Everyone’s nerves are on edge. It’s part of what comes with the Major League Baseball offseason. While we’ve been anxious for the Brewers to make a major splash in either free agency or a trade, the baseball world is offering no movement, whatsoever. That’s part of the reason why I figured I should write this post. I figure that if I wait any longer, the point I’m trying to make will become moot, or at least lose some of its luster. Now, let’s dive into things.
The 2017 Milwaukee Brewers season was an exciting run for everyone involved. Just a game outside of forcing a winner-take-all game against the Rockies, our local nine have set the table for high expectations as spring looms. There’s a lot that comes with that. One point (and I believe this has become more noticeable amongst fans, thank goodness) is that this team has finally stepped out of the rebuild shadow. I’m sure many of you agreed with that sentence a year ago, but for those who clutched onto that as the team slogan — it’s time to ditch it.
Next, let’s move onto expectations. Last year, few pundits and fans expected the Brewers to rise to the ranks of an 86-76 baseball club that would finish second in the NL Central. It was a delightful surprise and now the eager wait for the return of Spring Training is blooming. The point I’m trying to instill from this is that it’s not out of the ordinary to have strong expectations for this year’s squad. In fact, I take that back — you should have expectations for this year’s squad. And yes, those expectations should include a playoff berth. There’s no reason for them not to. Anything else just resembles a shift back on the path we’ve taken to get to this point. It essentially puts another year on the waiting process. When teams begin the climb to championship level, the process is expected to move forward exponentially, not one-step forward, one-step backward.
That brings me to the main argument of this article. Considering the Brewers’ current state and the recent rumors being leaked out of possible acquisitions, the team is more than likely going to make the news cycle with a move. For this article, let’s assume the noise comes via a trade.
To acquire a player that injects a major influence on this team, a hefty tag is going to be required. It’s inevitable. Players like those aren’t just handed over as gifts. You’re likely going to see Lewis Brinson serve as the headliner, with a few other players (think of Luis Ortiz, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, etc.) thrown in. Now, I know a lot of you are vehemently against this, and I understand why.
It’s been a while since the Brewers have contended, and in times like these, we’re forced to view the talent below the Major League level as our All-Stars. It’s a perfectly natural thing to do. It happens to every fan base of every other team that has gone through a rebuild. When the flip of a proven MLB player is made and you receive a haul of prospects in return, one automatically assumes a majority of them are going to be the ones who deliver a championship. The thing is, fantasizing isn’t what delivers championships. Strategy is.
In your wildest dreams, what do you hope Lewis Brinson amounts to be? A player who can boast a slash of .282/.369/.439 and an OPS of .800+? Would a season of roughly 20 home runs and 80+ RBI’s be satisfactory? If not, your expectations are probably too dreamy. If you answered yes, guess what? Those were some numbers from Christian Yelich’s stat line from last season. In essence, Yelich is the type of player you want Brinson to develop into (and keep in mind, those numbers were produced in the hitter’s vacuum of Marlins Park). It more than makes sense to acquire proven talent than bank on hopes to be fulfilled.
Continuing to use Yelich as an example, there are so many more reasons as to why it’d be smart for Milwaukee to acquire him. A Gold Glove recipient in 2014, his fielding ranks well above-average, and would surely serve beneficial. Next, he boasts the speed that can be utilized in racing to scoring position for other big bats in the lineup to drive home. Oh, and did I mention that he’d deflect the common notion of top prospects being traded for rentals? If acquired, he’d be under contract as a Brewer for five more years.
If you don’t want the Brewers to acquire proven talent at the MLB level, what exactly is your course of action in reaching the championship ceiling? Relying fully on the talent in the farm system to carry the team to the promised land? At one point or another, a big trade is going to be required to make the jump. Whether it’s pitching, second base help, bullpen assistance, whatever it may be — trading prospects are going to result as part of the equation.
If there’s a man to trust in making the right decision, it’s David Stearns. He’s made very few mistakes in his tenure so far as the Brewers GM and has a proven track record. If he pulls the trigger on sending Brinson & Co. over to Miami for Christian Yelich, or to Tampa Bay for Chris Archer, he should be trusted. We can make judgments later down the line. If you don’t want any splashes being made in making this team a championship contender now, when is the correct time to pull the trigger?