(This is part one of two, in a true 1990’s TV sitcom cliffhanger-style Sunday Cycle)
I’ve spoken far too many times this season about the rebuild. Admittedly, I do so partially because there’s not a lot to talk about when a young team is being outmatched daily on the field. But I also talk about it frequently because I don’t think there’s been a point in my lifetime where the decisions being made in the Milwaukee Brewers front office held more importance.
My generation has only known two good Brewers teams, and only one of those teams made it to an NLCS. We’ve had one Division championship in over 30 years, we suffered through the longest active playoff drought in baseball while I was growing up, and we’ve only truly felt the magic of October baseball on two occasions. That sucks. It’s the reason why Miller Park has a reputation for being more about the party, and less about the baseball. The Brewers have been a bad franchise for a long time.
So they’ve asked us to wait, and here we stand, exactly where we thought we would be. We’re one half of a season into what many believe will be a multi-year process. Attendance is going to drop, as will TV viewership, and interest in the Brewers will fade as the championship caliber franchise in Green and Gold starts to prepare for yet another winning campaign.
We’ve got four weeks left until the most important trade deadline the Brewers have had in many years. I’ve been asked by a couple of people what I would do. How long do I think the rebuild is going to take? Who has to be a part of the process, and who do I think is disposable? Who stays? Who leaves? Well I’ve got a special Independence Day treat for all of you.
Over the next two weeks, I will be presenting my readers with the official Sunday Cycle Rebuilding plan, in which I will bucket every current member of the 25-man roster into one of five categories: Trade now, let them go, Trade next year, wait and see, and keep for the rebuild.
Estimated time of completion (i.e., consistent playoff appearances): 2018.
Trade them now: players whose trade value are an all-time high.
Jonathan Lucroy: No need to beat the dead horse here. Lucroy is the biggest and most lucrative trade chip the Brewers have this year. Rumor has it they are asking for a very high price tag, which is smart (for now). As the deadline inches closer, and teams start to really gear up for their playoff runs, the Brewers should be able to garner a top 5 prospect that is nearly major league-ready in exchange for one of the best (and economically friendly) catchers in the game.
Chris Carter: It will be a win for the Milwaukee Brewers if they can score some young talent in exchange for Carter, who ranks 4th in the NL with 20 home runs. He’s the same Chris Carter he’s always been with respect to strike outs, but he’s on pace to hit more home runs this year than ever before in his career. Cater’s stock has never been higher, and the market for home run hitters is always hot. Trade him now for whatever the Brewers can realistically get in return, and call it a win.
Others: Jeremy Jeffress, Aaron Hill, Junior Guerra, Tyler Thornburg
Let them go: trade them if you can, but you likely won’t be able to. Let their contracts expire and move on.
Matt Garza: I’m sorry but Garza is just the worst. He’s got a reputation for being a bad teammate and is nothing short of poisonous in the locker room. I can promise you Garza wants nothing more than to be out of Milwaukee; he made that very clear last year by refusing to move to the bullpen and throwing a public hissy fit. There’s no place for whiners on a championship ball club.
Martín Maldonado: I like Maldonado, he plays hard and he does a good job keeping base runners honest. He’s just not very good. With Wily Peralta struggling in AAA (Maldonado was Peralta’s designated catcher when they came up together), Maldonado doesn’t have much value as a back stop to the Brewers. I’ve noticed that many pitchers seem thrown off by the way he positions himself for pitches low in the zone (he essentially sits on the ground with one leg fully extended). I’d rather see a young catcher fill the backup role and get valuable experience than watch a lifetime .216 hitter struggle at the plate once every couple of weeks.
Others: Ramón Flores, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Carlos Torres, Blaine Boyer
Tune in next week as we cover the players to trade next year, the players to keep for the long haul, and the select group of players who deserve a chance to stick around and develop (i.e, wait and see). Has my opinion on Ryan Braun changed? Do the Brewers have anyone worth keeping around? Am I just inserting cliffhangers to boost my diminishing readership numbers? Only time will tell. Happy Fourth!