MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Five things to know about the Milwaukee Brewers:
1. This is the deepest the Brewers have been in manager Ned Yost's five years at the helm. Particularly noticeable is a rotation built with pitchers who should give the club a chance to win each night, rather than one filled with six-year free agents and minor leaguers who aren't ready. Ben Sheets' health obviously is a huge issue, and then there's Jeff Suppan -- coming off of a World Series season with St. Louis -- Chris Capuano, David Bush and Claudio Vargas. Unless Carlos Villanueva overtakes him. Yes, the Brewers can go six deep for starters, which gives them some breathing room. "It's the kind of rotation that can put together winning streaks," infielder Craig Counsell says.
2. Now, the improved pitching isn't going to matter if the Brewers don't catch the ball. Second baseman Rickie Weeks was unexpectedly rocky last year, committing 22 errors in only 95 games. What the Brewers liked was that he improved as he went on -- after committing 20 errors in his first 52 games, Weeks made only two in his last 43. Yost raves about how Weeks continually went in search of coaches like Dale Sveum and Robin Yount for extra work. Sveum has been working extensively with him this spring.
3. The Brewers are confident in closer Francisco Cordero, and they think Derrick Turnbow and Matt Wise will be solid, but the bullpen is a source of concern. "I'd like to have a power left-hander in the bullpen, but they're not readily available," GM Doug Melvin says. Melvin could trade from a position of strength in his outfield if he can find a match: The Brewers right now go eight deep in starters Geoff Jenkins, Billy Hall, Corey Hart and backups Kevin Mench (who might platoon in left with Jenkins), Laynce Nix, Brady Clark, Gabe Gross and Tony Gwynn Jr.
4. Right now, Counsell and Tony Graffanino will play third base. The Brewers like Ryan Braun a lot, and he could factor in soon, but his throwing has been very erratic this spring. Corey Koskie, meanwhile, is suffering from post-concussion syndrome and is not a factor at the moment. He gets light-headed when his heart rate increases, so he's working on the exercise bike attempting to overcome that.
5. Yost on Sheets: "He's healthy and he's feeling good, which is good news for us. This is the first year been has been able to come into spring training and do everything -- bunting, hitting, PFP (pitchers fielding practice) drills. The last couple of years, it's always been, 'Let's get him through the spring.' Now I don't even think twice about him."