We're only a week into 2016, but baseball fans are eagerly awaiting the beginning of spring training and the onset of another season. As we near closer to pitchers and catchers reporting, let's take a look at the Brewers' resolutions for the New Year.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SportAnthony Gruppuso
Fans remain patient during rebuild
The Brewers have been straightforward with their fan base that they are in the midst of a rebuilding phase. General manager David Stearns has repeatedly conveyed as much, and owner Mark Attanasio recently touched on the subject in an open letter to fans. As respectable as it is for the Brewers brass to be candid with their fan base about what is transpiring, it doesn't change the fact that they are dismantling the roster and making the team worse in the short term. However, if the fans buy into the notion that this phase will be beneficial to a sustainable future for the Brewers organization, it will make it a much easier process for everyone, including the players.
Getty ImagesJeffrey Phelps
Get top prospects big-league reps
Merely because the Brewers are rebuilding doesn't entail that they will put a "junior-varsity" team on the field, but it allows them to grant major-league experience to up-and-coming prospects who might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so during a period of prosperity. After all, cultivating homegrown talent is a major component of the Brewers creating a sustainable model for the future. Players like top prospect Orlando Arcia (shortstop), highly touted outfielder Tyrone Taylor, and starter Jorge Lopez should all see time in the majors this year as they prepare to head a new wave of young Brewers talent.
Although Milwaukee is in a rebuilding phase, they haven't indicated any desire to part ways with slugger Ryan Braun. While Braun's numbers have dipped since he came clean about using performance-enhancing drugs, he still remains an important cog in the Brewers' offense. The 32-year-old pieced together his best performance since 2012 last season, hitting .285/.356/.498 with 25 home runs, 84 RBI, and 24 stolen bases. As the Brewers' roster is currently limited on power, it's important that Braun continues to produce numbers similar to what he posted last season in order for the team to avoid being an abomination in 2016.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Garza bounces back
After a solid first season with the Brewers in 2014, Matt Garza suffered the worst full season of his major-league career, posting a 6-14 record with a 5.63 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 26 outings. While the Brewers won't necessarily expect Garza to have a career year in his age-32 season, they'll be relying on him to win at least half of his decisions and hover around his career ERA of 3.99. While Jimmy Nelson technically served as the team's No. 1 in 2015, Garza will be considered the No. 1 in 2016, and his performance will set the precedent for the rest of the rotation.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
Field competitive team
As the Brewers dive headfirst into their rebuild, they'll need to strike a good balance between executing their goals for the future and keeping the fan base engaged. In order to do so, they'll need to field a decently competitive team in 2016, so as not to alienate their fans. So far, Milwaukee's front office has done a good job of maintaining that balance. They traded veterans Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Rodriguez, and Adam Lind, but have held on to core players Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, and picked up first baseman Chris Carter. Nonetheless, there have been plenty of trade rumors involving both Lucroy and outfielder Khris Davis, potential moves that could infringe upon the Brewers' careful balance between the present and future.