Do the Brewers Need to “Go For It?” | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

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.

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. Nicholas Zettel says: July 22, 2014

    I’m typically high on Brewers talent, but I think Miller is selling short the Brewers’ future somewhat. They seem to be right in that perfect wheelhouse of being just competitive enough to produce “flukes” like this.

    Since the relative needs of the team are so few, YES, absolutely the Brewers should go for it in 2014 — it’s not like they need to acquire middle order bats or an ace. With a healthy rotation and a top offense, they can make low-cost acquisitions (bullpen, bench, platoon 1B, etc.). Absolutely go for it (it’d be criminal not to, really).

  2. 2ndHS says: July 22, 2014

    I don’t agree with his logic. So, because the Brewers don’t have an above .500 team this year and the future doesn’t look good, they should make that future look worse to go for it now? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    I also don’t agree that the Brewers are a .500 team. I think a few guys are outperforming their projections and that those breakouts or whatever are real (Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy, Wily Peralta, Zach Duke). They aren’t an elite squad, but I like them as better than average.

    A reliever and a bench bat (or upgrade at 1B if possible which I think it isn’t) is all I think they need.

  3. dbug says: July 22, 2014

    Just not many upgrade options that seem available. Adam Dunn? Might be worth a shot if Mark A. doesn’t mind paying a little extra for a playoff run. More and more it looks like Braun moving to 1st base might be a better long term strategy. Finding another corner outfielder seems like it might be easier than finding a legit 1st baseman.

  4. Steven says: July 22, 2014

    Thank you for discussing this! I understand the logic, if you “fluke” into a good season that is unlikely to reoccur in the near future, then you should take advantage of that opportunity and “go for it”. However, I don’t think that is what happened to the Brewers. I know I am biased and clouded by fandom, but I think PECOTA will project the Brewers to be better next year than this year. IMO Davis, Gennett, Gomez, Lucroy, Peralta will all have improved PECOTA projections. Braun, Lohse, Garza, and probably Segura will remain about the same and Gallardo and Ramirez will go down a little. This all adds up to a better team than PECOTA projected this year. Since PECOTA projected an 80 win team with a 30% chance of making the playoffs, any improvement on that would put them squarely in contention. I don’t think it is fair to say, as he did on Jonah’s podcast, it would be a surprise to see the Brewers in contention in July of 2015 (not a direct quote but it was that sentiment).

  5. Andrew says: July 22, 2014

    To say the brewers are a .500 team is a joke to begin with. Their offense is above average (even with braun having a below average year) and the pitching staff doesn’t have many holes, especially if Jimmy nelson can produce. Another power bullpen arm would be nice, or a consistent 1b but scooter is a legit 2b, lucroy has been trending up for years, davis is about where he was last year and segura is even down from last year with aramis about where he usually is. I also don’t think our farm system is as bad as everyone says it is. No we don’t have a ton of great arms down there yet but let this draft class develop and we could be set in 2 years. we don’t need a loaded farm system with a still pretty young lineup.

    • patrisk says: July 23, 2014

      I think if the brewers could get Justin morneau from Colorado and get Koji Uehara from Boston and maby a bench bat they would be in really good shape to make a real run at it. It would give the brewers the best line up and give are pen he arm they need and both players are old so we should not have to give up the farm t get them.

      • Andrew says: July 24, 2014

        I’d really like to see a solid 1b that can play every day but I don’t think we’ll be able to get that without giving up way too much. The brewers can’t afford to deplete their farm system any more. They started to improve in 2008 because they had all kinds of great young players coming up from the farm system, braun, weeks, fielder, lucroy and yovani. but we don’t have that now outside of maybe jimmy nelson and peralta last year. our position players are lacking high skill or even consistent bats which is something we definitely need at 3b and 1b. we should be set in the outfield for a while and I have no doubt we’ll resign gomez and lucroy to big extensions. I don’t see us doing a ton in free agency because we don’t have many glaring holes at the moment unless ramirez decides to retire and even then we could resign reynolds. I like this team for this year and next

    • Vin B says: July 24, 2014

      That is an excellent point, Andrew! (not sarcastic)

      I just looked through the rest of season fangraphs projections (ZIPS + Steamer) and they seem to be underrating Gomez and Scooter. Gomez because of the large history of mediocrity with the bat pre-2012 and Scooter probably because the projection systems don’t realize that he won’t be allowed to face lefties very much.

      The other point to make here is that even BP’s projections only have the Cardinals winning the division by 1 game!

  6. L says: July 23, 2014

    They can certainly “go for it” without giving up any future pieces or feeling forced to make a move. The team has everything it needs player wise already on the 40-man roster except for perhaps a starting 1B LH Bat, which if Justin Morneau wouldn’t of gotten hurt he may have been the type of player the Brewers could have targeted for a trade to fill that role but oh well — at least now they won’t be giving up any farm pieces. What the Brewers need to do is just continue having their starting pitchers gobble up innings so that the bullpen doesn’t get taxed, have the healthy return of several of their bullpen pitchers, practice a little more measured caution on the basepaths, and show a little more patience at the plate offensively. If they can get these things then they have the ability to beat anybody they face without having to make any additions before the trade deadline.

  7. icbeast says: July 23, 2014

    So most people feel that the team hasn’t been that “lucky” this there, but the other part of the near-term expectations are aging and contract considerations. Ramirez has been healthier this year than last and has played well, but he’s 36 and a FA next year. Weeks will be gone, which is fine if Scooter doesn’t need to platoon. Gallardo’s 2015 option will probably get picked up, after that who knows. Lohse is a FA in 2016. Will they be able to afford Gomez after 2016? Who will play 1B next year? Segura has been performed at below replacement level so far this year (fangraphs numbers).

    Maybe you could make a similar list for most teams, but there’s potentially a number of holes to be filled over the next year or two, and the farm system is lacking.

    • L says: July 23, 2014

      I’m hopeful that A.Ramierz will return on a year or 2 contract after this season to fill the void at third while the Brewers wait for the farm system to produce a replacement. He’s still quite a capable offensive and defensive player; he just needs to stay healthy and having someone like M.Reynolds backing up him at 3rd and someone at 1st or platooning at 1st is perfectly fine. R.Weeks will be gone and while I appreciate his service here it’s time to move on from each other. Y.Gallardo’s 2015 option will very likely get picked-up, but after the 2015 season his future with the team probably depends on who they have ready in their farm system or who they think is ready to seize a starting spot out of the bull-pen as well as his performance during the 2015 season. How the team views K.Lohse in 2016 is probably similar to Y.Gallardo’s outlook except his age will be a bigger negative factor and his leadership a bigger positive factor. I hope to god that they’re able to find a way to offer C.Gomez a contract that has him remaining a Brewer without jeopardizing their ability to retain J.Lucroy in 2018. They probably also look at trying to retain K-Rod after this season. The main question will be what the team does with R.Braun given the team will want to retain C.Gomez and J.Lucroy after their current contracts end. Will they look to continue riding out R.Braun’s contract as the face of the franchise or do they consider trade offers for him and make J.Lucroy and/or C.Gomez the face of the franchise? What kind of value will R.Braun fetch in a trade? The Brewers will definitely be hoping that someone in their farm system (H.Morris, J.Rogers, or long-shots Nick Ramirez and N.Delmonico) can step-up and challenge for at least a share of 1st base next year; if not, then they’ll be looking outside the organization for a player or depth behind perhaps a resigned M.Reynolds.

  8. Justin says: July 23, 2014

    How about Martin Prado as our bench bat?

  9. PaulP says: July 23, 2014

    We keep hearing that the team needs “a power reliever and an upgrade at 1st base.” Well, they just got the power reliever–Jeffress, and if he throws up to his talent level, they’re set there. And incase you hadn’t noticed, Reynolds now leads the team in home runs–playing half-time! What the Brewers really need to get to October is for a core player to step up and carry them–Braun, Lucroy, or Weeks. Yup, Rickie Weeks. If those three ever get hot at the same time, well…..


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