The Brewers are considered a team that has their success lie in the production of their star, Ryan Braun. Since Prince Fielder left as a free agent two off seasons ago, Braun has been the face of the franchise. Of course, there have been the non baseball playing stories in regards to Braun and PEDs. First there was his failed drug test which was changed because of a "technicality," then there was his 65 games suspension last season for his involvement with Biogenesis. While I think the Brewers have built a competitive team around Braun, he is still the key to any success they may have. I don't trust in Ryan Braun one bit.
The Brewers made their biggest splash by signing veteran RHP Matt Garza to a 4 year, $50 million contract. He was solid when healthy in 2013 (10-6, 3.82 in 24 starts for Chicago and Texas), but the problem has always been the injury concerns. Adding a healthy Garza to a rotation that still has Yovani Gallardo (12-10, 4.18 in 31 starts) and Kyle Lohse (11-10, 3.35 in 32 starts) makes the starting pitching credible. Starters such as Wily Peralta (11-15, 4.37 in 3 starts) and Marco Estrada (7-4, 3.87 in 21 starts) should fill out the rotation. LHP Tyler Thornberg (3-1, 2.03, 18 games, 7 starts) and RHP John Hellweg (1-4, 6.75 in 8 games, 7 starts) both have top of the rotation stuff, but the Brewers seem to be able to let them develop with their depth.
The major move the Brewers made involving the offensive side of the ball was trading OF Norichika Aoki to the Royals for LHP Will Smith. The team did bring in 1Bs Lyle Overbay (.240, 14, 55 in 142 games for the Yankees) and Mark Reynolds (.220, 21, 67 in 135 games for Indians and Yankees) which should he an upgrade over the incumbent Juan Francisco (.221, 13, 32 in 89 games). Scooter Gennett (.324, 6, 21 in 69 games) should have shown enough to get a chance to play everyday at 2B in 2014 as Rickie Weeks (.209, 10, 24) continues to struggle to get the job done. Jean Segura (.294, 12, 49, 44 SB, 10 3B) is the real deal at SS, with veteran Aramis Ramirez (.283, 12, 49) expected to produce as he missed time due to injury last season.
Their offensive MVP was CF Carlos Gomez (.284, 24, 72, 20 SB) but catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.280, 18, 82) also had an All Star caliber season in 2014. Left field seems to belong to Kris Davis (.279, 11, 27 in 56 games). Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl will also see some action in the OF. Braun will make the move to RF. The lineup I would put out would be Segura SS, Gomez CF, Lucroy C, Braun RF, Ramirez 3B, Reynolds/ Overbay 1B, Davis LF, Gennett 2B. The bench should consist of Weeks, Jeff Bianchi, Schafer, Gindl and backup catcher Martin Maldonado.
The bullpen will be led by RHP Jimmy Henderson, who won the closer job early in 2013 from John Axford, who is now in Cleveland. Henderson was 5-5, 28 saves, 2.70 ERA in 2013 with Milwaukee. Francisco Rodriguez is back again (3-2, 2.70 in 48 games for Milwaukee and Baltimore last season). LHP Smith (2-1, 3.24, 19 games, 1 start for Kansas City last season) should team up with Thornberg to work from the left side as both can slide into the starting rotation if necessary. Tom Gorzelanny (3-6, 3.90, 33, 10), Brandon Kintzler (3-3, 2.60, 73) and Alfredo Figero (3-3. 4.15, 33, 5) should round out the bullpen.
Braun can return to 2011 NL MVP form and the Brewers can be right in the thick of the NL Central race. I think their bullpen will struggle, something that kind of washes out the talent of the starting rotation. They should be able to score some runs, especially if Reynolds has a big season. I see the Brewers having good moments this season and bad moments as well. Vegas has them at an O/U of 79.5. It is reasonable, but I think the Brewers will fall short at 75-87, last place in the NL Central. Unfortunately, it will probably cost manager Ron Roenicke his job after the season.