Milwaukee BrewersManager: Craig Counsell
Stadium: Miller Park
2008 Record: 90-72 (2nd in NL Cent)
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-- Tim Kurkjian
HITTER TO WATCH:
Alcides Escobar is the heir apparent at shortstop but is being blocked by J.J. Hardy; if Hardy or second baseman Rickie Weeks is injured, Escobar could step in right away and provide a defensive upgrade.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
The closest prospect arm in the Brewers' system is right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who can touch 99 mph and reached Double-A last year but is probably a full year to a year and a half from being ready for the big leagues.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are gone. So can Yovani Gallardo come through as the ace and become one of the best pitchers in the National League? With Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart, do the Brewers have the best lineup in the NL? Register your vote.
In a way, when manager Ken Macha ripped Carlos Villanueva during spring training, it helped depress his draft price tag, but the fact remains that with Trevor Hoffman starting the year on the DL, Villanueva is the most appropriate short-term choice at closer.
Fitting that if Carlos Villanueva is the sleeper, then Trevor Hoffman is the bust. He's having oblique problems that forced him to the DL, and he's 41, meaning he might not bounce back as quickly as a younger pitcher might.
--Tristan H. Cockcroft
INJURY TO WATCH
Trevor Hoffman. Yes, he might be older than a couple of his teammates combined. Sure, he's starting the season on the DL with a strained oblique. But don't count this guy out. The all-time saves leader appears to have a relatively minor version of this injury and has already returned to playing catch. As a closer he needs fewer innings to prepare for the season, so he could join the club within the first two weeks. Baseball years do add wear and tear to the arm, however, and oblique injuries can recur. Hoffman will be consistent when present; the Brewers just hope he can be consistently present.
-- Stephania Bell
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
No. 14 overall
No. 18 overall
No. 20 overall
No. 16 overall
No. 14 overall