Over the next couple of posts, I will be previewing the Milwaukee Brewers 2010 roster. I will break this up into four different segments: starting pitchers, relievers, infielders and outfielders.
For this club, there is no better way to begin than with starting pitching. Just a season ago, Milwaukee Brewers starters posted a 5.37 ERA, finishing for a tie for dead last in MLB. They tied with the Baltimore Orioles, who have to deal with the DH and play in the hitter packed AL East. The Brewers on average gave up more than a full run higher than the national league average per game (4.32). Needless to say, starting pitching was a big reason the Brewers won just 80 games last season.
Quickly, the front office made it apparent starting pitching would be their main goal of the offseason. An early trade sent J.J. Hardy to Minnesota and landed Mike Cameron’s replacement: Carlos Gomez. With the Hardy trade, the Brewers gained financial flexibility for their starting pitching problem. I’m not going to say I agreed with the trade, but that’s for another article.
With the money now open, enter Randy Wolf and Doug Davis. The Brewers signed the two lefties to stabilize a rotation who logged just 891 innings last season, which ranked 29th in MLB. If there is one thing Wolf and Davis have shown, it is durability. Both pitchers threw over 200 innings last season. The Brewers leader in innings last season was Braden Looper, throwing a very uninspiring 194.2.
The Brewers are gaining a nice bit of depth with these acquisitions. With Davis and Wolf, the Brewers now have seven pitchers who are capable of starting: Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and Chris Narveson. Assuming the first four spots go to Gallardo, Wolf, Davis and Parra, there is only one spot for the final three. I’ve heard a lot of people say that Suppan is now out of the rotation. While I would love that to be the case, it isn’t. I’m just not sure the Brewers are ready to cut ties with Suppan, while still paying him $12.5 million in the final year of his contract.
One big thing to watch is Dave Bush. I have always been a fan of Bush and think he could have a bounce back 2010, but the Brewers need to make a decision on him. Considering they’re already near, if not over their budget, the club could trade Bush for salary reasons. He is due $4+ million salary in 2010. While I really hope the club is not considering this, I fear they may be.
Anyway, as the rotation shapes up now, the Brewers look much better than a year ago. Combined between Wolf and Davis’ ’09 seasons, the Brewers have gained 7.5 WAR (wins above replacement level) this offseason. That total could only grow if the Brewers do the right thing and relegate Jeff Suppan to the bullben, or flat out release him. Regardless of what a player is being played, statistics should determine their playing. It’s time for the Brewers to admit their mistake and move on. Sure the Jeff Suppan contract is horrible, but they are only making matters worse by giving him an opportunity to start 30+ games next season. Based on talent alone, Suppan is worse candidate out of the seven.
Looking at the starting rotation alone, the Brewers have improved this offseason. Adding Wolf and Davis will provide stability to a staff that had anything but last season. The only question is did the upgrade hurt other areas of the club more than it helped the rotation?