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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers = 2011's Seattle Mariners?!

Yesterday Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal wrote about which teams he most expects to give NL and AL favorites, the Phillies and Red Sox, a run for their money in 2011. He mentioned the Brewers, but not in a way most Brewers fans would expect after such a successful offseason.

In the National League Rosenthal picks the World Series-defending Giants, the Rockies, Reds, Braves, and Cardinals. Of the Brewers he says, "This year's Seattle Mariners? That's too harsh, but let's not put the Crew in the World Series just yet." Seattle, of course, seemed set to compete in 2010 after a decent offseason, but instead fell out of contention by mid May due to an underperforming offense and proceeded to lose 101 games.

Rosenthal lauds Doug Melvin's acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum but adds, "Still, this is hardly a complete team. Middle-infield defense could be an issue. Carlos Gomez is hardly a championship center fielder." Yes, middle-infield defense could be an issue, but Gomez brings solid defense to center field. I remember this time last year when everyone thought that either Andres Torres or Aaron Rowand would single-handedly bring a championship to San Francisco.

Rosenthal likes the strength of the Brewers' lineup and top four starting pitchers but also cites the bullpen as an area of concern, though less of one than last year. After stomaching a weak bullpen for several seasons, I'm sure most Brewers fans are feeling pretty good about a bullpen consisting of John Axford, Zack Braddock, Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, Manny Parra (yes, Manny Parra!) and Kameron Loe.

It's way too soon to even think about the postseason, but on paper the Brewers have the strongest chance in at least 3 years, if not 29. Maybe no team will truly compete against the Phillies and Red Sox. But once the season starts anything can happen and I, for one, am feeling more optimistic about the Brewers' chances than is Mr. Rosenthal.

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