Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Milwaukee Brewers preview

In danger of becoming the Twins without the division titles. A team that ends up playing better than it looks on paper, but can’t quite take it to the next step. A lot of good young talent and the pitching is solid, if they can keep it all together. The Cardinals are down, and the Reds still have some holes, so they could make the leap if everything comes together.


Jonathon Lucroy. A hitter in the minor leagues, it didn’t work out so well last year. He put up good numbers for a back up, but he’s the starter and will need to hit better. His defense isn’t great, so he’ll have to hit. He’s not afraid to run, which I like to see in a catcher. He’s still young and can learn plate discipline. The weak link on a team that has Yuniesky Betancourt in the line up.

Upside:  only half a season doesn’t mean he can’t hit

Downside:  shows he’s a career back up already

Score:  - 1

First base:

Prince Fielder. In his last season as a Brewer. He’s been pretty maligned throughout his career, but I don’t get it. Yeah, he’s big, but he does what he’s supposed to. He hits homeruns and he walks. A lot. His average is good, and he doesn’t strike out nearly as much as other power hitters. He hits quite a few doubles also, and while his defense isn’t great, he’s not there for that. The Brewers might let him go, but the Mariners will be right here to pick him up.

Upside:  has a walk year to prove how good he is

Downside:  lost in the shuffle of all the other first base studs in the National League

Score:  + 2

Second base:

Richie Weeks. His breakout season at 27, he has to hope he can sustain it for a few more years. He did a little bit of everything. Power, hit for extra bases, and walked at a good rate. On the downside, he doesn’t run as much and his strikeout total was horrendous. He’s not a great defender, but that’s not important on this team. Gets hit by a lot of pitches, so he’s probably one of those ‘scrappy’ players.

Upside:  just hitting his stride

Downside:  becomes the second base version of Mark Reynolds

Score:  + 1

Third base:

Casey McGehee. Holding the job for Matt Gamel, who keeps getting hurt, but that's not a bad thing. Not good defensively at third, but is at second, if Weeks can’t get it done. Good power and extra base hits. Gets on base and doesn’t strike out to much. Doesn’t run, but that’s not what this team is looking for. Depending on the status of Gamel and Fielder, he could be at any position next year, but will be in the line up.

Upside:  had a sort of, kind of, down year, but comes back with adjustments

Downside:  a man without a position when Gamel is healthy

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Yuniesky Betancourt. As a Royals fan, I’m loving it. Even if we didn’t get much in return, we’re rid of this guy and Grienke, so it’s a push. Had a lot of homeruns and RBI’s last year, but don’t let that full you. It’s easier for a right handed hitter to hit homeruns in Kansas City than it is in Seattle. He’s still can’t get on base, and can’t play defense. He also doesn’t run, so I’m not sure why he gets 550 plate appearances every year.

Upside:  anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone, can replace him

Downside:  no one does

Score:  - 2

Left field:

Ryan Braun. Not exactly a down year, but not quite what we expected. He does it all. Hits for power, average, and gets on base. Lots of extra base hits, and he runs well. Doesn’t strike out too much, which is always good. His defense isn’t great, but it’s getting better. The only question is which position he’ll play next year, if Fielder leaves. He could end up at first, but they should leave him alone. He’s the franchise.

Upside:  gets back to normal

Downside:  Fielder helps more than we know

Score:   + 2


Carlos Gomez. Getting less playing time each year, and his numbers show why. He was there for his defense and speed, but he doesn’t get on base enough to run, and his defense took a hit last year. No extra base power, he doesn’t walk, and he strikes out too much for a guy with the other problems. A useful fourth outfielder, but he might end up in a platoon if they find anyone who can play center field.

Upside:  John Fogarty is available

Downside:  Fogarty really can’t be

Score:  - 1

Right field:

Corey Hart. The best season of his career, and career highs in almost every category. He’s kind of under rated and unknown for as good as he is, but there are a lot of personalities in town. Good power, and extra bases. A few too many strike outs and more walks would help. He used to run a little more, but doesn’t now. His defense was good, and the team will need it.

Upside:  keeps getting better

Downside:  Fielder gets traded and he has to do too much

Score: + 1

Pinch hitter/general utility:

Mark Kotsay. A valuable player to have, but on the downside. He doesn’t have any power, but does hit doubles. Doesn’t run and doesn’t get on base like he used to. Doesn’t strike out much so that helps. His big thing is his versatility, as he can play center field, and the corners as well as first. If he hits at all, he’ll end up in a platoon with Gomez.

Upside:  will hit better than Gomez

Downside:  shouldn’t be playing center field on a regular basis

Score:   0

Backup catcher:

Wil Nieves. Not really a good hitter, which would have helped, as Lucroy will need lots of time off. Doesn’t really do defense either, which is what you want out of this position. He’ll have to get into too many games, and that will be a problem. He would make a good back up for a guy catching 130 games a year, but I don’t see that happening yet. A strange pick up when there were others available.

Upside:  Lucroy breaks out and Nieves doesn’t have to play too much

Downside:  becomes the starter

Score:  - 2

Backup first baseman:

Mark Kotsay. But they shouldn’t really need one, as Fielder plays every day. The only way this matters is if Fielder is traded and no one moves here. If Kotsay does end up in a platoon in center field, he won’t’ be available here, but that really shouldn’t be an issue. The more games he starts, the worse the team is doing. That’s not a knock on Kotsay, but a reflection of how good the other players are.

Upside: gets to be a role player all season

Downside:  has to start at any position

Score:  - 1

Back-up infielder:

Craig Counsell. He keeps on rolling on, but for how much longer? He doesn’t hit a lot, but he never really did. The speed he has is gone, and he doesn’t get on base much. He cans still play defense, and play all over the field as well as pinch hit. He’s a useful guy to have, and does have those championships, if that kind of thing means anything. What he does, he does as well as any other player could do, but for more money.

Upside:  teams win World Series when he’s on them

Downside:  it’s been a long time

Score:  - 1

Back-up outfielder:

Chris Dickerson. Could actually be the platoon partner with Gomez. Has some success in Cincinnati, but didn’t carry it over last year. He can get on base, and can run a little bit. Decent speed and good defense, but he doesn’t bring anything that Gomes doesn’t except a left handed bat. That might be enough, but he’ll get a lot of time around the outfield giving guys a day off.

Upside:  gets back to drawing walks and using his speed

Downside:  mirror image of Gomez

Score:  - 1

Rotation (front 3):

Yovani Gallardo, Zach Grienke, and Shaun Marcum. All three are plus pitchers, and can go deep. They strike out a lot, and are an athletic bunch that can field and hit. Marcum is still a year away from injuries, but seems to be recovered, while Grienke is out for a while with busted ribs. How long is out for and how well he pitches when he comes back will be the big question. The team needs pitching in this division.

Upside:  Grienke only misses 2-3 starts

Downside:  Dizzy Dean only broke his toe

Score:  + 1

Rotation (back end):

Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson. Wolf has never been great and Narveson didn’t show much last year. Both, however, are lefties, and that’s always good. They’ll eat innings and go deep, and that’s what they need to do. As long as the front three are healthy and doing what they need to, they’ll be okay. Expecting one of these two to step up isn’t the best way to go.

Upside:  they both throw 200 innings

Downside:  one of them has to fill in for Grienke for an extended period

Score:  0


LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Zack Braddock, Kameron Loe, and Manny Parra. Loe and Braddock are good, and Saito is a former closer who can again, and pitched well. Hawkins and Parra didn’t do much. They shouldn’t need too many innings out of these guys, which will make them more effective. If they get a lead, they should be able to pass it on.

Upside: youth and depth

Downside:  none of the veterans can help

Score:  + 1


John Axford. A good rookie year, so he’ll have to reproduce it. Lots of strikeouts, but lots of walks. Saito is in the bullpen ready if he fails, so you have to wonder if he pressures himself too much. It wasn’t quite a full season, so they’ll probably limit his innings. That won’t be bad, as he has help. He should get lots of leads and lots of saves. If he doesn’t, he won’t last long.

Upside:  gets better another time through

Downside:  none, because he can switch with Saito

Score:  1

Team speed (which includes base running):

Okay. Lots of doubles and triples, but not many stolen bases. Mostly because the guys who run don’t get on base. The defensive ranges are good in most places and will be a big help to the pitching staff. They’re a good offense, so the lack of steals won’t hurt them. If Gomez or Dickerson can hit, they’ll help. If not, they’ll walk and bash their way around the bases.

Upside:  it’s there, just not getting used

Downside:  too many guys who have that as their only weapon

Score:  + 1

Team defense:

Not so much. Okay to good in the outfield, and a complete disaster in the infield. The catching isn’t the best either. A lot of days, the best defensive player will be the guy on the mound. Good range in places, but not ability. They’ll score a lot, so the defense won’t hurt as bad. But they are playing the same types of team as they are that have better defense.

Upside:  Betancourt decides to go on strike and not play a single inning

Downside:  he goes for 162 games

Score:  - 1

Team batting:

Good. Not quite as good as the Reds, but it might be. They hit for average, walk, hit for power, and do have the ability to get around the bases. Lots of extra bases and lots of power. With the pitching staff, they don’t have to outscore teams, just score. Some comeback years, and some break out years, and they’ll be better than the Reds. Maybe. But they will be good.

Upside:  they know how to do it and do it well

Downside:  get dragged down by the guys who can’t

Score:  + 2

Team pitching:

Good. As long as they are all healthy. And young. The veterans aren’t counted on to do much, and the young guys have all pitched well. Good staring pitching, if Grienke is okay. A good bullpen, and a closer who should be good. Deep starts by the rotation will help the bullpen get to the closer, and they have depth. The teams in this division that will contend will hit, so pitching will be the deciding factor.

Upside:  just starting long careers

Downside:  too many young players might not be a good idea

Score:  + 1

Total score:    + 4

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