At the writing of this article on Sunday afternoon, the 9-15 Brewers finally put an end to a four game losing streak. As dominating as the win today was, the Brewers have started to resemble the losing team many expected them to be this year. While the first calendar month of the season included a couple of unexpected wins, the Brewer’s season thus far can be summed up simply: poor starting pitchers. They’re putting games out of reach early and often. While there have been some valiant comeback attempts, most games have come and gone quietly, ending in multi-run losses.
Since there will be plenty of time to lament, analyze, and comment on the rationale behind the Brewer’s losing ways this season, instead, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to share my thoughts on some newcomers to this Brewers team. Because the Brewers have proven their willingness to wheel and deal, I believe there are some exciting story lines brewing underneath all of this losing.
At 6’4” and 245 pounds, Cris Carter was not brought to Milwaukee to steal bases; he was brought to Milwaukee to hit home runs. Carter is a big guy, and he strikes out a lot. In fact, his average strikeouts per 162 games is a whopping 205. To put that into perspective, Khris Davis led the 2015 Brewers with 121 strikeouts, 84 less than Carter’s career average. At 29, the likelihood of Carter changing as a player is slim to none. He’s going to swing a lot, and he’s going to miss a lot, but because of his strength he’s capable of hitting 30+ home runs.
Carter got off to a hot start, and has since cooled off a bit, but his .257 batting average and .581 slugging percentage would still go down as career bests if the season ended today (a ridiculous statement after just four weeks, but worth pointing out none-the-less). He’s on pace to hit 47 home runs and 128 RBIs this year, both of which would be lights out numbers for a player that very few expected to be more than just a placeholder. While he will likely continue to cool off a bit, if a team finds themselves searching for power in the middle of the summer, you’d have to imagine the Brewers would jump on almost any offer to get a return on their already low investment in Carter. Rest assured, Chris Carter is not a part of the future plans for the Milwaukee Brewers, but playing his way out of Milwaukee would be a nice unexpected bonus for GM David Stearns.
Domingo Santana is a stark contrast from the Brewer’s former centerfielder, Carlos Gomez. Gomez was a loud, emotional, and at times, erratic player. Santana has a quiet confidence and gives off a more subtle, cooler vibe. I’ve seen this play out in two very different ways this season. Santana came up to bat in the top of the ninth inning against the Cardinals a couple of weeks ago and hit a go ahead no doubter home run to put the Brewers up for good. That was awesome; to date it was my favorite moment of this season. Santana kind of smirked as he rounded the bases, which I loved, because, you know, nobody likes the Cardinals.
But Santana’s quiet composure has also played out negatively for the Brewers in the form of laziness. He has been criticized for defensive errors, especially late in ball games that the Brewers have already lost (for all intents and purposes). While it’s got to be horrendously boring to play five innings of defense when your team is down 5 runs, Craig Counsel has been preaching mental strength to these young Brewers, and Santana has had his share of avoidable mistakes.
Unlike Cris Carter, I think Domingo Santana is absolutely a part of the Brewer’s plan for future success. He’s young, still working out some of his issues, but he’s got plenty of pop in his bat and is fast enough around the base pads to throw him in the lead-off spot. If he could start to work his batting average up to the .280 – .295 range in the next couple of years, you’re going to start to see a lot of Domingo Santana jerseys around Miller Park.
Villar came to Milwaukee this off-season from the Astros in exchange for then-Brewers prospect Cy Sneed. Villar was to be the replacement for Jean Segura, after the Brewers sent Segura to Arizona (where he is currently having a career season). Many believe Villar’s time as the Brewer’s starting short stop will be limited, as the Brewer’s number one ranked prospect Orlando Arcia also plays the position, and quite well.
Villar has been a nice player to have in the lineup ahead of Ryan Braun. He’s very quick, and can drop down a bunt for a base hit or beat out a slow rolling grounder in the infield. He’s got six stolen bases on the year, and will often score from first if Braun can put a ball in either of the outfield gaps. His speed is a huge asset to a team that needs to score a lot of runs to make up for bad pitching.
Villar is, however, a risk taker. He’s got a much better arm than Segura had at short stop, but his ego can get the best of him in defensive situations. Many times this year I’ve seen Villar make some circus-style throws to get runners out at first, but they’re the type of high-risk, high-reward throws that can cost teams runs if mistakes are made. He’s got three errors on the year, but could easily have twice as many based on the games I’ve watched him play. Overall, he’s the kind of spark plug player you can count on to make momentum shifting plays, which is nice to have during a season that will undoubtedly be filled with boring losses. That being said, I don’t know how much he will factor into the Brewer’s future plans once Orlando Arcia makes his much anticipated major league debut.