Brewers GM assesses past, present, future

July 1st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PITTSBURGH -- The All-Star break is still more than a week away, but mathematically speaking, the Brewers are more than halfway home.

They passed the midpoint of the regular season with game No. 81 on Thursday, a win over the Mets that lifted Milwaukee into a tie with the Reds atop the National League Central. That’s true despite the fact that Brandon Woodruff has been on the injured list since early April, Eric Lauer has contributed little, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta would tell you they’ve missed expectations so far and Brewers hitters went into game No. 82 with the lowest OPS of any NL club.

There’s clearly room for improvement, and the Trade Deadline offers one avenue. We talked with general manager Matt Arnold about that and more on Friday morning.

Eighty-one games in, what are you most encouraged about your club?

“I would say just the fortitude of this team. You know, we've been through a lot in the first half, and this team is just loaded with guys who are grinders and want to compete and have overcome a lot. To be in the position we're in, that's a huge credit to our team and a huge credit to our staff.”

On the flip side, what needs to be better?

“Look, I think there have been windows where we've performed well, offensively, I think it's just more about getting consistent there. We've also given a lot of young players time to adjust, and that takes time at the Major League level. Very few guys walk in the door at the big league level and perform immediately, and so we knew there would be growing pains there. But we were also seeing real progression out of several of these guys -- bringing [Brice] Turang back and what [Blake] Perkins has done and  having an enormous home run there for us in New York to win a ballgame. Even William Contreras, honestly, is still a young player. It's great to see the progress from those guys, and getting them more consistent would be great.”

What do you make of the production of established hitters like and Rowdy Tellez?

“It's hard to put it on one thing in particular. I would just say these guys have long track records of performing at the Major League level, and we believe they can get to that. A lot of guys have a rocky start to a season and finish strong, and these guys have such good track records that we believe that they can certainly do exactly what they've done in the past here in the second half. And the other part of that, especially in Willy's case, is that he's been so good defensively as well, that he's still a really, really valuable player. And not just with his defense, but also with his leadership.”

With the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline one month from today, how would you characterize your stance right now?

“Look, we want to be competitive here in 2023. We feel like we have a good team in place. We will be opportunistic to try to improve this team where we can, responsibly, but ultimately, I think we have a lot of good players here and even others coming back off the IL led by somebody like Brandon Woodruff, who is a really exciting player to add as a Deadline addition. Aaron Ashby, I think there's a chance that he comes back later in the season. Justin Wilson is throwing the ball really well right now. Tyrone Taylor isn't that far off. So just more guys coming back. I think those could also be quality additions to a team that we certainly already believe in.”

Can you explain what you mean by ‘responsibly?’

“It's always a balance there with how much future value you want to push into just one season, especially in a market like ours. We want to be responsible. We want to be competitive here for a long time. We're proud of all the work that our group has done here with our player development. Our scouting, both international and domestic, have done a tremendous job stocking our system, and we're seeing really, really good signs of that. Some very exciting players there who we think have a chance to impact our team here for a very long time. So it's always a balance with how much you want to push into just one season versus the opportunity to have those guys here and be quality Brewers here for a long time. That's what I mean by that responsibility piece of that.”

If a team called tomorrow to talk about trading for  or Willy Adames, would you consider it?

“We're not looking to move any of those guys. They're huge parts of our team right now. Those are guys we believe will help us this year and help us with our goal of trying to win a World Series here in Milwaukee.”

So the idea of trading a player like that is just off the table?

“Yeah. I mean, I'm sure that we'll get phone calls on these guys, because they're very good. But that's not something we're considering.”