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.
May 21, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com has the news: Chris Sale has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with mild tendinitis in his left posterior shoulder, the team announced Tuesday. … A team official said Sale is expected to make his next start on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs. Hector Santiago will take the mound in his place. Sale has…
May 21, 2013, 8:31 PM EDT
Royals catcher Salvador Perez left Monday’s game against the Astros after slamming into the fence in front of the home dugout at Houston’s Minute Maid Park while trying to track down a foul popup. Perez has been diagnosed with a deep right hip bruise, according to beat writer Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star,…
May 21, 2013, 7:27 PM EDT
From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com comes word that the Phillies have scratched second baseman Chase Utley from Tuesday’s game against the Marlins because of pain in his right side. The Phillies aren’t giving out many details, only saying that Utley will be reevaluated by team doctors on Wednesday. He apparently felt the discomfort while taking pregame batting…
May 21, 2013, 6:43 PM EDT
The top of the minor league OPS leaderboard is typically littered with Triple-A veterans and A-ball players too old for their leagues. That’s still the case this year, but numbers two, three and four on the list are all top prospects. Minor league OPS leaders (minimum 100 at-bats) Scott Van Slyke (26 Dodgers): 1.236 OPS…
May 21, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT
MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers have scratched Nick Tepesch from his scheduled Wednesday start against the A’s due to a blister on his right middle finger. Ross Wolf will be called up from Triple-A Round Rock to pitch in his place. Tepesch developed the blister Friday evening on the only slider he threw…
May 21, 2013, 5:38 PM EDT
Sorry. That headline may have been a bit dramatic. But see, I turn 40 in July. And while I’m generally cool with that — and while I am, in all honestly, in The Best Shape of My Life — it has dawned on me pretty clearly that we are almost to the point where there…
May 21, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT
From the press release machine: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Milwaukee Brewers Minor League left-handed pitcher Alan Williams has received a 50-game suspension without pay after a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Williams, who…
May 21, 2013, 4:46 PM EDT
As expected the Cubs activated Matt Garza from the disabled list to face the Pirates tonight, which will be his first start since being shut down with elbow problems last July. His recovery from the elbow injury was delayed by a lat injury suffered during spring training, which is how he ended up missing 10…
May 21, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
Larry Dierker has been part of the Astros family forever. He played there from 1964 through 1976, served as a radio broadcaster from 1979 through 1996 and managed the team from 1997 through 2001, winning the Manager of the Year award in 1998 and winning four division titles in his five seasons at the helm.…
May 21, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT
Jair Jurrjens’ return to the majors was a brief one, as the Orioles sent him back to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Miguel Gonzalez coming off the disabled list. Jurrjens predictably struggled in his first big-league start since July of 2012, allowing four runs in five innings against the Rays. He had…
May 21, 2013, 3:51 PM EDT
What type of MLB player do you want to be?
May 21, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT
The NFL just granted Super Bowls L and LI to San Carlos Santa Clara, California and Houston, respectively. Also in the running was Miami, but it was shafted. Why? Because neither Miami nor the State of Florida would pony up taxpayer dollars for upgrades to the Sun Life Stadium. Why wouldn’t they? Florio gives the…
May 21, 2013, 2:46 PM EDT
For the second time in a month Daric Barton was placed on waivers by the A’s and passed through without being claimed by any of the other 29 teams. Our own Bill Baer wondered over the weekend if Barton could be a fit for the Mets or other teams getting little production from first base,…
May 21, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT
The late Stan-the-Man’s house is on the market. Built in 1962 and, not surprisingly given the age of its owner when he passed, it rather looks it. But like Joe Morgan’s dated home (a) the bones are good and if you just redid the place it’d be fine; ad (b) it’d be kinda cool to…
May 21, 2013, 2:14 PM EDT
Patrick Corbin was never considered an elite prospect and had a decent but unspectacular rookie season for the Diamondbacks last year, throwing 107 innings with a 4.54 ERA and 86/25 K/BB ratio. He had to compete for the fifth starter job this spring and now … well, it’s safe to say his rotation spot is…
May 21, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
Eh, probably not. But such speculation is way more fun than Dodgers and Angels baseball these days. Also: I inexplicably used the term “legit” twice in this video. Sorry, everyone.
May 21, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
Paul Lukas of UniWatch figured out that MLB is putting all teams in uniforms with camouflage design highlights on Memorial Day. He figured it out because the team store for each team has the jerseys on sale, with the note “as worn on-field, Memorial Day, May 27, 2013.” I’m informed by an MLB source that the…
May 21, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT
Indians closer Chris Perez has been pretty active on Twitter over the years, but apparently the negative comments following a blown save Saturday and another poor outing Monday led him to delete the account last night. I can’t imagine having to deal with the angry, ugly comments that athletes receive on Twitter every day, let…
May 21, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
Matt Kemp is an Oklahoma native, so the tragedy in Oklahoma City yesterday certainly hit home for him. He’s doing something about it: I’m giving $1000 for tonight’s HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma — Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) May 21, 2013 So too is…
May 21, 2013, 12:52 PM EDT
When last we saw Samuel Deduno he was playing hero for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, beating the United States and then Puerto Rico to win the title. He ended up not making the Twins out of spring training because of a groin injury suffered during the WBC, but Deduno is healthy…
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