A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BREWERS
They have to stay healthy because I don't see a lot of depth there. . . . With Zack Greinke out [until at least late April with a cracked rib], they're scrambling. When he's healthy, one to three—Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum—I'd take Milwaukee's rotation. One to five, I'd take Cincinnati's. . . . Gallardo's command looks better than it did last year. He's developing as a pitcher. He's a 92-to-94 guy with his fastball, and he's using his slider more. . . . There's not a lot of depth in the middle of the bullpen either. John Axford throws it over and shows no fear. What's big is that he can get a strikeout with his breaking stuff. But there are a lot of moving parts in his delivery, and sometimes he struggles with his command. He's got to find that arm slot. . . . The Brewers can score. Rickie Weeks is a streaky hitter, but he can provide pretty good pop for a second baseman. . . . I'd keep using Carlos Gomez as the number 2 hitter when Corey Hart returns. If Weeks gets on, Gomez is going to get fastballs hitting in front of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. He might chase breaking stuff and get himself out, but in front of those guys he'll see heat. . . . I know Braun didn't hit as many home runs as he did in 2009, but I didn't see that all of a sudden he wasn't driving the ball like he had been. I just think it was one of those years. . . . Fielder's contract is up, so I expect a good season out of him. . . . Casey McGehee just keeps improving. His pitch selection is better, and he hits the top-line pitchers. He can protect Fielder. . . . Their infield defense is a concern. They don't have an elite guy in that group.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER RON ROENICKE
1ST SEASON WITH BREWERS
Number of times the lumbering Prince Fielder went from first to third on a single last season—even though he had a major-league-high 56 chances to do it. (He was thrown out trying once.) He scored from first on a double just once in 10 chances.
To squeeze the most runs out of an NL lineup, sabermetricians believe, the pitcher should bat eighth. The benefit of having the number 9 hitter on base more often for the top of the lineup outweighs the cost of flip-flopping the worst and second-worst hitters at the bottom. The gain is small, on the order of a few runs a season, but why not exploit it? Former Brewers manager Ken Macha took that thought to heart in 2009 and '10—at least occasionally—batting his pitcher eighth a total of 12 times. Milwaukee's new skipper, Ron Roenicke, should embrace the idea more fully, especially because he has a rotation filled with good hitters. The average NL pitcher batted .143 last year, with a .177 OBP and a .176 slugging percentage. Roenicke has Randy Wolf (.189/.230/.266 career, with five home runs), Yovani Gallardo (.218/.260/.418, eight homers, including four last year) and Chris Narveson (.293/.328/.310). Even AL import Zack Greinke has a .167 career average with a home run in 26 plate appearances. Roenicke can do the right thing in the number 9 hole without losing much in the eighth spot.