Sunday, March 29, 2009

Batter up: Milwaukee Brewers

It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a baseball team who you know fully well won't win. This season, in honour of an popular Internet meme, we'll present 25 things about each team. At bat: The Milwaukee Brewers.
  1. The Brewers could be 2009's version of Cleveland, going two steps back to move one step ahead. They didn't do a ton to upgrade after a 90-win season. They had youngest group of position players out of the four National League playoff teams, so there is time to develop a pitching staff and really give 'er in 2010.
  2. A Brewers follower staking hope on "the Cubs will find a way to screw it up" is like assuming people will keep buying newspapers because they'll miss them when they're gone. Who in their right mind believes that? Ohhhhhhhhh. The Brewers probably end up second in the NL Central behind Chicago.
  3. Leftfielder Ryan Braun, the Hebrew Hammer, is only due $12 million in 2015, the last season of his contract. That helps explain why Brewers owner Mark Attanasio would like a salary cap.

    Braun's PECOTA projection pegs him for 37 homers, 105 runs and 109 RBI.
  4. Weight Watchers recommends replacing the bad choices in your diet, like drinking V8 instead of Coke. The Brewers are a good substitute for the Blue Jays. They have a Canadian GM and assistant GM, Doug Melvin and Gord Ash. They have a couple Canadian prospects, Brett Lawrie and sinkerball pitcher Alexandre Périard. They even have the same colours and their stadium has a retractable roof. Manager Ken Macha played for the Jays and Expos. Cecil Fielder's son is the cleanup hitter and there's even a player named Corey Hart.
  5. Speaking of which, first baseman Prince Fielder evidently arrived at spring training in the best shape of his life, but who didn't? The Brewers only signed him through 2010, which means they only lurve him.
  6. This veers close to "renovating the restaurant you don't own ... or spending the $200 million you don't have" territory, but it's tempting to think of the Brewers reprising the CC Sabathia trade to get Roy Halladay for a playoff run. (MLB Home Plate noted yesterday the Yankees have been calling the Jays about Doc, by the way.) They probably wouldn't give up their top prospect, Mat Gamel, even though they did that last season with Matt LaPorta. It's just tempting, since Gamel, if he can't handle third base, is blocked by Braun and Fielder.
  7. There's a scenario that plays out much the same way, but it involves the Brewers including shortstop Alcides Escobar, who will never hit enough to dislodge J.J. Hardy.
  8. Nominal No. 1 starter Yovani Gallardo should become a big deal, in time, but please keep in mind that '08 was a lost season for him due to injuries.
  9. Righty starter Jeff Suppan gave up 30 homers in 177 2/3 innings last season. Suppan had a 12-12 record last season and a 10-10 mark the season before, which would make him a, wait for it, a .500 pitcher.
  10. That does segue into the question but who the hell is their starting rotation: Gallardo, Braden Looper, ex-Jay Dave Bush, Suppan and Manny Corpas don't exactly put the fear of God into opponents.
  11. And the bullpen? It had a 3.89 ERA this season. David Riske and Carlos Villanueva are the best of the bunch.
  12. The Brewers played close to .600 ball (67-45 over the last 112 games) to get into the playoffs. They had 90 wins even though second baseman Rickie Weeks (.234/.342/.398) and third baseman Bill Hall (.225/.293/.396) never got untracked.
  13. Catcher Jason Kendall caught more innings last season than anyone in the National League since Gary Carter in 1982 (Baseball Prospectus 2009, p. 299). Two of the team's top six prospects, Jon Lucroy and Angel Salome, are catchers, so burning out Kendall doesn't matter too much.
  14. Please try to let all the trade rumours about shortstop J.J. Hardy and centrefielder Mike Cameron go in one ear and out the other, until something actually happens.
  15. Nineteen-year-old bonus baby Brett Lawrie, who's from Langley, B.C., is trying to settle at second base instead of catcher.
  16. Cutter Dykstra, Lenny's son, is a Brewers farmhand, a scrappy centrefielder just like his old man. With everything that's been written about his dad in the last six months, do you then cheer for him to become a success, or resent him for not being able to find his own identity?
  17. Forty-one-year-old closer Trevor Hoffman is just hanging on to try to get to 600 saves (he has 554 and he is starting the season on the DL).
  18. Ask a Brewers fan about Eric Gagne and you'll probably get the same response you get when you ask North Haverbrook about its monorail: "Go away! He never played for the Brewers!"
  19. Prince Fielder is in fighting trim, but they still have the heftiest set of first basemen in the majors if 266-lb. Brad Nelson makes the Opening Day roster. Nelson grew up on a farm in Iowa, which means you're an A-hole if you ask him if he liked Field of Dreams.
  20. Alexandre Périard bears following. He was in Double-A at the end of last season.
  21. That 70's Show (get off your high horse, you know you watched it more than you care to admit) made occasional references to the Green Bay Packers and the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. It never referred to the Brewers, though. Maybe Red thought baseball was for dumbasses.
  22. The Brewers made their first post-season appearance since 1982 last season. When they clinched, Wisconsin-based Rattler Radio celebrated the feat through the majesty of song.
  23. Their fanbase will take success any way it comes. It would figure, then, that they couldn't celebrate a playoff berth until they had watched an out-of-town game on a video screen.

  24. J.J. Hardy apparently has been been traded, at least according to wherever the National Post outsourced its deskwork.

  25. All 93,228 views of the cheesy Remington commercial Ryan Braun did with Marissa Miller have probably come from the same 15 very lonely guys.

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