2010 Milwaukee Brewers Preview & Predictions

Ray MonohanContributor IMarch 16, 2010

GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 11:  Chris Narveson #38 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during a Spring Training game against the Cincinnati Reds on March 11, 2010 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

2010 MLB Predictions/Previews

Hard to believe, as many of us watch the snow fall outside, that the Boys of Summer are almost back. But it’s true; teams have reported to 2010 Major League Baseball training camps and it’s time to start our team-by-team baseball betting previews for the year.

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In 2008, the Brewers were a team on the rise, reaching the postseason for the first time in 26 years. They had a phenomenal offense and respectable pitching. The problem was that their starting rotation was anchored by C.C. Sabathia, a trade-deadline rental.

When Sabathia blew town before 2009, the Brewers’ pitching staff was crippled and 2009 was a predictable disappointment.

After making an effort to bolster their pitching this off season, can the Brewers be a factor in the NL Central again?

The big question is whether or not Milwaukee’s pitching has truly improved. Freshly signed Randy Wolf is fresh off a career year but he still struggles with the long ball and he pitched half his 2009 games at Dodger Stadium, a pitcher’s haven.

Manny Para and Dave Bush have both flashed brilliant in the past but, if they were truly going to break out, it probably would’ve happened by now. The Brewers reacquired Doug Davis but he’s not the pitcher he once was and he still puts far too many guys on base.

The only reliable bet to make a strong impact in the rotation is Yovani Gallardo. His control still needs work but there’s no denying his dominant arsenal and ability to miss bats. He’s a Cy-Young-caliber arm that still has time to get better.

Milwaukee was 27th in the majors with a 4.83 ERA last season. In 2008, it ranked fourth with a 3.85 ERA. If the Brewers can even finish somewhere in the middle of those two numbers, they have shot at the playoffs. That’s because they have plenty of strong offensive contributors.

You could argue that there’s no better one-two punch in a major league lineup than Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. They’re both young, durable and extremely powerful; they also both hit for better average than most big time power hitters do.

Better yet, they’re not alone. Corey Hart had an off 2009 but he still has a quick bat and generally good athleticism; Alcides Escobar is Milwaukee’s shortstop of the future, a speedster with outstanding defensive ability. He could be the next Omar Vizquel.

Milwaukee could really make some noise if Rickie Weeks can finally stay healthy. With a swing modelled after Gary Sheffield’s, he was finally starting to show the pop he displayed in the minors before a wrist injury derailed his season in May. He could still be a force at the top of the order but there’s simply no guarantee that he stays healthy.

After all, he hasn’t done so yet in his career.

The Brewers’ bullpen is certainly long in the tooth, sporting vets like LaTroy Hawkins and all-time MLB saves leader Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman in particular hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet. Until he does, we assume relief pitching won’t be a problem for Milwaukee.

A flawed team with plenty to like and plenty to dislike, the Brewers fit into the crowded National League Central perfectly. They could finish anywhere from first to fourth in my opinion. Since I’m not sold on their starting staff, I see a .500 season in the cards.

Brewers Prediction: Fourth, National League Central

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