Mar 19, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT
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.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT
heck out Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons pull off this stellar diving grab Tuesday night against the Pirates …
Sep 23, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Whatever playoff run the Giants have in them this season will have to be without center fielder Angel Pagan.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
Nationals center fielder Denard Span made a nice diving catch to rob Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker of a hit, but it may prove costly because he exited the game with an injury in the next half-inning.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
You can watch here as Bud Selig presents the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award to retiring shortstop Derek Jeter on Tuesday evening in the Yankee Stadium press room …
Sep 23, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Jurickson Profar’s nightmarish 2014 continues, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that he will be shut down for the next 2-3 months due to renewed discomfort in his right shoulder.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT
Chicago owes him $11 million in 2015 and $11 million in 2016.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays will bring back manager John Gibbons for the 2015 season.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
David Hale will start in Minor’s place Thursday against the Pirates.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
Lagares finishes his sophomore season hitting .283 with four homers and a .706 OPS in 115 games, which along with spectacular defense makes him one of the 10 most valuable all-around center fielders in baseball according to Wins Above Replacement.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
And he’s the Phillies’ closer again
Sep 23, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
This season can’t end soon enough for some teams.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT
Every day brings us another bit of weird Derek Jeter weirdness and excess. Why should today be any different?
Sep 23, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT
Out since last Wednesday when he was hit on the left thumb by a pitch, Jason Heyward is back in the Braves’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
Not that he didn’t have a point in the criticisms to begin with.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Last week deGrom tied the MLB record by striking out the first eight batters he faced against the Marlins and overall since mid-June he has a 1.90 ERA in 15 starts.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
It did not go well.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT
Probably to announce Sandy Alderson’s contract extension.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
J.J. Hardy is on the verge of a big payday, but will it be from the Orioles?
Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
The Braves could’ve fired their manager, but didn’t. Why?
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will return in 2015 3
- HBT Daily: Why did Frank Wren get the axe? 2
- John Schuerholz defines “The Braves Way.” And it’s a pretty big pile of crap. 57
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 26
- Frank Wren fired as Braves GM, John Hart to take over on an interim basis 42
- AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME! Sizing up the final week of the regular season 36
- Must-Click Link: Derek Jeter opens up. Seriously, he really does. 46
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 58
- Geddy Lee’s baseball obsession makes it really hard for me to hate Rush (124)
- It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned (108)
- Ron Washington claims he resigned because he cheated on his wife (103)
- Giants CEO Larry Baer thinks advertisements on uniforms are coming soon (89)
- Umpire ejects jackwagon fan heckling Bryce Harper in Atlanta last night (85)