Key Additions—Aramis Ramirez
Key Losses——-Prince Fielder
Lineup—What a break this team caught when reigning MVP somehow had his suspension overturned. He is the centerpiece to this offense, and having him for a whole 162 game schedule is a huge plus for this team. If the Brewers would have had to replace Fielder and then have Braun miss 50 games that would have put a huge hit to this team’s chances. As it stands now, their offense, while not as good as last year, should be ok. As I mentioned Braun will be back anchoring this lineup. Corey Hart in RF is a nice hitter who helps with the middle of the lineup. Nyjer Morgan had a nice year last year, but I expect him to take a step back. If healthy I expect Carlos Gomez to regain his starting spot. The infield is hoping that newcomer Ramirez is able to offset the loss of Fielder. He takes over for Casey McGehee, who was dealt for Jose Veras. Alex Gonzalez adds veteran leadership up the middle, but is light hitting at this point in his career. Rickie Weeks is an above average 2b, but only if he stays healthy. That is the key with him. They are going to struggle at first base, so don’t expect much out of that position. All in all, this offense should put up decent numbers, much better than what it looked like 6 weeks ago.
Pitching—The Brewers went for broke last year with the acquisition of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, and it paid off with a playoff berth. The nice thing for the Brew Crew is these guys are back and help anchor a solid top 3 of the rotation. Along with Greinke and Marcum they will slide in Yovani Gallardo to be the ace of the staff. Those 3, if they can stay healthy, are a solid foundation to build a pitching staff. Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson will fill in the 4-5 holes for this team. While they won’t blow you away with their stuff, last year they combined for almost 400 IP and a 4.00 ERA, and I can assure you if the Brewers can get that again they would be thrilled. As I mentioned they added Veras to help bolster the bullpen, and along with Francisco Rodriguez, who at 8 million this year is an expensive set up man, and John Axford at closer, will be a very good back end of the pen. All in all, as long as the front end of this rotation can stay healthy, they will carry this team a long way towards another year in contention.
Outlook—Ultimately, as I mentioned this team got a huge break with Braun having his suspension overturned. With the Cardinals always being in contention, the Reds going for broke over the next year or 2, and some other teams in the NL improving; those 50 games could have put this team in a big hole. But he is good to go, so I expect the Brewers to remain right in the hunt in a competitive NL Central. Do they have enough to push their way past the other 2 teams, I am not sure, as I still think this team has some holes, but I do expect Miller Park to be hosting some exciting baseball in September.