Hello everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mike and I enjoy following offseason transactions almost as much as watching the games during the season. With that being said, the Brewers have a lot of decisions to make going into 2016 and a lot of different ways they could go. I just wanted to share a couple of my ideas that I think would improve the team for the upcoming year as well as in the future. I am actually considering having a career in sports management, having recently completed minor league internship in New York. Furthermore, I would love to be a major league GM one day and building a roster is probably of the more interesting parts of the job. So anyway, here are some of my thoughts going into the offseason:
First, I have been studying winning teams (Yankees, Cardinals, recently the Royals, before that Red Sox) and found some qualities that stand out among them.
Depth – All of the really good teams have depth, from the 1998 Yankees to this year’s St. Louis Cardinals. Injuries happen and players don’t always perform as planned. When a guy goes down or doesn’t play well, you have to have other guys step up. As the Royals showed in the World Series, you have to have a number of guys who can come through rather than a couple of big talents carrying the load.
Experience – I can't see a team winning without at least some type of veteran leadership. All good teams have at least a couple of veteran guys who know what it takes to win and show younger players the ropes. Players like James Shields on the Royals or Torri Hunter returning to the Twins are both examples of veteran guys going into a situation to influence a group of young guys and make them believe that they have what it takes to succeed and the results support it.
Energy – Let’s face it, a 162 game season can be wearing; therefore, it is good to have guys who bring high energy levels to the ballpark day in and day out. Not only does it help that player, but it rubs off on teammates.
Passion – Along the same lines as energy, passion is contagious. Some players just have a genuine love of the game and display a commitment to winning, which rubs off on teammates. Names that come to mind are Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia. These guys personify winning players in my opinion.
With that being said, I believe the Brewers should have two priorities heading into the offseason: Increasing organizational depth (MLB and MiLB) and establishing a winning culture in Milwaukee. I believe that in order for a team to win, they have to believe they can win. Remember, the Royals barely made the playoffs last year as a wild card before coming out this year with the best record in the American League with pretty much the same team. To me, it shows that attitude has as much to do with winning as talent. The Royals proved to themselves that they had what it took to win and they brought that attitude out to the field.
Obviously it’s hard to gauge which players will be available and what teams would want in return for their players, but here are some possible transactions that I think make sense for both sides which will help us fill some needs with talented players who also display winning characteristics to help us establish a winning atmosphere in Milwaukee.
Ben Revere, Darwin Barney, Aaron Loup, Dan Jansen(prospect), Mitch Nay(prospect)
Domingo Santana, Cory Knebel
Ughhh! Is he crazy; suggesting we trade a 23 year old masher and a 23 year old reliever with closer potential when we’re trying to rebuild! That’s insane. There are a number of reasons why I think this is a good trade for us and why it may make sense for the Blue Jays as well.
First, we have a logjam in the corner outfield and having Santana spend the whole year in center just isn’t a viable option in my opinion. I know you’re thinking "Why Santana? Why not trade Khris Davis?" And the answer is that Santana’s value is much higher than Davis’ at this point: Santana is younger and has more defensive value, meaning he would command a greater return, allowing us to fill some organizational needs with quality players in their own right.
First, Revere is well regarded around baseball as a high character, high energy type of guy who gets on base with blazing speed and baserunning skills. I could see him scoring a hundred runs batting in front of Lucroy, Braun, and Lind; he also may be expendable, being due for an arbitration raise with hot young prospect Dalton Pompey waiting in the wings in Toronto. Second, Wisconsin born Dan Jansen my second favorite player currently in the minor leagues next to Orlando Arcia. A 20 year old catcher with good receiving and leadership skills who makes contact with power potential is a rare commodity in baseball. Luckily for us he had a down year at the plate and Toronto has some catching depth in the minor leagues, but I’d be shocked if he’s not a breakthrough player at some point in the next two years. I think the others could be complementary pieces: Barney is a guy who knows the division and could possibly platoon with Gennett at second, providing respectable offense against lefties and excellent defense at second; Loup is a typical LOOGY candidate, and Nay is a lottery ticket at third base with good hitting skills and power potential. It’s also worth mentioning that we currently do not have any legitimate catching or third base depth in the minor leagues.
From Toronto’s end, both Bautista and Encarnacion have contracts set to expire after this year and I doubt they have the resources to re-sign both. With that being said, Santana offers the kind of rare upside to possibly replace that kind of bat and Knebel would add some bullpen depth to an area that was a concern for them earlier in the season.
To San Diego:
Jean Segura, Matt Garza
Will Middlebrooks, Rymer Liriano, Tyler Thornburg
Yes! A three way trade to bring back a familiar face in Brett Lawrie. The A’s have shown a willingness to trade everyone and anyone in the right deal and San Diego is in desperate need of a shortstop and have shown a willingness to take on bad contracts if they get the player they want. (Melvin Upton Jr.) Plus they have a hole in their rotation after Ian Kennedy’s departure and Matt Garza has a decent chance of bouncing back and pitching in Petco Park will only help his cause. If they don’t get Ian Desmond, there aren’t too many other options at shortstop and there is a lot to like about Segura. Players with his skillset(good defense, contact skills, speed) have been valuable in recent years: Alcides Escobar, Jason Bartlett in Tampa, Erick Aybar. In addition they were also rumored to have interest in Segura at the trade deadline. From our perspective, the younger and more talented Orlando Arcia among others makes Segura expendable and I feel like Thornburg has kind of been pushed out by younger pitchers, but still has value to other teams like the A’s.
In Lawrie though, he won’t be the most consistent player on the team, nor the quietest, but he plays the game with intensity and energy, which is something we lost with the Carlos Gomez trade. Plus, there are a number of things he does well on the baseball field, including defending at third or second base, hitting for above average power, and crushing lefties, at least in 2015. If we could dump Garza and receive something decent in return I think it’s a worthwhile move which would give us salary relief in case we decide to make a big move at the trade deadline if we are in fact in contention.
Jonathan Niese, Kirk Niewenhuis
To New York Mets:
Tyler Wagner, Yadiel Rivera
New York’s rotation figures to be pretty crowded next year and Niese could very well be the odd man out. Like Lawrie, Niese likely won’t be a star, but he does a number of things well. He’s also left handed which is something the Brewers have lacked in recent years. I think it’s necessary with the good left handed batters in our division (Rizzo, Bruce, Votto, Pedro Alvarez, Kyle Schwarber, Matt Adams) to have at least one lefty in the rotation, plus I think Niese would be a good clubhouse presence in Milwaukee and a guy who would be happy to pitch out of the bullpen if needed; not to mention Niewenhuis is a very intriguing fourth outfield candidate with power potential, speed, and defensive versatility, even if none of his tools really stands out. From the Mets perspective, Wagner would provide them with a young, cheap arm to provide depth should anyone go down with an injury and a shortstop with good glove skills and hitting potential in Rivera. Despite his amazing showing in the AFL, I still see him as Yuni Betancourt with better defense, which is valuable but expendable. In this case we would be dealing from areas of depth (Young pitching and shortstop) without trading away any major prospects.
I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but I don’t think we should raise the white flag just yet. This team has a lot of talent; if Lucroy can come back and have a strong year and Jimmy Nelson and Wily Peralta take the next step forward we have a decent chance of competing (even with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates in our division) and even if we don’t I am confident that the trades mentioned will help us in the long run without hurting us short term. We have a lot of talent and depth; no one expected the Twins or even the Astros or Mets for that matter to compete this year but all finished the year with winning records with the Mets reaching the World Series and on the opposite end, who would have thought that the Tigers or Red Sox would come in last place with Washington missing the playoffs. If there’s one thing that this game has shown this year it’s that you never know what could happen once the season starts. With that being said, to 2016 and beyond.