Tagged: Milwaukee Brewers

2010 Milwaukee Brewers Preview

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brewers logo.png.gif2009 Record: 80-82, 3rd NL Central

2009 Prediction: 78-84, 4th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 3rd NL Central

                                        

Impact Player: Ryan Braun

Impact Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo

Top Prospect Player:
SS Alcides Escobar

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Eric Arnett

 

Manager: Ken Macha, 2nd Season
(80-82, .494)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Gregg Zaun, CF Carlos Gomez, C George Kottaras, UTIL Joe Inglett,
OF Jim Edmonds, LHP Randy Wolf, LHP Doug Davis, RHP LaTroy
Hawkins
, LHP Scott Schoeneweis

Significant Losses: INF Felipe Lopez, SS J.J. Hardy,
CF Mike Cameron, OF Frank Catalanotto, RHP Mark DiFelice, RHP Seth McClung

 

The Milwaukee Brewers followed up their first playoff
appearance in 27 years with a losing season. 
It wasn’t entirely surprising considering the organization’s best two
pitchers (C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets) left via free agency.  The Brewers were left with very little in the
way of pitching and were relying on aging vets like Braden Looper and Jeff
Suppan
to carry the staff which was anchored by the very talented, but
largely inexperience Yovani Gallardo.  The young and talented lineup finished 3rd
in the NL in runs scored, but the pitching staff was second from the bottom in
ERA.  The Brewers are hoping that the
acquisition of Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, and LaTroy Hawkins helps reverse that and get Milwaukee back into the
playoffs.

 

Pitching

yovani-gallardo.jpg

Gallardo is the ace of the staff.  At only 24 years old, he already has the best
track record of any Brewer starter and rightfully so.  Gallardo was 13-12 last season but had a 3.73
ERA in a career-high 185.2 innings which was second on the team.  With the Brewers lineup, there’s no reason
why Gallardo can’t soon enter Cy Young conversation.  After Gallardo, the Brewers are relying on
three veterans in Wolf, Davis and Suppan. 
Wolf was terrific in Dodger-Blue last season racking up 11 wins and a 3.23
ERA.  A repeat of that performance will
certainly help the Brewers be better than last year.  Davis returns for his second stint with the
Brew Crew.  He’s battled injuries and
cancer of the past couple seasons, but he’s a gutsy pitcher who can be very
effective at times.  He still managed
over 200 innings last season with Arizona. 
Suppan is back after a disaster 2009 that saw him go 7-12 with a 5.29
ERA and will need to be better to keep his job. 
The fifth starter will be one of uber-talented but erratic Manny Parra, inconsistent Dave Bush, or Carlos Villanueva.

 

Most people expected closer Trevor Hoffman to fade away into obscurity after leaving his
long-time playing ground in San Diego, but instead he came to Milwaukee and was
one of the better closers in the NL in 2009. 
Hoffman posted 37 saves and a 1.83 ERA proving that he still has
something left in the tank.  At 42, the Brewers
are hoping he has just a little more.  Todd Coffey rejuvenated his career last
season fighting his way to a 2.90 ERA in 78 games.  He’s back as the main setup option and a
possible closer if Hoffman starts to show his age.  37-year-old Hawkins was signed in the
offseason to provide some depth, while lefthander Mitch Stetter is coming off a solid campaign.  Veteran righties Claudio Vargas and David
Riske
are expected to fill out the middle-relief core.  Riske is coming off an injury-riddled season
that saw him pitch in only one game while Vargas has accepted and thrived in
his new bullpen role.  He had a 1.78 ERA in
the ‘pen after being re-acquired last year at the trade deadline.  Whoever’s not starting will be the long-man.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Yovani Gallardo

24

R/R

Randy Wolf*

33/4

L/L

Doug Davis*

34

R/L

Jeff Suppan

35

R/R

Manny Parra

27

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Trevor Hoffman

42

R/R

Todd Coffey

29

R/R

LaTroy Hawkins*

37

R/R

Mitch Stetter

29

L/L

Claudio Vargas

31/2

R/R

Carlos Villanueva

26

R/R

David Riske

33

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Dave Bush

30

R/R

Chris Narveson

28

L/L

John Axford

27

R/R

Chuck Lofgren

24

L/L

Chris Capuano

31/2

L/L

Scott Schoeneweis

36

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

ryan-braun.jpg

The Brewers still possess one of the best lineups in the NL
and should have no trouble scoring runs in 2010.  Leftfielder Ryan Braun is one of the best pure hitters in the game; he hit .320
with 32 homeruns and 114 RBI last season and at only 26, he’s not expected to
slow down anytime soon.  Expect an
MVP-type season once again.  Veteran
centerfielder Mike Cameron is out
and has been replaced by Carlos Gomez
who comes over from the Twins for struggling shortstop J.J. Hardy.  Gomez is a truly
gifted defensive player but has struggled thus far in his career at the
plate.  He hit just .229 last season and
the Twins got tired of waiting for him to develop plate discipline.  A change of scenery and a move to the NL
might be what he needs.  Corey Hart not only wears his
sunglasses at night (kills me every time, I don’t care if it gets old) but he
also plays rightfield for the Brewers. 
Although he didn’t show it last year, Hart is a 20/20 threat, but the Brewers
need more out of him than they got last year when he hit just .260 with 12
homeruns and 48 RBI.  If Gomez struggles,
fourth outfielder Jody Gerut could
step in.

 

Prince Fielder
may not be a Brewer much longer as he stands to make a ton in arbitration and
the Brewers traditionally don’t spend a lot of money, but for now he’s one of
the most feared hitters in the game.  He also
works hard at his defense at first and has been getting better than he once
was.  Second baseman Rickie Weeks rebounded to have a solid season in 2009 after a
terrible one in 2008, but at only 27 he appears to have already lost much of
his power.  Shortstop Alcides Escobar will finally get his
chance to prove he can live up to the hype with the trading of Hardy and rookie
standout Casey McGehee is back at
third base where the Brewers hope his out-of-nowhere first year wasn’t a fluke.  Veteran Gregg
Zaun
is a fantastic game-caller and an extremely hard worker and will
likely get most of the starts behind the plate in 2010 after signing in the
offseason.

 

Canadian George
Kottaras
will probably backup Zaun but both are merely holding a place
until Angel Salome is ready, which
should be some time this season.  Gerut
will be the fourth outfielder unless he’s pushed into starting and veteran
infielder Craig Counsell is back as
well.  Utility-man Joe Inglett  comes over from
the Blue Jays and can play just about anywhere while the final roster spot
could go to Mat Gamel who could end
up starting at third if McGehee isn’t what he was last season.  Outfielder Jim Edmonds has come out of his forced retirement and will try to
make the team in the Spring.  He should
have a decent shot, but he probably won’t start much.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

2B

Rickie Weeks

27

R/R

RF

Corey Hart

28

R/R

LF

Ryan Braun

26

R/R

1B

Prince Fielder

25/6

L/R

3B

Casey McGehee

27

R/R

C

Gregg Zaun*

39

S/R

CF

Carlos Gomez*

24

R/R

SS

Alcides Escobar

23

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

George Kottaras*

26/7

L/R

INF

Craig Counsell

39/0

L/R

OF

Jody Gerut

32

L/L

UTIL

Joe Inglett*

31/2

L/R

3B

Mat Gamel

24/5

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

C

Angel Salome

23/4

R/R

INF

Adam Heether

28

R/R

INF

Hernan Iribarren

25/6

L/R

OF

Norris Hopper*

31

R/R

OF

Jim Edmonds*

39/0

L/L

*=newly
acquired

 

The Brewers
will be among the top run producing teams in the league again this year with
one of the best 3-4 combos in baseball in Braun and Fielder, but their pitching
isn’t much better than is was last season. 
The big plus for the Brewers is that the division shouldn’t take as many
wins to take down as it did in 2009. 
They could be in the hunt if the Cardinals aren’t as good this season.

Final Prediction: 82-80, 3rd
NL Central

 

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’09 Preview — Milwaukee Brewers

2009-milwaukee-brewers-success-or-failurec.gif2008 Record: 90-72, 2nd NL Central (NL Wildcard Champs)
2009 Prediction: 4th NL Central

Impact Player: Ryan Braun
Impact Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo
Top Prospect: Alcides Escobar, SS

Significant Acquisitions: P Trevor Hoffman, P Braden Looper, P Jorge Julio, OF/1B Trot Nixon
Significant Losses: OF Gabe Kapler, OF/1B Russell Branyan, 2B Ray Durham, INF Joe Dillon, P C.C. Sabathia, P Ben Sheets, P Salomon Torres, P Brian Shouse, P Guillermo Mota, P Derrick Turnbow

For the first time since winning the 1982 AL Pennant, the Brewers made the playoffs last season.  Their 90-72 record was good enough to capture the NL Wildcard just barely over the Mets; this, in spite of the fact that they fired manager Ned Yost with only 12 games remaining in the regular season.  This year, former A’s manager Ken Macha takes the reigns but finds himself with a team that may have real problems matching what they did last year.  Gone are rotation anchors C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets and gone are valuable vets Gabe Kapler and Ray Durham.  The Brewers hope that some of their young pitchers can fill out a rotation that has a #1 pitcher who only played 4 games in ’08 and only has 9 career wins.  They’ll still hit though.

Pitching
With Sabathia and Sheets gone, the ‘ace’ moniker will go to 23-year-old Yovani Gallardo who has shown major promise in his 24 career starts with a 3.35 ERA, but hasn’t pitched enough to really be considered a top-flight number one.  He does have great stuff though, and could do the job if he pitches the full year.  After him is former Blue Jay castaway, Dave Bush.  Bush has been solid in his career with Milwaukee but is probably only a 4 or 5 starter on a good team; here he’s expected to be the #2 guy.  Veteran Braden Looper was signed in the off-season from division-rival St. Louis but has never been a great starter; he’s probably good for a .500 record and an ERA in the 4s.  Jeff Suppan struggled in his first go-’round with the Brew Crew, posting a 4.96 ERA and should enter the year as the #4 guy, and 26-year-old Manny Parra should round out the rotation.  Parra might have top-flight stuff but has never been consistent at the major-league level.  If he puts it all together he could be the #2 this team needs.

The bullpen could go either way this year, but has a nice mix of veterans and younger arms.  All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman brings his 554 career saves to Milwaukee and should close, but he posted his lowest save total (30) since 2003, his highest ERA (3.77) since 1995 and is 41-years-old.  Setup should go to veteran David Riske who struggled immensely last season with a 5.31 ERA and might lose that spot to Mark DiFelice, converted starter Carlos Villenueva, or last year’s closing experiment Eric Gagne, who signed a minor-league deal to return.  Fireballing righty Jorge Julio signed in the off-season after posting a 3.60 ERA with Cleveland and Atlanta in ’08 and Seth McClung is also in the mix.  The only lefthander expected to break camp in the ‘pen is Mitch Stetter who was solid in 25.1 innings last season.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Yovani Gallardo (R/23)
  • Dave Bush (R/29)
  • Braden Looper (R/34)
  • Jeff Suppan (R/34)
  • Manny Parra (L/26)

Bullpen

  • Trevor Hoffman (R/41)
  • David Riske (R/32)
  • Mark DiFelice (R/32)
  • Carlos Villenueva (R/25)
  • Jorge Julio (R/30)
  • Seth McClung (R/28)
  • Mitch Stetter (L/28)

Lineup
With only two expected starters over the age of 30, the Brewers should field one of the best young lineups in the NL, and there is no shortage of power.  The Brew Crew finished 3rd in the NL in home runs in ’08 but, their lack of plate discipline led them to only the 12th best batting average and 7th most runs scored; they return the exact same lineup of projected starters.  In the outfield is savvy vet Mike Cameron in Center, flanked by Corey Hart (who does indeed where his sunglasses at night, so he can…so he can) in Right, and 25-year-old super-slugger Ryan Braun in Left.  Braun is one of the most impressive young offensive talents in the game and adapted fairly well after being moved to the outfield from Third, where he was awful in ’07.  In the infield, the Brewers have First Baseman Prince Fielder who, in ’07, became the youngest player ever to hit 50 home runs; last year he slummed it with only 34.  At Second will be Rickie Weeks who was awful in ’08, hitting just .234, but has the potential to be one of the best offensive Second Basemen in the NL.  J.J. Hardy is back at Short and although his defense leaves something to be desired, he can hit with the best of them; and at Third should be Bill Hall who needs to find the form he exhibited in 2006 when he clubbed 35 HR.  Catching responsibilities will go to steady vet Jason Kendall who’s only real skills are game-calling and taking great care of his pitching staff; offensively and defensively, he isn’t great anymore.

On the bench will be some veterans to help out the young lineup.  Craig Counsell is back as utility-infielder and extra outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Trot Nixon should log some valuable playing time.  Corner infielder Mike Lamb returns and could step in at Third if Hall continues to struggle, and Mike Rivera will handle backup catching duties and can also fill in at First.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • RF  Corey Hart (R/27)
  • C    Jason Kendall (R/35)
  • LF  Ryan Braun (R/25)
  • 1B  Prince Fielder (L/25)
  • CF  Mike Cameron (R/36)
  • SS  J.J. Hardy (R/26)
  • 2B  Rickie Weeks (R/26)
  • 3B  Bill Hall (R/29)

Bench

  • INF Craig Counsell (L/38)
  • OF Tony Gwynn Jr. (L/26)
  • OF/1B Trot Nixon (L/35)
  • 3B/1B Mike Lamb (L/33)
  • C/1B Mike Rivera (R/32)

Outlook
The Brewers will definitely have trouble building on what they did last year.  They have the lineup, but their pitching suffered two huge blows with the losses of Sabathia and Sheets.  They have no real number 1 or 2 pitcher and their bullpen could be shaky.  Expect Milwaukee to finish near the bottom of the NL in most pitching categories and take a nose-dive in the standings.  Final Prediction: 78-84, 4th NL Central

Why the Jays should go for Ben Sheets now; in spite of his bad elbow

When healthy, Ben Sheets is one of the better pitchers in baseball, the problem is, obviously, that he is rarely healthy.  Once again he will have to undergo elbow surgery and will miss the first half of ’09.  But the former Brewer is in a unique situation.  He’s a free agent.

The Texas Rangers stepped up with a two-year contract that Sheets and his agent agreed to pending a physical which obviously didn’t go well.  The Rangers withdrew their offer and it is expected now that Sheets will not sign anywhere until he’s healthy.

Here’s why I think the Jays need to go after him now…
ben sheets.jpg

The Jays apparently had no interest in Sheets because they don’t have the finances to pursue him.  Fair enough.  Sheets was reportedly going to sign for 2-years at around $16-million with the Rangers, far out of the price range for the Jays to even consider him.  But now things have changed.

We know that Sheets will be out until late June/early July at the earliest so I think the Jays should try and get Sheets now at a diminished price.  All well and good, but how do you make Sheets want a deal?  Here’s what I suggest:

You give Sheets a contract for 1-year at a guaranteed $750,000 but you lace it with incentives.  If he starts 10 games in ’09, he gets an extra $1-million.  If he starts 15 games in ’09, you give him an extra $1.75-million.  If he starts 20 or more games, give him an extra $3-million.  On top of that, if Sheets wins more than 10 games with the Jays in ’09, you throw on an extra $2-million.  This means that if Sheets comes back around mid-season and starts more than 20 games down the stretch and wins more than 10, the deal could end up being worth $5.75-million.  Not bad for a guy only pitching half the year who was looking for $8-million for a full, healthy season.

To sweeten the deal for both sides, add two option years; options for both 2010 and 2011 worth some guaranteed amount of money.  Let’s say $7.5-million for 2010 and $9-million for 2011.  The options would be for both parties at the end of both years.  SO, if Sheets comes back and performs well, the two could agree to exercise their option for 2010.  If he does well in 2010, they could bring him back for 2011.  If Sheets feels like he could make more by going back on the market at any point, he could do just that.  If Sheets can’t stay healthy and doesn’t end up pitching in ’09, the Jays have only spent $750,000 and will be free of him next fall.  Win-win.

If Sheets made the maximum in incentives in ’09 and decided to come back on both his option years, the deal would end up being 3-years for $22.25-million…nothing to sneeze at in this market.

I’ll be expecting my phone call from Mr. Riccardi any day to thank me for this wonderful idea.