In all honesty, this season has been a fascinating surprise for the Milwaukee Brewers. Nobody was expecting the Crew to be in the top of the division after finishing 73-89 last season. Their record was good enough to finish second to last in the NL Central last year. The Brewers have flipped the switch in a matter of one year thanks to some key off-season acquisitions.
New additions to the team such as Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar and Eric Sogard have had a big impact on the team’s offensive firepower. As a result, the Crew is in the top three in the league for the most home runs by a team, and many other offensive categories this season. There’s no question that these players have been a big reason as to why the team has been able to find success during a season that was supposed to continue building for the future.
The Brewers have found themselves at the top of the division for nearly the entire season thanks to the slumping World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, the Brewers have only had a one or two-game lead in the division for far too long this season. As of Friday, they’re one game ahead of the Cubs. Chicago isn’t the only team that the Brewers should be looking out for. The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are only four games out of first place.
The Brewers can’t afford to lose the lead in the NL Central if they’re going to be contenders this season. The race for the two Wild Card spots is full of some of baseball’s strongest teams this season. Offensive juggernauts like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies hold the two Wild Card spots thanks to a tight NL West division. The D-backs and Rockies will still likely be contenders as the season winds down. The Brewers would have to build on their record to compete with these two clubs. It would be much easier to win the NL Central instead of competing with these great offensive teams.
The reason the Brewers haven’t been able to capitalize on their division lead is mainly because of their inconsistent bullpen. Their relief pitchers have combined for the most losses (20) in the league. They also rank second for the most save opportunities with 38 chances. The Brewers simply haven’t taken advantage of closing out games though. They’re 26 for 38 in save opportunities. Those blown games could have helped them build a lead in the division. The Brew Crew could patch up the roughest part of their team this season with the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month.
The team must face a tough decision at the trade deadline. Yes, they’ve been legitimate contenders this season, but the Brewers have been acquiring young talent to develop for the future before this season began. With one of the best farm systems in all of the minor leagues, the team surely has plenty of top prospects that will surely be in majors sooner than later, such as Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips and Mauricio Dubon. The problem is that the current Brewers roster is one of the best team’s in all of baseball this season.
So why trade anybody on the roster? Unfortunately, somebody has to go if these top prospects are ever going to be called up. If the team did trade someone, not only could they boost their current roster, but these young prospects will also be able to contribute at the major league level. Brinson and Phillips have already gotten a taste of the major leagues this season. They’ve been dominating the minor leagues ever since they were sent back down this year.
With Ryan Braun’s name swirling around the trade rumors the last couple of seasons, this will likely be the team’s last shot to get a haul for the former MVP. Braun is the most likely trade candidate on the team, but the Brewers wouldn’t be dumb to keep him. After all, Braun is still a very skilled hitter at age 33. He currently has an OPS of .883 this season. There are also plenty of other players on the roster that other teams may be interested in. Trading a few players could result in a haul for a few relief pitchers that could help this year’s team compete at an even higher level. The Brewers could end up keeping nearly everyone as well in order to keep building for the future.
Nobody was really expecting the Brewers to be in the position that they currently are in. They were supposed to be continuing their rebuilding process. General Manager, David Stearns, appears to have sped up the process. Why not take advantage of a slumping Chicago Cubs squad? The Brewers are a few transactions away from filling in the pieces. The Brewers should have their eyes on taking the crown in the NL Central if they decide to become contenders this season.