Milwaukee Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio asks fans to ‘trust the process’ after an offseason that didn’t bring any big name free agents or additions.
Trust the process. It’s a relatively new phrase in the world of sports but one that is thrown around quite often. And most recently, it was used by Milwaukee Brewers’ owner, Mark Attanasio when addressing fans at Brewers On Deck about the upcoming season:
“I’d say trust the process,” Attanasio said. “The process has proven to be eminently trustworthy for the past several seasons. We believe we’re going to win a lot of games. Obviously, we have flexibility to add players in-season.”
Of course the reason that Attanasio even had to answer this question is because there is a concern around the fan base regarding whether or not the Brewers will be able to field another playoff caliber team that can make a postseason run. And those concerns are valid.
After making the playoffs for the second consecutive season – which is only the second time it has happened in team history – GM David Stearns has been conducting a mini-rebuild this offseason and the result has been a lot of roster turnover.
Key players who were a part of Milwaukee’s success the last few seasons are now gone. Higher profile players like Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas have gone elsewhere via free agency and many wonder who will replace their production. And on top of those two, they’ve also lost Junior Guerra, Travis Shaw, Jimmy Nelson, Drew Pomeranz, Jordan Lyles, Eric Thames, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Trent Grisham and others.
While in the end some of those departures may not end up being huge losses, I think what has a portion of the fan based irked, is who they’ve been replaced with.
After setting a club record for Opening Day Payroll in 2019, the Milwaukee Brewers are currently projected to be around $20 to $25 million below that mark this season.
Instead of bringing in high-impact players to help maximize the window that they’re currently in with Christian Yelich on a team friendly deal, Ryan Braun in the final guaranteed season of his contract, and a core that also includes Lorenzo Cain and Keston Hiura, the Brewers have filled this roster with players that have potential, but low floors as well.
However despite the relative unknowns about this roster, as Attanasio pointed out, their process under Stearns has made them regular playoff contenders the last three seasons. In his first full season as GM in 2016, the Brewers improved by 5 games, in 2017 they’d miss the playoffs by just one game, in 2018 they’d reach the NLCS, and last year, they’d lose in the wildcard round to the eventual champion Washington Nationals.
And although this offseason we didn’t see the splash signing or trade that many had hoped for, Stearns has shown in the past with the trade for Yelich and free agent signings of Cain, Grandal, and Moustakas, that he isn’t afraid to make a big move if the price is right. And as he always does, Stearns will continue to tinker with the roster through Spring Training and into the season, so I certainly wouldn’t rule out a trade being made at this point.
He’s also made a number of under the radar acquisitions that paid huge dividends. A few of these players that come to mind include Thames in 2017, Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley in 2018, along with Pomeranz and Lyles at the trade deadline in 2019. So we have no reason to think that a few of this year’s free agents can’t have similar success.
It’s also worth pointing out, that even without the huge offseason addition, Fangraphs’ ZiPS projections think that this team can be a playoff contender. Using the Unifying Replacement Level theory, which has a club made up of replacement level players winning 47.7 games along with ZiPS total fWAR projection of 38.1 for the 2020 Brewers, it puts them around the 85 to 86 win mark for this season. Not too shabby, if you ask me.
So I’ve said all of that to say this, no this offseason hasn’t gone as many of us had envisioned it but if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt it is David Stearns and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers’ management. Let’s see how this season unfolds first and trust the process.