Ryan Braun won't be enough for the Brewers to contend. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Realistic Expectations For The Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are not going to wear the N.L. Central crown in 2013 and they won’t grab a Wild Card spot either. As a die-hard Brewers fan, I feel like a pathetic traitor for writing this. But I view myself as an unbiased fan and I call it like I see it. And my vision looks like something out of an Adam Sandler film; a bitter disappointment.

Recently, Reviewing the Brew’s very own Colin Bennett released his N.L. Central predictions. You can find them here. He has the Brewers finishing third, behind the annoyingly silly chirping St. Louis Cardinals and the choke artists of last year’s postseason, the Cincinnati Reds. I agree with Mr. Bennett but not without reservations. Milwaukee will have to fight tooth and nail to avoid sitting alongside the miserable Chicago Cubs in the cellar…and nobody wants that.

You may ask why I’m being such a Debbie Downer but the truth is, I’m not. The Brewers made three noteworthy moves in the offseason by acquiring Burke Badenhop and signing Tom Gorzelanny and Michael Gonzalez. That’s it. Do you really think those acquistions are enough to skyrocket the Crew into first place? Not a chance. Hell, the Cubs had a better offseason than the Brewers.

The improved bullpen adresses the team’s most blantant problem from a year ago, but it’s not fixed; there’s a difference between the two. Great bullpens have an absolute stud that goes out, takes over a game, and completely shuts the opposing team down. I ask you, who’s that stud reliever for Milwaukee? It was John Axford in 2011 but everyone knows the story of 2012. The Reds had Aroldis Chapman (who’s now a starter) and the Cardinals had a plethora of ridiculously good relievers. The Brewers have none.

Wasn’t one of Doug Melvin’s top priorities this winter to sign a veteran starting pitcher? What happened to that train of thought? What happened was that the Brewers were unwilling to ink a free agent to a deal longer than two years. When that became apparent, free agents turned a cold shoulder and pursued teams who could dim the dollar signs in their eyes. Frankly, the Brewers didn’t have the money and, as a result, the starting rotation is going to suffer. And by suffer I don’t mean pitch a couple of bad games here and there. I’m talking about total disaster.

Yovani Gallardo may be the Brewers ace, but he’s not one of the top pitchers in baseball. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yovani Gallardo is not a true bonafide ace. Granted, he is the Brewers top dog but he is nowhere near elite. In the five seasons in which he has made at least 17 starts, Gallardo has never posted an ERA under 3.50. That’s impressive for a No. 2 or 3 starter, but not for a so-called “ace”.

While Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta will occasionally show flashes of brilliance, neither of them will have memorable seasons. Estrada gives up home runs like Santa gives out presents; there are just so many. Peralta, just named the Brewers top prospect, is still a year away from figuring out the big leagues. I know he garnered attention while posting a 2.88 era in six appearances (five starts) last season but I’m calling that beginner’s luck. However, watch out for him in 2014.

Milwaukee’s offense won’t be an issue. Unless Aramis Ramirez starts showing signs of old age or Mat Gamel is a horrific replacement of Corey Hart, the bats will be fine. Ryan Braun can’t go down with a season-ending injury, though. That would destroy any shred of hope.

With all my negative talk and gloomy expectations, I have probably made some of you think I despise the Brewers. But I promise that I love them and would give both my kidneys to see them reach the postseason this year. Sadly, that’s not what the future has in store for Ron’s Wrecking Crew but I shall have my fingers crossed nonetheless.


What are your predictions for the upcoming season? Do you believe the Brewers can compete? Leave comments and questions below! Follow Justin and @ReviewngTheBrew on Twitter. Be sure to like us on Facebook, too.

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Tags: Brewers Predictions John Axford Milwaukee Brewers Wily Peralta Yovani Gallardo

  • Ron

    I’m worried about just beating out the Pirates this year.

    • Justin Schultz

      Thanks for comment, Ron. The Pirates are going to give Milwaukee a run for their money. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish ahead of the Brewers.

  • Kurt Harmon

    My expectations are 3rd place as well, but I can see a first place in there.
    3rd or worse scenario
    I think the young guys over the course of the year aren’t going to hold up. The inconsistant starts by young pitchers are going to destroy the bullpen. I would have loved them to go get Lindstrom for a 2.4 you could have had a potential closer should ax struggle. Ramirez shows his age, Gamel is Gamel and Gomez returns to .220 form.
    1st/2nd place scenario
    The offense that scored the most runs in the NL is again potent with Ricky Weeks not sucking as bad making up for the loss of Hart. The young starters do enough to hold the Brewers within spitting distance maybe swapping out a Rogers for Estrada or Thornberg for Fiers if struggles occur. The Brewers pick up an established starter at the trade deadline taking on salary and not giving up much in the way of prospects. Our lack of moves affords us that opportunity.

    • Justin Schultz

      Thanks for the comment, Kurt.
      I agree with your opinion on the young pitchers. I think they will start strong but eventually falter. I just don’t see how Milwaukee can win the Central. For that to happen, Gamel would have to put up monster numbers in Hart’s place and the pitching would have to overachieve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.rathkamp Tom Rathkamp

    I am inclined to agree.

    • Justin Schultz

      Thanks for the comment. Hopefully, the Brewers prove us wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidAPaulsen David Wait ForIt Paulsen

    Well writen article. I’m crossing my fingers the pitching staff can come out and “shock the world” but not expecting. If they would’ve had half of the blown saves they did last year they would’ve had one of the best records in the NL. Let’s just hope these new relievers can bring a little more consistency, in a good way.

    • Justin Schultz

      Thanks, David. It will definitely be a shock if the young pitching staff excels. We just have to trust that Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin know what they’re doing.

  • Warboss74

    This isn’t an article about realistic expectations. It’s about as pessimistic of a take on the team with zero analysis backing it up.

    Let’s start with the most known quantity of the team, the offense. They scored 776 runs in 2012, which isn’t necessarily a reasonable expectation going into the 2013 season.

    Using Pythagorean W-L, here are 3 runs scored and runs allowed totals that would give an expected 75-87 team.

    776 runs 836 runs allowed
    740 runs 796 runs allowed
    715 runs 770 runs allowed

    Only 2 teams gave up at least 770 runs in the 2012 NL. (Rockies 890, Astros 797)

    The rotation gave up 442 runs in 941.1 IP (NL avg/941.1 IP 459) while the bullpen gave up 291 runs in 512.1 IP. (NL avg/512.1 IP 236) If we assume an average bullpen and shift the 55 runs to the rotation, the rotation would allow 497 runs. There were only 4 rotations that would have allowed 497+ runs prorated to the Brewers workload in the 2012 NL.

    Rockies 660 6.31 RA9
    Astros 536 5.12 RA9
    Padres 519 4.97 RA9
    Cubs 502 4.80 RA9

    Let’s actually put some rough numbers to guys performances and see where your disaster of a rotation would actually be in your realistic expectations. I’m going to use the Moneyball theory of recreating a player in the aggregate for this rough example.

    Groip that needs to be replaced
    Greinke 123.0 IP 49 runs 3.59 RA9
    Marcum 124.0 IP 57 runs 4.14 RA9
    Wolf 142.1 IP 94 runs 5.95 RA9
    Total 389.1 IP 200 runs 4.62 RA9

    Returning Group
    Gallardo 204.0 IP 86 runs 3.79 RA9
    Estrada 138.1 IP 62 runs 4.03 RA9
    Fiers 127.2 IP 56 runs 3.95 RA9
    Rogers 39.0 IP 17 runs 3.92 RA9
    Peralta 29.0 IP 8 runs 2.48 RA9
    Total 538.0 IP 229 runs 3.83 RA9

    For the sake of simplicity, we’ll leave the returning group production as the responsibility of Gallardo, Estrada, and Fiers while the replacement group will be Peralta, Rogers, and Narveson.

    The Returning Group
    Gallardo 200 IP 87 runs 3.91 RA9
    Fiers 170 IP 85 4.50 RA9
    Estrada 160 IP 80 4.50 RA9
    Total 530 IP 252 runs 4.28 RA9

    The Replacement Group
    Peralta 170 IP 85 runs 4.50 RA9
    Narveson 110 IP 61 runs 4.99 RA9
    Rogers 100 IP 52 runs 4.68 RA9
    Total 380 IP 198 runs 4.69 RA9
    Two group total 910 IP 450 runs 4.45 RA9

    Add 31.1 IP of replacement level production (19 runs 5.46 RA9)
    Total 941.1 IP 469 runs 4.48 RA9

    According to Pythagorean W-L, a 715 run scored, would be lowest since 2004, and a 705 run allowed team would result in an 82-80 record. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible for the pitching staff to be horrible, but it comes down to how likely that is to happen.

    • Justin Schultz

      Thanks for the comment. It seems like you believe in the pitching staff more than I do. Fiers was awful during the last two months of the season and I think he will regress even more this season. The Brewers needed a veteran starting pitcher to even think about contending. You say I’m being pessimistic, but I think you’re being overly optimistic.