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Brewers Team Health Report 2011

The White Sox may be the team with the "All In" ad campaign, but the Brewers aren't slow playing this season. They, too, have moved most of their chips in the middle by acquiring pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to bolster a pitching staff that ranked as one of the worst in baseball in 2010. With Prince Fielder potentially in his last season as a Brewer, there is a sense of urgency surrounding the club, which certainly has the potential to make a deep playoff run with their revamped rotation. Last season saw the Brewers miss 150 more games to injury than they did in 2009, but the departed Doug Davis alone missed over 130 games with pericarditis and tendinitis, so the increase seems to be more of an aberration than a cause for ongoing concern. Players like Rickie Weeks and key bullpen arm Takashi Saito are some of the biggest injury risks in baseball year in and year out, but the rest of the team doesn't look nearly as injury prone. While there will certainly be unforeseen injuries throughout the season, the lack of chronic or preexisting issues on this year's team will give Trainer Roger Caplinger and his staff the ability to focus on treating Weeks' wrists, Saito's right arm, and any other issues that emerge early in the season. Caplinger heads one of the best staffs in baseball, which is a huge asset for the Brewers and their designs on a playoff run. The fact that his time can be spent more with preventative care and treatment than with a team full of already-injured players will make him that much more effective and the Brewers that much more dangerous in the National League Central.

(HEAD TRAINER: Roger Caplinger; FIVE YEAR RANK: 7; 2010 RANK: 18)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
GREEN LIGHT
SP Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo has missed an awful lot of time for someone with a green rating, but there are two things working in his favor. First, he's avoided serious arm injuries; the closest thing he has had was an oblique strain in 2010. Second, he's largely had a collection of one-off injuries, having been hit by line drives twice and tearing his ACL trying to leap over a diving runner. Unpredictable injuries happen in baseball, and Gallardo has simply been desperately unlucky in the past.

SP Chris Narveson
Narveson's green, and even though he's a high green, overextending him could cause some issues at the end of the season. Then again, look at these ratings. I'm not sure we've ever had an all-green rotation in the history of the THR's. While this might not be the Phillies in terms of talent, it might well beat them in availability, which is the other half of the winning equation.

Also Green:
1B Prince Fielder
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF Ryan Braun
CF Carlos Gomez
SP Zack Greinke
SP Shaun Marcum
SP Randy Wolf
CL John Axford
YELLOW LIGHT
C Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy will get the starting nod behind the plate, but the risk here goes beyond the generalized risk of being a catcher. He caught just 75 games in the majors last year, and the Brewers would certainly like to see him double that figure this year. It's a lot of innings to ask of a young receiver, but the team's backups aren't exactly compelling options. The broken pinkie he suffered early in camp will set him back, but shouldn't plague him deep into the season.

3B Casey McGehee
I tend to think that The System is being a little overcautious here. McGehee did see his numbers drop from 2009 to 2010 as his playing time grew, but that drop doesn't seem to be related to a specific injury. It's entirely possible that 2010 is a more accurate reflection of McGehee's true talent level, but it's unlikely that he'll see another big drop in production even if he plays around 160 games again.
RED LIGHT
2B Rickie Weeks
Any concerns regarding Weeks' new $38.5 million dollar contract aren't that he isn't talented enough, but that he won't be on the field enough to earn it. The 160 games Weeks played in 2010 were a marked shift from the 95 games he averaged in his previous five seasons. His wrists have been his biggest obstacles to staying in the lineup, so that's as good a place as any for Caplinger and his staff to focus in their effort to keep Weeks healthy.

RF Corey Hart
The System sees Hart's decreasing stolen base total and size-he's 6-foot-6 and 229 lbs. -- and sees a player who is losing his legs. Hart's unique skill set gives The System some pause, but even with that added consternation, he's a very low red. He may lose his legs at some point, but it seems a little early for that now.

RP Takashi Saito
It is easy to forget that Saito, who has only been in the US since 2006, is headed into his age-41 season. He's struggled with shoulder, elbow, and leg injuries over the past three seasons, and age is clearly working against him. That said, he's the biggest risk on a remarkably healthy staff, which means he won't want for attention in the training room.

Dan Wade contributed to this report
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