The 2016 baseball season is nearly three months away, but the national Nostradamuses have already penned their quatrains for the year, and they go something like this:
Brewers fans, live in mortal fear,
Your team will struggle again this year.
See it all year in a Facebook meme,
Brew Crew is bad, that is this team.
With apologies to the great 16th century seer, you get the picture...pun intended.
Our own Kyle Lesniewski recently mentioned in a post that Fangraphs has Milwaukee coming in dead last in the National League Central with an uninspiring total of 71 wins. Heck, that makes me wonder if we should even bother following the Brewers this year.
Don't worry, this author has been a fan through good years and bad and will continue that tradition until he can't continue that tradition any longer.
But wait, my crystal ball—cloudy and cracked as it may be—portends a season of great success as early as...2017.
There may be uncertainty for the upcoming season, but the one following will bring joy to Whoville, er, I mean Brew Crew Nation.
All you need to do is study the projected rosters at Class AA and above to realize that quality players are riding buses on the horizon and will arrive in the bigs sooner rather than later. What's that? You want examples?
Let's go position-by-position:
Jonathan Lucroy is the number one backstop and although there are tons of trade rumors, I don't think David Stearns can get enough in return, so 'Luc' will be here in 2017.
I'm not totally sold on Chris Carter—too many Ks and not enough of a slash line—but there is a sleeper in the system. His name? Garrett Cooper. No relation to ex-Brewer hitting machine Cecil, but this Cooper can flat-out hit. Last year at A Advanced Brevard County, Cooper slashed 294/356/436 and got a late season bump-up to AA Biloxi, where he put up 'softball-like' stats: 16-for-29 and a slash line of 552/639/690. That's a small sample size, I know, but still.
If Scooter Gennett could hit southpaws half as good as he can righties (literally), I would pencil his name into the lineup with permanent Magic Marker for the next ten years. But that ain't happening, so the Brewers need a full-time second baseman. Jean Segura, c'mon down! With Orlando Arcia taking over at SS, the Brewers can move Segura back to the keystone and have a double play combo that will flourish for the next decade. We all know what Segura can do at short; let him have some reps at second and we will be singing his praises there as well.
After trotting out Garin Cecchini and Jonathan Villar with mixed results, the Brewers named Colin Walsh as their Opening Day third sacker. Walsh was acquired from Oakland in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft and although he has not played in the bigs, he has hit and reached base at every minor league level. He doesn't have much experience (63 games) at third but should grow into the job. The Brewers are hoping for a .270 batting average and 15 homers and would call that a success.
Orlando Arcia came up late in the 2016 season and immediately grabbed the SS job, moving Segura over to second base. One of the top prospects in the Brewers organization, he is a slick fielder and has ratcheted up his hitting to a similar level. Within a few years, Arcia will have a Gold Glove and should hit near .300 with 25 steals. This is THE exciting player that you all have been waiting for.
The old left fielder is now the new left fielder: Ryan Braun. After failing to move Braun on the trade market, they moved him on the field—from one corner to the other. Khrush Davis was sent to Oakland in a deal that netted the Brewers a 20-y-o pitching 'prospect' languishing in Rookie Ball and a 26 y-o pitcher who had been under the knife for two TJ surgeries.
Leading off and playing center field, number 18, Brett Phillips. The player acquired in the Mike Fiers trade had a monster 2016 campaign at Triple A Colorado Springs and hit .363 in September's call-up. Phillips projects as a 290/350/450 slash guy who can steal 25 bases and play solid defense. Phillips will be 22 years old to start the season, but should offset that youth with his five years of pro experience.
With the move of Braun to left, Domingo Santana takes over in right field. The power-hitting Santana could hit 30 homers in a full season, but might strike out 200 times as well. He is an average defender with a decent arm, so he is a slight upgrade over Davis in the field.
Damien Magnifico has a classic name for a stud closer and certainly performed well in the past in earning his shot as the 9th inning guy in Milwaukee. A twenty-save season for Biloxi in 2015 sent his name higher on the scouting lists and a spectacular (magnificent, even) spring in 2017 put him in the closer's role.
This team, while underrated, will perform well and earn the final wild card spot in the National League on the strength of an 89-win season.
Wait...aw, snap, my cat Hudson just knocked my crystal ball off my cluttered dining room table and it smashed into 132 pieces.
You will just have to wait for 2017 to see what comes next!