I came into this season with some cautious optimism. I actually quite liked the rotation the Brewers had and I really liked the bullpen. I thought the lineup had real potential assuming the reemergence of Ryan Braun. I wasn't entirely wrong but too many things went wrong and the end result were sweeping changes to the franchise after one of the worst seasons in team history.
The Brewers finished with a 68-94 record on the season. That is the worst record since the Brewers finished 67-94 in 2004. For those curious the worst season was 2002 when they finished with a 56-106 record. That's only 100 loss season in franchise history. So, things could have been worse I guess.
The worst month of the season by far was April. The Brewers went 5-17 that month which pretty much sealed their fate and Ron Roenicke's too. I still think it was an all around dumb move to fire him when they did. If they were going to cut ties with him after less than 30 games they should never have brought him back in the first place. But it doesn't really matter.
I still maintain a healthy Brewers team would have fared a good deal better. But three of their best players battled injury all season. Jonathan Lucroy was sent to the DL for over a month after taking a foul ball off his toe. Then he received a concussion towards the end of the season. Ryan Braun dealt with back a back injury and his recurring thumb problem. This offseason he'll require back surgery which is a scary thought. And Carlos Gomez seemed to be dealing with bumps and bruises from Day 1.
They also lost Wily Peralta to an intercostal strain for an extended period of time. Even after returning he never seemed to get back on track which was disappointing to see. The initial injury was something of a blessing in disguise though as it helped bring about the emergence of Taylor Jungmann.
His season goes to show that not everything about 2015 was bad for the Brewers. After struggling in Colorado Springs (59.1 IP, 6.37 ERA, 3.89 FIP) he put together an encouraging rookie season. At the major league level in 119.1 IP he posted a 3.77 ERA and 3.92 FIP. That's pretty solid and is just a great example of why we shouldn't give up on prospects too easily.
I'd like to point out Jonathan Lucroy's season isn't quite as bad as it might look on the surface. Before he broke his toe he had gotten off to a rough start. He hit 133/216/178 in 51 plate appearances--12 games. People lost their damn minds. He missed the last week of April and all of May so people had plenty of time to focus on their doom and gloom prophecies about Lucroy.
However after returning from the DL in 364 PA he hit 282/342/420. Not only that but he got better as the season went on. In June he hit 278/319/352. In July he hit 283/350/424. And in August he hit 262/343/512. He only logged 42 PA in Sept/Oct because of the concussion but still hit a respectable 333/378/405. All signs point to a return to offensive potency for Lucroy and that should assuage any fears going into next season.
The best part of this season were all the improvements to the farm system. Players like Orlando Arcia, Jorge Lopez, Michael Reed, and others improved their stock or at least held their stock. The draft was largely a success especially the additions of Trent Clark, Demi Orimoloye, and Cody Ponce. Then came the trades.
The Brewers shipped Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Broxton, Neal Cotts, Mike Fiers, Gerardo Parra, and Carlos Gomez out of town. In return they got a solid package of prospects. Most notably were Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, and Zach Davies. The latter two spent time with the major league club leaving a positive impression.
Domingo Santana earned a starting role with the Brewers almost immediately. He hit 231/345/421 with 6 home runs in just 145 PA with the Brewers. That's good for a 110 wRC+ which isn't bad considering it was his first real exposure to major league pitching and he was playing out of position most of the time.
Zach Davies made 6 starts with the Crew throwing 34 innings. He posted a 3.71 ERA and 3.81 FIP. This was also his first time pitching at the major league level. He finished with 2 consecutive outings allowing 0 runs. I'd say that puts him as the front runner for the fifth rotation spot next year.
In a year where a lot went wrong, a lot went right too. As disappointing as it is to see the team perform so poorly we shouldn't forget that. They made a lot of positive steps towards right the ship not the least of which was hiring David Stearns to replace Doug Melvin. Things are looking up and hopefully that will continue through the winter.