It’s easy to forget how crazy of a season 2020 was. A week after the shortened season started, the Milwaukee Brewers’ home opening series with the St. Louis Cardinals was postponed due to multiple positive tests of Covid-19 from the Cardinals team.
Shortly after that, Lorenzo Cain opted out for the season.
He became the second player to opt out, and joined over a dozen players who sat out for the season. Not a lot of other players did, and Cain was arguably the biggest name. It was a devastating blow to the team and fans.
2021 will be the fourth year of Cain’s five-year, $80MM contract. It was the largest free agent contract in Milwaukee Brewers history. He will make around $17MM this year, and will be the highest paid player on the roster.
His return is a huge boost for the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only he is a clubhouse leader, but you still have one of the best center fielders in baseball out there almost every game. Cain will turn 35 years old during the first month of the season, but his presence and talent are essential to Milwaukee’s success.
Lorenzo had a short 2020 season, but he was off to a great start after a disappointing 2019. Over 18 at-bats, he had a .333 batting average, .817 OPS and two RBIs. He also had four runs. Who knows how much his bat would have helped the Brewers during basically an entire season of below average hitting.
Despite having a below-average 2019 and short 2020, the Brewers still made the playoffs both years. Now imagine how good they can be this year with him healthy and playing well again.
A lot of the focus recently has been on free agent signings, who will be there back-end starting pitchers, who will end up at third base and plenty of other things. A bigger focus should be on Cain returning and what he had to deal with last season.
The Backlash of Opting-Out
The backlash against Cain I saw on social media was quite frankly disgusting. And I know what you are thinking: “I never said anything”. I am not talking to you. I am talking to the fair weather fans or the ones who will read headlines but not articles (like this one) and just comment without using their brains.
Lorenzo Cain didn’t quit on his team. He wasn’t being dumb or selfish. He shouldn’t have been released because of the decision. Major League Baseball allowed their players to opt out if they wanted. The Brewers organization supported his decision. I could afford box seats for life at American Family Field the amount of times I saw the “I don’t get to opt out of my job” comments. Did your boss offer you the chance? No? Ok then, not the same thing.
Cain chose his family, and had the support of his team and the Brewers faithful behind him. 2020 was a year and season we will never see again. 60 games. Zero fans. There were no Sausage Races; no bobblehead giveaways; no tailgating even allowed. Players wearing masks and not encouraged to touch or celebrate the same.
Players like Justin Turner, who had finally won a World Series, had to decide at a moment’s notice if he could celebrate or not because he got news of a positive Covid test during the game. We can talk about whether he should have been out there or not until we are dizzy. My point is that it was a strange season with strange things happening around every corner.
Cain got to avoid all of that. He got to spend time with his family, including this viral moment of him playing baseball with his kids. It was right after the season, but still an amazing moment recorded.
Brewers' Lorenzo Cain is out here hitting tanks off kids, talking smack, and making them cry 😂
"Yeah, we can't play anymore because I hit all the balls out there…Is he crying?"
(via CainCrew6/IG) pic.twitter.com/uhShGxONam
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) November 13, 2020
A lot of parents had their kids home with them the past year while they were trying to work. Lorenzo got to choose to go home to them and spend quality time. Imagine being a person that would attack a player on your own favorite baseball team because they picked their family when given the choice.
Cain’s Importance to Milwaukee
Cain returning is not being discussed enough. It was basically gaining a high profile free agent again. You have a gold glove outfielder and a consistant hitter back in your line up. The Brewers starting outfield is now Christian Yelich, Avisail Garcia and Cain. That is a solid three. It will be a solid four when Ryan Braun returns halfway through the season. I’m calling it.
Will Cain be a .300 hitter this year and fooling the Chicago Cubs on the base paths again? Who knows? He will be 35 and his spring speed ranking has declined the last three seasons. But he will still make amazing plays out in the field and take away home runs from opposing teams at American Family Field. He will still be a great lead off option until Wong or Urias take over that spot. I am calling that one too. He will still be smiling and celebrating victories with Yelich after every game. He will still remind us he has three kids way too much. And we will love him for it.
Lorenzo Cain started his career as a Milwaukee Brewer, and will probably end his career as one. He has nothing left to prove except play baseball for the Crew. He earned his contract, his World Series and our respect. Cain also earned his right to be with his family during a difficult year.
Lorenzo Cain is a Brewers legend who is still playing, and everyone needs to remember that.