Refreshing words, but a tired problem

Giancarlo Stanton’s press conference Monday was refreshing.

Nine times out of 10, an athlete traded from a cost-cutting franchise to one with deeper pockets takes the high road and says the PC things about their former team, trying to throw any more shade on the teammates left behind and the fans who revered what the athlete did.

Now Stanton, on his first official day as a Yankee after being dealt from the Marlins, didn’t crush his ex-team like he does fastballs, but he certainly left no doubt about how he felt. He clearly laid his exit from South Beach at the feet of Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ legendary shortstop who is in his infantile stages in baseball management. Jeter’s motives I’m sure are all about the bottom line. But one has to wonder what the Marlins would be like if they went out and got two frontline starters to go with that lineup. (I won’t even bring up the Jose Fernandez ramifications, only to say I don’t think the franchise has recovered from his death.)

Stanton also admitted to playing the Giants and Cardinals, whom he had no intention of joining despite the Marlins hammering out trade details with both clubs. Instead, he took meetings with both clubs to see what other organizations were like. Fair enough, but a little transparency would have been nice, especially with both fan bases checking Twitter every 30 seconds to see if a deal had gone through.

He really wanted to end up with the Dodgers, his hometown team, or the Yankees. He wants to win now after being promised the Marlins weren’t going to go for it and not tear everything down — again. That didn’t last long as Jeffrey Loria decided to sell the team to Jeter’s group, which didn’t have to keep that promise to Stanton and the fan base.

So now baseball is abuzz with visions of Stanton, the freshly minted NL MVP coming off a 59-homer season, teaming up with Aaron Judge, the newly crowned AL Rookie of the Year who blasted 52 homers. Rightfully so.

And while Stanton was somewhat reserved yet direct in his criticism of the Marlins — he could have gone on an epic rant — you have to wonder how long this next Miami rebuild will last. After getting a couple of prospects and a major-league second baseman for their best player, will the Marlins get market value on their other trade chips or will they settle for something close just to start from scratch?

What’s news with the Crew?

Everything was quiet on the public front with the Brewers. Right fielder Domingo Santana’s name continues to be bandied about, but as as Brewers General Manager David Stearns said: “If we’re going to even consider trading someone who is such an important part of our team, we are going to expect a sizable return.” Like other GMs, Stearns is exploring all avenues and taking all calls to see which players have what values. I do expect one significant move this week (Keon Broxton trade?).

Best rumor of the day

Mets starter Matt Harvey was a hot topic after an underperforming season and his salary on the rise in the arbitration process. While the initial toss-up of Harvey to the Rangers for second baseman Jurickson Profar was the sexiest piece of speculation, the deal that made the most sense was Harvey to the Orioles for right-handed reliever Brad Brach. That move would fill needs for both teams, their projected 2018 salaries are similar and both are slated to be free agents after next season.

Day 1 transactions (reported, unless otherwise noted)

⚾️ Switch-throwing reliever Pat Neshek agrees to two-year, $16.25 million contract with the Phillies.

⚾️ Right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow agrees to two-year, $21 million contract with the Cubs.

⚾️ And, of course, the Yankees officially acquired outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and cash from the Marlins for infielder Starlin Castro, minor-league right-hander Jorge Guzman and right-hander infielder Jose Devers.

Brewers’ Stearns will look for roadblocks to get building blocks

As funny as it sounds, one thing the Milwaukee Brewers are looking for this offseason is roadblocks.


More specifically, players who are on major-league rosters or on the verge of being called up who are blocked by an established veteran at their position or potential alternate positions.

Take Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals. Dyson has had key roles in each of the last two postseasons for the Royals, but primarily as a pinch-runner. But Dyson is entering his age-31 season and is arbitration-eligible for the second time.

With the Brewers needing a stopgap solution to patrol center field until Brett Phillips likely arrives for full-time duty to begin 2017, Dyson makes perfect sense. First, he is cheap talent, slated to make $1.7 million in 2016, according to arbitration projections by Dyson is also in a logjam in the Royals outfield, regardless of whether free-agent left fielder Alex Gordon returns, which is likely. Lorenzo Cain is established in center field and Paulo Orlando appears set to replace free agent Alex Rios in right. Prospect Jose Martinez could also be in the mix after winning the Pacific Coast League batting title at .384, not to mention speedster Terrance Gore, who might have to be kept on the big-league roster next spring due to already burning an option or two.

All are seemingly more attractive than the left-handed-hitting Dyson due to Dyson’s age and the fact he hasn’t hit that well (.255 career average) and only really a base-stealing threat. So why should the Brewers go after Dyson? They would have control over him for the next two seasons and be a veteran who can help Phillips’ transition to the majors whenever that happens. Dyson also excels defensively, a point of emphasis as new general manager David Stearns reshapes the Brewers’ roster. Dyson also can play all three outfield positions and should be a cheap acquisition due to the Royals’ plethora of outfield candidates for one, maybe two jobs. Any move with Dyson, though, may wait until Gordon signs with the Royals or elsewhere as he becomes more valuable to Kansas City should Gordon leave.

Another guy who is roadblocked is Joey Gallo, a power-hitting third baseman in the Texas Rangers system. Gallo is a one-trick pony with his tremendous power, hitting six homers in 36 games during an emergency midseason cameo. He also struck out 57 times in 123 plate appearances, showing he might need a little more seasoning. Gallo is stuck behind veteran Adrian Beltre, who likely has another couple seasons left in him. Shifting over to first base seems questionable as the Rangers used Mitch Moreland there this season and relegated Prince Fielder to being the designated hitter. Gallo played left field during his call-up, but that was because of injuries to corner outfielders Josh Hamilton and Shin-Soo Choo, both of whom are expected to be back in 2016. It could be a push to make Gallo your starting third baseman to open next season, considering his hit .195 at Triple-A following his call-up from Double-A.

I’m not saying Stearns should go out and get Dyson and/or Gallo, they are just the types of players Stearns will be shopping for — at positions of need for the Brewers — as he starts to establish a young, controllable core of players to build a winner. Sure, there are a few free-agent options who could help out the Brewers, but the early steps of the foundation can often be the most important and Stearns will want to stay true to his blueprint.

Brewers need only look at Royals to see how to build a winner

When the Kansas City Royals celebrated winning the World Series on Sunday, the story line was that it was a culmination of a yearlong journey of redemption after coming up 90 feet short of tying Game 7 of the World Series in 2014 against the San Francisco Giants.

But that journey was a bit longer.

Experts took notice of the Royals a couple years ago as a team that was on the precipice of contending, having a young core of position players the franchise developed augmented with homegrown and acquired pitchers.

But it wasn’t an overnight success.

Left fielder Alex Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft. Catcher Salvador Perez, the spirit of this Royals team and the Series MVP, was an international free agent who signed in 2006. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007. First baseman Eric Hosmer was the third overall pick in 2008. Shortstop Alcides Escobar, the AL Championship Series MVP, and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, last year’s ALCS MVP, were among the players acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Greinke before the 2011 season. Another player from the Greinke deal, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with outfielder Wil Myers for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis before the 2013 season. Shields was the anchor of last season’s rotation, while Davis has become the best reliever in the majors.

So when new Brewers general manager David Stearns preached to a gathering of season ticket-holders last week that his goal is to acquire young, controllable talent in order to make the Crew a consistent contender, he could use the Royals or the Houston Astros — a team he was assistant GM for until being hired last month and a team that had back-to-back 100-loss seasons just a few seasons ago — as primary examples.

There has been some heavy lifting already done. The Brewers’ farm system isn’t the barren wasteland it was a couple seasons ago. The development of players including shortstop Orlando Arcia and pitcher Jorge Lopez, as well as the acquisition of a handful of players not that far away from being ready for the majors has the Brewers not having to take a major step back.

But there will be growing pains. 2016 figures to be focused on development rather than contending. After that? Arcia, Lopez, center fielder Brett Phillips and pitchers Adrian Houser and Josh Hader figure to be in a group of prospects ready to break through no later than Opening Day 2017. They will join outfielder Domingo Santana, who established himself as an everyday option after his call-up, and right-hander Zach Davies, who pitched well in his September audition and figures to be a rotation candidate going into spring training.

Stearns, still officially formalizing his front-office staff, will begin in earnest the process of molding the roster in the vision he promised owner Mark Attanasio when hired, with first baseman Adam Lind‘s $8 million option his first significant player decision.

Brewers fans will have to be patient. One more thing to keep in mind: The Royals were successful because, for the most part, they kept their core players together at the same level as they migrated through the minors. Everyone points to the talent at Double-A Biloxi — and rightfully so — but with an exception or two, most of that team should be at hitter-friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2016 before becoming ready for prime time.

Stearns needs to build the Brewers for the long haul

The blood has been spilled. The carnage? A mere 68 wins against 94 losses for the Milwaukee Brewers. Fourth place in the NL Central. The fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Now, the cleanup process begins.

With David Stearns officially taking over as general manager Monday, the next chapter of the Brewers has begun. Stearns has done a deep dive into what he has to deal with and is likely to announce some initial moves Thursday. Manager Craig Counsell started his own housecleaning by letting go all but two coaches Monday.

Brewers fans are anxious as to whether Stearns feels the need to do a massive teardown of the team or whether enduring possibly one more year like 2015 can lead to a sustainable product. Owner Mark Attanasio recently said that plan will probably be revealed to the paying customers sometime before the winter meetings in December. Stearns first has to get his staff in place and then analyze the players on the roster and how they fit into his vision of the future.

Stearns has said he has been impressed with much of the personnel in the Brewers’ front office, so how much he alters the makeup there could give an indication as to his intentions with on-field talent. Massive changes could portend a massive rebuild.

The best part of what Stearns has been given is he doesn’t have any real albatross contracts. Right fielder Ryan Braun is the only player on the roster with a multiyear contract beyond 2017 as his five-year, $105 million extension kicks in next season and he is still a productive player, although he has yet to recapture his 2011 NL MVP form as injuries and a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal have sapped his stats the last three seasons. Pitcher Matt Garza (two years, $25 million) is a bit more of a problem considering he posted a 6-14 record with a 5.63 ERA. Garza essentially shut himself down for the final month of the season after the Brewers told him he wasn’t going to start anymore in 2015 and he refused to pitch out of the bullpen. Garza was then critical of Doug Melvin, the GM who is stepping aside.

Stearns also has an emerging farm system in his pocket. Of the four trade-deadline moves that sent away five major-league players and brought back seven prospects, four of minor-leaguers (outfielder Domingo Santana, starter Zach Davies, starter Adrian Houser and reliever Yhonathan Barrios) made their way to The Show with the Brewers. And that doesn’t include the prize of those catches, center fielder Brett Phillips, who led the minors in runs scored.

One key to Stearns’ plan is Attanasio, a hands-on owner who likely had a hand in moves involving signing big-name pitchers in recent years to mixed results. Attanasio said he would step back and let Stearns time to make an assessment of where the Brewers are and what the plan should be in order to make the franchise one that competes at a high level on a yearly basis and sustains itself through developing and retaining prospects. As a small market without a ton of revenue yet a dedicated and passionate fan base (the Brewers drew more than $2.5 million fans this season), the franchise can’t afford major mistakes in free agency and has suffered from not consistently producing prospects who made an impact in the majors.

The Brewers have about $46 million in salary committed to players next season, not including first baseman Adam Lind’s $8 million option, seemingly a no-brainer to pick up, even if it is to trade him for more prospects. The cupboard definitely isn’t bare for the Brewers, but expecting a quick fix in order to compete with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs in the NL Central isn’t the answer, either.

Instead, Stearns and Counsell — who has in-depth knowledge of the Brewers’ farm system from his time as assistant GM under Melvin — needs to take his time and build an organization that is sustainable for years. Fans may not like some of the moves coming this offseason and another year (or two) of struggling, but the dividends will pay off with a product that will be able to replenish itself with prospects or trades, giving the Brewers a chance to be competitive on an annual basis, not just once every few years.

Season recap: AZL Brewers

As the minor-league season comes to a conclusion, I take a look at how each team fared this year in a quick recap:


Final record: 11-17 (six games behind AZL Dodgers in Central Division; third-worst record in 14-team league)

Team notes
— Hit .258 as a team, fifth-best in league

— Stole 97 bases, second-best in league; 43 times caught stealing, second-worst in league

— Averaged 4.52 runs per game, eighth-best in league

— Hit 23 homers, third-best in league

— Had 3.96 ERA, 11th-best in league

— Posted four shutouts, tied for fourth-best in league

— Allowed 14 homers, tied for 11th-best in league

— Recorded 446 strikeouts, ninth-best in league

— Had 1.39 WHIP, tied for 10th in league

— Finished with six-game losing streak

Individual notes
— OF Joantgel Segovia had .368 batting average and .434 on-base percentage, team highs

— OF Demi Orimoloye had six home runs and 26 RBIs, team highs

— OF Trent Clark had 51 hits, six triples and 34 runs scored, team highs; hit .309, second on team

— OF Juan Ortiz had team-best 11 doubles

— Caleb Smith had team-high 45.2 innings pitched

— Shawn Clowers and Aaron Myers tied for team lead with three saves

— LHP Brad Kuntz had team-high 37 strikeouts (27.2 innings); had 0.65 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in nine games

— Only two pitchers allowed more than one homer for the season

Position player to watch: While everyone has had an eye on the tremendous starts of high draft picks Trent Clark and Demi Orimoloye, I wanted to pick another player who should be on the prospect radar. That would be Joantgel Segovia, who hit .368 with no homers and seven RBIs in 25 games. He also stole seven bases (and was caught seven times). The 18-year-old came out of the Brewers’ Dominican Republic academy. Hitting is his primary tool as Segovia led the Dominican Summer League with a .384 average in 2014. Only two of his 35 hits in the AZL were extra-base hits. Segovia needs to add another tool and a bit of extra-base power to continue his progression.

Pitcher to watch: Brad Kuntz certainly is taking advantage of the opportunity given to him. The left-hander was an undrafted free-agent signee out of Baylor this summer and all he did was dominate AZL hitters. Kuntz struck out 37 in 27.2 innings, with a 0.65 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He allowed just 15 hits, but did walk eight in nine games. Those numbers earned him a promotion to Helena in the rookie-level Pioneer League. Kuntz had Tommy John surgery in 2013, but did pitch for Baylor this spring, going 1-1 with two saves while striking out 26 in 24.1 innings with a 2.22 ERA in 12 games, all relief appearances. Kuntz could be a great free-agent find.

Future Crew: Who is on the way from the minors?

After taking a look at where the major-league roster stands, we take a look at what minor-league prospects could be lending a hand to the Brewers in the near future.


The skinny: The cupboard is pretty bare here. Juan Centeno got the call to the majors from Triple-A Colorado Springs when Jonathan Lucroy was hurt, but saw limited action, appearing in 10 games with 23 plate appearances. He was previously in the bigs with the New York Mets the last two years for a combined 14 games. But he appears to be just a backup as Nevin Ashley has gotten a bulk of the time at Triple-A, hitting .311 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 90 games, while also throwing out 38 percent of runners attempting to steal (40 percent is considered good at any level). At Double-A Biloxi, Adam Weisenberger is the primary catcher and is hitting a mere .236 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 84 games. But he does well throwing out baserunners, having nabbed 44 percent of base thieves. Backup Parker Berberet also struggles offensively, hitting .215 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 51 games. He throws out 34 percent of runners.

When will help arrive? Ashley would seem to be the top candidate, but he also just turned 31 so he is more of a minor-league journeyman. Weisenberger has been in spring training, primarily as an extra catcher but if he is overmatched offensively at Double-A at age 26, the bat is not likely to come around to be anything more than a backup. Any help for this spot will need to come from outside the organization.


The skinny: Matt Clark has moved past prospect status and is more of a typical Triple-A first baseman. He is hitting .281 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs at Colorado Springs and showed well after making his major-league debut last season with the Brewers. At Biloxi, Nick Ramirez, a left-handed hitter like Clark, has 14 homers and 62 RBIs, but also has .241 average and 110 strikeouts in 124 games. Garrett Cooper hit .294 with eight homers and 54 RBIs before earning a recent promotion to Biloxi.

When will help arrive? Cooper is the best prospect here, although if Ramirez can increase his average and maintain the power numbers, he is a step closer to the bigs. Clark could provide immediate short-term help if needed. David Denson, the first openly gay player in affiliated baseball who just got promoted from rookie-level Helena to low Class A Wisconsin, could be an option but is probably three years away.


The skinny: These two positions are being combined due to the Brewers’ shortstop depth. Orlando Arcia, 20, is the burgeoning star shortstop, hitting .305 with eight homers, 64 RBIs and 23 steals at Biloxi. Yadiel Rivera is at Triple-A and hitting .238 with one homer and 28 RBIs, while Luis Sardinas has split time at second and short, hitting .283 with one homer and 32 RBIs. Nick Shaw has been the primary second baseman at Biloxi, but is hitting .201 with no homers and 20 RBIs.

When will help arrive? Arcia is ready defensively to play in the majors and this season may have answered questions about his offense. With Jean Segura and Scooter Gennett the starters in the majors yet losing some of their luster, the Brewers could get aggressive and elevate Arcia to the majors and use Segura to platoon at short and second. Rivera could be stuck at Triple-A for another year, while Sardinas could be used in a utility role in the majors. The Brewers could also use their depth here for trades.


The skinny: Much like catcher, there’s not a lot here. Matt Dominguez is a former major-leaguer whom the Brewers picked up off the minor-league scrap pile after being put on waivers by the Houston Astros and is at Triple-A. Taylor Green is at Double-A who is still trying to live up to his top prospect promise (he was in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and ’09). Brandon Macias is also at Biloxi, but is hitting .245 with two homers and 17 RBIs.

When will help arrive? Never is too drastic of a word, but that’s kind of where the Brewers are with prospects at the hot corner. Gilbert Lara, a top Dominican signing last summer, is currently a shortstop but has the big body and power that profiles ideally at third base, a move the will likely be made as soon as Lara runs into some of the minor-league shortstop depth. Lara was in the Arizona League this summer and was just bumped up to Helena.


The skinny: Outfield has the same type of impact players as shortstop, only a bit more dynamic. Center fielder Brett Phillips, acquired in the Carlos Gomez-Mike Fiers trade, leads this pack. Phillips hits for average and added power and is the Brewers’ No. 2 prospect. At three stops this year including Biloxi (the other two with the Astros), Phillips, a top-of-the-order hitter, is hitting .309 with 16 homers, 77 RBIs, 17 steals and 104 runs scored. Domingo Santana, who was also acquired in the same trade, has already been called up to the majors. Phillips’ acquisition moved promising center fielder Tyrone Taylor to right field at Biloxi. Taylor is intriguing as he was a high school football star before signing with the Brewers. The other key prospects are primarily corner outfielders: Kyle Wren, Michael Reed and Ben Guez at Colorado Springs, Victor Roache and Josh Fellhauer at Biloxi, and Clint Coulter, Omar Garcia and Michael Ratterree at high Class A Brevard County. A few others to watch who are more long-term projects are Trent Clark, Monte Harrison and Troy Stokes at Helena, and Demi Orimoloye and Joantgel Segovia at the Arizona League Brewers. Injuries have sidelined a few of these players this year, slowing there progress.

When will help arrive? Santana aside, as soon as Opening Day next year. Considering the Brewers’ outfield hole is in center, Phillips could have a chance to break with the big club, depending on what offseason moves are made. Phillips could benefit from a little more seasoning, while Taylor likely needs another year in the minors. Roache and especially Coulter, a converted catcher, are intriguing power prospects. Coulter will be a Biloxi next season in a crucial development year. Clark, the Brewers’ top pick this year, and Harrison, who broke an ankle rounding third base in late July, are a few years back. Regardless, there is quality depth here, at worst giving the Brewers chips to use in potential trades.


The skinny: The trade deadline did a lot to raise the level of pitching prospects. Zach Davies was picked up from the Baltimore Orioles for Gerardo Parra, while lefty Josh Hader and righty Adrian Houser came with Phillips and Santana from the Astros. Davies is set to be called up in the next week. Hader and Houser are likely to be invited to spring training and get at least a look at making the roster, although the minors are more likely to begin 2016. Also in the wings is Jorge Lopez, who is dominating at Biloxi, Johnny Hellweg and lefty Hobbs Johnson. A little bit further off is lefty Wei-Chung Wang (the former Rule 5 pick who spent 2014 in the majors with the Brewers) and Jorge Ortega at Brevard County, and lefty Kodi Meideiros, Cy Sneed and Devin Williams at Wisconsin. Lefty Nathan Kirby, a supplemental first-round pick this year who will likely be having Tommy John surgery, and Cody Ponce, this year’s third-round pick, are college pitchers who could progress quickly. Of course, Kirby’s progress won’t likely begin until 2017 if he has the TJ surgery.

When will help arrive? Davies will be given a good look in September in hopes he can earn a major-league rotation spot in spring training. Hader, Houser and Lopez could all be options for the rotation or long relief in 2016, but will benefit from any extra minor-league experience. Regardless of what happens at the major-league level in the offseason, there are quality arms ready to deliver next season should they get called to The Show.


The skinny: Triple-A is filled with two types of players: older players who for one reason or another can’t crack a major-league roster and prospects who need seasoning. This article is focused on prospects. Ariel Pena came with Segura and Hellweg from the Los Angeles Angels in the Zack Greinke trade and is at Triple-A. He was in a relief role until recently making a handful of starts. He has a 4.11 in 76.2 innings with 78 strikeouts and 30 walks. Jaye Chapman is the closer at Colorado Springs, with a 2.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while 42 strikes and 11 walks in 38.2 innings. He has also only yielded one homer. At Biloxi, closer Damien Magnifico, lefty Michael Strong, Austin Ross and swingman Brent Suter all look like they could push for bullpen spots in the near future.

When will help arrive? As mentioned in the major-league article of this two-part series, not much help is needed in the bigs. But should a couple trades whittle into that depth, there are older players who could contribute immediately, as well as anyone on this list. With the volatility of bullpen spots, having a half-dozen or so arms you wouldn’t be afraid of calling up is a solid position. Of course, starters could always be used in long-relief roles, which is sometimes used to ease young starters into the bigs.

Future Crew: How the Brewers’ major-league roster shapes up

As the Milwaukee Brewers wind down a forgettable season, I will take a look at the roster from two angles: Who is on the major-league roster and who is ready to make a push from the minors.

Today, we start with a look from the majors.


Depth chart: Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado.

The skinny: Lucroy not only is the unquestioned starter, but he is the face of the franchise — even if he goes about his leadership role in an understated manner. Lucroy had a breakout offensive season in 2014 (.301 average, 53 doubles, 13 homers, 69 RBIs) and has steadily gained a reputation as an excellent defender, especially when it comes to pitch framing. The right-handed hitter missed the start of the season after sustaining a broken left big toe April 20 (he returned June 1) and really hasn’t hit the way he is expected to. Is he a .300 hitter (which he was in 2014 and 2012, when he hit .320 in 96 games) or more closer to his career mark of .280? Probably somewhere in between, but closer to his career average. He will provide modest power (he has 62 homers over last five seasons, sitting at a low of seven this year). Lucroy will be entering the final year of his contract in 2016 with an option for 2017 and said he approached the Brewers with an extension last offseason. Lucroy is a long-term fit for the Brewers, especially after seeing Maldonado struggle mightily at the plate while filling in during Lucroy’s injury. Maldonado is a capable backup as his defense is very good, but until he proves he can hit, he will only be a reserve.

The future: In addition to being a team leader and fan favorite, Lucroy is the type of player any team would want to build around, even if he isn’t the most dynamic of players. The Brewers should wait until after 2016 on any extension talk for Lucroy.


Depth chart: Adam Lind, Jason Rogers.

The skinny: Lind has been about as good as the Brewers could have anticipated when they sent pitcher Marco Estrada to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for the left-handed hitter. At .284, he has hit a bit above his career batting average of .274, but his power has been slightly disappointing. Of the five seasons he has had 400 at-bats, his 17 homers are easily the worst of his career (next lowest is 23, with a high of 35). The power is a tad concerning considering he has held down the cleanup role most of the season. Picking up his option for $8 million next season seems like a no-brainer as the Brewers need his lefty bat to help balance their righty-heavy lineup. Other than a minor back flare-up a couple weeks ago, Lind has remained healthy, something he was unable to do consistently on Toronto’s artificial surface. Rogers has been one of the unsung players of this season. It generally is tough for a young player to do well in a bench role, but Rogers has been the Brewers’ best pinch-hitter this year.

The future: First base is generally a position around which to build your offense. Lind is a complimentary piece, which could be OK considering the rest of the Brewers’ offensive pieces. His power numbers need to improve in his contract year. Rogers doesn’t appear to be anything more than a bench player and if he continues to establish himself as a pinch-hitter, he would be a solid piece.


Depth chart: Scooter Gennett, Elian Herrera.

The skinny: With Rickie Weeks in the last year of his contract in 2014, the Brewers were able to break Gennett into regular playing time as they prepared for life after Weeks, who was only a shell of his former self by the end of his Brewers career. Gennett performed well, hitting .289 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in 137 games, seemingly setting himself up for full-time duty in 2015. But the left-handed hitter has disappointed this season and even had to be sent to the minors to straighten out his swing after hitting a palty .154 through May 17. Gennett returned about a month later and is now hitting .263 with six homers and 27 RBIs. It is too early to completely give up on Gennett as he is just 25 and his second-half performance could be a good indicator that he has his offense figured out. Defense has never been Gennett’s strong suit as his bat has helped him progress to the majors, but improving that aspect will be one of the keys to gaining the confidence of manager Craig Counsell.

The future: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Brewers create a platoon situation at second next season, most likely with someone currently in the organization. Ideally, Gennett would be a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, but until he can prove to be a steady player, he will have to share time. Herrera is strictly a backup who is versatile enough to play second, third and the outfield, a nice piece to have on the roster.


Depth chart: Hernan Perez, Herrera.

The skinny: When the Brewers claimed Perez off waivers from the Detroit Tigers, they picked up a utility infielder hitting .061 with no homers and no RBIs in 34 plate appearances. Perez came to the Brewers and initially split time with Gennett at second and filled in for Aramis Ramirez at third before Ramirez was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Possibly because of a reunion with Brewers hitting coach Darnell Coles, who was on the Tigers’ staff in 2014, Perez has been a solid hitter for the Crew and is no slouch defensively. But the one drawback is Perez doesn’t produce any power, with one homer in 63 games this season and just two in 129 games in his career. Not good for a guy who typically plays corner infield spots.

The future: Third base is the biggest gaping wound for the Brewers entering the offseason. Ramirez had already said he would retire after this season and there were no moves to find an heir apparent during the season. There are also no obvious solutions on the roster or in the minors. So the Brewers will have to find a free agent (not a great crop this year) or make a trade to fill the hot corner void in 2016, preferably a left-handed bat. Power shouldn’t be a priority here with what the Brewers return, but it wouldn’t hurt. A player who can hit for average would be a big addition.


Depth chart: Jean Segura

The skinny: Segura is a puzzling case. He was an All-Star during his first full season in the bigs in 2013, he struggled partly due to the death of his infant son in 2014 and has been enigmatic in 2015. His .262 batting average is almost in the middle between his 2013 (.294) and 2014 (.246) marksbut his OPS of .610 is slightly below last year’s .614. Segura is a modest threat on the basepaths, notching another 20-steal season (he had 44 in 2013 when he was an All-Star). The right-handed hitter strikes out too much (he will likely set a career high this year) for someone suited to one of the top two spots in the order, but he is not alone in that stat on this team. Defensively, Segura shows flashes of brilliance, but he already has 15 errors, one off his career worst, with all of September to play. Curiously, it sometimes seems Segura plays without a lot of detectable passion. It could be just part of who he is.

The future: This is where things could be interesting for the Brewers. They have as many as three options in the minors who could be in the majors next season. Now who plays short and who platoons at second is something to figure out. When Segura was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in the Zack Greinke deal in 2012, it was thought Segura might be suited long term for either second or third. Splitting him between the two spots could be a motivational tool as the candidates for shortstop are superior defensively but could be questions offensively at the beginning.


Depth chart: Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Domingo Santana, Shane Peterson, Logan Schaefer.

The skinny: Ideally, this category should be broken into left, center and right field breakdowns, but because of the trade of center fielder Carlos Gomez, things all across the outfield are up in the air — with options at the corners but a hole in center. Braun, a right fielder, is a perennial All-Star and the Brewers’ biggest power source. His average and homers are down this year, possibly due to missing significant time the last two seasons due to a thumb injury (and performance-enhancing drug suspension). The offseason procedure (and follow-up in-season treatment) have kept Braun in the lineup, but how has that affected his numbers? Is this year a mirage? Davis has one talent — power. As he has shown in August with 13 homers, he can be an offensive force. But that production hasn’t been there consistently, something that you get with a slugger, especially a young one. Defensively, Davis is pigeon-holed into left field due to a weak throwing arm. Santana was acquired in the Gomez trade with the Houston Astros and early glimpses are promising. Not only does he hit for power, but he appears to be patient at the plate, although he does strike out a lot. At Triple-A this year, he hit for a high average. He has shown the athleticism to be able to play center (put there to get playing time), but is better-suited for the corners. Peterson has played in center since the Gomez trade, but he doesn’t bring any dynamic tools to lock down the position long term. He plays good defense and has had some key hits. Schaefer still has not established himself as an everyday player despite several opportunities to do so.

The future: What to do? What to do? Santana is definitely in the mix to be in the everyday lineup in 2016. But where? Depends on other roster decisions. While possible, it is unlikely that the Brewers go into next year with an outfielder of Davis in left, Santana in center and Braun in right. The Brewers could get a big haul if they find someone to take Braun, whose five-year, $105 million extension kicks in next year. That would be huge financially but also a risk considering Braun’s statistical history, which includes the PED suspension. Trading Davis would bring a lesser haul, but also be less risky as Santana seems to be an upgrade over Davis. Another option would be to trade Lind and move one of these three to first base (Braun is a former third baseman, so he makes the most sense although he has the best outfield arm). Lind wouldn’t bring a major haul, either. Center field is also a big question mark. The Brewers have a top prospect in the minors who is projected to be a dynamic player, but he might not be ready at the beginning of next season. There are no other perfect candidates in the system, so the Opening Day center fielder is likely to come from free agency or a trade. However, it should only be a short-term solution considering what the Brewers have coming up. Peterson appears a keeper as a backup outfielder. Due to his lack of production, Schaefer might not be back with the Brewers at any level in 2016. At worst, he will be brought back to play in Triple-A as the outfield depth in the minors is lacking.


Depth chart: Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Cravy.

The skinny: Lohse and Garza have been extremely disappointing as the Nos. 1 and 2 starters this year, with Lohse losing his rotation spot and Garza seemingly on the verge of the same. Peralta did not build off of his very solid 2014, but shows flashes of being at least a No. 2 starter while once in a while putting up a clunker. Nelson, who added a spike curveball this year, has been the most consistent starter and has been even better in the second half during his first full season in the majors. The 2010 second-round draft pick is also a promising top-of-the-rotation candidate. Jungmann has been the surprise of the season. A first-round choice in 2011, he had been an underperformer based on his minor-league numbers but has flourished in the majors. He has the Brewers’ only complete game to go along with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts. Cravy had a terrific major-league debut, but has struggled otherwise in limited action.

The future: Nelson and Peralta are locks for the rotation in 2016, with Jungmann being given a very good shot. Lohse is a free agent and unlikely to return, while Garza remains under contract for another two years (and $25 million) with an option for 2018. The new GM would be wise to deal Garza, who remains maddeningly inconsistent. Perhaps a change of scenery is all that is needed. Dealing Garza would perhaps allow the Brewers to pursue a big-name free agent to anchor the rotation and allow Nelson and Peralta to slot in at Nos. 2 and 3. Jungmann could be a No. 4 or 5. Another free agent on a one-year deal could be an option for the other slot if Garza is dealt. When Lohse and Garza were signed, they weren’t young starters. That should be the focus of any rotation signing.


Depth chart: Francisco Rodriguez, Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith, Cory Knebel, Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg, David Goforth, Cesar Jimenez.

The skinny: The Brewers’ bullpen has been steady this season and sets up to be even better in the coming years. K-Rod is an established closer who is younger than many think as he is just 33. He isn’t always a lockdown closer, but he is a top-five closer on a contending team. Jeffress, a potential future closer, and Smith, a left-hander, are very good setup men and very much under club control contractually and provide good matchup choices for Counsell. Knebel and Blazek took good steps this year to being fixtures in the bullpen. Both are hard throwers who need to limit walks. Thornburg is a former starter who has done well in a relief role the last two seasons. Goforth has been a closer in the minors and still looking to establish himself in the majors. Jimenez was recently acquired off waivers and is another lefty option.

The future: The trio of K-Rod, Jeffress and Smith is fine, but the Brewers could make it even better and flexible by acquiring another late-inning reliever. A lefty would make sense to keep Smith from having to pitch all of the high-intensity matchups against left-handed hitters. After that, you are talking about three or four spots, depending on if you go get another late-inning guy. Knebel, Blazek and Thornburg are definitely capable of filling those roles. The bullpen is is decent shape and a focus on limiting walks would help the group improve. A tweak here or there could help with a young rotation.

Don’t expect much from Brewers’ September call-ups

As the calendar counts down to September, there are two things Milwaukee Brewers fans are looking forward to: the end of this disastrous season and September call-ups.

While many fans are already constructing offseason trades and signings to get the Crew back on track for 2016, the core of the future lies in the farm system. But how much of that future will the Brewers be able to bring to The Show in September?

Not much.

For those looking for a month with shortstop Orlando Arcia, center fielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez, you will be disappointed. First, the regular season for minor-league teams doesn’t happen until Sept. 7. Second, the Biloxi Shuckers, the Brewers’ shiny new Double-A affiliate where Arcia, Phillips and Lopez are, won a first-half division title in the Southern League and will be involved in the playoffs, likely adding one, if not two weeks to their minor-league assignment. After all, why blow up the Biloxi roster when the Brewers have created so much good there in the first season on the Gulf Coast.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few prospects the Brewers won’t take a look at in September. Just look to Colorado Springs, the Triple-A affiliate who has the second-worst record in the Pacific Coast League.

The two most intriguing names are outfielder Domingo Santana and right-hander Zach Davies. Call-ups must be put on the 40-man roster and the Brewers have three openings there following their deadline dealings. Santana, however, is already on the 40-man. Davies would need to be added, a move lame-duck general manager Doug Melvin has already indicated would happen.

Santana has already appeared in the majors this season, when injuries prompted the Houston Astros to bring him up. In 14 games, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-handed hitter hit .256 with two home runs and eight RBIs. He also had a cameo in 2014, going 0-for-18. But in Triple-A with the Astros and Brewers this season, Santana — already the Crew’s No. 4 prospect — is mashing. He is batting .326 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 88 games.

Santana, who just turned 23, is a corner outfielder and figures to see more time in left as he pushes enigmatic Khris Davis and an occasional start in right for All-Star Ryan Braun. He is a middle-of-the-order bat who has generally hit for a good average. Santana, who has a strong arm and also strikes out quite a bit, will go to spring training next year with a shot to be the starter in left.

While Santana appears to be an imposing force, Davies — acquired from the Baltimore Orioles — is the complete opposite.

At 6-foot and 160 pounds, Davies looks more like a batboy than a major-league pitcher — but that look will give him an edge as he breaks into The Show. With his slight build, Davies, 22, is as expected a control pitcher and his change-up is one of the best in the minors, helping him strike out 91 in 111.1 innings between Triple-A Norfolk and Colorado Springs. He has a 3.07 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.

Davies, the Brewers’ No. 11 prospect, figures to slot into the back end of a rotation, but could move up if he develops Greg Maddux-like control.

Another intriguing player likely to be promoted is third baseman Matt Dominguez, who has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons with the Marlins and Astros. Dominguez was once a highly touted prospect, taken 12th overall int he 2007 draft by the Marlins, but he couldn’t stay in the majors once he got there due to his low batting average.

Dominguez, 25, is on the 40-man roster and brings power and defense, hitting .254 with six homers and 45 RBIs between Triple-A Fresno and Colorado Springs. The Brewers claimed Dominguez off waivers from the Astros on June 16.

Any other call-ups that happen immediately will be simple roster bolstering. Those will likely include reliever Brandon Kintzler and possibly former Brewers closer Jim Henderson, as well as infielder Luis Sardinas, catcher Juan Centeno and first baseman Matt Clark. Henderson is the only one who would have to be added to the 40-man roster.

If Davies and Henderson are added to the 40-man, that leaves one more spot on the 40-man for a September call-up. If Biloxi gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Arcia — perhaps the Brewers’ starting shortstop next year — is the most likely candidate to come up as a reward for his stellar season.

So as you can see, Santana and Davies are the headliners for call-ups, but even among the other names mentioned, only Arcia is likely to make Brewers fans salivate. Not all of these players will necessarily be called up as carrying upwards of 35 players is cumbersome.

Brewers should strike quickly and land Dombrowski

Baseball is about talent acquisition. After all, why would the Brewers go out and grab two outfield prospects at the trade deadline when three of their top five prospects at the time were outfielders?

Because there is always someone better. Unless you have Mike Trout, of course.

Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana slotted in to the Nos. 2 and 4 slots in the updated MLBPipeline Top 30, moving just-drafted Trent Clark to No. 3, toolsy Tyrone Taylor to No. 5 and converted catcher Clint Coulter to No. 7.

Which brings us to the Brewers’ front office.

Doug Melvin has been rumored to be moving from the role of general manager to team president. Makes sense. Melvin is 62 (he turns 63 Saturday) and a good baseball man who has earned the right to hold bigger position within the organization he has been with since 2002, some of the darkest days in Brewers history.

Melvin has made the Brewers relevant, with playoff appearances in 2008 and 2011, the latter ending in the NL Championship Series just a step away from the World Series. This season has been an aberration under Melvin’s watch, a team underperforming at disappointing levels up and down the roster.

What will owner Mark Attanasio do? While the Crew doesn’t have the financial flexibility of the Los Angeles Dodgers — a team the owner sees quite a bit considering his home base is L.A. — he should take a cue from Hollywood’s team and build a super front office.

Andrew Friedman was poached from the small-market Tampa Bay Rays and is president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi came from the small-market Oakland A’s and is a GM for the first time and Josh Byrnes is an ex-GM who is senior vice president for baseball operations. Ex-Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is still on board as a special advisor, albeit likely only as a figurehead.

They all report to Stan Kasten, a baseball savant who has been involved at various levels of teams not only in Major League Baseball, but also the the NBA and the NHL.

So what does this mean for the Brewers? The Detroit Tigers on Tuesday cut ties with Dave Dombrowski, their president and GM since 2002 whose contract was up after the season.

Dombrowski needs to be the leader of a revamped Brewers front office, which would include Melvin and possibly his top assistant, Gord Ash.

Dombrowski, 59, had previously been GM of the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins, using strong drafting to build farm systems that allowed the teams with tighter budgets to compete at the top level. He has worked with deeper pockets with the Tigers and their go-for-it owner, Mike Ilitch.

Attanasio, likewise, is a go-for-it owner. He has paid to keep the Brewers in contention, authorizing budget-busting moves by Melvin. (Little-known fact: The Brewers had payrolls of more than $100 million to begin 2014 and ’15, while nearing that figure in 2012.) So this is the perfect time to recraft the front office — and on the Brewers’ terms.

Attanasio should be on the phone now to get into the ear of Dombrowski, a well-respected baseball mind. His experience, Melvin’s knowledge of the Brewers’ system and the influx of new thoughts by a new GM could have the Crew on a high level for the next decade. Not very often do the stars align where you can drastically improve your club without a ton of competition (it should be noted that Dombrowski could also be a great fit in the Commissioner’s Office for any number of roles or as the czar of the Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox, who both will have their president roles open this offseason).

It’s time for a talent upgrade.

Trades have Brewers already looking toward 2016

Sure, you can’t project a starting lineup for Opening Day 2016 when August has just begun, but with all the moves at the trade deadline, next year is what the Milwaukee Brewers are looking at from here on out. Here is a way-too-early look at where the Brewers stand going into next year:

General manager: Doug Melvin is rumored to be moving out of the GM position and more into an overseer role with the Brewers. Behind the support of owner Mark Attanasio, Melvin has made the Brewers into a stable franchise that has probably overachieved with the way it has contended over the seven seasons before this one. A move to an up-and-coming GM could help the Crew take the next step.

Manager: Craig Counsell signed a three-year contract when he took over after Ron Roenicke was fired at the beginning of May following a 7-18 start. The Brewers have gone 37-43 since (including Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs). The length of the contract was surprising, but Counsell is a no-nonsense manager who follows the trend of ex-players jumping right into the role without managerial experience at any level. His job will be tough in the final two months, but he will also see who fits best into the Crew’s future and who the problem players are.

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy is an excellent defender who might have peaked in 2014 with his offensive production (.301 average, 51 doubles). Martin Maldonado is a career backup. Lucroy gets bonus points due to his leadership. He is the quiet fire to this team who likely works hard behind the scenes to counsel and motivate his teammates. Lucroy, 29, is under contract through 2016 with an option for 2017. The Brewers are devoid of prospect catchers, so keeping Lucroy is vital.

First base: Adam Lind has been exactly what the Brewers were hoping for when they traded spot starter Marco Estrada to the Toronto Blue Jays for the left-handed hitter. He likely won’t reach 30 homers this year, but it is a mark the Crew should expect out of him next year if they choose to exercise their option on his $8 million contract for 2016.

Second base: Scooter Gennett was given the chance to be the everyday starter entering the season after hitting .289 in 2014 (his first full year in the bigs), but his offense was so bad early in the season that he was sent to Triple-A to work on his game. Ideally, Gennett would be a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, but he isn’t a stolen base threat or have surprising power and still often sits against left-handers, which means he is more of a No. 7 or 8 hitter. His defense is passable, but Gennett needs to step up or face a platoon situation.

Shortstop: Jean Segura was an NL All-Star in his first full season in the bigs in 2013, but 2014 saw him endure on- and off-field issues. His average dipped from .294 in 2013 to .246 in 2014 and he was overall just a lack of an offensive force last year. Segura also had to deal with the midseason death of his 1-year-old son, which obviously had to affect his performance in the second half. Segura has shown flashes defensively, but also seems to have a lackadaisical way about him. Maybe it is just how he is. In 2016, Segura is likely to face competition for the starting job or a position switch. His stocky frame has prompted many scouts to say he is suited for third base, which would fill a need for the Crew after Aramis Ramirez was traded. Waiting in the wings is Orlando Arcia, who is likely to be the organization’s minor-league Player of the Year for his performance at Double-A Biloxi. Arcia already had the glove to play in the majors, but this season is showing he can be a leader offensively. I expect Arcia to be the starter in 2016, with Segura moving to third — at least the way the roster is currently constructed. Luis Sardinas is likely to also be up and be the utility infielder, giving Counsell three excellent defenders at short. Yadiel Rivera, who has split time between short and second at Double-A and Triple-A this year, could be in the mix, too. The Brewers are deep at shortstop and it is likely a place where they can deal from in the offseason.

Third base: This is the wild-card spot for the Brewers. Hernan Perez is receiving the bulk of the playing time after the Ramirez trade and he has a decent average, but doesn’t drive anyone in. He is solid defensively, a good pickup by Melvin after he was waived by the Tigers. But he is purely a stopgap solution. At this point, there are no impact third basemen hitting the free-agent market this offseason, so either the Brewers fill from within or make a trade, the latter option is more likely. As mentioned previously, I see Segura being moved to third with Arcia taking over at short. Perez becomes a utility infielder who can play first, second and third.

Left field: Khris Davis is a one-trick pony — and he hasn’t been flashing that much magic this year. His only tool is power. After hitting 22 homers in 501 at-bats in 2013, his first full season in the bigs, injuries and the hot-hitting Gerardo Parra has hit seven homers in 194 at-bats entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. So his power has dipped slightly and his average is at .237, after a .244 mark last year. He is also an iffy defender who has a weak arm. Domingo Santana, acquired from Houston in the Carlos Gomez-Mike Fiers trade, is a power bat who hits for a decent average. Santana got a taste of the majors this year, cracking a pair of homers in 14 games. He also brings a strong arm, making him a candidate for either corner outfield spot. Like Davis, Santana will strike out a fair amount. Santana will be given a shot to platoon with Davis in left next year.

Center field: Gomez’s departure makes this a free-for-all spot. No one on the major-league roster profiles as a center fielder, but there are two prospects who could be ready to make the jump next year. Brett Phillips, the key prospect acquired from the Astros in the Gomez-Fiers deal, is a legit star in the making. He already hit for average and has speed, but now he has developed excellent pop. Tyrone Taylor was the Crew’s second-round pick in 2012 and seemed to be Gomez’s heir apparent until Phillips came along. Both will get strong looks in spring training, but Phillips — a sixth-round pick in 2012 — appears to be further advanced, understandable considering Taylor was also a highly regarded running back coming out of high school. Unless Phillips, a lefty hitter who could bat leadoff, struggles in spring training, expect him to be patrolling center at Miller Park in 2016, perhaps with a veteran backup.

Right field: Ryan Braun hasn’t been an MVP-caliber player since following up winning the award in 2011 with a similar 2012 season statistically while under the shroud of performance-enhancing drug use. Unfortunately, 2016 is when his five-year, $105 million contract kicks in. Braun has been solid powerwise this year after dealing with a nagging thumb injury in 2013 and 2014. Ideally, Braun raises his batting average to the .300 level, which hopefully would lead to a few more homers. He should be a 30-homer guy, at the least, on a yearly basis, but will struggle to get there this year, especially as the Crew struggles to finish this year and he is their offensive centerpiece. A trade would free up cash to pursue free agents, especially considering only Lucroy is deserving of an extension at this juncture.

Starting rotation: Kyle Lohse will be a free agent, leaving Matt Garza, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson as the only locks for 2016. Taylor Jungmann, a disappointment in the minors since being a first-round draft choice in 2011, has shined since coming up in June and will be in the mix for the other two spots. Tyler Cravy and Tyler Wagner, who each had standout performances in their debut seasons, will be considered along with Jorge Lopez, who is dominating at Double-A, and Zach Davies, acquired from Baltimore for outfielder Gerardo Parra, are other top candidates, while left-hander Josh Hader will get a long look in spring training. Ideally, the Brewers are able to trade Garza in the offseason, but they go out and splurge on a No. 1 starter such as Jordan Zimmermann, a Wisconsin native currently with the Washington Nationals. A rotation of Zimmerman-Peralta-Nelson-Jungmann-Davies wouldn’t suck.

Bullpen: Not much work to be done here. Closer Francisco Rodriguez returns, with Jeremy Jeffress and lefty Will Smith in setup roles, and Tyler Thornburg, Corey Knebel, Michael Blazek and Brandon Kintzler in middle relief. Johnny Hellweg — acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in the Zach Greinke deal that also yielded Segura — Wagner or Cravy could be the long reliever. Neal Cotts is a free agent and the other lefty in the bullpen, so a free-agent southpaw could be looked at.

Summary: Depending on how aggressive the new GM is — and based on Attanasio’s track record, I would imagine the GM will be smart and aggressive — a couple subtle moves and one big-ticket item could have the Brewers in the thick of things in 2016.