Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Brewers Forecast 2009

It's a bit late to do anything that can be called a Brewers season preview. Alas, the season started yesterday with a 10-6 loss in San Francisco. And in any case, I don't really have much to add to the consensus assessment of Milwaukee's prospects for the year.

In short, it all depends on pitching (mostly of the starting variety). If Yovani Gallardo can deliver on his tremendous promise, if Manny Parra can pitch a complete season, if Dave Bush can maintain his level of last season, and if Jeff Suppan and/or Braden Looper can give them anything--anything at all--then the rotation may be just serviceable enough to contend. Those are all big ifs.

A less prominent theme, but one I'll be watching as the season unfolds, is how the young Brewer hitters mature at the plate. Corey Hart needs a good measure of discipline; Rickie Weeks needs to hit for some average; Ryan Braun needs to cut down his strikeouts; and it would help for Prince Fielder to maintain a more consistent power stroke. Those were all weaknesses through the latter part of last season and it will be interesting to see how things go this year.

None of this is news to any of you Brewer fans out there. Still, I feel like I have to get on the record with some thoughts.

I'm not much of a prognosticator (as anyone who was in my NCAA tourney pool can tell you). But if you put a gun to my head, I'd say the Brewers will finish behind the Cubs and Cardinals in what will be a very good NL Central. And I will be very surprised if they surpass last season's 90 win total. Of course, I rather like surprises.

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