Sam Miller, the new editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus was on a couple podcasts in the last 24-hours and spent a good amount of the time talking about the Milwaukee Brewers in a couple of different contexts. From those conversations, a number of interesting threads emerged, including whether or not the Brewers’ (or any team) record or playoff odds better reflects their current status. That conversation happened at the beginning of his appearance on Jonah Keri’s Grantland podcast.
Even more interesting is the conversation that took place on Miller’s own Effectively Wild daily podcast at Baseball Prospectus that he co-hosts with Ben Lindbergh. Miller talks about trying to come up with a system that can accurately reflect how much a team needs to “go for it” given their current situation and how they project for the near term future. The basic idea being that the more a team needs in the present based on their situation, the more of their future value they’ll have to give up. He puts this on a one to five scale, with a one being the type of player that requires little to no value to acquire and a five being the type of player you have to empty out the farm system to land.
Things start to heat up just before the 13-minute mark:
Miller: So, if you’re a team that see’s itself as maybe this year you’re in contention but you’re not super-in contention or you are super-in contention but next year is really your year, basically you’re like how last year’s Pirates saw themselves, you might consider yourself only in the market for ones, you’re not willing to give up that high price for guys quite yet. Whereas, if you’re a team that is old, is about to rebuild anyway, it’s the last year before your hall-of-fame manager retires or something like that, then you might be in the market even for a five, it might be worthwhile for you to get a five, but a five is going to be really, really expensive.
So it’s always this balance between how important this year is to you versus how important being competitive in the next few years is to you. That makes sense?
So that’s the setup. Here is where he talks specifically about the Brewers situation (skipping ahead to 15:30):
Miller: I was trying to express, trying to articulate that the Brewers strike me as a team that, even though I don’t particularly like them that much this year, I think they’re more or less a .500 team. But going forward, I don’t think that they have a particularly good future in the near-term, so I wouldn’t be that sad about them feeling like this is their , you know, they fluked their way into a window and they better take advantage of it. I don’t know that I put them at a five for that reason, but I would be more eager to see them make a move than if they had the number two farm system in baseball and they had fluked their way into this.
Lindbergh: Who knows if they could make a five…
Miller: Right, they may not have the system to make a five, they probably don’t. Anyway, so the Brewers would be a team that because of that, I could talk myself into like a four range for them. They have a real strong incentive to play for this year and less incentive to hold things back for the next few years.
Coming up on Wednesday, we’ll dig into this question a little more deeply. For now, though, I just wanted to throw this out there for the sake of discussion and to see how you readers feel about the situation. Are the Brewers really in a position where the present chance for meaningful victory so outweighs the chance of near-term future glory that the team should be willing to once again deal off young talent in an effort to win now? Or is Miller selling short the Brewers future chances and they really should take a more measured approach to improving the roster right now?
Let me know what you’re thinking below.