For the third consecutive week, the Brewers are sitting comfortably at No. 23 in the latest ESPN Power Rankings. Here are my comments to ESPN:
Following their tumultuous 2-7 West Coast road trip, Milwaukee has rebounded by taking two of three from the first-place Nationals.Matt Garza has looked good coming back from the DL (1-0 with a 2.81 ERA), which raises hopes of Brewers fans that he could be packaged in a move at the trade deadline. — Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3), Disciples of Uecker
Let’s start with Matt Garza again, shall we? I absolutely cannot get over how positive his return from the disabled list has been, earning his first victory of the season against the Nationals. We touched on more of the mechanics in last week’s Power Rankings article, so that’ll be put to the side for this piece. Nonetheless, that success has continued (at least) another week.
With July 1st around the corner, any quality start that Garza makes raises the possibility of the Brewers being able to ship him to a contender. Who would have ever thought that would have been a possibility? Now, if it is a possibility, let’s take a look at Garza’s stats from the year he was traded from the Cubs, a rebuilding team, to the Rangers.
Here’s Garza’s year with the Cubs when he was traded to Texas:
Although it’s slim picking, here are Garza’s stats so far in 2016:
Keep in mind: It has only been three starts, so there’s still a chance things go south from here. Also, if he is in fact traded, he would maybe receive seven or so starts until the deadline. The possibility of him replicating his wins-losses record from 2013 with Chicago exists, but when no-decisions and such are factored in, the likelihood dwindles.
Looking back at the trade in 2013 which sent Garza to the AL West, the Cubs received an above average haul. In return for the right-hander, the Cubs brought back Triple-A infielder Mike Olt, Class-A right-hander C.J. Edwards (now Carl Edwards, Jr. ) and right-hander Justin Grimm from Texas. They also received a player to be named later.
Should the Brewers be expecting a package in return similar to what the Cubs received for Garza? It would be silly to anticipate that. He’s added on three years to his career, some of which have been pretty ugly. Maybe the Brewers receive two players, but the chances of them receiving three players (and even a PTBNL) would surprise me.
Thinking in terms of addition to the farm system, I believe it’d be accurate for Brewers fans to hope that Garza reaches the five win mark. By achieving that, Milwaukee will be able to show teams that he’s back to his normal self and has the veteran leadership and mentality that is crucial in aiding a playoff run. It also exhibits just how quick Garza has been able to regain his footing coming off an injury that worried some headed into the season.
Am I pleading the point that the Brewers will receive the final pieces to the puzzle in return for the veteran right-hander? No, absolutely not. Please do not interpret my take the wrong way. I’m just making the point that he’s set the tone that might translate into an average (or maybe even above average) return come the trade deadline. Teams seeking the playoffs are always hungry near the deadline, and a strong Matt Garza should only intrigue teams looking for an extra arm.
Going back to a perspective that takes the entire team into perspective, check out this intriguing tweet from our friends over at Brew Crew Ball:
Of the #Brewers 75 games this year, 38 of them have been decided by 2 runs or less. MKE is 21-17 in those games. I’d say that’s competitive. — @BrewCrewBall
One of the words that best defines this young Brewers squad is scrappiness. Craig Counsell reflected on it earlier this week too, when asked about what it was like playing teams with higher pay rolls and more veteran talent. He responded to the question by discussing how baseball is just a game and that when you’re tied in the sixth inning, you feel as if you can win the game. There are a lot of cases with this year’s team when that’s exemplified. That scrappy attitude is one of the main factors in the Brewers taking two-out-of-three from the first place Nationals.
There’s no clear cut way to approach rebuilding, but fans have to appreciate the way the Brewers are currently going about it. While the optimists at heart took a blow this week in hopes of a Wild Card birth, very few thought that that might have been anywhere near the realm of possibility. However, despite barely being on the outside looking into the playoffs, the team still holds a position to ship off talent to continue building the farm system. It really is going smooth if you look at the entire organization as a whole: Players are receiving the development needed in the Minors (hat tip to Jonathan Villar for allowing Arcia some more AB’s), the first round draft pick Corey Ray is headed to High-A ball with the Brevard County Manatees (something that hasn’t happened since Cal Eldred in 1990) and the team is remaining competitive at the MLB level.
Although it might not seem like it now, life is pretty good as a Brewers fan and it should only be getting better in the coming weeks. Trust me, my excitement level is already beginning to boil.