Milwakee Brewers 67-94, 6th place in the NL Central.
I am currently wearing a two sizes two small t-shirt commemorating Paul Molitor's 3000 hit, (which is done up in old school A.L. Brewers' colors and has entirely too much lettering), as an undershirt because I desperately need to do laundry. That combined with the boredom of talking A.L. East all the time has lead me to do a write-up on the Brewers. Oh boy Brewers fans, get ready for a season of some sort!
Wow. How about that huh? Apparently the only thing Chad Moeller did all season was hit for the cycle. Oh no wait, he did have 62 other hits besides those. Oof. Beyond Lyle Overbay, there was not much too be excited about last year for the Brewers. To be fair, Spivey did go down with a a season ending shoulder injury and having Craig Cousell's retarded batting stance play such a big role can't help your chances, but still. It's pretty clear why they finished behind everyone's favorite whipping boys, the Pirates. Bill Hall played significant time and showed that he's not really full-time material yet. Scott Podsednik had a very disappointing year, although his 70 stolen bases were impressive in that Trival Pursuit kind of way. Geoff Jenkins had a solid season, and in the surprise of the Brewers' year (non-Ben Sheets division), stayed healthy enough to play the most games in his career.
Thankfully Chad Moeller isn't the starter anymore, now that they have the Damian Miller. Would it be too much to ask that they sign Pat Borders as back-up too? I want my catching tandem pushing 75 combined. Last year when he was with Oakland, Miller split time with Adam Melhuse so expect Moeller to still be involved. Overall the Brewers lineup has some changes that should improve them at least slightly. Podsednik is gone, replaced by Brady Clark in center. Brady had an alright year, but he's 31 and only has 2 seasons with any sort of extended playing time under his belt. He's expected to compete with Dave Krynzel for the starting job this spring. Carlos Lee comes over from Chicago in the Podsednik trade coming off back to back great seasons. He's only 28 and seems to be entering his prime. A surprisingly good pickup for the Brewers. Overbay broke out last year, once again showing that the Diamondbacks are clueless. As long as Spivey is healthy, the Brewers right side of the infield looks to be pretty decent.
The left side however, is a question mark. Russell Branyan is penciled in to be the starting third baseman. While I have a soft spot for Rusty since me and my friend Jojo saw his 1999 September call up game on TV, I don't particularly think he's a good major league player. Looking at his expected plate appearances, someone going to have to pick up the slack. I would guess that would be Wes Helms, or perhaps Bill Hall. Feeling confident Brewers fans?
The front office is hoping that J.J. Hardy can make the leap from 100 or so games in the minors to be their starting shortstop. By the way, he dislocated his shoulder on a check swing, ending his season last year. I hope the kid can take it, because that's sounds like a pretty tall order. BP seems to think he'll have a decent year, but take that with a grain of salt. Have you seen Dustin Pedroia's projection? If he's not ready, Bill Hall will step in. Hall played a few positions last year due to the injuries, but was underwhelming. All depending on what happens with injury, experience, and horrific strikeouts (Hi Rusty), he'll probably end up getting a good amount of playing time. My prediction: No matter what happens on the field, their mascot goes down a slide when they hit a home run. That's pretty rad.
Pitching for the Brewers last year (and by pitching, I mean Ben Sheets and the emergence of Doug Davis) was a source of pride for their fans:
Sheets exploded last season, breaking way, way, way the fuck out. He put up an ERA of 2.70, a 0.98 WHIP, and he had a strikeout to walk ratio of 8.25:1. He kept his team in every game by only going over 4 earned runs in a game 3 times (he let up 5 in a W, and 5 and 6 in losses.) Plus that 18K game against the Braves was a thing of filthy, filthy beauty. In a fair and just world, he wins the NL Cy Young. Why didn't he? He finished with a 12-14 record, that's why. Thanks a lot Brewers. His fantastic lineup gave him one of the worst run support ratios in the NL at 44/45 (runs against/runs scored). Call him the anti-Derek Lowe. Oh, and did I mention he had this season while pitching with a hernitated disc in his back? Doug Davis was a nice surprise and has emerged last year as a decent starter, and a lefty to boot. Beyond those two let's just say that last year Wes Obermueller was more valuable as a hitter than a pitcher. Oh and did you know Brooks Kieschnick was a pinch hitter, and a good one at that!? Yeah exactly. When you're talking about how good your pitchers hit...
Next year looks like more of the same, but with more promise. Sheets is expected to continue his dominating ways, and his back is fixed. Depending on how much it actually affected him last year, we could see an amazing season from him. Doug Davis provides a good number 2 option, and then 4-5 pitchers battle it out for the last spots. Capuano's numbers were interesting last year and he showed some flashes of talent. The Brewers really seem to like Hendrickson and he'll get a chance to make the rotation. Obermueller is slated to start the season in the bullpen, but would probably return the rotation if necessary. Even if the bottom 3 or 4 of the rotation improve over their numbers last year, this staff should be better overall. Basically the Brewers are going to give their young talent every opportunity to shine next year, and enjoy Sheets' every start. I still don't expect them to do compete or anything crazy like that next year, but at least the race for 5th place should be interesting.
Here's the question though: are the Brewers going to be able to afford Sheets after this year? They signed him to a one year deal to avoid arbitration and want to get him on a multi-year deal sometime this spring. He's not going to be cheap, but he's also a great draw for a team that's just been sold. If the Brewers can't lock him down, I could see him being traded to someone who can around the deadline. Then again, maybe the Brewers will surprise me.