Advertisement

Recap: JR Radcliffe hosted live chat on the Brewers and Thursday's game against Craig Counsell's Cubs

The Milwaukee Brewers' 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday afternoon was the finale of the Brewers' four-game series with their rivals. Milwaukee won three of the four games in the series, ex-Brewers manager Craig Counsell's first back in Milwaukee since he became the Cubs manager.

Before and during the game, Journal Sentinel reporter JR Radcliffe fielded your questions and comments about the Brewers, in general, and the game, in particular.

Here's a recap of the live chat:

That's all for the Q&A today; thanks for writing!

Hope you enjoyed the Q&A during today's Brewers-Cubs game and had a good time watching the series. I still expect these will be the two teams duking it out for the Central this season.

A Brewers-Mets trade perhaps?

VERNON: With the Mets seemingly on a downswing, could we have a Stearns to Arnold (aka Mets to Brewers pipeline) at trade deadline? Marlins, White Sox, who else seem to be "locks" to sell at this early stage ?

JR: I wouldn't rule it out; the teams already made a big move in the offseason when Adrian Houser and Tyrone Taylor went to the Mets. I was eager to see if New York would move Pete Alonso last year, since I thought the Brewers might be a contender for the first baseman's services, but the deal didn't even really make sense then and makes less sense now. But a pitcher, perhaps?

The Athletics will probably sell (again), along with the Rockies, Angels and the teams you mentioned. It goes without saying that a broader playoff field diminishes the number of teams truly "out of it" by the deadline, though. It's not the treasure trove it used to be. I wouldn't even say with certainty that the Mets will be out of it.

Is Craig Counsell managing the Cubs differently than the Brewers?

GIUSEPPE: Is Counsell managing the Cubs any differently than he did the Brewers, as much as you can glean from afar?

JR: I'd say not really thus far; in fact, the teams are pretty similar. Last year's Brewers had a collection of aces and so-so offense. Counsell also uses his bullpen similarly, keeping guys fresh by not committing to the "A" bullpen even during close deficits. In fact, that style caught the ire of some Cubs fans already this year and became a topic on talk radio. Obviously, it's early. Counsell was a manager who achieved long-term results in Milwaukee, and two months is barely enough data to glean in terms of managerial tendencies. Although don't tell a Chicago fan that!

Did a local Brewers writer just jinx Bryan Hudson?

CONNIE ARNDT: Tyler K can take that blame or the 2 run homer Hudson just gave up. He just wrote a story championing Hudson as rookie reliever of the year. Hope it is just a case of the man would not be perfect all year long, just like the Cubs' ace last night.

Connie is talking about Tyler Koerth, who wrote for Reviewing the Brew, asking if Hudson could be a sneaky NL Rookie of the Year candidate. Hudson has an uphill battle competing with Shota Imanaga of the Cubs and Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Dodgers, but I suppose anything is possible.

Like Connie said, Hudson was bound to give up runs sooner or later. He still has a pretty slick 0.87 ERA this year even after the home run.

What has Bob Uecker's schedule been this season?

MIA PROSSER: Is Bob Uecker still doing every home game and no road games, or has he decided to take it easy and do less? Cannot blame him and love how flexible the Brewers are with him.

JR: Bob's been here for a lot of home games this year but not all; he was here on Monday but I don't believe he's been here the rest of the series. The team said before the year he would take it "one day at a time" with home games, and that's what we've seen. You're correct that he does not do road games and hasn't for a few years.

Should the Brewers send Jake Bauers to the minors?

SPARKY HAMPSHIRE: Is playing every day hurting Bauer's offensive performance? While I like the occasional power and great defense, save for last night, would minors help him, or is he out of options?

JR: Yes, Bauers is out of options, but I wouldn't say he's the type of player who needs the minors; his numbers with Milwaukee are right in line with everything he's done in his big league career. He's 28, so it's not like we have to think of him as a fully finished product but ... he kind of is what he is, a backup first baseman who's perfect for a team that has a healthy Rhys Hoskins.

When is the Major League Baseball draft?

JIAMING: When is the draft? Eager to see who we pick with the Corbin Burnes draft pick.

JR: The draft runs July 14-16 (during all-star weekend). The Brewers have the No. 34 pick in the draft as part of the Corbin Burnes exchange with Baltimore, in addition to already having the No. 17 pick.

One thing I'd point out is that the Brewers stood to get a pick anyway even if Burnes had signed as a free agent somewhere else; it just wouldn't have been for this draft (because Burnes would have theoretically signed after the 2023 season, but the pick probably would have been around the same part of the draft). This part of the arrangement insured the Brewers could have their cake (get players) and eat it too (still get a pick).

UPDATE FROM JIAMING: Your "have cake and eat it too" has me searching my cupboards for a snack, lol. Do Brewers continue to seek college hitters in the draft, or will this be the year of the pitcher?

JR: I feel like last year was the year of the pitcher. Sixteen of their 21 signings were pitchers, and some have some significant upside, although the highest profile guys (Wilken, Pratt, Bitonti, Boeve) happen to be some of the hitters. The slot system of the draft makes the draft so hard to project in terms of strategy by position; the strategy is to bank as much money as you can in the first 10 rounds from your signing pool and use it to bring in one or two bonus babies. Those guys have been pitchers (Misiorowski) and position players (Bitonti, Pratt) alike.

Four left-handers on one Brewers staff?

ZHOU GIRARD: If DL Hall comes back to serve as a reliever, do you ever recall 4 LH relievers on a Brewer staff, or any team for that matter?

JR: It's unusual but not unheard of, I'd surmise. In the era where you have to face a minimum of three batters, I don't know if left-handedness is treated as much as a novelty as before, but that doesn't necessarily equate to four lefties on a staff. The 2022 team had Milner, Suter, Hader and Aaron Ashby in kind of a hybrid role, but I don't know offhand if they were all there at the same time.

What comes next for Willy Adames?

WILL VENSKI: What are the Brewers going to do about Adames? The team is highly likely to be in contention at the trade deadline, so trading him seems not only remote but ill advised. Allowing him to walk away with only a supplemental draft pick in return doesn’t make much sense. Yet there is absolutely no mention, even speculation, about re-signing him. Is there even a possibility that they can afford him?

JR: We kicked off the chat with some Adames stuff, but it's buried at the bottom, so I'll re-post what I wrote here.

It feels like that opportunity has passed. Adames is at the very front of a brutally weak shortstop free-agent class this offseason, and it probably makes the most sense for him to test the market. Somebody is going to pay him a lot of cash. Meanwhile, the Brewers have equipped themselves with future options, with both Joey Ortiz and Brice Turang looking like capable replacements, especially Ortiz.

Which Brewers pitchers can actually hit if they had to?

VERNON APPLE: Which of our pitchers can actually hit, now that Woody is out for the year? We came close to needing a pitcher to hit recently.

JR: Great question! After some informal speculation up in the press box, we're going to guess Colin Rea, but the numbers he does have in the Majors and minors at the plate are not great. We might turn this into some sort of investigation later.

Curt Hogg, a basketball or baseball talent?

THERESA DODGE: Was Curt Hogg a better basketball or baseball player in his youth?

JR: My sources tell me that despite Curt being tall (6-5), he was a better baseball player in high school (though possibly not particularly good at either sport). He said he's much better at basketball today, for what it's worth.

UPDATE FROM THERESA: I have a good hunch on the source for the talent evaluation for a certain 6'5" human. ha ha. And speaking of pitchers who can hit, is Greinke still out there? Would he be a good reliever at this stage

JR: Yes, Curt is sitting right next to me. As for Greinke, he IS still out there. I don't know if he has anything left, but I would selfishly love to see him back in baseball, and Milwaukee is just as good a place as any. And yes, the dude can hit.

The Freddy Peralta conundrum

NATHAN: On a personal level, I love Freddy Peralta. Seems like a great teammate and competitive gamer. While possessing raw talent, there are some things that drive me crazy about him: propensity to surrender the long ball, high pitch counts early in the game, and not necessarily pitching the best in the biggest games. His last start seems like a microcosm of him overall: strikes out 11, but gives up a homer and goes 5 2/3 with 111 pitch count. Before his last start, his WAR was 0.9, so it seems like I'm not being overly harsh. what are your thoughts in Freddy? Is there something between the ears that still needs to come together?

JR: We've seen enough of Freddy now to safely assess that this is who he is as a pitcher. Electric stuff but a propensity to get unpredictable, leading to walks and struggles later in the games. The biggest problem is that it seems to put a ceiling on how deep he can go into games; at this point, I think it's satisfying if he makes it through six and an outright surprise if he goes deeper. I don't think you're being harsh. I just think that's who he is and how his stuff plays. His last two starts have been really, really strong.

Does this Brewers season count as a surprise?

FROM SD: You are a great Brewers source. Are you surprised by the Brewers this year? And do you think it can be maintained for the remaining 100+ games?

JR: I've gone on record as saying I believed this was a .500 team, and even after a strong April, I thought this team could still easily end up at or below .500. It's getting harder to justify that belief between the way the team has shown it can win games and the wins it's already banked. I do sometimes think about the 2014 team that seemed to be playing way over its head halfway through the year and crashed back to earth.

But now, I think it'd be pretty pessimistic to believe this is a .500 or below team. They haven't even had a fully healthy complement of offensive players (Yelich, Hoskins, Mitchell) or their closer (Devin Williams) all season, and they haven't yet played some of the really bad teams in the league (White Sox, Rockies, Angels, Athletics). I still don't think this team has the firepower (yet) to run away with the Central, though. It should be a dogfight through the summer.

When will Garrett Mitchell and Devin Williams return?

BEVERLY: When will Devin Williams and Garrett Mitchell be back in the lineup?

LIAM LUCAS: Is the Frelick 3rd base thing just on hold due to outfielder injuries? When is Mitchell due back?

JR: Williams is hoping to get back by the end of July, and Mitchell could be back as soon as mid-June, but he'll have to make a trip to the Arizona complex first. And yeah, until he gets back, I don't imagine Frelick getting reps at third base on a consistent basis. Ortiz has really established himself there, and the club really likes Oliver Dunn. Since Frelick hasn't torn the cover off the ball, I'm not sure it makes a ton of sense to force Frelick into the lineup as a third baseman against a right-handed pitcher, when you can just use Dunn.

Bryan Hudson, closer?

NADIA FAITH: Will Hudson get some save opp's, or will Murphy stick with him in fireman plus piggyback role when starters only go 4/5 innings ?

JR: I definitely think he'll get some saves out of the current setup, especially with Trevor Megill briefly sidelined. Heck, today might be the day for it, given how much the rest of the bullpen worked the last two days. But there's so much value in that multi-inning role; think Josh Hader in 2019. Murphy hasn't been strictly committed to a closer without Devin Williams, even though Megill has kind of taken some of those opportunities lately.

Brewers baserunning shows itself off in three-run second

S_MCANDERSON: Sal cutting the bases like Christian Yelich! Did you know the Brewers are lapping the league in BsR on FanGraphs?

JR: The Brewers are indeed well ahead of the pack in Fangraphs' measure of baserunning with 8.4 runs above average. Washington is next at 5.0. We just saw two great decisions in a three-run second inning, where both Joey Ortiz and Sal Frelick slid ahead of a great throw by left-fielder Ian Happ.

Can the Brewers upgrade their bench at the deadline?

OWEN DAVIS: When trade deadlines approaches, obviously starters/relievers are targets. Right now our bench bats need upgrades IMO.

JR: Great bench bats: A nice luxury to have, and one that I think can happen simply by adding Tyler Black from within. I think your first instinct is right, though. The trade deadline is almost always about relief pitching and, if the Brewers can somehow meet the price, a starting pitcher would be huge.

Did Craig Counsell meet with former players?

JOE: Did Counsell and former Brewer players chat in the pre games? If so, openly or was it behind the scenes?

JR: We saw Craig Counsell chatting with William Contreras on the field, and I'm sure he caught up with a few guys — probably even more behind the scenes. Like you can tell from Curt Hogg's story earlier this month before the series in Chicago, there aren't really any hard feelings among the players, and baseball doesn't really lend itself to that sort of thinking. I'm sure everyone is still on great terms.

Jeferson Quero's injury

JOE AKA GIUSEPPE: Do you think the Brewers will advise Jefferson Quero to stop trying to steal and to only slide feet first? Seems both injuries happened sliding.

JR: Quero's season-ending shoulder injury came on a pickoff play, so he's not diving feet-first on that particular play. It's a terrible break, and the Brewers obviously have some history with this level of misfortune (see Nelson, Jimmy), but I don't think that one could have been prevented with different technique.

UPDATE FROM JOE: thanks on Quero, not suggesting he go feet first on a pickoff, I am suggesting he not even tempt fate with long leadoff's. Two shoulder injuries already seems a trend to me. His throwing arm is his ticket to big leagues, not stealing bases.

JR: A good point; He's not a speedy runner, so I hear what you're saying about just taking it easy on the basepaths. I don't know if I could see the team asking him to restrict his activity on the bases, especially when they do still value him as an offensive player. But obviously it makes some sense, especially when he first returns, to avoid getting too aggressive.

Did Craig Counsell make a mistake holding Shota Imanaga back?

MAX: To quote Crash Davis, “Never f#<* with a winning streak.” Do you think CC erred by bumping Imanaga back? Totally understand the reasoning but I gotta agree with Crash on this one.

JR: Max is referring to the Cubs decision to push Shota Imanaga's start back from the previous series against St. Louis after a rain delay into the Brewers series, where Milwaukee tagged him for seven runs. I don't subscribe to the Crash Davis philosophy, personally. All pitchers could use extra rest here and there, and as great as Imanaga has been, I think he was due for at least a little bit of regression, and the Brewers had the honor of delivering it all at once. Milwaukee will take it, but I have this sneaky suspicion that Shota will have success against the Brewers next time out.

Whither Joey Wiemer?

TOM S: Will Joey Wiemer make it back up this year without an OF injury?

JR: I think so? But he's struggling in limited work at Triple-A and he's got to keep getting work in at the lower levels to figure out his swing. I think there's a mountain of talent still in that bat, and we know he can play the outfield. But I'm not sure I'd even feel comfortable guessing at a timeline for his return to the big leagues.

Bigger surprise: Brice Turang or Joey Ortiz?

S_MCANDERSON: Two of the biggest surprises on the offense have been Brice Turang and Joey Ortiz. Who has surprised you more? Do you think either/neither/both will sustain their current level of production?

JR: I am shocked by Brice Turang, honestly. Leaning all the way into the hit tool has paid off handsomely for him and accentuates the things he's good at. Last year by season's end, I wasn't sure his offensive production could justify the lineup spot, even with the glove being good. Now, he's one of the most valuable players on the team. I'm not sure if I've quite bought into the idea that he can sustain this level of success all year, though.

Ortiz, meanwhile, seems like he has greater potential to get even better, although this level of offense has also been a welcome surprise. I feel stronger about his chances of sustaining this all year long, but I suspect he'll have some rookie slumps, as well.

Is Brewer Hicklen an option for the Brewers?

S_MCANDERSON: Will Brewer Hicklen ever be a Brewer?

JR: He has 11 homers and a .983 OPS at Triple-A Nashville. He is absolutely on my list of players that I expect to play for the Brewers at some point this year, though right now he's not on the 40-man roster, so that makes it a little more difficult. If the team were to send Chourio down or run into another outfield injury (unless Joey Wiemer starts to show major signs of improvement), I really believe Hicklen is an option. He might need to get a little more seasoned on defense, too.

Are the Cardinals the team to beat in the Central again?

S_MCANDERSON: Cardinals are now back in 2nd. Who do you think will end there (presuming, of course, the Brewers are in first)

JR: Cardinals are on a hot streak right now, but I'm not buying it yet. I'll always live in a headspace of "you can never, ever count out the Cardinals," but I still believe this will be a division race between the Cubs and the Brewers.

Will Jackson Chourio remain in the big leagues all year?

DOUG: Do you think they will send Jackson Chourio down to minors at some point?

JR: I don't think they will, personally, but it's obviously not something that's completely off the table. The talent has shown itself in flashes, and his previously showcased ability to adjust tells me one thing: He needs to get reps at the big-league level. This is the best place for him to keep getting better, and I'd wager he'll get better quickly. I think Brewers fans would be right to feel uneasy about his play in the outfield and could argue that's a craft better honed in the minors, but I don't see it as a big enough issue yet.

Pat Murphy has made this a seamless transition

SUPER G: Murphy appears the perfect successor to Counsell, who established himself as the best skipper in the game while with the Crew. Murph brings a harder edge but the transition could not have been more seamless.

JR: This is notably the time of year when we can start saying "results are results." Although that axiom isn't always true, the Brewers appear to be a winning ballclub contending for a divisional title in a year where they lost their two best pitchers (like, maybe the two best in franchise history) and have had to piece a rotation together. What's not to like? Murphy has to be on the short list of Manager of the Year candidates thus far.

Keep in mind, too, it's not just Murphy who's helped make this so seamless; the Brewers brought back a massive chunk of last year's coaching staff. It's the same hitting coaches, same pitching coaches, same base coaches. Many of the things they implemented have stayed put.

Better production at first base?

PB: 1/3 of the way through the year and we are getting little production at first base. Any options out there?

JR: I'd push back a little there; Rhys Hoskins is still tied for the team lead with nine homers and has a nice .813 OPS. He's obviously hurt right now but is close to returning. And Jake Bauers hasn't been a world-beater but he wasn't expected to be. He's still played his role, I'd argue, especially defensively.

If Hoskins is slow to return and the team feels it simply has to upgrade there, the first move is to bring Tyler Black back from AAA.

What's the status of a William Contreras extension?

SCOTT: Speaking of extensions — it doesn't sound like William Contreras is interested in exploring an extension that buys out some years of free agency, but might the Brewers, with what appears to be a generational talent at backstop, be able to entice him? Would Attanasio open the coffers?

JR: It's absolutely something they have to be exploring, even though he doesn't become a free agent until 2028. Last year, Contreras told my colleague, Curt Hogg, that he was open to an extension, but the messaging has maybe cooled a little bit this year, which makes sense given that he's having an MVP-caliber season and should have a much higher price tag this time around.

The question the Brewers are presumably investigating: Can a long-term extension with a catcher work out? Players at the position famously don't age gracefully, though there's a long history of converting catchers to first basemen to prolong their careers.

The Brewers have shown they are willing to dole out extensions selectively; that is, to MVP caliber players like Christian Yelich, who signed his extension with two seasons remaining on his previous deal. The Brewers have a little more time here, but it's not getting cheaper as time passes.

Willy Adames long-term contract?

Let's get this thing started on a beautiful Thursday in Milwaukee. I'm perched in the American Family Field press box alongside my colleague, Curt Hogg, to take in the Brewers and the Cubs.

TONY: Is there any chance of the Brewers signing Willy Adames to a contract?

JR: It feels like that opportunity has passed. Adames is at the very front of a brutally weak shortstop free-agent class this offseason, and it probably makes the most sense for Adames to test the market. Somebody is going to pay him a lot of cash. Meanwhile, the Brewers have equipped themselves with future options, with both Joey Ortiz and Brice Turang looking like capable replacements, especially Ortiz.

This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Recap: Brewers chat with JR Radcliffe on Thursday's game against Cubs