While there is still a lot of snow on the ground in the Midwest, the time has come for spring training to begin. The Milwaukee Brewers have reported to Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 15 and position players reporting on Feb. 21 to begin preparing for the 2014 season. As the spring begins, there are five burning questions in need of answers before Opening Day on March 31 against the Atlanta Braves.
How will Ryan Braun respond to his critics?
There is no doubt that there will be fans who give Braun a hard time about what happened last season and his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. It is up to Braun to figure out how he deals with that. Will he come out and have a great season to silence those people or will his statistics go down with the PEDs? Spring training will be the perfect place for Braun to get his swing back and put everything from the 2013 season behind him.
Where will Matt Garza fit in the rotation?
Garza got a big money deal in the offseason from the Brewers and will likely be the team’s No. 2 starter behind Yovani Gallardo. Kyle Lohse will be right up there as well for one of the top three spots in the rotation. Garza, however, is one of the better pitchers in all of baseball and should be at the top of the Brewers’ five-man staff from day one. If he can keep his emotions in check, something which didn’t happen at times while with the Cubs, Garza should be a solid second starter in 2014.
Who will be at first base to open the season?
There has been quite a bit of talk about the team looking for a first baseman still. Juan Francisco and Martin Maldonado are likely going to play most of the games there but there is the allure of Kendrys Morales, who is still a free agent but would cost a draft pick. It would bring a power-hitting switch hitter to a lineup that is dominated by right-handed hitters outside of Scooter Gennett. It is something that the team must be thinking about as spring training drags on.
Is Scooter Gennett going to start at second base?
That is looking more and more likely especially if Rickie Weeks has a rough spring. Gennett is presently the only left-handed bat in the Milwaukee lineup and the Brewers can’t afford to stick eight righties out there on a daily basis. There aren’t very many lineup decisions left for Milwaukee to make this spring and the lone battle as of now could be between Gennett and Weeks at second base. It is a decision that could take all the way up to Opening Day to decide, or could be decided within a week.
Who is Milwaukee’s fantasy sleeper?
Fantasy baseball is the name of the game for many people and the Brewers have Khris Davis as their biggest sleeper candidate. He hit 11 home runs in just 56 games last season which projects out to be nearly 30 homers for a full season. He is someone that has been going very late in drafts but will likely be someone who is a top-20 outfielder by the time the 2014 season concludes. If Davis is still available late in the draft, he must be taken quickly.