explanation of rankings and other team previews here
2008 Record: 90-72
Offseason Additions: Trevor Hoffman
Offseason Subtractions: CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne
Line-Up - 14th
Rotation - 25th
Bullpen - 26th
Defense - 1st tier (out of 5)
Baserunning - 3rd tier (out of 5)
KEY PLAYER: YOVANI GALLARDO
The Brewers lost their top 2 starting pitchers to free agency this off-season, and thus far, they have replaced them with no-one. That leaves Yovani Gallardo, author of 134.1 career innings, as their incumbent ace. The soon-to-be 23 year old Gallardo has performed well in his short stint in the majors, sporting a 9-5 record and a 3.35 ERA. In the minors, he was excellent, with a 2.59 ERA and 457 strikeouts in 395.2 IP. He has excellent stuff, as he showed against the Phillies in the NLDS, but he also is an unfinished product and really an unknown quantity at this point. He has never thrown more than 155 innings in a professional season, and the Brewers need him to blow that mark out of the water to have a chance this year.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RYAN BRAUN
Any big time baseball fan knows who Ryan Braun is, but I don’t think everyone knows just how good he is. The top 3 players in SLG% in their first 2 seasons in the majors (min: 1,000 ABs) are as follows…
- Joe DiMaggio, .624
- Ted Williams, .601
- Ryan Braun, .588
He is also tied with Albert Pujols for 4th in HR’s over than span, behind only DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner and Eddie Matthews. And finally, the only players to hit over .300 with 70 HR and 200 RBI in their first 2 seasons in the majors are Pujols, DiMaggio and Braun. Needless to say, this kid is in good company no matter how cut his stats, and at 25, he very well may be on his way to being one of the top-5 hitters in all of baseball.
It Doesn’t Always Go As Planned
The Brewers tried to build their franchise almost exactly the same way we did. Prince Fielder was their Ryan Howard. Rickie Weeks their Chase Utley. J.J. Hardy their Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Braun their Pat Burrell. Ben Sheets their Brett Myers and Yovani Gallardo their Cole Hamels. It’s eerie how every single one our drafted core players had a corresponding player on the Brewers. In most cases, the Brewers players actually came into the league with higher expectations than their Phillies counterpart. Only Burrell and Hamels came into the league with more hype. So why are the Phillies the defending champs, and not the Brewers? The biggest disappointment for them has been Rickie Weeks, who was the 2nd overall pick in the 2003 draft. Weeks put up video game numbers in college, where he hit .500 with a .987 SLG%, but he’s never been able to put his prodigious tools to use. Fielder looked like the next great hitter after his 50 HR season in 2007, but he hit only 34 in 2008 and his OPS went down an alarming 134 points. Sheets and Gallardo have been hurt more than healthy, and Hardy and Braun have pretty much been as advertised. The point is that most scouts would have taken the Brewers 6 coming out of the minors, but no one would take them over ours now.
Worst Contract: Jeff Suppan (4 yrs, $44 million, ends in 2010)
Best Pitch: Trevor Hoffman’s Change-up
Best Player in a Contract Year: Jason Kendall
Top Prospect: Mat Gamel, 3B
Best Individual Season: Robin Yount, 1982 (.331 BA, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 46 2B, 12 3B, 14 SB, 63 K, MVP)
Worst Uniforms: 1995
Where’d They Come From?
– Draft, 8
– Free Agent, 4
- Trade, 2
- Amateur FA, 0
5th NL Central, 13th NL, 24th MLB
My gut tells me that the Brewers should be better than this, but my formula can’t get past their unstable rotation. After Gallardo, they have Dave Bush (due to take a step back), Jeff Suppan (4.96 ERA in 2008), Manny Parra (young arm with promise) and Seth McClung (no business in an MLB rotation). Could be OK, but not a rotation that I think will have anyone in the playoff race. It will be interesting to see if Fielder can bounce back from last season or if pitchers were able to figure him out last year. Also, this is probably Rickie Weeks’ last chance to figure it out. He’s 26 and has hit .230 the last two years. On a side note, Miller Park remains one of my favorite parks and perhaps the most underrated park in baseball.