Hello again everybody, and welcome to my team preview of the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers. I'm Bob Uecker, and some of you know me from classic fare such as 'Mr. Belvedere' or my Miller Lite commercials, or even my fantastically mediocre baseball career, but I'm willing to bet that most of you know me best as Harry Doyle, the long-suffering Indians play-by-play broadcaster from 'Major League.' The truth is, none of that was acting. I am Harry Doyle, and I'll say "goddamn" on the air if I want to. I've been working for the Brewers since 1971 - I've seen it all.
Including this. Beer Barrel Man, Brewers logo circa 1970.
And now, I'm ready to see what 2013 has in store.
Let's face it, with an 83-79 record and third place NL Central finish, 2012 was something of a disappointment. Sure, the loss of Prince Fielder to Detroit was sure to hurt, but it wasn't the offense that was the issue last season, it was the pitching, and specifically, the bullpen. A league worst bullpen ERA over 4.50 and 29 blown saves helped to doom the team.
Returning to the bullpen this season are closer John Axford, Brandon Kintzler, and journeyman Jim Henderson, and gone are Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, the declining "K-Rod," and Jose Veras. The biggest pitching acquisition of the offseason comes in the form of lefty Tom Gorzelanny, who had a stellar 2012 for the Washington Nationals after being converted from a starter into more of a long man role.
The starting pitching situation has certainly changed from 2012. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are out, as is Randy Wolf. Staff ace Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada, the veteran starters of the team, appear as though they are going to be joined by Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers. It looks like we can count on one and two, but it remains to be seen whether Peralta and the young Fiers will pan out. Potential starter and southpaw Chris Narveson is getting a good, long look due to the prevailing lack of lefties, while Mark Rogers has a shot to start in the rotation as well.
The strength of the Brewers will undoubtedly be the offense. Ryan Braun is the catalyst here. If the Brewers are to have any chance at a National League Central title and playoff run, he needs to be healthy and playing. There are rumors flying around that he's in MLB's crosshairs concerning the Miami Biogenesis business. I'll leave you all to ponder that mess, but suffice it to say that without Braun, this team probably goes nowhere but under .500 and I'll need all of the Miller Lite in the world to get me to 2014.
I still have that jacket.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez's success was a pleasant surprise in 2012, as was the emergence of Norichika Aoki as an offensive threat in left. Carlos Gomez is back in center field and Jonathan Lucroy who had a pretty good 2012 in 96 games behind the plate returns in 2013 looking for more playing time and hopefully a repeat to his success. Corey Hart has moved from left to first following Fielder's exit, but January surgery on his right knee means we likely won't see him back on the field until May.
DAMMIT, NO, the OTHER COREY HART!
With the injured Corey Hart likely out until May, the offense will be pushed even harder to step up and cover for an unremarkable-on-paper rotation and 'pen. There are many questions that need to be answered - Will Ryan Braun be able to have another MVP-caliber season? Can Aramis Ramirez produce like he did in 2012? Will the rotation after Gallardo pan out? How will the team fare until Hart returns? When all is said and done, anything is possible, but realistically it isn't looking great for the 2013 Brewers. It appears as though we're looking at another season with a record hovering right around .500, while I get most of my joy betting on sausage races and seeing if I can get away with quoting my own lines from 'Major League' and 'Major League II' (The third one never happened.) without any of the bosses noticing. I'm not too worried about it, though, nobody is listening anyway.
Finally, if you've learned nothing else from me today, I offer you one piece of advice for those of you that don't know any better:
Stay out of goddamn South Milwaukee.
This is Mr. Baseball, signing off.
DAMMIT, NO, the OTHER MR. BASEBALL!