The Mets hit the road to close out the first half of the season, and their first stop is in eastern Wisconsin for a weekend series with the NL Central’s cellar-dwellers, the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately for fans of all creeds, Mike Baxter will not be joining the team in the Dairy State, denying us all of the chance to incessantly quote Ron Burgundy for the next three days. Fortunately for you, we caught up with Benjamin Orr, editor of FanSided’s Reviewing the Brew, to get his perspective on the matchup between two would-be last place teams (thanks Miami).
Will DeBoer, Rising Apple: Ryan Braun is just beginning to come back from an extended DL stint. Have his recent health struggles, as well as his link to the BioGenesis scandal, made Brewers insiders and fans reconsider the mega-deal that keeps him in Milwaukee until 2021?
Benjamin Orr, Reviewing the Brew: Not at all. If Braun is guilty, then so be it, we lose him for 100 games, but it’s always innocent until proven guilty. Nothing really concerns many Brewers’ fans about Braun and this stint on the disabled list is his first in the seven years he’s played in the majors. Now obviously if his thumb were to bother him any more that may prevent him from playing beyond his scheduled time back, then yes, absolutely there’s going to be some nervousness shifting around. However, the Brewers aren’t in a year where they are even near contention, so I think the panic would be less if anything.
WD: Starting pitching seems to be the team’s biggest problem this season. Do the Brewers have the capacity to address the problem internally, or will they have to look outside to improve their rotation?
BO: The Brewers have usually prided themselves on working from the inside, which is why in this season eight different players have made their major league debuts. Now the signing of Kyle Lohse was basically to fill the veteran void after Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum left and fortunately, the signing has worked out for us. As for any more options, I think they’d work internally even more. Donovan Hand‘s done well, Hiram Burgos should be coming back soon, Wily Peralta has struggled and Johnny Hellweg is going to rebound from his beating against the Pirates. After that, you have Yovani Gallardo, Lohse and the eventual return of Marco Estrada to lead the way. I think once they get the pitching ironed out, they should be on track because the bullpen has been decent, but the starters not so much. I doubt we’d see the Brewers aggressively pursue anyone in the free agent market.
WD: Young Jean Segura has been a pleasant surprise this season as one of the top hitters in the NL. Can he sustain this success long-term, or will he falter when the rest of the league learns how to pitch to him?
BO: I’d like to think Segura can keep up his production on a consistent basis, but baseball is so wacky that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. I mean clearly Segura has been locked in at the plate and he’s been an absolute terror on the base paths for opposing pitchers. I’d hate to limit his ceiling saying that where he’s at now is going to be it, because you never know. Segura could develop into a Derek Jeter type hitter to where he’s decent with power but mind blowing with contact. He’s still really young so we’ll have to see.
WD: Carlos Gomez has been hitting lights out and is under team control for three more seasons, but the Brewers are in the cellar of a very competitive NL Central. What price would it take to move Gomez out of Milwaukee?
BO: None. It’s funny that you mention this, because we at the Reviewing the Brew have discussed the “core four” that Milwaukee will keep no matter what, and Gomez is in that four next to Segura, Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Of course there’s always the “right deal at the right price,” but I don’t think that’s the case with Gomez. The Brewers extended his contract for cheap and he’s rewarding them with his production, despite the team having one of the worst records in baseball. He’s a capable 30/30 guy and I don’t think Doug Melvin is just going to let that slip away, especially with like you said, Gomez being under team control. Maybe once his contract runs out and they sign him for another year, perhaps then you can talk of a trade, but as of now, I think they’re trying to get every penny’s worth in Gomez.
WD: Let’s talk about our old friend Francisco Rodriguez, who has been quite successful since rejoining the team in mid-May. Will K-Rod be around post-trade deadline to compete for the role, or will the Brewers look to trade him like the Mets traded him two summers ago?
BO: I think K-Rod is going to be traded, only because he can be replaced. Originally, the Brewers were using Jim Henderson as the closer and he was doing excellent, but unfortunately went on the disabled list, which is why they signed K-Rod. There are a few teams, the Detroit Tigers in particular, that need a solid ninth inning presence and with the way that Rodriguez has carried himself this year, I believe he’s going to be a strong trade candidate from Milwaukee. I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of K-Rod(WD: Join the club.), but he’s done well and if he goes, so be it.
WD: How long until the Milwaukee Brewers return to the pennant race?
BO: Once I stop laughing I’ll answer this. Okay, I’m done. In all seriousness though, it’s going to be quite a few years. With Corey Hart out for the season and more than likely not being re-signed after the season ends and if the Brewers trade Aramis Ramirez, then they’re missing two big bats from the line-up. If the BioGenesis thing gets Braun suspended, then they’re down their biggest bat. Offense issues aside, they still need to work out a lot of the kinks with the pitching. Right now, although no one will admit it, the team is in a clear rebuilding phase, so it’s going to be awhile, maybe 4-5 years before we see the Brewers actually be a threat to knock on the door of not only the Wild Card, but hopefully the National League Central.
Tonight’s series gets underway from Miller Park at 8:10 EDT, 7:10 local time. The Brewers will send out Johnny Hellweg, while the valiant visitors will lean on Zack Wheeler to pick up his second career W. The weekend will be a treat for this author, who will be attending the games tonight and tomorrow to see a team that rarely visits my backyard. For my perspective of the series, visit Benjamin Orr’s preview at Reviewing the Brew. You can read more of Orr’s analysis here.