By salvaging the final game of their series against the Chicago Cubs this weekend at Wrigley Field, the Milwaukee Brewers managed to bring their record up to 7-12 since July 31, the day before the Padres traded closer Josh Hader to the Padres. They’ve lost every single series, except a two-gamer against the Rays, since the trade.
Hader, of course, has been an absolute disaster for the Padres, and maybe the same would’ve happened with the Brewers. But it seems at least as likely that he would’ve continued being his normal, dominant self, and – more importantly – it’s possible his teammates would’ve responded better after the deadline.
I say that second part because, when a team trades it’s star closer WHILE they are leading their division, it’s bound to make waves in the clubhouse.
The Brewers were no exception, and although the comments at the time were muted, things seem to be getting hotter and more vocal.
“It didn’t send us the right message from the upstairs people trying to say, like, ‘We’re doing this and we’re trying to put you guys in the best position and we’re trying to win right now with you guys.’ It seemed more of a, ‘We’re trying to develop for the future,’” Brewers lefty Eric Lauer told MLB.com about the Hader trade. “Afterward, there was no communication to the clubhouse [about] what changed in the clubhouse. It’s kind of like it was shrugged off.”
The front office’s explanation that they have to make trades like this to avoid rebuilding and keep competing in the future didn’t really do anything to soften the reactions in the clubhouse.
“I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the way they described it to the public,” Lauer said. “I’m not trying to just get a bunch of bites of the apple. Especially if things are going the way they are, the way the Brewers have historically traded [before] paying guys. I don’t know how many bites of the apple we can take in the next few years. We’re not going to be able to afford a lot of guys in this room. But it’s not my decision to make. My job is to play baseball and do the best I can every day. That’s what everybody here does. But there’s a certain vibe in the clubhouse, and when a dynamic like that changes, it’s something that needs to be addressed. And it just never was addressed to us. We just kind of left it.”
Ooooof. Going right after the Brewers’ MO of limiting spending as a reason to be concerned about not going after it when you do have a team competing like this year’s club. I could see outside evaluators making that argument, but I didn’t expect to hear a player say it out loud.
Lauer, it should be noted, clarified that he wasn’t blaming the team’s rough August on the Hader trade. He was just trying to say that there are “underlying issues” that haven’t been addressed, and that is “not helping the situation.”
Since the trade, the Brewers have seen their NL Central lead fade from a peak of 4.0 games on July 30, down to a 5.0 game deficit today. A nine-game swing after trading your star closer – that, too, can’t sit too well in the clubhouse.
Now the Brewers have to hope that the Cubs beat up on the Cardinals this week at Wrigley, before turning the tables back on the Cubs in Milwaukee this weekend.