Feb 26, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Mat Gamel during photo day at Maryvale Baseball Park. (Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE)

2012 NL Central Sneak Peek: Milwaukee Brewers

Over the next few days, I will embark on a quick look at the National League Central foes. For this series, I have enlisted the help of the other FanSided site editors to assist me. Within each of these I have asked each editor three questions about their team, name a key position player, key pitcher and predict the final outcome for the NL Central.

I also have the pleasure of Ryan Lester from Lester’s Legends, a fantasy website, taking part in these proceedings. He will provide us with a top position player, top pitcher and an all important sleeper pick for each of the teams.

Today’s sneak peek will be of the Milwaukee Brewers. FanSided’s Brewers home, Reviewing the Brew, sees Lou Olsen as Site Editor.

BRM: Finish the following sentence: Mat Gamel is __________.

LO: trade piece.

I must say I was a bit taken aback at this…at first, but I see some logic here. Is it possible if Gamel does not perform that Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke moves Corey Hart to first? The Brewers have three other outfielders: Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez. It’s not a stretch. Plus, Taylor Green, listed as Gamel’s backup on brewers.com, does have a small amount of experience at the position although I do see the Hart move before letting Green have a crack.

BRM: All of the changes made from a pitching standpoint were within the bullpen, a pen that was in the top third of the NL last season. What are the thoughts of this year’s pen?

LO: I think the bullpen will be an always changing piece of the 2012 Brewers. Aside from K-Rod, Axford, and Kameron Loe any pitcher in spring camp could be on the opening day roster. Manny Parra and Zach Braddock appear to be healthy this season, but that could change any day now. I am looking for some young arms to make waves this spring. Keep an eye on Michael Fiers and Daniel Meadows. Two young arms who have flown through the minor league system. The team could add arms as the season goes along if things are not working out. All in all, I think the starting staff will be able to go deeper into games this season, which will render the bullpen fairly useless until the late innings.

The Brewers had one of the NL’s best pens in 2011. Loses of LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito will affect the team. Even though Saito spent a great deal of the season on the DL, he performed masterfully once he returned.

BRM: The revamped left side of the infield (Aramis Ramirez at third and Alex Gonzalez at short) should help partially offset the loss of Prince Fielder…right?

LO: Aramis Ramirez is certainly going to help curb a little bit of the Prince hangover. As for shortstop…it’s hard to replace the true talent of Yuniesky Betancourt (for those of you unfamiliar with my work, that is thick sarcasm). Somehow I think Gonzalez will be a solid replacement. Defensively, these two are upgrades and then some. McGhee and Betancourt made errors seem effortless, and I doubt this new duo will have that “gift”. As long as they can both stay healthy, which is my only true concern, this team will not skip a beat.

No question the rest of the team will have to contribute a bit more in 2012, but adding a couple of nice bats can’t hurt.

Here are Lou’s key position player, key pitcher and prediction on how the NL Central will look when 2012 ends.

Key position player: Corey Hart – if Gamel can’t become what the team hopes, Hart will become our everyday first baseman. Which makes him very important to this team.

Key Pitcher: Chris Narveson- not the obvious choice, but as the 5th starter he has no pressure on him. The hope is that he is able to use that and start getting that ERA out of the mid 4’s and into the 3’s. Then when the postseason rolls around it won’t be so easy for the team to banish him to the bullpen.

Final standings:
1. Brewers
2. Reds
3. Cardinals
4. Pirates
5. Cubs
6. Astros

Here are three Brewers players to keep an eye on in your fantasy draft (via Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends):

Top Position Player: Ryan Braun is the clear choice now that his suspension has been overturned. He could easily be considered the top fantasy outfielder in mixed formats and the top choice in NL-Only leagues.

Top Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo is probably the top pitcher in the division. He finished with a 17-10 record, a 3.52 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP to go along with 207 Ks. Zack Greinke is right on his heels.

Fantasy Sleeper: Looking for a late round player that can help you in average, runs, and steals? Nyjer Morgan hit .304 with 61 runs and 13 SBs in 378 at bats. If he can get 500+ ABs, he’ll be a great value.

Tomorrow, it’s the defending World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals.


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Tags: 2012 National League Central Baseball Chris Narveson Corey Hart Milwaukee Brewers MLB National League Central National League Central Division National League Preview Nyjer Morgan Ryan Braun Yovani Gallardo

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