Fresh off a somewhat emotional rant last week, it’s back to baseball this week.
Ryan Braun almost got traded this week, signaling that he will almost certainly get traded this offseason.
It was kind of crazy and sneaky how this all went down, but see if you can follow me here. First, the Brewers placed Ryan Braun on waivers earlier in the week, which he surprisingly cleared. This freed Braun up to be traded in a rare August transaction, something this wannabe baseball writer guaranteed would not happen a couple of weeks back.
Way over on the other side of the country, the Dodgers placed the infamous Yasiel Puig on waivers, with multiple teams laying claim to him. The Brewers won the claim, setting the table for a Ryan Braun for Yasiel Puig deal that would have provided me with enough material for the rest of the season. That deal was close, but did not end up happening, likely due to the Dodgers insisting that the Brewers pay at least some of the remaining $76 million dollars owed to Braun. I’ll spare you a rant about signing players who are notoriously bad locker room guys (Matt Garza you are #theworst), but it’s safe to say I’m happy the deal did not go through, especially if it would have resulted in the Brewers picking up even a small portion of Braun’s contract.
Here’s my take on all of this- Ryan Braun is probably not going to be a Brewer next year. While nothing is ever a certainty in baseball, the sheer number of deals David Stearns has been able to complete during his short tenure suggests that when he’s set on moving a player, they’re going to get moved. This little trade that never was seems to suggest that Stearns has made up his mind on Braun being more valuable as a trade chip than as a piece of the rebuild in his mid-thirties.
A new group of youngsters could be the “core” of a future Brewer’s playoff team.
Remember 2011? Ah… sweet, sweet 2011. The Brewers marched into the NLCS led by a core group of players defined as much by their team chemistry as they were by their performance on the field. I’m talking about Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and Corey Hart. Those guys came through the Brewers minor leagues around the same time, and suffered through a couple of tough years before experiencing success in a Brewers uniform.
Pardon me while I look into my crystal ball for a moment.
The left side of the infield seems to be set in stone for the foreseeable future, with Jonathan Villar (25 years old) moving to third base to make room for the Brewers’ top prospect in Orlando Arcia (22 years old). Villar has struggled defensively this year and is among the league leaders in errors with 17, but the Brewers would be hard pressed to replace Villar’s offensive production in the lineup. Even with 17 errors, he’s worth it if he continues to steal 50+ bases and rock a .376 on base percentage.
Then there’s Keon Broxton (26 years old) and Hernan Perez (25 years old), both young outfielders in major league terms and both out performing even the most optimistic of expectations that could have been set for them. Both have stolen more than 20 bases (Broxton has stolen 27 in just over 200 at bats, compared to Villar’s 51 in 578 ABs).
There’s a (top ranked) minor league system full of 18-22 year olds chomping at the bit to show the Brewers what they can do at the major league level. But even if the Brewers have the best rookies in the league, they will have to rely on a core group of experienced players to lead the wide-eyed youngsters into the uncharted territory that is October baseball. So while we’re still likely two seasons away from anything resembling a playoff run, it’s fun to think about who those core group of players might be. While they’re young and rough around the edges right now, they could be household names by the time the rebuild is complete, and that is something worth smiling about.
A final side note…
Follow along with me the rest of the year as the Brewers chase 70 wins, which would clinch a $100 bet I made on Opening Day. I wonder if someone could get this message to Craig Counsell…
Current Record: 60-78
Games Remaining: 24
Wins Needed: 10
Current Mood: Concerned