A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BREWERS
They made a nice run at the end of last season, but they're going to take a step back—it's a sub-.500 club with too many holes.... People forget this team led the NL in runs last year—they have some firepower, and it starts with Ryan Braun. You can pencil him in for another .300, 35-homer, 110-RBI season. What's impressive is that he didn't skip a step after Prince Fielder left. He's one of the top three hitters in the league.... Losing Corey Hart (knee surgery) for a while hurts a lot—right now they're going with Alex Gonzalez or Hunter Morris at first base. Morris is a top prospect with raw power, but he's a high-strikeout guy. They'd be asking a lot out of him.... Rickie Weeks is a big disappointment: I thought he turned the corner after 2011, but last year he had trouble making consistent contact and pitchers expanded the zone against him.... If he's healthy, Jonathan Lucroy will get to .300 with 20 home runs.... Carlos Gomez has always been an intriguing player with speed, and now he's flashing power. He's only 27 so there's room for him to grow.... The problem is the pitching. Other than signing Kyle Lohse, they've done nothing to address it.... Yovani Gallardo is a true No. 1: He could be a Cy Young candidate. After that it gets real ugly. Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada are No. 5 starters at best.... If not for the bullpen, they could have sneaked into the playoffs last year, and it's mostly the same crew back. John Axford's delivery was completely out of whack, and he couldn't throw strikes. He's looked better this spring but is so inconsistent.
2013 Projected Statistics
MANAGER RON ROENICKE
Third season with the Brewers
NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE
LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
The K Meter
Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank
BY HITTERS | 19.9% | 15TH
BY PITCHERS | 22.5% | 3RD
Braun flirts with the Triple Crown, and a drastically improved bullpen keeps the Brew Crew relevant in September.
After Gallardo, the no-name rotation is a disaster, and years of plundering the farm system clouds the future.
Albert Chen has more on the Brewers at SI.com/mlb
Alex Gonzalez is 36 years old. He missed almost the entire 2012 season after blowing out his knee last May, and he hasn't batted above .250 or had an OBP above .300 in a full season since he was 30. Yet the Brewers are planning to start the year with him at first base. Injuries are a factor—the team is without Corey Hart to start the season because of a knee injury, and Mat Gamel is gone for the year after suffering a torn ACL—but if your best option at first base is an aging shortstop, something is very wrong. Milwaukee could be an above-.500 squad with an outside shot at the NL Central crown; it can't have a zero at first base. The Brewers should look past poor spring training stats and start the year with Hunter Morris as their first baseman. Morris, 24, hit .303/.357/.563 at Double A last year and has excellent raw power. And his downside (hitting .230 with a few homers and a sub-.300 OBP) is about what Gonzalez will do anyway. The Brewers have to make upside plays to close the gap on the Reds, and Morris has more upside than Gonzalez.
JOHN BIEVER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BRAUN)
JAKE ROTH/USA TODAY SPORTS (MORRIS)