Damian Miller: The 36-year-old Damian Miller is the starter in Milwaukee. Having him behind the plate brings experience and a sense of stability for the pitching staff. Surprisingly, Miller is very consistent. His stats during the last two years have been nearly identical; his average varied by one point, as did his on base percentage. Add to the fact that he had an equal amount of doubles and home runs and the similarities are silly. Using his recent statistics, we can figure Damian Miller for a .270 batting average, with about 10 home runs, and 50-50 in terms of runs and RBI. Considering the weak state of the catcher position in the National League, this position is relatively strong for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Chad Moeller: Not the best hitter in the world, and certainly the defense isn’t the strong suit in his game. His contract this year is guaranteed, so it seems that he will make it to the start of the season. I had this guy as my starting catcher in one of my NL only leagues. He started 0 for 13, and I quickly decided that he wasn’t going to decide to hit. In reality, the best thing that Chad Moeller has done as a Milwaukee Brewer was on the night of April 24th, 2004. Moeller was the first Milwaukee Brewer to hit for the cycle since Paul Molitor. A back up is a back up, so hopefully the Brewers won’t have to entertain playing Chad Moeller every day this season.
Mike Rivera: This another guy who isn’t much of a batter, and again he isn’t much of a help on the defensive side. Rivera is a non-roster invitee, and I haven’t heard much from him, so I can only assume he hasn’t done much. Looking at his past experience as a major leaguer, the 4 walks compared to 35 strikeouts in 2002 sticks out like a sore thumb. To his credit, he looked pretty good last year in AAA Nashville, but at the age of 29 he doesn’t seem like the kind of prospect you have to keep around. Look for him to fight for his life and possibly start at AAA.
Mark Johnson: Another guy who is around 30 and isn’t much of an asset on either side of the ball, this is becoming a normality. He is also a non-roster invitee who should see some time in AAA for the Brewers. Mark Johnson has never hit over .250 in the majors, and I am going to assume this is what has kept him in a continual struggle between the majors and minors throughout his entire career.
Kade Johnson: From what I have read, Kade Johnson is a non-prospect. It seems that he used to have some promise, considering his being drafted in the 2nd round, but injuries took over his career. His 21 home runs in the minors in 2001 is impressive, and it is a shame that he never had a real shot in the majors.
Analysis: The catcher position for the Brewers seems set for the time being. Lets hope that they do not have to endure any injuries. Moeller isn’t the answer, and I don’t think he will ever be.
Prince Fielder: The super prospect himself. The Milwaukee Brewers shipped out the serviceable Lyle Overbay so they could put this big bat in their line up. The son of Cecil is the truth. Some might point out that he struck out 17 times compared to only walking twice in his short stint in the majors last year. No need to worry, Prince has shown a solid eye for a power hitter in the minors. I place the blame on Prince Fielder trying to come out of the gate blasting home runs left and right. He still did a nice job with the power output with his four doubles and two home runs. I can see this kid coming out as a rookie and blasting 35 home runs. That may be an overstatement, but I am only telling you what I feel. This kid will provide the Milwaukee fans with some great excitement over the next few years, and I truly believe they might not have to wait for him to develop. Here is my season projection: .280 batting average, 32 home runs, 102 RBI.
Jeff Cirillo: Hopefully we will never have to see this guy play first base on a consistent basis for the Brewers. Nothing against him of course, but Prince needs to be on the field as much as possible. Jeff was a nice addition last year for the Brewers, and he does bring along some nice experience to this team. His second stint with Milwaukee won’t be the same as the first time, but at least he can be a decent pinch hitter due to his great eye and solid ability to make contact.
Brad Nelson: The former darling of the Brewers organization doesn’t seem to be a major prospect for Milwaukee anymore. His play between first base and outfield has been nothing but a circus show. You have to feel for Brad Nelson considering the fact that he got stuck behind Nelson Cruz, and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the outfield. Although he is making the switch back to first base, there is a little guy named Prince running the show.
Analysis: First base is definitely a strong suit for the Milwaukee Brewers. They are set for a few years with Prince Fielder, and in case of injury Jeff Cirillo could fill in admirably. If not Cirillo, word is Corey Hart could fill the void.
Rickie Weeks: Would it be weird if I said I am in love with Rickie Weeks? This kid has the potential to become a 30-homer-30-stolen-base type player. His power is obvious, I remember a moon-shot home run last year, and his speed is also top notch. His low batting average should improve now that he has had a full season to adjust to major league pitching. There aren’t many second base prospects in the majors that have already proven as much as Rickie Weeks, and have the ability to do what Rickie Weeks could. The strained oblique he has suffered recently shouldn’t be a problem as long as the Brewer’s organization handles the recovery process correctly. Injuries not playing a factor, I see Rickie Weeks hitting .265, bombing out 24 home runs, and stealing 27 bases. I can’t see why Milwaukee won’t be set for the next few years at the second base position.
Brent Abernathy: Not going to lie here, I am kind of a Brent Abernathy fan. I have a little bias towards him considering he played relatively well for me last year. His defensive skills are limited to the second base position, and his bat isn’t much to talk about, so Brent might have trouble contributing to the Brewers team off the bench. Him being a non-roster invitee doesn’t guarantee him much, so lets see how this plays out over the next few days.
Zach Sorenson: At the age of 28 he isn’t much of a prospect despite his solid play last year in AAA baseball. He looked over matched in his twelve at bats last year with the Angels. If Zach were 5 years younger he would be someone to keep an eye out for.
Hernan Iribarren: I like this kid, and from what I have read he has a chance to develop into a major league player. This lefty isn’t necessarily in the Brewers plans considering Rickie Weeks plays second base. Although a nice prospect he isn’t the type of player that you need to accommodate so he can play on your team. The Brewers might entertain trading him if they decide that they are primed for a run this year. Iribarren does have a nice little award on his resume; on September 16, 2004 he was named MVP of the Arizona Rookie League.
Analysis: Another deep position for the Brewers. Weeks is a stud, and although Abernathy isn’t much of a big name, he could possibly play well for a week or two at a time. Iribarren is a nice guy to have in the farm system, and if the Brewers decide to keep him, he would be great depth to the second base position.
JJ Hardy: The 23-year-old JJ Hardy had a nice little rookie campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers last year. There is no doubt in my mind that this kid will develop into a rock solid option for Milwaukee at shortstop. He has a very solid defensive player. And his bat is starting to come around. JJ had an extremely good second half of the season last year, and showed that he had the ability to hit in important situations. His plate discipline last year was unparalleled in terms of the rookies. The batting average should improve dramatically with the increased talent of the lineup and his strong ability to swing at the right pitch. As long as he stays healthy, and keeps his head on straight, JJ should be in for a nice season. Look for a .272 batting average, and around 15 home runs. Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardy should be turning double plays for this squad for the next few years!
Wilton Veras: Seems like Wilton hasn’t done much since he has left the Red Sox. From the little of what I got to read, Wilton is in the minors and isn’t making much of a peep. I am going to chalk him up as a question mark, and more so, a non-factor.
Analysis: As you can see I am clearly a fan of Hardy’s. He is one of the more stable shortstops in the game, and I don’t expect him to go through a “sophomore slump.” The depth here is a little scary, as Wilton Veras is the only other player listed as a possibility at shortstop. Obviously the Brewers could shift someone into the spot if Hardy goes down, but it would be nice to have a backup who plays shortstop naturally.
Corey Koskie: What a great memory Corey Koskie brings. I will never forget when he was coming up with Minnesota, the anticipation that he garnished. In 2001, he lived up to expectations with his 26 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Since then, it has been a different story. I think the Brewers made a nice addition here to sure up their hot corner. He isn’t the best when it comes to hitting for average, but Brewer’s fans will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of pop he has in his bat. Look for Koskie to hit 25 home runs while batting around .245-.250.
Bill Hall: Is this the epitome of a great back up or what? Bill Hall is a stud that showed that he had the ability to be a 20-20-player. There is word that the Brewers might try to play Hall in the outfield, but I would be more concerned with him learning to play shortstop a little better. Bill Hall recently broke off contract negotiations with the Brew Crew; this shows that he wants to get a new contract by the end of the year. Contract year always results in a big year, because the player is hungry for the recognition and the dollar signs. Look for Bill Hall to do everything in his power to force himself into the line-up, and in-turn produce. I could still see him putting up nice numbers.
Enrique Cruz: I like this kid. He was very impressive in Double-A last year. The only downfall is that he is in fact 24 years old and playing AA baseball. He needs to progress in a quicker fashion if he hopes to make a mark in the majors. I understand that many players come up later and produce, but the general rule of thumb states that being 24 in AA is a bad sign. It will be interesting to see what Enrique does this year in the minors.
Analysis: Third base is very deep for the Milwaukee Brewers. Koskie brings some pop, and Bill Hall brings the rest. Both of them could easily hold down the position, and be productive for the team in their own way. This position is the most intriguing to me, and if I were you, I would pay close attention.
Carlos Lee: What needs to be said about the anchor of this offense? He disappointed me in the only at bat I saw him in during the World Baseball Classic, but that’s one at bat. This man is an out and out stud, and is making the Brewers feel great about the Scott Podsednik trade. I expect Carlos to raise his batting average a bit, and put up 30 home runs again. Look for something in the .270 range in terms of batting average.
Gabe Gross: Remember this guy from spring training last year? He was the one who single handedly made me crap my pants about protecting Alexis Rios in my AL keeper league. The home run power seemed to tail off a bit, or a lot. He seems to be stuck behind a nice outfield everywhere he goes, and for that I feel bad for him. I like Gabe, I really do, even if it is just for the name alone. Solid depth.
Christophe Morris: He’s 26, shows no power, and doesn’t have much of an eye for the baseball. I guess everyone has hope, but I don’t see much for Christophe Morris. He is nothing more than a career minor leaguer, hey that’s better than what I could do!
Brady Clark: My main man. I drafted Brady Clark last year for a measly $7, and got some nice returns. He didn’t steal like he was supposed to, but his nice batting average, and plethora of runs were great. Word is that he has been working on his timing in regards to stealing second base. Nice to see that this guy had a great season last year, yet is striving to improve the one part of his game that seemed disappointing. I see Brady Clark batting around .300, bombing out 10 home runs, and stealing 20 bases.
Dave Krynzel: Another one of those minor league guys that is just a little too old. He is coming off broken right clavicle, so it is nice to see him recently come back and start playing again. He is written in to play in AAA, and it seems that Triple-A is where Dave will stay. Maybe if he worked on that 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio he has, he could move up.
Jason Romano: More spring training and minor league fodder. Jason actually has a solid bat, but again the Brewers have a nice outfield, and I don’t see them turning to Romano if they get in injury trouble. Interesting note about Romano: in his 5 major league seasons, he has been with a different team each year. Teams included are: Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins, and of course the Milwaukee Brewers.
Geoff Jenkins: What needs to be said about this Brewers veteran? Geoff brings a solid bat to left field, not to mention a nice glove. Injuries have prevented Geoff Jenkins from going to the superstar level, but he could at anytime go off on a home run tear. I like Geoff for this season, and he could easily have a career year. I would not be shocked if he had 30 home runs and a .300 batting average. Stay healthy Geoff, and I can see a nice season coming from that bat of yours.
Corey Hart: There is no question that Corey Hart is a nice prospect. He has proven everything he needed to in the minor leagues, and simply needs a spot in the outfield to produce. He brings great depth to the outfield, as well as possibly the first base position. Guys like Corey are always great to have, just incase the injury bug strikes your team. Look for Corey to earn his at bats with his nice play, and still have a chance to belt out 10 home runs. If the at bats don’t come from the outfield, he could get it replacing Prince Fielder at first base against lefties on occasion.
Nelson Cruz: Nice little player the Brewers have in Nelson Cruz. It was said about a month ago that he will most likely spend at least half the season at AAA, before coming up to the show. The Brewers are intrigued by Nelson, and will experiment with him and his position this year. Look for Cruz to continue to improve, and possibly make an impact as a pinch hitter, or back up later on this season.
Tony Gwynn Jr.: He is going to be a Hall of Famer. Just kidding. I couldn’t resist comparing him to his father. Brewer fans sure hope he has half the ability his father did, but don’t hold your breath. He did display some speed last year stealing 32 bases in AA baseball, but his bat is lagging behind. This year is truly a make or break year for the Hall of Famer’s son.
Analysis: The Brewers have a very nice outfield. Lee, and Jenkins bring the pop from the corners, and Brady Clark brings a nice all-round ability at center field. Corey Hart is a tremendous reserve that seems next in line for a starting spot. Nelson Cruz will work feverishly to make some progress and possibly be the 5th outfielder on the roster that could start.