It’s tough to justify giving an A on any trade that doesn’t make the commissioner raise an eyebrow. And, given the lack of addressing THE position of need, it’s especially tough to do it for the Brewers. Yet, while everyone zigged, David Stearns zagged.
The excessively high price tags on starting pitching put Milwaukee in a hole immediately. And while teams were willing to pay the price for an “ace” or paid that price tag for a lower tier pitcher, Stearns changed paths. Instead, he improved upon strengths and added exceptional infielders at nowhere near the same price. He also made the move to add to a bullpen that won’t give up much late in games. Seeing as relievers win postseason games, the value of picking up Soria was genius.
Oh, and that price tag for starting pitching? A guy who hasn’t had an ERA under 4 the past three years just got dealt for the number 9 and 10 overall prospects just two years ago. Yes, he was pitching in the AL East filled with petrifying lineups. Yet, he called one of the most friendly pitcher parks his home during those years. At some point, the numbers have to justify the labeling of potential aces.
Stearns settled for grabbing two slugging infielders to mix and match with all of his other power hitters. His move for Mike Moustakas was a favorite of mine, grabbing a lethal corner infielder and placing him in a little league-sized ballpark (have you seen Kauffman?). Jonathan Schoop, on the other hand, may not have a set position to play yet, but that’s what makes sports fun! Seeing how managers handle the puzzle of putting together exceptional players that may not fit a specific position.
The defense will once again hit a decline now with the possibility of Travis Shaw at second and Schoop at shortstop. But does that outweigh the lineup addition? Also, for a league that’s scarily trending towards strikeouts, walks, and less balls in play, isn’t it logical for defense to become less relevant? This move also allows more rest for the infielders, which could be critical when looking to make a long postseason run.
My biggest issue with Stearns during the this period was the pass on Kevin Gausman. He could’ve nabbed a severely underperforming pitcher with elite talent for 20 cents on the dollar from the Orioles. Hello, Jake Arrieta. That’s exactly what happened for the Cubs a few years back. However, those deals don’t always come to fruition, and betting on a talented player to bounce back like that is risky. So it’s understandable why Stearns let the Braves have Gausman instead of taking on that kind of headache.
As for now, only time will tell what kind of players the Brewers GM missed out on. But the moves for Moustakas, Soria, and Schoop showed the desire for consistency and refusal to overpay that is characteristic of this current regime.