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.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Andrelton Simmons just isn’t fair.
Jul 21, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT
X-rays on the hands of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig came back negative.
Jul 21, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
Jeter has been that for so, so long. Who’s next?
Jul 21, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT
You could do worse. Like, say, stand pat with the Royals’ offense.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
He could be throwing pitches in anger in September.
Jul 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
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.
Jul 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Some Colby on Colby crime in Toronto on Saturday. And none of it made a lick of sense.
Jul 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Imagine a story like that happening today (and not involving Miguel Olivo).
Jul 21, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT
The third installment in what I feel is the coolest set of baseball prints ever is now out.
Jul 21, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT
The Giants make a low-risk bet on a possibly still high upside veteran.
- Cliff Lee struggles in first start back from disabled list 0
- On the 10th anniversary of his MLB debut, let’s appreciate David Wright 29
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 33
- Odrisamer Despaigne loses his no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning 8
- Brandon Belt headed to disabled list with concussion 5
- Cardinals are interested in David Price, but “would want a financial commitment” from him 47
- Blue Jays, Giants “taking their best shot” at Chase Utley 19
- Settling the Score: Saturday’s results 27
- Baseball is dying, you guys (148)
- Luke Scott released from Korean team after calling coach a “liar” and a “coward” (108)
- Watch Derek Jeter tell Joe Buck to get the heck out of the clubhouse (91)
- Adam Wainwright follows the rules and pays the price (90)
- The Astros did not sign number one overall pick Brady Aiken. This is a big deal. (90)