GM for the Day: Milwaukee Brewers

Well, this just got interesting for the Brewers.  Just when you think they’ll be ok with Prince Fielder gone, out comes the potential suspension of superstar left fielder and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun for 50-games due to something inappropriate (some are saying performance-enhancing drugs and others are saying a controlled substance, we’ll have to wait either way).  Braun deserves the benefit of the doubt, but in a system that states that you’re innocent until proven guilty but actually says you’re guilty until you’re actually proven guilty by peers, public opinion has already locked him out of the lineup for 50-games.  He probably locked himself out of the Hall, too, but that’s something we’ll have to wait years for.  Regardless, it was an offseason of changes for the Brewers and they knew that it was coming.  With the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum last year and the three-year deal for Corey Hart kicking in at beginning of 2011, they couldn’t afford to drop $20+ million per season on Prince Fielder.  So, what should they do from here?  Lets look at what they already have:

2 Catchers: Jonathan LuCroy and George Kottaras

1B: Mat Gamel

2B: Rickie Weeks

3B: Casey McGehee

SS: Alex Gonzalez

LF: Ryan Braun

CF: Nyjer Morgan

RF: Corey Hart

Bench: Taylor Green (3B), Carlos Gomez (OF), Logan Schafer (OF), Eric Farris (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson

Relief Pitchers: John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, Kameron Loe, Eulogio De La Cruz and Brandon Kintzler

The Brewers could use some depth, especially with the corner infield spots being so up in the air, but there isn’t anything out there, really, so I’d stick with what they have.  Casey McGehee will be 29 for the whole 2012 season and he “should” return to pre-2011 form, or at least that is the best case scenario for the Brew Crew, when he posted a .285/.337/.464 line like he did in 2010.  Mat Gamel is the huge risk.  He has been toying with the organization since 2008, showing incredible skills in the Minors with an OPS of .923 in 2008, .839 in 2009, .884 in 2010 and .912 last year.  However, Gamel has just a .684 OPS in 171 Major League at bats with 67 strikeouts (39.1% K-rate).  If he doesn’t show the same skills in the Majors with his first attempt at a full-time job, the Brewers may have to move McGehee to first and let Taylor Green have third base.  Green has been productive his entire Minor League career, including posting a .336/.412/.580 line with 37 2B, 22 HR and 91 RBI in 2011.  He is 25 and deserves a shot, too, and could get it sooner rather than later with both McGehee and Gamel around in Milwaukee.  I would allow McGehee to platoon at third with Green to see what you have in the younger guy, then put him at first or third depending on the success or failure of Green and Gamel.  If they both fail, maybe you shouldn’t have traded Brett Lawrie…booyah!  It isn’t worth signing the Free Agents with the list consisting of Casey Blake, Melvin Mora and Eric Chavez at third and Nick Johnson, Brad Hawpe and Carlos Pena at first.  Although Pena could be a good fit on a one-year deal, they NEED to see what they have in Gamel.  Edgar Renteria makes sense for the club since he could handle second, third, and some short.  He isn’t much with the bat, but you have enough production out of Weeks and Gonzalez (when he makes contact) to keep him around as insurance up the middle.

The outfield is also up in the air.  They really don’t have a full-time replacement for Ryan Braun if he were to miss nearly 1/3 of the 2012 season, so what do they do here?  You could make a case for the Brewers to go after Mike Cuddyer because he can play second, third, first and outfield, but why would he sign a deal as a super-utility type when he’ll probably just sign to play where he wants to?  Cody Ross could be a decent signing, though, since he can play wherever you may need him in the outfield and has some pop.  He’ll also be nice to have around if Nyjer Morgan goes all WWE on Pujols when they play the Angels and gets suspended.  Ross is also a lefty masher, posting an .863 OPS since 2009, which fits well with Morgan in center who has a .524 OPS versus lefties since 2009.  Carlos Gomez has speed and a .640 OPS since 2009, so he’s a speed/defensive replacement at the age of 26.

Pitching in general is huge for the Brewers.  They have a staff that teams envy.  Gallardo still hasn’t reached his full potential and he has a 53-34 record and 3.63 career ERA.  Greinke is an ace and Marcum isn’t a top of the rotation type but he is 35-22 since becoming a starter full-time in 2008.  Wolf is a veteran who knows what he is doing.  Narveson stinks.  Do you know what an 11-8 record and 4.45 ERA told me?  That they need to give the #5 spot to Wily Peralta.  Peralta went 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 2011 in the Minors, posting a 157/59 K/BB in 150 2/3 innings.  He is just 22 and at 6’2″, 240, he is built to be a horse.  He will be very, very valuable to this team in coming years, so take a look now and save Narveson as a left-handed specialist/long man.  The Brewers got bent over when Francisco Rodriguez accepted arbitration.  He’s going to be the richest set-up man in history and if he didn’t accept, they may have been able to get Jimmy Rollins at short instead of Alex Gonzalez.  A draft pick isn’t worth $11+ million GM’s.  Don’t offer arbitration to guys you don’t need and aren’t worth what you paid them last year.

So, after making some basic moves and hoping for the best in the young guys and the league matters with Braun, this is the Brewers final 25-man roster:

Catchers: Jonathan LuCroy and George Kottaras

1B: Mat Gamel

2B: Rickie Weeks

3B: Taylor Green

SS: Alex Gonzalez

LF: Ryan Braun

CF: Nyjer Morgan

RF: Corey Hart

Bench: Casey McGehee (INF), Cody Ross (OF), Carlos Gomez (OF), Edgar Renteria (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Wily Peralta

Relief Pitchers: John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, Kameron Loe, Eulogio De La Cruz and Chris Narveson

3 Comments

They certainly just added some depth by getting Aramis Ramirez. How do you think Taylor Green will fit in now that they got him?

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Well, the ARam signing really messed up my projection, huh?!? McGehee is gone and Gamel is basically a lock to start the year at 1B now. Green will probably be sent to the Minors to become a utility type, getting time at 1B/3B and OF corners, building value in his versatility. His bat isn’t going to get much better than it was last year, but he wasn’t ever an uber-prospect like Lawrie or Fielder were considered coming through the system. I’m not big on multi-year deals to 34-year-olds and it is possible that Ramirez finishes this contract playing 1B for the Brewers.

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I actually really like that idea of having Aramis play at 1st.

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