10 for '10

Happy New Year, and thanks to everyone who read the site in 2009. It’s been a nice, quiet holiday for the Brewers, but here’s a look at 10 questions that face the team as they look to rebound in 2010. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but pitching is the subject of Nos. 1-3, and I didn’t even touch the uncertain season ahead for Jeff Suppan

Here’s my No. 1 question. Check out the story for the rest:
1. Will the pitching be good enough?
Whether you believe that it was injuries to Dave Bush or Suppan, or that it was Plan Bs Carlos Villanueva and Seth McClung not panning out, or simply that the rotation wasn’t strong enough to begin with, it was pretty clear that poor pitching cost the Brewers a return trip to the postseason in 2009. General manager Doug Melvin moved quickly to make the changes necessary to free payroll space for Randy Wolf’s three-year, $29.75 million contract.
There is still time for Melvin to trade for another arm or add a bargain option late in the offseason, but the Brewers enter the New Year with only one new arm in a starting rotation that combined for the National League’s worst ERA (5.37) last season. Melvin deserves credit for moving so aggressively to acquire Wolf, his top free-agent target, but as the group stands today, the Brewers are banking on another season of growth for Yovani Gallardo, bounce-backs from Manny Parra and Suppan and an injury-free year for Bush. Plenty of gambles there.
Here’s the best-case scenario for the group as it stands today: Gallardo continues his ascent to “ace” status, while Wolf has a third consecutive solid year of 30-plus starts, making him a clear upgrade over the departed Braden Looper. Parra rebounds to be at least as good as he was in 2008, when he posted a 4.39 ERA. Bush stays healthy. Suppan does, too, and has a season like he had in his last contract year, when he was 12-7 with a 4.12 ERA for the 2006 Cardinals.
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Well – i think it will be a good season for Gallardo again and Randy Wolf will repeat another solid season. Wolf is just the type of pitcher that does solid eyeryday work year in and year out.
If Yo manages to improve his control so he issues less Walks and lowers his pitch counts to get deeper into games, he already can be an ace of a contending team as the Brewers should be in 2010. Gallardo’s OAV was among the best in the league and he deserved much more wins in ’09 than he got due to some poor run support during games he lost or got no-decisions. So it’ll be mainly a question of command.
Provided that those two stay healthy we’ll have a pretty good 1-2-punch in our rotation (presumably not as good as Seattle’s though :-D).
The back three will be Suppan, Bush and Parra. Parra should improve with the expierence he still seems to need (hopefully a bit more reliable than a Burnett-type pitcher).
But betting on a healthy Suppan AND Bush throughout the season PLUS an improving Parra is really a lot of gambling (but with a high reward I guess). Maybe Melvin should think about one or two high-potential back-ups.

Sorry to jump in here — I am a Blue Jays fan — who just learned that we acquired Zach Jackson from cleveland. As you know, we sent Jackson (a former first round pick) to you guys as part of the Overbay ( or 0-for bay) trade a few years back. I thought that Jackson had a lot of potential, however, I have never seen him pitch. I would appreciate it if someone would give the scoop on what you think his strenghts/weaknesses are, and why he seems to have failed at the major-league level. Thanks.

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