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Milwaukee Brewers 2008 Preaseason Predictions

on 03/28/2008


It's time for to take a stab at naming the players that will make the biggest impact during the 2008 season while tackling a few of the key issues the team will need to overcome.

Player of the Year

Ryan Braun
The position switch will make a world of difference to Braun's overall value compared to last year, and he'll have a full season to work with. He may not be able to fully replicate the success that he had last season, but he'll likely remain a force to be reckoned with for years to come. If by chance he's able to develop more patience at the plate, he could become one of the truly elite hitters in the league.
- Ethan Riepl

This is a tough choice due to multiple candidates (which is ultimately a good thing). I believe that Ryan Braun will do his part to eradicate the phrase "sophomore slump."
- Laura Hawing

Ryan Braun will embrace the cleanup role, and clean up he will -- as in an RBI title and MVP votes. He will prove to be a more than capable left fielder. To think he posted his 2007 numbers in only 113 games...
- Jim Goulart

Prince Fielder
The Brewers have an embarrassment of potential riches at the plate again this season. The guys I didn't even consider for this award - J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, Jason Kendall and Mike Cameron - all have the ability to be solid contributors to the lineup and in the field in their own ways. If Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart or Ryan Braun ended up being the everyday hero for the team this year, it would not surprise me in the least. Prince Fielder, however, is not only a middle of the lineup stalwart but is also the team's young leader. To beat a metaphor to death, Prince truly can carry the team on his broad shoulders. And I believe he will in 2008.
- Toby Harrmann

I remember looking at Arod's first big season over a decade ago and wondered to myself how he could get any better. He's done just that, and then some, and I think Fielder is going to do the same, and while he may not reach 50 home runs again, he's going to be a much more well-rounded slugger boosting his averages and counting stats across the board.
- Patrick Ebert

Corey Hart
If you discount Prince for his defense and move Braun down to a measly 1.000 OPS against lefties, then it isn't so clear that those two are way beyond Corey Hart. I think Corey's going to have a Dale Murphy MVP style season. .300 batting average, 30 home runs, 100 runs, 100 RBI, and 30 stolen bases -- not a terribly hard prediction because Corey has been healthy and consistent his whole career. Of course, his ceiling is not as high as Braun or Fielder's, but it's pretty high and Corey will be playing at it this year at the plate. On top of the stick, Hart is an above average defender who might well turn out to be the starting CF next year. With all that said, I think Corey's the guy in 2008.
- Brad Jiles

Rickie Weeks
The nice thing here is that this is a difficult decision. There are several players to argue for. Last season, I picked Rickie Weeks. Weeks had a pretty poor season, which included a trip to the minor leagues. Weeks did however have a successful run at the end of 2007 giving us a glimpse of what is to come. With his wrist a non-issue, his mental blocks gone and who is behind him in the lineup, Weeks is going to have a monster season. Weeks is going to get on base a lot, and he is going to score a ton of runs.
- Jamie Siegel

Pitcher of the Year

Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo may get a late start to the season, but that's ok. He's going to be good. Real good. Yo will provide dependability and give the club a solid chance to win each time he takes the mound. Luckily, the leg injury in spring was pretty minor. He's got great mental character and poise beyond his years.
- Jamie Siegel

OK, so how many "Yovani's" have ever appeared in a big league uniform? If you guessed one, as in "Brewers' number one pitcher in 2008", you'd be correct. Brewer fans really need to step back and realize where we are in Brewer history right now -- and realize that we are not just talking special kids on this club, but in Prince, Ryan, and Yo in particular (Corey's not far behind), that we're talking extraordinary history-making kids on this club. Oh, and Ben's going to have a fine season as well, but Miller Park fans will have the extra buzz when Yo's on the mound in '08.
- Jim Goulart

Despite the slight injury setback, Gallardo should progress from last year and it'll be fun to see what he can do over an entire season in the rotation. Given the chance of Sheets underperforming, Gallardo may have the responsibility of leading this rotation to the postseason, and consistently good outings will be his main asset.
- Ethan Riepl

Ben Sheets
Injuries be darned -- if it's game 7, I want Sheets on the mound. Just because I want to, I'll predict Big Ben throws 200 innings this year and strikes out 200 guys. Even with all the hype about Yo and Parra, Ben's still got the best stuff on the team and I think we'll see him flash it this year. Sadly, there's very little reason to believe that he's with the team next year, and a crappy first half record could mean we see him dealt in July.
- Brad Jiles

With all due respect to the other members of the pitching staff, the question is: Ben Sheets or Yovani Gallardo? Answering the question requires a bit of a projection of the Brewers' 2008 destiny. Should the Brewers falter and finish with a similar or worse record than last year, I have a pretty good idea of who their pitcher of the year won't be - it won't be Ben Sheets. Without rehashing Sheets' injury history, it is simply a fact that the Brewers have lost more than a few extra games since his injury spells began in 2005. If the Brewers have an off year in 2008, it's more than likely due in part to another Sheets injury. That's why he's my pick for Pitcher of the Year. If the Brewers do succeed this year, I cannot see them doing it without a healthy Ben Sheets. Yovani Gallardo is an excellent young pitcher, but I just don't feel he yet means as much to the staff as Ben Sheets does. A healthy year for Sheets will likely mean a healthy record for Milwaukee.
- Toby Harrmann

Carlos Villanueva
Again, how novel it is to have trouble making this choice because there are several realistic candidates. With no offense intended toward the others, I'll tab Carlos Villanueva, as I suspect he will be back in the jack-of-all-pitching-trades role that earned him my 2007 Voigt Memorial Award.
- Laura Hawing

All spring there were a lot of people concerned that Villanueva might not even start the 2008 season with the big-league club given the much talked about starting pitching depth and the fact that Villanueva still had minor league options. Fortunately that concern is a distant memory, and Villanueva may not have the eye-popping stuff, but his approach, command and consistency will give him a much better opportunity to record a win each and every time he takes the mound than his fellow pitching mates.
- Patrick Ebert

Rookie of the Year

Manny Parra
Whether Manny is with the 2008 Brewers out of the gate or moves up mid-season, I think he will shine.
- Laura Hawing

We'll see Parra a bit earlier than I had imagined, which has me a bit nervous for his overall health and stamina. Parra will not be a guy the opposition can "get healthy" on. Quite the opposite. Parra is going to be known to fans around the league very shortly.
- Jamie Siegel

This vote is going to be unanimous in Parra's favor since he is the only rookie candidate that stands to receive a significant amount of playing time. It will be interesting to see what the club does to limit his time on the mound, but some of the best teams in baseball have that reliable swing-man that can be used in a variety of roles, and when Gallardo returns Parra could be used in that fashion.
- Patrick Ebert

The answer here almost has to be Manny Parra. He's the only true rookie on the opening day roster and barring injury or a real breakout year by one of the AAA prospects (Escobar, Pena, Jackson or Iribarren for instance), he'll be the only rookie to see extensive playing time for the Brewers this season. I don't need to go into what Parra brings to the table, I just wish him health. For kicks, here's my dark horse candidate: Chris Narveson.
- Toby Harrmann

This is a tough one. It seems like it should be Parra, but he's just barely still a rookie. But who else would it really be? So, rather than say something wacky like Vinny Rottino, I'll go with Manny. Let's all pray he throws 180 top-notch innings this year.
- Brad Jiles

Manny Parra, not by default, but because it's a one-man race. Don't be surprised if Manny makes as many as 12-15 starts in Nashville, though.
- Jim Goulart

Considering that Parra is really the only option, he gets it by default. But that doesn't mean that won't earn and deserve it, despite the absence of competition.
- Ethan Riepl

Jack Voigt Memorial Award - Unsung Hero

Joe Dillon
Isn't Jack Voigt still alive? Thrillin' Joe Dillon gets the vote -- every Little Leaguer out there should watch this guy at the plate. Dillon pinch-hit appearances are like those nominated Academy Award shorts -- successful productions high in quality. It's line drive heaven.
- Jim Goulart

Gabe Gross
With Cameron missing the first month, I think Gabe will get a chance to shine. Of course, he'll probably sit behind Gabe Kapler or unexpectedly be released after the second game of the season, but I think he'll contribute quite a bit this year. He's really a superb fourth outfielder and I think too many overestimate the quality of fourth outfielders out there.
- Brad Jiles

Tony Gwynn Jr.
Gwynn will help the ball club this season on both sides of the ball. He will obviously get more time right away in the beginning of the season, but will also be a solid bench player. Gwynn will be called upon for his bat this season and we should see a pretty good increase in his OBP.
- Jamie Siegel

Jason Kendall
I'll take the hunch that Kendall will handle the pitching staff more effectively - enough to make a difference.
- Laura Hawing

Ted Simmons
Simmons' contributions to this team will be largely invisible to the casual observer, but his shrewd baseball mind and influence on Yost's managing will likely produce good results.
- Ethan Riepl

Salomon Torres
The bullpen still worries me some, but I really liked the acquisition of Torres, and I think his presence will provide some much-needed glue to hold the


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