Brewers: The Worst Offseason Move In The Last 10 Years

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The worst Brewers offseason move of the last decade

Selecting Wei Chung Wang in the Rule 5 Draft

The selection of Wei Chung Wang in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2013 ranks as the worst Brewers move of the offseason for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is how insanely stupid of an idea this was from the start. Wei Chung Wang was a 21 year old who had never even thrown a pitch in full season ball. He had one minor league season under his belt when they drafted him. One season and it was in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He threw 47.1 IP there with a 3.23 ERA. The Brewers inexplicably felt that because Wang had one good season as a 21 year old in short-season rookie ball that he was ready for a big league bullpen role.

Typically a player like this could be drafted in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and no one would bat an eye, or if they do draft a guy this far away from the big leagues in the major league portion they usually return him in spring training after they realize he isn't ready. But nope, not the Brewers.

The Brewers decided to keep Wang, whom they very quickly realized was unplayable in anything but extreme mop-up duty. Wang pitched in just 14 games and had a 10.90 ERA. Because they couldn't trust him to get into a game and they didn't want to send him back, the Brewers bullpen was essentially operating down a man all season long.

That forced the usable relievers to be over-used by manager Ron Roenicke. In July, shortly after passing the threshold of being on the active roster long enough that an IL stint doesn't affect his Rule 5 status, Wang came down with an injury that the Brewers took their time with getting him back from, but it was too late.

The overuse on the rest of the group early on led to the bullpen struggling down the stretch, which was a major factor in the 2014 Brewers as a whole collapsing down the stretch. They were in first place almost the entire season. They fell apart at the end because their entire bullpen was gassed. They were gassed because they were a man down. They were a man down because the Brewers opted to keep a pitcher who had never pitched above rookie ball on the roster.

The 2014 collapse is one of the worst of all time and is a dark era in many Brewers fans' memories that they try to forget. That collapse led to the rebuild process formally starting in 2015. That collapse cost Ron Roenicke his job. That collapse wasted a Top 5 MVP season from Jonathan Lucroy and cost the Brewers a very good chance they had at a postseason run that year. Maybe Lucroy would've finished higher or even won had his team not ended up missing the playoffs.

The lynchpin to all of that was the selection of Wei Chung Wang. The cost of this move is immeasurable. While we can measure that the Garza signing cost the team $50MM that wasn't put to good use, how can you compute what Wang cost the Brewers? He didn't earn a big salary, but how much money did they lose by not getting to the playoffs that year? Postseason home games earn a lot of revenue, extra TV revenue, ticket sales, etc.

It was all so avoidable. Wang was 21 years old, had one season of rookie ball under his belt, and was nowhere close to being ready for the big leagues. It made zero sense to draft a guy like that in Rule 5 and even less sense to actually try to carry him through the season when it was so obvious he wasn't ready, At least signing Matt Garza made some sense at the time. Signing JBJ made some sense, not a lot but some. All these dishonorable mentions you could at least justify them making at the time. But Wei Chung Wang, there was no justification for making this move to start with.

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