Milwaukee Brewers: Fans Need to Keep the Faith
Just over 13 months ago, Milwaukee Brewers fans had a lot to cheer about.
The Brewers had held on to first place in the National League Central since April 5 and after their 6-1 victory over Toronto on August 19th, had a 2 1/2 game cushion over second place St. Louis. The Brewers had just won their fifth straight game and had won 12 of their last 18.
Life was good. Or so they thought.
Milwaukee’s post-season plans fell apart as the Brewers lost eight of ten games the rest of the way in August, and went 9-17 in the final month to finish in third place in the Central at 82-80, eight games out of first.
You can blame a lack of clutch hitting, bad pitching, porous defense, bad choices on the bases, or bad managerial decisions, but the bottom line is the season went to hell in a hand-basket the last six weeks of the year.
What had been one of the greatest seasons in recent Brewers history went to mush just like that.
The 2015 season hasn’t been much better, as the True Blue Brew Crew has scuffled to a 65-90 mark with seven games remaining in this forgettable campaign. The good news is that we won’t end the season with triple-digit losses; the bad news is that this is the worst year since the 90+ loss seasons of 2001-04.
Are the Brewers regressing?
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One would only have to look at the success of the players in the Brewers minor league farm system to state an emphatic NO.
It is true that only one of the four full-season affiliates had a winning record–the much-heralded Biloxi Shuckers–but many individual players had great seasons or have been considered top prospects not only in the Brewers organization, but in Major League Baseball.
MLB.com rates three Milwaukee prospects in their Top 100.
Shortstop Orlando Arcia (#12 MLB, #1 Brewers) performed well at AA Biloxi, leading the Shuckers to the Southern League championship series. Expect to see him in Milwaukee at some point next year, but look for him to be a starter at SS at Miller Park in 2017.
Center fielder Brett Phillips (#33 MLB, #2 Brewers) was obtained in the Mike Fiers/Carlos Gomez trade from Houston. He is a lefty hitting CF with speed, pop, and a great arm. The ‘Maverick’ should see at least call-up time next year, and will compete for a starting outfield job Â in 2017.
Outfielder Trent Clark (#75 MLB, #3 Brewers) was a 2015 #1 pick (15th) and performed well at two Rookie League stops, slashing .309/.424/.430. MLB.com shows his ETA as 2019, but if he can put together a couple good seasons in the minors, we might see him a year earlier.
This year, we have already seen players like Domingo Santana, Yadiel Rivera, Taylor Jungmann, Corey Knebel, Zach Davies, Ariel Pena, Yhonathan Barrios, and Adrian Houser.
Santana has shown 30 HR power and will compete for a starting job next season. Rivera is an outstanding infielder and might very well be a utility infielder next year in Milwaukee.
Jungmann has proven he belongs in the bigs and should join Jimmy Nelson as solid 1-2 starters. Knebel has done well in 46 appearances this year and should be a solid 7th/8th inning man for years to come. Davies has impressed in five late-season starts and could earn a rotation spot next year.
Pena and Barrios are both hard-throwing projects, while Houser isn’t that far away from earning a roster spot on the Milwaukee club.
Add the other phenoms in the minor league chain, and things are looking up for the Brewers. I don’t expect them to realistically compete for a post-season spot next year, but look for the Brewers to make noise in 2017 and for sure the following year.
Yes, Brewers fans–have faith!