ARRIVALS: RHP Zack Greinke (trade with Royals), SS Yuniesky Betancourt (trade with Royals), RHP Shaun Marcum (trade with Blue Jays), C Wil Nieves (free agent from Nationals), RHP Sean Green (free agent from Mets), RHP Takashi Saito (free agent from Braves), OF Jeremy Reed (minor league free agent from Blue Jays), 1B/OF Mark Kotsay (free agent from White Sox).
DEPARTURES: CF Lorenzo Cain (traded to Royals), SS Alcides Escobar (traded to Royals), RHP Carlos Villanueva (traded to Blue Jays), RHP Trevor Hoffman (retired), RHP Todd Coffey (free agent, signed with Nationals), C Gregg Zaun (free agent, signed minor league deal with Padres), LHP Chris Capuano (free agent, signed with Mets), RHP Dave Bush (free agent, signed minor league deal with Rangers).
1. RHP Zack Greinke
2. RHP Yovani Gallardo
3. RHP Shaun Marcum
4. LHP Randy Wolf
5. LHP Chris Narveson
The offseason additions of Greinke and Marcum via trades dramatically improved the rotation and addressed the team's major shortcoming. Greinke provides a legitimate ace and takes some of the pressure off Gallardo, who had become the de facto ace at a young age, basically by default.
Manager Ron Roenicke might eventually have to reshuffle the order to split lefties Wolf and Narveson. But Wolf will be pitching this season in a lower slot in the rotation, which better suits his ability rather than serving as the No. 2 starter, as he did a year ago. Should somebody go down, rookie RHP Mark Rogers probably would be the top candidate to fill in.
RHP John Axford (closer)
RHP Takashi Saito
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
LHP Zack Braddock
RHP Kameron Loe
LHP Manny Parra
RHP Sean Green
Much of the offseason focus was on the Brewers' improved rotation, but they also retooled their bullpen with the additions of Saito and Green. Axford assumed the closer's role from all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman as a rookie last season and must show that he was not a one-hit wonder.
Parra, a former starter, provides a multiple-innings alternative as well as a possible swingman should the rotation need help. Others in camp will try to prove they belong, including RHP Pat Egan, a Rule 5 draft pick, and RHP Mike McClendon and RHP Brandon Kintzler, both of whom made their debuts with the Brewers during the 2010 season.
1. 2B Rickie Weeks
2. RF Corey Hart
3. LF Ryan Braun
4. 1B Prince Fielder
5. 3B Casey McGehee
6. SS Yuniesky Betancourt
7. C Jonathan Lucroy
8. CF Carlos Gomez
Hart (career-high 31 HRs in 2010) hits for power and therefore profiles more as a middle-of-the order, but there is no prototypical No. 2 hitter, so it could fall to him. Weeks, who was second in the NL with 112 runs scored in 2010, also has pop but has been the leadoff hitter for years and figures to stay there.
Betancourt, Lucroy and Gomez all are low-OBP hitters, which makes it tough to bunch them up at the bottom of the lineup. Manager Ron Roenicke will be challenged to put together a bottom of the order that consistently gets on base.
TOP ROOKIES: RHP Mark Rogers, who missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons while recovering from shoulder surgeries, is throwing consistently in the high 90s (mph) again and has placed himself on the cusp of the majors. He struck out 111 hitters in 112 innings last year at Class AA Huntsville but also issued 69 walks, so he must work on his command. RHP Amaury Rivas (11-6, 3.37 in two starts at Huntsville) isn't as flashy as Rogers but has better command and knows how to set up hitters with a devilish changeup.
--RF Corey Hart (strained muscle in side) was injured during a throwing drill in late February and is out until mid-March.
--C Jonathan Lucroy (broken right pinkie) was hurt in late February. He underwent surgery and will be out until late March.
--INF/OF Mat Gamel (strained right side muscle) was hurt early in spring training and is out indefinitely.
--RHP LaTroy Hawkins (right shoulder surgery in August 2010) is expected to be throwing at full strength by spring training. He should be ready to fulfill the second year of his two-year contract.
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