Well, Monday in San Francisco was beautiful…sunny and 70 degrees. Unfortunately, the Brewers Opening Day forecast is less promising. That’s OK, the roller coaster ride begins Tuesday and if Mother Nature wants to be part of the fun, so be it.
Brace yourself Brewers fans, this could be a wild ride in ’09. The way the Brew Crew will swing the bats, they’re never out of a game. This is a confident bunch that posted, as Corey Hart put it, “average” numbers last year. All expect more, all expect better offensive production. For me, there are a couple of sneaky key statistics to
keep an eye on. On base percentage at the top of the order and runners eliminated on the
bases. With the power potential of this lineup, baserunners mean bonus rounds. The Brewers under Ken Macha will not be stealing many bases and avoiding double plays has sent the speedy Corey Hart to the top of the batting order.
Jason Kendall feels the pitching is severely underrated but doesn’t want anyone to upgrade their under(rating) so the young horses, Gallardo and Parra, stay in the “who knew” category.
As for the Giants…they have a deep rotation featuring three former Cy Young Award winners in Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson, and Barry Zito. Lincecum gets the opener. His career ERA versus the Brewers is 5.25 and the Crew tallied five earned runs last year (6ip) in their only matchup.
Lincecum was the runaway Cy Young winner last year (23 of 32 first place votes) and the first Giant to win the award since Mike McCormick in 1967. He was also the first second-year pitcher to win the Cy since 1985 when Dwight Gooden and Brett Saberhagen both did it in their respective leagues.
Brian Wilson is the closer and he’s a dandy (41 saves in ’08).
Offensively, San Fran is better but they still have question marks. They added five-time All Star Edgar Renteria and are hoping for a “bounce back” year from Aaron Rowand, who is in the second of a 5-year, $60 million contract. Bengie Molina still hits clean-up and interestingly enough, is the only catcher on the roster. Pablo Sandoval is the starter at 3B and will serve as Molina’s back-up in the event of an injury. That will likely change towards the end of April as the Giants, still in evaluation mode, will use four early season off days to rest Molina and clear up their roster picture.
Sandoval, a switch hitter, is a guy to watch. A Prince Fielder-type presence that many feel has a chance to win a batting title one day. He’s a free-swinger who hits the ball extremely hard to all fields.
The Giants have some speed so look for them to test Jason Kendall, who threw out nearly 40% of the baserunners last year, as often as they can. Randy Winn, Fred Lewis and Emmanuel Burris are all base stealers.
The Pitching Matchups:
Tuesday, 3:05pm CST: Jeff Suppan vs Tim Lincecum
Wednesday, 9:15pm CST: Yovani Gallardo vs Randy Johnson
Thursday, 6:05pm CST: Manny Parra vs Matt Cain
All games will be on Fox Sports Wisconsin with Brewers Live before and after every game.
Enjoy the season!