Virtuallyevery assessment of the chances of the Milwaukee Brewers this seasoncould be summed us as “this team has a solid lineup, but…” The big “BUT” in the case of the Brewers is a pitching rotation that is universallyquestioned and seen as inadequate to get Milwaukee into the playoffpicture.
Thepitching staff has been bolstered significantly, though, with theacquisition of Kyle Lohse, who was 16-3 last season for the Saint LouisCardinals. He was added to the roster on March 26, and it make take sometime for him to adjust.
Whetheror not that recent signing of the 34 year old can propel the staff tothe capability of allowing the Brewers to make a run for a Wild Cardspot or even a divisional championship remains to be seen.
YovaniGallardo will also, once again, be relied on heavily. He was aworkhorse for the Brewers, going 16-9 for the team last season. It isoutside of those top two pitchers that the rotation’s weaknesses reallybecome evident. Additionally, Milwaukee made only minor changes to abullpen that was one of baseball’s worst last season.
To overcome the pitching deficiencies, the Brewers will need to rely on some active bats.
Milwaukee led the National League in almost every major offensive statistical category despite the loss of Prince Fielder.
RyanBraun continues to prove he is one of the best in the game and iscoming off an NL leading 41 home run season while batting .319 andbatting in 112 runs.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was the only Brewer with a better average, hitting .320.
Braun’scontributions are bolstered by contributions of other hitters,particularly three infielders. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez batted .300while adding 105 RBIs and 27 homers. Additionally, first baseman CoreyHart (.270 BA, 30 HR, and 83 RBI) and second baseman Rickie Weeks (.230BA, 21 HR, and 63 RBI), who came on strong last season despite ahorrific average at the start at the plate, bring some additional power.
Hart may have a delayed start to his season due to January knee surgery, and veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez will fill in.
Japanesearrival Norichika Aoki made a significant contribution from theoutfield in his first season adding 10 home runs and also had a sold.288 average. His continued development would only strengthen what isalready one of the MLB’s best lineups. Fellow outfielder Carlos Gomezalso batted .260 and contributed 19 home runs.
ManagerRon Roenicke leads a team that possesses one of the game’s brighteststars (Braun) and the team should have little trouble producing runs.However, whether or not they can be in the upper echelon of teams in theleague will depend on pitching, leaving little reason for postseasonoptimism at this stage.
The team finished 83-79 last season, and the expectation entering this season has to be a record in the same ballpark.