Sunday, January 12, 2014

Milwaukee Brewers 2014 Opening Day Preview

Spring training is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about what kind of team the Brewers are going to put on the field this season. The Brewers are still looking for a first baseman and bullpen arm or two. Their starting lineup should look similar to the ones they put out last year, with Braun and Aramis (barring injuries) returning to the everyday lineup. Here’s how I think the Brewers roster will end up looking like.

1st base: Your guess is probably as good as mine. If I had to choose from current players on the 40 man roster, I would go with Juan Francisco. Hunter Morris is another option, but he didn’t even earn a September call-up last season, so I doubt that he will get the nod to start. 

2nd base: Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett will start the year out in a platoon. Weeks for left handed starters, and Gennett for right handed starters. 

Shortstop: Jean Segura (right). He had an outstanding first half last season, but tailed off a bit in the second half. He did not play winter ball this off-season like he did last year, so hopefully that will help him be more consistent throughout the 2014 season. He was one of the few guys in 2013 that stayed healthy for the entire year, and hopefully that will be the case again this year.

3rd base: Aramis Ramirez. We’ll have to hope that he can stay healthy this year, because there aren’t many other guys in the system capable of playing third base. If worst comes to worst, I guess we can stick Ryan Braun back over there. Just kidding.

Catcher: Lucroy will be the primary catcher, with Maldonado once again backing him up; a very solid pair to have behind the plate. Lucroy is a very good offensive catcher, is one of the best framers in the major leagues. Maldonado is a very good defender, and can gun down base stealers like it’s his job. (Oh wait, it is.) 

LF: Khris Davis. This is the player that I’m most excited to watch in 2014. The Brewers traded away Nori Aoki this off-season to make room for him, and Braun was moved to right field. He has the capability to hit 20+ homers in a season, and showed last season that he can hit some monster home runs. It’ll be fun to see what he can do when he gets a chance to play every day.

CF: Carlos Gomez. The recent gold glove winner was one of the few bright spots from the 2013 season. There’s no doubt that will produce on defense once again this season. Hopefully, he will be able to continue his success on offense as well.

RF: Ryan Braun. When discussing a position change, I imagine the conversation between the Brewers and Ryan Braun went something along the lines of “you’re moving from left to right field, deal with it.” I'm not too worried about Braun as he returns from his suspension - I suspect we’ll see the same productive Ryan Braun that we’ve seen in the past.

Starting rotation: Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada, Tyler Thornburg.

Bullpen: Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Rob Wooten, Michael Blazek, Tom Gorzelanny and Will Smith will all probably be in the bullpen. Doug Melvin recently said that he would like to add at least one, preferably two, free agent bullpen arms. If they do end up signing two, Wooten would probably be the odd man out. 

Bench: Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, Jeff Bianchi, Sean Halton, Martín Maldonado. 

Predicted record: 84-78

If, and this is a big if, they can stay healthy all season, I think this is a realistic record. Their pitching staff has some question marks, but I feel better going into this season with that staff than I felt going into the 2013 season with the same guys. The offense should be fun to watch, even if we end up having another dud at first base this season. Only time will tell.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin)

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