MLB 2011 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers with Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum

Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. This week, we’re taking a look at the NL Central. Monday: St. Louis Cardinals; Tuesday: Cincinnati Reds; Wednesday: Milwaukee Brewers

The Must-Win Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Off-Season Moves: The Brewers greatly improved their rotation when they pulled off one of this off-season’s most shocking and successful moves, acquiring Zack Greinke in a trade as well as Shaun Marcum.  They also added the seemingly ageless Takashi Saito to set-up for closer John Axford.

Strengths: The story of the Prince Fielder/Ryan Braun Brewers has always been hitting. Those two, along with Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and Casey McGehee will keep opposing pitchers up at night. Weeks finally stayed healthy and had a season worthy of his potential and will need to build on that success. Hart had a nice bounce-back season, hitting 31 home runs. Prince Fielder has been an every-other-year kind of guy his whole career, and will be going into his walk year, so expect monster numbers from him on par with his 2007 and 2009 season.

Like the Cardinals, the Brewers feature a strong rotation 1-4, and have the division’s best 1-3 in Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Marcum. Gallardo is this team’s best breakout candidate, featuring plus stuff with improving command. Greinke is only one year removed from being in the discussion for best pitcher in baseball and should rebound well this season, playing in the National League and for a contender for the first time. Marcum could also experience a boost in his numbers as well, pitching outside of the American League East. Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra are underrated in their own ways and fill out the back of the rotation well.

Weaknesses: As strong as this rotation is, their defense is totally unworthy to back them. There is nothing to like about the way this team catches and throws a baseball, with the lone exception being the rangy center fielder Carlos Gomez, which makes for the perfect transition to my next point. As good a power hitting team as this is, there are three total black holes in this lineup which will do everything within their (anti-)power to give back this team’s power. Gomez, Yuniesky Betancourt (the human tail of the Zack Greinke trade) and whoever their catcher is going to be are as unworthy to swing a bat as their peers are to put on gloves and take the field.

Summary: This team is going to hit home runs and their starting pitchers will keep them in games, but the defensive shortcomings and offensively challenged players could hinder this team to a pedestrian season bellow expectations. I predict 83 wins and a third place finish within the division.

Around The Web

  • http://www.facebook.com/lukas.knepfel Rufus Knepfel

    lol what a joke of a team preview, can’t even get who the closers going to be right.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re going to declare yourself knowledgeable enough about a franchise to do a “Team Preview” maybe you should put in at least 10 minutes of research. Maybe even a cursory look through the 2010 roster and stats would do you some good, Alan. Milwaukee’s catcher is Jonathan Lucroy, who hit .253 in 75 games after making the jump from AA to the Big Show with only 21 career games played at AAA. A good candidate to continue to improve as a 24-yr old backstop. The Brewers closer is not “seemingly ageless Takashi Saito”, but instead John Axford, who went 8-2 with 24 saves and a 2.48 ERA with the Crew last year with a very respectable 11.8K/9. Additionally, Manny Parra is exclusively a long reliever/spot starter coming into this season, and the #5 starter is southpaw Chris Narveson. But, hey, other than that you did a real nice job with this article…

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    BrewCrew81, how are you sure Lucroy will be the catcher? We’ll see what happens when the season begins. Parra is also in the mix to start games, you cannot deny that. And you’re right, Axford is the closer but Saito should be setting up. He may end up as closer.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know… comments by Gord Ash at the Dugout Club Winter Baseball Banquet don’t seem to suggest at all that Parra will be given another chance to start this season. Ash said he sees Parra as “longer relief.” That coupled with the 2.39 ERA he compiled over 26 relief appearances leads me to believe he’s worn out his welcome as far as starting is concerned. As to whether Jonathan Lucroy will be starting, when the only other backstops on the 40-man roster are Wil Nieves, Martin Maldonado, and George Kottaras (who has some pop and sees a lot of pitches, but couldn’t throw out Prince Fielder trying to steal second) who else could they possibly go with? Nieves has a lifetime .570 OPS, and, at 33, no longer has any upside. Maldonado has .225/.300/.303 splits and is likely only on the 40-man for insurance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2510282 Alan Hull

    I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. You guys are right that Saito was not signed to close, but rather to set-up. I will change that in the article. I do believe he will pick up some saves and should Axford struggle at all, considering his command issues, Saito will be their guy. Parra will get starts but I’m sure you’re following the situation closer than I am.

    As far as Lucroy and Kottaras–both fine catchers, but I stand by my evaluation that neither will hit–I was merely making a joke by saying “whoever their catcher is going to be.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2510282 Alan Hull

    I was also a little harsher on the Brewers than the other teams I’ve previewed, except, come on, their defense is a joke. And here’s another joke: Yuniesky Betancourt. We can all laugh about that right?

  • Anonymous

    We can certainly joke about Betancourt, although I fear in my case there will be much more shaking my head in frustration. And I didn’t have an issue with the harshness of the article; there is no question that their absolutely horrendous defense WILL cost them some games this year. If you want to read something else funny, check out the Bleacher Report slideshow that predicts Betancourt will be most outstanding SS in the NL Central. Wait… is this the same Yuniesky Betancourt that has been worth a TOTAL of .6 WAR over the last FOUR SEASONS??? Sounds like a recipe for success this season to me…

  • Anonymous

    Good catch on the high foul ball of an article, this report is more like an Abbott and Costello routine, who’s on first, what’s on 2nd preview. I like yours better then the screwball Hull’s. Brewer’s could be a division contender…. Yeah!