Friday, February 8, 2008

A Vist to the Mound: Blogger Plays Manager, Psychic

Allow me, if you will, the chance to suit up as one Edgar "Ned" Yost III and place some speculation on how the Brewers crowded rotation will shape up come April. The when the season begins, feel free to look back at this post as a reference point to how wrong I probably was. But a gal can guess, right?

Let's start off easy.
•Ben Sheets is the unquestioned ace. Moreover, he will have his first healthy season since 2004. He will finally reach the 15 win mark and will get a fatty deal to go elsewhere during an offseason wrought in weak, aged or oft-injured free agent pitchers.

•Jeff Suppan, too, can be written into the rotation with a Sharpie. He's the obvious number two. I have no reason not to expect a very Suppan-like year from him. Mark him down for 11 wins and a plethora of five-plus inning no decisions ranging from not bad to okay. That's what we pay him for and I'm fine with that, so long as he stays healthy and eats innings. He will shine as a leader in the playoffs. Yes, playoffs.

•Call me crazy, but Yovani Gallardo will win between 17 and 21 games this season. He's already earned the number two slot, but outmatching virtually every opponent's third starter will do. As Jared's links have shown, people expect him to be injured due to being "over-worked" last season. Unless Sheets lends Yo his freak injury card, I don't see a Gallardo (major) injury with his pitch set. Long story short... eat your heart out, Teddy Higuera.

Now is where I can earn my stripes.
•Carlos Villanueva is listed as the Brewers forth starter as of now. Barring injury, he will start the season there. He will not stay there all season. He's consistant and can handle pressure to a fault - namely, his own fault. As injuries strike the bullpen, or Yost realizes we cannot exist with one or no southpaw starters, he'll be tossed in to cure what ailes the club. He's a viable number four that should be starting... but I just don't see him lasting in the rotation all year, but between number four, then subsequently, spot starter or five he'll get his work in. I call 10 wins between rotational and bullpen work. Cappy, and Parra should see some time at four too.

•Though Dave Bush is listed as the fifth starter, I don't see it. Simply - and unfortunately - because he WILL be traded before the season begins. I hate to see it, but he makes the most sense to be sent packing because he's younger, is more of an inning-eating, power pitcher than Claudio Vargas is. Plus in less time, Bush has posted comparable, if not better, career numbers.

So who gets the last spot? Capuano. He's a lefty, which would be best served in our righty-heavy rotation. Chris Capuano is a starter. He's a hurler who's an okay number three and good number four on any team. He lost rights to a favorable place in the pecking order, but he'll be poised to regain his All-Star form and numbers. Pencil Cappy in for 13 wins, 180 Ks and a renewed bounce to his step.

Some quick notes written in pen:
•Vargas might as well be called Jeremi Gonzalez.
•Gagne will notch 25+ saves, but due to injury or occasional sloppiness...
•Riske and Turnbow (if not packaged with Gwynn Jr. in impending Bush deal) will mop up another 10-15 saves combined.
•Salomon Torres will be on the hook (giggles to self about lame fish-related joke) for a few wins. He'll streamline (giggles again) the crew through high-pressure situations.
•Brian Shouse... brings the lefty sidearmed noise once again.
•Guillermo Mota: At 3.2 million large, he pretty much has to be allowed to pitch sometimes.
•Parra, Stetter, McClung and Zach Jackson will all see some time on the Miller Park mound. Mainly Parra.

I may be wrong. I probably am, but it's fun to guess and impowering to play manager sometimes. I'd enjoy reading other predictions.

If the umpire pictured was Bruce Froemming, i'd probably lean in.