In lieu of the standard assessment of the opponent, Hangwith'em Rach from Brew Crew Ball was gracious enough to take some time and swap some Q&A questions with us over here at Purple Row so we could get the fan insight into the Milwaukee squad.
1. So Fielder is gone. Do you miss him? Obviously you miss the production, but are the Brewers as a team really missing him?
As fans, we miss him, of course. Prince was a lot of fun to watch. There aren't many players quite like him. The Brewers' strategy was to try to replace Fielder's production with multiple players. Rickie Weeks is the only remaining member of the infield from 2011. Fielder, Casey McGehee (3B) and Yuniesky Betancourt (SS) were replaced with Mat Gamel, Aramis Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez. No one expected Gamel, who had less than 200 big league plate appearances before this year, to replace Prince by himself. On paper, this looks like a winning strategy. The defense on the left side of the infield should be better and collectively, the offense should be just as good as it was last year. On the field, however, Ramirez is out to a terrible start. He's put up a .103/.163/.154 line. Gonzalez has been only slightly better at .214/.267/.500. Gamel has started to play with a lot more confidence recently and is at .283/.333/.436. It's early, though, so hopefully the three-headed monster will come through and make Fielder's departure less painful.
As for the loss of leadership, Corey Hart had the following to say this winter:
"Prince is pretty vocal, but I wouldn't have called him our team leader. I think you actually lose more with losing Craig than you do with losing Prince. Obviously, [Fielder's] ability on the field is way above your average player, but I think we're going to miss Craig Counsell more in the clubhouse than we are Prince. He's a great, fun guy, but it's nice to have those older guys who have been there and won. Any time Craig talks, it doesn't matter what was going on, you're going to listen. I think Prince had the kind of makings of it, but you don't lose as much as you do losing a guy like Craig Counsell." http://brewersbeat.mlblogs.com/2012/01/27/hart-on-fielder-playing-first-base/
2. Following up, I'm personally jealous that you got Aramis Ramirez. How are you liking him? What is he bringing to the table outside of on field production?
To be honest, it's strange to see him in a Brewers uniform. Sometimes I forget that he doesn't play for the Cubs any more. He had a good game on Wednesday against the Dodgers (2 hits, HR) but before that he had been bad--4 hits in 43 plate appearances bad. I don't know enough about him yet to judge his off-the-field behavior and his contributions to the team in that regard. But Bob Brenly didn't like him so he can't be all bad, right?
3. Coming into the season, what would you say the Brewers biggest need was? Has the first dozen games changed your mind at all?
Following the 2011 season, I thought that the biggest need was to replace Prince (and get rid of Betancourt in the process). The first dozen games have certainly made me aware of other potential needs that I may have overlooked, but I still think that this is the key to a return to the post-season. I think the starting pitching and bullpen will be fine. I'm most concerned about the offense and what might happen if Ramirez doesn't hit.
4. I'm sure you're sick of talking about it, but how long does Greinke stay in Milwaukee?
Any sentence that starts with "I'm sure you're sick of talking about it" that doesn't end in Braun and steroids is a great question to me! Negotiations between the Brewers and Greinke were "tabled" last week. Doug Melvin, the Brewers GM, said that discussions may resume at some point during the season. Melvin rarely tips his hand so it is difficult to predict anything from this statement. My best guess as to what will happen is that Greinke will either sign a five-year deal with the Brewers before the All-Star game or he will leave in free agency after the season. This is based purely on my speculation that Greinke likes pitching for Milwaukee but may become too expensive if he pitches well.
Arbitrary Prediction: Rockies take the opener on the wings of Chacin's first good start of 2012. Pomeranz drops a tight one to Narveson (who only goes 1 out into the 6th) thanks to some shutdown work from the Milwaukee bullpen. Game 3 goes to the shootout, and the Rockies emerge with one point after the SOL.
Seriously, Rockies take 1 of 3.
Friday, 4/20/12 at 6:10PM MT
Saturday, 4/21/2012 at 5:10PM MT
Sunday, 4/22/2012 at 12:10PM MT