Everyone knows about Braun and Fielder, but they don’t exactly know the rest of the lineup that makes the Brewers kind of like an AL team at scoring runs. Alcides Escobar is going to make a run at the NL Rookie of the year. He hit .298 in AAA last season and in limited MLB duty he posted a .304 average. He’s exciting and should develop some pop at the top of the order as well as be a 30-40 stolen base guy. He’s one of the next big things in baseball. He’s basically what Rickie Weeks was always supposed to be. Weeks returns as the club’s second baseman in what is a pivotal year for him.
After Braun and Fielder you have Casey “Pig Pen” McGehee. He hit 16 homers and a surprising .301 last season as the third baseman. Corey Hart must try to recover his All-Star form for this team to compete, and for him to not be considered a one-hit wonder in his own right. You won’t find a lot of offense from the last two guys in the lineup, centerfielder Carlos Gomez and catcher Greg Zaun. Greg Zaun? How the hell is this guy still in baseball? I’ll say this, Milwaukee is the perfect town for him.
The bench features a bunch of pretty good players in Mat Gamel, Jody Gerut, and Craig Counsell. It’s a better group then most teams have to choose from in a pinch.
Milwaukee featured a miserable starting rotation that finished last in the majors with a 5.37 ERA in 2009. They lack a true #1 still but did go out and add Randy Wolf from the Dodgers. Yovani Gallardo has always had the stuff to win a lot of games but can’t stay healthy. Doug Davis, Jeff Suppan, and Manny Parra are just a bunch of guys.
Brewers fans might get to witness something very special: Trevor Hoffman closing out save #600 in a Brewers uniform. Getting him the ball will be Todd Coffey, LaTroy Hawkins, Claudio Vargas, and Mitch Stetter. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row of bullpen arms.
In four seasons as manager of the Oakland A’s, Ken Macha’s teams had finished at least 14 games above .500. These Brewers are slightly more talented but have slightly less pitching developed. That puts them at about a .500 team and in the thick of things.
The storylines will be Braun and Fielder each chasing 40 and possibly 50 home runs, Hoffman’s pursuit of save 600, and the development of Alcides Escobar. Other then that, this team lacks much of a chance to surprise and could finish 4th in the NL Central.