A Look At The 2017 Brewers

Year 1 of the rebuild is almost complete. We have seen the best catcher that the Brewers ever developed get traded, along with the 2 pitchers that were supposed to split the closer’s role. The shortstop that was supposed to be a placeholder for the top prospect played his way into the long term plans. And that prospect has come up and shown a little bit of what he can do.

Rebuild Assessment

So where are we? Have David Stearns and the front office had a successful first season? Should Craig Counsell be on the hot seat? What is the roster going to look like on Opening Day 2017?

I think it’s safe to say that Stearns and company have done a fantastic job. The Brewer farms system went from one of the worst just a few years ago to one of the top 2 systems in all of baseball. They have 8 prospects in the top 100, the most of any team. Between trades and the last couple of drafts, the Brewers are stocked in the minor leagues.

Evaluating Counsell is a little more difficult. Overall, he has taken inferior talent and fielded a competitive team. The Brewers have had their losing streaks, but they have been in most games. They have lost 21 games by 5 or more runs, but they have also been in 40 1-run games, going 17-23. Sure, Counsell has made some mistakes, but he has done a good job putting the best team on the field every day.

2017 Roster

Now, about what the roster will look like in 2017, there are 2 extremes. One is we could trade even more veterans and become even younger, and the other is to stand pat in the off season.

If Stearns wanted to trade, and he could find suitable trade partners, who would go? Ryan Braun would make the biggest splash. Braun has 4 more years and $73 million on his contract with a mutual option that would pay $15 million. That may seem like a lot, but for somebody putting up the numbers that Braun is putting up is pretty reasonable.

Another player that could command a good price on the trade market is Chris Carter. Carter is under team control for another 2 years, which should draw quite a bit of interest. Carter can put up 30 home run seasons and drive in 90-100 runs consistently. He would be valued by many teams.

The Brewers may be willing to part with Junior Guerra, who has filled in admirably in the starting rotation when other pitchers faltered. He is 31, so he does not figure to be in the long-term plans for the Brewers, but the Brewers could get a decent prospect or 2 for a team looking for a middle of the rotation starter.

Here is how I see the roster shaping up if the Brewers make those trades:

Starting Pitchers

Jimmy Nelson
Zach Davies
Wily Peralta
Brent Suter
Chase Anderson

Bullpen

Tyler Thornburg
Carlos Torres
Jhan Marinez
Corey Knebel
Tyler Cravy
Blaine Boyer
Damien Magnifico

Starting Lineup

1B Hernan Perez
2B Scooter Gennett
3B Jonathan Villar
SS Orlando Arcia
LF Michael Reed
CF Keon Broxton
RF Domingo Santana
C Manny Pina

Reserves

C Martin Maldonado
IF Will Middlebrooks
IF/OF Jake Elmore
IF/OF Andy Wilkins

Now, if the Brewers don’t make those trades, I think things could get interesting. Perez has made a case to be a starter somewhere, and it is clear that he could do that at multiple positions. However, if Braun, Carter, and Gennett are all with the team on Opening Day, there is not a clear spot open for Perez.

Starting Pitchers

Jimmy Nelson
Zach Davies
Wily Peralta
Junior Guerra
Brent Suter

Bullpen

Tyler Thornburg
Carlos Torres
Jhan Marinez
Corey Knebel
Tyler Cravy
Chase Anderson
Damien Magnifico

Starting Lineup

1B Chris Carter
2B Scooter Gennett
3B Jonathan Villar
SS Orlando Arcia
LF Ryan Braun
CF Keon Broxton
RF Domingo Santana
C Manny Pina

Reserves

C Martin Maldonado
IF Will Middlebrooks
IF/OF Hernan Perez
OF Michael Reed

There are several prospects that Brewer fans will be eager to see in addition to the ones on this list. Lewis Brinson, who came over in the Jonathan Lucroy trade, has been tearing it up in AAA since the trade. Brett Phillips, the centerpiece in the Carlos Gomez trade, has struggled a bit in AA, but he is expected to make a statement when he arrives in Milwaukee. Josh Hader has also been tearing it up in AA and AAA this season with the second most strikeouts in all of minor league baseball.

In short, the Brewers have a lot of depth in the minor leagues. They should field a competitive team next season and possibly enter the Wild Card race. Brewer fans are excited for the future of this team and it is easy to see why.

18 thoughts on “A Look At The 2017 Brewers”

  1. If you think Pina should start over Maldonado youre sadly mistaken. With steady at bats Maldonado will bat well over .250 and is already showing patience at the plate with no backing down in the clutch. He is also better defensively

    1. I love Maldonado, but he just has not shown that he can hit well. He has some power, but he just does not get on base enough. And he has not gotten better when he has had the at bats. Last year, when he filled in for Lucroy for 6 weeks, he hit just .195 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI in 35 games. If you take out that last game where he had 4 hits, he hit just .165 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI. This season, Maldonado has jut just .200 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI in 16 games since Lucroy was traded.

      Maldy has a canon for an arm and is solid behind the plate, and he does a good job handling the pitching staff. However, I have liked what I have seen from Pina. Pina also has a strong arm and has been doing a pretty good job with the pitchers. Pina’s upside, to me, is much higher than Maldonado. Maldonado is by far the best backup catcher in baseball, but I think Pina will be a better starter next year.

  2. Love the article and love the first plan where trades are made BUT I don’t like that word “competitive” it was used to describe this years team and next years two possible lineups and then the playoffs were mentioned.

    I would define “competitive” as a .500 ball club or slightly better. Doing that in 2017 would be awesome. The 2016 Brewers can win on any given night but to me, in this first year of a re-build, the Brewers were not “competitive” in any real way when it comes to the playoff race. That term was often used by the Selig’s and more often than not our teams have not been reaching that .500 mark.

    Standing pat with the current team will not get us to a championship in a few years. The trades mentioned in the article need to happen and starting positions need to be up for grabs and very “competitive” competitions. In this case I mean a couple of quality players fighting for each position. No starting job should be guaranteed for 2017!

    1. I see exactly what you mean. When I used the word “competitive” it was meant as a day to day, game to game competitiveness. I have been pleasantly surprised with how they have tough this team can be this season.

      As for their playoff chances next year, I think they will be close enough for many fans to want to go for it all. I trust that Stearns will not raid the farm system to go for it next year. Next season will be the most frustrating in the rebuild process, because we will be tantalizing close to the post season. We just need to be patient and not do what the Astros did last year.

      If we stand pat in the off season, it will be because Stearns did not get the offers that he feels that he would need to move those players. Also, with Braun, he will be dealing with a no-trade clause, and we know how that can turn out.

      Thank you for taking the time to put in your feedback. I think we are on the same page with the rebuild. I am looking forward to 2018.

      1. Yes DJ, we are on the same page. I have been thinking 2018 all along. I understand why you used that word now and you are right, the team has done better than expected and might keep the loss total under 100.

        As productive as Braun is when he plays I really feel that if we trade him the future will be brighter, that is as long as the new club takes care of the money and the Brewers get another potential starter in the deal.

  3. While none of the catcher options are exciting, I think Susac will be given every shot to take the job next year. Pina and Maldy are both backup quality players without much upside. While Susac isn’t a huge upside guy, he can at least be a serviceable starter if he reaches his potential.

    If Braun is moved, I’d expect Brinson to be given a long look at the everyday LF job. He too had more upside than Reed (and I’m a huge Reed fan btw) plus he’s a name rated highly on lists that could sell a few tickets. If he struggles in spring it won’t be given to him, but without Braun, I think it’s his job to lose.

    And I don’t think Suter will have much of a shot at all for the rotation next year. He’s managed to get by with his stuff so far in his career, but he just doesn’t have the stuff to get through major league lineups multiple times. I think he’s destined for the bullpen and his spot start this year was more of a thank you for a job well done this year. Next spring, he has a good shot at being the lefty in the pen, but is likely behind Nelson, Davies, Peralta, Guerra, Anderson, Hader, Garza and even Jungmann on the chance to start list. That’s a lot of trades or poor performances to overcome.

    1. Thanks for the input!

      I think Pina could be a solid starter. I like his footwork behind the plate and he has a great arm. His offense I think will be above average for a catcher. He needs to learn the pitching staff and get better at managing the pitchers, but I think he could do it. I have yet to see Susac, so I can only go by what I read about him. He could definitely challenge for the starting spot. Maldy is the best backup catcher in the game, and I think that is where he will remain for his career.

      I don’t think Brinson will be on the Opening Day roster. He does have much more of an upside than Reed, but he also has limited time at AAA. He is tearing it up at AAA, but it is a small sample size. I would expect him to stay in the minors for the first 6 weeks, giving the Brewers 1 more year of control.

      You could be right about Suter. If everybody returns to form next season, there will not be room in the rotation for him. I’m starting to think Hader will start the year in the minors, coming up after 6 weeks. There is no reason to start the clock on some of the prospects next season, as we will not be going for it.

      1. But you could have said that on arcia too. There really wasn’t any reason to start the clock on arcia this year. We could have waited until 6 weeks into next season for him too. I just think if hader and brinson have even solid springs, they’ll break with the club. They have plenty of options so there’s always a chance they get sent down if they aren’t performing. They aren’t Bryant level prospects who you know will remain in the bigs for the rest of the season if you start their clock.

        1. Arcia spent 100 games at AAA this season. Hader was promoted in late June, and Brinson hasn’t even been in AAA for a month yet. Both of them have tremendous upside, and I think it would be better to have the extra year of control. For Arcia, after a full year at AAA, he would probably make the Opening Day roster, so bringing him up now would not change how much control the Brewers have.

          I think the Brewers have enough outfielders and starting pitchers to keep those 2 down for 6 weeks. It is not going to hurt the players to have a month and a half in AAA, and it’s not going to hurt the club. I don’t think the Brewers will put them on the Opening Day roster if they do not expect them to stay up for the season.

          Of course, I could be wrong. After all, I don’t have teams beating down my door looking for a manager or GM.

  4. I can’t disagree with you for the most part on this list. Though I would hope their reserves look a little better. I don’t like the idea of Wilkins and Elmore coming off the bench. I’d rather have Yadiel Rivera and another guy. Offensive production is about the same between Elmore and Rivera, plus Rivera is younger and has a better glove.

    The only thing I don’t agree with is Suter in the rotation. I think there are to many other options with a lot more upside than Suter. Velocity is not everything when it comes to pitching, he locates and mixes pitches very well, as well as he works with a quick pace which works in his favor, but he will not be able to work deep into a game. Throwing only 81-84 is not going to keep a lineup fooled for the 2nd or third time through the order. You saw that in the Seattle game. He may have a good track record in the minors but against major league talent he won’t be able to be successful multiple times through the order.

    There are pitchers such as Wang, Hader, Jungmann, Lopez, Woodruff, ect. That all have higher upside. Though they may all have their flaws I would take any of them over Suter in the rotation. This is not to say I don’t think he should be in the bullpen because he has pitched well in the minors and he deserves to show what he can do here. If the Brewers really did look to keep the roster like it is now (as your second roster would assume) why do they still have Anderson in the rotation and Suter in the pen?

    1. I admit that I have not seen enough of Suter, but I trust the Brewer coaches, and at the time I wrote the article they had Suter starting and Anderson’s status was unclear. Suter may be better suited for the bullpen. It is also true that the Brewers have a number of pitchers in their system with more of an upside, but I don’t think they will be ready for the big leagues on Opening Day. Hader, in my opinion, has the biggest upside right now, but he only has a half season at AAA. Wang is another pitcher that I’m looking forward to seeing, but he isn’t even on the 40-man roster yet. I hope Jungmann can turn things around.

      As far as the reserves go, Spring Training will do a lot to shore that up. I was just going with the players that have seen time in the big leagues this season. There is a reason that they are up and the others are not. But like I said, things could change during Spring Training.

  5. I disagree with your optimism. I really disagree with your definition of being competitive and contending for a possible wild card position. To me a competitive team is one that WINS close games and can compete for a title – not one that loses close games and is in last place. and to me, a wild card team is one that will win at least 90+ games. I don’t see the Brewers winning 90+ games any time soon. I see at least 4 NL teams winning 90+ games and not their Division (Cards, Pirates, Giants , Mets), and I don’t see the Brewers being better than any of those teams in 2017 or the foreseeable future, much less being better than the Nationals Dodgers or Cubs. . In your off season plans, you envision the Brewers trading off their three best players for more young prospects. This is not going to make their 2017 team a competitive team or a wild card candidate. While the Brewers are trading their best players for more top 100 prospects, the Cards, Mets, Dodgers, Cubs , Pirates, Giants, Braves and almost every other team will be adding quality major league players. Do you really expect the other teams to just stand pat and allow the Brewers to catch up to them? And while the Brewers currently have a lot of top 100 prospects, those other teams will also be drafting players who will end up being top 100 prospects. And teams like the Cubs, Cards, Dodgers, and Mets can afford to keep their best players. You saw the return LuCroy netted. Without Jeffress, look at what Cleveland and the Mets were offering for him. Do you actually believe Braun, and Carter will provide a greater return? You indicated Brinson was tearing up AAA. That was a 17 game sample in Colorado, and he’s now injured. Hader has not done well at AAA after his promotion. The Brewers have a lot of prospects, but outside of Hader at AA, and Brinson’s 17 game stint at AAA none are having a great season or giving any indication they will become major league stars. Based on their performances this year, many of our super hyped top 100 prospects may even lose their status . And I have very little confidence in our farm system actually developing talent especially pitchers. When talking about the Brewers in the future, to give an objective opinion, you should compare them to what their future opposition is going to look like, rather than what the current Brewers look like. Brewer fans love Arcia, but he pales in comparison to Russell, Trea Turner, Story and Seager. Villar is having a great season, but Bryant is a lot better third baseman. Do the Brewers have a Rizzo in their farm system? Is Hader the second coming of Arrieta? Which Nelson do we have? he’s looking a lot like Shelby Miller lately . rather than continuing to give positive spin, it would be nice when talking about the Brewers, try comparing them to what other teams will look like. and be objective!

    1. I respect your opinion, and I understand where you are coming from. When I mentioned the Wild Card race for next year, I was not trying to claim that the Brewers were going to make it. I just think that they will be close enough that many fans will want to be buyers at the deadline, and I think that will set us back in the long run.

      In 2018 and beyond, the Brewers will start to use some of their depth in the farm system to trade for Major League talent, as well as spend some money in the free agent market. They are not going to start that next season, though. I still think the Brewers are going to be competitive on a game-to-game basis. I think their results will be better next year than they are this year. By your standards, no, they will not be successful. But they are on their way to getting there. As a small market team, they need to build from within and be smart about adding pieces from outside the organization.

      Comparing the Brewers to the Cubs is unfair. Name another team that has a match for Bryant, Rizzo, Arrieta, and the rest of the team. As far as being objective and comparing them to other teams, I can’t predict the future like that. Many people had the Diamondbacks making the playoffs with the addition of Grienke and Miller, but look where they are. And who had the Marlins making the playoffs? The defending World Series champs, until recently, did not look so good this year.

      I am an optimist when it comes to the Brewers, I won’t deny that. But I do think they are on the right path. We have some talent that will be on the big league roster in the next couple of years, and we have enough depth to trade for Major League starters when the time is right. Will they win the World Series next year? Probably not. Will they ever? I sure do hope so.

  6. I see many things wrong with this. First, Garza will almost certainly be in the rotation next year.

    Here’s how I see it. Braun, Gennett and Guerra traded.

    SP: Nelson, Davies, Garza, Peralta, Anderson (Hader comes up in May)

    RP: Thornburg, Knebel, Torres, Marinez, Barnes, FA, FA or call up.

    C: Any two of Susac, Maldonado, Pina, Pinto
    1B: Carter
    2B: Villar
    SS: Arcia
    3B: Perez
    RF: Santana
    CF: Broxton
    LF: Brinson

    Bench: other catcher, Reed, Rivera, FA or callup, FA or trade.

    1. I like your thinking. The only thing that I don’t agree with id’s Brinson. He only had a couple of months at AAA. If he does see time in the big leagues, it will be in May at the earliest.

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