Rolling Out the Barrel: Every Day is a Day Closer to April

Here are some facts:

(1) Former Brewers manager Ned Yost once plugged in Laynce Nix — who carried a 69 OPS+ at the time and was making his season debut in August — into the three-hole for Milwaukee in the middle of a pennant race because he was either unaware that batting order is not determined by the positions played in the outfield, or he didn’t care. Yost was fired two weeks before the end of the season, a move that saved Milwaukee from missing out on their first playoff appearances in 26 years.

(2) On Sunday, Ned Yost became a World Series champion manager. He’s also a two-time pennant winner and the all-time winningest playoff manager in baseball history among those who have managed at least 20 playoff games (22-9, .710).

(3) On Tuesday, a bunch of people got upset when we learned that the Washington Nationals had pulled a 180 and hired Dusty Baker instead of Bud Black to be their new manager. This occurred just three days after Yost had finally definitively proven once and for all that it does not matter who the manager is, as long as he’s not historically bad (like, for example, the man Baker is replacing).

Baseball is weird, folks. And now, at least at the MLB level, it’s over for a little while. As we roll out the barrel for the first time this offseason, let’s start by taking a look back at the things that made Kansas City’s wild run possible before we look once again toward the future for our Milwaukee Brewers.

Kansas City Star || Royals are World Series champs (Nov. 1, 2015)

One of the best beat writers in the business, Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar), gives us the blow-by-blow of a World Series clincher that might have ranked among the most improbable endings to a baseball season ever, if only we hadn’t seen such things from these Royals so many times before in October. Kansas City captured their first world championship since 1985 in the most Royals way possible, as the Devil Magic that seemed to have boosted the St. Louis Cardinals for so many years hitched a ride down I-70 West to give the nice folks on the other end of Missouri a taste of immortality. I truly believe that there is nothing like a World Series to unify a city, especially when it’s not biannual affair like it is for your St. Louises, your San Franciscos, and your New Yorks.

Baseball America || Royals’ Moore Pushed For Continuity, Sustainability (Nov. 2, 2015)

Here we have J.J. Cooper, (@jjcoop36), one of Baseball America’s finest, breaking down how Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore built a winner by sticking to a plan of building from within with a strong core of players that came up together, grew together, and learned how the win together. It’s not a story that’s unfamiliar to Brewers fans, who saw the same plan laid out for the early-century Brewers group of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo and, later, Ryan Braun. It didn’t work out quite as well for the local nine as it did for the Royals, but it’s the path that David Stearns is hopefully leading the Brewers down again with the likes of Orlando Arcia, Brett Phillips, Jorge Lopez and, just a little bit later, Trent Clark, Gilbert Lara, Cody Ponce, Monte Harrison and Jacob Gatewood.

Baseball America || Ask BA: Which Shortstops Will Be Moving? (Nov. 4, 2015)

Speaking of Aricia, Lara and Gatewood, we’ll stick with BA and J.J. Cooper, who tackles the subject of minor-league shortstops, the vast majority of whom do not grow up to be major league shortstops. Cooper specifically identifies Arcia as a prospect who profiles to remain at the premium defensive position, while both Lara and Gatewood seem to fit the profile of shortstop prospects who may not have the range to play in the hole but have power bats that can play at the hot corner. And indeed, both players have seen time at third at instructs this fall. || Biloxi delivers dream homecoming (Nov. 2, 2015) 

The Shuckers took home a couple of MiLBY’s this season, with Arcia being named the minor league breakout player of the year and Biloxi’s first home actual home game, which ended in a 14th inning walk-off win, taking home game of the year honors. Tyler Maun (@TylerMaun) recaps that game, which followed Biloxi’s epic 54-game road trip to begin the season while they awaited the completion of their stadium.

FanGraphs || The Worst Called Strike of the Season (Nov. 5, 2015)

Jeff Sullivan (@basedball) recounts the story of the statistically-worst strike call of the 2015 regular season, which just so happened to occur at the perhaps the most statistically-insignificant moment of the season. On August 28th, the Brewers — 29 games out of first place — faced the only team further from the division leaders in the Cincinnati Reds, who trailed Milwaukee by a half game. Both teams’ playoff chances had been reduced to zero, and the results of the game itself were already etched in stone, with the Reds’ chances to win rounding to zero in the bottom of the 8th of a five-run game. In this moment Shane Peterson, de facto starting center fielder for the Brewers, took a strike that crossed a full foot outside from Sam LeCure. The call showed the benefits of pitch framing, as Brayan Pena made a clean catch that hit pretty much exactly where he asked for it — home plate umpire Tom Hallion apparently just didn’t realize (or didn’t care) that Pena was set up a foot outside.

Brew Crew Ball || Preliminary look at the 2016 roster and payroll (Nov. 4, 2015) 

Finally, over at Brew Crew Ball, Derek Harvey (@D_J_Harvey) brings us an entirely-too-early look at the Brewers potential major league roster as it stands today. Of course, there is almost certain to be a fair amount of movement as the Brewers continue their rebuilding effort, with Adam Lind (whose option was picked up on Tuesday), Francisco Rodriguez (future MLB saves king and bad human person), Jean Segura and Matt Garza among the most likely candidates for a change in scenery. As it stands today, the Brewers payroll looks like it’ll land in the  $70-$75 million range, with the aforementioned trade candidates potentially lowering that number, and a free agent pitcher and/or third baseman signing just as likely to raise it.

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