Hey, that wasn’t a bad week!
Week in Rebrew is a look back at the week that was for the Milwaukee Brewers. Sometimes.
Last seven days: 5-2, split with Padres, won Nationals series 2-1
Next seven days: Versus Tigers (two), Arizona (four)
Keston Hiura continues to struggle despite tearing the cover off the ball during his stint in Nashville. Travis Shaw has significantly regressed. Big Rhinelander Daniel Vogelbach is an everyday player (which is to say, he’s a DH.)
Tired: FIRE ANDY HANES
Wired: WHY HAVEN’T YOU CALLED UP ALLREADY ZACK GREEN DAVID STARNS MARKANTASSTIO FIRE STANRSS NOWWWWWW
And it’s valid to point out that Zach Green hit safely in seven of ten games for Triple-A Nashville from May 19 through May 30. He’s hit five home runs in that span and driven in 10. It was a great back half of the month for power numbers.
But Zach Green in that same stretch struck out 18 times. His batting average plummeted 55 points over that stretch, and his OBP dropped just over 20 points as well.
It’s easy to see the underperformance of the big league club’s first basemen and imagine that Zach’s grass is greener. Brewers Twitter is ahem atwitter.
Let’s zoom out and take a look, though:
Zach Green isn’t on the 40-man roster. You can’t just call a player up from the minors because he’s playing well. And while the Brewers have an open spot on the 40-man courtesy of Josh Lindblom, they’re probably not inclined to add another corner infielder because…
The Brewers already have committed to six players on the 40-man who could conceivably play corner infield positions. Hiura, Shaw, Big Rhinelander, Daniel Robertson, Luis Urias and Pablo Reyes are all in place to fill in as needed. No, none of them represent a viable long-term solution at first or third (with the closest off that list being Hiura, but Hiura is effectively broken right now and who knows how many king’s horses and or men will be needed to put him back together.)
The Brewers don’t have a clear plan in place for Green. A 27-year-old player would have a clearly-defined everyday position if he was lined up for a shot at The Show. Instead, he’s splitting time across the diamond and filling whatever gaps are needed. Green could pull a Tyrone Taylor and become a late bloomer. That would be undeniably cool, but that’s probably not going to happen.
Zach Green isn’t on the 40-man roster. It warrants mentioning again, just cuz.
If Green struggles with consistent contact against Triple-A pitchers, many of whom are only there because they’re not good enough to break through to the Majors, perhaps he shouldn’t be trying to hit major league pitching. Self-evident, but the Brewers really, really don’t need another all-or-nothing hitter in their all-or-nothing lineup, excluding Omar Narvaez and his sexy, sexy situational hitting. Don’t let the Zach Green truthers sway you to their side. We saw what happened to poor Nate Orf. Don’t let that happen again.
Earlier in this series, I mentioned that a key to offensive success is having 7 and 8 hitters who are at the very least capable to put the ball in play, work counts and try to be a bridge to the pitcher’s spot, thus resetting the lineup.
The malaise is spreading up the lineup, and threatening to take over the five-slot on the lineup card:
Traditional slashes through 6/1:
By the way, the ninth spot? .171/.247/.309. Yes, the Brewers are almost better off having a pitcher hit eighth than a position player.
Combined, the 6-7-8 part of the order ends up with a .221 BABIP, an ISO of .139 and a wRC+ of 70, striking out once in every four at bats and a wRAA approaching -20. This part of the lineup is actively taking runs off the board. If you want to complain about a lack of run support for the rotation, this is where the complaint is most valid.
And who are the culprits? The top-five per spot in the batting order by plate appearances:
Seventh: Bradley, Urias, Pina, McKinney, Narvaez
Bradley is vastly underperforming his talent level, Urias is the reason Stearns dialed up the Rays for Willy Adames (who is settling into the Brewers two-slot nicely), but seems most comfortable at the 8-spot. McKinney is no longer with the team, Peterson was outrighted to Nashville, Maile isn’t an everyday major leaguer. Robertson’s struggles are well-documented. Narvaez is rarely this far down the lineup card anymore, while Pina’s on the back end of his career and, aside from his undeniable flair for the dramatic, isn’t known for his bat. Essentially, replacement-level players and guys either promoted out of necessity or a guy demoted due to ineffectiveness.
Take Narvaez and Urias out of the equation and the numbers are abysmal. Don’t blame the top of the lineup for the Brewers’ woes at the plate: it takes a team to underwhelm this hard and it’s growing more and more obvious that 1-5 are pressing because 6-8 won’t get the job done.
Also more and more obvious? That the Brewers are above .500 and still in the divisional race in spite of their offense.
Zach Green isn’t coming through that door to save the season. And he shouldn’t be.
At bat: The Kansas City T-Bones rebranded this offseason, with the blessing of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, to the Kansas City Monarchs, immediately making them the most awesome minor league team in the history of ever.
On deck: Speaking of the NLBM, with last week’s tribute to the Negro Leagues at American Family Field and an appearance by museum president and ambassador par excellence Bob Kendrick, I tweeted that Kendrick is a must-follow for baseball lovers everywhere. By all means, make the trip to Kansas City, take in the museum, the Monarchs, the Royals and the barbecue. You’ll be a better human for it.
In the hole: Monday was Memorial Day, pushing the WiB back a day or two, but for good reason. St. Louis may have the world’s most recognizable Eero Saarinen structure outside of Kennedy’s Terminal 5, but Milwaukee has a Saarinen of its own: the War Memorial. It’s my second-favorite building in Milwaukee for obvious, Finnish-heritage-related reasons, but it takes on special meaning this time of year. I love the Calatrava, but that modernist gem next door was Milwaukee’s OG lakefront artistic landmark. Respect the memorial, respect those who paid the price in service to the country and its ideals, toward which we all should continue to strive.
Brent Sirvio is a co-founder of Bronx to Bushville. Stats courtesy Baseball Reference, MLB.com and Fangraphs.