Blog Entry

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm

By Matt Snyder

The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.

Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston

Probable lineup
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Probable rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

Back-end bullpen
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez

Important bench players

OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad

Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.

Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.

Pessimistic outlook
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.

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Since: Feb 27, 2012
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:47 pm

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

I Agree - Overall GOnzalez, Ramirez and Gamel may be a slight offensive dowgrade from Fielder, McGehee and Betancourt, but the are a Huge defensive upgrade - not mention we have better back up outfielder and Brooks Conrad and Kotsay are a wash  - Brewers should be as good as they were last year one area of concern will be the relief pitching between the staters and K-Rod/Axman

Since: Nov 21, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:00 pm

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

I think Brewers are indeed a contender if not the favorite in the NL Central. As far as a rotation goes, Wolf scares the $hit out of me because he can lose control of a game in a blink of an eye. Marcum should be solid as usual (except the playoffs) and we'll be relying heavily on Yo and Greinke to be lights out. Narvesson is like Wolf, great in spots, then somewhat unreliable. Late/Middle relief will be important again as Marcum/Wolf/Narvesson rarely go beyond 6/7 innings so guys like Cameron Loe, etc. need to close out innings for K-Rod and Ax.

Remember Casey MceGhee? Great guy, terrible season last year? Take Prince and Casey and I think Aramis and Mat Gamel can be equally productive. Braun is back, on a mission, and expect Ricky and Corey Hart to step up this season. Ricky had a huge first half and sputted toward the end. Nyjer and Carlos Gomez provide a couple intangibles that can make for a potentially spectacular season.

Obvioulsy I'm an optimist on the Brewers season for 2012.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:17 am

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

I think the loss of Hawkins hurts the Brewers a lot. Also a lot of pressure on Mat Gamel now, who has never hit at the ML level. The Brewers will contend for sure, they are pretty solid, and they will have Braun for the whole year. But I just don't see them beating out the Cardinals, who will have Beltran and also Wainwright back. It will be a good 3 team race.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:37 pm

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

As a Reds fan, I'd love to believe the propaganda that the Brewers will be an afterthought without Prince Fielder, but unfortunately,
I don't buy it for a minute.

The Brewers can't replace Fielder, but they can replace 75% of his offensive contribution with Aramis Ramirez alone, and Gamel shouldn't have difficulty replacing McGehee and Hairston's 2011 offense, I'd say. 

Speaking of injury, declining skills and age, I'd say the Brewers have a better chance of replacing more of Prince Fielder's offense with Aramis Ramirez, than the Cardinals do in offering Carlos Beltran in compensation for Albert Pujols, OR the chances that the Reds Scott Rolen or Ryan Ludwick will suddenly bounce back at their ages.   

Even though Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez won't compete for gold gloves, they DO improve the 2011 Brewers infield defense, and the Brewers still have a starting rotation that will compare to any (top to bottom) in the NLC, and are the only team in the NL with TWO proven closers.

The NLC has more small parks than any division in MLB, and I like the Brewers chances in that division, having the only NL team I can think of with FOUR players that can legitimately hit 30 HR (Weeks, Ramirez, Braun and Hart).

Barring injuries to key players, the NLC should be a 3 team race, right down to the end.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:51 am

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

Even if some things go wrong, the Brewers won't drop behind the Cubs, Pirates or the Astros. If anyone saw the new ESPN Mag baseball preview, a lot of good sabermetric analysis and prediction based on similar-players careers at ages/2-yr. averages, etc. etc. Zach Greinke is primed for a breakout season, I would not be surprised to see him get some Cy Young votes this year. The offense will be a little less w/o Prince, it's impossible to replace a guy like that. However, getting Braun for the whole year could be the difference between 1st place and 3rd place for the BrewCrew. I see it coming down to the Reds and Brewers in the Central.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:50 am

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

I play roto baseball so I can't speak to the points standpoint, but I'd be shocked if Aramis Ramirez indeed was the highest rated true 3B in baseball last season. I knew he was having a nice season, but that's pretty crazy considering the company you mentioned. I like the point that hitting in between Braun & Hart will help versus the lineup support in Chicago, but the man is getting up there in years and just signed a nice fat 3 year deal. You got Miggy, Bombtista, HanRam, Longoria, Zimmerman, Beltre, and Wright in the upper tier. Then there's Mike Young, Aramis, Sandowal, and A-Rod (huge risk/reward type) in my 2nd tier. If most of these 3B stay healthly, it might be tough for Aramis to stay in the top 8.

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:31 am

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

2010 was proven to be a fluke season for Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez  has managed to hit for a .295 avg. over the last 8 years while averaging 28 homeruns per season.  Did you forget about Pablo's 2010 campaign? What about the fact that Sandoval only played 117 games last year.   If you are looking for consistency A. Ramirez is the better pick, he has had 2 bad years out of 11 starting seasons, while the panda has 1 down year in 3 starting seasons.  Do you think Ramirez's numbers will drop now that he is hitting behind an MVP, and hitting in front of Corey Hart who has hit 26 and 31 HRs in the last two years?   Scott, how many other 3B accumulated more than Ramirez and his 515 fantasy points last year?  Surprise!! Aramis Ramirez was the highest scoring actual 3B in fantasy last year. While Michael Young and Jose Bautista had more points and qualify for the 3B position, neither player calls 3B home.  Yes, Ramirez scored more points than Zimmerman, Longoria, Wright, Sandoval, and BELTRE!!!   3B deepens this year with the addition of Cabrera and Hanley, but to say that Aramis may fall out of top 12 is not probable based on a simple statistical analysis. 

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