Last year the Brewers celebrated their first division title in 29 years and added a first round win over the Diamondbacks. The celebration ended early after news leaked that NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, and Prince Fielder did as expected and packed his bags, signing with Detroit. The negative headlines make for an interesting situation for first-year Head Athletic Trainer Dan Wright. After a successful decade as Milwaukee's trainer, Roger Caplinger was promoted to director of medical operations, passing the position along to Wright, his long-time assistant. The Brewers are one of two teams to go to the "Colorado model" this offseason. (The Dodgers are the other.) Wright inherits a relatively healthy team looking to overcome the departure of Fielder and Braun?s impending suspension. There are no real surprises in Milwaukee as the higher-risk players are frequent inhabitants in the training room. The pitching staff looks to once again be in top form despite small dips from Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum.
Health Keys: Keep the new faces (Aramis Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez) healthy until Ryan Braun returns from suspension and hope the pitching staff continues to avoid the injury bug.
(HEAD TRAINER: Dan Wright; FIVE YEAR RANK: 6; 2011 RANK: 20)
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RF Corey Hart |
Hart is no longer the stolen base threat he once was, but improved discipline at the plate helped him overcome an early oblique injury and put together a solid 2011.
SP Zack Greinke
Greinke's shift to the National League went smoothly despite an elevated ERA. It's a safe bet he stayed off the basketball court this offseason after last year's gaffe.
CF Carlos Gomez
Gomez fractured his collarbone in July, allowing teammate Nyjer Morgan and his "Tony Plush" persona more playing time and the opportunity to provide numerous sound bites. With the injury healed, the two will platoon the centerfield position with Gomez inserted to face lefties.
LF Ryan Braun
C Jonathan Lucroy
1B Mat Gamel
SP Randy Wolf
RP Fernando Rodriguez
CL John Axford
SS Alex Gonzalez |
Gonzalez has overcome several injuries, including a fractured knee in 2008, to piece together a solid career by relying on his glove work and the occasional display of power. Unfortunately, his fielding numbers are on the decline and his plate discipline last season was awful, leading to a career-high 126 strikeouts.
3B Aramis Ramirez
Ramirez bounced back last season, putting his thumb injury from 2010 behind him and winning the first Silver Slugger Award of his career. Unfortunately, he has played in 150 games just once in the past seven seasons and his long-term health status remains in question. He won't be Prince Fielder, but his splits suggest his move to Miller Park will help his power.
SP Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo is an interesting case as the bulk of his injuries are relatively uncommon for pitchers. He's avoided major shoulder and elbow issues, but missed the bulk of 2008 after tearing his ACL on a freak play. His durability will be tested after pitching a career-high 207 innings and more than 180 innings in three consecutive seasons.
SP Shaun Marcum
Shoulder stiffness in spring training may have served as an indicator that Marcum's arm would suffer down the stretch. He struggled in September and October, erasing what could have been an extremely productive season. Shoulder problems for a pitcher who pitched 200 innings just two years after Tommy John surgery has the potential to be a big problem.
SP Chris Narveson
Though he doesn't have the sturdiest of hands, his run-in with a pair of scissors isn't the reason for rating as yellow. Arthroscopic hip surgery for a chronic condition is the culprit and helps explain his disastrous performance in the NLCS. His recovery may carry over into spring training, putting him at risk of losing his hold on the fifth spot in the rotation.
2B Rickie Weeks |
His previous wrist injuries will always be a cause for concern, but a particularly bad ankle sprain adds to the risk. If he fails to bounce back, he runs the risk of becoming the second best member of the Weeks family as brother Jemile has breakout potential despite a similar injury profile.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer and writes regularly for Rotowire.