MILWAUKEE — As the season wound down, Mike Moustakas kept sending one message to Christian Yelich, over and over again. And according to Yelich, it went something like this: “Get Moosie to the postseason. That’s when he shows up.”
Well, Yelich did his part, putting together a September to remember that pushed the Brewers past the hated Cubs and into the postseason. And Moose — yes, a perfect name for Wisconsin — is showing up big-time when it counts.
The chants are loud for both. “MVP, MVP,” for Yelich. And of course “Moose,” for the current man of the hour, the one who delivered the game-winning hit in extra innings of Game 1 and the one who scored the first run and drove in the second run with two more hits in a 4-0 win in Game 2 that gave the Brewers a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Moustakas appeared to be dragging a bit late in September, finishing off a nice season 11-for-56 to fall to .251. But he’s a changed man now that the calendar has moved into October. Just like he said he would be.
DOWNLOAD THE FANCRED APP TO INTERACT WITH JON HEYMAN
“I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted. Then the postseason started, and well, it’s a lot of fun,” Moustakas said. “You get into those pressure situations, and you see guys trying to do too much. All of us have been there and felt that. But you need to stay in the moment. You need to enjoy it. I love it. I love it.”
Moose and Milwaukee looks like a perfect fit. He seems like one of them — solid, hard-working, a lunch-pail type guy — and they love him.
He could see himself coming back for more, too. His free agency last winter didn’t turn out as expected, but it’s all worked out, first in Kansas City, and now here. That’s thanks to his attitude.
He’d have a positive attitude about staying for more, too, and said so when asked.
“I like it here,” Moustakas said. “The team is together. The coaching staff is together. The training staff is together. We have a good time here every single day.”
Moustakas is a free agent again, so he has to think about such things. Last winter he was one of at least a half-dozen good to excellent players who was seemingly left at the altar in an offseason where the owners seemingly put the squeeze on some guys. Back in spring training, Lorenzo Cain, his teammate in Kansas City and his teammate again now, couldn’t believe it. No one could, including Moustakas, who’d heard about the $80-million projections from everyone but wound up signing back in Kansas City for a one-year deal for $6.5 million plus incentives, which he hit, raising his pay to $8.7M.
Moustakas didn’t cry about it. He didn’t whine. He just went to work. And of all the players who were overlooked last winter he was the one who put together the best season.
“It is what it is,” he said. “It’s all in the past. If you dwell on it you make it even worse. Going and playing Major League baseball is the best job in the world. I’m fortunate (Royals GM) Dayton Moore gave me a chance, and I’m fortunate they wanted me over here.”
FOLLOW JON HEYMAN ON FANCRED
Brewers GM David Stearns already had a fine third baseman in Travis Shaw, who has now turned into a fine second baseman since the addition of Moustakas, who he coveted to add his big lefty power in Miller Park. And also maybe because he is the type of veteran who rises to the occasion.
“He’s a winner,’ Moore texted.
Moore is one of the best judges of character in the game.
And Stearns seems to be taking a page out of Moore's Royals playbook. The Brewers are smart for going to school on what Moore did, not just with Moustakas but the entire roster, which also contains Cain and reliever Joakim Soria from those championship clubs. Like the Royals, they are built around a great bullpen.
It’s probably no coincidence they are trying to do what the Royals did, which is one of the hardest things in baseball, and that is to win a World Series for one of the very smallest markets in the game.
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.