Team preview: Milwaukee Brewers

BY John Halpin • February 8, 2011

Projected lineup

1. 2B: Rickie Weeks
2. RF: Corey Hart
3. LF: Ryan Braun
4. 1B: Prince Fielder
5. 3B: Casey McGehee
6. SS: Yuniesky Betancourt
7. C: Jonathan Lucroy
8. CF: Carlos Gomez

Projected rotation

1. SP: Zack Greinke
2. SP: Yovani Gallardo
3. SP: Shaun Marcum
4. SP: Randy Wolf
5. SP: Chris Narveson
CL: John Axford

Five tips

• Weeks appeared to turn a corner last year, from both performance and health standpoints. He’s ranked sixth on my second base list, but do you trust him to play 160 games again? Before last season, he’d never played more than 129. Also, let’s remember that his career batting average is .253. Weeks is very talented, but flawed.

• Prince Fielder’s homer totals over the past four seasons are 50-34-46-32. Look for a return to the 40-homer level, with a bounceback in the RBI department as well.

• McGehee is no superstar, but he’s proven that he’s a pretty good player. Betting on another 100-RBI season is a stretch, but he’s a decent fit at No. 12 in the fantasy hot corner rankings. A low-end starter is still a starter, right?

• • Greinke (rib) should be back at full strength by mid-April, so don’t worry about him. The real Greinke is probably somewhere in between his 2009 (2.16 ERA) and 2010 (4.17 ERA) performances. Remember that those are American League ERAs that were reached without the benefit of pitching against the Royals. I’ve got Greinke at No. 15 among the starters, but he’s the kind of guy who could have another huge season. He has more upside than downside, and if he was my SP2 in a standard league, I’d be fired up.

• Marcum posted some really strong numbers last season, and a move to the NL should only help. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about his health, but he gets a lot from his soft-tossing arsenal. Marcum is a SP4 for standard leaguers, though he’s being drafted a lot higher than that.

Plus:

Odd man out: Craig Counsell is either going to back up Betancourt, platoon with him or take over when the Brewers realize they have a shortstop with a subpar glove and a .296 career on-base percentage. NL-only owners could get value from Counsell as a late draft pick.

Top prospects: Righty Mark Rogers could be the first injury rotation replacement, but he’s just OK. Power-hitting Mat Gamel is a man without a position, even after the Brewers groomed him as a first baseman and corner outfielder. It doesn’t look like Fielder will be traded unless the team falls out of the race by midseason, and even then it might not happen. Gamel could be their first baseman in 2012, though.

Backup closer: Health permitting, Takashi Saito is a great fallback option if the fireballing Axford struggles. Saito is age 41, but he’s whiffed 11 batters per nine innings in five big-league seasons with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Braves.


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