Even though the Brewers have possibly the best offense in Baseball in 2013 it is going to be the pitching that determines how far they will go. On paper it looks like a young staff led by Gallardo. But if you really look into it only one of the 5 potential starters besides Gallardo is younger than him (Peralta). Which may be the point the Brewers are trying to make this season. “At some point, you just say the younger guys have to be given a chance.” Said GM Doug Melvin.  Many thought this off-season they would be aggressive in Free Agency. Ryan Dempster rumors swirled all off-season but the Brewers decided to go with their guys.

The #2 pitcher at this point is Marco Estrada and rightfully so. The 2nd half of last year was a promising one for Marco Estrada with an ERA of 3.40 and a 9.1 K per 9 rate. In 6 starts in September he had a 2.63 ERA including 39 strikeouts. At one point he gave up one earned run over a 41.2 inning span. In total he finished the year 5-7 with a 3.64 ERA and a 9.3 K per 9.

Gallardo Heads Into 2013 As The Brewers Only Pitcher Returning From 2012 Opening Day Rotation.

Gallardo Heads Into 2013 As The Brewers Clear #1 Pitcher With Lots Of Question Marks Behind Him.

After Gallardo and Estrada you have 4 pitchers who all have a possibility to make the rotation out of spring. Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers, Chris Narveson, and Wily Peralta. All four deserve a chance but with only three spots one of them will have to resort to the bullpen or AAA.

Lets start with Fiers. The big question here is did Mike Fiers burn out last year or did hitters just finally figure him out? At one point of the season Mike Fiers was un-hittable. From May-July he had a 1.8 ERA including a 1.01 ERA in 4 starts in July. In June he struck out batters at an unbelievable 10.06 k/9 rate. After July is when it all went down hill though. In 6 August starts he had a 4.89 ERA. Followed by a 7.09 ERA in September. Based on Fiers first 3 months its likely he will have a rotation spot. In all he finished 2012 with a 3.74 ERA and a 9-10 record. Like Estrada he struck out batters at a high-rate including a 9.5 K/9. If it turns out though that it wasn’t fatigue that made him go from one of the best pitchers in Baseball to one of the worst he might be the first one bumped out of the rotation for another guy.

This leaves us with 2 spots and 3 pitchers. Rogers, Narveson, and Peralta. Chris Narveson pitched in 2 games last year before a torn-rotator cuff ended his season short. At 31 years old this is our veteran. This is also our only Lefty starter we have.  In 2010 and 2011 combined Narveson went 24-17 but had a very low 7 k/9 and a 1.392 Whip to go along with that. His ERA was also not pretty at 4.73. Coming off arm surgery Chris Narveson might be the least talented pitcher in this group. But as the oldest guy and the only lefty if he shows he is the same pitcher as last year in Spring, a rotation spot will most likely be his.

And then there were two. Wily Peralta who might have the most upside and shown the most promise out of the 5 and Mark Rogers. A former 1st round pick whos time is running short to prove he can be legit at age 27. In his first full opportunity he took advantage of it in 7 starts going 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA and a very good 9.5 K/9 before getting shut down in September. We cannot forget about Wily Peralta though and what he brings to the table. Based on numbers alone Wily Peralta blows out everyone here. But in terms of age he is on the low end. At 23 years old Wily Peralta can go to the minors and improve to wait for a spot to open up, where as everyone else is over the age of 27 and would likely find a spot in the bullpen. Wily Peralta is the Brewers number 1 prospect and the only prospect in MLB’s top 100 (64). Last year Peralta was 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts the final month of the season. He did not strike out a lot of batters though and his command is still a bit of an issue. Based on that in order to make this rotation he would need a pitcher besides Gallardo and Estrada to struggle in Spring for him to get a spot. If that doesn’t happen even though he has the most promise it makes sense for him to go to AAA and wait for a spot to open up for him.

This is the year we need to figure out what we have with pitchers. Since everyone else is getting up there in age besides Peralta I don’t think he gets the spot. We have lots of pitchers in the minor leagues that also have promise with Thornburg, Nelson, Hellweg, Jungmann, Burgos, Bradley, and Pena. Because of that it makes sense to figure out what we have with these guys now and see if they are long-term solutions instead of waiting to find out and clogging up holes in the rotation for some of these younger guys including Peralta.

Opening Day Rotation1. Yovania Gallardo
2. Marco Estrada
3. Chris Narveson
4. Mike Fiers
5. Mark Rogers

Next Week We Will Look At The Brewers Revamped Bull-pen.

Looking Back
The Bucks last year at the trade deadline had two options.. Go for it or play for the lottery (Otherwise known as tanking). They went with the first one and acquired Monta Ellis in what some thought could make them not only a playoff team but maybe even a 2nd round playoff team. At the end of the season they now look back at what could have been as the last two weeks were absolutely disastrous for the Bucks. I myself can say I think the Knicks game was fixed, there was just too many awful calls down the stretch as the bucks looked to pull away. Either way its time to look ahead and not look back. With the first plan I lay out in a few paragraphs it is the team going for it.. Which I dont want them to do. But the second option is a young team that in a few years can compete for a championship, still put fans in the seats, and give Milwaukee a team they can actually talk about.

Players Leaving
Lets start with the contract situations. Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino’s deals are up, Udrih has a player option for 7.8 million and Livingston a team option for 3.5 Million. Udrih is going to be gone because he wants a starting job and he proved this year that he deserves one. Livingston for 3 million is pricy as well so unless they can get him for maybe 1.5 or 2 million he will be gone as well. Back to Ersan and Carlos… Ersan said he is going to the team that pays him the most money so we wont be getting a discount.  This leads to another HUGE decision, the Bucks can either go for it or start over. If they are going for it Ersan has to be resigned.

A New Head Coach
The next thing is a new coach. Skiles is probably gone and probably a lot of new personnel will be gone to create that type of feeling the Brewers did last year in Bringing in a lot of new coaches. Three possibilities I believe will be good options are Sidney Moncrief, Flip Saunders, and Mike D’Antoni. If you are starting over Moncrief is cheap, players and fans will like him, and he will keep the young guys in check. If you are going for it D’Antioni will fit right in and run the up tempo offense. Saunders is the third option if you cant get D’Antoni. Below I will be showing what might be done if they go for it or if they start over.

Option #1: Going For It
If they go for it Ersan NEEDS to be resigned hopefully for less then 8 million. The next move is getting a true center.  Drew Gooden is still under contract and unless he is moved in a trade to free up contract space they will probably be keeping him if going for it.  So although expensive, I believe in this scenario Gooden would be back a backup center for the 2012 bucks. So how do we get this center???

Free Agency/Trades
The Bucks need to decide right now if they want to keep Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis for another year or trade one for a true center. If they trade for one which I am in favor for then they need to sign a shooting guard. If they keep them they need to sign a center. If they make a trade I am thinking a guy like Andrew Bynum (who we probably cant get due to how well he is playing as of late). But a guy like that who can run a fast paced offense. If for some reason the Lakers did that, I think Brandon Jennings would fit the Lakers perfectly. We would probably have to throw in a sweetener most likely but leave that to the Bucks to figure out. Now you ask who plays the two guard?? Well there is this former buck that would make perfect sense. Ray Allen? Its either sign him or we sign a center. We have to do one or the other if we are going for it.

Option 1:
PG: Monta Ellis SG:Ray Allen SF:Carlos Delfino PF: Ersan Ilyasova C:Bynum

Option 2:
PG:Brandon Jennings SG:Monta Ellis SF:Carlos Delfino PF:Ersan C: Free Agent

Option #2: Starting Over
The second and least likely/More Complicated way is starting over. This is what I want to see because its not completely starting over but its getting some young guys that have talent and letting them play. The team will still be good but very young. The first move is getting rid of Gooden, Delfino,Monta, Livinston, and Udrih. Delfino, Livingston, and Udrih’s contracts are up so just release them for contract space. Then you can trade Gooden and Ellis for a top 5-7 pick in the upcoming draft….

The Draft
If you made the deal mentioned above with those picks you could maybe get a Harrison Barnes at Small Forward and then depending on if you can get a free agent that I will talk about later, draft John Sullinger or Austin Rivers. Rivers would be a role playing guy off the bench to fill in at the 1 or the 2 guard. Harrison Barnes would give you a solid and high potential SF that you need with Delfino gone. If you dont get the guy I want at Center via free agency then Sullinger would be the guy to go after to go with the Sanders and Udoh combo.

Free Agency/Trades
Obviously starting over means that you are going to build through the draft. But I still think this year the Bucks if they do start over can be aggressive in free agency and land some top guys that are still young and have great potential. I talked about the true center. This is going to be an expensive move but Javale McGee would fit this team perfectly. He has some issues and we all know this but maybe we can get him easier because of it. He is a 24 year old 7’0 center and he fits this team in every way imaginable. He is like Sanders and Udoh as he is a shot blocking big play ability guy that can spark some energy with huge dunks. The combo of Sanders, Udoh, and McGee would be an amazing fit and a great duo. McGee can run the fast pace offense and at 7’0 gives you the true center you are looking for. They are all shot blockers and could develop together throughout the years playing at PF and Center. You would also still have Moute one of the best defenders in the league and Jon Leuer on the roster for big men. There are two other guys I see in this class and with our PF and C positions set its the 1, 2, and 3 where we could use some help. The first is OJ Mayo, a guy with tremendous potential and still at the young age of 24. He would be our shooting guard if we trade Ellis and would fit perfect into the Bucks system. Then you might ask, who is the veteran on this team besides Dunleavy? Well we would have to sign one and I look at a guy like Tracy McGrady for a million and a half. We don’t know yet if he will return to the Hawks but if he doesn’t a guy like him who is a former superstar will bring a veteran presence to the Bucks and help all the young guards and the small forwards on this team. He also is a reliable guy who can start at Small Forward or Shooting Guard any given night when the young guys need a break and be that 6th man off the bench with Dunleavy.
How That Team Will Work In Milwaukee
The Owner, GM, Coaches, and fans have a win now attitude in Milwaukee. If you tank you will lose lots of fans. The team I will outline below will put fans in seats because who doesn’t want to see T-Mac in a bucks jersey? What about the Duo of McGee, Sanders, And Udoh for a lot of years blocking shots and dunking the ball. This team is affordable, young, can win you games now, and the best part about these guys is anyone can emerge into that superstar. You will be in the playoffs for a few years. Hopefully they get a new arena soon and by the time that’s up they can be competing for a championship. All these guys are very young and can grow together. It keeps everyone happy. The people who want a superstar, the people who don’t care and just want to win, or just the casual fans who like to see a quality team. I do believe this team could give you a championship in 3 years and still compete every year until then while developing the players and getting a new stadium ready.. Why Not Milwaukee?

MY IDEAL ROSTER FOR 2012-2013 season:

PG:Jennings(22), Rivers(19)
SG:Mayo(24), Dunleavy (31)
SF:Harris(20), Barnes(20), McGrady(32)
PF:Udoh(24),Moute(25), Leuer(22)
C: McGee (24),Sanders(23)

2012 Salary: 60 Million
Predicted 2013 Salary: 50 Million

We all loved beast mode last year and opposing teams hated it. But is it done?

You would have thought it was since Fielder was the creator but apparently not.

After scoring on a sacrifice fly from Aramis Ramirez last night Nyjer Morgan threw up the old beast mode.

You can decide for yourself what this means.. I don’t mind it but it might be a little too early to start it up again, please wait for the last few months of the season Nyjer!

This is my first blog and I am fairly new to Blogging. But I think I do a fairly good job at it and make it fun and involve lots of stats and what not. Either way here is my 2012 Brewers preview.

What is up with all the predictions on the Brewers this year? I mean 3rd in the division, is that really how far the Brewers have fallen off in one off-season after a 96 win NLCS record breaking Beast-Mode Season? I look at this team and see a better team than last years looking at another 90+ win season, ill give you ten reasons why.

1.   A-Ram, Gamel, A-Gonz will combine or beat Prince, McGehee, and Yunis 2011.

The first thing people are going to look at is the big void in the 4 spot. No Prince  means they cant be nearly as  good in 2012, right? No, not right. The Brewers this year replaced Prince with Aramis Ramirez. Is he Prince Fielder? No, but last year he drove in 93 RBI’s in a bad Cubs lineup. Put Braun, Weeks, And Morgan and he should be looking at a LOT more RBI’s this year. Also, Aramis said right away that he HATED the Wrigley Field cold. At Miller Park the roofs closed for those cold games and its a hitter friendly park so look for his numbers to improve this year to around 95-105 RBI’s and 25-30 HR. That does not replace Prince completely but if you put those numbers and combine them with Gamels and Alex Gonzalez stats it should beat out Prince, McGehees, and Yuni’s 2011 season.

2.   Ax And K-Rod are both back and its for the WHOLE year.

Last year Doug Melvin made a surprise move to improve the bullpen in the middle of the season when he traded for K-Rod the single season saves record holder and they got him for a 5 foot 6 pitcher who had a 21.60 ERA for Milwaukee. Yeah that’s Danny Herrera if your wondering. The combo was lights out and when the Brewers had the lead after 7 innings they NEVER lost after acquiring K-Rod. Nevertheless the combo is back for 2012 after Krod surprisingly accepted arbitration. They should be the best 8-9 combo in baseball and it is going to help out tremendously.

3.   Greinke gets a full spring.

Last year Greinke got injured playing in a pick-up game of Basketball, yeah.. That cost him the whole 2011 spring and it proved to be costly as he struggled in the first half of 2011. He fixed it though in his last 16 starts he had a 2.61 ERA. He finished with a 3.83 ERA and an undefeated record at home. A full spring should prove beneficial. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. He knows it,”  Ryan Braun said. “We all know it, too. He expects to dominate. I really think he’s going to have a great year, like, another Cy Young year. A full year of Zack being healthy is going to be tremendous for our team.”

4.   The infield defense has improved.

The Brewers infield was one of the worst defensively in all of Baseball and it was costly. They had 4 errors in a crucial game 5 in the NLCS last year and it led to the eventual defeat in game 6 with a 3 error game. This year the Brewers made a change. New to the infield is Alex Gonzalez, Mat Gamel, And Aramis Ramirez. While Gamel and Aramis are not great at there defense it should serve as an upgrade to Prince and McGehee. The big upgrade comes at short as we finally have a versatile top of the line defensive shortstop. He is not known for his bat but this spring he hit 5 Home-Runs and led the team with 16 RBI’s. He is old at 35 but hopefully he can put up some good stats in the hitting columns this year and translate his spring success to the regular season. Either way he is a HUGE upgrade at Short over Yuni B.

5.   Ron Roenicke is no longer a rookie manager. 

The Brewers have a lot of there players coming back and finally a solid MLB manager. No more Yost or Macha but Ron Roenicke. Hes coming off a first year 96 win season and now he has a year of experience on this team. It should prove to be beneficial and now he knows this team. Most people forget about the Brewers slow start in 2011. Without that they could have had more then 100 wins and there slow start is mostly because of no Hart, Greinke, Lucroy, and Roenicke still in his first year. This year could be huge for the Brewers and Roenicke is going to be a big part.

6.   All 5 pitchers back and Lucroy is catching them all besides Wolf.

All 5 Starting Pitchers last year had 10+ wins and we have 2 aces at the front. Gallardo has another year of seasoning and this could be the year for him. Big sabermetric stats guys have also said Greinke got very unlucky last year and should be putting up cy young numbers this year. He is the predicted NL Cy Young on ESPN.com. Lucroy is back with a 5 year extension at the Catcher position and with another year of experience should be solid. He has been great this spring finishing with a .473 batting average. So look for him to not only help out the pitchers with another year behind the plate but to improve in his hitting. He had a .285 batting average last year going into September but it went down to a .260 by the end of the year after a bad slump.

7.   The Crew is a solid all around team, no bad spots.

This quote from Greinke explains it all.

“I think our team’s a pretty good, all-around team,” said Greinke, the straight-shooting starter. “We don’t have the best pitching staff in baseball, the best bullpen in baseball. We don’t have the best anything, but we’re solid at everything.

“Our defense is solid; better than last year, I think. Our offense is solid; maybe about the same as last year. We’ll see. Everything is slightly above average, across the board, and that’s our strength, I think. Nothing’s going to carry us, I think.”

8.    We have options….

The Brewers have options. You probably ask, what the hell does that mean? Well, it means the Brewers are flexible this year. If Gamel struggles Hart moves to first and Aoki to right. If Aoki is struggling it could be Schafer who could step up in right field or Gomez. Or lets just say A Ram cant stay healthy as his history says. That means Green could play third. If Alex Gonzalez goes down for a few games we have gold glover Ceaser Izturis ready to play. What if a Brewers starter gets injured? Well we have Marco Estrada who filled in great last year for Greinke or Willy Peralta our #1 prospect ready to do work in the major leagues. The Brewers have depth and its going to be nice when it comes to injuries whether its long or short term injuries.

9.    Are seventh inning guy is solid.

We know our 8-9 combo is the best in baseball but Jose Veras the newly acquired 7th inning man to replace Hawkins and Saito is a move that should be being talked about more. He is going to be a game changer. He is a right-hander acquired from the Pirates for McGehee. He comes off a career year 3.80 ERA, career-high 79 appearances, 27 holds and looks to build upon it.

10.    Gamel is going to turn some heads.

Look for Gamel to be VERY solid this year. He came to camp in shape 20 pounds less and knowing the job was his to lose. He took advantage of it and led the team with 6 Home Runs in spring. “It’s time for him to be a major-league player instead of a great Triple-A player,” manager Ron Roenicke said. That quote explains Gamel exactly. Last year he hit .310 with 24 HR and 96 RBI in AAA. But in 171 AB’s for the Crew he has hit just .222 in some short stints, not very good. But its tough when you have Fielder behind you. There have been some late bloomers recently in the Majors. People point to Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, or the game 6 World Series Hero David Freese. Can Gamel be the next on that list? Josh Hamilton had a mentor who helped turn his career around named Johnny Narron. That guy happens to be the one to replace the new Cubs manager Dale Sveum as our hitting coach. He could be a big help in Gamels turnaround. Braun likes Gamels approach too. “He looks better,” Braun said. “He dresses better.” “He cleaned it up, man,” Braun said. “He shaved. He’s dressing nice. He just looks a little more professional. He stepped his fashion game up a little bit. He looks like he cares.” “I think he’s just confident,” Braun said. “He knows he’s going to get an opportunity. He knows he’s going to have some slack. In the past, I think he’s come up and thought if he didn’t go 10-for-20, he wasn’t going to get to stay up. Knowing he’s finally going to get the opportunity to play every day, he’s more confident than ever. You can see him go about his business more serious and professional than he has in the past.”I think he’s excited about the opportunity, and we’re excited to see him get the opportunity. In a lot of other organizations, he would have had an opportunity a long time ago to be in the big leagues and stay.”

Randy Wolf also said some things about Gamel.

“I really think he’s going to surprise some people,” said left-hander Randy Wolf, who watched Gamel make a pair of slick defensive players in Thursday’s win over the Indians. Gamel also homered in that game. “He looks really determined this spring,” Wolf said. “I never judge anything on performance [in Spring Training]. I just look at their attitude and how they’re preparing for the season, and he looks like he’s getting ready to really contribute this year. I think it was hard for him in years past to know he’s got Prince in front of him.”

______________________________________________________________

Those are my 10 reasons that I think they can be better this year. Will they? We will definitely see but I think they can be while flying under the radar.

“We’ll fly under the radar at 9,999 feet. We’ll go undercover and do what we’re supposed to do. We have a solid unit.”
~~Tony Plush

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