This past week for the Brewers was quite the whirlwind. In fact, there was so much back and forth that bullpen arm Adrian Houser threw up on the mound (twice).
A gutsy series against the Chicago Cubs saw them win two out of three. Had it not been for a Matt Albers meltdown in extra innings, the Brewers could have completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Northsiders.
Then, they ended the week losing two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies. In that series, the offense, which was held in check by the Cubs pitching, got back into the swing of things as they totaled 33 runs in just three games.
Prior to play Monday, the Brewers sat atop of the NL Central, leading the Cubs by a half game and tied for the best record in the National League.
In last weeks column, I claimed Stearns was going to win Executive of the Year based on his offseason moves and the smaller moves (Choi for Miller) he has made this season. And there are already rumors involving the Brewers.
The New York Mets are in a free fall and are going to be out of contention sooner rather than later. They also happen to have one of the best pitchers in baseball this season in Jacob deGrom
A soon to be 30 year old, deGrom is in the midst of his best season. A 0.41 HR/9, 1.55 ERA, .204 opposing batting average and 32.8 strikeout percentage would all be career bests.
He also has two more seasons of team control, something Stearns has made a priority in past deals.
A blockbuster deal like this is not exactly what I would have in mind for the small move, low risk-high reward-thinking general manager, but it would surely be a huge get for the Brewers and put them over the top.
Another player who just returned from the DL this past week could be a name in some trade rumors.
Eric Thames is expendable
One of the marquee moves Stearns made last year was bringing in first baseman Eric Thames, who had spent the three years prior dominating the Korean Baseball League.
He also brought him in for an extremely team friendly deal that looks better every day.
But that was not the only big first base bat who Stearns brought in prior to the 2017 season.
Jesus Aguilar, who was claimed off of waivers, has become a key bat at the heart of the lineup day in and day out. Prior to play on Monday, he is hitting for a .293 batting average, has a .847 OPS, 42 RBIs and 13 homeruns.
Besides Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, Aguilar has been the most consistent bat in the Brewers lineup.
Since Thames spent the better part of five weeks on the DL, Aguilar has captured the everyday player status.
But Thames can still put up huge numbers. In the month of April, he crushed seven home runs and was just starting to hit his stride. And clearly the injury hasn’t seen him lose that power, as he slugged two home runs in Sunday’s game against the Phillies.
It is hard to label a bat like Thames as expendable. And can we really trust the metioric rise of Aguilar? In the past month he has come back to earth a bit hitting for only a .258 average. That is not bad by any means, especially considering he is still getting on base over 30 percent of the time, but he could be due for a second half of the season regression.
Thames however, has proven to be consistent with his power bat. In theory, Thames could be a fit in a trade that would see the Brewers get some prospects to build back up their middle of the road farm system.
But with depth a key aspect to this team’s success and Thames’ ability to play the outfield, I don’t see him leaving this franchise for quite some time.
Chase Anderson is no longer the ace
Last season was the year of Ace Anderson. A 2.74 ERA, 3.3 WAR and a career low 0.89 homeruns per nine innings pushed Anderson to the front of the rotation to start the 2018 season.
Things have not faired well since Opening Day.
Over 77.1 innings his ERA sits at 4.54, is allowing 1.75 HR/9 and is posting a career high 3.49 BB/9. The command which saw him rise up the ranks has been lost so far this season.
But he sprinkles in a gem start from time to time still to give you hope. Last week against the Cubs, Anderson went seven innings, striking out six, walking only two batters and giving up only one hit. The Crew would go on to win 4-0.
Then on Sunday, he gave up six runs in only 5.1 innings of work to the Phillies.
Pitchers like Junior Guerra and Jhoulys Chacin have been models of consistency and have boosted the starting rotation for the Brewers. They hold 2.89 and 3.32 ERAs, respectively.
The Brewers are not going to give up on Anderson after one bad half of a season after a year of top tier stuff. But with the farm system brimming with pitching talent like Freddy Peralta and Jimmy Nelson coming back at some point, Anderson will need to figure it out quick.
Lukewarm take: Brewers need to take care of business pre-All Star Break
Of the 27 games the Brewers have left before the All-Star Break, only 8 come against teams with a .500 record or better. Series against the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins should help the Brewers pad the NL Central lead over the Cubs.
If they are going to stick around in September and into October, they need to take care of business against these lesser opponents.