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 5, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
While the move largely went ignored amid perhaps the craziest trade deadline ever, the Pirates’ acquisition of left-hander J.A. Happ continues to pay off big.
Sep 5, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
After slugging two home runs in back-to-back games, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez only hit one last night. He’s slipping.
Sep 5, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT
The Yankees plan to utilize a six-man rotation upon Sabathia’s return.
Sep 5, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT
Duda has been sidelined since August 21 with a thoracic herniation in his back.
Sep 5, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki thought fast to avoid being tagged in last night’s game against the Orioles.
Sep 5, 2015, 8:49 AM EDT
A quick recap of a busy Friday around MLB, including a walk-off win for the Nationals.
Sep 4, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT
A.J. Burnett feels great and wants to pitch again for the Pirates before the end of the season.
Sep 4, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT
Chris Davis homered twice against the Blue Jays on Friday to move past Nelson Cruz for the major league home run lead.
Sep 4, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton will rehab at Double-A and should rejoin the big league squad soon.
Sep 4, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT
Wil Myers will make his long awaited return to the Padres’ lineup on Friday night after missing nearly three months with a wrist injury.
Sep 4, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
The Astros want to sign Dallas Keuchel to at least a four-year extension, but the two sides won’t negotiate until the season is over.
Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
James Paxton will sit for a few days while his fingernail heals, then resume rehabbing with Triple-A Tacoma.
Sep 4, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT
Corey Kluber will miss 10 days after tweaking his hamstring in a side session.
Sep 4, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
Brad Ausmus could soon be out of a job as the Tigers sink in the AL Central.
Sep 4, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT
Brown may be done for the year.
Sep 4, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT
Any further concussion-related problems could force the former MVP into retirement
Sep 4, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Jay missed the past two months with a wrist injury.
Sep 4, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT
Viva abuse of the forfeiture laws
Sep 4, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
The Matt Harvey controversy is a lot like the Stephen Strasburg shutdown of 2012. But Sandy Alderson is not going to do what Mike Rizzo did, someone close to him says.
Sep 4, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Gloves? Who needs a glove?
- J.A. Happ is thriving with the Pirates 0
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 44
- Sandy Alderson is not going to “roll over” for Scott Boras and shut down Matt Harvey 68
- Dodgers are already fed up with 6.56 ERA-pitching, excuse-making Mat Latos 57
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 59
- Bryce Harper walks in all four of his plate appearances, scores four runs 24
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game 149
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff 145
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game (150)
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff (145)
- Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired (107)
- David Ortiz tweets his happiness about the Deflategate decision (101)
- Why Mike Mussina keeps getting hosed in the Hall of Fame voting (90)