SLEEPER David Bush's outstanding control and his strikeout ability should result in more wins and a lower ERA than he showed last season. He's a fantasy ace in disguise.
BUST Rickie Weeks has a lot of talent, but his history of injury and strikeouts do not make him a top 100 player.
HITTER TO WATCH: Ryan Braun, 3B Braun just needs to work on his defense to crack the Brewers' lineup; even if he has to move to left field, he's going to hit for average and power and can even run a little.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Yovani Gallardo, RHP
Gallardo mowed hitters down last year with a 90-93 mph fastball and a hard 12-to-6 curve in the upper 70s, as well as good control.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED With Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas, the Brewers have arguably the division's best rotation. Yes, they overpaid for Suppan (four years, $42M), but here's why: He has pitched at least 188 innings in each of the past eight seasons, and in five starts against Milwaukee last year, he had a 2.59 ERA and held Brewers hitters to a .224 average. As usual, though, the key to everything is Sheets' staying healthy. That's why Brewers pitchers weren't required to run the 60-yard dash in spring training.
NEEDS FIXING Milwaukee has a dubious streak that's lasted as long as its pennant drought: no Gold Glover since 1982 (SS Robin Yount). And this year's D still has a lot of question marks. SS J.J. Hardy must rebound from ankle surgery, ex-SS Bill Hall must adjust to center field and 1B Prince Fielder must improve his range. Then there's Rickie Weeks, who led ML second basemen in errors (22) last year even though he played only 95 games. He'll continue to field myriad grounders every day. How many is myriad? "Billions," says Ned Yost.
Yovani Gallardo, 21, led the minors with 188 K's in 2006. The past two bush league K kings, Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Liriano, were in the bigs by the next May.
Between the tailgating and on-field sausage races, every Brew Crew game is a party. It helps that the average fan cost per game ($29.94) is the NL's lowest. Of course, at prices like these, fans can't grumble when owner Mark Attanasio ships Carlos Lee to Texas because he doesn't want to pay him. (Lee wanted out anyway.)
"As has been the trend, the Brew Crew has plenty of talent to give us all hope. But that is all we ever have. But just maybe, our hope can last past the All-Star break this year."