RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Takashi Saito, SS Yunieksy Betancourt, C Wil Nieves, OF Brandon Boggs, OF Mark Kotsay, OF Jeremy Reed, RHP Sean Green, IF Edwin Maysonet, C Shawn Riggans, RHP Eulogio de la Cruz, RHP Zack Segovia, RHP Justin James, C Mike Rivera
RHP Trevor Hoffman (Ret.), RHP Doug Davis (FA), RHP Dave Bush, LHP Chris Capuano, C Gregg Zaun, SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Todd Coffey, 2B Brett Lawrie, OF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, UTIL Joe Inglett (FA), RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Adrian Rosario
RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Shaun Marcum
LHP Randy Wolf
LHP Chris Narveson
CL RHP John Axford
The Brewers last made the playoffs in 2008, during which time their rotation featured C. C. Sabathia (acquired in July), Ben Sheets, Dave Bush, and Manny Parra. This foursome performed well enough to push the overall numbers of the Milwaukee pitching corps into the top tier of the National League. But their current rotation of Greinke, Gallardo, Marcum, and Wolf had a pretty good shot at outperforming their 2008 counterparts.
The Brewers gutted their already depleted farm system to acquire Greinke in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, but the good news is, they got Zack Greinke. The 27-yo righty wasn’t able to duplicate his Cy Young performance in 2010 but still belongs in every conversation about the best pitchers in baseball. And seeing as his FIP remained very strong despite the higher than expected 4.17 ERA, Greinke should be just fine heading up the Milwaukee rotation. Plus, thanks to “The Simpsons”, I will now forever be screaming “IT’S GOOD TO BE GREINKE!!!” in the middle of the night ala Professor Frink.
But the guy I’m more interested in keeping tabs on this year is Shaun Marcum. Not nearly enough baseball fans know about this guy (SIDEBAR – it’s amazing to me that a guy who played in Toronto needs to come to Milwaukee of all places to get noticed. I mean, how many baseball fans know that Tony Bautista led the Majors in HRs last year? It’s Toronto! It’s still a major North American city! End of sidebar). Despite missing all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John, Marcum came back strong last season, posting a 3.64 ERA with 7.60 K/9 and less than two walks per nine over 195 innings. With Greinke, Gallardo, Marcum, and the consistently dependable Wolf, the Brewers have a shot to take the division this year.
Their offseason wasn’t entirely a slam dunk, however. If a team guts a system, they sure better at least make the playoffs to make it worthwhile. And I’m not entirely convinced that this will be the case because of their offense. The lineup is still anchored by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder which is certainly a solid foundation. But I wouldn’t expect Corey Hart to duplicate his production from last year, and the bottom of the lineup (Betancourt, Gomez and Lucroy) may very well be the biggest offensive blackhole in baseball.
To me, the key to their offense will be the newly extended Rickie Weeks. His 6.1 WAR in 2010 was good enough for sixth best in the NL, but it’s such an improvement over his previous seasons that one has to expect some sort of regression. In addition, it was the first time that he was able to play more than 130 games in a year. A lot went right for Weeks in 2010, and I’m a bit skeptical that he can duplicate his success to that degree.
It’s hard not to like what Milwaukee did this offseason. They realized that they lacked high-impact prospects so they decided to take a chance by trading for Greinke and Marcum to create a rotation that possibly rivals Philadelphia’s. The Brew Crew definitely have a shot at the NL Central crown, but they’ll need to find better options than Betancourt and Gomez if they are to take full advantage of what will possibly be Prince Fielder’s last season as a Brewer.