The Brewers have done away with the old and brought in the new with a slew of trades orchestrated by new GM David Stearns.

Trading away the likes of Jean Segura, Adam Lind and others meant trading away the present in hopes of gaining a more promising future. But that doesn’t mean holes left by those departures don’t need to be filled. I could give you the projected opening day lineup, one through nine, and what I think the five-man rotation will be, but that wouldn’t do justice to how turbulent the Brewer’s season will be. So we’ll start with the most wide-open positions first.

Centerfield

With the midseason departure of Carlos Gomez, centerfield could be the most up for grabs spot on the Brewers Opening day starting lineup. The early, odds-on favorite, would be Domingo Santana, who slugged eight total home runs with both the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. He also hit for a decent average of .238 last season. Although the sample size is small, he shows he has the bat to play everyday, it’s really a matter of if he keeps developing.

A surprise player who could crack the lineup could be newly added Rymer Liriano. A former top prospect for the San Diego Padres was hobbled by Tommy John surgery last season and had previously struggled to find contact with his bat in 2014. But his defensive versatility and young age fit the Brewers well. If he can figure out his batting issues, he could find his way into the lineup.

Third base

Aramis Ramirez left a big hole at third base after his departure last year and the Brewers had no clear player to replace him. Luckily, the Jean Segura trade brought over the short term answer in former All-Star Aaron Hill. Being a utility infielder, Hill could see time at third base, second base or even shortstop, but where he is needed most is at third base. Hill’s career fielding percentage as close to perfect as it can be (99%) and .268 career batting average should help fill the corner spot. Being 33 also gives him the intangible of being a veteran leader for this young crop of Brewers. Look for former Red Sox standouts Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini to be in the mix as well.

Second base

Batting for six home runs and hitting for an average of .279 over 355 plate appearances, Scooter Gennett is great against right-handed pitchers. But because he hit for a dismal .114 average against left-handed pitchers, it is clear Gennett will not be the long term answer at second base. Due to the fact the Brewers lack depth at the infield positions though, expect Gennett to be the default answer with Hill playing second against lefties.

Shortstop

Jean Segura being traded could have left Brewers top prospect Orlando Arcia as the show-in to start on Opening Day, but GM David Stearns has insisted that Arcia will start the season at AAA.

So, if you take Stearns at his word, the Brewers will have to look elsewhere to fill the position. Yadiel Rivera hit for a tremendous .315 average during Arizona Fall League with an OPS of .829. If Rivera can show that he can translate that into Major League production, there is no reason he won’t be in the Opening Day lineup.

The more likely option would be Jonathan Villar, who hit for a .284 average at the Major League level with the Astros. Despite the small sample size of only 53 games, Villar has the fortune of getting those games at the Major League level, unlike Rivera’s experience.

Leftfield/Rightfield

Unless Stearns makes more big moves before Opening Day, franchise player Ryan Braun and slugger Khris Davis will man the corner outfield positions. Braun is coming off of another offseason surgery, this time on his back, and is hoping to build on the All-Star season that was 2015.

Khris Davis, even after missing time with a torn meniscus, put up huge numbers. Davis hit 27 home runs, 66 RBIs and an .828 OPS. Despite being a strikeout machine, he will easily one of the Brewer’s best players this year, that is, if the Brewers don’t trade him for younger prospects.

Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy (Photo from Getty Images)
Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy may have a long season ahead. (Photo from Getty Images)

Catcher

Rumors have been running rampant about whether or not Jonathan Lucroy will be on the roster come Opening Day, but the Brewers organization insists that Lucroy will be on the team. That’s not good if you’re hoping for the Brewers to go fully into rebuild mode, but good if you’re hoping for a few more wins in 2016. Regardless, Lucroy will most likely be manning the backstop with Martin Maldonado backing him up.

First base

Newly acquired free agent Chris Carter will fill the first base position. Only two years removed from a 37-home run season, Carter could provide some much needed power in the batting order. Like Davis though, Carter is a strikeout machine, but in hitter-friendly Miller Park, Carter could once again explode for 30+ home runs. Lucroy will also play some first base this season.

Rotation

There are two potential Opening Day starters on the Brewers roster. Jimmy Nelson and Wily Peralta. Nelson is the team’s “ace” in theory, and Peralta just wasn’t healthy last season. In 2014, Peralta won 17 games and had a 3.53 ERA; but in 2015, he regressed to a 4.72 ERA and struggled with an oblique injury.

Taylor Jungmann had the team’s best ERA at 3.77 last season, and veteran Matt Garza and 28-year old Chase Anderson will bring up the back of the rotation. Anderson was acquired in the Segura trade and has shown promise at the Major League level, despite his 4.30 ERA. For Garza, 2015 was a disaster, one he hopes to avoid repeating. But because of the hefty contract and low trade value, the Brewers will be forced to give him one more chance in the rotation.

If either Garza or Anderson falter, or an injury occurs, look to the young Zach Davies and Adrian Houser to enter the rotation.

Bullpen

I think Jeremy Jeffress will pitch the 8th and Will Smith will start off the season as the team’s closer. Manager Craig Counsell will likely go game-by-game for rotation situations, utilizing Smith’s nasty slider whenever necessary. Michael Blazek should have another solid season after going 5-3 with a 2.43 ERA out of the pen last season. This is a young group, but there are some big arms among the Brewers relievers.

Season outlook

Realistically, the hope for this season is to make smart trades and avoid losing 100+ games. If you’d rather forget about how treacherous this season may be, check out the Brewers’ new commercial!


*all stats from baseball-reference.com

Photo: Getty Images