This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.

By Matt Bruce

This is my second year on the GM Project. Last year I correctly saw that Cleveland could go for a title without breaking up its amazing rotation; too bad my title plan was built around Justin Upton. But let’s turn the page.

Milwaukee has been bad for awhile but the farm system is stacked and there’s enough young talent that the Brewers should contend from 2018 onward. It’s worth being ready for the “everything goes right a year early” scenario, and even worth raising the ceiling of what “everything goes right” actually means.

For any team/owner in this simulation, the most important things to figure out are (1) how good/young your team is, (2) how much money you have to play with, (3) where your positional weaknesses are, (4) who your albatross contracts are, and maybe (5) where you have more depth than you need.

1. The Brewers are young and not good, but probably good soon.
2. I had a $79M budget and my first-pass payroll showed that I had at least $12M to play with.
3. Lots of rotation question marks. Also, Scooter Gennett shouldn’t be an every-day player. (He is a fine human being.) In real life Milwaukee brass had already indicated that Villar would not play 3B. So where would he play (2B, right?), and who would play 3B?
4. Ryan Braun and Matt Garza – but dropping payroll wouldn’t be critical unless I landed a high impact player.
5. Villar, if you see him as a shortstop. Nobody inquired about him though.

I was reactive, not proactive, on trade talks. Oakland reached out to me in case the opportunity to shed Garza’s contact was worth losing Keon Broxton. (No thank you.) I reached out to the Dodgers because the real-life-rumored Braun/Puig deal made so much sense for both teams.

Justin Turner was the best player at my biggest area of position player need. The most it made sense for Milwaukee to pay him happened to be just enough to land him. This is second-guessable if you think Villar should play 3B with a Gennett/Perez platoon at 2B. Be that as it may, I went to bed Tuesday night with a FA signing and big trade in hand and exactly at budget.

Oakland reached out to me again, floating Stephen Vogt. Catching wasn’t a critical need for the Brewers (with Susac now and prospect(s) later) but even with Vogt the Brewer batting order leans far to the right.

LINEUP
(vs. most RHP)
1. 2B Jonathan Villar (S)
2. 3B Justin Turner (R)
3. C Stephen Vogt (L)
4. 1B Chris Carter (R)
5. OF Domingo Santana (R)
6. OF Yasiel Puig (R)
7. OF Keon Broxton (R)
8. SS Orlando Arcia (R)

Puig and Broxton are both high-ceiling, low-floor. With Lewis Brinson coming up mid-season, either might be deadline trade-bait.

BENCH
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L)
OF Rymer Liriano (R)
IF Scooter Gennett (L)
IF James Loney (L)
C Andrew Susac (R)

Gennett, Nieuwenhuis, and Loney (a NRI) will all get some starts against tough righties. Conversely Susac will spell Vogt against southpaws. Villar covers short or third on days that Gennett spells Turner or Arcia.

ROTATION
1. Zach Davies (R)
2. Brandon McCarthy (R)
3. Junior Guerra (R)
4. Matt Garza (R)
5. [Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, or Wily Peralta]

Remember when Wily Peralta won 17 games and nearly pitched 200 innings at a 3.5 ERA? At $4M he is a tempting non-tender candidate. (Truth be told I missed the non-tender deadline.) The spin here is that he owns the skills he’s shown before, ditto for Anderson and Nelson.

Josh Hader may make the 5th starter battle moot by midseason, with Phil Bickford ready in 2018. If the Puig/Braun deal ever does happen in real life, a pitching prospect or two (blocked by Kershaw and company) probably comes along.

BULLPEN
CL. Tyler Thornburg (R)
2. Carlos Torres (R)
3. Rob Scahill (R)
4. Brent Suter (L)
5. Corey Knebel (R)
[plus two of the fifth starter candidates]

Suter, Sean Nolin (Tommy John surgery), and Chris Capuano (free agent) were the only LHP on the Brewers’ 40-man after 2016. Two southpaw NRIs, Rzepczynski and O’Flaherty, have a good shot at bullpen spots, possibly squeezing out someone who loses the 5th starter battle.

OUTLOOK
This is a 75-win team with better times ahead. If Puig rediscovers his MVP form, if Broxton continues to hit like Giancarlo Stanton (and run like Dee Gordon), if Santana and Arcia take steps forward, if McCarthy is healthy again… too many if’s to count on anything, but hope sells tickets and this franchise has a path to success.

Name H/P Pos’n ML Srv Agent Length / Total Value 2016 2017
Turner, Justin H 3b         $12.00
Puig, Yasiel H of         $8.21
Carter, Chris H dh-1b 3.159 Spts Mgt Partners 1 yr/$2.5M (16) $2,500,000 $8.10
Vogt, Stephen H c         $3.70
Gennett, Scooter H 2b-ss 2.071 ISE Baseball 1 yr/$0.5181M (16) $518,100 $3.00
Nieuwenhuis, Kirk H cf-lf 2.112 Paragon Sports 1 yr/$0.514M (16) $514,000 $1.60
Santana, Domingo H rf 0.079 Wasserman Media 1 yr/$0.5138M (16) $513,800 $0.55
Villar, Jonathan H ss 1.113 MDR Sports 1 yr/$0.5129M (16) $512,900 $0.55
Broxton, Keon H of 0.014   1 yr/$0.5085M (16) $508,500 $0.55
Liriano, Rymer H of 0.049 ISE 1 yr/$0.5085M (16) $508,500 $0.51
Arcia, Orlando H ss 0   1 yr (16)   $0.55
Susac, Andrew H c 1.065 Legacy Agency 1 yr (16)   $0.55
Rivera, Yadiel H ss 0.013   1 yr/$0.5086M (16) $508,600 $0.51
Garza, Matt P rhp-s 8.149 CAA Sports 4 yr/$50M (14-17)+18 v opt $12,500,000 $12.50
McCarthy, Brandon P           $11.50
Peralta, Wily P rhp-s 3.033 Legacy Agency 1 yr/$2.8M (16) $2,800,000 $4.40
Anderson, Chase P rhp 1.146 Lagardere Sports 1 yr/$0.5202M (16) $520,200 $3.10
Thornburg, Tyler P rhp-s 2.057 ACES 1 yr/$0.5139M (16) $513,900 $2.20
Torres, Carlos P rhp 3.114 Full Circle Sports 1 yr/$0.95M (16) $950,000 $2.00
Scahill, Rob P rhp 1.147 Marc Kligman 1 yr/$0.5325M (16)   $0.55
Nelson, Jimmy P rhp-s 1.107 CAA Sports 1 yr/$0.5223M (16) $522,300 $0.55
Knebel, Corey P rhp 0.166 Excel Sports 1 yr/$0.513M (16) $513,000 $0.55
Davies, Zach P rhp 0.034   1 yr (16)   $0.55
Guerra, Junior P rhp 0.024   1 yr (16)   $0.55
Suter, Brent P lhp 0   1 yr (16)   $0.51
TOTAL – MIL Z       2016 total as of 4/4/16 $50,383,300 $79.34
              ($0.34)

14 comments on “GM Project 2016-17: Milwaukee Brewers

  • Brian Joura

    I would have preferred to see your free agent money spent on a pitcher. I know it wasn’t a particularly good FA class of starters but there had to have been options out there better than Matt Garza.

    I had the Brewers last year and I made getting a platoon partner for Gennett one of my priorities. But I just checked his 2016 splits and they weren’t bad last year. Perhaps nothing more than a one-year fluke.

    You also had the Indians in Year 2 after I had them in Year 1. So, I guess you should expect the Angels next year…

    • Matt Bruce

      Not to spoil future writeups but it looks like Cashner was the cheapest reasonably good FA pitcher at 12.5, with Nova, Hellickson, and Rich Hill all going in the 14-17 range. I am either too bullish on Turner (I imagine the regulars here wish the Mets front office had seen what I see) or too bearish on those guys. There’s definitely a value vs. need tradeoff.

      Milwaukee in real life is fantastic at finding the Junior Guerras of the world.

      • Brian Joura

        The top level was not good and people paid too much, in my opinion.

        But I’m thinking someone like Henderson Alvarez or Bartolo Colon or Doug Fister or Jason Hammel would have provided more bang than Turner. But it’s not a major criticism.

  • Jonathan Williams

    I’m surprised you didn’t get more for Braun. It sounds like you only got Puig. I would have expected a gang of second tier prospects to come with him. A Brock Stewart would look pretty good in the rotation.
    BTW, Petals actually pitched really well down the stretch. I think he could be a breakout in 2017.

    • Matt Bruce

      Puig and McCarthy for Braun. You’re right that the deal ought to include some prospects (quantity over quality) going to Mil.

  • Matt Bruce

    After I’d wrapped this up MLBTR posted a provocative take on whether to non tender Carter! (8M in arb is steep for a slugger with on base issues and maybe a hole or two in his swing. It’s hard to be terrible and hit 40 HR though.)

    If Carter is cut loose then Peralta and Gennett also look like good non tenders. If the Brewers did all that and traded Braun’s contract, that would leave some serious cash for… pure profit? Acquiring a David Price or two in trade?

    • Brian Joura

      FWIW, FanGraphs had him earning $7.1 million last year. Probably not worth the PR hit they would take if they actually did it.

      • Name

        There’s 1000 WAR combined amongst all players. Fangraphs uses a bogus 8 mil value per WAR. That would imply that there’s 8 billion in dollars that’s available to given out in salaries.

        The actual combined salaries earned by all players last year? ~4.3 billion

        And this doesn’t consider the fact that WAR is interval data and not ratio data. Just like how 100 degrees isn’t twice as hot as 50 degrees, 2 WAR is not twice as valuable as 1 WAR. Therefore, using a linear scale for valuation makes zero sense.

        Stop using that “value” piece of horseshit produced by Fangraphs

        • Brian Joura

          Edit:

          1. You criticize the stat and it’s clear you don’t understand what it’s measuring.
          2. Do not tell me what to use and what not to use.

  • Eraff

    The only Open Market for players is Free Agency. Although the Calculated “Value” for WAR always seems high to Me, I believe you’d need to weight such a calculation using that “Open Market” as a heavy factor….and I don’t know the full formulation for the calculation. I don’t think it’s a verfy useful stat for shopping for players, but it does pin some $$$’s on the market behavior, which is insteresting.

    Syndergaard earned $535,000 for 5.3 WAR in 2016…Cole Hamels earned 23 million for 5 WAR. It’s an incredibly skewed market with low intro rates at the bottom and incredible scarcity driving the Salaries at the top. If you’re asking “what would I have to pay?”, you’d need to focus on the market of players that you could buy— the Free Agents.

    • Name

      That value is simply WAR multiplied by some constant.

      It’s a piece of shit no matter how you think they are trying to use it.

      If it’s trying to project FA salaries, it’s terrible because there is clearly a ceiling (and floor) in player salaries. The fact that you are a 7 WAR player compared to a 8 WAR player, you’d be unlikely to be making more than 30-35 million. If you have a negative WAR or zero WAR, if you are on the roster, you can’t make less than the min.

      If it’s trying to quantity how much dollar value the player “Earned” for the team, again it’s crap because of the interval problem i mentioned above. Any semi-intelligent modeler would recognize that a linear regression makes no sense and that the model needed would have to be exponential.

      It’s shit shit shit shit shit and there’s no fucking reason to look at it.

  • David Groveman

    The pitching remains poor and the hitting’s not elite but the team did become more streamlined for rebuilding and that isn’t a bad thing.

    The Justin Turner signing was a good move and a good fit for your team.

    I agree with Brian that adding a starter to the rotation would have helped greatly.

  • TexasGusCC

    Your opening remarks would lead me to believe you would want to establish a bit of momentum going into 2018, but instead I see a lineup that could lose 120 games this year. After Vogt, it is seriously empty. I would have done the Theo Epstein way of trading for a bunch of undervalued players like Puig. How about a Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier, or even Howie Kendrick with Puig? McCarthy isn’t going to help you, but good veterans will. Braun was worth more than just Puig and McCarthy.

    Also, players like Marcel Osuna are reportedly out of favor and could be good starters.

    If one of your kids at the bottom of the order is a leadoff type hitter, why not put him at #2 to gain some experience there and shore up the bottom a bit better?

  • Matt Bruce

    So https://theringer.com/2017-mlb-milwaukee-brewers-unconventional-rebuild-eric-thames-2792b81a93d0 reminded me of this project. This was the second year in a row that I got a team with a lot of upside (previously 2015-16 Indians) and took a relative “buy” approach — also the second year in a row that the team in question did nothing like my moves but came out golden for what they did.

    For 2016 Cleveland it was Napoli being rejuvenated and Tyler Naquin breaking through (but where is he now? alas). For 2017 Milwaukee it’s that they really did non-tender Carter and that Eric Thames’s awesomeness carried over back to the states.

    Anyway one of my favorite things about this project is having a built in rooting interest for the real team the next season.

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