Brewers’ new faces create powerful infield logjam

If it’s true that nothing succeeds like excess, then the Milwaukee Brewers hit the jackpot before the league’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Brewers, who began the season trying to find playing time for all of their big-hitting outfielders, now face the same pleasant dilemma with their infield.

After getting third baseman Mike Moustakas from Kansas City in a trade for a couple of minor leaguers, they scored another big bat at the deadline when they moved infielder Jonathan Villar and two prospects to Baltimore for second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

The trades have made the Brewers better, at least according to one of the computers spitting out those kinds of algorithms. Last week, they were given a 64 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 3 percent chance to win the World Series. On Wednesday morning, they were at 76 percent to make the postseason and 4 percent to win it all.

These projections are based on numbers and don’t reflect intangibles like injuries, fatigue or an unhappy locker room. Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the juggling act that awaits him and his lineup card: “We’re going to take some positional risks with these guys,” which sounds like Schoop may see some time at shortstop.

Third baseman Travis Shaw, who moved to second base to accommodate Moustakas at third, is among those who may face reduced at-bats and playing time.

“(The trade gives us) a lot of the same type of players, so there’s going to be some moving parts,” he said. “I don’t know how they’re going to navigate that, or what the plan is … you want to win, and get in the playoffs. It seems like there’s a lot of things this year all around baseball, where people are starting to go different avenues.”

He could take that a step further than this year and point out that it’s been an interesting century in baseball altogether, which bodes well for a team like the Brewers looking for a breakthrough.

The expansion Arizona Diamondbacks got the ball rolling in 2001, winning their first-ever World Series, and since then the game has scattered some generous karmic rebates to fans who thought they’d never live to see the day:

After losing the first three games of the 2004 American League Championship Series to the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox won the next four to become the first team in history to turn that trick in a best-of-seven playoff. Despite its bringing their first title in 86 years, the sweep of St. Louis in the World Series was almost anticlimactic.

The next season belonged to another woebegone franchise, the Chicago White Sox. Famous in postseason play only for losing on purpose, the White Sox in 2005 became just the fifth team in league history to go wire-to-wire, remaining in first place every day of the season and winning the championship. It was their first title in 88 years.

The team they swept in that Series was the Houston Astros, who after 55 years of futility finally won their first championship last season.

The Astros’ title came one year after the Chicago Cubs had broken their own personal, 108-year famine. The Cubs’ annual failures had become so reliable that fantasies of their ever winning it all would also include earthquakes, locusts and frogs dropping from the sky. Yet, it happened.

Like every club with a shot to make a second-half run — as of Wednesday morning, 11 of the 15 National League teams were within five and a half games of a playoff spot — the Brewers were hoping to bolster their staff of starting pitchers.

That didn’t work out, so they’ll have to settle for an improved offense, which after the Schoop deal includes the oddity of having Players of the Week from both leagues. Schoop homered in five straight games last week en route to the AL award, while Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich batted .517 with three home runs to win the award in the NL.

Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, including the computer. Still, with this being August and the Brewers in as good of shape as anyone in the National League, it’s hard not to feel optimistic.

Veteran sportswriter Gary Seymour’s column appears weekly in the Leader. He can be contacted at sports@wolfrivermedia.com.