2008 Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Preview
The surprise team in the NL last year was the Milwaukee Brewers (83- 75). The Brew-Crew led the division for most of the season but faltered at the final moment, finishing two games behind the Cubs.
The rotation is deep, which means the club should have the luxury of choosing and moving pitchers during the season. Top producers include Ben Sheets (12- 5, 3.82 ERA, 106 SO), Jeff Suppan (12- 12, 4.62 ERA, 114 SO) and Dave Bush (12- 10, 5.12 ERA, 134 SO). If the rotation looks good, the bullpen is frightening. The Save-Master, Francisco Cordero (44 successful closes in 2007), signed a high-priced contract with the Reds. The Brewers signed Mr. Meltdown, Eric Gagne (4- 2, 3.81 ERA, 16 SV, 51 SO, .245 BAA), whose claim to fame in the off-season was a Mitchell Report mention.
Milwaukee finished second in the categories of slugging percentage, left on base and total bases. But they were 11th in both batting average and on-base percentage. For power, look to Prince Fielder (.288 BA, 50 HR, 119 RBI), who can crush the ball to any part of the park. 3B Ryan Braun (.324 BA, 34 HR, 97 RBI) and RF Corey Hart (.295 BA, 24 HR, 81 RBI) can also light it up. Braun is a money player, while Hart’s an effective two strike hitter and wily base runner. If SS J.J. Hardy (.277 BA, 28 HR, 80 RBI) can stay away from injuries, he will have an even bigger impact. He’s a streaky hitter who needs to find consistency.
Fielding was problematic. Milwaukee finished 12th in both fielding percentage and double plays. Catcher Jason Kendall, signed as a free agent, calls a smart game and makes good decisions. First, second and third base are problem areas, while Hardy at short has range, soft hands and a good arm. The outfielders range from average to very good.
Manager Ned Yost had problems at the end of the season, losing his cool too many times. But in five years with the Brewers, he’s done a good job shepherding them along. GM Doug Melvin has amassed a young team with some sound vets. These guys will do damage in 2008 and could spoil the Cubs’ season.
For more info on Milwaukee check out the MLB website for the Brewers.