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Opinion

Milwaukee Brewers begin new season

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April 9, 2010

Last week, I gave my five storylines of the Minnesota Twins for upcoming 2010 season. This week, I’ll give my five storylines for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Signing Prince Fielder to a contract extension. Fielder will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2011 season unless the team can sign him to an extension. The franchise has a couple options with Fielder. The first option is for Fielder to receive a long contract extension. This option would not be cheap for the Brewers. The second option is to trade Fielder for some draft picks. The third option would be to let Fielder test out the free agency market. Fielder could always sign back with the Brewers, but with major markets lurking around, I’m not sure the Brewers could match any offers Fielder receives.

The pitching rotation. The team doesn’t have a true ace on their staff. Yovani Gallardo got the starting nod, but his numbers clearly don’t suggest he should be the number one pitcher on a staff. He went 13-12 last year with an ERA of 3.72. Good numbers for a number two or three pitcher in the rotation, but if the team is to contend, Gallardo will have to win 15 or more games and have his ERA closer to three, unless one of the other pitchers steps up. The rest of the pitching staff looks very questionable. Besides Gallardo and Randy Wolf, the rest of the staff has not had a dominating year in their career. If this team struggles this year, it could very well be because of their starting five pitching rotation.

The outfield of the Brewers. When the team went into spring training this year, the Brewers had a clear answer who their three starters would be in the outfield. It would be Braun in left field, Carlos Gomez in center field, and Corey Hart in right field. After breaking from spring training, the answers were not so clear. After having a down year, Hart struggled in spring training as well. That left the door open for newly-acquired Jim Edmonds to compete for right field. Well, Edmonds succeeded on the depth chart, with Hart backing him up. Another thing to watch for in the outfield is the newlyacquired Gomez. He has the potential to be the star in this league, but he needs to mature a bit more and gain some discipline.

How will Alcides Escobar do in the full-time starter role? Escobar has become the full-time starting shortstop for the Brewers with the departure of J.J. Hardy. Escobar had 125 plate appearances in 38 games last year. He batted .304 with three doubles, a triple, a home run, 11 RBIs and 18 strikeouts last year and will now be the starting shortstop this year.

How will the Brewers do compared to the rest of the N.L. Central? The N.L. Central has usually been dominated by the St. Louis Cardinals or the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers seem to be in the mix with those two teams, but usually end up finishing right below them. This year looks to be another year where the Cardinals are the favorites, and the teams that typically finish near the bottom are picked to finish there once again like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros. My prediction is St. Louis will win the division, with the Brewers, Cincinnati and Chicago in a three-team race for a possible wild card berth.

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.