brewerfan.net header
About Us    Power 50    Link Report    Daily Brew    Draft    FAQ    Links
Transactions    Player Index    Login    Fan Forum
Lambeau Leap 1250 WSSP  
 
Brewerfan Features
Toby's Power 50
Link Report
Draft
Milwaukee Brewers
Nashville Sounds
Huntsville Stars
Brevard County Manatees
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Helena Brewers
Arizona Brewers



  Minor League
Player Search
 
 
 
Powered by
Baseball America

  Major League
Player Search
 
 
 
Powered by ESPN

  Poll
Should Tommy John be in the Hall of Fame?
1. Yes
2. No











 
Feature
 
 
Milwaukee Brewers 2009 Preaseason Predictions

Staff
on 04/04/2009

 

It's time for Brewerfan.net to take a stab at naming the players that will make the biggest impact during the 2009 season, while tackling a few of the key issues the team will need to face.

Player of the Year

Prince Fielder

I have to think that a slimmed down, contractually satisfied Fielder will be costing the Brewers additional funds in game balls. I believe that his offense will improve drastically adding 10 + home runs to last years total, his batting average will jump, and his walk totals will increase quite a bit. Fielder will benefit from the advice of his new hitting coach in a big way.
- Jamie Siegel

Once again, it's good news that the Brewers have multiple valid candidates for this honor. This year I'm putting extra faith in the Prince. He's fitter and presumably free of contract thoughts this go-round, so what is there to stop him? (Nothing against Ryan Braun, but I'm just not 100% at ease with his ribcage soreness. Ryan can feel free to prove me wrong.)
- Laura Hawing

I was really encouraged by Fielder signing his two-year extension this offseason. Who saw that coming? Combine that with the fact that he really got himself in better shape, and I think we're going to see a much more determined, and possibly somewhat humbled young man that is poised to put up possibly bigger numbers than what he did two years ago.
- Patrick Ebert

Ryan Braun

Braun will be the only outfielder in Baseball to hit 35 homers this year, and he'll do it while batting .300 and driving in 120 runs. I also think he'll walk about 30 times more than last year, making him a top 3 MVP guy at season's end.
- Brad Jiles

I know that the rib injury is starting to scare people, but I really do think he'll be able to overcome it and keep building on his success.
- Brian Kapellusch

J.J. Hardy

Unlike Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Hardy produces at well above average clip for his position both on offense and defense. While those two will each hit more home runs and drive in more guys than J.J., Hardy makes up for it with good power of his own, emerging plate discipline and superior defense. If he can push his OPS to 850 or above, he's every bit as valuable as Braun and Fielder in my book.
- Toby Harrmann

And let the shortstop discussion get really crazy heading into 2010; it will be the most debated topic in Brewer hot stove history.
- Jim Goulart

Pitcher of the Year

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo and Manny Parra both need to step up this year for the team to have a chance at the playoffs. I'm giving Gallardo the edge over Parra because Yovani seems closer to "getting it" on the mound. Ever since he stepped cleats onto a major league mound, it has looked like Gallardo has a good idea about what to do up there. Parra has as good or even better stuff, but is still learning to pitch with confidence. Gallardo has that confidence.
- Toby Harrmann

My main reasoning here is that without a stellar season from Yo, the Brewers don't have a chance.
- Brad Jiles

Similar to Brad's response, I feel that Gallardo has to win this award if the Brewers are going to enjoy a successful season. His pitching guile allowed him to soar through the minor leagues, and so far he has carried over that success to the big-league level. I have complete faith that he will continue to build upon that early success.
- Patrick Ebert

Lofty expectations are in no way fair, but they will be met.
- Jim Goulart

He's been nothing short of remarkable when he's been given the ball. I don't expect there to be any post-ACL issues here, and I think he's already a legit #1 pitcher in most rotations.
- Brian Kapellusch

Dave Bush

I probably still have a little bit of NLDS Game 4 dust in my eyes, but cut me some slack - the man won the playoff game I dreamed of for 26 years. Now more than ever, perhaps, the Brewers need pitching consistency, which I believe Dave can deliver. He's not a sure thing, but frankly, neither are the others.
- Laura Hawing

Jeff Suppan

I realize he has shown little to warrant such praise, but then again, nobody else has shown it to me either . Suppan has a new pitching coach this season and, apparently, keen support from his new manager. I'm not saying he'll win 20 games, but 15 is a good number for him. If the Brewers are going to make a push again this year, he absolutely must step it up.
- Jamie Siegel

Rookie of the Year

Brad Nelson

Versatility on the ball field will generate opportunity. Nelson can plug holes on the defensive side and will offer solid and reliable play. He will contribute as a bat off the bench as well. Nelson won't be a NL Rookie of the year, and he does not have to be. He just has to help the Brewers any way he can.
- Jamie Siegel

He's useful in so many ways.
- Laura Hawing

He had a .928 OPS vs RHP in 2008 in Nashville. I think he'll work his way into being the primary left-handed option off the bench once he proves himself.
- Brian Kapellusch

Something tells me Brad Nelson is going to grow a 'stache and become Matt Stairs this year. I anticipate 15 homers in 250 ABs spread out over the 4 corners.
- Brad Jiles

Without open roster spots currently for Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar, it seems that the Brewers won't have a top prospect knocking on the door early in the season. Enter Brad Nelson. Once a top prospect himself, Nelson has earned his way onto the team on his last chance. Over the past few years Brad has found most of his power stroke again, and has developed a proficiency for managing the strike zone. He doesn't have a starting role on the team but he'll be very valuable as a backup at first base and the corner outfield, as well as a power bat coming off the bench. If he plays well this year, he may make the Brewers more comfortable trading Prince Fielder after the 2009 season.
- Toby Harrmann

Mark DiFelice

He'll end up making at least ten starts, most of which will be "quality".
- Jim Goulart

Casey McGehee

When McGehee was picked up, his background (and the fans' reaction) seemed very similar to Scott Podsednik's. I think the Brewers' current infield situation could play very favorably for Casey getting solid playing time due to his versatility, and I think he'll respond with a nice, productive season.
- Patrick Ebert

Jack Voigt Memorial Award - Unsung Hero

Casey McGehee

While I also voted McGehee as the team's rookie of the year, I just think he could serve as the glue for a team that needs a versatile presence (not named Craig Counsell) on the infield that could win fans over similar to Gabe Kapler a year ago.
- Patrick Ebert

Even if he's blocked in April by the likes of Craig Counsell, I believe his time will come in 2009 and he will make the most of it.
- Laura Hawing

Brad Nelson

He'll be effective, but in a quiet way. It's easy for anyone to get over-shadowed on this ball club.
- Jamie Siegel

Maybe the easiest Brewer to root for ever.
- Jim Goulart

Bill Hall

I'm not so sure he'll ever return to the form that we saw a couple of years ago, but I think he could do some damage (in a positive way) as the right-handed end of a platoon at third base.
- Brian Kapellusch

Mike Rivera

It's hard to bat once a week and still be a decent hitter. Mike is better than decent and he's a pretty good defender as well. Here's hoping he gets closer to 200 ABs this year.
- Brad Jiles

Mark DiFelice

After more than a decade of pitching in the minor leagues, Mark DiFelice finally made it to "the show" last year and looks to become a fixture on the Brewers staff this year. He does not walk anyone and he is murder on right-handed batters with his cut fastball. As long as Mark can figure out a way to keep lefthanders somewhat at bay with his changeup and curve, he'll fill a valuable role in the bullpen. He may even get the chance to start if a few injuries occur. He's not a household name, but he has the potential to be a very important piece of the pitching staff.
- Toby Harrmann

Minor League Impact Player

Lorenzo Cain

The trade of Michael Brantley opens up Lorenzo's entire career path.
- Jim Goulart

I hope he realizes just what awesome timing it would be for him to break through by 2010.
- Laura Hawing

I think he's in the Carlos Beltran/ Curtis Granderson mode of center-fielders that do everything. He'll be the starter in Milwaukee in 2010.
- Brad Jiles

Brett Lawrie

I think Brett's a VERY special player and will mash his way through the minors in short order.
- Brian Kapellusch

Mat Gamel

Gamel's defense at third base is still a big question mark. The great thing about Gamel, though, is that he won't need to stick at third to have a big impact on the Brewers. Gamel has a potentially special bat. While he doesn't have top end power like Fielder or Braun, he makes good, hard, consistent contact and should hit for a high average. He could be shifted to first base if Fielder is traded, or he could be shifted to the outfield if Corey Hart slides over to center field to replace Mike Cameron.
- Toby Harrmann

Jonathan Lucroy

I would vote for either Gamel or Cain, but I think both are going to get some time at the big-league level this year. Lucroy has been putting up very good numbers at the plate during his first three years of pro ball, similar to Mat Gamel, and is poised to have a big year for Huntsville.
- Patrick Ebert

Taylor Green

Nice bat, tough kid. He's coming off a wrist injury but he'll be in good enough shape to instill fear in the opposing dugouts and pitcher's mounds across the minors. Green will be moving up this year for sure, and fitting in well at Huntsville.
- Jamie Siegel

Three Strikes:

1. The starting pitching staff is obviously the biggest question mark for the 2009 season, highlighted by losing CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. However, a year ago people still considered the Brewers a potential playoff team before Sabathia was even a pipe dream and amidst concerns about Sheets' ability to stay healthy for a full season. Short question made long: Will this team have enough pieces in the pitching staff, regardless of how it is put together, to rise up and once again make the playoffs this year?

Yes. Yo will be an ace this year. Manny Parra will give us 185 above-average innings. Bush, Soup, and Loop will combine for 580 innings and a 4.50 ERA, making the staff officially above average. A great year from the offense and a good year from the pen, and this team wins 87-90 games.
- Brad Jiles

I think people look to last year and say that we lost Sheets and Sabathia, so our chances to make the postseason are slim. I would counter that by saying that we spent most of the year without a pitcher (Gallardo) that was very comparable to Sheets, and we didn't acquire Sabathia until July. There's nothing to stop the Brewers from going out and making another July deal. They still certainly have marketable prospects.
- Brian Kapellusch

The Brewers are in about the same place with their pitching staff in 2009 that they were in 2008. The only difference I see is that the rotation is a little thinner and the bullpen is a little deeper. The good news here is that with the economy negatively effecting the revenue of so many teams, the Brewers may once again be able to augment their rotation at the deadline. The bad news is that the thin rotation depth is going to have to hold and keep them in the race into July. Can they do it? As long as the offense plays as well as they should and there are not an overwhelming number of injuries to the staff, I'd say it's a definite possibility.
- Toby Harrmann

I think enough pieces exist to make it happen, though in terms of living up to potential and staying reasonably healthy, an awful lot has to fall into place just so. I also think that Mark and Doug would not hesitate to implement "Plan B" and make a mid-season acquisition if conditions warrant. At least that seemed to work out in 2008.
- Laura Hawing

I think they have enough pieces, but more because I believe the offense is going to score a lot more runs. Fielder, Hart, Weeks and possibly even Bill Hall are all poised to bounce back, or at least step forward, to join Hardy and Braun while assembling the National League's most potent offense. The improvements to the bullpen will also help, but there won't be the need for the pitching staff to hold opposing teams to three runs or fewer on a daily basis.
- Patrick Ebert

With anticipated offensive improvement with a young yet battle-tested lineup, this staff may not be asked to do as much. I anticipate Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan will miss 10-15 starts between them, but nobody else in the rotation can afford to get hurt. Can they hide David Riske for six months? Oh, and remember, this rotation is going to help itself at the plate.
- Jim Goulart

Sorry, no. It seems as if several teams improved themselves more than the Brewers did this off season. We won't take the division, as Chicago seems all but a lock for that. As well as Milwaukee played last season, it still went down to the wire to get the WC slot. We simply can't win all our games 13-12 and since it is a questionable bullpen behind a shaky starting pitching staff, Milwaukee will start another streak of non-playoff seasons.
- Jamie Siegel

2. Ned Yost seemed to be the target of most Brewers fans' criticism until he was fired a few weeks before the team made the playoffs a year ago. While the team assembled somewhat of an all-star cast of coaches, hiring three of the four coaches the team interviewed for their managerial opening, what are your impressions of Ken Macha? Will his presence make a difference for the 2009 ballclub?

My impressions of Macha are limited. I'm not a fan of the A's, and I am not a big AL fan so I'm not really sure how he handles things. I do know that Ned Yost was not able to light fires under people and get them going again, so Macha can't really be worse. Macha's staff is better than Yost's was and I thing that adding all that up, his being in the Milwaukee clubhouse will be noticeable.
- Jamie Siegel

I won't lie; I'll be satisfied if Ken Macha's presence makes a difference in the forum and chat room. But seriously, if he can really hold players accountable without turning his clubhouse against him, I'll be happier. It would also help if he could refrain from making utterly confounding in-game decisions, and if he listens to his all-star cast of coaches.
- Laura Hawing

I normally don't think a manager matters as much as some people make it out to, but I also admit that I wasn't a big fan of Yost. After watching a few spring training games it looks as though there is a much more fun and loose atmosphere in the clubhouse. I actually have seen players go up to Macha and leave with a smile on their face. Will that make a difference in the win column? Maybe, maybe not, but I also like the fact that when speaking Macha talks about tangible choices he can make in a baseball game, and doesn't refer to a series of old-school adjectives when trying to describe how the 2009 Milwaukee Brewers are going to win.
- Patrick Ebert

I tend to think the manager isn't worth more than a few wins, for better or worse, on the final record. I like that he's more vocal and open that Yost, but I have no idea how that plays in the clubhouse. As long as there aren't long strings of strategic gaffes on the field, I'll be fine with him.
- Toby Harrmann

I'm looking forward to each and every pre-game interview with Macha and Bob Uecker. Ken put NESN viewers to sleep in Boston, but it seems he'll be a breath of fresh air in Milwaukee. I'm pumped.
- Jim Goulart

Yes and no. Something about Ned seemed to exacerbate the players' bad habits on the field. It was pretty rare to see a hitter get better from one year to the next, and I think some of that might have been Ned's inability to get his young players to focus on improvement. Macha's gonna make them work and think. He seems like a much smarter manager as well, which is a plus for me, seeing as Ned sometimes seemed, well, confused.
- Brad Jiles

It's hard to say if Macha's going to be a positive influence. In Oakland, he pretty much just served as a proxy for Billy Beane. I'll give him the benefit of a doubt, until he does something to lose my trust. I'd say that it couldn't get much worse than Yost, but you never know.
- Brian Kapellusch

3. Take your stance. What will constitute a successful or disappointing season for the Brewers, and what needs to happen, or not happen, or either to occur?

Playoffs or bust. If this really is about to be Rickie Weeks' year and Bill Hall can approximate 2006 at all (hello Lasix), then this lineup could be ridiculous. Trevor Hoffman's going to be just fine, by the way.
- Jim Goulart

To me, it's pretty simple. Playoffs = success. No playoffs = disappointment. A lot of people think we've lost a bunch of talent, but I think the natural progression of some of our younger players (Hardy, Hart, Weeks, Braun, Fielder, Parra, Gallardo) could very well offset that.
- Brian Kapellusch

I think that after last season, the only way for fans to see 2009 as a success would be a playoff appearance. Therefore, a disappointing season would be one without a postseason berth. If the Brewers are to make it a season of success, Dave Bush will need to remain consistent, Suppan is going to have to step it up big time, Gallardo and Parra will have to live up to the hype, and the bullpen needs to hold onto leads it did not last year. That is asking quite a bit from the pitching staff. I believe this to be too many "what ifs". If these things do not happen all year, I think too many other teams in the NL can beat us out for a slot in the postseason.
- Jamie Siegel

Not only do the Brewers need to reach the playoffs in 2009, they need to win a playoff series (or two, or three) to be considered a success. This group of players has gotten over .500 and they've reached the playoffs. The next thing to accomplish is playoff series wins. They have raised expectations through their play.
- Toby Harrmann

Like it or not, in the minds of many fans (not necessarily just casual fans), the primary measure of success in 2009 will be another playoff berth. We've finally had a taste of the postseason (another taste, for some of us) and I think just about everybody liked it and wants more. Look at how robust ticket sales have been in a dour economy. The playoffs are not an impossible dream for the 2009 Brewers, but they will need more consistent offense (to offset the significant pitching losses from 2008), pitching that is at least decent, and the always-intangible degree of good fortune to get there.
-Laura Hawing

87+ wins. No major injuries. No trading of established players for prospects. This team is where the Twins, A's, and Braves are---treading a fine line between maintaining what you have and building for the future. They need to do both successfully, so they can neither punt nor go deep on every play.
- Brad Jiles

Not making the playoffs will be disappointing for any Brewers fan, but I think this team can miss the playoffs and still have plenty of reason for optimism for future years. This team could still play well and miss the playoffs if the Cubs repeat their 2008 success and if the Wild Card comes from the stacked National League East. That said, I think three things are key to the success of the 2009 Brewers: 1. Good health (which is always crucial); 2. A big year from the offense; 3. Manny Parra. If Parra is as good as he can be, at least more consistently, the team and their fans won't be asking themselves, "what if?" in regards to losing Sabathia and Sheets this offseason.
- Patrick Ebert

Please visit the Fan Forum to discuss this story in greater detail.

 




Email This Page   Printable Version  Return to Top   Return Home  
otherArticles
 
  2008 Milwaukee Brewers Award Winners
(2009-10-19)
Milwaukee Brewers 2009 Preaseason Predictions
(2009-04-04)
2009 Minor League Season-Opening Roundtable
(2009-04-01)
2008 Milwaukee Brewers Award Winners
(2008-10-20)
Milwaukee Brewers 2008 Preaseason Predictions
(2008-03-28)
2007 Milwaukee Brewers Award Winners
(2007-12-09)
Milwaukee Brewers 2007 Preaseason Predictions
(2007-03-30)
2006 Milwaukee Brewers Award Winners
(2006-10-10)
Milwaukee Brewers 2006 Preaseason Predictions
(2006-04-02)
2005 Milwaukee Brewers Award Winners
(2005-10-03)
Opening Thoughts: Minor League Roundtable
(2004-04-23)

Questions? Comments? Contact Brian Kapellusch (president, systems engineer) @
Brewerfan.net is a fan-based independent site, and is NOT affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club.
Please support the Milwaukee Brewers by visiting their site at http://brewers.mlb.com