MLB MLB Team News NL Central — 23 February 2011

The Milwaukee Brewers went for broke this off-season, mortgaging some substantial prospects for Zach Greinke and Shawn Marcum. These Additions, paired with Yovanni Gallardo and Randy Wolf, should propel the Brewers towards the top of the NL Central Standings. Milwaukee got a pleasant surprise in a breakout year from second baseman Rickie Weeks and their offense should be stout with him, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, and Casey McGehee comprising the heart of their lineup.

Closer Trevor Hoffman is gone, but John Axford stepped in last season for him and performed quite nicely in his time at the position. The bullpen isn’t too deep aside from him, but should be enough to get them by. While the pitching staff is largely improved and the offense is potent, the Brewers will still have to compete with two tough ball clubs in the Cardinals and the Reds. Finishing in third place with a team this talented is not something that happens often, but in a division this stacked, it could easily happen.

Key Additions: Zach Greinke, Shawn Marcum, Takashi Saito

Key Losses: Alcides Escobar, Trevor Hoffman

Lineup:

C: Jonathan Lucroy
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Rickie Weeks
3B: Casey McGehee
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt
LF: Ryan Braun
CF: Chris Gomez
RF: Corey Hart

Rotation:

1: Zach Greinke
2: Yovanni Gallardo
3: Shawn Marcum
4: Randy Wolf
5: Chris Narveson
CL: John Axford

Critical Players to Success:

Shawn Marcum: A trade to the National League and out of the AL East could prove to be huge for Marcum. While Marcum was no slouch in the AL once he returned from injuries, it should be interesting to see how he performs in the National League, a switch that has benefitted many players.

John Axford: Axford stepped in capably for the former relief great Trevor Hoffman. Nevertheless, he is still young, and a sophomore slump would cause the Brewers to have to shuffle some unreliable arms around in the bullpen in order to find someone to close games, something they cannot afford in a division that looks to be pretty deep.

Prince Fielder: Prince Fielder had a difficult 2010. He appeared to lose his temper at times and his numbers took a dip as well. This is probably his last year in Milwaukee and his success is essential to them having a shot at the playoffs.

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