2 Guys Talking: Nick from The Brewers Bar talks Braun, K-Rod, Ike, Carlos Gomez, and How the Braves Can Piss Off

ryan braunBack in September, Jimmy and I started day-dreaming on the blog about Ryan Braun being a good possibility for the Mets. It was wishful thinking, we knew the Mets needed a quality hitter, and we thought that perhaps with all the controversy surrounding Braun at the time that Alderson could nab Braun at a discount. Back then we met up with Nick Michalski from the excellent Milwaukee Brewers blog, The Brewers Bar, to discuss our Braun thoughts and get the Milwaukee perspective. Braun went nowhere, as Doug Melvin held tight, and the Brewers head to Citi Field tonight as one of the surprise teams in baseball, in first place in the National League Central with an 38-26 record. Today I wanted to ask Nick a few more questions about a team that is one of the more interesting stories in baseball in 2014.

Mike:

I’ve got to start with Braun. He is hitting and playing well, and the team is doing great. So, did everyone forgive and forget? How is Ryan now being treated locally?

Nick:

Braun was treated to an ovation on Opening Day in Milwaukee and continues to be well received. Certainly his previous place in the opinion of the public is permanently vacated, but he’s a vitally important player for the Brewers. Though most Brewers fans won’t really forgive his actions regarding PEDs (whatever those actions actually were, because we still don’t know much), they will forget. If they don’t forget they’ll at least tolerate it because of his long-running contract with the team and his importance to the team’s overall success. As much as a team like the Mets could still use Braun, I don’t expect him to leave Milwaukee anytime soon. We need him desperately to compete in the tough NL Central.

Mike:

Former Mets prospect Carlos Gomez has become a true star in Milwaukee. Here in New York we are convinced Juan Lagares (sadly, you will miss him this week as he is on the DL) is the best defensive center fielder in the National League, but a Brewers fan might not agree with that. Gomez has always had a great glove. Now that Carlos is also a legitimate middle of the order hitter, do you think he is the most critical player on the team? Or is that still Braun?

Nick:

Gomez has become a very important player for this team and a fan favorite for his energy carlos-gomezand the excitement factor he brings. You just never know what he’s going to do, whether he hits a homer and sprints around the bases or ignites a brawl with the opposing team. When he’s out of the lineup, there’s a palpable absence felt in the flow of the batting order, if not in center field as well. You’ve probably heard the narrative that Gomez was allowed to swing the way he wants in Milwaukee, and that freedom to hack away has led to his increased success. That’s probably true, but he still makes his share of mistakes and strikes out a lot. I would agree he’s become a star player, but his game is still a work in progress.

No matter where he’s hitting, however, Gomez has begun to hit for a steadier average and the power potential he brings is tremendous. I think Braun is still the most critical hitter for Milwaukee because he’s expected to be more reliable than Gomez. Gomez comes with a pound of salt. He may have a great day or he may strike out in an unproductive frenzy. I would say Gomez is definitely in the top-four as far as most-important Brewers players [something like 1) Braun 2) Jonathan Lucroy 3) Aramis Ramirez 4) Gomez]. Gomez has admitted he’s always strived to be a cleanup hitter. Lately, he’s achieved that position for the Brewers.

Mike:

Another old acquaintance (I can’t call him friend) of ours in New York, Francisco Rodriquez, is closing out games left and right like it’s 2008. Is K-Rod back to dominating, or is he being crafty, or just plain lucky?

Nick:

In April it looked like K-Rod was back to dominating. In recent days he’s looked a little more on the lucky/unlucky side. He doesn’t have the velocity he once had with the Angels K-Rod arresrtedand Mets, which necessitates being more crafty. But Rodriguez still has a lot of deception in his delivery and knows how to disrupt hitters’ timing and expectations. Whether it will continue remains to be seen, but he still has the ferocity out there which can intimidate batters in the ninth inning. K-Rod hasn’t been the greatest citizen in Milwaukee either, but overall he’s gotten the job done for the Brewers over the years he’s been here. With previously projected closer Jim Henderson nursing injuries, bringing back K-Rod yet again has proved invaluable for the Brew Crew.

Mike:

In the winter the Mets put a “For Sale – Cheap!” sign on Ike Davis and never took it off. It took some time, but the Pirates finally did a deal for Ike in April. He hasn’t been Jose Abreu for them, but he hasn’t been bad either. His 2014 salary, a little over $3 million, is not crazy either. As good as the Brewers have done so far, I’m guessing that Lyle Overbay isn’t the driving force. Davis could have helped.

Nick:

Yeah, Overbay’s been all right but far from great. Davis may have helped, but the Brewers weren’t willing to give anything of high value to get him. In other words, the Mets’ idea of “cheap” was still too much a New York price for the Brewers front office. The rumors had Alderson asking for Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg, which would have been a horrible decision for the Brewers, since the talented Thornburg is under team control for many more years and has been a key pitcher for the Crew in 2014 (28.2 IP, 2.83 ERA in 26 games out of the bullpen).

For about the same price, the Brewers signed Lyle Overbay…and Mark Reynolds, who has 13 home runs. Reynolds has also been very useful and sometimes amazing at third base filling in for Aramis Ramirez recently. While neither Overbay nor Reynolds hit for even a semi-decent average like Davis does, the pair has provided 24 more RBI than Davis has in 2014 (including numbers with the Mets). So, while Davis would have been an OK stopgap at first base for Milwaukee, I don’t think they were interested in him long-term, and even Mark Reynolds alone has been more valuable in terms of the power numbers one looks for at first base. The Brewers also aren’t done looking for alternatives at first base. Even had they acquired Davis, they likely would still be keeping an eye on other possibilities at first base as we creep toward the trading deadline. No, it just wasn’t meant to be in Brew City for Ike Davis unless the Mets would have sent him over for a truckload of Lakefront beer.

Lakefront Brewery

Mike:

Well, there is a PTBNL still coming for Ike but so far we haven’t gotten back anything as good as the beer.

So okay, one-third of the season is completed. Do you believe, or are you concerned it is all going to evaporate? Please tell me I don’t have to watch the Cardinals in the playoffs again this year.

Nick:

I know, right? This NBA Finals matchup of Spurs/Heat is another boring rematch and the last thing Brewers fans want to see are the hated Cardinals reaching the playoffs again in 2014. When it’s your team, it’s great, but otherwise it’s fun to see different teams make it, especially if they haven’t had much success in the postseason recently (Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles come to mind, or even the Mets). The Cardinals, like the New York Yankees, have more than their share of postseason titles and success. Give someone else a shot!

You’ve got to earn it though. I think a lot of Brewers fans are wary with the fear that Milwaukee will fold eventually, as Stephen Colbert described their 2007 season that ended up a flop: “like a wet beer napkin.” St. Louis always seems to receive divine intervention from the Baseball Gods. The most glaring recent example for the Brew Crew is 2011, when the Cardinals reached the playoffs via an epic late-season collapse by the Atlanta Braves, and proceeded to oust Milwaukee in the NLCS and win the World Series after Texas blew its chance to put them away. There’s also a deep-rooted angst regarding the Cardinals from the 1982 World Series, when the Brewers were in the American League. They faced St. Louis, a team they were heavily favored to beat, and lost the Series in seven games.

The loathing of the Cardinals is heavy on the Milwaukee side, so we’re with you there. The Braves can also piss off as far as I’m concerned. To answer your question, I think Milwaukee has the fortifications to hold off the Cardinals in the division race, but it will take reinforcements along the way and guys like starter Yovani Gallardo need to pitch much better than they have. The Cardinals are always a threat to the end. I think many fans are optimistic but we’ve had our hopes dashed so many times before that few are betting on the Brewers in Vegas right now. They’ve done well to get where they have but we’ve got four months to go and it’s going to be wild. The coolest thing is they’ve put themselves in position to make a run for it and that’s more than many thought them capable this year.

Motivation-Picture-Quote-Hope

 

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One comment

  1. […] I had the pleasure of chatting with Mike from the great Mets site 2 Guys Talking Mets Baseball about the series in New York which begins tonight between the Brewers and the Metropolitans.  We also discussed a variety of other topics, including some Mets fans’ unfulfilled wishes of landing Ryan Braun and the former Mets Carlos Gomez and Frankie Rodriguez, now with Milwaukee.  You can find my conversation at 2 Guys Mets right here.  […]

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