Milwaukee Brewers 2014 Preview - State of the Team
The 2013 season for the Milwaukee Brewers was one full of turmoil and bad play as the team finished in fourth place in the National League Central with a 74-88 record. The page has turned to the 2014 season however and there have been some changes for the Brew Crew in the offseason. While the changes may not be many transaction-wise, the team that will be on the field on March 31 against the Atlanta Braves when the season begins will have a much different look than the one that ended the 2013 season.
2014 Preview - Key Offseason Moves
The team traded Norichika Aoki in December to the Kansas City Royals for left-handed pitcher Will Smith. That takes away a quality left-handed bat at the top of the lineup and it will be interesting to see how that affects the Milwaukee offense. Aoki’s place in right field will be taken by the returning Ryan Braun, who moves from left to right field this season. Braun is going to have a lot of pressure on him after the way the 2013 season ends with his 65-game suspension. If he can respond positively and come back on the field with the same drive and ability that he had before the suspension, the Brewers definitely have a chance to get back to the .500 mark in 2014.
Braun’s spot in left field is now being held by Khris Davis, who played well in Braun’s place late last season. He hit 11 home runs in 56 games and could be a player who hits 25-30 home runs this coming season given the opportunity to have 600 at-bats. He hit the 11 homers in just 136 at-bats last year. He is a sneaky pick in the middle rounds of this year’s fantasy draft. There are going to be some owners who don’t remember Davis right away from name value only. He has the potential to be a major steal. Braun is going to be taken in the second or third round no matter what probably. There is a lot of risk involved with Braun however and owners need to be very careful about being too high on him. The odds are just as likely for Braun to have 15-20 home runs as opposed to 40-45 homers. It would be a high risk/high reward sort of pick.
2014 Preview - Business As Usual?
Jonathan Lucroy is back behind the plate while Carlos Gomez remains in center field, but those are the only two truly steady pieces that the Brewers have going for them. Jean Segura was great to begin last season but tailed off in the second half. Aramis Ramirez can be a solid third baseman but needs to stay on the field healthy. Scooter Gennett appears to have taken the second base job from Rickie Weeks but if Weeks can have a great spring training, it's likely will get his old job back. Lucroy is someone worth selecting in the fifth or sixth round of drafts while Gomez will get taken right around the same time. Segura probably will be chosen a round or two before however because of his speed and solid batting average. It will be important for Segura to continue his strong play for the whole season. He hit .325 in the first half of 2013 but just .241 in the second half.
First base will be a problem with Juan Francisco likely having the starting job for the time being. There have been rumors that the Brewers may look into other options and will likely sign another first baseman before the regular season begins. The Brewers did lose Corey Hart in the offseason as their main free agent departure. While Hart didn’t play at all in 2013, he would likely have been the team’s main first baseman going into this season but decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners.
2014 Preview - Pitching Staff
The pitching side of the Brewers all starts and ends with Yovani Gallardo, who returns to lead the Milwaukee rotation. There aren’t any real changes to the rotation from last season with Kyle Lohse and Marco Estrada behind Gallardo in the rotation. The key will be what the team does with Smith. He pitched well out of the bullpen for the Royals with a 2-1 record and 3.24 ERA but could easily find himself in the starting rotation as the team’s No. 3 or 4 starter. If that happens, Smith could be a pitcher who takes the National League by storm. His stats will likely go down getting out of the American League so a year with 10-12 wins and an ERA around 3.15 are quite possible for the 24-year-old. The bullpen may have some issues but is solidified on the back end by Jim Henderson. Gallardo and Henderson are likely the only two Milwaukee pitchers that should be selected in fantasy drafts this spring. Smith and Lohse will be worth watching as the season wears on however. There are simply too much pitchers without a ton of experience for the Brewers to truly contend this season in the NL Central. The 2014 season has a lot of boom or bust written all over it.