Pitchers and catchers across America are packing at this very moment. Literally the moment that you are reading this, the odds are pretty good that somewhere in America, a P or C is packing to head to Arizona or Florida respectively. Some are even packing up their families to make the pilgrimage out into the desert sun for a few months. I know for a fact that John Axford is leaving tomorrow morning.
The time has come for us to take a broad look at what lies before us. There are some really great things to look forward too, but their could also be some speed bumps. Here are some of my keys to 2011 World Series glory:
Prince Fielder needs to have a “contract year” – I hate using the term “contract year“, but the fact is, historically speaking, players always perform better when they know that a big fat briefcase of cash lies at the end of the rainbow. If Prince can just do nothing more than have one of these “contract year” things, the Brewers offense will be a true force to reckoned with. How about an encore of 2009, 46 HR’s and 141 RBI’s and 177 hits? Last season he had 24 less hits and 58 fewer RBI’s. Many of us have already dealt with the future lose of Prince, but wouldn’t it be nice if he gave us a beautiful going away present.
Rickie Weeks needs to stay healthy – If Rickie’s wrist snaps in half again, what are we going to do? Seriously. Craig Counsell is the next best option. Rickie is a run producer and Craig is not. Losing a talent like Weeks would be devastating to our offensive ignition. I don’t even want to imagine who would lead off, probably whoever is in CF that week. Should Rickie navigate his way through the season unscathed, then we have got one of the best 1-5 batting orders in the division and maybe the NL. Weeks, Hart, Braun, Fielder, and McGehee is a scary way to start a game. P.S- RW could also catch the “contract year” fever……….
John Axford needs to keep on keepin’ on – All he has to do, is the exact same thing he did last year. I do not want to complicate it much more than that. We have been on a real roller coaster ride with closers, everyone remember Derrick Turnbow? The guy seems like the real deal and we all know he had probably the best mentor in the history of baseball, Trevor Hoffman. Ax’s stuff is solid and as long as he trusts in it, we will see an All-Star closer for many years to come. I love the Ax, so I really hope that last year was not a mirage/aberration/ magic trick. Just stay the course and listen to your mustache.
Ron Roenicke needs to not be Ken Macha – This one is pretty broad, but as long as Ron does the exact opposite of what Macha did, he will be fine. There were games last season where I wanted someone to pull Macha from the game. It became pretty obvious that none of the players respected Macha. A bean bag chair probably would have had more respect. Macha looked like he had better things to do, as he sat on the bench looking at butterflies. I think that RR understands the game of baseball and how it is played. My guess, the Brewers will be better this season because the coach will give 100%. Anything is better than the 7% Macha put into it. Just…… don’t be Macha.
CF can not turn in to a position by committee – Now that we only have 10 OF’s reporting to camp, my hope is that Roenicke will pick one starter. If CF starts to turn into a carousel of guys, we are going to suffer some major defensive set backs. Carlos Gomez is Houdini in the outfield, but he is a kid’s birthday party magician with a bat in his hands. Chris Dickerson has the stick, but can he field the position? Those two guys have to be the primary focus of the coaching staff this spring. After that, it is just a muddled mess of social security checks and a few whipper snappers. I am still a huge fan of moving Hart to CF and letting Dickerson play RF, but I am not sure if that’s happening.
Why do we need thos things to happen? A recent article by Frankie Piliere of MLB Fanhouse , ranks the Brewers farm system as dead last. He gives us some props for having a “Win Now Mentality”, but the farm system is in trouble. So, my question for all of you to ponder; Would you take a World Series title, if it meant that the team would be awful for the rest of the 20-teens?
Think about it. I will share my thoughts on this topic tomorrow.