Skip to content

2013 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

Mar 19, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT

miller park getty Getty Images

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Milwaukee Brew Crew.

The Big Question: Do the Brewers have enough pitching to contend for a playoff spot in 2013?

The offense isn’t a problem. Ryan Braun slugged a career-high 41 home runs and registered a National League-high .987 OPS in 154 games last season, finishing second only to Giants catcher Buster Posey in the MVP balloting. Aramis Ramirez exceeded even the loftiest of expectations in the first chapter of his three-year, $36 million free agent deal, leading the NL with 50 doubles and posting his best set of power numbers (27 homers, 105 RBI, .540 SLG) since 2008. Norichika Aoki was another good newcomer, hitting .288/.355/.433 with 10 homers and 30 stolen bases in 151 games as a rookie. Carlos Gomez took a big step forward and Rickie Weeks had a promising second half after initially stumbling out of the gate.

The Brewers produced the third-most runs in the major leagues last season — despite losing Prince Fielder to the Tigers over the winter — and the starting lineup looks plenty-stacked heading into the 2013 campaign.

But Milwaukee had a 4.22 staff ERA in 2012 — which ranked 22nd out of 30 — and didn’t make the kind of improvements this offseason that would justify a better finish in the National League Central standings.

Yovani Gallardo is rock solid and Marco Estrada has made significant strides over the past two seasons, but Michael Fiers is probably due for some regression and left-hander Chris Narveson owns a 4.67 career ERA and 1.37 career WHIP in over 394 major league frames. Wily Peralta looked great in his cup of coffee last year, but he had an underwhelming 4.66 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 146 2/3 innings at Triple-A Nashville before his call-up. And it’s not like this club has a crop of electric young starters on the way.

The Brewers boast a strong starting lineup that probably ranks third in the NL Central behind the Cardinals and Reds. Their rotation, however, sits dead last in the division. And it’s going to kill them yet again.

What Else Is Going On?

  • Help for the rotation is one call away in free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse, but the Brewers haven’t had much luck handing out multi-year deals to veteran starters (see: Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf) and would have to forfeit the 17th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft in order to add the 34-year-old Lohse. Giving up a first-round selection doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for an organization that lacks high-impact talent on the farm. Even if Lohse opens himself up to one-year offers, a marriage seems unlikely.
  • The Brewers’ bullpen also needs some upgrades. John Axford was a menace to opposing teams in 2010 and 2011, but he posted a 4.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP across 75 appearances last season while blowing nine saves. And there are no dominant arms accompanying him. Jim Henderson, who finally made his major league debut last year at the age of 29, is penciled in right now as the primary setup man.
  • Corey Hart underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on January 25 and is not expected to be ready to play in major league games until mid-to-late May. The Brewers were hoping to start Mat Gamel at first base in Hart’s absence, but Gamel required surgery two weeks ago for a re-torn right ACL and has already been ruled out for the entire 2013 season. Which leaves Alex Gonzalez — that’s right, the veteran shortstop — as Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter at first.
  • There’s a lot to like about 23-year-old shortstop Jean Segura, who was the centerpiece in last summer’s trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels. Segura batted .304/.358/.413 with seven home runs and 37 steals in 102 games at the Double-A level in 2012 and has been hitting everything in sight this spring in the Cactus League. He shows good range defensively and has a strong, accurate throwing arm.

Prediction: Fourth place in the National League Central.

Latest Posts
  1. Shin-Soo Choo regrets playing through ankle injury

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Shin-Soo Choo AP AP

    The Rangers had high hopes when they signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract over the winter, but a lingering injury to his left ankle is a major reason why his first season with Texas has been a bust.

  2. Cliff Lee struggles in first start back from disabled list

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    Plenty of scouts were in attendance tonight for Cliff Lee’s first start in the majors in over two months. They likely didn’t come away impressed.

  3. Jason Vargas could rejoin the Royals’ rotation as soon as Sunday

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT

    Jason Vargas AP AP

    Royals left-hander Jason Vargas underwent an appendectomy less than two weeks ago, but he could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Sunday against the Indians.

  4. VIDEO: Andrelton Simmons did something ridiculous again

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Andrelton Simmons

    Andrelton Simmons just isn’t fair.

  5. Josh Beckett will return from disabled list to start Tuesday

    Jul 21, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT

    Josh Beckett Getty Getty Images

    Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett is dealing with a left hip impingement, but he made it through a bullpen session Saturday with no issues and has been cleared to return Tuesday.

  6. Dodgers get good news on Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig

    Jul 21, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    dodgers logo

    X-rays on the hands of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig came back negative.

  7. Angels sign John Buck to minor league contract

    Jul 21, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    John Buck Getty Getty Images

    Veteran catcher John Buck was given his release by the Mariners earlier this month, but he didn’t stay out of a job for long.

  8. Report: Tommy Milone has asked the Athletics to trade him

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Tommy Milone Getty Getty Images

    After a demotion to Triple-A earlier this month, Tommy Milone has asked the Athletics to trade him. He appears unlikely to get his wish.

  9. Who is the next Face of Baseball?

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    jeter-reuiters Reuters

    Jeter has been that for so, so long. Who’s next?

  10. Rockies place Justin Morneau on the disabled list

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Rockies AP

    Justin Morneau was finally healthy and productive again after three injury wrecked years in Minnesota, to the point that he nearly made the All-Star team as a “Final Vote” candidate and was chosen for the Home Run Derby. But now he’s hurt again.

  11. The Royals are thinking about trading for Alex Rios

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Alex Rios AP AP

    You could do worse. Like, say, stand pat with the Royals’ offense.

  12. Mark Teixeira out 3-4 days with strained lat muscle

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Mark Teixeira AP

    Yankees first baseman will be out of the lineup for at least the next 3-4 days with a strained lat muscle, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

  13. Blue Jays designate ex-closer Sergio Santos for assignment

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Santos reacts after giving up a run to the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto Reuters

    Sergio Santos saved 30 games for the White Sox in 2011 and then that offseason the Blue Jays acquired him to take over as their closer, but he’s been injured and ineffective since then and today Toronto designated him for assignment.

  14. Michael Wacha’s MRI was encouraging

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Michael Wacha Getty Getty Images

    He could be throwing pitches in anger in September.

  15. Kurt Suzuki’s contract extension talks with the Twins didn’t get very far

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Kurt Suzuki Twins AP

    After four terrible seasons Kurt Suzuki had to settle for a one-year, $2.75 million deal this offseason, but now he’s having a career-year for the Twins and made his first All-Star team at age 30.

  16. Braves activate Evan Gattis, send Christian Bethancourt back to Triple-A

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    evan gattis getty Getty Images

    Evan Gattis is off the disabled list after missing the past four weeks with a bulging disk in his back and to make room for his return the Braves demoted fill-in catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A.

  17. HBT Daily: The dumbest invocation of the unwritten rules in baseball history

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 2.54.10 PM AP

    Some Colby on Colby crime in Toronto on Saturday. And none of it made a lick of sense.

  18. On this day in 1988: Twins teammates brawled on a lawn

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    gladden and lombardozzi

    Imagine a story like that happening today (and not involving Miguel Olivo).

  19. The coolest baseball poster you’ll see today

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

    Fielding Print

    The third installment in what I feel is the coolest set of baseball prints ever is now out.

  20. Report: Dan Uggla to sign with the Giants

    Jul 21, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT

    Dan Uggla AP AP

    The Giants make a low-risk bet on a possibly still high upside veteran.

Featured video

Colby-on-Colby crime in Toronto
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3382)
  2. C. Lee (2440)
  3. M. Trout (2256)
  4. H. Ramirez (2236)
  5. D. Price (1995)
  1. Y. Puig (1986)
  2. J. Segura (1972)
  3. B. Belt (1937)
  4. T. Tulowitzki (1905)
  5. D. Uggla (1890)