Despite being first week of the off-season, there’s actually been quite a bit of team news over the last week!
Jeremey Jeffress was phenominal over the entire regular season in 2018. He gave up a few runs in the postseason, notably blowing a lead in game 2 of the NLCS in Milwaukee by giving up a 2 home run to Josh Turner. However, I think he got an unfair degree of criticism about this from the armchair managers of the world, since the real problem with the games where he gave up runs was that the offense only put 1 or 2 runs on the board. You can’t expect to win games with that little offense.
He’s had troubles with addiction, which I know something about. But he’s in recovery, and seems to struggle everywhere else he’s played while thriving in Milwaukee. So he’s really easy to root for. He also seems like a great, even-keeled presence in the clubhouse. I, for one, am really glad he’ll be back.
Moustakas, Soria are Free Agents
Mike Moustakas and Joakim Soria both declined to take a club option with the Brewers, in favor of becoming free agents. They were both pretty good for the Brewers’ postseason in 2018, although I think Moustakas didn’t really produce offense at the level that the team hoped he would, aside from the walk-off single in game 1 of the NLCS.
Personally, I think moving Travis Shaw over to 2nd worked out extremely well, after the Brewers kind of flailed around all season trying to get some offensive production from that position (while still maintaining a high level of defense). If I was the GM, I’d keep Shaw at 2nd, and move Thames over to third.
After a strong start, Thames had a somewhat underwhelming season, due to Aguilar basically locking down what was intended to be a platoon at first base while Thames was injured by having a career-best season. I think Thames’ offensive struggles were probably largely due to not getting consistent at-bats, and I think he’d do a lot better at the plate if he played every day. There are some guys who thrive as pinch hitters even with irregular at-bats (Aguilar was actually very good at this), but I think Thames is just a guy who needs to be seeing MLB level pitching regularly in order to keep his eye sharp.
I Believe That Vogt Will Catch
In sad news, I’m disappointed that the Brewers elected to outright Stephen Vogt from the roster, and he has also become a free agent. I will admit that with Vogt, I mostly am just sad because he’s got an excellent crowd-participation chant, which followed him to Milwaukee from Oakland.
He also seems like a good clubhouse presence and played Hamilton Porter in the Brewers’ Sandlot tribute. With Eric Kratz also unlikely to return for the 2019 season, the Brewers have a need at the catcher position. They could theoretically re-sign Vogt from free agency, but it’ll definitely be something to watch over the offseason.
There have been a few awards announced since the World Series ended, in addition to Chrisitan Yelich being the heavy favorite for the MVP award.
- Josh Hader was named NL Releiver of the Year
- Christian Yelich won the Hank Aaron Award
- Lorenzo Cain won the Fielding Bible Award for center field
Also, in addition to the MVP, the 2018 Brewers had four (!) Gold Glove finalists:
- Manny Pina (C)
- Travis Shaw (3B)
- Christian Yelich (LF)
- Lorenzo Cain (CF)
Sadly, none of them actually went on to win the award at their position (personally I think Cain and Pina in particular got snubbed).
Manager of the Year
Lastly, Craig Counsell is a finalist for Manager of the Year. I think he deserves it, he took the team with the lowest payroll the farthest of any in the league. In the 2018 postseason, only the Oakland Athletics ahd a lower payroll (they were 28th out of the 30 MLB teams), and they got eliminated in the Wild Card round.
The Brewers were 22nd out of 30 in payroll, and they beat the Cubs (1st highest payroll) in game 163, and the Rockies (13th highest payroll) in the divisional round. The Dodgers and the Red Sox had the 2nd and 3rd highest payrolls, respectively.
So I think it’s pretty obvious that Counsell had the hardest job to do of all the postseason teams to make it to at least the divisional round, and he employed more out-of-the-box strategy of any of the managers in the postseason.
Be it agressive shifting, use of bullpen games, or perhaps greatest of all, the unprecidented “fake start” by Wade Miley in game 5 of the NLCS, Counsell was the most inventive and resourceful manager of the 2018 season and was able to take his team farther than anyone outside of die-hard Brewers fans expected. He deserves the award.
Speaking of winning… today also happens to be the most important midterm election in American history. Vote! Save America!