Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Look Brewers Settling In


On the whole, this Brewers team is not that different than the one that was fielded last season. We all know what to expect out of the mainstays - Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee, Yovani Gallardo, and others. But this team is different enough that a lot of eyes are going to be focused on the newcomers to this Brewers club, newcomers which have suddenly turned this team into legitimate contenders. Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum have already made their Brewers debuts this week, and a lot will be expected of them as we head into April. Offensively, questions come up at the centerfield and shortstop positions, as Brewers fans hope the apparent weaknesses at those positions don't counteract the now strength of the pitching staff.

We got our first look at a lot of different Brewers this week as they began their Spring Training down in Arizona (hopefully it's the only time this season that the Brewers are playing meaningless baseball as far as their record is concerned). Both of the newcomers to the Brewers starting pitching staff were roughed up a bit. Shaun Marcum went two innings in a split squad start on Monday, giving up two runs off of four hits in a couple of innings. He did fan three in the process however. Zach Greinke took the hill on Tuesday, pitching 1 1/3 innings and giving up one hit while walking three. Rough starts for sure, but there's no sense in celebrating or languishing over box scores in early March, at least not when you're an established veterans like these two. The key for Marcum and Greinke, and for Gallardo and Wolf for that matter, is to just go on out there and get their work in. It's fun to look at the box scores again, don't get me wrong, but stats aren't everything this time of year.

At the top half of the box score, the guys that have stood out so far are outfielders Brendan Katin and Erik Komatsu. Katin has hit the Brewers only home run so far this Spring Training, that came Monday against the Giants. Komatsu has been able to put the ball in play as well. I don't think either of these guys have a shot at making the Opening Day roster, but I said the same thing about a hot-hitting Joe Inglett last season and he was with the big league club all year, so you never know. Again, for some guys stats in the Spring do not matter at all, but for guys like Katin and Komatsu they mean everything.

I'm more focused though on the play at the aforementioned shortstop and centerfield positions. Yuniesky Betancourt has been hitting so far this Spring, but it's his defense that has everyone worried. The centerfield spot seems to be in the hands of Carlos Gomez for now, but Chris Dickerson could make a claim to the position with a decent March. Here are the box scores for the first two days of Spring:

Monday - Brewers (ss) 5, Cubs 3
Monday - Giants 10, Brewers (ss) 9
Tuesday - Brewers 3, White Sox 1

As for today, Wednesday, the Brewers are in action at 2:05pm Central time, with Yovani Gallardo making the start against the Cubs. The lineup sees Luis Cruz at shortstop, Chris Dickerson in center, and roster hopeful Brandon Boggs in right. Casey McGehee is getting the start at third after signing a new one year deal with the club. We'll keep checking in on the Brewers all throughout March, with more comprehensive coverage coming once the season gets underway.

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