MILWAUKEE BREWERS (NL CENTRAL)
2013 record: 74-88 (fourth, 23 GB)
Projected 2014: 74.5
World Series odds: 60/1
Key additions: None
X factor: Aramis Ramirez
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – J. Lucroy; 1B – J. Francisco; 2B – R. Weeks; 3B A. Ramirez; SS – J. Segura. Outfield: LF – K. Davis; CF – C. Gomez; RF – R. Braun.
Starting rotation: Y. Gallardo; M. Garza; K. Lohse; M. Estrada; W. Peralta.
Closer: J. Henderson
If the Milwaukee Brewers still had Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia, they would be a playoff contender instead of chasing .500. Which probably means another disappointing season.
The LVH projects Milwaukee winning 79.5 games in 2014, an improvement from last year’s 74. That’s largely because Milwaukee has Ryan Braun around for the whole season unless he gets suspended again for having performance enhancing drugs in his system.
Braun played just 61 games and his MVP type numbers fell dramatically – .298 AB, 9 HR, 38 RBI. The Brewers are glad to have Braun back, but he is going to need a lot of help from his buddies.
Aramis Ramirez can provide some if he can stay healthy. Ramirez is having a nice spring with the bat, but has always been a streaky player in his days with the Pirates and Cubs.
Shortstop Jean Segura (.294, 173 hits) is a future star and Carlos Gomez is as good as there is in center field. Catcher Jonathon Lucroy has a live bat (team high 82 RBI) and the pitching staff has a solid three with Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse. Closer Jim Henderson had 28 saves in 2013.
The Brewers play 12 of their first 15 games at Miller Park including the first three against Atlanta. Then it’s at Boston before welcoming Philly, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The Brewers could be out of the playoff picture after 12 games.
Bottom line: It’s hard to imagine Milwaukee being able to leap above St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this season. In fact the Cubs are gaining ground on fourth. It will be interesting to see if Gallardo sticks around the entire year.
On deck: Minnesota Twins
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].