Spring training is right around the corner. Usually this means more of the same for the Milwaukee Brewers...how bad will they be this year? NOT this season! Excitement has been bubbling all over Milwaukee as new management and young players converge to build upon an organization that appears to be on the rise! Don't believe me?? Ask the experts:
What must go right: The Brewers swapped closer Dan Kolb and center fielder Scott Podsednik when their value was high, and in return, they got outfielder Carlos Lee and hard-throwing Jose Capellan. That means Milwaukee has to find a new closer and fill other holes around ace pitcher Ben Sheets and a decent young lineup. Nobody expects them to win 105 games like the Cardinals did last year, but they might get a whiff of the front-runners in the NL Central this summer. And, believe it or not, for the first time in years, the Brewers might be on the verge of having a window of opportunity to contend.
What could go wrong: Sheets's status -- will he sign a long-term deal, or won't he? -- will be a priority for the organization in the months to come; an inability to lock him up would be devastating for the Brewers. It stands to reason that the better the Brewers play this year, the more likely it is that Sheets will feel comfortable remaining in Milwaukee, rather than waiting until after the 2007 season to sign long-term with someone like the Yankees or Red Sox.
The X-Factor: The Brewers have a wave of talented infielders on the verge of reaching the majors together -- first baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Rickie Weeks and shortstop J.J. Hardy. While Hardy might open the season with Milwaukee, it's possible that Fielder and Weeks will arrive sometime later in the summer, depending on how they fare in the minors and depending on the needs of the team.
Numerically speaking: It's a mind-boggling set of numbers that flew under the radar last year, along with the rest of the Brewers -- Sheets struck out 264 batters and walked only 32 in 237 innings
Yes...maybe not this year...but it's only getting better Milwaukee!