Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Milwaukee Brewers Preview
The Brewers gave their fans and MLB analysts something to talk about for the first time in a long time, but the 2008 Brew Crew wants to be remembered as something more than a nice story or as a young team that led its division only to flame out in the last weeks of the season. The roster has undergone a few changes, but the young nucleus of the team is back with an extra year of expirience, gunning to win the Central and make some new history.
2007 Finish: 83-79, 2nd in NL Central
Key Additions: OF Mike Cameron, CL Eric Gagne, C Jason Kendall, RP Guillermo Mota, RP Salomon Torres
Key Losses: CL Francisco Cordero, C Johnny Estrada, OF Kevin Mench, OF Geoff Jenkins
1. 2B Rickie Weeks
2. C Jason Kendall
3. 1B Prince Fielder
4. LF Ryan Braun
5. RF Corey Hart
6. CF Mike Cameron
7. 3B Bill Hall
8. SS J.J. Hardy
Lineup Grade: B+. Obviously Braun, Fielder, and Hart are the cornerstones of this franchise, as they proved with their play last season. If they can maintain that same level into '08 and the future, this lineup is great. Veterans like Hall and Cameron are nice pieces to the puzzle. Hardy and Kendall could switch spots in this order. Cameron must serve a 25-game suspension to begin the season, so look for his spot to be filled by Tony Gwynn, Jr in the meantime.
1. Ben Sheets
2. Jeff Suppan
3. Dave Bush
4. Chris Capuano
5. Claudio Vargas/Carlos Villanueva
(P Yovani Gallardo is questionable for the start of the season after recent knee surgery. If and when he returns he should take the #3 spot, pushing Capuano, etc. down a notch)
CL Eric Gagne
Setup Derrick Turnbow
Rotation Grade: B-. As with most major league rotations, this one is subject to ongoing health questions. It is also a huge question if Milwaukee got the good Texas Gagne or the shitty Boston Gagne. Cordero was almost automatic last year in the 9th inning, so the Brewers must hope a reworked bullpen can end games. Sheets must also stay healthy to the tune of 200+ innings to keep the BrewCrew in the hunt for the division title.
2008 Outlook: Much of this teams success depends on pitchers staying healthy and continued progress of young hitters/fielders. Moving Braun into the outfield should greatly reduce the number of defensive errors that plagued this team last year. The NL Central is shaping into a two-horse race between the Brewers and Cubs, with the 'Stros out on the fringe as a dark horse. Manager Ned Yost must perform his magic with these youngsters again this year, even during the last two weeks.
Projected Finish: 91-71, 1st in NL Central