Welcome back, Brewlievers. It’s been a rough week on the field for the local nine and a tumultuous one off it. The Crew dropped five of six while scoring less than two runs per game against divisional rivals St. Louis and Chicago, and the (widely anticipated) news surfaced that GM Doug Melvin will be transitioning to another role with the team. In light of the nigh-unwatchable television program that Brewers game broadcasts have become, we’re going to kick things off with a crowd-pleaser this week to brighten the mood before we talk about all those shiny prospects Melvin wasn’t prescient enough to hold onto. Let’s get it started:
Aviles’ four-year-old daughter, Adrianna, who was diagnosed with leukemia just a few short months ago, appears to be recovering well and was on hand to throw out the first pitch at Progressive Field on Thursday. It’s another chapter in what has become a very nice story for Aviles and the Indians, who refused to listen to offers for Aviles despite healthy interest from around the league so as not to upset his daughter’s treatment. A refreshingly humanitarian move from a team that’s still using a caricature of a Native American as it’s secondary logo.
David Cameron (@DavidCameronFG) of FanGraphs takes a critical view of Melvin’s 13-year run as Milwaukee’s GM which will end this year, an announcement that spawned a number of #HotTakes on Twitter dot com. As the title of the piece may hint, the article takes a rather negative view of Melvin’s tenure at the head of the Brewers’ front office, a time that saw the team’s first sustained run as a contender since the early 90s but produced only a pair of playoff appearances and a 1004-1054 record (as of Thursday). While he makes a hindsight-heavy judgment on the Zack Grienke trades, in all Cameron presents a nice piece that illustrates why, with a multi-year rebuild in front of the franchise, now is the right time to make a change.
FanGraphs || Michael Brantley and Aggression (August 12)
Eno Sarris (@enosarris), with some input from the man himself, takes a look at the change in philosophy that has led the Michael Brantley’s breakout performance over the past two seasons. While Brantley, who was the PTBNL in the trade with Cleveland that brought C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee, was producing as a solid major-league starter over his first five years in the league, he vaulted into All-Star and down ballot MVP candidate territory last year with a power surge that resulted in a 124 point jump in slugging percentage over his career average.
I swear I’m not doing this on purpose, but we’ve got another great piece from one of BP Milwaukee’s own from elsewhere on the net. This time Ryan Romano (@triple_r_) analyzes the improvements made by former Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi, a key cog of that Grienke trade Cameron hated. Romano remarks that among other things, an increased willingness to attack the strike zone and new mix of pitches that features a splitter he picked up from Alex Cobb have contributed to Odorizzi’s improvement.
Just to twist the knife a little more, John Viril had this article recapping the great season of the other headliner of the Grienke deal, Lorenzo Cain. Viril leans heavily on UZR and bWAR to illustrate his point, there’s no question that Cain is enjoying one of the better seasons in Royals history.
Now, with all three of these guys, it’s easy to look back and say, “Wow, look at all the great prospects Melvin gave away.” But for every Brantley or Cain that meets or exceeds expectations, there are five Matt LaPortas who just never pan out. While it’s easy to be pick and choose spots to be critical in hindsight, trading was actually a strength.
With the Brewers heading for a top-five pick in at least next year’s draft and Milwaukee’s tendency to focus on more major-league-ready pitchers from the college ranks (of the 30 pitchers selected by Milwaukee in the first 10 rounds of the draft since 2011, 20 of them were drafted out of college), it’s a very real possibility that one or more of these young men could be in the Brewers organization. Of course, with the franchise at least paying lip service to a switch to rebuilding mode and a new man at the helm (we don’t know when Melvin’s replacement will be introduced but we can safely assume it will be before next June), the Brewers recent tendencies could very well all be out the window as well.