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How the Milwaukee Brewers Can Learn From Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs

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February 25, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during a spring training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
February 25, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during a spring training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the Milwaukee Brewers will face off against their most heated rivalries, the Chicago Cubs tonight, there’s a few things to learn from Theo Epstein in how to start from the bottom up.

On October 21, 2011 all things changed in Chicago Cubs land as Theo Epstein became the President of Baseball Operations. The turnaround for the team didn’t happen overnight, but after what he did with the Boston Red Sox, if any fan doubted he wouldn’t turn the team into a winning ball club, they had another thing coming.

But first, I’ll make sure to point out they’re not on even playing levels. For the 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs rank 7th in payroll at 167+ million, while the Milwaukee Brewers cut back and are at the bottom at 30th with 63+ million. Not to say the Milwaukee Brewers are like the Tampa Bay Rays or Pittsburgh Pirates and have very little to spend as in 2011, they ranked 17th with 92+ million. Thank you very much Mark Attanasio.

As fellow FanSider bloggers, CubbiesCrib.com, explained a few months ago, on how their rebuilding strategy went, they went against the most simple strategy that says…pitching first.

"“The Cubs saw there was a 14% difference in the failure rate between pitching and position prospects, and that far more position prospects became star-caliber players.  Accordingly, the Cubs used every first round draft pick from 2011-2015 on position players…”"

In Doug Melvin’s 12 years with the Milwaukee Brewers franchise, he drafted 11 pitchers out of the 20 first round draft picks. They included:

2004 – RHP Mark Rogers

2006 – RHP Jeremy Jeffress

2008 – RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Evan Frederickson, RHP Eric Arnett

2009 – RHP Kyle Heckathorn

2010 – RHP Dylan Covey

2011 – RHP Taylor Jungmann, LHP Jed Bradley

2014 – LHP Kodi Medeiros

2015 – LHP Nathan Kirby

Some names I recognize (in good/bad ways), some are still in development, and some I honestly had to look up to remember who they were again.

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As the MLB draft comes up on June 9th, Milwaukee Brewers fans might easily think GM David Stearns and fellow front office members might point to the biggest flaw in their department right now…pitching. But, don’t be surprised if they go for simply the best talent and what’s available.

While certainly the Milwaukee Brewers don’t have the money to sign pitchers like Jon Lester like the Chicago Cubs, trading the big names like Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun for pitchers that have shown some development in the minor leagues already is something I’m sure the front office has already talked about.

Last year, with the Milwaukee Brewers selected LHP Nathan Kirby at #40, he was paid over 1.5 million dollars. He recently underwent Tommy John surgery and likely won’t be back on the until the 2017 season.

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Baseball America showed just how money each pick got last year and nearly up to the 2nd round, every pick got up to 1 million dollars. Of course, with how teams limit pitches each game, they know how careful they must be in order for them not to have arm issues through development.

This year, the Milwaukee Brewers have the #5 pick and the Houston Astros paid over 4.1 million last year. While I’m no GM and every voice in the back of my head screams, “We need pitching!” during a game…the cost, the past draft picks of pitchers, and the overall risk just doesn’t seem worth it.

So, while every GM has their own style, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a few notes from Theo Epstein on this one.

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