Brewer Preview - Fielderless but not Powerless

Hammering Hart (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Season Series: 2011 (2 -4)

Manager: Ron Roenicke Career 100 - 72

Offseason Moves:

Biggest move was losing Prince Fielder which they tried to counteract by signing Aramis Ramirez. Three new players on the infield but other than that, this is the same team who played in the NLCS last year.

Key Additions: Aramis Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis, Norichika Aoki,

Key Subtractions: Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt

Position Breakdown:

1st Base-26 year old Mat Gamel finally gets his shot after multiple years in AAA, and so far it is not going well. Only 38 abats in the book but the .623 OPS is not quieting the skeptics who think he is only a AAAA player. Career wise Mat has a .873 OPS in the minor leagues, .673 in the major leagues. Can't be easy replacing the Prince. Since when did one T Matt become so popular?

2nd Base- Sweet hitting Richie Weeks is back, and while he's also gotten off to a slow start he has a history of being one the best hitting second baseman in the NL. Over the last three years only Chase Utley can say he's been the better hitter.

                                                                    
Player             OPS+   G From   To   Age   PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Chase Utley         125 374 2009 2011 30-32 1652 .273 .380 .465 .845
Rickie Weeks        122 315 2009 2011 26-28 1431 .269 .357 .472 .829
Dan Uggla           117 478 2009 2011 29-31 2014 .254 .345 .473 .818
Brandon Phillips    108 458 2009 2011 28-30 2006 .284 .338 .445 .782
Neil Walker         108 286 2009 2011 23-25 1171 .280 .338 .423 .761
Kelly Johnson       104 374 2009 2011 27-29 1498 .246 .328 .444 .772
Orlando Hudson      102 268 2009 2011 31-33 1085 .268 .345 .390 .735
Freddy Sanchez      100 282 2009 2011 31-33 1229 .292 .333 .405 .738
Omar Infante         99 352 2009 2011 27-29 1375 .298 .339 .396 .735
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/16/2012.


Shortstop- Replaced the erratic Betancourt with the solid glove of Alex Gonzalez. Gonzo can hit a few home runs, and plays a solid SS. His OBP could kill and at age 35 those home runs will probably drop along with his defense. He's better then what they had, but that is faint praise.

3rd Base- Aramis Ramirez is who the Brewers chose to help fill the Grand Canyon void left by Prince. Aramis is now 34 but since 2001 he has been one of the top hitting 3rd baseman in baseball with a career TSL of .283/.341/.498. How does he rank with his peers?

                                                                     
Rk           Player OPS+    G From   To   Age   PA  HR  OBP  SLG  OPS
1    Alex Rodriguez  148 1612 2001 2011 25-35 7119 440 .392 .570 .962
2     Chipper Jones  144 1452 2001 2011 29-39 6094 265 .406 .531 .937
3      David Wright  134 1106 2004 2011 21-28 4783 183 .380 .508 .887
4       Scott Rolen  122 1353 2001 2011 26-36 5636 200 .362 .487 .849
5        Troy Glaus  121 1176 2001 2010 24-33 4864 243 .358 .487 .845
6    Aramis Ramirez  119 1520 2001 2011 23-33 6345 303 .347 .513 .860
7       Eric Chavez  115 1094 2001 2011 23-33 4561 193 .341 .476 .818
8     Adrian Beltre  111 1592 2001 2011 22-32 6640 268 .325 .475 .800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/16/2012.

History is great and all but Brewer fans need Aramis to hit now, and so far he's been putrid. Putrid being defined by only four hits in 35 at bats with only two doubles. I'm sure he will get it going.

Catcher- A .700 OPS from a young catcher these days nets you a five year deal worth 15 Million. Jonathan Lucroy is the main catcher, but good old George Kottaras is the guy with three home runs in only fifteen at bats. That is two home runs more than Gamel, Aramis, and Braun combined. That is both a testament to how well Kottaras is doing and how bad the corner infielders have been. Last year George hit five home runs in 111 at bats.

Left Field - Ryan Braun was expected to miss 50 games yet here he is. The bogus 2011 MVP is, and has been, an elite player who should continue to be the second best hitting outfielder in the NL. He's Ryan Braun what do you need to know? When it comes to left fielders over the past five years the conversation starts and ends with Holliday and Braun.

                                                                     
Rk            Player OPS+   G From   To   Age   PA  HR  OBP  SLG  OPS
1      Matt Holliday  146 735 2007 2011 27-31 3197 135 .398 .545 .943
2         Ryan Braun  145 729 2007 2011 23-27 3177 161 .371 .563 .933
3    Josh Willingham  121 629 2007 2011 28-32 2536 105 .362 .473 .835
4         Carlos Lee  118 749 2007 2011 31-35 3142 128 .338 .486 .824
5        Raul Ibanez  116 744 2007 2011 35-39 3119 114 .340 .474 .813
6        Pat Burrell  115 646 2007 2011 30-34 2375 104 .360 .460 .820
7          Jason Bay  114 669 2007 2011 28-32 2832 106 .354 .458 .812
8      Carl Crawford  110 692 2007 2011 25-29 2983  64 .340 .447 .787

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/16/2012.

Right Field- 30 year old Corey Hart is the Dodger version of Andre Ethier.

  • They both have tremendous talent and have put up solid years, but each have teased with the idea they could do even more.
  • They are both 30 years old
  • They both entered the league in 2006
  • Andre has the highest OPS+ for NL right fielders since 2006 at 123
  • Corey Hart has the most home runs for NL right fielders since 2006 at 122.
  • Both are off to tremendous starts (1.314 OPS for Hart)

700 Games in RF since 2006

                                                                       
Rk         Player OPS+   G From   To   Age   PA  HR   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1    Andre Ethier  123 854 2006 2011 24-29 3365 109 .291 .364 .479 .843
2    Hunter Pence  120 734 2007 2011 24-28 3099 114 .292 .343 .485 .828
3      Brad Hawpe  118 735 2006 2011 27-32 2854 110 .280 .373 .495 .868
4      Corey Hart  116 774 2006 2011 24-29 3116 122 .279 .335 .490 .825
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/16/2012.

Center Field-When Carlos Gomez is patrolling Center Field against LHP you have one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, while also being one of the most maddening on the offensive side. He has never learned to use his incredible speed to help himself to a full time gig. In the past he's been focused on trying to hit home runs as his 64 K's in 264 at bats in 2011 would attest. Has something changed in 2012? At age 26 did they finally drum some sense into his noggin? Forget about the fact he's posted a .980 OPS so far in 22 plate appearances. The number that jumped at out me more than any other stat on the Brewer stat sheet. ONE K.

When Nyjer Morgan is on the field against RHP, you have an enigmatic player who at times looks like an extremely skilled center fielder and other times, not so much. This applies to both his defense and offense.

Bench: Left over is old friend Cesar Izturis who still provides up the middle defense and no bat. Japanese import Norichika Aoki helps out in the outfield, while Travis Ishikawa is the left handed bat off the bench. In fact the whole bench is left handed when LaCroy and Gomez are starting. Interesting.

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Gary Scott details the following three pitchers

Game One: Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo features a three pitch repertoire, using a 92mph fastball (50% of the time), an 80mph curveball (18%) and an 87mph slider (27%). His curveball is regarded as one of the best in the game, and he does a great job of keeping it down and away from both left- and right-handed hitters, as you can see here. Gallardo doesn't throw anything with arm-side action, nothing he can run in on a righty or away from a lefty. This reflects itself in Gallardo's career splits. For his career, right-handed hitters have a .675 OPS against, while lefties have a .720 OPS against. He's certainly a dominant pitcher, but he allows left-handed hitters to keep him from joining the ranks of the elite.

Game 2: Zack Greinke

Greinke attacks the strike zone with a 93mph fastball (20.6%), 85mph slider (17%), 70mph curveball (9%), 93mph two-seam fastball (27%), and 91mph cutter (23%). What's interesting are the percentages of his fastballs: the four-seamer, two-seamer and cutter. Greinke has never thrown a cutter before, but it was reported before spring training that he would be working on it. He's always had an elite fastball and slider, Greinke is trying to incorporate much more movement into his rotation. It didn't work for Chad Billingsley, but Chad Billingsley has never been a Zack Greinke.

Game 3: Randy Wolf

What To Watch For?:Wolf gets hitters out by getting them to chase offspeed pitches off the plate, and by lulling them to sleep with offspeed pitches enough to sneak a fastball by them. This pitching term is called "speeding up their bats". It usually works when a pitcher tries to establish a fastball and get the hitter caught up to the fastball, then throwing an offspeed pitch that is slow enough and with enough movement that the hitters is out in front. We've all seen this from any number of pitchers. Wolf works the opposite way. He'll get a hitter looking for his offspeed pitch, get him waiting back on the pitch to read the break, then throwing a fastball with two strikes. Because the hitter was trying to be patient and read the spin, by the time he realizes it's a fastball, even at 87 miles per hour, the best case scenario for the hitter is a foul ball, and worst case is a swinging strike.

For even more detailed info about each starter be sure to give Gary Scott's fanpost a look see.

Bullpen: The Brewers have had a lot of great closers, but John Axford might be the best of them. He didn't even break into major league baseball until age 26 and that was for only six games. At age 27 he took over for HOF Trevor Hoffman and has never looked back. From MLB

• Closer John Axford converted his 45th consecutive save Wednesday, the fifth-longest streak in Major League history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With two more saves, Axford will tie Brad Lidge (Sept. 25, 2007-April 13, 2009) for fourth on the all-time list. The record belongs to Eric Gagne, who converted 84 straight from Aug. 28, 2002-July 3, 2004.

In 2012 he's only been in four games and has been tattooed in two non save situations, and perfect in his two save situations. Setting up Axford is Francisco Rodriguez who has 292 of his own saves. Filling out the bullpen is Tim Dillard, Manny Parra, Kameron Loe, Jose Veras, and Marcus Estrada. Parra is the lone left hander in the group. Once upon a time he was promising young starter, but now he's been relegated to the bullpen with extremely good results. He's no loogy as Parra has thrown the most innings out of the bullpen so they may not have a match up for Andre in the 7th or 8th.

Series Preview:

The Brewer offense is struggling with the exception of the outfield. It could be a long series if the Brewers offense starts clicking with the home cooking. Along with the elite arms of Gallardo/Grienke, and the ever solid Randy Wolf this series will be a test for the team with the best record in baseball. . Don't want to be downer but I suspect the euphoria of beating down the Padres/Pirates could be replaced with a cold splash of reality as the Dodgers face not one but two of the best pitchers in the NL, and an offense that will not go as quietly into the good night.

On the plus side Gallardo has yet to get locked in for 2012 while Kemp/Andre are, and our best pitcher in 2012 is going against him. Game one should be the best game of the series. Whoever wins Tuesday Night will win the series.

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