2012 MLB Season Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

3 of 3


This team despite the loss of Prince Fielder could still make waves in the NL Central. Like all other teams, their health will dictate a lot. With Fielder gone they can not sustain long-term injuries like they did with Weeks and Hart last season. Aoki looks to be an exciting player and it will be interesting to see how Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will work him into the lineup (if Hart is not hurt).

The rotation is a definite strength. They have arguably the best one-two punch in the division in Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke. Shaun Marcum could improve over last season. Randy Wolf is the veteran innings eater and Chris Narveson is looking to take the next step. Each of them won more than 10 games last season and barring injuries, there is no reason they cannot duplicate that effort in 2012.

The Brewers can also lay claim to a top eighth and ninth inning combination. John Axford has been everything they hoped since he officially took the reigns from Trevor Hoffman in 2010. They have a very good insurance policy in Francisco Rodriguez who still feels he is closer material, and he’s right. The loss of Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins should be solved by the combination of Jose Veras, Kameron Loe and Tim Dillard.

The lineup is filled with potential All-Stars, again providing they stay healthy. Corey Hart is already iffy for the beginning of the season, so we may see Norichika Aoki right away.

Nyger Morgan will be near or at the top of the order and it remains to be seen what he can do for a full season. The Brewers hope the answer is score a lot of runs.

Braun is determined to put the PED mess behind him, though he’ll have a very hard time hiding from the fans in opposing stadiums. The best way for him to put it behind him is to have just as good a season as he did in 2011. This will be no easy feat as he put up some very lofty numbers. It will be interesting to see if Braun puts undue pressure on himself and presses at the plate. He’ll need some help from new third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who will now be providing Braun with the protection he used to enjoy from Fielder. Ramirez still has some pop, but he will have to display it and beat people early on. If he doesn’t produce, Braun won’t see a pitch until that changes.

Rickie Weeks and Alex Gonzalez make a nice double play combination. Weeks is an All-Star second baseman with power and speed, and Gonzalez is an upgrade over Betancourt.

The great unknown of the lineup is Mat Gamel. The Brewers have long felt that the soon to be 27 year old Gamel was going to make it big with them. He is now being given a chance at first base after multiple mini tours as a third baseman. Gamel had a fantastic 2011 season with Triple-A Nashville, predominately playing first base. He hit .310 with 28 homers and 96 RBI. If he can translate that into the bigs, he’ll certainly take some weight off the middle of the order.

The Brewers recently locked up catcher Jonathan Lucroy with a five-year extension, and this guy can hit. He is having an exceptional spring, hitting a ridiculous .513 with a 1.307 OPS. He turns 26 in June, so a breakout season is a distinct possibility.

Manager Ron Roenicke in his second year as manager, lost a mainstay in the offense, but maintains the great core of his pitching staff. It will be his job to keep the older players and those susceptible to injury fresh by working in the bench for intermittent days off. The best case scenario for the Brewers could produce another NL Central crown, or at least a berth in the wild card play-in game. Worst case, the injury prone middle of the lineup strikes again, Gamel fails and Ramirez cannot provide enough production to aid Braun and the Brewers fall as far as fourth in the division. My guess is that they end up winning about 85 games which is probably a few less than will be needed to be a part of the wild card play-in game.

Find your team’s 2012 season preview or when it will be published here.

Be sure to check out all of Call to the Pen’s transaction breakdowns for the 2011-12 offseason. You can follow Call to the Pen on Twitter at @FSCalltothePen or like us here on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

You can follow Chris Carelli on Twitter at @Chris_Carelli.