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The Milwaukee Brewers are on their way to a losing record and are currently flirting with last place in the N.L. Central. If they expect to compete next season – or even in the next few years – changes to the roster must be made. In all likelihood, GM Doug Melvin will try and get rid of the highly expensive players like Aramis Ramirez and officially start the rebuilding process. With luck on their side, it will be at least three years before the Brewers have a reasonable chance at the playoffs. Building for the future is key.
While there will be a few changes in the lineup, most positions are set in stone, at least for another year. Here’s what I think the Brewers starting lineup will look like in 2014.
This is a given. Jonathon Lucroy, or the new “face of the franchise”, is under contract with the team until at least 2016 and probably far beyond that. Lucroy has transformed into one of top hitting catchers in baseball. He has the ability to hit for power and average and could eventually turn into a 25 home run-a -year guy, which is rare for a catcher.
*1B Mat Gamel
Even though Corey Hart is willing to accept less money to remain with Milwaukee, I don’t see that happening. That means either Mat Gamel or Juan Francisco will be the first baseman. But with Francisco’s defensive struggles at first, Gamel seems the better fit though with returning from two consecutive seasons with a torn ACL, it won’t be easy to make the team. Gamel will have to beat out Hunter Morris in spring training but I see that as a real possibility. 2014 will be season of redemption for the left-handed hitter.
Unless Rickie Weeks is traded – which is doubtful because he is due $11 million – he and Scooter Gennett will platoon in ’14. The Brewers aren’t going to sit a guy to whom they’re paying a Titanic-load of money to but they’re also not going give him the starting job – not with the way Scooter has played this season. Weeks is still a better all-around player than Gennett but I’m pretty sure fans would stage a coup if Roenicke named him the starter.
The Brewers would be smart to trade Aramis Ramirez this offseason. You may be asking who would want the 35-year-old, but I see him fitting perfectly with an American League team in need of a DH. The Brewers won’t get much in return but that’s not the point; unloading his contract is. Besides, Ramirez isn’t in Milwaukee’s future plans, whereas Juan Francisco might be. He has massive power that’s reminiscent of a former Brewers first baseman and his discipline at the plate has started to improve. Francisco will never hit for a high average but he has the potential to hit 30 home runs. Take a look at Mark Trumbo‘s stats and you will see what Francisco is capable of. His defense is a glaring issue but he will have the entire offseason to work on it. Still, with Francisco and Gamel manning the corner positions, Milwaukee’s infield will be pretty weak.
SS Jean Segura
It’s safe to say the Brewers won this trade, right? In Jean Segura, Milwaukee finally has a shortstop who can hit for average and show a little pop. Segura lit up the scorecard in the first half (.325); the second half has been more of a battle (.250) which could be caused by fatigue as is the case with many young players. Fans should be excited about this kid.
LF Ryan Braun
Hate to break it to you, but Ryan Braun will be back in a Brewers uniform come April. Love him or hate him, he’s still the best baseball player in Milwaukee and even without PED’s, Braun will put up MVP-type numbers. I don’t enjoy writing about the Brewers left fielder anymore so if you would like to read more about him, click here.
CF Carlos Gomez
I thought 2012 was a breakout year for Carlos Gomez, but 2013 has been even more fantastic. His .284 batting average and 19 home runs are a career-high despite slowing down in the second half. So far, the Brewers look wise by extending him. Along with his raw power, Gomez is considered one of, if not the best, centerfielders in baseball. He crawls up walls like Spider-Man and makes terrific catches on a daily basis. He’s a fun player to watch.
While I think Milwaukee will pick up Norichika Aoki’s option for 2014, I don’t believe he will finish the season as a Brewer. I think the team will try to move him to a team try to boost its on-base percentage. Once Aoki is traded, Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, or perhaps Khris Davis will fill his void in right field. Right field is usually where teams put the outfielder with the strongest arm and if that’s the case, it’ll be Schafer. Aoki is everything you want in a lead0ff hitter – he gets on base and hardly ever strikes out. But with the Brewers in the midst of a youth movement, Aoki has become expendable.
How do you think the Brewers lineup will look in 2014?
*Mat Gamel was claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs