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  • The Brewers Should Give Willy Adames Their Patented Three-Day Reset


    Matthew Trueblood

    When we look back, Monday might be an apparent turning point in the long-term plan for the Brewers' middle infield. In the short term, though, they have the tools to fix Willy Adames.

    Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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    In an effort to start a mental reset for struggling shortstop Willy Adames, Craig Counsell started Brice Turang at short on Monday night against the Rockies. The coaching staff also issued strict orders for Adames to arrive later than usual to the park; he was given a partial mental health day. It was a drastic measure, but Adames is hitting just .201/.286/.376 overall and .188/.262/.358 since May 1, so these are drastic times.

    While they're at it, though, the Brewers might attempt what is becoming a formulaic move for them, and add a couple of days to this furlough for a specific mechanical adjustment. To see what I'm talking about, travel back in time with me, to last September.

    From June through August 2022, Tyrone Taylor steadily got more lost at the plate. Over that span, he batted .198/.255/.367, with 55 strikeouts, 15 extra-base hits, and 11 walks in 192 plate appearances. By the Crew's home stand in the final week of August, Taylor was only a tactical piece, being subbed in and out to maximize the value of his glove but shielded from tough matchups at bat. 

    Here's what Taylor's setup and swing looked like in the last game of that home stand.

    To begin September, the team went to Arizona for a series against the Diamondbacks. In the first of those contests, Taylor played half the game, and continued to look lost.

     After that, though, he sat out a game, and when he returned the lineup on September 3, he had the breakout game that set off his scorching final month. Here's what he looked like doing that.

    Spot the differences, though they be subtle. Earlier in the season, Taylor abandoned the relatively extreme setup he and the team had created over the offseason, where he would stand ramrod straight and even lean backward at the plate, the way Luis Urias and Adames both notably did, too. His early movements--what hitting gurus call the load phase of the swing--were quieter, but they weren't especially rhythmic, and he wasn't maximizing the energy actually flowing into the baseball.

    After being held out of the game for a quick installation of new stuff, though, Taylor exploded. How? He started with his hands higher, and in sharply bringing them down as part of his load, he leaned forward, engaging his core and generating better power. He was better set up to cover the plate. He was naturally timing the ball better and seeing it slightly longer. Armed with those tweaks, he batted .299/.343/.597 from that game through the end of the season.

    Now, flash forward to last month, when Atlanta came to Milwaukee for a three-game series. Joey Wiemer entered that series struggling mightily. Through two plate appearances in the first game of that series, he had a .165/.281/.311 line over a stretch of 121 trips to the plate, with just seven extra-base hits and 38 strikeouts. Here's what he looked like at the plate at that point in time, during the series the Brewers played in Cincinnati just after the All-Star break.

    By contrast, here's how he looked against the Reds (again) just after his weekend off.

    With Wiemer, it's always dangerous to extrapolate too much from a few swings, because he's not as mechanically consistent as most hitters are--sometimes, by design. Still, we can note a couple of key things. Mostly, it's his hands. Wiemer does best when he brings his hands way down to his belt after his awkward-looking high set, deepening his load and lengthening his timing phase, but not lengthening his actual swing. Although both of the above are lineouts, he hit the second one harder and on a lower trajectory. The liner to left is a hit 29 percent of the time; the fly out to center is a hit less than 10 percent of the time.

    Wiemer hasn't had results as eye-popping as those Taylor enjoyed last year, but he's looked much better, with his strikeout rate significantly down and his hard-hit rate up. The Brewers know how to sit a player down for a couple of days, tweak their setup and their initializing movements at the plate, and bring them back in better shape to do damage and make consistent contact. 

    Adames is a natural candidate for precisely this kind of adjustment. Here he is at his best, back in early April, teeing off to the opposite field.

    Note that posture, so upright that he actually leans backward, then clenches forward as he triggers his hands to start his swing, all in rhythm. Here's what he looked like during the seventh-inning strikeout Sunday that left him so livid with himself as to prompt his day off.

    That lean is gone. So is his rhythm. He's striding longer and rushing to the ball, but it's his hips that are earlier. His bat drags through the zone. Adames needs to get his timing back, and given the way he gets his swing started when he's going well, he could do so by taking a couple of days to rediscover the full-body dance that was his swing before he fell into this funk.

    Whether that works or not, though, we've now seen the danger in Adames. His upside has always been tantalizing, and he delivered on it for much of his first two seasons with the Crew, but his downside has been on full display for three months. At the same time, fascinatingly, Brice Turang is doing an excellent job of announcing himself as a serious alternative to Adames for the long term. He homered in Adames's absence Monday night, and since his own reset (a few weeks, not a few days, and in Nashville rather than on the bench with the parent club, but a reset is a reset), he's batting .257/.361/.406. In 119 plate appearances, he's struck out 17 times and walked 17 times. 

    Even all of that understates Turang's value. He's reached on three errors during that short span, and he's stolen five bases in six tries. As he constantly reminds viewers, he's also a plus defender, even on the far side of second base. It's no sure thing, but we might be witnessing a change in The Plan. Perhaps it was never that likely that Adames would sign an extension with the Brewers, but the chances that he's traded this winter to make room for Turang have to have risen significantly over the past several weeks, given the performances of each player.

    All of that can wait until the winter, though. For now, the Brewers certainly could benefit from getting Adames right, and they have the tools and the experience to do so. Turang's emergence, the versatility of Andruw Monasterio, and the fact that the lowly Rockies are in town make it easy to take a day or two to make an important change. In a few days, we might have a better sense of how much Adames can contribute to what remains a promising run toward the NL Central title and a home series to open the postseason.

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    The team needs Adames to quickly find his bat again, or as the year drags on they need to sit him in spurts.  

    IF they can get value in December they need to move him.  If not, roll another year and see where he and the team are at in July.

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    Jake McKibbin
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    https://eu.jsonline.com/story/sports/mlb/brewers/2023/08/07/brewers-willy-adames-gets-day-off-during-worst-slump-of-career/70541438007/

     

    Adames own comments here too

    “You try different stuff to see what clicks,” Adames said. “I’m just hoping for that click. I feel like I haven’t found it, haven’t been consistent. I’ve been having one good day at the plate and then it just goes away. I haven’t had whole week where it’s like, ‘OK I’m feeling great this week.’ It’s been like one or two days then it’s gone for two weeks. Then it comes back for one day and it’s gone ahead. I’m like, ‘What the heck?’” 

     

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    I think he should get more days off during the season, prior to getting hit by Anderson in the dugout he had none. Yesterday was the first day off since the All Star Break. Don't really think 3  days is necessary, still brings it defensively and would take him every day over Turang against a lefty.

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    No, sorry, from the old coach, you're wrong.  Willie needs, really, some better coaching with his mechanics and confidence building.  He's a great player, and when you put Brian Anderson at third, and Brice Turang at second, with Willie at short, you have one of the top infields in baseball, certainly the strongest arms.  They're jelling.  As far as Willie's hitting, please see my post on all of that.  It will explain to what's going on, what Willie needs to do, and why he's a very important part of the Brewers.  

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    I just think he's choking. He knows a HUGE payday is close, and it's in his head to have another good year, if not his best year to get that life changing contract...and he's swinging at stuff out of the zone to try and be that guy. Other teams know this watching the tape now, and they don't give him anything good because they know he'll chase.

    That at bat a couple days ago where he had a 3-0 count, swung at ball 4, 5, and 6 with weak contact was a very frustrating at bat and summed up his season struggles perfectly.

    I want him to get going too we need him! And increase his trade value for next year since I don't think we can afford him.

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    Long time lurker, first time poster. Boy did some of the predictions in this thread age like milk (for our sake). :)

    In the 2 weeks since this article was written (Aug 9 - Aug 23), Adames batting line is: .319 avg / .596 slg / .980 ops. 4 HR in 12 games.

    Is the real Wily Adames back just in time for the postseason?

     

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    2 hours ago, TPlush said:

    Long time lurker, first time poster. Boy did some of the predictions in this thread age like milk (for our sake). :)

    In the 2 weeks since this article was written (Aug 9 - Aug 23), Adames batting line is: .319 avg / .596 slg / .980 ops. 4 HR in 12 games.

    Is the real Wily Adames back just in time for the postseason?

    Welcome out of the shadows!

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