The leftovers are gone. Without a big gathering this year, we were pretty judicious about how much food we needed for just the Taylor crew. So I got a couple Thanksgiving-style meals on Thursday (yes, a couple), and then another yesterday for lunch. But that’s it. Off to get some pizza or something …
• The Brewers have made a habit in the last half-decade of seemingly making more from less, competing at a level higher than their on-paper roster might suggest, and turning it on at the right time of the game and the right time of the year. It’s freaking annoying. Yet it wasn’t until reading this Athletic piece, with an interview of team president David Stearns, that I realized how many whiffs they had this past year. To be sure, when you’re making more of the buy-low free agent moves or the risky trade type deals, you’re more likely to miss than you are to hit. But I’ve been used to the Brewers hitting a lot in the Stearns/Counsell era, so this was a bit of an eye-popping reminder of how this year went:
“Something we’ve tried to do over time here,” Stearns said in an interview with The Athletic Wisconsin earlier this week, “is take a critical look at our transactions and understand what about our processes are really helping us and where our processes stand for some improvement.
“And we’re constantly trying to iterate and constantly trying to push the needle a little bit more to the accurate side of the ledger, understanding that we’re never going to bat 1.000. But certainly, our objective needs to be to continue to improve. And so it’s not a bad thing to recognize when a move doesn’t pan out the way we thought it would. I think that’s probably healthy as a group and as an organization that we take some time to understand that.”
The Brewers’ fans can recite the list. Brock Holt was jettisoned after one month. Then Justin Smoak was cut. The early returns on the trade that netted Luis Urías and Eric Lauer for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham haven’t been favorable for Milwaukee. Omar Narváez couldn’t consistently get on base. Josh Lindblom struggled, at least initially, in his transition from the Korea Baseball Organization. Avisaíl García slugged below his career rate. Ditto for Eric Sogard’s contact numbers.
• That’s nearly an entire offseason’s worth of moves – a busy offseason at that! And it all kinda went dook for the Brewers (as did a number of key player performances (yet they still made the postseason, which is a credit to Counsell and the pitching staff, mostly)). To compete in 2021, the Brewers are going to have to go back to the short-term move well, and actually hit on a bunch this time. They’ll probably also have to win a trade or two, including one move they are absolutely trying right now: trading Josh Hader.
• Related/unrelated: I wouldn’t say it got forgotten in the pandemic, but the fact that Christian Yelich signed a monster extension (nine years, $215 million) just before the financial landscape changed, AND THEN went on to have a step-back season in 2020 can’t be sitting too well right now. That doesn’t mean he won’t still be very good next year (age 29) and beyond, but the double-whammy of timing … I’m just sayin’, it probably isn’t great. Makes you think about all the extensions the Cubs didn’t sign for guys who just had MVP or MVP-caliber seasons, eh? And the Cubs have a whole lot more in revenue to look forward to than the Brewers to (theoretically) ease things in a way the Brewers cannot.
• More related/unrelated: it’s easy to get so narrowly focused on the Cubs and their challenges that you lose sight of the rest of the division. At present, there isn’t an org’s situation that I’d trade for the Cubs. They are really fortunate to be in the NL Central at the moment ….
• Oh, also, if you want a read on just went wrong with Yelich this past year, here’s a good one (super short version is that he was whiffing on fastballs up a ton more, but he also had some bad luck):
Christian Yelich went from MVP to misery in 2020, posting awful stats in a season as confounding as it was weak. What happened to the Brewers' main man? @_TonyWolfe_ dives into the numbers and finds a hitter coming up empty far too often. https://t.co/ju5FqzVlNp
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) November 25, 2020
• The Phillies President search is touching on the Cubs in a couple ways, including Theo Epstein turning them down for an interview (he has said he wanted to take a year off), and the fact that the type of guy they’re looking for is none other than Jed Hoyer (The Athletic). Basically, they’d like a long-serving exec who has been near the top of a very successful organization, and is ready to take the top seat. The funny thing is, you read that piece from Jayson Stark, and so many of the names the Phillies will consider are also people you’d love to see the Cubs consider for their own open GM gig. For example, the Phillies have interviewed Michael Hill and Josh Byrnes, each of whom would be a really interesting fit for the Cubs if they were open to it. Hill had run the Marlins quite well under the hood for the last eight years (especially when you consider all that he was up against), and Byrnes has been the ostensible Dodgers number two under Andrew Friedman since Farhan Zaidi left for the Giants a couple years ago.
• Jed Hoyer has said he’ll be conducting a search for the new GM, though he doesn’t want to put a timeline on it. He did confirm that the hire is expected to come from outside the current Cubs org.
• Meanwhile, even as they conduct their search, the Phillies also joined other clubs in formalizing layoffs:
The Phillies notified employees Wednesday afternoon in an email, obtained by @TheAthletic, that more than 80 front office positions were eliminated, on the business side and baseball side, via buyouts and layoffs: https://t.co/WYgJmAEB6V
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) November 27, 2020
• Amazon is rolling right into its Deals of the Day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which today includes Star Wars gear and toys, Echo devices, Cuisinart stuff, and much more. #ad
• Got the pangs last night haaaard:
I want to go to @NiseiLounge with my friends before a Cubs game and have some drinks. Then I want to go to Wrigley and get crammed into the bleachers and watch a game. Then I want to go to bar after the game to celebrate/commiserate. I miss that shit so bad.
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) November 27, 2020