After Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was safer if you were not around Brewers fans or on social media sites. There was lots of anger, and a lot of it pointed at manager Craig Counsell. But I wonder if the Sunday, July 10th game was Counsell’s way of saying that this current Milwaukee roster needs help.
Fans have every right to be frustrated. We are a week until the All-Star Break, and the team just had a really good shot at starting to run away with the NL Central. The Cardinals went on a 2-8 stretch. But the Brewers countered by going 2-2, 1-2 and 1-2 in their set of series against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates twice.
With the series on the line, the Sunday line-up announcement puzzled a lot of people. Multiple regular starters were sitting. And the questionable decisions continued. In a close game, Brent Suter was on the mound in the 8th. Not a terrible choice, but the Brewers had an off day on Monday. Suter got out of the 8th, but then came back on in the 9th. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off after a few players got on-base.
And then, the most questionable decision came down. Chi Chi Gonzalez was put into the game. A three-run homer by Daniel Vogelbach then put the game out of reach at 8-4 as they headed into the bottom of the ninth. A two run blast by McCutchen would have won it without those ninth inning runs. So that begs the question; were these decisions done on purpose?
How Counsell Did Play a Power Move
Craig Counsell now has the most wins of any Brewers manager in history. He is a good manager. To blame him for every loss or struggle is being a bad fan and showing your lack of intelligence for the game.
The man single-handedly changed the game. He turned his pitchers into “out-getters”. And his strategy in 2018 to almost reached the World Series caused MLB to change their pitching rules. It’s hard to imagine he made his choices this past Sunday without a purpose.
Lots of people are frustrated by this roster. They also keep forgetting how injured this team is. And yes, every team has plenty of injuries over the course of a season. But they are missing two of their starting outfielders, and just had to DFA another in Lorenzo Cain. Hunter Renfroe and Tyrone Taylor should be back this week after the first Twins series. But you know there aren’t many options right now when you have Jonathan Davis and Jace Peterson starting in the outfield. It’s definitely not the vision needed to win a World Series if this team is serious about doing that.
So get your tin foil hats ready. Did Craig Counsell make these decisions on purpose to see what they could do and show the front office this roster needs help? It’s not completely out of the question. The starting line-up, the bullpen decisions near the end. Was he testing this team to see what they could do? Did he want to prove a point to the owner and general manager?
And in theory, he almost succeeded. They almost won that game. With Christian Yelich, Kolten Wong, Jace Peterson and Omar Narvaez on the bench, the Brewers almost took the series. And that’s also without using Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams or Josh Hader. And with Eric Lauer and Trevor Gott having bad outings.
It could have easily been Counsell showing that the depth on this team could use some help. If they lose players like Renfroe and Taylor come playoffs time, this team doesn’t have a chance. Craig might be saying “Hey, give me a bullpen arm and a hitter before August 2nd ya jerks”. The man deserves a stacked roster and a chance to win it all with this current pitching staff and team.
Reasons Counsell Didn’t Play A Power Move
Here is the other side of the coin. Counsell didn’t do anything on purpose, and it was just a perfect storm disaster and a wake up call for the team.
Yelich, Wong, Narvaez and Peterson all sitting didn’t look great. But, Yelich needed a day off. Wong is still coming back from injury. Peterson needed a day off too. Narvaez is our number one catcher, but they also have three on the roster right now. They don’t need three. Victor Caratini has options, but he is playing solid as a backup catcher.
I think they are seeing what Pedro Severino can do on this stretch. Over six at-bats, he is hitting .167 with one hit and one RBI. To DFA him now might not be wise, but if is hitting under .200 come the All-Star Break, it’s time to cut ties. He won’t be able to play in the playoffs anyways because of his suspension. If he can’t produce soon, we will need the roster spot.
A lot of people think we need a strong bullpen arm before the trade deadline. I don’t disagree, but we are also getting a lot of players back soon. Freddy Peralta should be back by end of August. Luis Perdomo and Miguel Sanchez, two solid bullpen arms, should be back soon too. They aren’t All-Star players or anything, but I also don’t want any solid prospects gone if they can get the job done.
Once they are back, you have Perdomo, Gott, Milner, Sanchez, Perdomo and Gustave as innings eaters. Ethan Small will probably return at some point too. Again, a solid arm would be great. But July might be a great try out session for who we have before the deadline. This is still a talented roster with players waiting for their shot.
What Probably Actually Happened
It could have easily been just a Sunday rest day and Counsell resting his major bullpen arms. It didn’t hurt to rest Hader, Williams and Boxberger another day, even with the off day on Monday. You don’t’ want them burnt out come September. Suter almost went two innings. Picking Gonzalez was not smart, but I think they wanted to see what he could do. I don’t see him on the roster when we get four to five players back within the next week or so. Counsell knows this team is about to be healthy, managing this roster in a month will not be easy.
Does the team need a big bat and a clutch hitter? Oh boy do they. But there is no way they are going to give a top prospect right now for a rental. Owner Mark Attanasio said himself this week on-air during the TV broadcast that they need a bat and a few more pieces. Now he has to open his wallet and mind to get it done if needed.
Losing to the Cubs and Pirates in straight series sucked. It did. The Brewers, for some reason, play to the level of the teams they face. A lot of people are already predicting they play well against the Twins, Giants and Rockies this week. It’s very possible. Also, we all know the Pirates play hot right before the All-Star break and then have their annual downfall.
But your anger should not be on Counsell. He needed to rest some guys and wanted to see what his other bullpen pieces could do. It’s one game out of 162. Milwaukee is still nine games above .500 and 2.5 games ahead in the NL Central. They have to get hot at some point. I’d rather see them play decent baseball now and get hot in September than absolutely destroy right now and fizzle out like last year come the playoffs.
This team is a few pieces and a hot streak away from winning it all. And if you want to blame someone, don’t blame Craig Counsell. Blame the higher ups. Our owner, when the team needed some bats, said Andrew McCutchen wasn’t in the budget. That philosophy needs to change if this team is going to win a World Series in this talent window.
It doesn’t help with this year’s trade deadline candidates. There are few big names, but the Brewers have some great prospects they would be foolish to get rid of. Counsell could use some bigger bats in this line up, but there is no guarantees he will get it. Let’s just hope he does or that the Brewers can start hitting a little better. We’ve also got 75 more games to figure everything out. Let’s just not play Chi Chi Gonzalez in the ninth again, please.
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