The excitement of a great 2011 with a disappointing ending has come and gone for the Milwaukee Brewers and now we can take a look to 2012. But I’m not sure I can do that over the course of one simple blog. Because I think it’s deeper than just a few paragraphs.
Make no mistake about it, the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers figure to be different than this year’s version. In all likelihood, Prince Fielder will be gone and the entire left side of the infield could follow.
The majority of the bullpen is veteran, to say the least, and could be overhauled. The starting pitching staff seems like it could stay the same, but you never know when Brewers general manager Doug Melvin will receive an offer he can’t refuse or one that is an all-out surprise (Who saw the Zack Greinke trade coming?).
The 2012 version of the Brewers will be much different, so instead of starting by speculating on what will be different, I’ll take a look at what could be the same.
Ryan Braun, LF
Yeah, he’s not going anywhere. He just signed a monster contract and is the face of the franchise.
Rickie Weeks, 2B
It was pretty apparent that Weeks came back from his severe ankle sprain too soon and was largely ineffective for the playoffs. That’s not the type of player Weeks is when healthy. And I’d expect that he’ll be back at 100% next year and may get more chances to drive in runners in the middle of the order.
Corey Hart, RF
Anybody that’s been a Brewers fan for a while has a pretty good idea what to expect from Corey Hart. He’s a streaky hitter, capable of being great at one time, but looking totally lost at the other. In the middle, he’s a .270-.280 hitter that hit around .300 after he was moved to the leadoff spot after the all-star break. He’s not a prototypical leadoff guy, but he hit his best while there and seemed comfortable. Why mess with it?
Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez, CF
Morgan and Gomez are both arbitration-eligible players and figure to return. Combined they make up a pretty good platoon in center, combining Morgan’s solid average against righties and Gomez’s superior defense and ability to hold his own against southpaws. Youngster Logan Schafer isn’t that far off and projects as a good contact/basestealer/defender, but I think Milwaukee will hold onto the Morgan/Gomez platoon for another season with Schafer getting some time as the fifth outfielder and spelling in CF and in RF.
Yovani Gallardo, SP
Gallardo is locked up for the foreseeable future and for good reason, he’s been a very good pitcher with room to improve. He’s won at least 13 games in each of the last three seasons and has sharpened up his control (Dropping his BB/9 by two walks per nine innings in the last three years). He’s around for a while and that’s good for the rotation.
Zack Greinke/Shaun Marcum/Randy Wolf, SP
I lump these three in together because they have similar circumstances with the team. Both are under team control through 2012. Both have shown they can be reliable starters (although each had their own problems in the playoffs at times, especially Marcum). If Milwaukee is out of contention, they could be dealt at the 2012 trade deadline, but these three were as big of a reason as any for Milwaukee’s success in 2011 and could help Milwaukee greatly as they try to defend their NL Central title. If Marcum or Greinke get off to good starts in 2012, I could see Doug Melvin trying to resign one of them, but trying to afford both might be tough. Wolf has only one year left on his three-year contract he signed before 2010 and could possibly be dealt, with youngsters Wily Peralta and Michael Fiers making waves in the minors. He’s due plenty of money for the 2012 season and it would give the Brewers some salary to put towards other positions.
John Axford, RP
Simply put, Axford has been great since coming to Milwaukee. He backed up a strong 2010 season with an even better 2011. Expecting him to be that good again in 2012 would be a stretch, but he should still be a solid reliever anchoring a potentially overhauled bullpen.
Next time: Rebuilding the infield