“Know Your Division” is a series of evaluations for the 2016 season. We will preview each team in the NL and AL Central as the Cubs and Sox prepare to match up against these foes, breaking down each part of the game and what to look for going into the year.
It’s safe to say the Brew Crew won’t be challenging the Cubs for the NL Central crown anytime soon. In 2015 Milwaukee couldn’t reach 70 wins. They confirmed their status as an organization in rebuild mode when they traded away Carlos Gomez for four prospects on July 30th of last year. It’s clear they’re committed to the Cubs/Astros approach of building for the future, hoping to contend in a handful of years after trading away their stars (see ya Ryan Braun) and collecting high first round draft picks. The positive note is that they may have a bigger head start than Chicago or Houston did.
The Brewers have overturned their farm system very quickly, so none of the key additions are on the MLB roster right now. They’ve climbed up to 9th on the Baseball America Organizational Talent rankings list, up from 21st last year. The strength for the Crew isn’t necessarily top-level talent, but the depth of their farm system now allows them some flexibility. Say Team X doesn’t want to give up their A-level prospect for Ryan Braun. Well, here is a solid B-level prospect to ship along with Braun to make you feel better. Team X feels they get an all star in Braun and a solid depth guy for the future while the Brewers get a potential all star themselves. Last year they acquired Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader in exchange for Gomez and Mike Fiers. Phillips will probably end up being the prize but Santana has a chance to stick with the Major League roster this year.
Assuming Braun is gone by the time August rolls around, the Brewers will be left trying to replace a perennial all star. Even though he’s got permanent penis-face he’s really good at hitting baseballs and is due for a bounce back year. Johnathan Lucroy is another candidate to have a better year, and they might hang on to him given the scarcity of offense at the position. Aaron Hill is not the hitter he once was and Chris Carter is going to strike out a billion times. In other words, people in Milwaukee should watch the young guys closely and pick out a few they think will be on the team when it’s good again.
Just tons of average to below average dudes here. Cubs fans recognize everyone’s favorite crazy person Matt Garza who will be their second or third starter before he gets hurt (oh wait, he already is). I’m not a believer in Wily Peralta and I don’t think the Brewers are either, which means they might go the entire year without an ace or second level starter. Yeesh. Jungmann is a guy to watch, but he barely made the rotation and he’s 26, meaning if the Brewers were high on him you would’ve heard about it by now.
The Meat and Potatoes
Check back in two years. We’ll see what this front office can do while in full rebuild mode. They have definitely improved their farm system in an impressive fashion, but still need top end young talent before they can be considered one of the best farms in the game. The Crew think they found that talent in last year’s first round pick Trent Clark, but he just got his driver’s license two years ago so he’s got some development to go through. What may define the Brewer’s season is what they get back for Ryan Braun assuming there’s a suitor out there come trade deadline. If he gets back to his form he might bring back a similar, but not as big, of a haul as Gomez. They need to hope he destroys baseballs so they can maximize his return.