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Know Your Foe #1: Rockies visit Brewers to open season

Welcome to my first edition of Know Your Foe. Short and simple for today, but as the season goes on I'll have much more when previewing series. I hope to make the Q&A with an opposing blog a regular feature of KYF.

Milwaukee Brewers (80-82, 3rd NL Central)

Milwaukee Brewers

Rockies' 2009 record against Brewers: 6-0. The Brewers went down in defeat thrice at Miller Park as the Rockies continued their way to an eventual 11-game win streak in early to mid-June. Jason Hammel, Jorge De La Rosa, and Aaron Cook picked up the wins. Hammel and Cook picked up two of the three victories at Coors Field at the end of September. Matt Belisle recorded the other win in the 11th inning after having watched Huston Street blow a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning.

Monday-Wednesday: 3-game series @ Miller Park

Probable Pitchers

Monday, 5 April 2010, 12:10 MDT: Ubaldo Jimenez (15-12, 5.7 WAR in 2009) vs. Yovani Gallardo (13-12, 2.7 WAR)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010, 6:10 MDT: Greg Smith (7-16, 1.5 WAR with 2008 A's) vs. Randy Wolf (11-7, 3.0 WAR with 2009 Dodgers)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010, 11:10 MDT: Aaron Cook (11-6, 1.9 WAR in 2009) vs. Doug Davis (9-14, 1.7 WAR with 2009 D'Backs)

Probable Lineup

  1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
  2. Carlos Gomez, CF
  3. Ryan Braun, LF
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Jim Edmonds, RF
  6. Casey McGehee, 3B
  7. Gregg Zaun, C
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS
  9. Pitcher

Closer: Trevor Hoffman

Join me after the jump for a few questions with Rubie Q from Brew Crew Ball.

1. Is this the season Rickie Weeks breaks out? Is he the key to a successful season?

As one of the commenters on Brew Crew Ball pointed out, this is actually the Fourth Annual Rickie Weeks Break Out Season.  I bear some personal responsibility for that, as I dubbed the '09 season "The Summer of Rickie Weeks" after 10 games, when Weeks started the season like a man on fire.  Of course, a couple weeks later, Rickie's wrist exploded on a check swing in St. Louis, and his promising start went down the drain.  He's looked very good this spring, but I'm not about to jinx it by predicting that Rickie's finally going to bust out this year.

In my opinion, Weeks is the most important position player on the team for a couple of reasons: (1) the last two years, when he was hurt and/or playing terrible, the Brewers had to use some of their trade chits to bring in second basemen: Ray Durham in '08, and Felipe Lopez in '09; and (2) we have a good idea what to expect at every other position.  Rickie's the wild card.  If the team is going to contend, it needs Weeks playing well, and playing well for the full season. 

2. What impact to do you expect Rick Peterson to have with the pitching staff?

That's a question Brewer fans have been debating all offseason.  The starting pitching staff was historically awful last year; only Baltimore had a worse staff ERA, and we had two pitchers (Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan) pitch at below-replacement levels while making 30+ starts (each).  So: there's nowhere to go but up, and, in all likelihood, Peterson will be getting some (or most) of the credit when that happens.  That said, we've got three veterans (Dave Bush, Doug Davis, and Randy Wolf) with established track records, and a budding star in Yovani Gallardo, who's set to be the staff ace for years to come.  Peterson doesn't need to work his magic with them -- in my opinion, the Brewers need him to make something of Manny Parra (who's got oodles of talent but hasn't yet put it together) and to see if there's anything salvageable with Suppan.  The early returns for those two in Spring Training weren't encouraging, to say the least.

3. So it's been a few years, but defend Ryan Braun as 2007 NL RoY over Tulo.

Man, you guys are still hung up on that one, huh?  I can throw some alphabet soup at you -- Braun's .422 wOBA vs. Tulo's .361 wOBA, Braun hitting 10 more homers in 40 fewer games, blah blah blah; it's just too bad that no one kept defensive statistics in '07, because I've heard, anecdotally, that Tulo is a much better defender than Braun -- but we all know that the vote resulted from the prominent Midwest media bias.

4. What type of brews would some of your starters be?

Ryan Braun: Miller High Life.  The Champagne of Beers has been one of my favorites since college.  It's delicious and surprisingly cheap, much like Braun's 8-year, $45 million contract.

Trevor Hoffman: Leinie's Red.  Old and reliable.  I've yet to meet someone who doesn't like Leinie's Red, one of the signature offerings of the small brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Gregg Zaun: Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I grew up around PBR, and it was always the beer that your dad and his 40-year-old pals drank. So I was somewhat taken aback when I moved to Minnesota and discovered that trendy youngsters have flocked to Pabst.  It's the best comparison I can come up with for new Brewer backstop Gregg Zaun, who's been a part-time player for essentially his entire career.  Last offseason, he became a trendy target, and now he's our starting catcher.  Will it work?  I don't know, but I hope it's better that PBR.  That stuff tastes like a sock.

Prince Fielder: Guinness.  One of the most famous beers in the world for the Brewers best hitter and (probably) second-most-famous player.  You know what you're getting when you order a Guinness.  At this stage in his career, you know what to expect out of Prince, too: an OPS circa 1.000, with around 40 taters, and some epic belly-flop slides into second base.

Corey Hart: Delirium Tremens.  I can have one DT before getting loopy.  Similarly, I can usually watch one Corey Hart at-bat -- my favorites: Corey hacks at the first pitch after the batter ahead of him walked on four pitches, or Corey lunging at three straight down-and-away sliders -- before I start mumbling incoherently.
Jeff Suppan: Milwaukee's Best ICE.  I don't know if you've ever been subjected to MB ICE, but, if you've haven't, you're not missing anything.  It's the single worst beer I've ever had, and you can't get the taste out of your mouth for a week.  If that ain't Soup, I don't know what is.