MLB

Milwaukee Brewers

Division: National League CentralGM: Doug MelvinManager: Ron Roenicke
2012: 83-79vs. Division: 45-34Finish 3rd in NL Central
R776 (3rd)
AVG.259 (12th)
HR202 (4th)
ERA4.22 (22nd)

That was Then...

The Brewers who finished with a franchise-record 96 wins in 2011 had an interesting off-season. First, they lost first baseman Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers in free agency. The club tried to make up for that loss by adding Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. The bigger off-season story was the 50-game suspension give to Ryan Braun that was later overturned by an appeal.

The Brewers' Achilles heel early on in the season was their bullpen. Canadian closer John Axford and former closer Francisco 'K-Rod' Rodriguez each had down years, totaling a combined 16 blown saves and 15 losses.

Despite the problems in the bullpen, which was dead last in the majors with a 4.66 ERA, the Brewers did have some offensive punch with Braun, Ramirez and Corey Hart combining for 98 home runs and Braun, Carlos Gomez and Aoki totaling 97 stolen bases.

The team dealt away ace pitcher Zack Greinke to the Angels when their season looked over for shortstop prospect Jean Segura, who jumped into the Brewers lineup in place of injured Alex Gonzalez.

With the club sitting at 54-66 in late August, the Brewers rolled off a 24-6 run that got them close to a wild card spot, before falling back. The team finished with an 83-79 record, which was good for third place in the division, and five games back of the second wild card spot.

WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: SP Shaun Marcum, RP Mike Gonzalez, RP Tom Gorzelanny, RHP Kyle Lohse
Subtractions: C Yorvit Torrealba, RP Fautino De Los Santos, SP Manny Parra


...This is Now

Leader of the Pack

Yovani Gallardo leads a young and inexperienced group of starting pitchers into the season, and will be looked at to handle the responsibility of being the staff ace.

Feeling energized by the belief that their strong second half - which saw them go 43-34 - was legitimate, the Brewers locked up their own player. They signed Carlos Gomez to a four-year, $28.3 extension, as well as adding some depth in their bullpen in the form of Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez.

Offensively, the Brewers are set at most positions except first base, as Corey Hart is going to start the season on the DL and last year's starter Mat Gamel, who tore his ACL in 2012, tore it again this off-season, costing him the entire 2013 season.

Ryan Braun is the undisputed leader of the club and is easily one of the top three hitters in the National League, providing both speed and power.

The Brewers will only go as far as their pitching takes them. To that end, the club has a lot of question marks at starter as outside of Yovani Gallardo and the recently added Kyle Lohse, they have gone young and mostly unproven, using Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta among others.

If John Axford can find his form from 2011 and the bullpen with their additions can keep the Brewers in the close games, they could easily become contenders for not only a wild card but the division, but as always it will come down to what they can accomplish from 60 feet and six inches.

Youth Watch

Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.

TYLER THORNBURG - SP (24 YEARS OLD)

The 24-year-old made his MLB debut in July and was sent down and called up again before the 2012 season ended. While he was a starter in the minor leagues, the Brewers primarily used him as a relief pitcher.

Thornburg's pitching numbers got progressively worse the more he moved up last season, starting with a 3.00 ERA in Double-A and ending with a 4.50 mark in the Majors. While his ERA and WHIP rose he remained a solid strikeout pitcher.

He was incredibly prone to the long ball in 2012, giving up eight home runs in only 22 innings with Milwaukee. He's got a very live arm and will look to refine his control in Triple-A to start the season.

Last Season

TEAM G IP W L SO BB HR ERA WHIP
Milwaukee (MLB) 8 22.0 0 0 20 7 8 4.50 1.41
Nashville (AAA) 8 37.2 2 3 42 13 1 3.58 1.35
Huntsville (AA) 13 75.0 8 1 71 24 6 3.00 1.08

Past Picks: 2012 - Mat Gamel, 2011 - Yovani Gallardo, 2010 - Alcides Escobar, 2009 - Manny Parra, 2008 - Corey Hart, 2007 - Prince Fielder, 2006 - Rickie Weeks, 2005 - Jose Capellan, 2004 - J.J. Hardy, 2003 - Nick Neugebauer

Depth Chart

Left Field

Ryan Braun

Center Field

Carlos Gomez

Right Field

Norichika Aoki

Shortstop

Jean Segura

Second Base

Rickie Weeks

Third Base

Aramis Ramirez

First Base

Alex Gonzalez

Bullpen

John Axford - RHP
Mike Gonzalez - LHP
Jim Henderson - RHP

Starting Pitchers

Yovani Gallardo - RHP
Kyle Lohse - RHP
Marco Estrada - RHP
Michael Fiers - RHP
Chris Narveson - LHP

FANTASY

Power Rankings

10
After down 2012 season, the Brewers open this year's rankings at 10.

Player Projections

OF Ryan Braun who is a five-category fantasy player is only ranked behind Mike Trout.

LF Ryan Braun can stake a claim to being the top fantasy pick, after back-to-back 30-30 seasons, but he comes with some element of risk due to his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis lab in Miami. If Braun gets nicked for a 50-game MLB suspension, then his value would obviously take a serious hit.

3B Aramis Ramirez is a consistent power producer and 1B Corey Hart should be as well, once he returns to action (expected to be in May).

Health is always an issue with 2B Rickie Weeks, but he's a 20-20 threat and RF Norichika Aoki is a nice speed option.

Pitching is a position that could provide real value for the Brewers. Staff ace Yovani Gallardo racks up strikeouts, so he's a top pick, but Michael Fiers, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada could all be pretty good and none has widespread name recognition, yet.

C Jonathan Lucroy may not duplicate his 2012 campaign, but he's among the top dozen or so behind the plate and CF Carlos Gomez is, if nothing else, a speed-burner who stole a career-high 37 bases last season.

Canadian closer John Axford lost his gig for a while last season, but as long as he's there, he can provide saves.




Baseball Canada

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Podcasts

TSN 1050: The Baseball Podcast : Episode 17 - Aug. 6th

Scott MacArthur, Richard Griffin & Gregor Chisholm discuss quiet trade deadline for the Blue Jays, struggling rotation & potential Biogenesis fallout.

TSN 1050: The Baseball Podcast: July 30 - Episode 15

Scott MacArthur & Toronto Star's Richard Griffin preview the trade deadline, Blue Jays' needs & being on Boston as Jon Lester rumours ramp up.

TSN 1050: Blue Lunch: July 9 - John McDonald

LA Angels infielder, John McDonald joined Blue Lunch to discuss his career from the time he left Toronto to the present.


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