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2006 Milwaukee Brewers Preview
by Scott Glab, Baseball Evolution
March 6, 2006



2006 Team Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

 

by Scott Glab

 

2005 Record: 81-81 (3rd Place)

2005 Runs Scored: 726

2005 Runs Allowed: 697

Expected 2005 Record: 84-78

 

The last time the Brewers did not have a losing season, it was 1992, and they resided in the American League.Now, they are a well balanced team with a few young infielders that are the envy of many a team.By trading away 1B Lyle Overbay to Toronto for 3B Corey Koskie and lefty Dave Bush, they made a bold statement:we are strengthening our team for 2006, yet we are depending on our youngsters to produce.

 

It may be too early to expect earth-shattering production out of Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks.But chances are they will contribute enough to make the Brewers a force in the NL Central, especially with a full year of Ben Sheets and the return of their top four starters from last year.

 

Catcher

2005 Starters: Damian Miller, Chad Moeller

Projected 2006 Starters: Damian Miller, Chad Moeller

††††††††††† The Brewers received average offensive production from their catchers last year, with Miller playing twice as often as Moeller and hitting far more effectively than him.The thing is, Miller is now 36, and Moeller hit well in 2002 and 2003, so they will probably drift towards each other in production.Each is a sure-handed defender, and their arms are pretty average.

 

First Base

2005 Starter: Lyle Overbay

Projected 2006 Starter: Prince Fielder

††††††††††† Overbay was a high average, line-drive hitter who hit for a low-ish .276 average last year.Prince is huge like his dad Cecil Fielder, but seems to be a more polished hitter, though heís only 22 years old.Donít expect 50 dingers from him yet.But .280-30-100 isnít out of the question this year.

 

Second Base

2005 Starters: Rickie Weeks, Junior Spivey

Projected 2006 Starter: Rickie Weeks††††††††††

††††††††††† Rickie weeks was one of those players who was better than everyone around him in college.We're not sure about his defense, but we do know that he possesses blistering speed, and is still quite an unpolished hitter.He needs major league at-bats right now, but there is some speculation that his speed will land him in the lead-off spot instead of Brady Clark.That would be a setback.

 

Third Base

2005 Starters: Russel Branyan, Wes Helms

Projected 2006 Starter: Corey Koskie

††††††††††† Before 2005, Corey Koskie had six straight seasons with an OPS between .815 and .845!Last year he was injured and his hitting suffered considerably.Heís been looking good this spring, but should his progress be a mirage, the Brewers will turn toÖ

 

Utilityman

2005: Bill Hall

2006: Bill Hall

††††††††††† Heís an amazingly valuable player who started games at 2B, SS, and 3B last year.Heís a good fielder at all positions who can hit for power and average. With all the question marks due to inexperience or injury in the Brewersí infield, he will find a way to get significant playing time.

 

Shortstop

2005 Starter: J.J. Hardy

Projected 2006 Starter: J.J. Hardy

††††††††††† Entering July last season, Hardy was in a Christian Guzman-esque funk with the bat, having an OPS under .570.But after the all-star break, his OPS was over .860, even better than fellow masher Bill Hallís.Expect Hardy to fall between those two extremes this season, and quite possibly make the leap form good to great defender.

 

Outfield/DH

2005 Starters: Carlos Lee, Brady Clark, Geoff Jenkins

Projected 2006 Starters: Carlos Lee, Brady Clark, Geoff Jenkins

††††††††††† Brady Clark is capable, steady, on-base threat in center field who is sandwiched by two inconsistent performers in Lee and Jenkins at the corner spots.Lee has better speed and strikes out less, while Jenkins is usally as streaky as they come...until Carlos Lee went hot and cold on the team last year, unfortunately finishing cold.Barring injury, in which case Gabe Gross (yikes!) will probably be the first to step up, this should be a solid offensive outfield, arguably among the top 10 in the game.†† ††

 

Pitching

 

2005 Front Three Starters: Ben Sheets, Doug Davis, Chris Capuano

Projected 2006 Front Three: Ben Sheets, Doug Davis, Chris Capuano

††††††††††† The Brewers have an excellent pitching coach in Mike Maddux, and they have continuity in returning their top four starters from last season.Ben Sheets is a Cy Young candidate who is as elite as he is healthy.Doug Davis improved his K/IP and H/IP ratios last year, but served up a whole basketful of melons (26).Capuano easily had his best season as a pro, but also loved the longball too much (31).If these two can keep the ball in the park, they will round out a formidable threesome.

 

Other 2005 Starters: Tomokazu Ohka, Gary Glover, Rick Helling, Wes Obermuller

Other Possible 2006 Starters: Ohka, Helling, Dave Bush, Dana Eveland

††††††††††† Ohka is a control artist and has the job of #4 starter.Maddux on Ohka: ďHe is probably the most coachable guy I've ever been around.He's unbelievable.ĒHe could easily play out as one of the top #4 starters in the game.Helling, Eveland, and Bush will compete for the final spot in the rotation.Helling excelled in a 49-inning comeback last year, and hot prospect Eveland may settle in as a lefty out of the pen.

 

2005 Top Relievers: Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise, Julio Santana, Ricky Bottalico, Jorge de la Rosa

Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Turnbow, Wise, Dan Kolb, de la Rosa, Kane Davis

††††††††††† Turnbow was the surprise closer of the year in 2005.He was ridiculously effective, posting a 1.74 ERA with 39 saves.Expect some sort of decline here.The rest of the pen is a bit stronger than last year, or at least appeare to have more options.Matt Wise returns and should remain a top setup man.Dan Kolb is back from Atlanta, but is he back from stinking?Beyond them, there are some hard throwing arms to go around, and enough so that an average-to-effective mixture will likely emerge.

 

 

Final Word:

††

††††††††††† The ages of Milwaukeeís top 5 infielders (excluding the catchers): 21, 23, 23, 26, 32.Thatís a lot of youth, and to expect three players younger than 24 to play full seasons for a contender is rare.But youth is undervalued in this league, and players with great reputations usually develop them from humble beginnings.The Brewers have a good mix of proven hitters to surround them and enough infield depth to expect that even if one of them flops this year (which seems to be more likely than not), the others will still prosper.Combine this with a well-balanced pitching staff, and we should see their first winning season since 1992.The team seems earmarked to finish with a win total in the mid 80ís, solidly behind the Cardinals but ahead of the Cubs.




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Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Scott Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at scott@baseballevolution.com.
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