The Braves and Brewers are on parallel tracks. Both are led by young, bold GMs with a mandate to start over. Coppy had a head start of a half-season, but which team is closer to contending.
Milwaukee GM David Stearns received two nifty assists from his predecessor Doug Melvin, For a fading Carlos Gomez, he acquired left-handed starter Josh Hader (130 Ks, 42 BB, 2.92 ERA in 101 IP) and power-hitting OFs Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana. Melvin stole tonight’s starter, Zach Davies (3.57 ERA, 1.189 WHIP) from the O’s for Geraldo Parra.
One of Stearns’ first moves pad immediate dividends, trading a fringe prospect for Jonathan Villar, who has hit .306 with an .845 OPS and 42 SB. And he’s only 25.
Offense has been the priority for the Brewers, acquiring high-ceiling bats like middle infielder Isan Diaz and catcher Jacob Nottingham and drafting Louisville OF Corey Ray.
Stearns saved his best for this year’s trading deadline, trading Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for Lewis Brinson (a consensus top 20 prospect), Texas’ top pitching prospect Luis Ortiz and a PTBNL deemed a “significant piece” by Ken Rosenthal. Then he swapped reliever Will Smith to the Giants for catcher Andrew Susac, Lucroy’s likely replacement in 2017, and Phil Bickford, San Francisco’s first pick in 2015 who has 137 Ks in 115 IP with a 2.58 ERA.
The Braves farm system has more depth and better pitching talent while the Brewers’ prospects are closer to the majors, with a big edge on offense. Pick-ups like Davies and Villar will only help Milwaukee’s return to relevance.
One more advantage for the Brew Crew: Stearns, unlike Coppy, has avoided major misfires like Olivera (and, consequently, Kemp, who, in case you forgot, is signed through 2019).
I know this will displease the “Coppy is Magic” acolytes, but the Brewers have the early edge in the battle of the rebuilds. But the final grade is two years away, at least.
Inciarte 8, Aybar 6, Freeman 3, Kemp 7, Markakis 9, Garcia 5, Beckham 4, Pierzynski 2, Whalen 1