Nyjer Morgan has probably won the everyday job in CF for Milwaukee. He hit .304, 4, 37 and proved himself to be a more productive player than the younger Carlos Gomez (.225, 8, 24). Corey Hart (.285, 26, 63) will hit for power and play a good right field. Braun (.332, 33, 111, NL MVP) will be the key for the Brewers. It would be expected that his numbers should go down some due to not having Fielder (.299, 38, 120) hitting behind him. But, if he was using PEDs, he has the potential to 1) fail another drug test or 2) have his power numbers drop drastically because he is not using. He remains the key to this team's success. Ramirez (.306, 26, 93 with the Cubs), Rickie Weeks (.269, 20, 49), and Gamel (.310, 28, 96 in AAA and 3-26, 2 RBI with Brewers) should make up a lot of the run production that Fielder was able to give. Alex Gonzalez (.241, 15, 56 with Atlanta) gives up a little offensively, but is a much better defensive SS than Yuniesky Betancourt, who is now in KC.
The Brewers will also stay in the pennant race because they possess two of the more dominant starting pitchers in the NL. Yovanni Gallardo (17-10, 3.52, 207 K) and Zack Grienke (16-6, 3.83, 201 K) could very easily replicate their 2011 success by just showing up. Shawn Marcum (13-7, 3.54) was one of my picks when it comes to starters poised to have a big year. Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69) and Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45) give the Brewers a set rotation heading into the season.
Having Axford (2-2, 46 saves, 1.95, 74 games) and K-Rod (6-2, 23, 2.64, 73) together for a full season should shorten the game for Milwaukee. He was particularly dominant for the Brewers, going 4-0, 1.86 in 31 games after he was acquired from the Mets at the All Star break last season. Though they will miss Latroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito, Jose Veras (2-4, 3.80, 79) should provide help, acquired from the Pirates in the trade for 3B Casey McGehee.
The Brewers will be better than people think. Losing Fielder will have an impact, but I expect Gamel to produce enough runs, even if the batting average is not up to Fielder's standards. Ramirez will also help, giving the team more power hitters than they had a year ago. The question is, how much did PEDs effect Ryan Braun and will he be the same player? He is the face of this franchise and without him being an impact player, the team could struggle. The pitching stacks up as one of the best staffs in the NL, let alone the NL Central. Vegas put their O/U at 83.5 and I think the Brewers will slightly top that, at 85-77, 2nd place in the NL Central. That will not be enough to take the 2nd Wild Card spot in the NL, but will be plenty to stay around until the last couple games of the season.