The Milwaukee Brewers had an abysmal 2015 finishing 68-94, 32 games out of first place in a division that saw three of its teams reach the playoffs. Only three teams had a worse season than the Brew Crew, the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies.
This ball club, still seemingly in disarray, had seen the hire of both a new manager and general manager in the past six months. Once dependent, stalwart players (i.e. Ryan Braun) are now seemingly ineffective, and long time dependable players (i.e. Aramis Ramirez) have gone the way of the dodo. The Brewers have already traded most of their best assets, and the trade chips left on the roster made not be extremely desirable.
Hopefully some of the new faces can bring along some change in the club’s dynamic. After the Brewers signed Will Middlebrooks earlier this month, General Manager David Stearns has stayed busy.
Lefty hurler Nick Hagadone was signed to a minor league deal, accompanied by an invite to major league camp this coming February. He has pitched 118.1 innings with the Cleveland Indians in five years, averaging a 4.72 ERA.
Righty Tim Dillard was also signed his month. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, but shows promise as a reliever. Last season he tossed a robust 5.50 ERA, however it shrunk considerably when only entering as a reliever, turning that rotund average into a minuscule 1.72.
Lefty hitting outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis was picked up from the New York Mets, who decided instead to go with fellow lefty Alejandro De Aza for the 2016 campaign. He’s never really hit his potential in four major-league seasons, but he could still find a home in an outfield once again looking for an identity.
First baseman Andy Wilkins was signed from the Texas Rangers to compete for the base manned by Adam Lind in 2015. A journeyman now with his sixth team, his Triple-A career .274/.324/.490 slash line could be enough to earn a starting spot.
Last but not least is catcher Josmil Pinto, signed from the San Diego Padres. Pinto hasn’t played in the majors since 2014. The Brewers may have missed their window to trade former MVP candidate backstop Jonathan Lucroy, but a move could still be made. Pinto is a solid safety measure, showing some flashes both offensively and defensively, although he has as times proven to be less than worthy on both ends. He’s still got some potential and really, what have the Brewers got to lose?
There’s still plenty of time before players report in mid-February, but until then, at least this Milwaukee squad is trying. I can’t say that great things are on the horizon for this ball club, but I do have a lot of faith in what manager Craig Counsell can do with this group. Only time will tell, and that time is coming sooner than later.