2010 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010 6:03 AM
  • Written By: Andrew Simon

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2009: 80-82, 3rd in NL Central. Pythagorean record of 78-84.
Key Additions: SPs Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, RP LaTroy Hawkins, OFs Carlos Gomez and Jim Edmonds, C Gregg Zaun
Key Losses: CF Mike Cameron, SS JJ Hardy, IF Felipe Lopez, C Jason Kendall, SP Braden Looper
2010 Projections: PECOTA – 78-84, tied for 3rd in NL Central. CHONE – 81-81, tied for 2nd. CAIRO – 83.8-78.2, tied for 3rd.

Pitching: 2009 – 4.84 FIP (29th in MLB), 5.15 for starters, 4.33 for relievers
2010 – Wolf should provide a big upgrade over Looper, who was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last season. Yovani Gallardo leads a staff that should be better than last year, although less so if the Brewers insist on keeping Jeff Suppan in the rotation. At 42, Trevor Hoffman will hit the wall eventually, but I wouldn't feel confident predicting it will be this year.
Hitting: 2009 – .335 wOBA (9th in MLB)
2010 – The Brewers' 1-2 punch of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun is as good as just about any in baseball, but they are surrounded by a bunch of question marks. Among those: Can Carlos Gomez and Alcides Escobar hit consistently at the big league level? Can Casey McGehee possibly repeat his out-of-nowhere 2009? What the heck happened to Corey Hart?
Fielding: 2009 – UZR of 9.9 (11th in MLB)
2010 – In Escobar and Gomez, the Brew Crew should have outstanding up-the-middle defense for years to come, although it's not like they were replacing terrible gloves in Hardy and Cameron. Fielder and Braun rightfully are known for their hitting.

Reasons to Watch
1. Alcides Escobar: There seems to be little doubt among scouts that Escobar will be an elite defender at shortstop, and that talent in itself creates a valuable player. The question is if Escobar will hit enough to go up to that next level. He has two things going for him: contact and speed, which helped him hit .304 in 134 MLB plate appearances last season. But Escobar also has never met a pitch he didn't want to swing at (just 4 walks in those 134 PA), and his career high in homers in the minors was eight. At 23 years old, there's time for improvement, but you have to wonder if Escobar will ever provide much more offensively than an empty batting average. With his defense, that could be enough, but the Brewers surely would love to see more.
2. Rickie Weeks: Escobar's potential double-play partner has tremendous talent but has yet to put it all together at the big league level. Injuries have played a role, including last season, when Weeks was lost for the year in May due to a torn tendon sheath in his wrist. Weeks was slugging .517 at the time, so the Brewers will have to hope the wrist is fully healed and won't stand in the way of him picking up where he left off.
3. Yovani Gallardo: After missing most of 2008 due to knee surgery, Gallardo came back strong in 2009, but there was one troubling statistic he will have to address. In 2007, Gallardo walked about 3 batters per nine innings. Last year, that number jumped to about 4.5, the fourth-highest rate of any qualified pitcher. Gallardo increased his ground ball rate, and he strikes out a ton of batters, but he's going to have to correct the walk issue if he is going to develop into the elite starter he should.

Paint By Numbers: Out of all pitchers with 150 innings last season, Suppan's 5.70 FIP was worse than anyone else's, except teammate Braden Looper. The Brewers let Looper go but kept Suppan, who also had easily the worst K/BB ratio in MLB at 1.08. ... Despite pitching just 114 1/3 innings, David Bush managed to lead the majors in HBP, with 15. It was the fifth straight season Bush had reached double digits in that category. ... Casey McGehee spent six seasons in the minors with the Cubs, never reaching an .800 OPS. Chicago released him after giving him a cup of coffee late in 2008, and Milwaukee picked him up. All McGehee did for the Brewers in '09 was have a career season in the majors, notching an .859 OPS and also setting a personal best with 16 home runs in just 394 plate appearances.

Blog Jog: Nicholas Zettel of Bernie's Crew offers 2010 projections for Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, while Jim Breen thinks fans might be too preoccupied with Carlos Gomez to turn a critical enough gaze on Corey Hart. ... Brew Crew Ball's Kyle Lobner has a comprehensive team roundup on the Brewers' only off day of Spring Training. ... Brewed Sports takes FanGraphs' Marc Hulet's theory on fifth starters and applies it to the Brewers' situation.

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