Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers. There is no team I would rather see rise to power in the NL Central, besides maybe the Reds, and overthrow the rule of the Cardinals and Cubs. The Astros would be overthrown, but they did a good job of starting that one by themselves. The Brewers time is not now, but hopefully for the sake of sausage lovers everywhere it is soon.

Rigo Beltran, RP: 8.97 K/9 in 100 IP…2.46 K/BB ratio…he could help if everything aligns the right way. Brewers have the luxury of taking chances on players like this.

Ricky Bottalico, RP: Bottalico was successful last year by not giving up a lot of hits, but his K/BB ratio was only 1.79…it could come back to hurt him.

Damian Miller, C: Miller will help that Brewers pitching staff, and even though he isn’t the best hitter in the world he will help that lineup some.

Acquired via trade: Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino.

Lee had a higher VORP than Podsednik and Vizcaino combined. I shouldn’t have to say much more than that, besides what was Kenny Williams thinking? He doesn't walk a lot, but he walks enough, and he automatically becomes their best hitter, assuming Geoff Jenkins does not revert back to 2003 form anyways.

Re-signed Russell Branyan!!!! The longer he stays in baseball the happier I am. Some year I want him to start by accident and hit 35 HR’s, but strike out 240 times. Can we make this happen?


Invited Rick Helling to spring training. Helling is a guy who should eat up some innings for the staff if healthy, and who knows, maybe Mike Maddux (who I am hearing repeatedly is a great pitching coach) can help him out some. Two word to back up Maddux's new reputation: Doug Davis.

1) Brady Clark
2) Junior Spivey
3) Lyle Overbay
4) Geoff Jenkins
5) Carlos Lee
6) Russell Branyan
7) Damian Miller
8) Bill Hall

I actually like this lineup. Brady Clark is past his prime, but he is still capable of a good OBP, so he should bat leadoff for this team. I don't like Spivey too much, but unless Damian Miller bats second thats where he'll end up. Miller should bat second but I don't see it happening for some reason. Lyle Overbay is a good hitter who needs to continue to perform or else uber-prospect Prince Fielder is going to steal his job eventually. If Geoff Jenkins can revert to his 2003 form with a higher walk rate and more power, then the 3-6 of this lineup will actually be potent. Carlos Lee is not going to get any better, but he shouldn't get worse anytime soon either. Great deal by the Brewers trading away Podsednik and Vizcaino when their values were highest (overrated as they may be) for Carlos Lee. If Russell Branyan wins the starting job over Wes Helms I'll probably hold a party at my house, and Doug Melvins invited. If Damian Miller lost one of his limbs in June he'd still be an improvement over Brewer's catchers last year, not to mention his defensive reputation and his handling of a pitching staff add to his value. Rickie Weeks did not progress as expected in the minors last year, but the Brewers are hoping he comes alone nicely and adds something to the team in the near future. J.J. Hardy is another middle infield prospect who the Brewers have high hopes for, so for their sake I hope they both improve substantially and add to this team in the future.

I want to write a short something about Russell Branyan here. He is listed #1 on the depth chart everywhere except ESPN.com (and the Brewers site has him with the job right now as well, so that should mean something right?). His career basically makes me feel like over the course of a full season he is capable of hitting .230/.340/.500+. That is mighty impressive considering its a .230 average, and I don't think front offices value this player in the Rob Deer mold (dubbed a True Three Outcomes player by BP) enough. Branyan is capable of somewhere around league average defense as well, so he won't hurt with the glove. Give this guy a chance to start and let him do what he does best: walk, strikeout, and make fans in the bleachers happy they got tickets to games.

1) Ben Sheets
2) Doug Davis
3) Victor Santos
4) Chris Capuano
5) Ben Hendrickson

Ben Sheets and Doug Davis (if they continue their 04' success, which seems likely) are actually one of the better 1-2 punches in either league. The problem is the rest of the rotation. Victor Santos' peripherals are just average, and his GB/FB ratio (0.96) show him to be flyball pitcher, which you never like to see, which just makes you worry sometimes. I'm not saying being a flyball pitcher hinders success; its just that you'd like to have one peripheral going your way you know? If you can't stop walking people or don't strike a lot of people out, you don't want to be giving up flyballs. Chris Capuano actually has some decent peripherals, with a 8.15 K/9 and 80 strikeouts in 17 starts. Look for improvement from him, and a better performance than Santos. I have seen some websites very high on Ben Hendrickson, and others not so impressed. On that note, I am not too sure of what to expect of him. Obviously his minor league track record means something since his major league one is not impressive, so we'll have to wait and see how he develops. Basically, the Brewers rotation is composed of a true ace, a great #2 who could be a #1 for the Cardinals or Reds, and three #5 guys with one (Capuano) having potential to be a #4 guy.

The bullpen is probably better off not having Danny Kolb. Let that ticking timebomb of a low strikeout rate and extreme GB/FB ratio explode elsewhere. Mike Adams is the new closer , with Jose Capellan in line to setup. Adams doesn't strike many people out, and he gives up flyballs, so we'll see how this goes. His K/BB ratio is 2.79 though, so thats nice to see. Ricky Bottalico should help out nicely, as should Justin Wehr.

I can honestly see the Brewers irking their record over .500 this year. They can outpitch the Reds and hit pretty well (if Jenkins is in 03' form and Branyan starts at third) and they are in the same division as the Pirates, so that gives them a lot of games to improve their record with. I can see them finishing in 5th place though, but I am really starting to feel a 4th place finish the more I write about them. This is a little more crazy to say, but if things really go well I can see them beating out the Astros for third place. Maybe. Wouldn't that be nice people of Milwaukee?

Comments:
losing podsednik will hurt but wait, they werent too great with him so when your at the bottom and lose a key player usually you remain at status qou...carlos lee helps but he wont be surrounded by home run hitters in milwaukee as he was in the north side...marc as you know, there arent many people outside of the branyan clan who appriciate russell's ability to just get up to the plate and simply hack away...if overbay can manage a season near last year's i dont think he should have reason to worry about his playing time, jenkins will return to his former self he has now had plenty of time to morn the loss of his former bash brother sexson that is bash brother relative to brewer terms, as i said of carlos lee he might be affected by not having as much protection in this lineup but i have no questions of whether or not he will be able to post decent numbers...ben sheets is the zito of the NL with that at times unhitable curve expect sheets actually showed up last year, davis had a solid year but will have to prove it wasnt an abaration and as for the rest of the rotation just make sure you bring your glove to the game if your are sitting in the bleachers...i am not sure how losing kolb helps them at all but i am sure that is what brewers fans are trying to convince themselves and marc ill need some help, what is the name of the guy out of their pen who is also an ultility man K_ _ _ _? i will forever hate him for inspiring dave mccarty to persue the copycat and fail miserably...if the brewers finish ahead of the astros there is no reason why purpura should have a job at seasons end-jt
 
Losing Podsednik is a gain for this team. You are thinking of Kieschnick. Funny thing about him that I saw in BP this year; he was a good hitter and meh pitcher in 2003, but then a good pitcher (4th best reliever in the pen, actually) and a meh hitter in 2004. Kinda funny I thought. I really truly think the Astros have fallen far enough that the Brewers could finish in 3rd, and not just that, I don't think many people outside Milwaukee realize how far along this team has been coming under the leadership of Doug Melvin, who I want to tip my hat to right now.
 
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