MLB Predictions 2011: 10 Bold Forecasts For The Milwaukee Brewers This Season
As the pitchers and catchers report to their assigned duties and positions, only one thing can be assumed: Spring Training must be just around the corner. And that assumption would be correct.
But for the Milwaukee Brewers, redemption of an unpleasant 2010 season will be at the top of newly named manager Ron Roenicke's to-do list.
Offseason signings and additions have resulted in serious talks of a postseason appearance for the Brew Crew in 2011. And with young, prospering talent, who's to say they won't do it?
So as we look forward to a promising 2011 season, here are 10 forecasts guaranteed to come true for Milwaukee this season.
Ron Roenicke Will Evoke Aggressiveness On The Basepaths
As a new coach in any professional sport, a plethora of improvements and to-do's will emerge. As for Ron Roenicke, his first priority will be to amend Milwaukee's struggles on the bases.
Last season, the Brewers finished 12th in the National League in stolen bases, 81, with Carlos Gomez leading the way with just 18.
An overhaul is imminent, folks.
Roenicke has vowed to improve Milwaukee's contingency on the bases, and could result in a more efficient overall offensive attack.
Prince Fielder Will Bounce Back
Last season, Milwaukee's most famous slugger of all-time limped to just 83 RBI, 32 HR, and a regressing .261 BA, Prince's most disappointing season without question.
And although Fielder led the Brewers in home runs last season, both his OPS (.872), SLG (.471) and OBP (.385) fell dramatically below his career averages. And with talks of Milwaukee dealing Fielder away for talented pitching, there has never been more uncertainty surrounding the Brewers' basher.
But with a rejuvenated ballclub chalk full of award-winning talent, we are likely in store for a much improved, audacious 2011 season from Fielder.
Either way, expectations are higher than they've ever been, and success must be attained from Fielder if the Brewers are to become playoff contenders in the near future.
Takashi Saito Will Have an Immediat Impact
Just another key addition to Milwaukee's needy bullpen, Takashi Saito will take on a paramount role within the Brewers bullpen looking to rebuild from the groud up.
As a reliever for the Atlanta Braves in 2010, Saito lived up to his legacy by more than one account. Yielding 17 holds, 69 strikeouts and an effective 2.89 ERA makes Saito one of the premier relief/set-up pitchers in the majors.
The need for a distinguished setup-man in front of John Axford for the Brewers will prove to become justone of Milwaukee's most essential chores in spring training.
If Saito can give Axford a majority of manageable closing opportunities, Milwaukee will have all the tools necessary to make a World Series run.
Rickie Weeks Will Pickup Right Where He Left off
Last season, Milwaukee's breakout second baseman Rickie Weeks had himself a personal-best year with 29 HR, 83 RBI, and a .269 BA and set career highs in hits (175) and doubles (32).
What does 2011 hold in store for Weeks? Hopefully a mirror-image of his 2010 performance.
Should Weeks again perform up to his abilities, his talent knows no limits. However a nagging history of injuries are the only thing standing in the way of his future success as a lead-off hitter and defensive second baseman.
Nevertheless, look for Weeks to take on a much more serious role within Milwaukee's journey towards the postseason.
Casey McGehee Will Continue To Progress
From the lowly bench of the Chicago Cubs, to the fame and fortune of the Milwaukee Brewers, Casey McGehee has made a name for himself throughout the Major Leagues as a perennial All-Star caliber player.
In just his third season as a major-leaguer, and in his first official full-time role within an offense, McGehee batted a solid .285 with 23 home-runs, while leading the Brewers in RBI (104) -- an accomplishment that should not go unnoticed.
Even with the likes of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, Casey has found his stride and place within the Brewers' lineup, and will continue to progress as he becomes a more seasoned player.
In 2011, expect another breakout season from Milwaukee's third baseman of the future.
Zach Greinke Will Outperform All National League Pitchers
If you haven't bought into the hype, now's the time to start doing so.
Milwaukee's three-horned starting rotation (Zach Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum) is arguably the most talented threesome of starting pitchers the National League has to offer. And despite Greinke's disappointing 2010 efforts, his National League debut is sure to be one of the most intrueguing of all storylines.
Last season, Gallardo led the Brewers in ERA (3.84), strikeouts (200) and wins (14) with insufficient offensive production from Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.
Likewise, Kansas City managed just 676 total runs in 2010; enough to be 11th-worst in the entire league. So what do you think will happen when Greinke suits up for a much more explosive team?
That answer is yet to be determined, however I'll take a stab at it.
Expect Greinke to be at or above 18 in the wins column in 2011.
Ryan Braun Will Be an MVP Candidate
In just under four complete seasons, the "Hebrew Hammer" (as he is referred to in Wisconsin) Ryan Braun has made his presence felt within in league as one of the most talented young players in a very long time.
As hard as it may be to accept, Braun's 2010 season was arguably his most disappointing with just 103 RBI, 25 HR and a .304 BA.
But with new coaching, comes new attitudes. So expect Braun to be at the top of his game in 2011, making his case for an MVP caliber season.
Shaun Marcum Will Give The Brewers Over 200 Innings
Toronto's former work-horse, Shaun Marcum had himself quite the 2010 season in an offensive-minded AL East division.
Giving the Blue Jays 195.1 innings of work, along with 165 strikeouts and a 3.64 ERA, Marcum is as solid of a pickup the Brewers could have ever dreamed of picking up this offseason. And with a dismal showing from Milwaukee's starters last season, a consistent addition in Marcum will benefit the entire rotation.
Along with fellow pitchers Zach Greinke and Yovani Gallardo (both having eclipsed at least 200.0 innings pitched last season), the Brewers will have on of the most durable one-two-three punch combinations in the National League without question.
But to contend with the bolstered staff of the Phillies who now maintain Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt, Marcum must be able to administer over 200 solid innings of work.
If he can accomplish that, Milwaukee's entire pitching staff will have great shot at leading the way towards a World Series.
They Will Win The NL Central...
The time is now for the Milwaukee Brewers to make their move towards the promise land.
Having reached the postseason just two seasons earlier has provided the city of Milwaukee with the taste of playoff fever, and now is not the time to slow up. And all indications are that they have no such intention.
With the pieces now in place to make a run for the World Series, this could very well be a deciding year for the franchise.
If success is not attained, Prince Fielder may take to the road in the near future. So for Ron Roenicke and the Brewers, this season will determine much more than the club's foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, we should all expect the Brew Crew to take their talents to the postseason -- hopefully for a shot at the World Series.
...And Much More
The Milwaukee faithful have found themselves searching for that one, incomparable World Series-caliber season for a long time running. And if the chips fall correctly this time around, their wish could become a reality in a matter of months.
However -- there is much work yet to be done and many demons left to dismiss within Ron Roenicke's newly-found dugout in the weeks yet to come.
But the feeling remains mutual between both the players and fans of the Brewers this season, and a deep playoff run will become expected from these young players who maintain the utmost potentially the league has come to know.
Offseason aggressiveness has bolstered Milwaukee's rotation tenfold, and expectations will be as high as they've ever been for the Brewers to take their capabilities to the next level.
Look for the Brew Crew to be at or near the top of the National League when it is all said and done.