So who's the new face of the Brewers? Here's my suggestion...
Jonathan Lucroy. That was easy, wasn't it?
Let's explain. Assuming Ryan Braun who is spending this summer living in disgrace atop a pile of money far, far away from Miller Park can no longer be "the guy", who takes the spot?
Jean Segura is nothing short of awesome but you don't get that leadership vibe you hear so often associated with Lucroy, in large part because he's still relatively new to the team. Catchers, by nature, are field generals and second managers between the lines. From all accounts, Jonathan plays the role in the clubhouse, too.
Carlos Gomez certainly had a breakout year, and he's a colorful personality. I watched over the weekend as a foul ball careened into the dugout during a game, with Carlos playfully waving to the player at bat what parts of the field were in play. He gives his body in the field--to the point of distraction and possible dismemberment. No one questions his hustle. But was this his breakout year, or an exception to what has been a frustrating career that has seen him fail to take "the next step"?
Lucroy battled through an early cold stretch and is now one of the most clutch hitters on the team--granted, that's not saying much, seeing how the Brewers struggled with runners in scoring position during the recent five-game losing skid. Still, Lucroy is solid at the dish AND behind it. Not many MLB backstops are adept with both the glove and the bat these days. The list usually stops after "Molina, Yadier". A recent ESPN Insider blog called both "stealth" National League MVP candidates, mostly based on their defense. Lucroy was having a career year in 2012 when he had that freakish bout with a bit of Samsonite, one that put him on the shelf for some two months. And, he's doing what he's doing this year at the dish without much protection in the lineup, batting nearly .300 with runners in scoring position. And, he accepted the challenge of learning a new spot on the infield--first base--in large part to keep his bat in the line-up when Wily Peralta and Martin Maldanado are battery mates.
Can you tell I kind of like the guy?
Ryan Braun is permanently damaged goods, at least nationally. He might turn jeers to cheers again in Milwaukee but he's still going to be a weapons-grade pariah elsewhere unless he cures cancer and builds children's wings (multiple) onto children's hospitals (many). Do you foresee a day when his mug ever graces another Milwaukee media guide?
If it can't, why shouldn't Lucroy take the mantle? Solid citizen. Great catcher. Big stick. Team leader.
New face of the franchise, I say.