Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to the final Brew Crew Ball Mailbag of the regular season!
As you can imagine, most of this week’s questions deal with evaluating a disappointing 2022 season and looking ahead to the offseason. I tried to answer as many questions as I could. On top of this week’s mailbag, we published a detailed analysis of the season earlier this morning.
With that, let’s dive into this week’s questions.
Captain What’s His Name asks:
There are serious people calling for Counsell to be let go, which I think is silly. If they stumble out of the gate next year however, is his seat hot?
I don’t see enough reason for Counsell—or any member of the coaching staff or front office, for that matter—to be let go. The Brewers have been a competitive team since 2017, and this year’s failure snapped a streak of three postseason appearances in three full seasons. Counsell’s success has earned him the benefit of the doubt for next year.
However, an organization with World Series aspirations cannot stick with something that isn’t working for too long. If the Brewers get off to an exceptionally poor start next season, there would be a valid case to be made for new leadership in the dugout and clubhouse.
I would be surprised if it gets to that point, though. Milwaukee’s brain trust will learn from what went wrong this year, and they’re smart enough to make changes that will ensure next season is more successful.
Brady Clark Fan asks:
How and where do you see the Brewers upgrading this off season?
I expect them to make outside additions to their pitching depth because that is what repeatedly burned them throughout the season. Think of a Brett Anderson type who can serve as a fifth or sixth starter plus an experienced bullpen arm or two.
If the Brewers decline Kolten Wong’s club option, they may also add another infielder to take his place. Other than that, I don’t foresee any notable offensive acquisitions. They are likely expecting internal upgrades when outfield prospects Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer join Garrett Mitchell in the big leagues.
Give this team/season a letter grade, knowing our final record and that we blew a 3 game lead at the deadline and fell short of the division and playoffs...
Given the expectations we had going into this season, even though we’re 10 games above .500, I’m struggling to find a passing grade
C-. The Cardinals caught fire in the second half, so I’m not especially upset about blowing the division lead. However, missing the postseason entirely is a failure that warrants a below-average grade.
The good news is that while the Brewers fell short in that regard, they did not damage their long-term outlook. They still have their best prospects, two more seasons of Burnes and Woodruff (or a substantial haul of young controllable talent should they trade one of those aces), and added two promising players in the Josh Hader trade who could make a notable impact next year. That salvages their grade a bit.
Looking back now, on a scale of 1-10 how do you rate Stearns trade deadline moves? And why is 1 the correct score?
This question is similar to the previous one, and the same holds true for my answer.
This year’s deadline moves were designed to help the Brewers immediately and long-term. With the 2022 season in the books, there’s no way around the truth that none of the trades helped this year’s team. However, Matt Bush, Robert Gasser, and Esteury Ruiz could all be useful pieces next year and beyond.
Because Stearns fell short of accomplishing the short-term goal with his moves but could still achieve the long-term objective, I’ll give him a 5/10.
How should the Brewers try to balance playing younger players versus relying on veterans next season?
This is a good question. I fear the Brewers will lean a bit too young next year and rely on multiple prospects to be big-league regulars out of the gate. In particular, I think they will depend on both Sal Frelick and Garrett Mitchell as starters in the outfield.
I’m comfortable with leaving center field open in hopes that one of Mitchell, Frelick, Joey Wiemer, or Esteury Ruiz take charge, designating Brice Turang as Jace Peterson’s replacement in the utility role, and platooning Mario Feliciano with Victor Caratini. From there, they should roster more experienced options at other positions.
Does Brice Turang make the team next year or does MKE trade him in the off-season to either try to get bullpen help or a vet bat?
The Brewers have gradually added more positions to Turang toolbox, including center field and third base in 2022. It sure looks as though they’re preparing him for a versatile bench role next year. I would bet on him cracking the 2023 squad.
If there wasn't a DH in the NL this year, would the Brewers have made the playoffs (considering the likely difference in roster construction and perhaps pitching performance)?— AKBrewFan (@AKBrewFan) October 6, 2022
Given how narrowly the Brewers missed out on a postseason spot, there are a number of small differences that could have flipped the outcome of the season in their favor. I think a scenario in which the National League did not have a DH is one of them.
It didn’t impact how the offense stacked up against other teams. The Brewers were usually middle-of-the-pack in offensive production from pitchers, and they sat in the same spot in DH production among NL teams in 2022.
It did, however, make a difference on the pitching side. Opposing DHs posted a .321 wOBA against Milwaukee pitching, which ranked 10th out of 15 NL teams. Considering how many leads the Brewers coughed up down the stretch, a slightly better pitching performance here and there could have changed their fate.
Of the pitchers listed below how many are on the opening day roster in 2023 and if you had to guess which are the ones who don’t make the list? Assuming everyone is healthy of course.
I think there’s a chance the Brewers non-tender Houser. The two sides couldn’t agree on a deal after his strong 2021 season, and the club may prefer to look elsewhere for a fifth starter over giving him another raise on the heels of a poor year.
I’ve predicted a Suter non-tender in past mailbags, and I’ll stick with that call. Boxberger has a club option for next season, but I anticipate the Brewers exercising the buyout instead of rolling the dice on a 34-year-old whose velocity and whiff rates declined this year. I’m interested in a Rogers reunion at the right price, but he may prefer a change of scenery.
The remaining names in the list will be back. I think there’s a non-zero chance that Burnes gets traded, but I’m not expecting it to happen.
Which Savannah Bananas baseball rule would you like to see make it to the MLB?
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, none of them. When I watch a baseball game, I’m not getting my entertainment from on-field antics taking place during play. I just want to watch the game itself.
Based on their regular sellouts, the Bananas’ brand of modified baseball carries widespread appeal. It’s not for me, though.
Thanks for your questions every week throughout the season! As we transition to the offseason, the mailbag will no longer be posted weekly. However, we’ll still take your questions at various points throughout the winter.