The Brewers had a very odd offseason, adding a bunch of parts and pieces seemingly without a plan. Should the St. Louis Cardinals fear them?
Earlier this offseason, I wrote an article power ranking the NL Central in which I put the St. Louis Cardinals at second (behind the Reds) and the Brewers all the way back in fourth place. Looking more closely at them, they really have had an odd offseason.
The winter began with the Brewers cutting or choosing not to resign about half of their roster from 2019. The biggest of those names were Travis Shaw, Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas and Eric Thames. In return, the Brewers have taken a very odd path through the offseason.
Rather than going after any truly influential names, they have signed and traded for a lot of complementary pieces to plug holes across the diamond. Starting with acquiring Omar Narvaez from the Mariners, the Brewers have added Justin Smoak, Ryon Healy, Logan Morrison, Avisail Garcia, Luis Urias, Eric Sogard, Jedd Gyorko, Ronny Rodriguez, Brett Anderson, Josh Lindblom, Eric Lauer, Brock Holt, and more in the bullpen.
That is a TON of names, but none really stand out as stars. Garcia and Narvaez will be good, but they may not move the needle a ton. Like the Cardinals, the Brewers have a ton of unknowns, but their question marks outnumber the Cardinals by a lot.
Looking at the various projections for the Brewers, USA Today has them at 84-78, PECOTA has them at 79-83, and RotoChamp has them at 83-79. There are more projections out there, but the general consensus is that they will be right around .500 with about a five-game swing either way.
Projections are just projections, but this is where the Brewers should sit until we know more. Losing Grandal and Moustakas is going to be big for them in the power department. Of that list of players, it seems that the Brewers have about 30 utility infielders. What to make of that is the big question.
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At second base, the Brewers have Keston Hiura returning looking to build on his rookie year, Smoak will replace some of the lost power at first base. Light hitting shortstop Orlando Arcia will keep his spot, and third base will be a straight competition between any of the many players remaining.
The Brewers have some big names, but the biggest thing that has been their Achilles heel the past few seasons has always been pitching. in 2020, there’s no way of knowing for sure that the pitching will be any better and I think that is the biggest thing that limits them.
Now, if the Cardinals are playing like they did last season, then that’s great. However, most of these projections do not have the Cardinals doing any better than the Brewers. Especially with Miles Mikolas down, the Cardinals rotation could turn into a sinkhole in 2020. On offense, the Cardinals are hoping a lot of players are going to bounce back.
The short answer is, the Cardinals shouldn’t need to fear the Brewers if the players they have perform like they think they will. Never underestimate an enemy though, and the Brewers could surprise the league and be much better than expected.
The Cardinals have bigger worries than worrying about the Brewers, but it is something to be wary of because of how unknown their team is. It may be better to worry inward more than outward, the Brewers shouldn’t be much of a threat if the Cardinals play near their ceiling.