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by user Timothy Moreland

Outside of one pitcher in the rotation, there are no health concerns; unfortunately, that one concern is Ben Sheets, their ace. He has dizziness problems that caused him to miss over a month last year and was a problem in 2004 as well. To add on, Sheets also is coming off of a torn latissimus dorsi muscle injury. If healthy, he will pitch like an ace with a low-3.00s ERA. In Doug Davis, the Brewers have a strong #2 pitcher. Davis topped 200 K's last year and is only a small reduction in his walk rate from becoming a star. However, at 30 years old, it may be too late. Still, they can live with a mid-3.00s ERA. Chris Capuano barely sneaked in below a 4.00 ERA last year(3.99) but there are some definite weaknesses in his game. First, he walked a high rate at 3.7BB/9, and secondly, as a flyball pitcher, he lets up a lot of HRs (31 in 2005). If he doesn't get one of these under control, don't expect his ERA to fall under 4.00 again this year. Tomo Ohka's 3.33 ERA in his 54.0 innings in Washington last year was an illusion in a few ways. First, the .220 average on balls in play is not sustainable and indicates some lucky breaks. Second, he walked 27 batters and only struck out 17. Finally, he pitched in the best pitcher's park in the MLB. So expect an ERA closer to his career 3.95 mark than the 3.33 he achieved in 2005. Still, not bad at all for the fourth starter. David Bush rounds out a strong rotation. Based on his age and a few key flaws, I wouldn't expect much of an improvement over his 4.49 ERA. His K rate wwas not dominant at 5.0K/9 and he let up 20 HRs in only 136.3 innings. Although, moving from the AL to the NL should help push his ERA closer to the 4.00 mark. In the bullpen, Derrick Turnbow showed up as one of the best closers in the league last year. As for the rest of the pen, Matt Wise is a solid contributor and Dana Eveland is a 22-year-old lety with impressive minor league numbers. Outside of these guys, the bullpen looks shallow.

Projected Rotation

SP Ben Sheets

<stats> Player=Ben Sheets Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Doug Davis

<stats> Player=Doug Davis Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Chris Capuano

<stats> Player=Chris Capuano Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Tomokazu Ohka

<stats> Player=Tomokazu Ohka Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP David Bush

<stats> Player=David Bush Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

Brady Clark improved a little last year, but at 33, he will probably start to decline. Still, a .290/.360/.400 would be just fine from the leadoff spot. 23-year-older Rickie Weeks has a bright future, starting this year. Last year, he split time between AAA and the majors. In AAA, Weeks put up a .320/.435/.655 line in 246 PAs, which is amazing for a 2B. In the majors, Weeks struggled with a thumb injury but still posted a .333 OBP, not bad for his first shot with the big boys. A 20/20 season is not out of the question in 2005. Based on Carlos Lee's standards, he struggled somewhat in his first season with Milwaukee. The struggles could be due to an adjustment period in the NL so I would expect him to rebound back to his historical numbers. Geoff Jenkins was great in 2003, slumped in 2004, and rebounded in 2005. In fact, Jenkins played through a pelvic fracture last year. At 31 years of age, one would expect some slight decline due to age. Still, I would feel safe penciling him in for 20 HRs with a .350 OBP/.500 SLG. Prince Fielder's weight makes him a terrible defensive player. He would be more suited DHing in the AL but his bat should be good enough to overcome his lack of range at 1B. In his prime, Fielder could be a 40+ HR guy and one of the better bats in the league; however, at 22-years-old he still has a way to go. Last year, in 62 PAs, Fielder did not look impressive with a .288/.306/.458 line; however, this was at the end of an impressive showing in AAA(.291/.388/.569 with 28 HRs). I would assume fatigue had set in at this point. As for 2006, expect a mid-20's HR total with a ceiling in the 30's along with a strong .270/.350/.490 line. Occupying SS, J.J. Hardy used 2005, his first in the MLB, to recover from a torn labrum. This would explain his jump in OPS from .560 in the first half to post an .865 OPS in the second half. Without a doubt, double digit HRs and a .340 OBP will be reached and he could slug in the mid-.400's. Also, his defense is a plus. Last year, while missing time with thumb and groin problems, Corey Koskie had the most disappointing season of his career(only year outside of rookie season below .800 OPS ). His production has been consistent throughout his career; therefore, expect a rebound to an .800+ OPS. Damian Miller will play the majority of time at catcher. Last year was more of the same from Miller, his third straight year with 9 HRs. When it' s all said and done, his production shouldn't be too far off from .270/.340/.410, which isn't all that bad for a catcher at the bottom of the lineup. Being 36-years-old should prevent him from playing more than 2/3 of the games. Chad Moeller is more or less useless as a backup. On the bench, the Brewers have supersub Bill Hall whose versatility is his curse. Hall's bat(.291/.342/.495 last year) deserves a spot in the starting lineup but the ability for him to play 2B, 3B, and SS effectively keeps it out for now. Corey Hart provides a potent bat off the bench as well.

Projected Batting Order

CF Brady Clark

<stats> Player=Brady Clark Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SS Rickie Weeks

<stats> Player=Rickie Weeks Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

LF Carlos Lee

<stats> Player=Carlos Lee Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

RF Geoff Jenkins

<stats> Player=Geoff Jenkins Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

1B Prince Fielder

<stats> Player=Prince Fielder Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SS J.J. Hardy

<stats> Player=J.J. Hardy Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

3B Corey Koskie

<stats> Player=Corey Koskie Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

C Damian Miller

<stats> Player=Damian Miller Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

Projection: 89-73 2nd in the NL Central...Last year, the Brewers were a .500 but had 84 Pythagorean wins. This is a strong young team that has fewer big flaws than the rest of the division. Although, if Sheets goes down for a long stretch, count this team out.

Other Moreland Previews
NL East Mets Preview Braves Preview Phillies Preview Nationals Preview
NL Central Brewers Preview Pirates Preview
NL West Diamondbacks Preview Rockies Preview
AL East Yankees Preview Blue Jays Preview Orioles Preview
AL Central Indians Preview White Sox Preview Twins Preview
AL West Athletics Preview Angels Preview Rangers Preview


Sat 03/18/06, 10:11 am EST

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