Duty calls to preview the MLB season with up to 30 things somewhat about each of the 30 teams. At bat: the Milwaukee Brewers.
- Hittin' a hundred: Everyone says Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are capable of combining for 85-100 home runs. They probably are the NL's best 1-2 punch next to "Chase Utley and Ryan Howard" and "The guy who bats before Albert Pujols and Albert Pujols."
- Which is balanced out by: A pitching staff which allowed 207 home runs last season. Righty Yovani Gallardo (3.73 ERA in 185.2 innings) was a full run and a half per game than anyone else who made at least six starts.
- Over-under: 80½ wins
- Take the ... Over. The pitching staff should improve since it's just impossible to stay that bad.
- One team not liking the early spring: The rotation is a shambles after Gallardo, lefty Randy Wolf, mushballer Doug Davis and Dave Bush. Unfortunately, Milwaukee having a dome means they can't go with a three-man rotation and hope they're snowed out on the other days until May 1.
- Lacking in depth: What best illustrates the Brewers' offensive problems. Their No. 5 hitters scored only 80 runs last season, 10 less than the league champion Phillies got from the No. 6 slot. That's where the struggles of Corey Hart and now departed J.J. Hardy and Bill Hall really hurt.
- Too bad there's no U30 division: Perhaps the Brewers and Oakland Athletics need to make like some of the smaller national football federation which focus on the U20 World Cup. Seven of their eight regulars are under 30.
- Good luck with that: Brewers catchers threw out only 20% of would-be basestealers last season, which was the exact same rate new No. 1 catcher Gregg Zaun had last season in the other league.
- Prince too rich for their blood: It's just a matter of when Fielder will no longer be a Brewer. Small wonder Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has sounded the gong about having a salary cap, even if he only said it after his franchise lost out on a couple free agents.
- Maybe sportscasters making references to a lousy '80s pop singer is the problem: The most vexing concern among Brewers bloggers and message boards is figuring out what the hell happened to Corey Hart, who has produced less than league-average numbers by rightfielder standards the past two seasons. Some are even suggesting he go for Lasix surgery.
Seriously, no more references to the other Corey Hart.
- Blind pig, acorn: Someone somewhere is making shortstop Alcides Escobar their Rookie of the Year pick.
- They have the Internet on computers now: Brewers fans have a tradition of camping outside Miller Park in cardboard shanties to buy tickets. Chalk it up as an entirely too subtle comparison on the limited effectiveness of StubHub.
- You can set your watch to: Trevor Hoffman getting his 600th career save (he is nine away) and some angry young man ranting about how it's a celebration of a near-meaningless statement.
- It's like they're sensitive about their proximity to the Cubbies: The ivy has been removed from the outfield fence at Miller Park.
- Future Hall of Very Gooder: Outfielder Jim Edmonds is a nice comeback story, making the team at age 39 after a season away.
He is an eight-time Gold Glove winner, just like the only player who was elected to Cooperstown this year. He also has a higher career OPS+ than Andre Dawson.
- The ex-Jay factor: Former Bluebird Joe Inglett, who can stand in at six positions, made the team along with former catcher Gregg Zaun. Throw in pitcher David Bush, assistant GM Gord Ash, who answers to a Canadian, Doug Melvin, and the Brewers are one of the more hoser-friendly hardball concerns going.
- All the John Axford news that's fit to print: The pride of Port Dover, Ont. (just 66 kilometres southwest of Hamilton) is starting the season in Triple-A Nashville, but the 27-year-old righty reliever possesses a "snapdragon curve." The Brewers have a few more relievers kicking around than starting candidates, just like about every team.
- And don't forget: Backup catcher George Kottaras of Scarborough!
- Bet on Brett: Second baseman Brett Lawrie is starting the season in Double-A, which is heady for a 20-year-old Canadian middle infielder. He hit .274/.348/.454 in High-A before moving up.
- J.P. Ricciardi was strung up by his thumbs for less: The Brewers are generally considered a smart organization, but right-hander Jeff Suppan (on the disabled list) could collect $14.5 million US between Opening Day and when he's bought out after this season.
- Excellence in editing: Axford's name was misspelled "Acford" in a recent Brantford Expositor headline. It's only his hometown paper!
- Stuff your face, Milwaukee: Food Network-branded fare is now being served in the suites at Miller Park.
- Total reference moratorium: Yes, Hart shares a name with a crappy 1980s Canadian pop singer and Fielder's daddy was a famous ballplayer. Let us never speak of it again.
- PECOTA says: 78-84, tied-third NL Central, 734 runs scored, 766 against.
- In English, please: Milwaukee remains a drinking town with a baseball problem.
Why 25? Milwaukee has to make a playoff run to earn the other five.