Spring Postcard: Youthful Brewers forced to learn on the job
Even by their usual standards, the Brewers are young. Seven of their eight projected everyday position players are 28 or younger, including likely new starters
The Brewers finished next-to-last in the National League in ERA in 2009, and Peterson, formerly the pitching coach of the A's and Mets, was brought in to help get their staff back to a point where they can compete for a playoff spot in a division headlined by the Cardinals and their co-aces,
While the Brewers don't boast the young nucleus Peterson was able to work with in Oakland -- the "Big Three" of
Hard as it may be to believe, the Brewers' All-Star first baseman is still only 25. What may be even harder to believe for Brewers fans is that he could be nearing the end of his tenure in Milwaukee. Though Fielder won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season, the Brewers have already begun discussing signing their cornerstone slugger to a long-term deal. But if the talks -- and the team -- fall apart, it isn't an impossibility that he could be moved during this season. No matter how long he stays, the Brewers had best capitalize on having a hitter like Fielder in their lineup. In 2009, he finished first in the National League in RBIs, second in home runs and OPS and fourth in walks.
Edmonds didn't play anywhere in the major leagues in 2009, sitting out the season after playing for the Cubs and Padres in 2008. The Brewers were familiar with him from his many years in the National League Central, mostly with the Cardinals, and were intrigued by his ability to balance their lineup and give them a left-handed bat off the bench, but they've found that he brought his gold glove, or what's left of it, with him, too. "He hasn't lost a step defensively," said Macha. "It's nice to have a guy with his experience and the intelligence with which he plays." It doesn't hurt to have a guy who brings his wealth of knowledge, either, which he has been sharing with his fellow outfielders, particularly the newly-acquired Gomez. Brewers people have raved this spring about Edmonds' still-noteworthy speed and his ability to compensate for any lack of quickness by getting excellent jumps and taking the proper routes to balls.
The love affair Brewers fans once had with
Perhaps never has a check-swing been as anticipated as it was this spring, but when Weeks started to go around and held up during a game this spring, the Brewers brass breathed a sigh of relief. "That's always a good sign for how your wrist is healing," said Macha. "His is fine." It wasn't last year, when Weeks played only 37 games after tearing his wrist. When he was hurt on May 17, the Brewers were eight games over .500 and in first place in the NL Central. Though they remained competitive in the division for the rest of the first half, they couldn't sustain their impressive play when he was out and their hopes of returning to the postseason for a second straight year were never realized. Weeks has been better than ever this spring, batting .306 with a .424 on-base percentage, numbers which would easily be a career-high for the former No. 2 overall pick from the 2003 draft.