Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Milwaukee Brewers. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
The Brewers went for broke in 2008 and ended up getting ran over by a team just playing better baseball at the point that they met. The Phillies were just on one of those rolls, but we actually thought the Brewers were the more talented ballclub.
We really like a lot about this Brewers organization. Other then thinking Prince Fielder is an entertaining character and a great young power hitter, they’ve got Ryan Braun. This is the year we most likely find out who is Batman and who is the sidekick between the two of them. The Brewers have made it a bit more clear that they’re going to build around Braun by giving him the big long-term deal, but they also made a surprising move keeping Fielder on a multi-year deal after trade rumors surfaced around Fielder in the offseason. They’re in a wait and see with Fielder. If he can have a huge year like he did in 2007, you’ll most likely hear talks of that huge extension he desires. If he has a good but not spectacular year like he did last season you will probably hear about the Brewers trading him in 2010.
The Brewers said goodbyes to CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, two ace types. They’re going to make Yovani Gallardo the ace of this staff and he has dominating stuff at times. Gallardo has struggled staying healthy (as Sheets always seemed to do) but if healthy he could evolve into one of the front-line starters in all of the NL. From there the Brewers trot out Manny Parra as their #2, a lefty with a live arm but shaky command. Dave Bush has settled in as a middle of the rotation innings eater but will probably never be spectacular. Jeff Suppan will be the #4 starter and he isn’t anything special but has veteran grit and on certain days he can shut down a team based on knowledge and guile. The 5th starter will be either Seth Mcclung or Carlos Villanueva, both of whom used to be relievers.
The big addition in the offseason for the Brew-crew was Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman brings his 554 saves to Milwaukee, and is coming off a season in which he had a 3.77 ERA in just over 45 innings of work. He’ll be 42 in October, but he’s one of those old closer types who could literally pitch until the age of 50. From there the Brewers add some electric arms but guys who haven’t had a ton of success in the big leagues. Jorge Julio is trying to hang onto a big league career. David Riske is the setup man. Todd Coffey comes over from Cincinnati; have fun with that. Mitch Stetter should be the token lefty out of the pen.
They’re trotting out the same lineup as last year. Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, Braun, Fielder, Corey Hart, Mike Cameron, Billy Hall, and Jason Kendall. That isn’t bad. Their weak point won’t be their ability to score runs. They’ve got enough thunder to intimidate with the heart of the order alone. Mike Lamb should see a reasonable amount of time coming off the bench. If J.J. Hardy doesn’t return to form, look for Alcides Escobar to get a push as a shortstop prospect.
Overall, this team is a lot of fun and good for baseball when they win; but they just don’t have nearly enough starting pitching. Last year they should have probably won it all on paper. In 2007 they were easily good enough to make the playoffs. In 2009, they’re going to be chasing the two longtime staple teams in the NL Central.