Major League Baseball 2016 – Phillies and Brewers Previews

March 6, 2016

Baseball Expert Tony DeMarco has covered Major League Baseball since the mid-1980s, with stops at the Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Denver Post and NBC Sports.com. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1987, and a Hall of Fame voter since 1998. He has written two books on baseball: The Sporting News’ 50 Greatest Sluggers, and Tales From The Colorado Rockies’ Dugout. 
Tony will be a contributor here a Vegas Pro Insiders Daily offering his insights this spring. He will also be doing more here with details to follow.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

2015 record/finish: 68-94, 4th place

Recent history: Since losing the 2011 NLCS, the win totals have been 83, 74, 82 and 68. Even owner Mark Attanasio says The Crew is in full-rebuild mode now: “We’ve seen in Chicago and Houston it took five years. We’re hopeful we can do it quicker, but it will be what it will be.”

Front office/manager recap: Craig Counsell went 61-76 after replacing Ron Roenicke, and given the rebuilding situation, is signed through 2017. David Stearns is the latest analytics-oriented 30-something to land a GM job. He has his hands full here.

Payroll change: From $98 million in 2015 to $65 million in 2016 — a very telling drop, with Braun at $19 million and Garza at $12.5 million.

Key arrivals: SP Chase Anderson, 1B Chris Carter, 2B/3B Aaron Hill, SS Jonathan Villar, RHP Corey Knebel

Key departures: RP Francisco Rodriguez, OF Khris Davis, 1B Adam Lind, IF Jean Segura, SP Kyle Lohse (in addition to OF Carlos Gomez, SP Mike Fiers, OF Gerardo Parra, 3B Aramis Ramirez and RP Jonathan Broxton in mid-2015).

www.vegasproinsidersdaily.comRotation: RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Jimmy Nelson, RHP Matt Garza, RHP Taylor Jungmann, RHP Chase Anderson // LHP Chris Capuano

Relievers: Closer: LHP Will Smith; Setup men: RHP Jeremy Jeffress; RHP Corey Knebel; Middle relievers: RHP Michael Blazek, RHP Tyler Thornburg, RHP Zach Jones (Rule 5), LHP Franklyn Morales // RHP David Goforth, RHP Tyler Cravy, RHP Yhonathan Barrios

Regulars: 2B Scooter Gennett, C Jonathan Lucroy, RF Ryan Braun, 1B Chris Carter, LF Domingo Santana, 3B Aaron Hill, CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, SS Jonathan Villar

Role players: C Martin Maldonado, 1B/3B Will Middlebrooks, 2B/3B/LF Colin Walsh (Rule 5), OF Rymer Liriano // C Yosmil Pinto, SS Yadiel Rivera, 2B/SS Hernan Perez, OF Eric Young Jr.

Rookies of impact: Orlando Arcia is the shortstop of the future, which should begin as soon as May. SP Zach Davies could get a rotation spot early. SPs Jorge Lopez and Josh Hader, and OF Brett Phillips could contribute later on.

2015 run differential: -82  (655 scored, 737 allowed)

Run production: So many plate appearances from last season are long-gone: Segura (584), Lind (572), Gomez (314), Ramirez (302) and Parra (351). On top of that, Braun — now 32 — is coming off back surgery, and Lucroy isn’t thrilled to be here. Can’t blame him. This group is projected to have the highest strikeout percentage, as well as the biggest strikeout percentage increase from last season. The lineup is too right-handed.

(Roster Resource.com projected rankings: 30th Ave, 29th OPS, 27th Runs, 22nd HR, 15th SB)

Run prevention: An ace-less rotation has to replace 21 starts from Fiers and Lohse, but Peralta was limited to 20 starts due to injury. An unsettled back of the bullpen won’t help matters, but Arcia’s promotion could help up the middle.

(Roster Resource.com projected rankings: 27th Wins, 26th ERA, 26th QS, 29th BB, 23rd K)

Risers: Smith and possibly Jeffress will get save opportunities. Khrys Davis missed 41 games last season due to a torn meniscus, so his counting stats should rise. Carter was limited to 129 games and 460 plate appearances in 2015, and likely will hit 4th or 5th in this lineup.

Regressers: Braun, Garza

Contract years: Hill, Lucroy (2017 option)

Vegas says: O/U 70.5

Predicted record/finish: 66-96, 5th place. Stearns came from Houston, where a true tear-down occurred, so expect things to get worse before they get better. UNDER is the way to go here.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2015 record/finish: 63-99, 5th place

Recent history: The Phils are four seasons in to a bottoming-out process that began following a 102-win campaign in 2011 — complete with descending win totals of 81, 73, 73 and 63.

Front office/manager recap: The Andy MacPhail/Matt Klentak tandem has been on the job since October, and will try to move the franchise out of the tear-down process and into the reconstruction phase. Interim-turned-fulltime skipper Pete Mackanin has earned himself at least one more season, with a 2017 option.

Payroll change: From $145 million in 2015 to $102 million in 2016 — if there is anything that signifies a tear-down, this is it.

2015 run differential: -183 ( 626 scored, 809 allowed)

Key arrivals: RHP David Hernandez, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Vincent Velasquez, OF Peter Bourjos

Key departures: RHP Ken Giles, RHP Aaron Harang, OF Jeff Francoeur

www.vegasproinsidersdaily.comRotation: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Aaron Nola, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, RHP Vincent Velasquez // LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Severino Gonzalez, RHP Adam Morgan, LHP Matt Harrison (DL)

Relievers: Closer: RHP David Hernandez; Setup men: RHP Edward Mujica, RHP Ernesto Frieri; Middle relievers: RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Luis Garcia, RHP Dailer Hinojosa, RHP Hector Neris, LHP Daniel Stump // LHP Mario Hollands (DL)

Regulars: RF Peter Bourjos, CF Odubel Herrera, 3B Maikel Franco, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Aaron Altherr, C Cameron Rupp, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Cesar Hernandez

Role players: C Carlos Ruiz, 1B Darin Ruf, IF Andres Blanco, 3B/OF Cody Asche, OF Tyler Goeddel

Rookies of impact: You will begin to see the future of the franchise, led by SS JP Crawford, who will take over later this season. Starting pitchers Mark Appel and Jake Thompson, C Jorge Alfaro and OFs Nick Williams and Roman Quinn also could have late-season impact.

Run production: Franco could break out to top-100-player status. Altherr could reach 15 homers and 15 steals with expected regular playing time. Rupp brings more power to the catcher’s spot. But there is a real shortage of power overall, and OBP is a weakness throughout.

(Roster Resource.com projections: 29th BA, 30th OPS, 30th Runs, 29th HRs, 15 SBs)

Run prevention: Cole Hamels is long gone after making 20 starts last season, but the good news is the rotation will be improved depth-wise. In 2015, eight different starters combined to make 76 starts, and only one of them had an ERA under 6.00. Closer Giles also is gone, and the back of the bullpen is almost entirely rebuilt with stop-gap veterans.

(Roster Resource.com projections: 30th Wins, 29th ERA, 26th QS, 13th BB, 28th Ks)

Fantasy risers: Franco, Nola, D. Hernandez, Altherr, Rupp

Fantasy regressers: Howard, Asche

Contract years: D. Hernandez, Hellickson, Bourjos, Ruiz (2017 club option); Morton (2017 club option); Howard (2017 club option, but there’s no chance of it being picked up)

Vegas says: OU 66.5

Predicted record/finish: 68-94. A slight upturn is likelier than a 100-loss season, but there’s no need to force anything here.

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