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5 MILWAUKEE BREWERS

March 12, 1996
March 12, 1996

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March 12, 1996

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Scouting Reports

5 MILWAUKEE BREWERS

If you think your job is frustrating, imagine being Jon
Greenberg. The publicity director of the Brewers, Greenberg
spent the winter trying to find an appropriate cover model for
the team's 1996 media guide. First he hoped to feature Paul
Molitor, who had played for Milwaukee from 1978 to '92, but
Greenberg had to scrap that plan when Molitor, a free agent,
signed with the Twins. Then he wanted to use B.J. Surhoff, but
Surhoff signed a free-agent contract with the Orioles.

This is an article from the March 12, 1996 issue

So Greenberg went in a completely different direction. He chose
to place a photo of a child--framed in the shape of the state of
Wisconsin--on the cover. The child's image was then superimposed
on a drawing of the new Milwaukee stadium, which isn't scheduled
to open until 1999. Turns out that giving top billing to an
as-yet-unnamed stadium isn't a bad idea after all: The future is
all Brewers fans have to look forward to; the present is bleak.

After failing to sign Molitor, Milwaukee general manager Sal
Bando signed another big-name free agent, righthander Ben
McDonald, to bolster the team's weak starting pitching. Last
year no Milwaukee starter had a winning record, and only Ricky
Bones won as many as 10 games.

McDonald is coming off an injury-plagued season in Baltimore
during which he started only 13 games. After being picked first
overall in the 1989 draft, McDonald has yet to develop into the
dominating starter many expected him to become--his career
record is 58-53 with a 4.10 ERA. In fact, this will be the first
time that McDonald has been a No. 1 starter in the majors. The
Brewers' success may hinge on how well he responds to that
pressure and how fully he has recovered from the tendinitis in
his right shoulder that haunted him in '95.

In addition to the re-signing of third baseman Kevin Seitzer,
the Brewers' leader and best player, Bando's other big
off-season move was to acquire centerfielder Chuck Carr from the
Marlins to bat leadoff. Though his on-base percentage was only
.330 last year, Carr has blazing speed and figures to at least
improve the Milwaukee defense; he replaces the slower Darryl
Hamilton, who signed with Texas as a free agent. With Carr in
center, the Brewers are solid up the middle defensively: Jose
Valentin, one of the best fielding shortstops in the league, and
second baseman Fernando Vina helped Milwaukee turn a league-high
186 double plays in 1995.

Offensively, the Brewers didn't lead the league in anything
positive: They were 10th in slugging percentage and 11th in
homers. The power shortage can be attributed partially to the
trials of Greg Vaughn, who will return to the outfield after
spending last year at DH because of off-season rotator cuff
surgery. He has hit only 36 homers over the last two last
seasons after having averaged 27 per year from 1991 to '93.
Unless Vaughn increases his production significantly, the
Brewers will once again struggle to score runs.

If they are able to scratch out leads and hold on to them into
the late innings, the Brewers will be in good hands. Mike
Fetters performed admirably as the closer last season, racking
up 22 saves while striking out 33 batters in 34 2/3 innings. The
question is whether the team can count on its
starters--McDonald, Bones, Scott Karl and Steve Sparks--to get
the ball to Fetters with a lead.

Catching those starters will be Mike Matheny, who has played
only 108 major league games. In case he doesn't pan out,
however, the Brewers acquired former Mets backup Kelly Stinnett
and journeyman Matt Nokes during the off-season. At the winter
meetings in Los Angeles, Bando stepped into an elevator filled
with Mets beat writers and asked if they had heard any trade
rumors. One of the writers reported that the Mets were getting
ready to deal Stinnett, their third-string catcher. "Wooooo!"
said the writer, laughing.

Bando could only smile, knowing that he was the one set to
acquire Stinnett. But Bando doesn't harbor any illusions about
the importance of the deal. "They were right," he says. "It
wasn't a big trade."

The Brewers know they aren't very good right now, but by the
opening of their new stadium in 1999 they hope to challenge for
the AL Central title. Who knows? Maybe by then they'll even have
a cover boy.

--M.M.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Valentin's nifty defense is one of the few things the Brewers can count on. [Jose Valentin in game]

BY THE NUMBERS

1995 Team Statistics (AL rank in parentheses)

Batting Average .266 (8)
Home Runs 128 (11)
ERA 4.82 (9)
Fielding Pct. .981 (9)

Kid Stuff

Rookie pitchers accounted for nearly 20% of all starts in the
majors last season, the highest such percentage since the World
War II era (rookies made better than 22% of major league starts
in each year from 1943 through '45). Even in each of the five
seasons in which the majors expanded (1961, '62, '69, '77 and
'93), no more than 18% of starts were made by rookies. Milwaukee
rookies combined to start 81 games in 1995, the most by any club
in the majors, the fifth-highest total by an American League
team in the postwar era and the most in the AL since the Rangers
tallied 101 in 1986.

Most Starts by Rookie Pitchers in 1995

Teams Brewers

Brewers 81 Steve Sparks 27
Twins 69 Brian Givens 19
Mets 67 Scott Karl 18
Pirates 67 Sid Roberson 13
Tigers 57 Jamie McAndrew 4

PLAYER TO WATCH

Just think about the numbers John Jaha could have put up last
year had he been healthy the entire season. A series of leg
injuries caused him to miss 56 games, but he still led the
Brewers in homers, with 20, and blasted three grand slams. "It's
tough," he says, "because when I played I thought I did a pretty
good job." Jaha, who will turn 30 in May, had a slugging
percentage of .579 last season, more than 134 points above his
career average. He also committed only two errors in 81 games at
first base, but because Milwaukee plans to use former catcher
Dave Nilsson at first this year, Jaha will begin the season at
DH. One thing is certain, though: No matter where he plays,
he'll hit with power.

PROJECTED LINEUP With 1995 Stats

BATTING ORDER BA, HRs, RBIs, SBs

CF Chuck Carr[*] .227, 2, 20, 25
3B Kevin Seitzer .311, 5, 69, 2
1B Dave Nilsson .278, 12, 53, 2
LF Greg Vaughn .224, 17, 59, 10
DH John Jaha .313, 20, 65, 2
RF Matt Mieske .251, 12, 48, 2
C Mike Matheny .247, 0, 21, 2
SS Jose Valentin .219, 11, 49, 16
2B Fernando Vina .257, 3, 29, 6

BENCH

OF David Hulse .251, 3, 47, 15
C Kelly Stinnett[*] .219, 4, 18, 2

STARTERS W-L, ERA

RH Ben McDonald[*] 3-6, 4.16
RH Ricky Bones 10-12, 4.63
LH Scott Karl 6-7, 4.14
RH Steve Sparks 9-11, 4.63
RH Jamie McAndrew 2-3, 4.71

RELIEVERS SAVES, ERA

RH Mike Fetters 22, 3.38
LH Kevin Wickander 1, 1.93
RH Mark Kiefer 0, 3.44
LH Graeme Lloyd 4, 4.50

[*] New acquisition (R) Rookie