Saturday, March 25, 2023

Trying to Figure Out the Brewers


The Milwaukee Brewers have a Cy Young winner and an MVP in important roles this year, and I don't even think they're gonna make second place.

This is a very confounding team, because in several moments in the past few years they've come very closer to being nonironically good, even after nearly making a World Series in 2018. The 2021 version of this team won 95 games and was an intriguing figure in an already-crowded playoff space. Other versions have come close to greatness and haven't quite capitalized. Last year, the Brewers were in first for a large chunk of the middle of the season before the Cardinals, as they deserved to, lapped them and ended the season mightily. 

And now, the Brewers are going into a season with Christian Yelich still on his post-peak deep slide, about to cut Keston Hiura, who was gonna be a prospect that would carry the team in another universe, and looking to start William Contreras, a notably unimpressive defensive catcher, as their chief backstop.

The big draw with this team is going to be the rotation, as usual, because I don't see people getting past Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer and Freddy Peralta especially easily. Adrian Houser is expected to get the last rotation spot, and lately he's been the hittable one. And then I worry about Lauer, who's had a messy Spring, and Peralta, who always seems to be injured. They do have depth, they have Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small lying around, and now they have Wade Miley and Bryse Wilson, but I don't know if the quality of the rotation will be so intimidating if people do drop. Burnes is the sole guy here who's been truly durable the past few years, and I'm assuming his luck won't run out this year, but anything's possible. 

Meanwhile, the Brewers are going in with an infield of Rowdy Tellez, Luis Urias, Willy Adames and Brian Anderson. Not that this is a completely bad thing, but the 2018 team ironically had more homegrown players in their, like one. But that team had people who were at least respected defensive guys, like Orlando Arcia, Hernan Perez and Jonathan Villar. Tellez isn't a known defenseman, Anderson's defense numbers are slipping towards 'okay', and Urias is honestly just a serviceable infielder. You at least have Adames, who's pretty great, but the loss of somebody like Kolten Wong is pretty loud here. 

I also find it very amusing that, during Urias' WBC run, Mike Brosseau got his spring training starts and hit 6 homers. So if Urias keeps missing games, we might actually have an alright replacement option there.

And, again, the outfield is a lot of assumptions. Garrett Mitchell's supposed to be a big prospect, but Tyrone Taylor has never really wowed me as a starting guy, and Christian Yelich has a combined 4.4 WAR since his last MVP-placing season in 2019. I honestly think the man hit his peak, hit his peak hard, and backed away from that. And the Brewers are stuck with that as a tentpole for a few more years while they try to rebuild with people like Mitchell. 

I see lots of mess where there should be promise, and while there might be a lot that works this season, it'd take a lot of things either coming together or refusing to come apart. I think that, if so much goes right that I'm not thinking will, this could be a wild card team. But the Cubs have done more work to compete than the Brewers, arguably, and I think that will ultimately show.

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