Miller Park is good for home runs, at least for left-handed batters, but slightly below neutral in terms of run production overall. Milwaukee's high-octane offense grows even more impatient this season. The team will take a chance on some mix that includes the young threesome of Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Alcides Escobar.
Only the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs attempted fewer steals than the Brewers did last season, and only Chicago had a worse success rate. With the speedy Escobar installed full-time at shortstop, Gomez brought in via trade and Weeks back from a season-ending wrist injury in 2009, that should change. Those three probably have something to do with manager Ken Macha's expressed desire to be more aggressive in that respect.
Miller Park sees more than its share of strikeouts and walks, which may help explain but does not excuse the team's sky-high 2009 walk total. Bringing in Doug Davis and his career 4.06 BB/9 probably will not move them in the right direction. At any rate, expect not to see many balls in play during games in Milwaukee. The Brewers' staff also gave up the most home runs in the National League last year, which hurts more when mixed with the walks.
Trevor Hoffmann has an airtight grip on the closer's role. Macha has always been inclined to stick closely to bullpen role distinctions, too.
Mike Cameron was good in center field, but Gomez could be much better. Escobar is already twice the shortstop J.J. Hardy was, minus any growing pains. Weeks' return to second base should boost the infield defense significantly, assuming he plays like he did in his short 2009 stint. However, abysmal third baseman Casey McGehee would offset any gain.
The team invested in another washed-up, poor-hitting catcher with a declining defensive reputation. With Gregg Zaun in charge, base-runners will probably continue to succeed at least 80 percent of the time when they run against the Crew.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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