Milwaukee Brewers: Most Balanced and Versatile Roster in Counsell Era

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Manager Craig Counsell #30 of the Milwaukee Brewers calls the bullpen in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Manager Craig Counsell #30 of the Milwaukee Brewers calls the bullpen in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

A new season provides a new identity for the Milwaukee Brewers as they go from power to balance with new faces and new positional flexibility under Craig Counsell.

The 2020 season will be a completely different experience for anyone who has started watching the Milwaukee Brewers since Craig Counsell became the manager.

Gone are the slugging All-Stars Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas. Travis Shaw and Eric Thames are no longer on the corners to provide thirty homers apiece. But in the absence of all that power is a versatile group that is more balanced and adaptable than any Brewers team in the Counsell-David Stearns era.

From infielders who can play all over to five outfielders who can play all over, to pitchers who will both get starts and close out games, this Milwaukee Brewers team is as unique as it gets, and it has to be if they hope to be successful.

We’ll start in the infield where just about all of the players on the 40-man roster can play multiple spots. Jedd Gyorko came up and was viewed as one of the most promising young second basemen in the league before he found a home at third base with the Cardinals, salvaging his career.

Eric Sogard has played both second, short, and third throughout his career, building a career that has a lot of parallels to his manager in Milwaukee. Luis Urias was a starting second baseman upon his call up to the Padres last year and is now expected to be the future at shortstop.

Ryon Healy has played both first and third base excessively as an Athletic and Mariner the past three seasons. Ronny Rodriguez is essentially a clone of Hernan Perez, playing everywhere on the field as well. The only guys who are locked into one position are Justin Smoak and Keston Hiura. Even Orlando Arcia might be asked to move to third or second depending on the development of Urias.

Depending on the matchup for a given game, Counsell has so many options at his disposal to get the best lineup out there. We could see games with Healy and Smoak on the corners, along with Hiura in the middle to provide maximum power.

Conversely, against big time strikeout pitchers it could be a lineup of Sogard, Urias, Gyorko, and Ryan Braun to provide more contact. And late in games the Brewers can sell out for defense with Gyorko, Arcia, Urias, and Smoak. This doesn’t even factor in Brock Holt, who has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Brewers. With him in the fold, the Brewers have one of the best utility guys of the past decade, capable of playing literally every position on the field.

In the outfield, the same trend continues. Christian Yelich is now at his natural spot in left field, where he won a Gold Glove in Miami, but he can also play center and right. Avisail Garcia is now in right, but will play center when Lorenzo Cain gets a day off. Ryan Braun is a corner outfielder, but will see a lot of time at first base again. Meanwhile, Ben Gamel is as good of a fifth outfielder as it gets. And then again there’s Holt, who is comfortable in the outfield at all three spots.

On the mound, the Milwaukee Brewers are as versatile as anyone as well, with talented arms like Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Devin Williams both with experience as starters and relievers. And then there’s Brent Suter, the ultimate weapon. Suter can start and go six innings, or come out of the bullpen and throw three to get a save. His versatility helps Chris Hook and Counsell manage the staff that much more.

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In just one offseason, the Brewers have changed their identity from one of power to one of versatility and balance. It’s one that hasn’t been seen by a Milwaukee team in a long, long time, but one that is necessary to embrace after the departures from the past season’s squad. And it allows Craig Counsell to play just a little more chess on the diamond against an extremely powerful National League.