Analyzing the Milwaukee Brewers Off-Season


Missing the playoffs in the last two seasons has felt like a wasted opportunity for the Milwaukee Brewers organization. While boasting one of the best offenses in the major leagues in 2009 and 2010, the Brewers have finally realized the need to bolster their lackluster pitching rotation.

With hard-hitting Prince Fielder in the last year of his contract, the Brewers have pushed all of their chips in to add starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training on Wednesday, let’s take a closer look at the blockbuster deals and a couple of other transactions the Brewers partook in to make the pitching better during the off-season.

By: Nick Grays

1.) RHP Shaun Marcum

Marcum was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Brewers top prospect and second baseman Brett Lawrie.

This was the first in a series of moves which made fans take a second glance at what GM Doug Melvin was doing on the phone this winter. Marcum prospects to be the third starter in what looks to be a solid rotation in Milwaukee. While Marcum is certainly better than any three who took the mound last season, he still is surrounded by the unknown after having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

With what seems to be a trend in the MLB, those with TJ surgery seem to be bouncing back better than ever and the Brewers hope Marcum can at least replicate his 13-8 record and 3.84 ERA that he posted in 2010.

Lawrie is a big loss for the Brewers, but he will feel right at home in Toronto as the kid hails from British Columbia, Canada.

2.) RHP Zack Greinke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt

Just a year ago, the idea of Greinke in a Brewers uniform was almost unthinkable. Kudos to Melvin for making the deal for Greinke and Betancourt by sending SS Alcides Escobar, OF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Jeremy Jeffress and RHP Jake Odorizzi to the Kansas City Royals.

This is the biggest indicator of the Brewers going for it all because they have literally emptied out the farm system. With the previously mentioned Marcum deal, the Brewers traded away all of their top prospects in an attempt to win in 2011.

With that said, Greinke is the biggest off-season acquisition in all of baseball because the former Cy Young winner gives the Brewers a one-two punch they haven’t experienced since the small period of time that Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo were able to pitch together.

While Greinke brings ace-quality stuff, I think Gallardo has to remain Milwaukee’s ace because he remains the face of Brewers pitching and has done nothing but excelled since coming up through the Brewers organization.

3.) Relievers Takashi Saito and Sean Green

Saito and Green are a couple of veteran right-handers signed to add depth to an already crowded bullpen.

Fortunately for the Brewers, Jon Axford seems to be the man for the closer job. The last thing Brewers fans want to see is instability in the ninth inning like they’ve had to witness in the recent past with Derrick Turnbow, Eric Gagne and Trevor Hoffman.

Saito and Green will join LaTroy Hawkins, Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe and Manny Parra in a decent looking bullpen.

Overall Pitching Outlook

With the additions of Greinke and Marcum to a starting rotation consisting of Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson, the Brewers pitching should be no where near last in ERA like they were in 2009 and 2010.

Moreover, with the hiring of new Manager Ron Roenicke and Pitching Coach Rick Kranitz, I would expect to see an entirely new culture of baseball in Milwaukee. Not one which only hits home-runs on the offensive side, but one which also limits the opposing home-runs on the pitching side.

What do you think of the Brewers complete pitching overhaul in 2011? Is it just what the Brewers needed or is it perhaps too late? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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