November 2008

2009 Milwaukee Brewers forecast

Once your team’s season comes to an end, it’s time to look to next year
(I’m starting to sound like a Cubs fan). Here’s my ’09 Milwaukee
Brewers position-by-position forecast including projected salaries. 
Keep in mind…I really tried hard to balance what I want them to do
and what I think they will do.

Let’s start with the rotation, shall we?

STARTING ROTATION

gallardo profile photo.jpgYOVANI GALLARDO
This
guy has ace written all over him.  He came back from a knee injury late
in ’08 to help the Brewers in the playoffs.  His stuff is electric and
his bat is way above average for a pitcher.  I can’t wait to watch this
guy for a complete season.  He’ll be only 23 by opening day.  Get to
know this guy because he’s gonna be around for awhile.

Projected 2009 salary:  750K

Manny Parra profile photo.jpgMANNY PARRA
Hard-throwing
lefty had his ups and downs in ’08.  When he figures out the mental
part of the game, look out.  Manny has “ace-quality” pitches and like
Gallardo, an above average stick.  Manny needs to figure out a way to
go deeper into games to be truly effective in the rotation.  I’ve
always liked this guy.  He and Gallardo will, in my opinion, make up
the 1-2 punch in this rotation for years.  Will probably be #3 in this
rotation for ’09.

Projected 2009 salary:  750k

Dave Bush profile photo.jpgDAVE BUSH
Steady
veteran who was vital to the Brewers push to the playoffs.  Probably a
#4 starter in this rotation in ’09.  Won Game 3 of NLDS with average
stuff and above-average determination.  Always focused on gameday, it’s
hard to get a hello out of this guy from the stands.  He’s due for
another good raise based off his value down the stretch.

Projected 2009 salary:  3.5MM

Jeff Suppan profile photo.jpgJEFF SUPPAN
Eeesh…what
a knee-jerk signing this was after his stellar ’06 season with the
Cards.  We knew what we were getting when we signed this guy…6
innings, average stuff, will keep you in the ballgame, not
overpowering, big-game pitcher.  Err, big-game pitcher?  I think not. 
Hey Jeff, where’s that Redbird magic you showed in ’06?  Hammered in
Game 4 (facing elimination) of the ’08 NLDS, this guy’s contract is an
immovable object.  (No, his fastball is not the unstoppable force)  An
MVP off the field but a dud on it, this guy is barely a fifth starter. 
Being a nice guy may win hearts, but it sure as heck doesn’t win games.

Projected 2009 salary:  12.5MM

NOTES: 
C.C.
Sabathia will not become the maverick around Milwaukee that everyone is
hoping for by signing for less.  He’s destined to go to the Yanks.  I
do not support a $20 million dollar pitcher on a team with an $80-85
million dollar payroll, anyway.  Just does not make fiscal sense to
me. 

Ben Sheets already said he wants to test the free agent
market.  Good riddance.  He was never there when we really needed him
due to weird injuries.  I think good ol’ Benny will sign with either
the Rangers or the Astros (3 yrs-40MM).

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT TARGETS:
The Brewers need a #2 pitcher.  Considering payroll limitations of a smaller market, guys like BRADEN LOOPER, BRAD PENNY and JON GARLAND could be possibilities.  I would like the Brewers to engage talks with CURT SCHILLING…that
would be interesting.  He said if he pitches he wants to start
mid-season for a contender.  A June debut for the Brewers would be
sweet.  I would like to see the Brewers entertain talks with RYAN DEMPSTER.  He’s looking for 5yrs-75MM.  DEREK LOWE
probably wants to go East-coast but that would be nice.  The Brewers
could make a trade but good starting pitching is hard to find (see Jeff
Suppan).

PREDICTION:
When C.C. SABATHIA signs with the Yankees, the Brewers will trade MIKE CAMERON to the Yankees for either IAN KENNEDY or PHIL HUGHES and an additional player.  The Brewers will then adjust their rotation accordingly to accomodate the new addition.

1st BASE

fielder profile photo.jpg
PRINCE FIELDER
The
only left handed stick currently in the starting lineup.  Much talk of
the “Prince” being dealt for pitching.  I don’t see this happening
unless they could replace his left handed bat at 1st (maybe promote Mat
Gamel or trade for Hank Blalock) and obtain pitching to boot.  Prince
is a stud at the plate and will always have a good OBP.  Below average
in the field with weight a concern of many.  He’s young, still only 24,
and has a couple productive seasons left in Milwaukee.  Due a hefty
payraise from 670k as a 1st yr. arbitration eligible ballplayer. 
Destined to be traded, eventually, just not this offseason.  Hank
Blalock would be a good replacement, though.

Projected 2009 Salary:  8MM

2nd BASE

Rickie Weeks profile photo.jpgRICKIE WEEKS
The
experts say this guy is due to breakout.  Well, we’re still waiting in
Milwaukee.  My greatest fear is that this guy will once again be
starting at 2nd base and leading off.  Maybe bringing in Ken Macha to
manage will change this one-track train of thought…boy, I hope so. 
Rickie’s fast…Ok, I’ll give him that.  Everything else is subpar. 
Potential?  Maybe.  Reality?  Bad ballplayer.  I hope I’m wrong about
him.  Last offseason, the Nationals were willing to trade us Chad
Cordero.  That’s looking good right now and Cordero is coming off an
injury. I don’t know if I can handle another season with Rickie
hacking/flailing at everything down and away.  We need to get a good
second basemen!  MARK GRUDZIELANEK, ORLANDO HUDSON, DAVID ECKSTEIN and RAY DURHAM would all be upgrades.  BRIAN ROBERTS would look good in a Brewers uniform, eh?

Projected 2009 salary:  I don’t really care at this stage of the game.

SHORTSTOP

Alcides Escobar profile photo.jpgALCIDES ESCOBAR
I
absolutely cannot wait to see this guy in ’09!  An absolute wizard in
the field…next Ozzie Smith?  Will hit major league pitching just
fine.  Future gold-glover…okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. He’s
awesome, OK?  His grand entrance will lead to J.J. Hardy moving over to
3rd base.  Will be 22 yrs. old on Opening Day ’09.  Get to know him!

Projected 2009 salary:  400k

3rd BASE

hardy profile photo.jpgJ.J. HARDY
The
coming of Escobar will move Hardy to 3rd base.  J.J. is a good
ballplayer with a great arm.  Steady at the plate with good all around
career numbers.  I’m excited to see him and Escobar on the left side of
the infield in ’09.  I’ve always liked J.J.  Solid ballplayer with good
all-around skills.  Frequently mentioned as trade bait for starting
pitching.  If they do trade him, (I don’t think they will) they better
get a good return.

Projected 2009 salary:  4.5MM

LEFT FIELD

Ryan Braun profile photo.jpgRYAN BRAUN
Absolute stud.  My favorite Brewers player.  One of the true future stars of the game.

Projected 2009 salary:  745k

CENTERFIELD

Tony Gwynn jr. profile photo.jpgTONY GWYNN, JR.
They
drafted him, they brought him through the ranks, they groomed him…now
the time comes to start using him.  Brewers fans can’t seem to figure
out why the brass won’t go with this guy in center.  Brewers brass
won’t tell us why, either.  Complete mystery.  I understand he
struggled last year in AAA.  It seems like they’re grading him on a
small sampling.  I think the guy just needs a chance.  He has good
range, he’s a left handed bat, he’s a true leadoff type and he’s a good
baserunner.  Why not?  We need all the above.

Projected 2009 salary:  500k

RIGHT FIELD

corey hart file photo.jpgCOREY HART
Corey
is a good defensive ballplayer and a good baserunner.  The problem is
that he swings at everything thrown to him.  A complete meltdown late
in the season has Brewers fans wondering what happened.  A .300 OBP is
not acceptable.  He needs to show better plate discipline and stop
giving away so many at bats.

Projected 2009 salary:  3MM

CATCHER

Jason Kendall profile photo.jpgJASON KENDALL
Absolute
rock behind the plate who set Brewers record for games caught in a
season.  Experienced a successful rebirth throwing would-be
base-stealers out in ’08.  Would like to see more offense out of this
light-hitter but I’ll take the defense and knowledge any day.
Needs to raise OBP to a level more consistent with career numbers. 

Projected 2009 salary:  4.6MM

BULLPEN

David Riske profile photo.jpgDAVID RISKE
Bit
by the injury bug in ’08, Riske was signed to a multi-year deal to
bolster a bullpen much in need.  Should bounce back to form in ’09 and
maintain an important 6th/7th inning set-up role.

Projected 2009 salary:  4.25MM

Salomon Torres profile photo.jpgSALOMON TORRES
The
Brewers should be exercising his 3.75MM option in the next few days.  I
see no reason they shouldn’t.  Torres was effective as the closer for
the majority of the season.  Melted down a bit down the stretch. 
Should be an effective 8th inning guy in ’09. 

Projected 2009 salary:  3.75MM

Carlos Villanueva profile photo.jpgCARLOS VILLANUEVA
Started
’08 in the rotation and faltered.  Moved to the bullpen and excelled. 
Very important part of the relief corps who the Brewers should look to
sign long term.  Has a great changeup and good mound presence. 
Emotional young pitcher who has proven he can handle tough situations. 
I like this guy.

Projected 2009 salary:  1MM

Seth McClung profile photo.jpgSETH McCLUNG
This
burly right hander showed guts and determination late in the season
when the team needed him the most.  Bounced between the rotation and
the bullpen, Seth is a very important piece of the puzzle for the ’09
Brewers.  My favorite pitcher on the staff, McClung will prove to be
extremely valuable toward the success of the team in ’09.

Projected 2009 salary:  1MM

Mitch Stetter profile photo.jpgMITCH STETTER
Lefty
specialist who will most likely take over the role held by Brian Shouse
the last few years.  Mitch pitched extremely well to the Phillies
lefties in the ’08 NLDS.  The question is whether he will be the only
lefty out of the bullpen or not.

Projected 2009 salary:  450k

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT/TRADE TARGETS:  I would like to see the Brewers make a push to sign any of the followng:  JUAN CRUZ, JEREMY AFFELDT, DAVID WEATHERS, BRANDON LYON and CHAD CORDERO.  I would like to see the Brewers entertain trades for either HUSTON STREET or J.J. PUTZBRIAN FUENTES might be too expensive (depends on how much $ is left to spend).  The Brewers definitely need a proven closer. 

BENCH

Bill Hall profile photo.jpgBILL HALL
If
Hall is on the team in ’09, he better be a super sub type player. 
Watching him hack and flail during the 2008 season made most Brewers
fans sick to their stomachs.  Billy posted a .224 Batting Average along
with a .293 OBP.  Unacceptable in every sense of the word.  If he’s our
starting 3rd Baseman in ’09, someone needs their head examined.  Put
him on the bench where he belongs.  By the way, his contract is a
burden so he remains unmovable.

Projected 2009 salary:  6.8MM

THE REST:  I see the Brewers bringing back MIKE RIVERA for around 500-750K to be the backup to Jason Kendall.  That will allow ANGEL SALOME
the chance for 1 more year of seasoning in AAA before his call comes. 
The Brewers should look into upgrading at 2nd Base (see Rickie Weeks). 
Bench options also could include: 
DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ, MARK KOTSAY, BRAD WILKERSON or bringing back CRAIG COUNSELL for a cheaper price.  The bench will see the most overhaul for the ’09 squad.  Your guess is as good as mine as role players come into consideration.

So, what do you think?  

A memorabilia collector, too…2006!

It was the last week of the ’06 season.  I drove down to Wrigley to
catch the Brewers vs. the Cubs.  At the time, I thought this was going
to be my last road trip of the season.  I was among the first fans in
line to get a spot on the basket (I’ve always had good luck at Wrigley)
for batting practice. 

Gates opened. I ran up the ramp to the
top of the bleachers.  I sprinted down to the front row and claimed my
usual spot in left center field right on the basket. 

The Cubs
were finishing up their portion of BP and the Brewers pitchers started
making their way out to left field. Brewers pitcher (former) Matt Wise
was standing in left field.  I yelled out his name and gave him a fist
pump.  He acknowledged recognizing me from Miller Park. I asked him if
he wanted to trade caps (like he wanted mine, right?).  He said he
needed it for a couple more days.  He then said if I wanted it, I would
have to come to St. Louis (the Brewers were finishing their season in
St. Louis).  I responded by saying, “alright, I’ll see you in St.
Louis.”

I went home that night and told my wife what had
transpired.  A couple days passed before I finally asked her
(tongue-in-cheek) if we could road trip to St. Louis for a day.  Being
her spontaneous self, she said, “let’s do it.”

So, we left
Milwaukee Saturday and drove to St. Louis to attend the final game of
the 2006 season.  We got into town late and checked into our hotel.  We
were staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis.  It was a
beautiful hotel not far from the stadium.

Sunday morning came,
we ran into Bob Uecker at the continental breakfast bar (not your
ordinary complimentary continental breakfast) and we knew it would be a
great day…by the way, Uecker was not staying with the rest of the
Brewers team due to a stalker…in case you’re wondering.

After
breakfast, we walked over to the new Busch and camped out where we
could say hello to the Brewers players and still be in a spot to get
some scalped tickets. 

Getting tickets to this game proved to
be difficult.  First of all, it was the last regular season game of the
year for both teams.  Second, the Cardinals had not yet clinched their division.  Lastly, it was still the first year at new Busch Stadium.

We
ended up getting scalped tickets about 20 rows up from the field by 3rd base for nearly double face-value. 
Whatever…we didn’t come all this way to not go to the game. 
While
we were waiting outside, we had the chance to congratulate many of the
Brewers players on a job well done that season (whether they deserved
it or not).

When the gates opened, I went down to the Brewers
dugout for batting practice instead of trying to ballhawk.  This proved
to be a great decision.

By the Brewers dugout, we were
congratulating every player on a job well done and to enjoy the
offseason.  This is when things got interesting.

One of my
favorite young players on the Brewers, Outfielder Corey Hart popped out
of the dugout.  He acknowledged our fanfare and walked to the batting
cage to hit.  After he was done hitting, he walked over to our spot
above the dugout and gave me a head nod.  After he nodded, he pushed
his game bat to me over the top of the dugout.  Sweet! 

Here’s a couple pictures of the bat Corey Hart gave to us October 1, 2006.

BLOG PICTURES102708 022.jpgCorey Hart signature model R221 gamer with tons of use.  Corey signed the bat for me a couple months later.

BLOG PICTURES102708 023.jpgBrewers
catcher Mike Rivera jumped in on the action, tossing up a game bat (not
shown) with the batting gloves (below) strapped around the handle of
the bat.
Thumbnail image for BLOG PICTURES102708 015.jpgIt gets weirder…
About 20 minutes later, Brewers Infielder Jeff Cirillo took his turn in
the batting cage.  After he was done hitting, he started walking toward
us with two bats in his hands.  He chose one of the two and looked up
at me from about 20 feet away.  He gave me a head nod and faked as if
he was going to throw the bat to me!  I pointed at my chest as if to
say, “me?”  He nodded once again and let the bat fly.  Now, I’ve caught a
baseball a zillion times, but a bat?  A bat proved to be a little
harder to catch…but I caught it.

The Jeff Cirillo gamer.
BLOG PICTURES102708 009.jpgThe Brewers ended up winning the game 5-3 but the Cardinals still clinched the Central Division with an Astros loss.  They had the Astros game on the big screen while this one was still being played.  It was sorta cool to witness the stadium going nuts when the Cards clinched.

But, before the Cards came to bat in the bottom of the 9th, April and I went down to the Brewers dugout and found two seats near the front row.  Francisco Cordero closed out the game and the season for the Brew Crew.  We stood up and cheered as the Brewers came out of the dugout to congratulate each other.  It was important that they got the win because that meant the entire team would come out of the dugout.  Maybe some more souvenirs?!

I was right. 

Brewers pitchers Matt Wise (like he promised), Doug Davis, Chris Capuano and Francisco Cordero all tossed up their game hats to me.  Wow…what a day!

BLOG PICTURES102708 005.jpgThe Matt Wise # 38 game hat.

BLOG PICTURES102708 006.jpg

The Doug Davis # 49 game hat.
 

BLOG PICTURES102708 008.jpg

Chris Capuano # 39 game hat.

And last but not least…the filthy beast.  Francisco Cordero gamer hat # 48.
BLOG PICTURES102708 007.jpgFilthy, but very cool, indeed.  I always like it when a player does something unique with his equipment, uniform, etc. 

That ended one of the greatest days I have ever had at a Major League baseball game.  We walked out of that stadium with so much stuff in our hands that people probably thought I was a thief. 

It pays to follow your team on the road!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.