations for the club. The terms of the deal were not released.

“David’s approach to acquiring, developing and retaining talent has been instrumental in our success, both on the field and in the front office,” team owner Mark Attanasio stated in a press release, “and we believe it has created a strong foundation that will continue to pay dividends in future years.”

Stearns has been with the club since right after the 2015 season. Following a 73-89 season in 2016, the Brewers won 86 games in 2017, falling just short of the playoffs. This past season, though, proved to be the breakthrough, as the team had 96 wins, won the NL Central and advanced to within one game of the World Series.

“Since the day I took this job and moved to Milwaukee, I’ve felt privileged to live in this community, serve our passionate fan base, and help lead this organization,” Stearns stated in the release. “I’m thankful to Mark and our entire ownership group that I will continue to enjoy that privilege for years to come. The success we’ve enjoyed during my time with the Brewers stems from the hard work and skill of our entire front office staff, scouts, coaches, and, most importantly, our players. Collectively, we aspire to push our organization to yet unreached heights.”

Milwaukee also announced that Rick Schlesigner, who had served the last eight years as Chief Operating Officer, had been promoted to president of business operations.

Name change coming for Miller Park

The home field for the Milwaukee Brewers will be getting a name change.

The team announced Tuesday afternoon that at the completion of the 2020 season Miller Park will no longer be known as Miller Park. The team has instead sold the naming rights to American Family Insurance.

“We are excited to elevate our partnership with American Family Insurance, a heritage Wisconsin company that has been a sponsor of the Brewers since 2001 and one that shares our core values,” said Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio stated in a release. “This is a significant commitment that reflects American Family’s growing presence in Milwaukee, as well as their support of the Brewers. We look forward to all of the benefits this new partnership will bring to both of our organizations and to fans of the team.”

Officials say a decision on a name for the stadium will be made at a later date.

“We are thrilled to support and join the continuing transformation of a franchise and city that mean so much to so many people in our home state,” stated Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chair and chief executive officer.

MillerCoors also released a statement:

“Twenty years ago our company stepped forward to help keep the Brewers in Brew City USA, a move that built on our longstanding relationship with the team and our commitment to Wisconsin – whether that’s at Packers and Bucks games, at Summerfest and the State Fair or in backyards and beer bars.

Late last year another Wisconsin company, American Family Insurance, proactively pitched the Brewers an incredibly rich offer for the future naming rights to Miller Park, and we’re proud to welcome American Family to the family we’ve been part of for generations.

While the name on the stadium will change after the 2020 season, we fully expect Brewers fans inside and outside the stadium will continue to celebrate every home run and every strike out with one of our beloved brands.”

Opened in 2001, the $400 million facility has been called Miller Park from the beginning and it resides just off Miller Park Way.

Brewers announce signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal

The Milwaukee Brewers have a new catcher.

What was reported last week is now official. The team has signed free agent Yasmani Grandal to a one-year deal. Yahoo’s Tim Brown reported it’s worth 18.25-million.

“We are very pleased to add Yasmani Grandal to our team,” general manager David Stearns stated in a press release. “Yasmani has proven that he is one of the most productive catchers in baseball, both offensively and defensively, and he fits our roster very well. Throughout this process, he expressed a consistent and sincere desire to join our organization. We are thrilled to welcome Yasmani and his family to Milwaukee.”

If the name sounds familiar, it should. Grandal was a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and played a big role against Milwaukee in the National League Championship Series. That included him becoming the first catcher to allow two passed balls and commit two errors in the same postseason game. It came in the series opener and helped the Brewers escape with a 6-5 win.

Grandal reportedly had other suitors this offseason. Rosenthal reported that Grandal turned down a one-year $17.9 million offer from the Dodgers and a four-year deal that could have been worth as much as $60 million from the New York Mets.

An All-Star in 2015, Grandal batted .241 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI last season for Los Angeles.

Grandal joins veterans Manny Pina and Erik Kratz on the 40-man roster, along with 23-year-old Jacob Nottingham.

The 30-year-old Grandal will be introduced at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Brewers trade Keon Broxton

The Milwaukee Brewers have moved another one of their outfielders.

The club announced Saturday it had traded Keon Broxton to the New York Mets for pitchers Bobby Wahl and Adam Hill, along with infielder Felix Valerio.

Broxton played in 51 games last year, batting .178 with four home runs, though he provided several highlight plays in the outfield.

The 26-year-old Wahl has 14 major league appearances as a reliever, owning a 6.92 ERA, while the 21-year-old Hill was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft. Valerio, who is just 18, played in 67 games in the Dominican Summer League where he batted .319 with 22 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

The trade follows Milwaukee’s decision to move Domingo Santana to the Seattle Mariners earlier in the offseason.

Brewers trade Domingo Santana to Seattle

The offseason activity is starting to pickup for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Less than 24 hours after news broke the team had agreed to a deal with free agent infielder Cory Spangenberg, the club has reportedly moved one of its veteran outfielders.

According to The Athletic’s Corey Brock, the Brewers traded Domingo Santana to Seattle for outfielder Ben Gamel and minor league reliever Noah Zavolas.

In 101 games last year for the Mariners, the 26-year-old Gamel batted .272 with one homer and 19 RBI, while the 22-year-old Zavolas had a 3.03 ERA in 19 games in the lower levels of Seattle’s farm system.

Santana was among the players more impacted by the signings of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich last offseason. After hitting 30 home runs with 85 RBI in 2017, he played in just 85 games with five home runs and 20 RBI in 2018. His year also consisted of 55 games at the Triple-A level. Santana did have success in the postseason, appearing in all 10 games and driving in three runs during the NLCS.

If the name Gamel sounds familiar, it should. Ben is the younger brother of former Brewers infielder Mat Gamel. A top-100 prospect in 2009 and 2010, Gamel played in 106 games with Milwaukee, batting .229 with six home runs and 29 RBI. His final game with the club came in 2012.

Christian Yelich voted NL MVP

Milwaukee has another MVP.

Major League Baseball announced Thursday night that Brewers’ outfielder Christian Yelich had been voted the National League Most Valuable Player. He becomes the fourth player in franchise history to win the award, joining pitcher Rollie Fingers (1981), shortstop and outfielder Robin Yount (1982, 1989) and outfielder Ryan Braun (2011).

Yelich got the news while in California surrounded by friends, family and several teammates, including Braun.

“I think when the crowd started chanting [MVP],” Yelich told MLB Network when asked about when he thought the award was a possibility during the season. “It’s something that’s really hard to describe what that feels like. I remember having to calm myself down the first time they started doing it. You try pushing it from your mind because you’ve got so much at stake as a team and you’re just trying to focus on winning that day. I figured all this stuff would play out afterwards.”

Acquired via trade with the Miami Marlins last offseason, Yelich had a remarkable first season in Milwaukee. He led the NL in batting (.326), finished second in RBI (110) and came in third in home runs (36). Yelich was especially strong after the All-Star break with 25 home runs and 67 RBI — by far the most of anyone in the NL in both categories.

His efforts boosted Milwaukee to just its second NL Central title, a sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS and pushing the favored Los Angeles Dodgers to seven games in the NLCS.

Four Brewers named finalists for Gold Glove Award

Four Milwaukee Brewers are finalists for one of the more prestigious awards that Major League Baseball gives out.

MLB announced the finalists for Gold Glove Awards in both leagues on Thursday afternoon. The award honors the best defensive player at each position with voting done by manager and coaches. And they were apparently impressed with Milwaukee, as catcher Manny Pina, third baseman Travis Shaw, right fielder Christian Yelich and center fielder Lorenzo Cain all making the cut.

There were three finalists at each position, though most experts believe that only Yelich and Cain have a shot to win at their respective spots. Pina plays at a loaded position where Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals is likely to claim the award, while Shaw is an underdog at third base where many expect Colorado Rockies’ standout Nolan Arenado to win.

The winners will be announced Nov. 4.

You can find the full list here:

NLCS Game 7: Dodgers 5, Brewers 1

MILWAUKEE — Wade Miley had it all planned out. Following the Milwaukee’s Game 6 win over Los Angeles in their National League Championship Series, the Brewers’ pitcher stood at his locker in the home clubhouse and told reporters what he envisioned Game 7 looking like.

“(Jhoulys) Chacin go six. (Josh) Hader go three. We go to the World Series,” Miley said.

The lefty hit just one out of three in that plan. And for that reason, Milwaukee’s season is done. Chacin gave up a pair of runs and lasted just two innings, giving way to Hader, who was dominant over three innings of work to keep the game close. But those that came after him, combined with a lackluster offense, spelled doom for the Brewers in a 5-1 loss that sent the Dodgers to the World Series for a second straight year.

The game turned in a period of 15 minutes. First, Los Angeles’ outfielder Chris Taylor robbed Christian Yelich of a game-tying hit in the bottom of the fifth. Then, in the top of the sixth, Yasiel Puig took Jeremy Jeffress deep for a three-run homer. Despite there still being 12 outs to work with, the hit felt like a dagger to Milwaukee’s playoff run.

It was a brutal end to a special season, one that saw the Brewers chase down the Chicago Cubs in the final month to win the NL Central, sweep Colorado in the NLDS and push the defending NL champs to a seventh game. No one wants to talk about moral victories — and this certainly wasn’t one — but once everyone gets further away from the anger and disappointment of what took place Saturday night at Miller Park it’ll be more than clear how remarkable the run they went on was for the franchise, the fans, the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.

“What I just told them is that they took us on an amazing journey,” manager Craig Counsell said. “They really did. They took us on an incredible journey that we should all be grateful for being able to see, because it was a magical run, especially in the month of September and into October.”

The Brewers set a franchise record for most wins in a season with 102 and did it just three years after losing 94 games. The rebuild under General Manager David Stearns went faster than anyone thought it could and it left the club with a very good foundation for the future.

“It’s something to be proud of. We accomplished a lot, especially down the stretch,” Yelich said. “Once all this settles down you can really assess what we accomplished as a team. We can be proud of that and take it into the offseason and use it as motivation for next year.”

Coming up short, though, is not a feeling that’s going to go away anytime soon. Certainly not for sports fans in the state. Heartbreak has become a common occurrence for those that support the Green Bay Packers or Wisconsin Badgers. Sure, the former won a Super Bowl in 2010, but that was preceded and since followed by some of the most gut-wrenching playoff losses any franchise could experience, including blowing a seemingly insurmountable lead to Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. Fans of the Badgers had to witness a soul crushing loss for the basketball team in the NCAA title game in 2015, while the football team came up 43 yards short in 2017 of winning a Big Ten title and playing in the College Football Playoff.

But all of those instances only hurt as much as they do because of the success the teams have had. When you get invested in something, be it sports or other aspects of life, and it doesn’t go your way, it can sometimes feel like someone ripped your heart out, stabbed it a million times and then put it back with no care or worry. And while that scarring will always be there, opportunities to add layers over it with division titles, playoff wins and world championships keep fans coming back for more.

So, in the Brewers’ case, Saturday didn’t mark the end of anything but the season. Yeah, Milwaukee won’t play in the World Series for a 35th straight year, but the product they put on the field is just getting started. With a number of key minor leaguers playing at a high level, position players like Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun and Orlando Arcia due to return, and a pitching staff with several talented young arms, including Hader, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta and a potentially healthy Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers will have a chance to push to get back to the same place, but with an opportunity to go further.

NLCS Game 6: Brewers 7, Dodgers 2

MILWAUKEE — There will be a Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The Milwaukee Brewers saw to that with a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers to tie the series at three games apiece.

Here’s what we saw at Miller Park on Friday night:

‘Picture perfect’

Almost before Game 6 was done, Milwaukee was already looking toward Saturday night and the first Game 7 for the franchise since the 1982 World Series.

“There’s one option,” second baseman Travis Shaw said. “It’s win. It’s all hands on deck (Saturday). To come back here and give ourselves a chance, that’s all you can ask for.”

But the Brewers will be getting much more than just a chance. They’ll be getting a near perfect chance. Not only will Game 7 be played under their roof, they’ll be sending their top starting pitcher — Jhoulys Chacin — to the mound and have their top reliever — Josh Hader — available for as long as they need him.

“It’s all right there. It’s picture perfect,” Shaw said. “Chacin, our guy. Hader’s fresh. One win away from the World Series. One win away from [facing] Boston. We’re going to be ready to go.”

Game 6 starter Wade Miley already had Game 7 all figured out when asked about it.

“Chacin go six. Hader go three. Go to the World Series,” Miley said as reporters laughed. “[I] mapped it out.”

Chacin and Hader have been the stars of the pitching staff since Game 163 in Chicago to clinch the NL Central. Those two have pitched 25 innings over the 10 games and allowed just one run. It’s why there is so much confidence in them being rested and ready for the biggest game of the year.

“This is what we play for the whole season. This is the point we want to be at,” Hader said. “Just play everything we got. There’s no backing down at all.”

It seems likely that duo will need help from the rest of the bullpen and everyone should be available after minimal work on Friday. But Hader said he’s ready for whatever is asked of him.

“There’s no limit,” he said. “I mean, it’s Game 7. There’s no limits at all. You just have to go out and do your job.”

Crowd comes alive

The Dodgers may have thought they took the crowd out of the game when first baseman David Freese hit a solo home run to leadoff the game, but that proved not to be the case. Not after four straight hits with two outs, including a two-run double by Jesus Aguilar, set Miller Park on fire in giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

“You couldn’t describe it as any bigger,” manager Craig Counsell said of Aguilar’s hit that got it started. “It lifted the roof off the place, and the first inning was loud from then on.”

“It was awesome,” centerfielder Lorenzo Cain added. “The crowd showed up in a big way. We were able to get things started early on, put up some runs. They were loud the entire game.”

Milwaukee scored four runs in the first inning and nearly had more when Miley gave one a ride to center that ended up getting caught. The pitcher was actually a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks when the Brewers faced them in the 2011 NLDS. He said Friday night was the loudest he’s heard a place since then.

“Unbelievable,” Miley said. “I could feel my chest getting tight it was so loud in there.”

The crowd wasn’t just about cheering the Brewers, though. They also had Manny Machado in their sights thanks to his exploits in Game 4 that led to Major League Baseball fining him $10,000. His kicking of Aguilar’s leg as he ran down the line at first made him the No. 1 target at Miller Park and the crowd let him have it.

Machado played it up during the game, even egging fans on after his first strikeout. But with his 0-for-4 performance and a loss, he reportedly refused to really answer any questions about the boos.

Whether it was booing Machado or cheering their own teams success, the crowd was definitely into it on Friday and the Brewers are expecting a similar spark in Game 7.

“That’s something that you love,” Hader said. “You feed off that adrenaline and that energy. Hopefully (Saturday) it’s even louder and more people.”

Offense comes alive

Over their previous 22 innings of play, the Brewers had scored three runs. On Friday, they pushed across four runs in the first inning — the most by any team this postseason. It included three-straight, two-out hits, including doubles from Aguilar and Mike Moustakas, and a single from Erik Kratz.

“We needed to hit a lot better,” Shaw said. “We didn’t play very well in Los Angeles. Offensively we knew we had to get going early and I think guys were locked in from the start. That showed the first inning.”

Milwaukee didn’t rest on its laurels. The Brewers were able to push three more runs across, including another RBI for Aguilar. He finished the game 3-for-4 with 3 RBI after collecting just two in the first five games of the series.

“Guys just put together great at-bats,” said Cain, who opened the game with an infield single. “[The Dodgers] did a great job pitching against us today, but guys were just able to make solid contact against good pitching today. We’re going to need more of that (Saturday).”

NLCS Game 5: Dodgers 5, Brewers 2

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers are a win away from ending the Milwaukee Brewers season and earning a second-straight appearance in the World Series. That’s after a 5-2 victory on Wednesday in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to take a 3-2 series lead.

Here’s what we saw at Dodger Stadium:

Didn’t see it coming

Craig Counsell continued his unusual managing of Milwaukee’s pitching staff on Wednesday, sending left-handed starter Wade Miley to the dugout after just one batter and inserting righty Brandon Woodruff.

“Yeah, that’s what we were going to do all along,” Counsell said. “Wade is going to pitch Game 6. If we went down 3-1 [in the series] we were considering having Wade pitch this game. But other than that, this is kind of what we decided we were going to do.”

It was the plan and Miley, as Counsell said, will get the ball again on Friday in Game 6. According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Miley is the first pitcher since George Earnshaw of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1930 to start consecutive postseason games. He’ll also be just the fifth starter to pitch in three league championship series games.

There was criticism from the FOX announcers about Counsell’s move and a reporter asked the Brewers’ skipper why he used “subterfuge” and didn’t just run Woodruff out as his starter.

“Look, they’re trying to get matchups, we’re trying to get matchups,” Counsell said. “They’re a very tough team to get matchups against. And we weren’t able to give Woody some matchups.”

Woodruff held up his end of the deal. He went 5 1/3 innings before the Dodgers were able to get to him in the sixth inning. He took the loss giving up three runs — two earned — on five hits while striking out eight.

But the talk afterwards was all about Miley exiting quickly and who knew what and when. Ryan Braun said he had heard about it well before the game, Christian Yelich said someone mentioned it to him about 20 minutes before and Mike Moustakas said Counsell told him to expect a quick mound visit. Woodruff was seen out in the bullpen by one reporter but no one put the move together.

So why did Counsell do it? The easy answer is the one he first gave about trying to get the best matchups. The better answer is how it sets Milwaukee up for two must-win games back at Miller Park. The Brewers will have Miley and Jhoulys Chacin on nearly full rest to start the two games and key bullpen guys such as Josh Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress on multiple days rest.

“We’re going back home, to me, in a position of strength. And that’s part of it,” Counsell said.

“We’re in a good spot, man. We’re going home. And I know you’re going to play what-if if we could have captured another one of these games [in Los Angeles], but we’re still going home and have a chance with this thing with a bunch of guys in really good shape.”

Where did the offense go ?

Milwaukee’s offense went ice cold over the last two games, managing just three runs in 22 innings. And a big part of the problem has been the guys that got the Brewers to where they are today — Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar — haven’t found much success in the postseason.

The trio is just 16 for 93 after Wednesday’s game, a day that included Aguilar striking out with the bases loaded in the third inning. It was an opportunity missed to chase Clayton Kershaw from the game and one the Brewers would regret as he retired the next 13 batters and ended up dominating over seven innings to get the win.

“Regardless of the situation you have to go out and perform,” said Cain, who actually went 2-for-4 with an RBI. “I haven’t been playing like I know I can. For me, being the leadoff batter, being one of the leaders on this team, I need to step up and do a better job.”

The struggles by Yelich are the most complexing. He was otherworldly down the stretch, dragging Milwaukee into the postseason and putting himself in position to win NL MVP honors. But he’s got three hits in five games this series and is batting .150 in the postseason.

“There’s times when you feel dialed in and locked in at the plate. There’s other times where you’re searching for it. You miss pitches you normally handle,” Yelich said. “It’s part of the game. It happens to everybody. It’s not an ideal time, but there’s no excuses at this time of year. You have to figure it out. That’s really what it comes down to.”

Braun was willing to credit the Dodgers’ pitching staff that has been very good in four of the five games. But he also knows it’s on them to overcome.

“We picked a bad time to go through a rough stretch offensively, going through a period where there’s a lot of guys who aren’t seeing the ball well,” said Braun, who leads the team in hits this postseason. “I think you combine all those factors and we end up in the position we’re in offensively right now.”

The hope, at least for Milwaukee, is a return home to the friendly confines of Miller Park will jump start a stagnant offense.

Now or never

It’s do-or-die time for the Brewers. After jumping out to a 2-1 series lead, they now trail the Dodgers 3-2 and face two must-win games on Friday and Saturday if they are to earn a berth in the World Series.

“You win Game 6, anything can happen in Game 7,” infielder Travis Shaw said. “One at time. No room for error.”

You’d think Milwaukee would be comfortable in the situation its facing seeing as the Brewers have been playing essentially must-win games since early September as they chased down the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central.

“We’re in familiar territory,” Yelich said, before echoing Shaw’s sentiments. “It’s win or go home now. We’ve got no other choice. One at time. We’ve got to win the first one to get to the second one. All of our focus is on winning Game 6.”

That will be a tough task considering what we’ve seen from the Brewers offense in Los Angeles, but Braun put the situation in perspective.

“If at the beginning of the year you would have told everybody in this organization you get to play two games at home, and if you win those two games you go to the World Series, we’d all be thrilled and take it,” Braun said “We’re still in a fortunate position and we’re looking forward to Game 6.”