Milwaukee has done an excellent job rebuilding their team in the short time GM David Sterns has been with the team. After a disappointing finish to the 2014 season, no moves were made by past GM Doug Melvin to fix the teams issues which were shown in September of 2014. He traded Yovani Gallardo to Texas in exchange for a three prospects. That led to a disaster of a season in 2015 as Milwaukee went from an 82-80 team to a 68-94 team with no major changes.
Ron Roenicke was fired within the first two months of 2015 after getting off to a 7-19 start. He was replaced by current manager Craig Counsell. Counsell went 61-75 as manager that season with a below average team that was blown up at the trade deadline in 2015. Doug Melvin stepped down as GM on august 12th of 2015. Carlos Gomez, Mike Fires, and Gerrardo Parra were all sent out of town. In return from Houston in the Gomez/Fires trade, Milwaukee received top outfield prospect Brett Phillips, LHP Josh Hader, RHP Adrian Houser, and power hitting outfielder Domingo Santana. In exchange for Parra, Baltimore sent RHP Zach Davies to Milwaukee who had an excellent 2016 campaign.
The following winter the Brewers shipped a few more faces out of town. Jean Segura was sent to Arizona in exchange for Aaron Hill, RHP Chase Anderson and SS prospect Isan Diaz. Power hitting LF Khris Davis was sent to Oakland in exchange for catching prospect Jacob Nottingham. Despite moving key pieces out, Milwaukee exceeded expectations, but were forced to trade Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas for two prospects. They finished the season with a 73-89 record.
Infielder Jonathan Villar had an excellent year for Milwaukee in his first full season after being acquired from the Astros that winter. He batted .285, hit 19 HR’s and drove in 63 runs batting in the leadoff spot for most of the year. He stole 63 bases but showed a lack of discipline as he was caught 18 times. He committed 29 errors between playing SS and 3B but was perfect in his few games at 2B.
Future franchise shortstop Orlando Arcia made his MLB debut on August 2nd of 2016. He struggled to hit the ball at first but found his stroke towards the end of the season. He was very highly valued based on his excellent defense as he won minor league defensive player of the year in 2015. He committed 5 errors in 53 games at shortstop in 2016.
Milwaukee acquired 3B Travis Shaw from Boston in exchange for Tyler Thornburg this winter. Shaw is 26 years old and is an upgrade from Aaron Hill who started at 3B for the majority of that season.
Centerfielder Keon Broxton also got off to a slow start with the bat after making the team out of camp. He was called up and sent down many times but truly established himself as an everyday outfielder after the All-Star break. In July-September he batted .288 and hit 8 of his 9 Homeruns that season.
Hernan Perez could be the most versatile player in the MLB as he can play every single position. He was excellent at every spot in which he played an had an excellent year with the bat as well.
After an abysmal start to his 2016 campaign, Wily Peralta was sent down to AAA Colorado Springs to find his game again. He came back up in August and posted an ERA of under 3 in the last two months of the season. Hard to believe with how long this guy has been around that he still is only 27. If Peralta can continue the success he had at the end of 2016 that will be huge for Milwaukee’s pitching staff.
Ryan Braun even had an excellent year as he hit .305 and belted 30 homeruns. Braun is 33 years old now and an established veteran that the younger guys can feed off of and learn from.
There are plenty more of good stories from the 2016 season when it comes to individual players like Zach Davies, Junior Guerra, and Scooter Gennett, but you get the idea. Chase Anderson became a big part of the rotation after barely making the starting rotation at the beginning of the year. He had a very strong finish to his season which included him carrying two no hitters into the eighth inning.
David Sterns and the Brewers have brought together many young assets together and created a great core. Last season after the trade deadline Milwaukee was considered to have the #1 ranked farm system in the league. With rising stars like Arcia, Villar, Brinson, Phillips, Hader, Diaz, and so many more, its hard to avoid the fact that Milwaukee is on the rise and looking to win very soon. Not to mention Milwaukee drafted OF Corey Ray 5th overall. As a team that won 73 games last season, they blew away peoples’ expectations as they were supposed to be basement dwellers. This looks to only be the beginning of what is to come in Milwaukee. They are a very inexperienced team aside from veterans like Braun, Thames, or even Wily Peralta, but with how the young talent performed last year you can only hope that they find more success this season. Is Milwaukee a playoff team this year? No, probably not. It’s very difficult to make the playoffs in the tough NL Central. I think you can expect Milwaukee to finish around or above .500 this season however. My prediction for the Brewers this season is an 83-79 record and third place in the NL Central behind the Cubs and Cardinals. It should be a very fun season to watch Brewers baseball.