Today we are breaking down the state of the Milwaukee Brewers and when they are at. They have a number of core players but to become a contending team they need a lot of work. As of Wednesday morning the Brewers were in 4th place, just a game ahead of the last place Cubs with a 32-43 record and 15 games behind the 1st place Cardinals & well behind the wild card teams.
They are strong with bats as the Brewers have Braun, Aoki & Gomez in the outfield & Segura at Shortstop & Jonathan Lucroy at catcher. Aramis Ramirez just turned 35 and had an excellent first year with the Brewers. Ramirez is making 10 million this year and is signed for at least one more season in 2014 for 16 million with a team option in 2015 (that carries a 4 million dollar buyout). Given his contract probably would be tough to move Ramirez and get any good assets for him. The Brewers I think have to hope that Rickie Weeks can be the player he was a couple of years ago as he is signed through next year 2014 as part of his long term deal. Corey Hart has yet to take the field this year and maybe out for the year now, is in the final year of his deal making 10 million dollars. Might be wise for the Brewers to use that money elsewhere.
Brewers have control of Gallardo through 2015 and he would have to fall off the map for them not to pick up his team option for 2015. Kyle Lohse is also signed the next 2 years through 2015. After that the Brewers currently have no one they can count on in their rotation. However their bullpen might be in worse shape and I don't think anyone in the Brewer front office is ready to sign off on the fact that Jim Henderson is the closer for years to come. They have to see more. John Axford and his 5 million dollar salary will be gone after this season.
Going into this season the Brewers had the 22nd Ranked farm system according to Baseball America. The Brewers only had 1 prospect in the top 100 in Wily Peralta at #69. Peralta is going to get the whole season in the big leagues to get comfortable and show the Brewers if he can be someone they can write into their rotation. The Brewers 2nd best prospect starting pitcher Tyler Thornburg who they hoped they could get a long look at this season is having a nightmare kind of year (0-9, 5.79 ERA in AAA). I would expect that starting pitching prospects Jimmy Nelson & Johnny Hellweg would get a number of starts in the 2nd half to see if the can be counted on to be part of the Brewers rotation come opening day next year. Even though he is only hitting .238 in AAA Hunter Morris might get a long look in the 2nd half to see if he can be counted on for taking over at 1B. Morris does have 14HR's this year in 70 games at AAA & had huge year last year at AA.
The Brewers need to find a 1B, get depth for their starting rotation from within (hopefully Marco Estrada can get healthy and regain last years form as well), and somehow get some strong bullpen arms. If the Brewers don't bring Corey Hart back along with John Axford's contract the Brewers should have some money to play with although their will be a good amount of internal raises from their current group. The Brewers do have a competitive payroll around 90 million (about the same as the Mets) but for the most part I believe they are going to have to solve their issues from within because I don't really see any big trade chips that they have that GM Doug Melvin would be willing to part with.
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NL King - C.Lizza