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Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on March 13, 2008
Eating Sausages and Drinking the Brew
Left Due to High Cholesterol
The Skinny: The 2007 Milwaukee Brewers got really, really hot, then chilled, then played about average. Their ace, Ben Sheets, got hurt--shock of the century--which of course didn't help matters. However, they did call up current Left Fielder (former hot corner man) Ryan Braun, who immediately went and did his best Alex Rodriguez impersonation (and he might do it again.)
The line up was generally strong. JJ Hardy got hot, but chilled. Prince Fielder exploded, hitting a ton of home runs. The aforementioned Braun provided an incredible offensive boost (so much so that Baseball Prospectus expects him to out-VORP Fielder by 15). However, some things didn't go as planned; exhibit A happens to be Bill Hall. Hall went over 35 VORP in 2005 and 2006...but only registered a measely 6.7 in 2007. PECOTA says he'll do around 25, and I think that's reasonable.
Strengths: A hitter to watch out for in '08 is keystoner Rickie Weeks. Everyone, from Baseball America, to PECOTA, to Espn.com's Keith Law, think that Weeks will breakout this year, and I think it's possible. They could use him, because as it stands now, they have 4 good hitters. Braun and Fielder are excellent, RF Corey Hart is a really good bat, and there's Hall. Weeks could be #5. Hardy could be #6. That'd be wonderful, because (I'm going by BP's Depth Chart), they have potentially two black holes (Jason Kendall and the pitcher), and an iffy bat in new center fielder Mike Cameron. Folks, that could be the best line up in the Central, if not for those damned Cubs.
My man, Yovani Gallardo, however, brings hope. I'm a Gallardo fan; maybe I love prospects, or maybe it's his good PECOTA comparables. How does Robin Roberts circa 1949 sound? Drysdale '58? Saberhagen '86? Blyleven '73? That's the high end, sure, but he also has Jeremy Bonderman '05, and Matt Cain '07.
What does it mean?
I take it as, either he'll be awesome good (Roberts/Drysdale/Saberhagen/Blyleven) for a fairly long time, he'll be average (Bondy) or he's young, good, but not totally sure (Cain).
I like that, though. Good odds, or, at least, better than usual for a pitching prospect.
Weaknesses: The pitching is iffy. Sheets isn't staying healthy; I know it, you know it, let's move on. Jeff Suppan is going to get beat like a drum, because that's just what Suppan does. The Brew Crew also signed Eric Gagne. Ten bucks says he still can't get anyone out.
Keys to Success: For the Brewers to be competitive with the Cubs this year, they need somewhere between 20 and 25 healthy starts from Sheets. He is their staff ace, and without him, they have no one to match up with the Carlos Zambranos or Roy Oswalts of the division. Heck, they don’t really have anyone to match up with the Adam Wainwrights or Ian Snells or Aaron Harangs of the division without Sheets.
Furthermore, the bullpen needs to put out fires with all of the power arms out there, rather than adding gasoline. Eric Gagne only knows too much about that.
Prediction: Good team, but behind the Cubs. 2nd place, probably 85 wins or so.