Monday, April 8, 2013

Something's Brewing In Milwaukee

SOUTH BOSTON, Mass. - After a season in which they won only 69 games, the Milwaukee Brewers had little reason to think that Season 27 would be much different.  But with the a stronger pitching performance than expected and the sooner-than-expected emergence of some young players, the Brewers won 80 games, making them a Wild Card contender for most of the summer.

This year, management thinks it could have a winner on its hands and increased player payroll nearly 30 percent; while it could be too much to ask these Brewers to catch the rival Cubs for first place in the Division, a Wild Card berth is not out of the question.

Milwaukee has a very serviceable farm system, especially at AAA where the organization has a handful of future starting pitchers; likewise, there are a couple of solid major league hitters down on the farm.  Historically, the Brewers promote their players to the majors early and let them learn on the job.  This season, the Brewers signed free agents to fill out their Major League roster, with most newcomers on 1-year deals, or 1 year with an option.  This will give the team some flexibility next season. 

Here's how the Brew Crew lineup compares to last season .

  Season 28 Season 27 Adv Notes
1 Ezequiel Uribe, 2B Uribe, RF 28 Won Gold Glove in RF; Project .375, 100 runs, 25 SB
2 TJ O'Brien, RF Pablo Solano, 2B 27 Solano had .789 OPS but will make $30mm in SF; 
3 James Saitou, LF Saitou, LF 28 Now 26, Saitou had 26 HR and 83 RBI after torrid start.
4 Desi Guerrero, CF Guerrero, CF 28 23-year old had 30 HR and 102 RBI as a rookie.
5 Pat Hill, 1B Hill, 1B 28 Just 26, went .308/35/100 for Milwaukee and Philly last season
6 Will Potvin, SS Potvin, SS 28 B2B Gold Gloves (CF, SS) for 25-year old.  Hit 15 HRs.
7 Kid Gload, 3B Gload, 3B TIE Among weaker 3B in league, strong fielder.
8 Brian Patrick, C Patrick, C 28 Surprising Rule V pick hit 19 HR and won Gold Glove as 23-year old
BENCH Francisco Cerda, RF Freddie Cox, 1B 28 Aging Cerda was OBP machine in Chicago.
BENCH Alfredo Diaz, C Diaz, C TIE One of the best backup catchers.
BENCH Phil Nakajima, 2B/CF Nakajima 28 Strictly 25th-man fodder.  Can run and field.
BENCH TBD Felipe Sierra, IF TBD Sierra couldn't hit his ass with either hand.
SP1 Robinzon Rodriguez Rodriguez TIE 30-year old won 16 games last year returning from surgery. 
SP2 Paul Berroa Fernando Aguilar 28 Two-time All-Star Berroa needs 15 wins from 150 innings.
SP3 Aguilar Michael Yamamoto 28 26-year old Aguilar went 10-16 in 234 IP. Former 14-game winner
SP4 Yamomoto Andrew Bergen 28 3.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 150 IP for the 29-year old.
SP5 Bergen Bennie York 28 Entering 2nd full ML season, 26-year old won 9 games as a rookie in 180 IP.
LRA Hipolito Palacios Alberto Estrada TIE Estrada was a surprise Rule V sensation.
SU1 Russell West West TIE Very strong bounceback season.
SU2 Sawyer Christensen Christensen 28 Closer-in-waiting just 22 years old.
SU3 Bud Fox Al Limon TIE New top bullpen LHP, Fox is 8 years younger but gives up HRs
SU4 Parker Mahaffey Mahaffey 28 Now 26, has tools to be solid RH reliever.
SU5 Howard Edmonds Edmonds 28 Probably LH specialist, now 27.
SU6 Ken Guttierez Guttierez TIE Saved 28 four seasons ago.  2.65 ERA after late season callup.
CL Emil Sosa Stuart Young TIE 39-year old Sosa has great stuff, but can he replace Young's 41 saves?

WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS IF:  The myriad Brewers in their early and mid-20s all take an incremental step forward; newcomers hold up over 162 games and balance the losses of Solano at 2B and Young at closer.  The starting pitching has truly been upgraded.

WILL FINISH IN LAST PLACE IF: Too much hope has been pinned on Desi Guerrero and James Saitou.  Older acquisitions break down.

PREDICTION: 88-74.  2nd place North and NL Wild Card.

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