Friday, 23 March 2012

2012 Previews: Milwaukee Brewers

I see you creepin', I can see it in my shadow.  Wanna jump up in my Yovani Gallardo.

The Majors
The loss of Prince Fielder obviously sucks, but this team is still plenty good enough to contend if things go right, especially with two wild cards.  The front end of the rotation can hang with any team, the bullpen is very strong, and they have Ryan Braun on steroids.  I worry most about the offensive contributions that this team can put up now, especially with Fielder gone, and with Corey Hart being a bit of a question mark.  They won more than their fair share of close games last season, and seemed to get blown out of the water an awful lot for a team that won 96 games.

One thing I like quite a bit about what the Brewers did this offseason was investing in some people who can actually play some defense in the infield, instead of giving Yuniesky Betancourt everyday shortstop time.  With better infield defense comes better results for Gallardo-Grienke-Marcum, all of whom had fip's under 4.

Ultimately, I don't think that they're a better team than STL or CIN, but they should be able to stay within a reasonable distance of both, and maybe if they can find a trade somewhere to pick up a legitimate 1B option if Mat Gamels (or whoever) can't hang, the NL Central race should be reasonably close at the end of the season.

The Minors
If they do happen to want to pick up a 1B option, they might have to get creative, because there isn't much in the minor league system, and they have already announced that they're going to be running over their budget this season.  There are a few arms in the system that could reach the bigs at some point in 2013, but this system is pretty thin.

The Verdict
If they can find a surprise contribution out of 1B, they might be able to contend, but I wouldn't feel comfortable betting on it.  After signing Aramis Ramirez to try to fill the gap left by Prince Fielder, they pushed their payroll beyond their planned budget, which is a scary thought considering Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are both free agents after this season (Randy Wolf also has a $10MM option that probably won't be exercised).  If they decide that they're close enough that they want to go for it, they have a few arms in the system that could fetch a decent player.  This depends mostly on what they think they'll get out of Corey Hart, and what they think their chances are of re-signing Greinke and, to a lesser extent, Marcum.  If they think both pitchers walk at the end of the year, they might try to mortgage off their future at the expense of a few prospects to try and win now before rebuilding for a year or two.

Projection: 87-75, 3rd in the NL Central

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