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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Milwaukee Brewers

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Talk about a buzz kill.

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After winning their division for the first time in 29 years and making the playoffs for only the second time during that stretch, the Brewers had to wave goodbye to longtime cleanup hitter Prince Fielder this offseason. And though they at least attempted to fill the void by signing Aramis Ramirez, they can't expect the same MVP-caliber production from the aging third baseman. The bottom line is, without Fielder, they're not as good as they were last year.

It could have been worse, though. They could have also lost Ryan Braun, the reigning NL MVP, for 50 games because of a failed drug test. But Braun won his appeal and, in doing so, gave the Brewers hope of a repeat title.

True, he may be the team's only true elite hitter now, but it's not like he's surrounded by scrubs. Ramirez has been a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter for more than a decade. Rickie Weeks is one of the few pure power hitters at second base. Corey Hart is always good for 20-plus homers. Even Fielder's replacement, Mat Gamel, packs enough punch that he may someday be worthy of an All-Star nod.

Besides, the real strength of this team is its pitching staff. In Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke, the Brewers have dual aces at the top of their rotation. Both are on the right side of 30 and only got better over the course of last season, so Fantasy owners have no reason to worry about them. Third wheel Shaun Marcum did have some issues last September and fell apart in the playoffs but chances are he simply needed an offseason of rest. And if not, whatever shortcomings develop in the rotation the Brewers can counter with top prospect Wily Peralta, not to mention a lights-out late-inning duo of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.

So clearly this team's success last year wasn't all Fielder. Without him, the Brewers may not be the run-scoring machine they were a year ago but they'll compete all the same.

Breakout ... Yovani Gallardo, SP

Gallardo may not be the textbook definition of a "breakout player." In fact, he'll probably get drafted as a top-20 starting pitcher. But of those 20, he's one of the most likely to creep into the top 10. See, the current rendition of Gallardo isn't as flawed as his numbers would have you believe. During his five years in the majors his shaky control has condemned him to an ERA over 3.50 and a WHIP over 1.20, and that was the case again last year. But he seemed to overcome the problem in the second half. Over his final 15 starts, he issued 16 walks, posting a 3.06 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. And it's not like he sacrificed deception for control. His strikeout rate actually rose during that stretch. In those 15 starts Gallardo turned a corner, which isn't so difficult to believe considering he's only 26. If he can pick up where he left off he'll be as much of a bargain as a top-20 pitcher can be.

Bust ... Aramis Ramirez, 3B

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Ramirez did last year more or less what he has done over the last 11 years, so Fantasy owners have little reason to doubt him in his move from Chicago to Milwaukee, right? Well, not exactly. Ramirez's 2011 season may not stand out as anything exceptional over the entirety of his career but compared the previous two years it was a full-fledged outlier. It was the first time during that stretch he played as many as 125 games, finishing with nearly 150. That alone gave him a boost in the rankings that Fantasy owners seem to think he's going to sustain. But let's be reasonable: He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?

Sleeper ... Mat Gamel, 3B

After biding his time at Triple-A for most of the last three seasons, Gamel is poised to replace Prince Fielder at first base this year. It won't be the first time the career .304 minor-league hitter had a shot at regular at-bats -- that came in 2009, when relative unknown Casey McGehee seized the third base job from him -- but it is the first time he's been the overwhelming favorite. So why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result.

2012 Milwaukee Brewers Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Corey Hart RF 1 Yovani Gallardo RH
2 Nyjer Morgan CF 2 Zack Greinke RH
3 Ryan Braun LF 3 Randy Wolf LH
4 Aramis Ramirez 3B 4 Shaun Marcum RH
5 Rickie Weeks 2B 5 Chris Narveson LH
6 Mat Gamel 1B Alt Marco Estrada RH
7 Jonathan Lucroy C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Alex Gonzalez SS CL John Axford RH
Top bench options SU Francisco Rodriguez RH
R Norichika Aoki OF RP Jose Veras RH
R Taylor Green UTL RP Kameron Loe RH
R Carlos Gomez OF RP Manny Parra LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Wily Peralta 22 SP Triple-A Triple-A
The hard-thrower profiles as a workhorse and is poised to step into Milwaukee's rotation in 2013 at the latest. If Narveson folds or anyone else gets injured he'll arrive even sooner.
2 Taylor Green 25 2B Majors Majors
After a slow recovery from wrist surgery Green put up a silly .997 OPS at Triple-A in 2011. He's a good enough hitter and a versatile enough defender to be the next Ben Zobrist.
3 Taylor Jungmann 22 SP DNP -- signed late Class A
The 2011 first-rounder should be a staple of the Brewers rotation before too long, but he's more like a No. 2 option than a true ace. Still, he's a solid long-term keeper.
4 Jed Bradley 21 SP DNP -- signed late Class A
Bradley is kind of the left-handed equivalent of Jungmann and was taken only three picks later. If you're looking for a quick payoff, he should only need a couple years.
5 Tyler Thornburg 23 SP Class A Double-A
Tornburg has piled up strikeouts in the minors, but his funky delivery compromises his command and could ultimately force him into relief. Double-A will be a good test for him.
Best of the rest: Norichika Aoki, OF; Logan Schafer, OF; Ryan Gennett, 2B; Cody Scarpetta, SP; Brandon Kintzler, RP; Michael Fiers, RP; Santo Manzanillo, RP; Caleb Gindl, OF; Kentrail Davis, OF; Hunter Morris, 3B; D' Richardson, OF; Eric Arnett, SP; Eric Farris, 2B; Kyle Heckathorn, SP; Lucas Luetge, RP; Martin Maldonado, C; Dan Merklinger, SP; Mike McClendon, RP; Yadiel Rivera, SS; Mark Rogers, SP; and Zelous Wheeler, 3B.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Collins says Mets will ease d'Arnaud back into action upon activation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed catcher Travis d'Arnaud will be activated off the disabled list Friday. Collins added d'Arnaud will be eased back into action and won't catch more than two or three games in a row.

He has been on the disabled list since June 23 due to a sprained left elbow. He has been active for only 19 games this season due to injury.


Nationals' Jayson Werth rests after starting first two games off DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:49 am ET) After starting in his first two games off the disabled list, Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth received a day off Thursday against the Marlins. Clint Robinson was in left field for the Nationals.

Werth is batting .250 (2 for 8) with one run and two strikeouts since coming off the disabled list.


Report: Mets ready to activate Travis d'Arnaud off disabled list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud is ready to come off the disabled list and will likely be activated prior to Friday's game against the Nationals, according to MLB.com.

D'Arnaud traveled to New York after going 1 for 5 for Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday, according to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

He has been on the disabled list since June 23 due to a sprained left elbow. He has been active for only 19 games this season due to injury.

D'Arnaud hit safely in all five games on a rehab assignment with Binghamton. He hit .300 (6 for 20) with one double, one RBI, three runs and two strikeouts.


Indians trade Brandon Moss to Cardinals for prospect Rob Kaminsky
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:18 am ET) The Indians traded outfielder Brandon Moss to the Cardinals for left-handed pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Moss is being traded for the third time in his career. He was part of a three-team trade involving the Red Sox, Pirates and Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2008 and was traded from Oakland to Cleveland in December.

The left-handed slugger is batting .217 with 15 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI in 94 games. The one-time All-Star will be playing for his sixth MLB franchise. He has a career .243/.321/.452/.772 slash line.

Kaminsky was a late first-round draft pick (28th) in 2013. He is 6-5 with a 2.09 ERA in 17 starts for high Class A Palm Beach this season. He is 14-10 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 43 career appearances (40 starts) in the minors.


A's 3B Brett Lawrie busts out with four hits, four RBI on Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:01 am ET) Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie had himself quite a night at the plate against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Lawrie went 4 for 5 with a home run, two doubles, four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base.

In the fifth inning, Lawrie brought his team to with a run when he ripped an RBI double to make the score 3-2. In the seventh, he chipped in a two-run single to give the A's a 4-3 lead. And he capped off his night by launching a solo home run, his ninth of the year, in the ninth inning. It was too little too late however, as the Dodgers held on for the 10-7 win.

This was the first four-hit game and third four-RBI game of Lawrie's career. The strong showing at the dish gives Lawrie a .268 batting average over his last 10 games.


Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig hits seventh home run in win Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:54 am ET) Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig had a nice night at the plate in Wednesday's 10-7 win over the A's. Puig went 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored. Puig's two-run home run, his seventh of the year, gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.

He also had an RBI single in the Dodgers' five-run eighth inning, as the team rallied from behind to claim the victory.

Puig has three home runs over his last eight games, but he has just one other hit in 24 at-bats over that stretch. 


Rangers SP Colby Lewis quiets Yankees' bats in 5-2 win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:48 am ET) Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis earned his 11th win of the season in the 5-2 win over the Yankees on Wednesday. Lewis allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out five and did not issue a walk, throwing 71 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

Lewis (11-4, 4.42 ERA) gave up a solo home run to Carlos Beltran in the second inning before allowing another run to score in the seventh. Otherwise, Lewis was on top of his game against a tough lineup. 

Since Lewis had a 10-run explosion on July 5, he has allowed a total of nine runs over 28 innings in his last four starts.


A's SP Jesse Chavez goes five innings in no-decision Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:44 am ET) Athletics right-hander Jesse Chavez pitched fairly well on Wednesday, allowing three runs on five hits over five innings against the Dodgers. Chavez walked two and struck out five, but was left with a no-decision in the 10-7 loss.

The big blow against Chavez came on a two-run home run by Yasiel Puig in the fourth inning, which gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead at the time. Chavez left the game trailing 3-2. And although the A's rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh, the Dodgers countered with five of their own in the bottom half.

The month of July was not very kind to Chavez, who finishes the month 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA over five starts.


Dodgers SP Mike Bolsinger goes five innings in impromptu start
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:41 am ET) Thrown into the start at the last minute, Dodgers right-hander Mike Bolsinger pitched reasonably well against the A's. Bolsinger allowed two runs on eight hits over five innings. He walked three and struck out three, needing 90 pitches (57 strikes) to get through the fifth. 

Bolsinger would not factor in the decision however, as the Dodgers won the game 10-7 in the late innings. Bolsinger left the game leading 3-2, but the bullpen allowed four runs to score in the seventh. The Dodgers would counter with five in their half of the inning, en route to the victory.

Bolsinger finishes the month of July with a 1-1 record and a 3.00 ERA in five starts.


Report: Dodgers, Marlins, Braves working on three-team deal
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:52 am ET) The Braves, Dodgers and Marlins are in the working stages of a three-team, nine-player deal. According to reports, the Braves are expected to send top prospect Jose Peraza , left-hander Alex Wood and relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan to the Dodgers.

In return, the Braves would receive prospect Hector Olivera , lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez and minor-league pitcher Zach Bird from the Dodgers, and a 2016 draft pick from the Marlins.

The Marlins are also sending right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse to the Dodgers in exchange for three minor-league pitchers--right-handers Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman.

None of the three teams have officially announced the deal as of yet. 


 
 
 
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