As was the case for many other teams who won’t be enjoying a postseason berth, Brewers GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell spoke with the media to break down the 2016 season and look ahead to the winter. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted the pertinent comments.
Despite a dismal record (73-89), Milwaukee had many bright spots this year. That means the coming offseason likely won’t see quite as much turnover as occurred last winter, Stearns suggests and McCalvy tweets. There also won’t be any turnover in the coaching staff, with Counsell and all his field staff set to return, per another McCalvy tweet. An extension for Counsell, whose contract runs through next season, is also a possibility, writes Mike Bauman of MLB.com.
“Craig has gotten the most out of this team, and I feel very good about that,” Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said of Counsell, who took the helm in May 2015 after the firing of Ron Roenicke.
In addition to the coaching staff, Chris Carter will likely be back, the Brewers’ GM suggested (via a Haudricourt tweet). His 41 home runs make him a rather easy choice to return as the team’s primary first baseman, though they’ll also drive a big increase in his arbitration earnings. Carter earned a $2.5MM base salary, with $500K in incentives also triggered, after joining the Brewers via free agency. He is controllable in 2018 as well.
Infielder Jonathan Villar’s position is unsettled, says Counsell, but he’ll certainly have a place after an immensely promising campaign (Twitter links via Haudricourt). The 25-year-old put up a .285/.369/.457 slash and contributed 19 home runs with 62 stolen bases. He led the majors in that last mark, though he also led the league in being caught 18 times on the bases. Counsell explains that the team pushed players’ limits on the bases this year, as McCalvy tweets, calling it a “necessary” step in driving the organization forward.
Fellow 25-year-old Hernan Perez wasn’t nearly as productive overall, but he provides value through his versatility, Counsell adds. He swiped 34 bags of his own while batting .272/.302/.428 over 430 plate appearances on the year. With solid glovework, Perez was worth an even two wins above replacement by measure of Baseball-Reference.com, and won’t even be arb-eligible until 2018.
There are, of course, some places to improve as Milwaukee builds back toward contention. As I advocated in assessing the team’s three chief needs, dealing star outfielder Ryan Braun at a peak in his value may well be a way to drive the rebuild forward. Stearns was understandably noncommittal on the point. “We’ll see what happens,” he said with regard to Braun (via Haudricourt, on Twitter).