If there were any rhyme or reason to things, I’d be starting this string of team previews with some sort of logical beginning. Maybe I’d go in alphabetical order, or count down the teams by projected finish, or something along those lines. But that’s not really how I want to do things. Ultimately, this exercise has to interest me asa well as you, and so it only makes sense for me to start off with the team I’m most interested in, my Milwaukee Brewers. To keep a semblance of order, though, I’ll post the previews in division order, starting off with the Brewers today and going through the rest of the NL Central throughout the week.
So let’s start this off. The preview below isn’t meant to be my personal opinion about the team’s 2009 season. Instead, it’s a summary of what the three main baseball preview magazines are saying. I’ve included quotes and other information from each of the them – Sporting News, Athlon, and Lindy’s. I’ve also included some statistics about each magazines’ success at predictions over the last ten years. Be sure to check out the Team-by-Team Season Preview index for other guide previews over the next few weeks.
I’ve decided to refrain from providing my opinion because, while I may know enough about certain teams, like the Brewers, to make an educated prediction, I don’t feel like I know enough about most teams to make a good guess. In fact, most of my knowledge about some of these teams (like maybe the Pirates or Blue Jays or Royals) will probably come straight from these magazines. Why repeat and dilute the source? I hope you find this interesting. Now, on with the “combined” team preview for the…
Last Year: 90 – 72, 2nd Place, NL Central
|This Year||Last Year||Avg Pred.||Avg Finish|
* Sporting News average includes preview guides from these years: 1999 – 2001, 2003 – 2004, 2006 – 2008
** Athlon average includes preview guides from these years: 1999 – 2003, 2006 – 2008
Everyone seems to agree, the Brewers are going to have problems this year. Well, at least that’s what the magazines are saying. With the departure of staff aces CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets from a team that barely made it to the playoffs to begin with, the team looks to be in a tough place. On the bright side, Milwaukee does have some of the top offensive players in the NL at three positions: left-field, shortstop, and first-base.
“With a projected rotation of Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Dave Bush, Yovani Gallardo and Seth McClung, the Brewers appear more reliant than ever on a big-swinging lineup anchored by left fielder Ryan Braun and first-baseman Prince Fielder. The Brewers received at least 20 home runs from five players last season, including 37 from Braun and 34 from the slow-starting Fielder. However, they got more than 75 RBIs from only three: Braun, Fielder and right-fielder Corey Hart. (TSN)”
Whether those players and the cadre of young guys who have still to completely fulfill their promise will be enough (Rickie Weeks, I’m looking at you), it’s hard to say. Brewers fans can take heart in their front-office, though, who seem to have both the smarts and willingness to make the right moves.
“Doug Melvin has done a marvelous job of turning a doormat into a playoff team since taking over as general manager in 2002, when Mark Attanasio bought the club from the Selig family. The road ahead could be even more challenging, though, after Melvin was ordered by Attanasio to fire manager Ned Yost with 12 games remaining last season and then lost respected scouting director Jack Zduriencik, who was hired as Seattle’s GM. Ken Macha was an interesting choice as manager. He has consistently been lauded for his baseball acumen but was criticized during his four-year stint with Oakland for a lack of communication skills, which could be a problem in one of the tighter-knit clubhouses in the game. (Lindy)”
In the end, though, it’s all about how the team will balance their pitching and offense.
“While there are serious questions about the starting pitching and bullpen, not many teams boast the kind of potent young bats the Brewers have at just about every position. With Sabathia in the Bronx, the Brewers are likely to take a step back unless they discover some unexpected help on the mound and find more ways to score runs other than relying on the homer. (Athlon)”
Hopefully, the Brewers have already found that “help on the mound” in their own Yovani Gallardo.
“Difference Maker: With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets off to greener pastures, right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo – who made all of four starts last year – will be counted on to fill the role of ‘ace’ of the thin Brewer pitching staff. Stepping into big roles is nothing new for Gallardo, who started Game 1 of the NLDS last year after making only one September start, having missed most of the season with a torn ACL. The 23-year old Gallardo has the stuff and the temperament to deliver – he was 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA as a rookie in 2007. (Athlon)”
From the “Beyond the Box Score” section of the Athlon:
“Brains and Braun: As if being an All-Star, signing the biggest contract in franchise history and starring in an iPhone commercial weren’t enough for Ryan Braun, the young slugger also stepped up as one of the team’s most vocal leaders, issuing blunt wake-up calls to the team after sweeps at Boston and Philadelphia.”