Congratulations. If you’re reading this, that means you survived the hoopla of the MLB trade deadline and the rollercoaster ride that was being a Brewers fan on this chaotic day. I spent the grueling hours (yes, I work) getting tweet notifications from Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Passan and others — along with hitting F5 over and over on Twitter. And it paid off — boy, did it pay off.
Before we go any further, here are my comments this week to ESPN. But don’t think too much of it — this piece is going to be discussing off-the-field matters. Forgive me if it’s a tad shorter than usual. I feel as if I’ve run a marathon from this deadline (I don’t know how Rosenthal & Co. must feel). Also, I’m hungry.
But yes — the Lucroy drama. It seems as if the Brewers have established a new tradition of having major trades failing to initially go through the first time around. It happened last year with Carlos Gomez and the Mets and it happened this year with Luc and the Indians. Milwaukee will cross their fingers for similar results to last year’s debacle with Houston. The players they gained in Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz definitely have the talent.
Many Brewers fans on Twitter were clamoring for Joey Gallo, the slugging first baseman from the Rangers organization. However, it’s easy to let that power disguise problems — it’s always simple to be swayed by the home run ball. It’s vital to dig deeper and look at a player’s weaknesses, which, in Gallo’s case, is his high strikeout rate. Some Rangers fans are worried that he might be sliding into the type of player similar to Mike Olt — only with more power. Also, it seemingly would’ve been a tougher task to obtain Luis Ortiz, the right-handed pitcher Stearns was able to pry away from the Rangers had Gallo came to Milwaukee in the ordeal. Some Brewers fans were disappointed with a return that seemed too light. Does it make the Lucroy/Jeffress combo a little disappointing? Maybe, but I tend to not think so. Perhaps Stearns was expecting more by adding another pithcer such as Junior Guerra to the mix but the Rangers didn’t feel comfortable ridding their farm of more prospects. We’ll never really know those extra details that occurred throughout the negotiation process. However, remember — there’s still a player-to-be-named-later in that deal.
The main prize is obviously Lewis Brinson, a player who has all the tools to be a potential All-Star someday. He can hit. He can field. He can run. You name it and Lewis Brinson can do it. He’s currently at Double-A with a .237/.280/.431 slash and will likely carry that to Biloxi. He has also exhibited his source of raw power, a trait that is always exciting to see in a prospect with 11 home runs. Some scouts believe he could eventually progress his way to 30 home runs in a season. Check out this scouting report from FanGraphs:
The mechanical changes Brinson has made over the past 18 months or so are substantive. He began loading his hands lower which enabled him to cut down on the distance his bat needs to travel to re-enter the hitting zone. He’s so physically gifted that he can still generate terrific bat speed in that shorter distance and this change also enabled Brinson’s natural bat control to play with more regularity. I’ve seen him hit homers despite failing to fully extend and I think Brinson has plus game power projection. Reports of late are that Brinson’s hands are loading higher again and that he’s become a little long back to the ball. He’s also a plus runner who projects to plus center field and has a plus arm. Even if what appeared to be a remedied issue last season turns out to be a mirage, the power projection and defensive profile are enough to create big league value. If Brinson one day figures out what made him so successful last season and is able to recreate it, he’s a perennial All Star. I think this is an excellent buy low for the Brewers.
Brinson adds to the already potent outfield depth the Brewers possess within their farm system. He joins Corey Ray, Brett Phillips and Trent Clark — imagine an outfield consisting of three of those guys. Boy, is it going to be exciting. It also adds variety if somebody doesn’t fit well in a certain position. There will be a higher likelihood of another prospect with high talent to fill it out. Obtaining assets is something David Stearns has addressed the middle infield talent with and it seems to definitely be playing a role regarding prospects in the outfield as well.
Now, on to the other big move of the day for Milwaukee and the pinnacle of my day at my work desk: the Will Smith trade. Man, oh man, David Stearns is on the FBI’s most wanted list after this one. Not only did he land Andrew Susac (somebody who could potentially replace Lucroy in the lineup, Manny Pina is also currently with the team), but he absolutely fleeced San Francisco by obtaining the Giants’ top prospect, Phil Bickford. When I first saw that tweet pop up on my screen, I didn’t move for at least 20 seconds. I simply couldn’t believe it and still can’t. The trade market was extremely high for relievers when the bar was set by the Yankees and the return they got for Aroldis Chapman from the Cubs and was solidified again with the Andrew Miller trade. Stearns was definitely aware of this and turned the tables to his favor.
Bickford projects as a mid-starter and a late-inning reliever in worst case scenarios. This could set the road up for a Ortiz/Hader/Bickford rotation, with Ponce and Peralta (Freddy, not Wily) possibly looking in. I’m not saying that every positional hole in order to be World Champs in 2020 is filled, but things are definitely treading north.
My stomach is beginning to rumble so I guess that means I need to get some food in me. It’s been a long day. But before I leave, take a look at this:
Beautiful. Wonderful. Glorious. It gets even better when you realize that all but one of these players have been acquired by trades or the draft in the last 14 months. Absolutely incredible work done by Doug Melvin and now David Stearns. If in fact the Brewers do win a World Series in the future, today is going to be a day in which we look back at the major steps they took toward making that dream a reality.