Milwaukee Brewers

Moneyball and the Milwaukee Brewers

Out of the door this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers have lost two very vital roles from their offense and out in the field with infielder Mike Moustakas & catcher Yasmani Grandal. Fans worry – especially knowing that they need to replace that much production, and even need a starting pitcher (or two) to replicate that winning success.

Scott Boras & Company have worked their magic, yet again. This offseason alone, he has helped get his clients an estimated total of $878 million dollars+, even with some guys Dallas Keuchel & Nicholas Castellanos still looking for new deals and new homes. The Brewers haven’t signed any of Boras’s clients as of yet this offseason. There’s a reason why.

The Milwaukee Brewers. The Cleveland Indians. The Oakland Athletics. And the Tampa Bay Rays. Call them all “penny-pinchers,” but they are all small-market teams looking to go out and compete with the pocket books. To be honest, I’m a firm believer that someday, there needs to be a salary cap in baseball, as many of these lucrative contracts are going to ruin the game of baseball. Hell, without a salary cap, it’s easy and simple to say that out of the gates once Spring Training is done – there are maybe a 1/3 of teams that legitimately have a shot at October, and the other 2/3 of the teams that are simply just bottom feeders and developers of talent for these fancy teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs.

Coming off of a season where “Daily Pythogoras” projected the Milwaukee Brewers to only win 78 games with last season’s roster – the Brewers defied all odds, overcame an injury to their MVP (Christian Yelich) and snatched the last Wild Card before falling short to the eventual World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. And yet there was a chance that David Stearns was going to lose both Grandal & Moustakas to different teams wanting to spend money. I mean, he only signed both to only one-year prove it deals, and he made them even more valuable. It happened. And now, with closer Josh Hader’s value being higher than ever, we may see him on the move as well for prospect pool or a veteran ready to help. Am I okay with this? You bet I am.

I’ve come to accept the fact that special players and special moments in my team’s existence are few and far between. When I started heavily following the Brew Crew, it was the early 2000s. Since jumping over to the National League, the Brewers still couldn’t find their own success in a new division, suffering 100-loss seasons, being one of the laughingstocks of the league, but slowly developing their farm. Some days, those prospects would come. At one point, the team had Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and J.J. Hardy, and helped end the postseason drought that the state of Wisconsin had been suffering through. All of a sudden, a new vibe and excitement were all around the ballpark – but eventually, those rookie contracts and arbitration would come to bite them. Once a player starts performing – their value obviously continues to build more and more.

Prince left in free agency, Rickie Weeks became less productive, Corey Hart got hurt and left, and J.J. Hardy was dealt for new blood to the team. That buzz around the team still was there – but it was known that after the magical 2011 season – that it would take a lot of overhaul to be as competitive as the year before. There were some spurts – like 2014, but after a strong first half, the typical Brewers collapse in the second half helped rejuvenate a new image for the organization – meaning a new manager (Craig Counsell) and President/GM (David Stearns) was going to shape this team up and down and in their farm system to be deep throughout their roster – and still be competitive year in and year out.

I’ve seen David Stearns and Matt Arnold make difficult decisions – made some moves that most fans question right from the get-go. It’s a constant reminder of Moneyball – everyone believed Billy Beane was crazy mad playing his numbers game – taking players and putting them out of position to get the most value they could out of them for the duration they had them for. Travis Shaw for example. Or Junior Guerra. Even Jesus Aguilar. A lot of unprovens and unknowns – diamonds in the rough – players I’ve never heard of! And they outcompeted their expected performance. Using scouting, analytics, and keen player development to produce a winning product on the field.

Most fans will have their doubts right away – and continue to have their doubts. I mean, why add an arm like Brett Anderson to the rotation when he has a known injury history – or go throw an arm into the mix like Josh Lindblom who had pitched in Korea but not in the majors since 2017?

Because why not. Why not try different methods to be successful?

Some teams still haven’t made any deals [looking at you Minnesota Twins… 😉 ] but I give all the credit to our front office to be as creative and outside of the box to prove doubters wrong.

What they’ve done is a start – and merely something. Scott Boras says his huge MLB contracts prove “Moneyball Models” don’t work – but for small market teams looking to trying and compete with pocketbooks – it’s an interesting concept to keep trying. -WGL

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