Brewers’ climb may be slow, but it’s on right track

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I waited until this week to talk Brewers because I thought they had one more deal in them. Granted, I didn’t mean a deal of one crappy catcher for another crappy catcher, but I guess I was sort of right.

The Brewers made a little noise last week, dealing Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox for two minor leaguers and Travis Shaw. I am sure some fans are beginning to wonder if the Brewers will ever try to be competitive again. And the answer is probably sooner than you think. However, any time you can deal a reliever to get significant pieces back in return, it’s a no brainer.

Last year, Will Smith brought back the team’s number five prospect according to Ok, now he’s out with a weed violation for 50 games, but he’s still good. Jeremy Jeffress, along with Jonathan Lucroy, helped bring back Lewis Brinson, a top 20 prospect in the game, and Luis Ortiz, a top 50 prospect and rising arm in a system lacking upper level starters.

The Brewers will be young again in 2017 and while the win total may not improve significantly, they are on the right track. Remember, the Cubs went from 61 win to 66 to 73 then to 97. I don’t know if the Brewers have that type of talent, and certainly won’t be able to sign a Jon Lester to bolster a starting staff, but the Brewers have plenty of prospects who are at least rated highly, so maybe a few will be good.

The last shoe to drop seems to be Ryan Braun. Will he be on the team in 2017? Will he last the season? While Braun’s PED history is troubling for some teams, clearly it hasn’t stopped them from signing players (Nelson Cruz signed for $57 million in 2014, a year after his suspension for PEDs), and Braun is one of the best hitting outfielders in baseball still. Two outfielders hit 30 bombs or more, stole 15 bases or more and hit over .300 — Braun and Mookie Betts. The year before, Braun had 25 homers and 24 steals. He can still play.

A team in need of a long-term solution in left field would be hard pressed to find a better option than Braun. He’s proven lately to be durable (135 games or more each of the last 3 seasons) and is pretty affordable (four years at $76 million and a mutual fifth year option at $15 million). While I would hate to see him go, he could be the final sell off that this team needs to finally turn the corner and be competitive.

Speaking of being competitive, the Bears tried to screw up and win, but thankfully their offensive line saved them with two late holding calls. They are still in line for a top 4 pick and one Jaguar win coupled with two more Bear losses and they should be third. Either one of the top two defensive ends or a quarterback coming their way! I had 10 games right last week. I am ever impressive.

• Los Angeles at Seattle: The Rams fired their head coach in the same season they gave him an extension. Check that, in the same month! That’s amazing. They also suck. SEAHAWKS 27, RAMS 20.

• Miami at New York Jets: The ACL sprain for Ryan Tannehill pretty much seals it for the Dolphins’ season. Sorry guys, I don’t think Matt Moore will be leading them to any amazing comeback victories. JETS 23, DOLPHINS 17.

• Buffalo at Cleveland: Cleveland does not win football games. BILLS 27, BROWNS 17.

• Green Bay at Chicago: The Bears better not win any football games. The Packers need to keep winning, and while playing spoiler is great, it’s hard to match the intensity needed to win a game of this magnitude, especially when it’s going to be like 15 degrees. PACKERS 27, BEARS 20.

• Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: I almost guarantee Antonio Brown goes off this week, especially since he is partly why I lost one of my fantasy leagues by 4 points (thanks for nothing, Antonio). I lost two fantasy leagues by a total of less than 6 points. Why do we do this to ourselves? Story coming soon. STEELERS 31, BENGALS 21.

• Tennessee at Kansas City: There are few tougher places to play in December and January than Arrowhead Stadium. The Titans would be best served by losing, getting a draft pick to get a weapon for Mariota. They are close, but not there yet. CHIEFS 23, TITANS 10.

• Indianapolis at Minnesota: I would make a snarky remark about AP back practicing, but he would probably be their best offensive player right now if he played Sunday. They need something on offense because Sam Bradford is not getting the job done. Even with AP, I don’t know if they can stop Luck enough times. COLTS 21, VIKINGS 20.

• New York Giants at Detroit: If the Bears almost beat the Lions, I can’t imagine what a good team will do. The injury to Stafford’s finger is troublesome and could open the door for the Packers to knife back into the divisional picture. GIANTS 23, LIONS 20.

• Philadelphia at Baltimore: Guys, you know how much I love bird-on-bird action. While an actual eagle could take a raven, I think the Raven mascot is far more ferocious. With Edgar Allen Poe fueling his rage, I think the Ravens take down the Eagles this week. RAVENS 27, EAGLES 17.

• Jacksonville at Houston: Nothing would make me happier than the Jaguars winning and giving the Bears a higher pick. However, I don’t think it happens this week. The Texans still have enough on offense and the Jaguars still have Bortles at QB. Recipe for a victory. TEXANS 24, JAGUARS 17.

• San Francisco at Atlanta: I was going to write “anyone not named Cleveland” in for San Fran, and that includes Alabama and a good high school all-star team. FALCONS 27, 49ERS 13.

• New Orleans at Arizona: I felt good about the Saints until they crapped the bed last week, so now I’m a little weary. Thankfully the Cardinals are not so good. SAINTS 27, CARDINALS 20.

• New England at Denver: Holy cow, a good game! I mean, a really good game. If only the Broncos had a quarterback to actually give them a challenge. But, even without a great quarterback, I’m going to pick the upset. Because I hate the Patriots. BRONCOS 23, PATRIOTS 22.

• Oakland at San Diego: The Raiders are still my team, but Carr’s finger is an issue. They need to make sure that their defense shuts down Rivers (and hope Melvin Gordon is still hurt). I’m still on board with the Raiders. Might even get myself a shirt to truly seal their fate. RAIDERS 27, CHARGERS 23.

• Tampa Bay at Dallas: The Cowboys were shut down by the Giants last week and you have to wonder if the Tony Romo hype train will start to gain steam if they lose another game. I think they win, but the Bucs will get them a tough game -- tougher than many may think. COWBOYS 24, BUCCANEER 23.

• Carolina at Washington: The Panthers are too little too late this season. Washington is still in the running for the playoffs, and I think they have enough offense. The Panthers may need to retool their approach this offseason and find some receivers who can actually get open. WASHINGTON 27, PANTHERS 20.

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