Now that the Packers are done with their season one can't help but look forward to two things:
NCAA Tournament & Spring Training
Pitchers/Catchers are scheduled to report on February 18th for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The rotation seems to be pretty much set for the Milwaukee Brewers. I don't really anticipate Doug Melvin picking up an additional starting pitcher; despite the vacant spot on the 40-man roster. Milwaukee is set to have a sit-down with Mark Mulder which could begin serious talks to bring him on board with a minor league contract. Although Mulder sat out all of 2009 and most of 2008, Milwaukee is hoping to hit the jackpot on the once-reliable southpaw. Granted, this effort to land Mulder is a shot in the dark; but he should be had at a relatively low price involving an incentive rich deal. Small price to pay for a chance to revitalized (at one time) the best pitcher in the game. I say go for it. You can basically forget about Ben Sheets. The guy will not come back to Milwaukee and it is rumored that the Cubs are taking a hard look at him.
Here is what the rotation is looking like:
I don't know about you, but that concerns me greatly. Let's face it, Rick Peterson will have his hands full. Will he be able to turn around 3/5 of the problem that was in last years rotation? Remember, Milwaukee finished 15th in the NL for ERA (4.83). Parra is a mental head-case, Bush is slightly above average, and Suppan would probably even struggle in the pen. Mulder is a 50/50 shot to even crack the rotation in 2010.
Milwaukee will again miss Ben Sheets and his 3 or 4 complete games that he typically threw a season. Last year the Brewers had 1 complete game.......Oddly enough, the LA Dodgers who had the best record most of the season only had 1 complete game as well.
What the Crew needs is a true "innings-eater". Remember when Suppan was supposed to be that guy? Shucks, if the guy last 5 complete I'm happier than a pig in shit. Milwaukee ranked 12th in that category in 2009; that could be worse, but that's what ultimately killed us when Bush and Parra went out. Randy Wolf pitched 214 innings last season and 190 in 2008, but he battled injuries since 2005.
Finally, the Brewers need pitchers who can keep the damn ball in the park. No thanks to Braden Looper, Milwaukee gave up a league leading 207 long balls last season. That is 18 more than Philly who gave up the second most. Crazy how that works out. Then again, Philly's ballpark is a hitters gem.
The bullpen, on paper, looks to be pretty solid. Milwaukee finished tied for 2nd place in the NL in Saves with 44. Thanks impart to a perfect first half (minus one month) that Trevor Hoffman tossed.
The offense is going to have be ranked near the top in the NL if this team has a shot of competing with the Cards or the Reds.
As a fan, I can't help but get the meat sweats when I think of Gomez in the lead-off. The speedy CF should fit in nicely with this team. Granted, he will have to get better at the plate (discipline), but he should provide the needed shot in the arm for stolen bases that this team is looking for over the past 5+ years! I would imagine Rickie Weeks would bat 2nd followed by Braun and then Fielder at the clean-up. It's a toss-up between Hart and McGahee at the 5th (6th) spot. The speedy Escobar would start off the season batting 7th or even 8th in the order much like last year. The veteran George Kottaras will probably bat in the traditional 8th spot.
This team should be a lot more active on-base with a number of different speedsters in the line-up. Remember when Corey Hart was the fastest player on the team? Hell....that's embarrassing. Granted, he's pretty fast....but not Carlos Gomez fast. This will be imperative for Ken Macha to utilize. They need runners in scoring position when Braunie and Fielder come to the plate. Milwaukee was horrible on the bases last year and they ranked 3rd from last in the MLB in steals (68). Compare that to Tampa's theft record of 194.
Over all, the Crew looks interesting heading in to Spring Training.