Welcome to the first postseason version of Rolling Out the Barrel. The Wild Card games are behind us, and as Major League Baseball enters the portion of the playoff schedule in which they do not allow the outcome of a 162-game season to come down to a single game’s result, we turn our heads towards the future in hopes of a better tomorrow for Milwaukee. Having consulted absolutely none of my colleagues, some of whom have actual emotional investment, I now offer the official BP Milwaukee rooting interest rankings for the 2015 Playoffs (post-Wild Card edition):
1) Houston Astros
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Texas Rangers
4) Kansas City Royals
5) Los Angeles Dodgers
6) New York Mets
7) Chicago Cubs
Let’s get to this week’s stories:
Brewers fans looking for a postseason rooting interest are likely to find it in the American League, where seven former Brewers are enjoying the postseason with their new teams. Besides being filled with former Brewers, the AL also features a variety of teams that aren’t the Cardinals. For Grantland, Ben Lindbergh breaks down the match ups in Junior Circuit.
Many words have been spilled on former Brewer CC Sabathia’s decision to enter a rehab facility for his alcohol problem this past week in advance of the Yankees’ first playoff appearance in three years, most of them rightly positive. It’s not easy for anyone to admit that there’s a problem, let alone a professional athlete living under the bright lights of New York City. As the product of a family that dealt with addiction, I have nothing but respect for Sabathia’s ability to put his own life, and his family, before his baseball career. But he hasn’t done anything heroic yet, and he has a long road ahead of him. I wish CC well as he walks the road to recovery.
Owen Watson takes a look at the numbers behind managers challenges this year, a skill that Milwaukee’s managers ranked among the league’s worst in 2015 — though not as bad as Matt Williams, who was the worst by a large margin (as if any further justification was needed for his firing). At the top of the heap you’ll find a trio of playoff managers in Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle and Ned Yost, though with just a few seasons of data with which to work, it’s impossible to say how big of an impact these managers’ challenges had on their teams’ playoff runs.
Derek Harvey takes a look at the silver lining for the Brewers after a disastrous 2015 season. Milwaukee will have the fifth pick in the draft next summer, giving the team to add even more to a drastically improved farm system that should jump from the bottom third to the top third in most system rankings this winter. Harvey points out that the last time the Brewers had a top ten pick was in 2007, when they selected Matt LaPorta, and though the former top prospect never made good on his potential, he was the key piece in the Sabathia trade that delivered the Brewers’ first postseason appearance in 26 years.
Brewers’ new general manager David Stearns officially took over the front office this week as Milwaukee’s season came to a close, and while changes were expected, I don’t think anyone predicted the kind of turnover Milwaukee is in for as five of the team’s coaches were let go. Among the departed are Rick Kranitz, who had been the Brewers’ pitching coach since 2011, and Jerry Narron, who was the Brewers’ bench coach since 2010 and was responsible for the calligraphy on the Brewers’ iconic lineup cards. Surviving the fallout from Milwaukee’s most disappointing season in a decade were hitting coach Darnell Coles and Teflon-coated third base coach Ed Sedar, who has manned one base or the other from Milwaukee since 2007. While no annoucements regarding replacements have yet been made, it is widely assumed that Pat Murphy, whom the Brewers requested an interview with this summer prior to his being named interim manager of the Padres, is at the top of Craig Counsell’s list. If Brewers fans are looking for things to be afraid of this winter, erstwhile Nationals manager Williams’ name has also been bandied about as a potential add for the Crew; Williams and Counsell were teammates in Arizona.
I’ll leave you this week with the transcript of a chat Matt Eddy of Baseball America conducted on Wednesday regarding their most recent Top 20 prospect list for the Southern League, of which the Brewers’ prospect-rich Double-A Biloxi Shuckers were the runners-up. Several Brewers’ prospects are discussed throughout, notably Jorge Lopez, Michael Reed and Adrian Houser.