2011 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers


Well, we’re to the haflway point in BRM’s look around the NL Central. Today’s stop is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers finished thrid in the division last season sporting a 77-85 record. Most pundits pointed to the lack of a starting rotation as the principal cause of a sub-.500 season. Well, the Brewers addressesd that need.

John gets first crack today. Let’s see what he expects from Milwaukee in 2011.

New Manager Ron Roenicke is looking to have the most impact out of his off season acquisitions of any team in the Central. With the additions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, the starting rotation went from “iffy” to solid almost overnight. Aside from the Reds, the Brewers will have the best starting rotation in 2011, not to mention the overnight success of Jon Axford at closer. Add to that, the offensive production of Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and one of the best second basemen in Rickie Weeks and the Brewers are going to do some damage this season.

The only potential downfall for the Brewers this year is the aggressive mentality of their new manager who says that they’re planning to be aggressive on the base paths. Whether that means actually attempting to steal bases or simply taking the extra base when appropriate obviously has yet to be seen.

I’m thinking…

You might argue the Brewers have themselves a nice little 1-2-3 with Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum. It’s nice, but I don’t think it’s as good as others. I believe the deals to acquire Greinke and Marcum were not solid moves at all. After this season, where to then? If you don’t do it in 2011, it could be a long time before the Brewers are significant again. They moved some very good players and prospects for two guys that have decent resumes, but what else?

In case you’re wondering, I’m not as high on Greinke as many others are. I completely realize I’m in almost the smallest of minorities here, but one great season felled with mediocrity doesn’t make him so great. Valuable? Yes because he can eat innings. And that cold save a bullpen that doesn’t exactly strike fear into opponents.

No question the offense is potent. Very potent. Arguably the best in the majors. The only issue would be the catching position. Who starts. And, can he produce offensively. If he can, the Brewers are an even more dangerous team. If not, then they have no more fire power than they had last season.

The cloud looming over Miller Park is the status of both Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. They’re both Brewers for 2011, but can hit the market after this season. Weeks and his people have talked about an extension, yet nothing to date. Fielder might be a different story.

That’s a main reason why 2011 has to be “the year” for the Brewers. Yes, the window may have opened a bit, but it could close just as fast.

And Alex presents his say.

They may be loaded with star power with Braun, Fielder, Greinke, and Gallardo, but there are still holes on their roster. Center field and shortstop remain question marks as Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Gomez have yet to produce well for a full season in their major league careers.

Baseball America anointed the Brewers with the dubious honor of worst farm system in baseball. As a result, there is little room for error or injury on the Brewers in 2011. Rickie Weeks will have a huge year and be one of the key center pieces of that defense, however, the Brewers will struggle to get consistent production out of all 25 guys on the roster which will land them behind the Reds. However, a wild card could be in the Brewers future

Justin’s look…

Milwaukee made the biggest splash of all the NL Central teams this offseason after making separate deals for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Yuneisky Betancourt from the Royals as well as Shaun Marcum from the Jays. This figures to greatly bolster the Brewers’ starting rotation as Grienke and Marcum figure to slide into the front of the rotation along with Yovani Gallardo. These deals appear to be a push by the Brewers to win right away as they traded away two proven major league contributors in OF Lorenzo Cain and SS Alcides Escobar as well as their top prospect in 2B Brett Lawrie. In addition to player acquisitions, the Brewers also hired Ron Roenickie as manager to replace Ken Macha.

Player to Watch

Zack Greinke, SP

With Greinke’s move from Kansas City to Milwaukee, we should see a return back to the 2009 form he displayed in winning the Cy Young and posting a 16-8 record with a miniscule 2.16 ERA. I say this mainly due to my staunch belief in the rejuvenating effects of pitchers moving from the AL to the NL but also from being wowed by his ability to be an overpowering front of the rotation starter that I saw in 2008 and 2009.
I will say we like to cover a lot and have varying opinions here. I also sincerely doubt we could agree on the right answer of a question if there was only one answer available. I suppose that’s what makes life here so wonderful.

Update: Tom Haudricourt of JSOnline.com reports that the Brewers and second baseman Rickie Weeks have agreed on a four year deal. Financial terms were not yet available.

Update #2: SI’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Weeks deal is five years, $50 million. FOX Sport’s Ken Rosenthal added that the Brewers can void the fifth year if Weeks is not an everyday player for 2013 and 2014.