Archive for the ‘Predictions’ Category

Bill Hall: Eyes on Improvement

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Not pictured, epic homer.

A topic we neglected to touch on during last week’s Winter Meetings was Bill Hall’s recent LASIK eye surgery. Hall has used contact lenses to this point and, as displayed by his numbers these past two seasons, they weren’t helping him see the ball as well as he would’ve liked.

Maybe it’s my unwavering affinity for William, but I think this procedure is the first step to a revitalized Hall in 2009. And figuring we have an oft-unused “Predictions” tag, I feel like I should stake early claim on calling (more “hoping”, “praying” or any similar term) a Bill Hall bounce back.

2009 Predictions (assuming he remains a Brewer and gets at least 400 plus plate appearances):
.280 AVG, 25 HR, 70 RBI and fewer fielding errors

I guess we’ll see.

One Sheets to the Wind: Deucing on an Ace

Thursday, December 4th, 2008


As we all know, Ben Sheets was offered arbitration on Monday – thus preserving the slight possibility of Milwaukee’s ace to remain with the team for another season.

And whether you think he will decline arbitration or also think he will decline arbitration , it’s all just speculation at this point. As a mere fan and humble blogger, I will take it to the next step, skipping whether I think he’ll accept arbitration and going right into why I hope Sheets declines it and signs elsewhere.

Unlike Jack, I’m no numbers whiz, but to drop some statistical data of my own; 80% of Ben Sheets’ career, I’ve been at least 40% disappointed to see him pitch just over ½ a season and totally 69 Milwaukee’s payroll in the process.

For much of adult life, I’ve been regaled with insightful commentary of a hero, a Southern-fried professional who single-handedly ended communism by spiking a curveball into Fidel Castro’s leathery beanbag – an ace. What Sheets actually delivered in his time as a Brewer was a good, but not as good as advertised, injury risk with the ability to take over a game. But apart from select games and, well, pretty much the entire 2004 season, Sheets was far from GREAT, further from healthy and closer to average than most Milwaukee fans will allow themselves to think.

Direct your attention to the Totemgraph, the finest true indicator of a player’s overall quality. Notice how Mr. Sheets sits directly below former Cy Young winner/fellow Type A free agent Carsten C. Sabathia. Sheets rests just above Dave Bush, a player who – like Sheets - has never won 14 games in a season, and has definite strikeout capability. Dave Bush, though not as high on the Totemgraph, isn’t too much worse than Sheets, and where Bush may lack in quality he makes up for in affordability – not to mention the fact he can pitch an entire season without being sidelined with a completely partially non-existent torn set of balls middle finger.

The graphic also shows Sheets sitting just two totem heads above a cute, albeit athletically ineffective, baby. Do you want your ace just two totem heads above A BABY?!?!

In all, as Ben Sheets’ final days of official Brewerhood dwindle to a bittersweet nothing, I will acknowledge I’ve been a tad hard on the guy over the years. When healthy, he is a great pitcher – but how often does that even happen? I’m sure his name will be (rightfully) mentioned with some of the all-time great Brewer hurlers; Teddy Higuera, Fingers, Juan Nieves and Matt Kinney a decade from now. But for the money, Sheets isn’t worth bringing back. His days are numbered, his welcome worn, his price tag insufferable.

So before it becomes official, I would like to dole a hearty morsel of gratitude to one Benjamin Sheets. Thanks for all that you’ve done for the team I love. Thank you for the games won (or – in early seasons – kept in reach), the records broken and the undying image of you biting your nails in the dugout during one of your numerous DL stints.

But most of all, thank you for the first round and delicious sandwich round draft picks gained it your departure. Now get out of here! And don’t let the door hit you in the ass, because it would undoubtedly injure you.

Unpopular Opinions: Penny, Hinske, Pavano

Thursday, November 13th, 2008


Most every Brewer fan would like seeing CC Sabathia back in Milwaukee. Some see an actual possibility for the Brewers to trade Rickie Weeks for Garrett Atkins after trading Prince Fielder for Phillip Hughes and Robinson Cano. And still others are dead set on countless other blockbuster trades or free agent acquisitions in this Brewers offseason. Not to be the first to kill the collective buzz, or pour dirt in the Kool-Aid from which the fan base as a whole is presently sipping – but there is the glaring probability that none of the superstars you wish signed or traded for end up as Brewers.

“Unpopular Opinions” are just that, pessimistic, Armageddon, doom’s day-esque sad faces drawn on the Brewers (a realist’s view). So before blowing up the comment box, know that these opinions and suggestions, unpopular as they may be, are to be set aside for if – and ultimately when – the more glamorous possibilities have been unfruitfully exercised.

Brad Penny – Brewers ace?:
While Derek Lowe has many teams licking their lips, his Dodger teammate Brad Penny is also available. Penny’s club option was declined, making him a free agent. He’s coming off his worst and most injury-riddled season of his career, but prior to that Penny was a great, arguably top-tier hurler. At 31, he can safely (and due to bad season, affordably) be inked to a multi-year deal (3-4 years?). And, unlike Type-A free agent Derek Lowe, Penny is a Type-B.

Hinske homecoming:
I know I lost a lot of you at “Hinske,” but hear me out. With Craig Counsell’s option being declined and Joe Dillon shitty/in Oakland, Milwaukee is again in need of a super-utility kind of player to lend versatility of not being terrible at numerous positions, preferably with the ability to bat left-handed. Hinske fills that need, as he can man corner outfield, first base and third base proficiently. As far as the offense goes, he clubbed 20 homers and 60 RBI in fewer than 400 ABs last season… and stole 10 bases! This Menasha, WI native and former AL Rookie of the Year was signed to a minor league deal by the Rays in 2008, and I’m sure wouldn’t demand too high a bounty if it meant a belated homecoming, and first season outside the AL East.

No, the other oft-injured former Marlins pitcher…:
Carl Pavano hasn’t pitched more than 200 innings in a season since 2004. Since that time frame he signed a HUGE contract, both had and lost Alyssa Milano, was hurt in various oddball ways and became the poster boy for worst case scenario outcomes for free agency. All that makes him a perfect acquisition for Milwaukee… well maybe not the Alyssa Milano thing. If the Chris Capuano career reclamation process goes awry, why not bring in Pavano with the spare change and food scraps Doug Melvin picks out of his moustache? Think a higher upside, lower risk and cheaper Kyle Lohse signing by the Cardinals in 2008, and we’re on the same page. If anything, Milwaukee is left with a cute long reliever that ugly girls from West Bend can make homemade shirts about.

Doors can be closed from inside too:
Remember when the Brewers signed Derrick Turnbow to a boisterous multi-year pay day? You know, the contract those cactus league nachos you’ll buy next July will still help pay off? Or do you remember how everyone whined and cried about paying Eric Gagne $10 M to stunt double for Seth Rogen and give Milwaukee negative attention? Long story short, closers can be purchased, but they can also be made from scratch. Why waste way too much money on K-Rod or Brian Fuentes? Why sent players to Colorado for new Rockie Huston Street? Promote from within. One of Seth McClung, David Riske, Carlos Villanueva or Mitch Stetter is bound to stick and make the role his to lose. Once the most overrated and short-lived position is addressed from within, the more important middle and/or situational relief spots can be solidified via trades or free agency. Without unsung pitchers to hold the lead or keep their team in the game, a closer – no matter how marketable his name may be – doesn’t mean much.

That’s it for the unpopular opinions, but keep checking – I’m bound to have more.

What’s the Deal With Surrender?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

It’s over. At least that seems to be the general sentiment of Brewer fans.

Yes, September truly has all the makings of a month to forget (about October) as Milwaukee saw its decent Wild Card lead and hopes of catching Chicago in the division each diminish. Yes, the bats are cold, Ben Sheets is hurt, the Packers look promising and the Mets hold a game and a half lead over Milwaukee for the final playoff spot with a mere six remaining contests.

But it’s not over.

If planets align, Milwaukee gets a little help from some unlikely places and – most importantly – they find a way to dislodge their collective head from their proverbial turdcutter, the playoffs could still be in their reach.

The Mets host the Cubs for a four game series that could play volumes in increasing Milwaukee’s playoff chances. While the Mets are doing battle with the Cubs (and the likes of some of their best starters), Milwaukee hosts Pittsburgh, who has been terrible this season, especially at Miller Park. With a bit of help from the Cubs – who I’m certain wouldn’t risk halting their momentum into the playoffs just to evade a potential postseason matchup with a rival – Milwaukee could sit in their driver’s seat of their October destiny heading into their final regular season series.

Unfortunately, any scenario that finds Milwaukee claiming the Wild Card as their own requires at least some success against Chicago. The Mets (and the back of their rotation) host the Marlins, a formidable foe, in their least series of the season. By then, the Cubs might rest some of their more wicked arms (or shorten their workload) and sit a few starters, while the Marlins may throw the kitchen sink at New York in hopes of playing spoiler. If the Brewers and Mets finish the season with the same record, a one-game playoff would take place in the form of Shea Stadium’s final regular season(ish) game.

I’ve heard a lot of people (even an unnamed RFBer or two) say they’d almost rather not see the Brewers in the playoffs if they’re going to limp in with injuries and amid the most epic slump since…well, last season. But I’ve never seen my beloved Brewers play a playoff game – and (risking cliché, OK succumbing to it) the playoffs are like a second season, a blank canvas that is unaffected by the struggles of the preceding month. Ask the 2007 Rockies, if Milwaukee goes into the postseason and string together a few wins, we may have another World Series loss to hump for a quarter century.

Give up if you choose to, throw in the towel, avert the gaze of your Braun bobble in your office cubicle and shift full into Packers mode. I’ll be watching the final six Brewer games with the hopes of more to come.

For even in the most crushing of Brewer defeats, at least one or two incredible things can be seen.

Believe.

InReview

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Week 22 Record: 1-6
Total Record: 82-67

This Week’s Photo:

Yep...this sums up the week

Things I Like:

- Um…

- Well,

- At Least….

- No, nevermind

- I guess if I have to pick something I liked it was watching Jim Skaalen get fired up and lose his perma-cool for the first time EVER and get thrown out of the game on Saturday. If only it would have lit more of a fire with the hitters…

Things I Don’t:

- Let’s go with the obvious: The Brewers losing any cushion they had in the Wild Card Race and now in a two week foot race with the Phillies, Mets (If the Phils catch them), Cardinals, and Astros (I still don’t know how the hell they got here) for the Wild Card.

- This week made it almost impossible for the Brewers to catch the Cubs for the division

-Ice Freakin’ Cold Bats. Bats must be sick:
Bats, They Are Sick

- Possibly losing uber-benchie Gabe Kapler for the rest of the season

- Blown games by Torres, Mota, and McClung. Rough starts for Parra, Sheets, and Suppan

- Corey Hart making it REALLY hard to love the guy…

- It was just a really terrible week and I could go on a looooooong time about it, but we’ve all, fans and players, had enough depression this week. Let’s hope the Astros tire out the Cubs at Miller…

Numbers of the Week:

.167 - Brewers team batting average this week

5.38 - Brewers team ERA this week

.188 - Corey Hart’s batting average when batting first in the order (even before today it was only .208)

A little introduction before this last set of numbers: This last set of numbers might not be exact. I went back and looked at photos to try and find the dates that a substantial number of Brewers grew facial hair together. I noticed the recent beard trend started during the Mets series on September 1st  and can still be seen on some players today. The moustache period of April lasted from, what I can tell, April 21st to April 25th.

.429 - Brewers Estimated Winning Percentage during “Team Facial Hair” Periods

The Cardinals Are Dead

Monday, September 1st, 2008

 

Bernie - Card Killer

The Cardinals are done. No shot. Out. See you next year, pricks.

I normally refrain from making such bold statements because, well, I’m a paranoid baseball fan. In a game where anything can happen (and usually does), I’m always wary to count someone out if there’s still a statistical shot they can pull it off. Not this time.

The Cardinals have defied odds all year with a ragtag group of overachievers led by “King Douchebag” Tony La Russa. Time and their team’s talent (or lack thereof) have finally caught up with them. Now down 6.5 games with one month left, it’s time for the Red Bird faithful to drown themselves in crappy St. Louis rice beer and dream that their mediocre pitching and no-name hitters can recapture the magic for another inspired collapse next year.

Even if the Brewers plays as bad as they did in May (13-16, .448), their worst month of the season, they would have a 12-14 record over their last 26 games. And if the Cardinals capture April’s promise again (18-11, .621), their best month, they’d finish September with a 16-9 record. So, if the Brewers played as poorly as they have all season and the Cardinals play as well as they have all season, Milwaukee would still end the season two up on St. Louis. Nail meet coffin.

And the fact is, the Brewers aren’t playing like they did in May.  They finished August, their best month of the season, with a 20-7 record (.741). And the Cardinals look like a shell of the April team that ran out to the front of the division. St. Louis finished August, their second month in a row without a winning record, at 13-13. While Milwaukee is playing their best baseball of the season, the Cardinals are crumbling down the stretch.

Until next year Red Bird Nation… The Brewers have more untucked shirts, watching epic blasts as they scream into the Busch Stadium seats, yelling from the mound, stealing your players’ women and making fools of your crappy team where this year came from.

We’ve just got more important things to take care of right now.

Who Gets the Call?: Predicting September Promotions

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

 

With Milwaukee's roster to expand to 40 on Monday, who will get the call? Here are some guesses.

When the Brewers return to Miller Park Monday, the clubhouse will be a bit more crowded. As most everyone knows, Major League teams expand their rosters from 25 to 40 players on September 1st each season.

Thanks to Brew Crew Ball, Brewerfan.net’s “Mass Haas” and Nashville Sounds Manager Frank Kremblas -  we can safely say Milwaukee will promote Brad Nelson (IF/OF), Vinny Rottino (C), Mat Gamel (3B), Tony Gwynn Jr. (OF), Joe Dillon (IF) and pitchers Mitch Stetter, Tim Dillard and Mark DiFelice. But that still leaves seven more players left to be called upon.

One can assume Russell Branyan has a spot on the team once he returns from the DL and Laynce Nix (who was promoted in place of Branyan) will remain with the club too.

Here are some unfamiliar names you may also see roaming the dugout, bullpen - and maybe even the diamond - when September is upon us.

Infielders-

Alcides Escobar (SS/Huntsville) – A lot of Brewer fans have been excited to see the Escobar kid we’ve been hearing so much about play under the bright lights. Though only in Double-A, Escobar is listed on the Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. Always gifted with the glove, Escobar’s bat looks to have caught up with his infield prowess. His numbers are all-around gawdy. I’d love to see him contribute as soon as possible. 

Callix Crabbe (2B/Nashville) - The middle infield is already crowded, especially with Dillon to be promoted, but Crabbe has played at the Major League level with San Diego this season and hopefully would be able to improve on his .176 BA (6 for 34) he tallied in his stint there. He’s servicable, at worst.

Outfielders-

Jay Gibbons (OF and DH/Nashville) - Gibby hit .312 in Nashville (109 AB) and has more Major League experience than anyone else in the system. I don’t see why Milwaukee would’ve signed Gibbons if they didn’t plan on calling him up to help come September.

Hernan Iribarren (OF/Nashville) – Hurricane has twice been promoted to Milwaukee’s roster this season and played OK (2 for 14) in his sporadic opportunities there. Iribarren can add outfield depth, could handle emergency middle infield duties. His 19 steals in a partial season in Nashville (trails Gwynn by one for team lead) make him ideal for pinch running or double switch situations.

• Brendan Katin (OF/Nashville) – Kaitin led the Sounds with 19 homers and trailed only Brad Nelson in RBI (72). Posted a respectable .542 SLG, but struck out over 100 times and walked just 13 in over 300 AB. If Mel Stocker doesn’t get the call, Katin could.

Pitchers-

Joe Bateman (RHP/Nashville) - He’s probably the best pitcher left on Nashville’s roster not already rumored to be called up. Who can argue with a 1.60 ERA, 22 hits, 37 strikeouts and sub-one WHIP in 33.2 innings? I’ll be surprised if he’s not on the roster Monday.

Lindsay Gulin (LHP/Nashville) – This Sounds southpaw just named to his second Pitcher of the Week award and has been the only real staple in an otherwise shaky Nashville starting rotation with his 3.54 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and K/IP ration of nearly one. There’s not much of a place for Gulin on the team as far as starter or long relief roles go, but if his performance as a starter can translate into the bullpen, bring him in.

- Barring the unlikely return of Yovani Gallardo, those are my guesses to who will be on their way to Milwaukee for Monday’s game. I’d like to see what others think.

Quick Prediction

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I won’t do a long-winded prediction post because there are roughly 10 million of those floating around the Internet already. I just want to get my prediction in writing before the season starts.

The Brewers will win the division.

This is not a homer pick. I don’t pick the Brewers to win the division every year (I picked them to finish second last year and to not get the wildcard spot). I just feel like this is finally the year things have lined up right.

I’m not even going to guess at a record. There are too many variables. The division will come down to the Cubs and the Brewers in my estimation and I think it will be very close until the end. I give the edge to the Crew because their offense should be considerably better than the Cubs and I believe the Cubs starting pitching will be an issue.

Team MVP: Prince Fielder - I think he will be a league MVP candidate again with Braun putting up similar offensive numbers as well.

Team Cy Young: Ben Sheets - You can call me a fool if you want, but I think he’ll stay healthy. He’s had too many bizarre injuries. Luck has to swing his way again some time and he’s in a contract season. I predict he’ll put up an 18 to 20-win season.

Surprise player: Dave Bush - Anyone that’s read this site for any length of time knows I like the “bulldog.” He’s been more solid than he gets credit for and has been the team’s most consistent starter over the last two years. I think he’s due for a breakout season. It will be interesting to see if he’s asked to pitch from the bullpen after Gallardo comes back though. Either way, he will likely get his fair share of starts this season.

First call-up: This one is a lot more difficult than in past years because the Brewers bench is pretty deep and two players will have to be sent down or cut after Cameron and Gallardo join the team. I’m going to guess Mitch Stetter will be the first call-up for no other reason than that it seems like the bullpen is the area with the most question marks going into the season and Stetter could be a valuable left-handed arm.

NL Division winners: Mets, Brewers, Diamondbacks
NL Wildcard: Phillies (I think it will be a fight between the Phillies and the Braves. I give a slight edge to Philadelphia.)

NL Divisional Round: Mets over Phillies and Brewers over D-Backs
NL Championship: Mets over Brewers

AL Division winners: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels
AL Wildcard: Yankees

AL Divisional Round: Tigers over Yankees and Red Sox over Angels
AL Championship: Tigers over Red Sox

World Series: Tigers over the Mets

NL MVP: Prince Fielder
AL MVP: David Ortiz
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander

Season’s Eve Predictions Sure to be Half-Right

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Last year I made a couple predictions. I said that J.J. Hardy was going to impress us with his bat, which he did for most of the year. I said that Elmer Dessens was going to be a strong long reliever, which he was not. I said Counsell was not going to do well, which was right, but I also said he’d hit about .250 at best, which he didn’t even get close to. So I guess I’m about .500. So here are some predictions sure to be half right.

1) Corey Hart will make the All-Star team - He just will. He’s gone from underrated athlete to buzzworthy athlete.

2) Salomon Torres will be the unsung hero of the bullpen - Much like Shouse was last year.

3) Counsell will do better this year - Well, it won’t be very hard…

4) The Central will shake out like this:
1)Brewers - Health is always a concern, but I believe they’ve learned a lot from last year and should have a much stronger bullpen to get them through July and August.

2)Cubs - Spent a lot of money, got a Japanese player who’s name I still can’t pronounce without swearing, but still iffy in the starting pitching dept. Can you honestly say you trust Marquis and Lilly to have another strong year and you trust that Dempster will be better as a starter?

3)Reds - They’ve got a pretty good group, but the youth of this group will ultimately be too much for serious contention this year.

There will be a large disparity between the 3 team and the 4 team

(tie)4) Astros - Everyone talks about their offense and adding Miguel Tejada, but they have yet again NO STARTERS after Oswalt.

(tie)4)Cardinals - If their arsenal of DL’ers can reclaim past glory, I’d move them up, but Pujols can’t do it all by himself

6)Pirates - I like their young pitching to keep them in games, but the sad truth is that most of their offense will probably be gone by the trading deadline.

For the rest of the league:

1) Joba Chamberlin has too much hype to live up to. The New York media has built this guy up to be the ace to end all aces. The problem is that Ian Kennedy has already surpassed him and he’s basically what Carlos Villanueva was last year: A future starter being a good long reliever waiting for a chance to be in the rotation. I’m not saying the kid isn’t good. I’m not harping on him, either. There is just too much hype for him to deliver (see Matsuzaka, D.)

2) Mets and Phillies are overrated in the NL East, Braves are underrated. That being said, the Braves better be praying that their rotation of Chet Steadmans can hold it together for the year.

3) One question, can the Rays be considered a surprise team when most major sports media outlets are picking them to surprise the league? Wouldn’t that, then, NOT be a surprise. Needless to say, I do like the Rays, but they can’t get over the BoSox and Yankees. I’d say they have a chance to bounce over the Blue Jays, but they aren’t a slouch either. They do, however, have the best chance at something: playing spoiler to the Detroit Tigers in the last series of the regular season (who should be locked in a close race with the Indians).

4) I read in the Journal-Sentinel that the Dodgers will be close to winning the NL West. No, they won’t be. It’s just that easy. Arizona, Colorado, and probably the Padres will finish above the Dodgers.

5) Finally, I’m excited to see the race for the worst team of the year. I think it’s between the Giants and the Orioles, but the Pirates and the Marlins could also be in the running. It’s going to be fan-tastic.

Computers pick the Cubs

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

If computer projections are right, the Cubs may celebrate often in 2008


Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has taken several projection systems for the 2008 season, run the season through Diamond Mind Baseball’s simulator 1,000 times for each system and came up with a Projection Blowout. They used CHONE, Diamond Mind, Hardball Times, PECOTA, and ZiPs projections.

The results are interesting, especially relating to the NL Central division race, which I’ve knocked down to the Cubs and the Brewers. Sorry St. Louis, Cincinnati, Houston, and Pittsburgh fans. I see this as a two-horse race and the projection systems agree.

CHONE
Cubs – 86.9-75.1, 53% chance of making the playoffs, 108 highest win total
Brewers – 85.5-76.5, 42%, 106

Diamond Mind
Cubs – 85.3-76.7, 46%, 107
Brewers – 83.4-78.6, 31%, 110

Hardball Times
Brewers – 87.9-74.1, 52%, 110
Cubs – 86.3-75.7, 41%, 105

PECOTA
Cubs – 89.1-72.9, 62%, 109
Brewers – 86.4-75.6, 43%, 103

ZiPs
Cubs – 93-69, 85%, 115
Brewers – 82.6-79.4, 16%, 106

Average of all five
Cubs – 88.12-73.88, 57.4%, 108.8
Brewers – 85.16-76.84, 36.8%, 107

Average of four besides ZiPs
Cubs - 86.9-75.1, 50.5%, 107.25
Brewers – 85.8-76.2, 42%, 107.25

Some observations:

- This obviously does not mean much of anything, but it is probably the most accurate way we have available to predict the season at this point. These prediction systems, however, have been known to not predict pitching well. They also can’t predict injuries effectively and do not account for major changes in production from players. Take it for what it is, a prediction.

- No matter how you look at it, the Brewers and Cubs are very evenly matched again this season.

- While the Brewers are in first or second in all five systems, they are only first in one, The Hardball Times’ prediction. The Cubs are first in the other four.

- ZiPs loves the Cubs and hates the Brewers. ZiPs predicts the best Cubs’ record and worse Brewers’ record of all the systems by several wins/losses. The system predicts very good seasons for some players that come into the season as question marks for the Cubs (Soto, Pie, and Fukudome). If you take ZiPs out of the equation and average the other four prediction systems, the Brewers finish just a game behind the Cubs, which would mean the season would come down to the final series at Miller Park. That would make for one incredible playoff atmosphere in Milwaukee…

- The four systems besides ZiPs have the Brewers averaging a 42 percent chance of making the playoffs.

- The Cubs are a particularly difficult team to predict. Soto will take over as the full-time starting catcher with almost no major-league experience, Fukudome comes over from Japan with no major-league at bats, and Pie has only limited major-league at-bats as well. Dempster is transitioning from closer to starter and Wood is transitioning from the DL to the closer role. All five of these players will be very hard to project effectively and how much they perform above or below their projections could very easily determine the division.

- I didn’t investigate, but I doubt very much that the projections used Sheets, Suppan, Bush, Villanueva and Parra as the Brewers’ starting five and I also doubt it used Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Dempster and Marquis as the Cubs’ starting five. Even if it did, Villanueva, Parra and Dempster would be hard to project effectively.

- Almost all of the projections I’ve seen predict the Brewers offense to out-perform the Cubs offense. And almost all of the projections I’ve seen predict the Cubs pitching to out-perform the Brewers pitching. Personally, I think the Cubs pitching is the key to the division. If Zambrano, Hill, and Lilly stay healthy and perform all year and the Cubs don’t have a meltdown in the back end of the rotation (Marquis and Dempster with Lieber waiting in the wings), the Cubs will probably win the division. I just wouldn’t bet on that happening…

It should be another close race… Let the season begin!

Brewer fans, what are your thoughts?


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